89 Replies to ““Evolution in a Box”

  1. 1
    Charlie says:

    I’m a busy man-on-the-go and can’t wait 3BY for my person. Is there a microwave version yet?

  2. 2
    EdH says:

    I agree with CHarlie. Can I order the “Cambrian Explosion” version that is pre-cooked to right before the tree of life grows new offshoots?

  3. 3
    jasonng says:

    “I agree with CHarlie. Can I order the “Cambrian Explosion” version that is pre-cooked to right before the tree of life grows new offshoots?”

    I think you have purchase the “design” add-on kit, that costs extra and you can’t buy it from them because they deny such a kit exists.

  4. 4
    DonaldM says:

    Where did the dirt come from?

  5. 5
    russ says:

    Shouldn’t Darwin’s box be black?

  6. 6
    teleologist says:

    For the soccer mom there is a condense version “Punk Eek in a Box” Gouldish Evolution.

  7. 7
    johnnyb says:

    Charlie:

    Use Avida. Even using “microwave settings” (50% radiation mutation rate chance per codon) you will still get living programs at the end. See:

    http://www.iscid.org/boards/ub.....tml#000003

  8. 8
    Charlie says:

    mmm, nuke me a batch.

  9. 9
    SteveB says:

    I have the same time constraints that others have mentioned, but don’t want to introduce the microwave into the process because the design implications make me uncomfortable. If I started with pond water instead, could I get, say, a mouse, a gekko or maybe a douglass fir in half the time? What would I get? Is there any kind of money back guarantee if I end up with something poisonous or carniverous?

  10. 10

    Just out of curiosity, is “Evolution in a Box” anything like the Cracker Jack box? I left one open long ago, and it grew mold really fast. I didn’t have to wait for 3 billion years, and it came with a free tattoo. Anyway, I won’t buy it if I am going to get the same results.

  11. 11
    jboze3131 says:

    mario- i loved you in saved by the bell.

  12. 12
    jrockoford234 says:

    Is this what passes as wit among creationist circles? Even the graphics are amateurish — or should I say unintelligently designed?

  13. 13
    crandaddy says:

    Make sure the dirt is sterile-can’t have any head starts. It also can’t have anything more complex than an RNA molecule. While you’re at it, leave out the stirring step; that might just constitute intelligent design :).

    David

  14. 14
    crandaddy says:

    jrockoford234: “Is this what passes as wit among creationist circles? Even the graphics are amateurish — or should I say unintelligently designed?”

    Like it or not, this is essentially how opponents of ID explain how we got here. I’m sorry if the truth hurts.

    David

  15. 15
    Aris says:

    David: “Like it or not, this is essentially how opponents of ID explain how we got here.”

    No, we do not. Nobody who actually understands evolution would maintain that evolution is some sort of random, spontaneous process that just happens as long as you have a bunch of raw ingredients lying about. Evolution is far more complex than that — which neatly explains why creationists like to misrepresent it, since they seem congenitally incapable of analyzing anything that’s inherently complex. Indeed, the inability to tackle complexity is at the heart of creationism, which is really just another way of saying, “The process by which life developed on Earth is too complex for me to understand, so someone much, much more intelligent than me must have created it, and so there’s no point for me to continue to tax my brain by trying to understand something created by brainpower beyond my own.”

    Here’s a thought for you all: Even if evolution was proved to be total and unadulterated bunk tomorrow, that would still not make creationism a viable alternative. As long as creationism proposes no mechanism, it is merely the throwing up of arms in stupefied awe while asserting, “This is too complex for me! This is too complex for me!” That’s not science but an infantile reaction to the rigors of thinking.

  16. 16

    “No, we do not. Nobody who actually understands evolution would maintain that evolution is some sort of random, spontaneous process that just happens as long as you have a bunch of raw ingredients lying about. Evolution is far more complex than that — which neatly explains why creationists like to misrepresent it, since they seem congenitally incapable of analyzing anything that’s inherently complex. Indeed, the inability to tackle complexity is at the heart of creationism, which is really just another way of saying, “The process by which life developed on Earth is too complex for me to understand, so someone much, much more intelligent than me must have created it, and so there’s no point for me to continue to tax my brain by trying to understand something created by brainpower beyond my own.”

    Here’s a thought for you all: Even if evolution was proved to be total and unadulterated bunk tomorrow, that would still not make creationism a viable alternative. As long as creationism proposes no mechanism, it is merely the throwing up of arms in stupefied awe while asserting, “This is too complex for me! This is too complex for me!” That’s not science but an infantile reaction to the rigors of thinking.”

    Would you care to explain what other way “life” [i]can[/i] emerge from a premordial soup ,if not by “chance” through chemical evolution?

    This is too complex for me…Thank you

  17. 17
    dodgingcars says:

    ““No, we do not. Nobody who actually understands evolution would maintain that evolution is some sort of random, spontaneous process that just happens as long as you have a bunch of raw ingredients lying about.”

    Really? What is the complex process? A lightning bolt hitting the right spot at the right time in just the right atmospheric conditions? Not random or spontaneous at all!

    And yeah, like Mario, I’d like to know how else, besides either evolution or creation, that life emerged from non-life?

  18. 18
    Bombadill says:

    Nothing applied nothingness and created something.

    Brilliant!

  19. 19
    Aris says:

    I’ll be happy to enlighten you.

    First, as Mario noted, the concept of “chance” may indeed be too complex for some people. Sure, the simple definition — the one creationists seem capable of appreciating and like forcing on evolutionists — is a random and undirected impetus. But scientists invariably understand chance to mean the possibility of a particular outcome in a process that is indeed undirected but not random.

    Let me give you a simple example to illustrate how “chance” can be properly understood within evolutionary theory: I think we can all agree that most knots are the products of directed processes. However, if you get behind your computer or home theater system and try to untangle the gaggle of cables and wires that reside there, you’ll always find some that have tied themselves in often elaborate ways. You didn’t tie the knots, and unless you think that knot-tying gremlins visit houses at night to mess with people’s cables (i.e. ID), the cables tied themselves by chance. But chance here is not just a random process without any natural propensities. Depending on how the cables where piled when you last dropped them, depending on the characteristics of particular cables (thickness, elasticity, etc.) some cables are more prone than others to tie themselves into knots. Of course cables do not procreate, but if they did and there was an environmental advantage to knotted cables (let’s say knotted cables did not rot away as fast) then descendants of the surviving cables would inherit the knot-tying tendencies of their parents. And though naturally occurring variations (one cable is a little thicker, another a little stiffer, etc.) these accumulated knot-tying traits would end up in more sophisticated knots.

    In terms of how life emerged, I haven’t got the faintest idea and nobody else does either. I don’t even know that life emerged from non-life — perhaps living particles have always existed. Who knows? But the fact that we don’t know doesn’t mean that we have to assume that life is not a natural process.

  20. 20
    Aris says:

    Bombadill: “Nothing applied nothingness and created something.”

    I don’t see how this has anything to do with evolution or science or anything I’ve written here, but I’ll indulge you: Those of us who look from natural explanations to the questions of life, the universe and everything, are not arguing that we’ve sprung from nothing. My atoms have been around since the beginning of the unverse (I have no idea what existed before). I’m something-from-something.

    The something-from-nothing conundrum is problematic only to supernatural explanations of the questions of life, the universe and everything. Just look at Genesis: There’s nothing, and them “poof,” and there’s everything. Now, if you tell me that God was the original “something” then we get into an infinite regression of whether he was something from nothing, or if not, whether the previous something came from nothing, and so on and so on (it’s turtles all the way down, if you get what I mean).

    It’s more reasonable to accept that a natural something has always existed, from which all the other somethigns have come, including us, instead of postulating that there was always a supernatural something that’s beyond our comprehension.

  21. 21

    “I’ll be happy to enlighten you.

    First, as Mario noted, the concept of “chance” may indeed be too complex for some people. Sure, the simple definition — the one creationists seem capable of appreciating and like forcing on evolutionists — is a random and undirected impetus. But scientists invariably understand chance to mean the possibility of a particular outcome in a process that is indeed undirected but not random.

    Let me give you a simple example to illustrate how “chance” can be properly understood within evolutionary theory: I think we can all agree that most knots are the products of directed processes. However, if you get behind your computer or home theater system and try to untangle the gaggle of cables and wires that reside there, you’ll always find some that have tied themselves in often elaborate ways. You didn’t tie the knots, and unless you think that knot-tying gremlins visit houses at night to mess with people’s cables (i.e. ID), the cables tied themselves by chance. But chance here is not just a random process without any natural propensities. Depending on how the cables where piled when you last dropped them, depending on the characteristics of particular cables (thickness, elasticity, etc.) some cables are more prone than others to tie themselves into knots. Of course cables do not procreate, but if they did and there was an environmental advantage to knotted cables (let’s say knotted cables did not rot away as fast) then descendants of the surviving cables would inherit the knot-tying tendencies of their parents. And though naturally occurring variations (one cable is a little thicker, another a little stiffer, etc.) these accumulated knot-tying traits would end up in more sophisticated knots.”

    Aris, knots are made by intelligent agents (intentionally or not), but I still don’t see how natural selection (mainly a conserving mechanism) can produce novel genetic information from soup to flight.

    In terms of how life emerged, I haven’t got the faintest idea and nobody else does either. I don’t even know that life emerged from non-life — perhaps living particles have always existed. Who knows? But the fact that we don’t know doesn’t mean that we have to assume that life is not a natural process.

    Ahhhhhh…I see, life emerged from life. Brilliant!

  22. 22

    “Bombadill: “Nothing applied nothingness and created something.”

    I don’t see how this has anything to do with evolution or science or anything I’ve written here, but I’ll indulge you: Those of us who look from natural explanations to the questions of life, the universe and everything, are not arguing that we’ve sprung from nothing. My atoms have been around since the beginning of the unverse (I have no idea what existed before). I’m something-from-something.”

    ..And something from something…and something from something…(yawn)..and… (ad nauseum)

    “The something-from-nothing conundrum is problematic only to supernatural explanations of the questions of life, the universe and everything. Just look at Genesis: There’s nothing, and them “poof,” and there’s everything. Now, if you tell me that God was the original “something” then we get into an infinite regression of whether he was something from nothing, or if not, whether the previous something came from nothing, and so on and so on (it’s turtles all the way down, if you get what I mean).”

    Aris, only finite corporeal objects require a first cause, not unembodied designers.

    “It’s more reasonable to accept that a natural something has always existed, from which all the other somethigns have come, including us, instead of postulating that there was always a supernatural something that’s beyond our comprehension.”

    Okay, let us take the assumption that what you are saying is true. Perhaps you are of the Big Bang persuasion, with a ball of matter and energy having been present eternally. Can you please explain the sudden explosion without dismissing the law of inertia (that which is at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an external force)?

  23. 23
    Bombadill says:

    Aris, one only ends in an infinite regression of causes (really an infinite regression of effects) when one posits that there’s only a naturalistic explanation. So, the finger of logic is pointed at you. Only when we introduce the notion of an “Uncaused First Cause” can we avoid this dilemna. Some call this the Kalaam argument. Only that which has a beginning requires a cause. All matter has been shown to have a beginning. Therefore is required a cause outside of itself. A supernatural being who has existed eternally, would not require a cause because he (it) is without beginning. Hence, the “Uncaused First Cause”. Additionally, nature clearly displays design in biological systems. Design which necessitates a cognizant engineer. And we know that at the core of molecular life is information, with a single strand of DNA possessing more data than an entire library of books. Naturalistic processes cannot, and never has, produced information like this.

    Sidenote: It amazes me the lengths that naturalists will go to avoid the Theistic inference.

  24. 24
    Aris says:

    Mario: “Aris, knots are made by intelligent agents (intentionally or not).”

    That’s simply not true. Have you really never tried to untangle cables, wires, reeds, ropes, etc? Have never noticed that cables, wires, reeds, ropes, etc. tend to tie themselves in knots without any assistance from any intelligent agent? Sure, knots are usually made by intelligent agents but they are also the product of chance — as I explained above.

    There are many things in the universe that may seem intelligently designed, but they are demonstrably shown not to be. Knots in tangled wires is one them, a simple illustration of chance over intelligence producing design, that even those without any familiarity with the sciences should be able to grasp.

  25. 25
    Aris says:

    Mario: “Aris, only finite corporeal objects require a first cause, not unembodied designers.”

    You’re presupposing, a priori, the existence of an unembodied designer. I do not, since I see no evidence for the existence of a supernatural realm that’s beyond my senses (with unembodied designers as inhabitants). Such a realm may indeed exist, but since I have no way of experiencing it, it is not rational to assume it does.

    As to first causes, I see no reason to assume that because everything in our measly existence has a beginning and an end then everything has to have a beginning and an end. We may not be able to intuitively grasp infinity, but there’s no reason to assume that the universe is not the product of an infinite process.

  26. 26
    nostrowski says:

    ….since I see no evidence for the existence of a supernatural realm that’s beyond my senses (with unembodied designers as inhabitants). Such a realm may indeed exist, but since I have no way of experiencing it, it is not rational to assume it does.

    Is the beginning of life within your senses? Can you experience it? Can you see it, touch it, taste it, feel it? No? Then how is it rational to assume it had natural causes?

  27. 27
    Aris says:

    Bombadill, I’m quite familiar with the cosmological argument for the existence of God, as articulated by Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and others. It is an argument that I didn’t find particularly impressive when I first encountered it — in high school. It’s been debunked repeatedly over the last few centuries, and, honestly, it’s really not a very sophisticated syllogism. To debunk it, one only has to reject it’s first premise, that “All things are caused,” and the syllogism collapses.

    As I explained above, there’s absolutely no reason to assume that all things have to have a first cause because in our experience things tend to do so. Our brains are unfortunately ill equipped to conceptually grasp infinity, but that does not mean infinity does not exist.

    The ancient Greeks loved paying around with the concept of infinity (see Zeno), because of its counterintuitive properties. But I’d like to think that we’ve intellectually matured somewhat in the last 2,500 years.

  28. 28
    nostrowski says:

    In terms of how life emerged, I haven’t got the faintest idea and nobody else does either. I don’t even know that life emerged from non-life — perhaps living particles have always existed. Who knows? But the fact that we don’t know doesn’t mean that we have to assume that life is not a natural process.

    How convenient:

    1) That we don’t know how life began is NO reason to assume it was not a natural process.

    2) That we don’t know if there was a designer is THE reason to assume it was not designed.

  29. 29
    nostrowski says:

    Blatant contradictions:

    …since I see no evidence for the existence of a supernatural realm that’s beyond my senses (with unembodied designers as inhabitants). Such a realm may indeed exist, but since I have no way of experiencing it, it is not rational to assume it does.

    AND…

    In terms of how life emerged, I haven’t got the faintest idea and nobody else does either. I don’t even know that life emerged from non-life — perhaps living particles have always existed. Who knows? But the fact that we don’t know doesn’t mean that we have to assume that life is not a natural process.

  30. 30
    nostrowski says:

    I’m quite familiar with the cosmological argument for the existence of God, as articulated by Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and others. It is an argument that I didn’t find particularly impressive when I first encountered it — in high school. It’s been debunked repeatedly over the last few centuries, and, honestly, it’s really not a very sophisticated syllogism. To debunk it, one only has to reject it’s first premise, that “All things are caused,” and the syllogism collapses.

    A personal choice to reject a premise debunks nothing.

  31. 31
    Aris says:

    nostrowski: “Is the beginning of life within your senses? Can you experience it? Can you see it, touch it, taste it, feel it? No? Then how is it rational to assume it had natural causes?”

    Why is it rational to assume it didn’t? Pray tell…

  32. 32
    nostrowski says:

    You answer questions with questions? Odd for such a pedant.

  33. 33
    Aris says:

    nostrowski, all your postings about my supposed contradictions and what not, pretty much amount to the same thing: You’re accusing me of arbitrarily deciding that it’s more reasonable to accept natural rather than supernatural explanations of life, the universe, and everything.

    But if my decision is indeed arbitrary, then why isn’t your decision to accept supernatural rather than natural explanations equally arbitrary?

    I would love an explanation.

  34. 34
    nostrowski says:

    I didn’t say it wasn’t arbitrary. I am as free and as correct (or incorrect) to choose an arbitrary explanation as you. The difference is, I (meaning we) didn’t come looking for you to inform you that you were wrong. Therefore, I am fully justified in bringing your arbitrary preferences to light.

  35. 35
    nostrowski says:

    You see what you WANT to see and then belittle others for not seeing it. Convenient.

  36. 36
    Aris says:

    nostrowski: “I didn’t say it wasn’t arbitrary. I am as free and as correct (or incorrect) to choose an arbitrary explanation as you.”

    You’re indeed as free as anyone to say whatever you want and to take any position you want. But if we were to agree that both of our positions are equally arbitrary, then what are the criteria for deciding which position is valid and which one is not? This is truly epistemological relativism at its worse.

    Look, the reason I’m posting here is to try to understand why some people believe what they believe. I am trying to have a fruitful discussion, which I hope may prove educational for all of those who participate (including me).

  37. 37
    nostrowski says:

    Why are you the only one who gets to ask the questions? You are trying to understand why some people believe what they believe, yet when questioned as to your beliefs, we find that they are arbitrary. The need to sweep off ones own porch comes to mind. And, if this is just one big scholastic lovefest, maybe you’d want to keep the pedantic and condescending references to what you learned in highschool in check. You think? Lastly, you accuse me of epistemological relativism while you engage in idle oneupsmanship? We, at least, have begun to understand you.

  38. 38
    Aris says:

    nostrowski, if you don’t like questions, I’ll be happy give you the answer as to why it is more reasonable to accept natural rather than supernatural explanations of life, the universe, and everything, rather than the reverse:

    Anyone who posts here does so using a computer. I trust that we can agree that computers are not the product of prayer, or the creation of exorcising priests, or of any supernatural entity of any sort. They are merely the product of a process that started a few hundred years ago. Obviously that process is science.

    Bottom line: Science works, unlike all the supernatural gobbleygook and fairy tales that passed for explanations of life, the universe, and everything for millennia. And it works precisely because it presupposes that every phenomenon has a natural explanation.

    If you presuppose that there’s a supernatural explanation for a phenomenon, you’re closing off any opportunity for investigating, analyzing and understanding the phenomenon and its causes. A supernatural explanation cannot be examined, tested, or anything else since it is beyond nature — and therefore our ability to examine it.

    However, if you approach every phenomenon with the assumption that there’s a natural explanation, you allow the possibility of actually investigating it. Some phenomena may not be easy to investigate, and some we may never be able to investigate or even understand. However, if we don’t assume that each phenomenon has a natural explanation, we will never, ever get the chance to even try investigating.

    That’s why presupposing natural rather than supernatural explanations of life, the universe, and everything is not an arbitrary position but the only position that has the evident advantage of allowing for progress. The reverse position, the acceptance of supernatural explanations, was dominant for most of humanity’s existence and there was no progress in explaining anything, and therefore no technological progress since technology is based on natural explanations of phenomena.

    To put it simply, it’s like watching a magic trick. You start off baffled, and if it’s a really good trick in awe. Now, if your type of “awe” is to assert that this trick is so incredible that it must be due to magic, you will never figure out how the trick was done. However, if you’re of a scientific mentality and “awe” means to you, “This is great, I want to find out how it was done” then you will investigate, analyze, test, etc. and chances are you’ll eventually figure it out.

  39. 39

    Thank you, nostrowski, for pointing out Aris’ contradiction.

    “You’re presupposing, a priori, the existence of an unembodied designer. I do not, since I see no evidence for the existence of a supernatural realm that’s beyond my senses (with unembodied designers as inhabitants). Such a realm may indeed exist, but since I have no way of experiencing it, it is not rational to assume it does.”

    Considering what we know about our universe (e.g. fine tuning, “apparent” design, etc) to dismiss the “idea” of an unembodied designer is to commit intellectual suicide.

    Have you thought of the law of inertia long enough?

  40. 40
    nostrowski says:

    Aris, do you actually think for one second that everything you just wrote I have never encountered before? You suffer from a stunning lack of originality. And, really, please try harder not to talk down to people. It is, in a word, boorish. But, let me respond. The presumption of design does not choke off investigation or analysis. If anything, it enhances it. Is a computer not designed? Has the improvement of the computer not continued apace all the same? Or did we ignore it and pile it in the closet because it didn’t occur naturally?

    CAVEAT: In you response, try not to condescend with references to magic tricks, fairy tales, and gobbledygook.

  41. 41
    nostrowski says:

    Mario, you are welcome. As for intellectual suicide, these people gladly commit it for the promises of elitism, the comfort of conformity, and the fear of being accountable.

  42. 42
  43. 43
    Aris says:

    Mario: “Considering what we know about our universe (e.g. fine tuning, “apparent” design, etc) to dismiss the “idea” of an unembodied designer is to commit intellectual suicide.”

    It seems to me that intellectual suicide is really when someone gives up on natural explanations for phenomena and hence on science itself. Since the ancient Greeks and the death of the first attempt at scientific inquiry — when the ideas of the pre-Socratics about a natural world were discarded for Plato’s and Pythagoras’s fantastical realm of perfect forms — intellectual, as well as technological, progress pretty much came to a standstill. Talk about intellectual suicide! It took another 2 millennia for science to flourish again.

  44. 44
    nostrowski says:

    Regarding Aris’ knot nonsense: Cables or ropes or lines of any kind do not tie themselves into knots. If Aris truly believes this, she/he is out on a longer limb than most. Nor, are they knots formed by chance. Cables or ropes or lines are designed for flexibility – a rigid cable does little good in applications where mobility is preferable. Neither are the actions that DO result in the knots a result of chance, but intended movements of the computer or entertainment center user such as the repositioning of various peripherals during installation. Note that knots in cables cannot form if both ends of the cables are installed. This eliminates any opportunity for chance to have it’s say. An unintended knot is not the same as a knot formed by chance. To believe so is to believe an unintended sun burn is strictly random and not the result of reclining unprotected on the beach. This example of Aris’, far from confirming the intellectual station she/he wishes to hold, is not only childish, but incoherent. Surely, Aris can do better than this. Her presumed audience is, after all, yokels in thrall with magic tricks. Given this, it is ironic that Aris is the first person I’ve met in this forum who believes that rope ties itself.

  45. 45
    Aris says:

    nostrowski: “CAVEAT: In you response, try not to condescend with references to magic tricks, fairy tales, and gobbledygook.”

    Why not? I see no difference between arguing for the existence of magic, ghosts or goblins, and unembodied designers. They all belong to a supernatural realm that’s beyond our abilities to probe it or even to establish the fact of its existence.

    Look guys, you can believe whatever you want to believe in. But there’s mysticism on one side and science on the other. Mysticism is very accommodating to belief in supernatural realms, intelligences, etc. Science on the other hand has nothing to do with unembodied entities, whether they’re designers or just go bump in the night. All I’m trying to do is help you understand the difference. And for my trouble you call me boorish, pedantic and condescending. Why don’t you instead pay attention to the content of my explanations?

  46. 46
    nostrowski says:

    For those of you following along, I reference this Aris quote:

    I think we can all agree that most knots are the products of directed processes. However, if you get behind your computer or home theater system and try to untangle the gaggle of cables and wires that reside there, you’ll always find some that have tied *themselves* in often elaborate ways.

    Asterisks mine.

  47. 47
    nostrowski says:

    In a rather revealing trend, you are ducking my questions again. You will respond to the presumption of design not being a hindrance to investigation/analysis?

  48. 48
    nostrowski says:

    Why don’t you instead pay attention to the content of my explanations?

    We did and you singularly refuse to engage when questioned further.

  49. 49
    nostrowski says:

    Newsflash: You ARE boorish, pedantic, and condescending. Note your latest example:

    Science on the other hand has nothing to do with unembodied entities, whether they’re designers or just go bump in the night. All I’m trying to do is help you understand the difference.

  50. 50
    Aris says:

    nostrowski: “Regarding Aris’ knot nonsense: Cables or ropes or lines of any kind do not tie themselves into knots.”

    This is what you understood from my discussion of knots? That I argued that cables tie themselves? Oh my…

    I thought it was obvious that I was talking of gaggles of cables. Gaggles of cables, wires, etc. that get intertwined into knots that seem designed. Gaggles, not individual cables. That’s why I talked of the cables behind your computer or HT system. Those are the places where gaggles of wires are most often found.

    Now, most of these gaggles of cables are dropped on the floor haphazardly. There’s no design, no attempt by an intelligent agent to tie them into knots. Yet, if you try to untangle them you’ll find them tangled, very often in nice looking knots. My point is simply this: You see a knot and you assume it was intelligently, purposefully designed. But there are knots that are the product of chance — the way the cables where dropped, their particular characteristics, the slope of the floor, etc. If you actually pull on the cables, you will in all probability entangle them even more, despite the fact that that was not your design at all. Your pulling is design, as haphazard as the way the cables were dropped on the floor. So, you end up with a “designed” artifact that was not designed at all but was the product of chance processes — all natural processes.

  51. 51
    nostrowski says:

    Oh my, right back. My point is this. I am also talking of “gaggles” of cables. They do not get intertwined into knots by chance. Is an unintended circumstance a random act? If you reposition peripherals without disconnecting cables are you not tying unintended knots? How would knots occur without the reposition of peripherals? Let’s say you hooked everything up with all the cables straight and never touched the peripherals again. How would these chance knots occur? Magic?

  52. 52
    nostrowski says:

    And for the record, I’ve never looked at a knot in a cable and assumed it was intelligently designed. Nor do I know anyone who has.

  53. 53
    jboze3131 says:

    aris- please, at least try to be honest about your motives. don’t claim you’re here to simply ask honest questions to see why someone sees things the way they do. you’re here to belittle and attack.

    your first comment was an attack. you then kept saying creationist (as opposed to ID theorists), you attacked ID theory as nonsense that is equal to saying “i don’t know how this could have happened, so it must have been designed”, when i’m fairly sure you know that’s not what the theory says at all.

    you say that one group relies on science while the other side relies on fairy tales and magic tricks, which is just arrogant and silly- you do realize that when you belittle the so-called fairy tale side, you’re attacking the very scientists who created the scientific method, right? if you look at the history of science, you’ll see that science only started and only flourished in religious nations (actually solely christian nations, and all the founders of the modern scientific method were devout christians- that side who went with the supernatural as opposed to science as you “explained” to us).

    you complain that we (people in general) have matured since the days of greek philosophical thought, so anyone who buys into any of those ideas must be immature. you also attack and say that “creationists” (on an ID site no less) don’t seem to be capable of complex thought- that REALLY sounds like an honest question to get honest answers. uh huh.

    you oddly compare a knot tied in a cord to the complex factories with different machines inside of all cells. that comparison is just absurd- a knot is not a random process as would have to be the case with darwinian evolution (chance and random mutations- only in darwinian thought is chance and randomness accepted as the cause for complexity!)…a knot is caused by an outside intelligent being acting on the cable or cord (like a designer would act upon living things). unless you know of knots that tie themselves without someone acting on the object. and, as i mentioned, a knot cannot be compared to the design features that even hardened naturalists are in awe of inside all cells. show me a knot that can be compared to the wonder of a bird being able to fly, and even then you can’t make the comparison. it’s like comparing apples and car parts.

    the fact is- you’re hear to attack those who don’t agree with your views on the world and belittle anyone who doesn’t see things your way. that’s your choice, you can do whatever you want, but at least be honest and don’t try to claim you’re merely asking thoughtful questions to see why people believe what they do, or that you’re a wise teacher on the side of science and you’re here to teach us. maybe i’m too dumb to understand tho. i mean, in your last comment you told us all that you were trying to “help” us “understand the difference” (thanks, because we’re too stupid, and we need your oh-so-wise teaching) and that the others here who have replied to you need to pay attention to the content of your explanations (now, i guess we’re bad children who have interrupted the teacher too many times, and we’re due for detention after school?

  54. 54

    “It seems to me that intellectual suicide is really when someone gives up on natural explanations for phenomena and hence on science itself. Since the ancient Greeks and the death of the first attempt at scientific inquiry — when the ideas of the pre-Socratics about a natural world were discarded for Plato’s and Pythagoras’s fantastical realm of perfect forms — intellectual, as well as technological, progress pretty much came to a standstill. Talk about intellectual suicide! It took another 2 millennia for science to flourish again.”

    Aris, you are still dodging my question. Furthermore, the ancient Greeks never saw the inner workings of a cell, or the expanse of the universe with its vast galaxies, and its glorious complexities. They didn’t know Big Bang cosmology or the importance of the rate of expansion. They didn’t know the importance of the weight of an atom or the rate at which helium must collide to produce a carbon-12 nucleus (three-alpha process). They didn’t know about irreducible complexity, or had any idea about future design theories. Their work was peripheral in the area of design detection. Perhaps you ought to pick up one of Dembski’s books.

  55. 55
    Aris says:

    nostrowski: “How would knots occur without the reposition of peripherals? Let’s say you hooked everything up with all the cables straight and never touched the peripherals again. How would these chance knots occur? Magic?”

    By a random, natural event that repositions the peripherals. Let’s say the house comes apart in an earthquake and one component goes one way and another another, and so on. The gaggle of cables that’s holding everything together will end up intertwined in knots, and the knots would be the result of a natural, chance process without anyone designing or implementing them.

    nostrowski: “And for the record, I’ve never looked at a knot in a cable and assumed it was intelligently designed. Nor do I know anyone who has.”

    Well, but it looks intelligently designed, doesn’t it? My point is simply that the appearance of design does not necessarily imply a designer, and there are things that give the appearance of design but are not designed.

    nostrowski: “Newsflash: You ARE boorish, pedantic, and condescending.”

    Fine. I’m all of these things. And more. If it makes you feel better, call me whatever you want. No problem.

  56. 56
    johnnyb says:

    “Anyone who posts here does so using a computer. I trust that we can agree that computers are not the product of prayer, or the creation of exorcising priests, or of any supernatural entity of any sort. They are merely the product of a process that started a few hundred years ago. Obviously that process is science.”

    No, they are a product of intelligent design. The computers did not build themselves. They were brought together by thinking agents.

    “Bottom line: Science works, unlike all the supernatural gobbleygook and fairy tales that passed for explanations of life, the universe, and everything for millennia. And it works precisely because it presupposes that every phenomenon has a natural explanation.”

    And you’re making the same straw man that everyone else does when they encounter Intelligent Design. You are forgetting that as a movement it does not posit that the designer was supernatural. It only posits that creativity/intelligence is a causitive force, separate from but constrained by law and chance. If design was not a causitive element, then NOTHING in the last 100 years would have occurred. You are taking the supernatural-vs-natural tack. But the point of Intelligent Design is that you don’t even have to talk about God to see the gigantic hole in materialist philosophy. You just have to talk about humans and intelligence, and the flaw is staring you in the faith. Many of us (including myself) think that the logical next step is to talk about God, but it is amazing beyond belief that scientists don’t want to talk about intelligence/creativity as a causitive force in the universe, despite the fact that it underlies everything they do.

    To call naturalism the cause of everything we have today, and Intelligent Design its antithesis is to call into question the very necessity of having an intelligent agent to carry out or at least initiate such work. But in fact we find that it is necessary, and has always been.

  57. 57
    Aris says:

    jboze3131: “aris- please, at least try to be honest about your motives. don’t claim you’re here to simply ask honest questions to see why someone sees things the way they do. you’re here to belittle and attack.”

    Why are you so concerned with my motives? What difference does it make what my motives are?

    Sure, I’ll admit that I have been exasperated with the combination of ignorance and arrogance that some people seem to exhibit. For example, when someone argues that science “flourished” because of Christianity, not despite of it, without bothering to explain why there was no scientific progress between the demise of the pre-Socratics and 1600 or so — which just happened to be the period of total dominance of Europe by the Christian church. I wish we could ask Galileo and Copernicus about the wonderful support their scientific ideas received from the Christian church. Hey, they could tell us how helpful the Christian church had been to the development of the theory of a heliocentric solar system.

    I have endevored to state and restate positions as clearly as possible and provide detailed explanations — even when it would have been easier to dismiss an argument as too juvenile to even deserve a response. That’s what ought to count.

  58. 58
    Aris says:

    Mario: “Aris, you are still dodging my question. Furthermore, the ancient Greeks never saw the inner workings of a cell, or the expanse of the universe with its vast galaxies…”

    I don’t think I dodged any question. But if you feel that I did, please state it and I’ll address it tomorrow. I’m going to have a little wine now. Have a good night.

  59. 59

    Aris, track “the law of inertia.” (post 22) Also, on natural selection, and later the anthropic coincidences.–Thanks

  60. 60
    dodgingcars says:

    “Galileo and Copernicus about the wonderful support their scientific ideas received from the Christian church. ”

    Umm.. They were both Christians. So was Newton and many other famous, intellectual, and intellegent scientists. Many were interested in science and they way thing worked because of their faith!

  61. 61
  62. 62
    jboze3131 says:

    dodgingcars, you said that before i could. you cant argue that christianity was anti-science then bring up scientists you want to show as examples of true science who were THEMSELVES christians as examples of how the argument doesnt hold up!

    its been pointed out many times by many people- many societies were advanced to a similar point, yet the only nations where science started and flourished were the christian nations. men of god wanted to learn how the things their god created worked, and its what drove them to study the world around them. the bible makes it clear that man is to use his brain, to study his surroundings, to worship with his head and his heart (and worship to some includes the scientific endeavors).

    im surprised i didnt see a bogus claim that christians thought the earth was flat (they didnt- even the ancients realized the earth was a sphere). i read an amazon.com review of one of dembski’s books where the reviwer made that bogus claim and he kept saying “ID-iots” and “ID’iotic”, etc. the reviewer makes a false claim that has been debunked time and time again, but dembski and those who support his ideas are the “ID-itots”. amazing how absolutely clueless some can be. (what’s worse, the people who rated the review as “helpful”). ignorance abounds.

    as for aris- your motives are totally relevant. why should anyone even reply to anything you have to say when every comment contains an attack on those who dont share your views? you say that youre just trying to get honest answers, but youre really just here to make attacks, call names, and belittle. you say youre exasperated with the combination of arrogance and ignorance some people exhibit, but you dont realize youre talking about yourself. you cant come in to a post, attack and talk down to people in every comment, then complain that YOURE tired of arrogance and ignorance! you cant say- ‘here, i have some honest questions, but let me stipulate one thing: im the one who has science on my side…you, on the other hand, have only fairy tales and nonsense, and youre all anti-science. but please, answer my questions the best you can with your small ID-ridden brains.’

  63. 63
    nostrowski says:

    Aris doesn’t know what Aris doesn’t know rendering any debate with her/he superfluous. She/he is a walking, talking contradiction and quite the unintended comedian:

    By a random, natural event that repositions the peripherals. Let’s say the house comes apart in an earthquake and one component goes one way and another another, and so on. The gaggle of cables that’s holding everything together will end up intertwined in knots, and the knots would be the result of a natural, chance process without anyone designing or implementing them.

    And with this sorry claptrap she/he feels superior?

    Let’s say a drunken elephant walked into a bar.

  64. 64
    crandaddy says:

    Goodness! This is quite a heated debate, or should I call it a battle? I can’t help but feel at least partly responsible since it was in response to my last post that Aris made his first. I’m not going to point fingers at anyone, but let’s try to be civil. Lively debates are good, but it’s hard to change anybody’s mind if their heart’s set to believe in something. If worse comes to worse, just agree to disagree. Just remember, the best way to get your point across is to take the high road.

    David

  65. 65
    PaV says:

    Aris writes: “By a random, natural event that repositions the peripherals. Let’s say the house comes apart in an earthquake and one component goes one way and another another, and so on. The gaggle of cables that’s holding everything together will end up intertwined in knots, and the knots would be the result of a natural, chance process without anyone designing or implementing them.”

    The way ID works is this: these “knots” seem to occur very easily; that is, they’re common. Being common implies that the probability of their occurence is relatively high (all of us, I’m sure, can attest to this). Having a ‘relatively high’ probability of occurence implies having very low complexity. Having low complexity means that we’re not dealing with CSI (complex, specified information). Hence, we REJECT the ‘design hypothesis.’ Ergo, “knots” are NOT designed; so we don’t go looking for a ‘designer.’ Q.E.D.

  66. 66
    nostrowski says:

    If one took the high road, David, they’d be unlikely to meet Aris.

  67. 67
    nostrowski says:

    PaV: Perfect. But, my limited candlepower admits of only this: It’s a knot in a computer cable. It serves no function. It is not intelligently designed, but intelligently caused. Unless of course the theoretical earthquake disconnects my monitor cable, ties it in a knot, and reconnects it to my monitor am I likely to be wrong. It doesn’t need to pass the CSI test because it doesn’t pass the laugh test. No one, to speak specifically to Aris’s example, would either assume a computer cable knot was intelligently designed, think it looked intelligently designed, or believe it the product of chance, for minus the offending and highly dextrous earthquake it is most certainly (and merely) intelligently caused. This is the context in which she/he presented the example and this is the context in which she/he is wrong.

    to wit: However, if you get behind your computer or home theater system and try to untangle the gaggle of cables and wires that reside there, you’ll always find some that have tied themselves in often elaborate ways. You didn’t tie the knots, and unless you think that knot-tying gremlins visit houses at night to mess with people’s cables (i.e. ID), the cables tied themselves by chance.

    Note that Aris didn’t find it necessary to invoke the dextrous earthquake theory originally. It was only when her/his example began to fall apart that the dextrous earthquake occured. This is because Aris confused the chance of unintended consequence (an intelligent agent rolling, say, a die or unknowingly tangling a cable) with the spontaneous chance of Darwinian evolution in which, to his/her knowledge, no intelligent agent was ever involved.

  68. 68
    PaV says:

    nostrowski: you and I know the triteness of the example; and you and I would not think of using EF on such example; but, in the end, using it should point out to Aris that the EF, in fact, does work. Onwards!

  69. 69
  70. 70
    SteveB says:

    We are indebted to Aris for articulating the view held by those working from a set of naturalistic assumptions. He says for example that “intellectual suicide is really when someone gives up on natural explanations for phenomena and hence on science itself.” (post 43—emphasis mine)

    But previously, he said, “Anyone who posts here does so using a computer. I trust that we can agree that computers are not the product of prayer, or the creation of exorcising priests, or of any supernatural entity of any sort. They are merely the product of a process that started a few hundred years ago. Obviously that process is science.” (38)

    Not hard to see the contradiction here. Leaving aside the straw man swipe about exorcising priests and the like, he insists that all of science is about “natural explanations for phenomena” and then cites the computer, created by the “process [that] is science.”

    We are told by Aris (and many, many others, over and over again) that science is all about naturalism. But computers—at least all the ones I use in my work as a software analyst—have nothing to so with “natural phenomena,” but rather are all about intent, analysis, design and construction–all by intelligent agents. Now, maybe Aris will disagree with me, but this is so completely obvious that it’s not worth trying to justify.

    So, computer science is not really science, or maybe–just maybe–is it possible that real science can be conducted outside of the constraints imposed by a naturalistic epistemology.

    But the computer–or any other complex technological construction–is a useful analogy. One of the teleological arguments that I find compelling is that because such complex systems exist and we know they are the result of intelligent design, it is reasonable to at least ask the question that complex systems in nature (everything from the blood clotting cascade to the precise interaction of cosmological bodies) could also be designed. It seems to me that asking these sorts of questions and following the evidence where ever it might lead is not, as Avis claims, committing intellectual suicide, but is in fact just the kind of attitude that any good scientist should bring to his/her work.

  71. 71
    Aris says:

    I almost gave up on this thread. It became rather tiresome to try to have a debate with people who seemed more interested in calling me names (I’ve been called boorish, pedantic, etc.) than presenting their ideas in an clear fashion. While I am indeed dismissive toward certain ideas I consider buffoonish, I don’t think I called anyone here by any derogatory name.

    In any case, I’m glad I came back. I hope the thread is not dead. I think crandaddy has it exactly right, and we should all heed his advice. And I’m quite gratified with PaV’s and SteveB’s intelligent approach to debate. It’s a welcome change to see people who can properly construct an argument — and without any snarkiness to boot.

    BTW: Aris is a male name, the original name for the Greek God of war (it can also be spelled as “Ares”). Having the name of a god does give one perspective…

  72. 72
    Aris says:

    nostrowski: “Aris doesn’t know what Aris doesn’t know rendering any debate with her/he superfluous. She/he is a walking, talking contradiction and quite the unintended comedian”

    Not a single word as to why my argument was claptrap or a contradiction or even why I’m supposed to be a comedian. Just a statement dismissing my argument without offering a counter argument or pointing out any flaws — or even why it’s supposed to be funny so that we can all have a good laugh. Please! This is not useful at all. Repeatedly copying and pasting large sections of my text out of context and then yelling, “Contradiction!” does not prove a contradiction.

  73. 73
    Aris says:

    nostrowski: “Note that Aris didn’t find it necessary to invoke the dextrous earthquake theory originally. It was only when her/his example began to fall apart that the dextrous earthquake occured.”

    Indeed, I seem to have made a mistake in my original use of the knot analogy: I mistakenly assumed that that most people would know that there are several disciplines that devote study to knots, from archeology to mathematics. There have been many scholarly works written in the last few years about knots, the complexity of knots, the history of knots, etc. Knots are not merely something boy scouts mess around with. I should not have made the assumption that everyone knew how interesting knots can be, and I should have prefaced my comments with an introductory paragraph.

    With that out of the way, can we now concentrate on my argument?

  74. 74
    Aris says:

    PaV: “Having low complexity means that we’re not dealing with CSI (complex, specified information). Hence, we REJECT the ‘design hypothesis.’ Ergo, “knots” are NOT designed; so we don’t go looking for a ‘designer.’

    I do not agree — and I’m quite confident that no mathematician would disagree with me — that knots are not complex. Sure, some are simpler than others, but the topology of knots is rich and varied. My point is simply that when you encounter a knot you do not know whether it is was intelligently designed or whether it was the product of a natural event that applied force on its strands. The fact that it is not difficult for a natural process to create a knot, does not make the knot simple, but should make us wonder whether it is reasonable to conclude that everything that looks designed, is actually designed.

    I trust you’ll agree that when we’re looking at life on Earth — as well as other historical events — we’re essentially archeological detectives. So let’s say an archeologist finds an ancient gaggle of reeds, all tangled and knotted up in elaborate ways. He has to decide whether this knot was designed by someone for a specific purpose or whether it was the product of natural forces. Could it be the product of some reeds that got tangled up by wind, earth movement, or some other natural force? He doesn’t know just by looking — and in this case the archeologist has information about knots that we do not have about life.

    Let me put it in syllogism form:

    1. Knots can be complex objects
    2. Knots can be complex objects created by force applied by an intelligent entity or undirected, unintelligent natural events
    3. Therefore, because a knot is a complex object, it does not follow that it was designed by an intelligent entity and not a natural event

    I’m not certain which one of these premises you disagree with. But if you accept the premises, you have to accept that complexity is not a necessary (and definitely not a sufficient) condition for concluding that an object is an artifact of intelligent design. You may argue that other factors combined with the perceived complexity of an object indicate intelligent design, but complexity in and of itself does not.

  75. 75
    Aris says:

    SteveB: “Not hard to see the contradiction here. Leaving aside the straw man swipe about exorcising priests and the like, he insists that all of science is about “natural explanations for phenomena” and then cites the computer, created by the “process [that] is science.”

    There is no contradiction. You quoted me out of context, and thus you managed to misconstrue what I said. (It is actually fascinating, because it is giving me an insight as to why we’re having such a hard time communicating. Stay with me here and I’ll do my best to deconstruct what happened.)

    Let’s go to tape: I said that, “I trust that we can agree that computers are not the product of prayer, or the creation of exorcising priests, or of any supernatural entity of any sort. They are merely the product of a process that started a few hundred years ago. Obviously that process is science.”

    I never said the computer was in any way “created” by science instead of computer engineers as if science is an entity capable of making things (I know what you’re thinking: I just “admitted” that computers were designed by computer engineers and therefore I have to accept ID. Not so fast… read on).

    What I said was that the computer was the product of a process which is obviously science. This is not mere semantics. What my sentence means is that technological wonders like computers exist because human beings at a certain point in their history started looking for natural explanations to phenomena instead of relying on faith and divine authority (e.g. exorcising priests; this was hardly a strawman) for answers as to how the universe works.

    By looking for natural explanations, they to learned how to manipulate natural forces and we ended up with the industrial revolution, the development of machines, and eventually a machine called a computer. If human beings continued to insist that, for instance, electricity was not a natural phenomenon with a natural explanation, but instead it was the creation of a supernatural entity, they would not have been able to understand and harness and control electricity and use it as a source of energy and eventually use it to power computers. Ergo, the computer, just like every other technology, is the practical application of natural explanations to phenomena. The quest for natural explanations is science. There can be no other “form” for science. The quest for supernatural explanations is mysticism, not science.

  76. 76
    Aris says:

    SteveB: “But computers—at least all the ones I use in my work as a software analyst—have nothing to so with “natural phenomena,” but rather are all about intent, analysis, design and construction–all by intelligent agents. Now, maybe Aris will disagree with me, but this is so completely obvious that it’s not worth trying to justify.”

    Obviously computers are not assembled by “natural phenomena” but by intelligent agents. This is not in dispute. However, to repeat my point above, even if it should be obvious by now, the analysis of “natural phenomena” as products of nature and the quest for natural explanations, increased our knowledge of how the universe works to a point that we managed to create machines that work on natural principles we understand and can manipulate.

  77. 77
    Aris says:

    SteveB: “So, computer science is not really science, or maybe–just maybe–is it possible that real science can be conducted outside of the constraints imposed by a naturalistic epistemology.”

    Science is by definition the quest for natural explanations to phenomena. Speculation about metaphysical explanations is philosophy; reliance on supernatural explanations is religion. Neither philosophy nor religion have advanced human knowledge about nature to a point where we can harness natural materials and forces and use them as building blocks and energy, and to make machines out of them. Never, ever. Only science has.

  78. 78
    Aris says:

    SteveB: “So, computer science is not really science, or maybe–just maybe–is it possible that real science can be conducted outside of the constraints imposed by a naturalistic epistemology.”

    Science is by definition the quest for natural explanations to phenomena. Speculation about metaphysical explanations is philosophy; reliance on supernatural explanations is religion. Neither philosophy nor religion have advanced human knowledge about nature to a point where we can harness natural materials and forces and use them as building blocks and energy, and to make machines out of them. Never, ever. Only science has.

  79. 79
    Aris says:

    SteveB: “But the computer–or any other complex technological construction–is a useful analogy. One of the teleological arguments that I find compelling is that because such complex systems exist and we know they are the result of intelligent design, it is reasonable to at least ask the question that complex systems in nature (everything from the blood clotting cascade to the precise interaction of cosmological bodies) could also be designed.”

    Three points.

    1. It is reasonable to ask the question as to whether complex systems in nature could have been designed. What is not reasonable is to pretend that science asks teleological questions, that is questions about purpose and objective (“end” would be the closest translation of the Greek “telos.”) Science deals with what is observable, and scientists can infer apparent relationships between and within natural phenomena, such as causation, correlation and coincidence, by examining events that have taken place. However, while you and I in the ordinary course of events assign “purpose” to our experiences, this is not an inference scientists can make. They comment on how something works, but why something works the way it does is beyond science. For instance, anyone who was trained in the sciences and actually understands evolutionary theory, would never argue that the “purpose” of the eye is to see. He would merely observe that the eye sees and proceed to describe how it sees and how it probably developed into a seeing thing.

    2. It is normal to try and find analogies in life because it helps us make sense of the world. It is a natural human tendency that helps us survive — one experience with large pointy teeth can teach us that things that look like large pointy teeth are dangerous. However, comparing human artifacts to non-human artifacts are terrible analogies because they are so misleading. You see, we already know that a computer or any other complex technological construction is a human artifact. We also know that Mount Rushmore (Behe’s favorite analogy) is a human artifact, etc. etc. Because of this a posteriori knowledge we are prone to look for similar patterns in other things (such as life on Earth) that we do not already know were designed. The temptation here is to jump into the conclusion that any similarity between the two must be due to similar origins. The inference however is not justified. Where man-made machines and living creatures are similar, the explanation is rather obvious: In the process of artification humans, much of the time, copied whatever already existed. So, to make a plane we made things with wings because we had already seen birds with wings. What design similarities actually prove is that we designed human artifacts after looking at nature, another obvious point. The natural objects humans used as models had already existed.

    3. Furthermore, man-made machines and living creatures are simply not similar in any fundamental way. Biologists — those who actually study biological constructs and are familiar with them — will almost to a man (or woman) tell you that the similarities between the design of human artifacts and biological systems are superficial (it’s not by accident that the proponents of ID with academic credentials are not biologists; sure, there are a few, but only a few). Where laymen see precision, biologists see haphazardness that often works despite fundamental structural flaws.

  80. 80
    Aris says:

    SteveB: “It seems to me that asking these sorts of questions and following the evidence where ever it might lead is not, as Avis claims, committing intellectual suicide, but is in fact just the kind of attitude that any good scientist should bring to his/her work.

    It’s obvious to me that there aren’t any scientists posting here. Some of you may be engineers, programmers, technologists, and so on, and some of you may be proficient with the tools of science such as mathematics. However, practicing scientists know that the magnificence of science, the reason it has been more successful that any other human endeavor in advancing knowledge is because it operates within very strict parameters (study the observable, provide natural explanations, experiment). The strength of science is indeed its limits. To ask science to “open up” is to destroy it.

    Let me give you an example from life: You take your car to a mechanic to be fixed. A good mechanic will observe how your car behaves, open the engine up, take things apart, experiment with different configurations, switch parts, etc. A good mechanic will be open minded and will try an unconventional part and consider a suggestion that seems radical about connecting some wires a different way, etc. However, would you take your car to a mechanic who was “open minded” to the point of expanding car repair to include prayer, crystals, chanting, and other activities that do not fall within what we understand as the parameters constraining mechanics (i.e. to work with the engine as a natural object)? I don’t think so. Yet many people are asking science to commit suicide by going beyond the physical and toward the metaphysical (it is worth noting that science flourished when it detached itself from philosophy and became “natural philosophy.”)

    I expect that you’re going to argue that nobody here mentioned anything about prayer, crystals and chanting and I’m using a strawman argument. I do hope nobody here believes in any of the stuff. My point is that when you “open” up a discipline beyond the parameters that define it, you open it up to nonsense. It is happening right now with medicine, with all the bogus alternative therapies that are being taken seriously.

    There is no bridge between science and theology, and attempts to force one between them will flood both.

  81. 81
    Aris says:

    jboze3131: “dodgingcars, you said that before i could. you cant argue that christianity was anti-science then bring up scientists you want to show as examples of true science who were THEMSELVES christians as examples of how the argument doesnt hold up!”

    The fact that someone can be a Christian and also be a scientist is as relevant as whether someone is a scientist because he parts his hair on the right and not the left. The history of science is very well documented, and this inference is factually as wrong as anything can be. There is absolutely no evidence that Galileo’s or Copernicus’s “christianity” had anything to do with their achievements. Quite the contrary. They both had to go against Christian dogma and the Christian church, under the threat of arrest, torture and death, to propose a heliocentric universe. It wasn’t until 1992 that Pope John Paul II officially conceded that the Earth revolves around the sun!!

    Religion in general, not just Christianity, are inherently anti-science because they rely on authority to provide answers to questions about life, the universe and everything else. Science acknowledges no authority except the preponderance of evidence, experimental results, etc. No accommodation can be made between the infallibility of a Pope and a Pat Robertson and the scientific method.

    I don’t know where some of you find your information. But if you insist that Christianity was the cause of science, or that it at least was a positive influence, then you should be able to answer a few simple questions and enlighten me:

    1. The first scientific advances took place in ancient Greece, especially among the pre-Socratic philosophers of Ionia. They came up with a basic atomic theory, realized the Earth was round — and later on a Greek librarian even managed to measure the circumference of the Earth to within a few meters. These were pagans. How come, since scientists have to be Christians according to you?
    2. Scientific advances all but disappeared for almost 14 centuries, between the Hellenistic period and the 16th century or so. How come, since that was the period when the power and dominance of the Christian church was at its zenith?
    3. How come science flourished again right about the time when ancient Greek texts were rediscovered in Europe and Christianity was splintered by the Reformation? What’s the connection here?

  82. 82
    PaV says:

    Aris: I do not agree — and I’m quite confident that no mathematician would disagree with me — that knots are not complex. Sure, some are simpler than others, but the topology of knots is rich and varied.

    Let me point out that I think we need to distinguish between the “mathematical description” of a “knot”–which, indeed, is complex–and the actual occurence of a knot–which may, or may NOT, be complex.

    So let’s say an archeologist finds an ancient gaggle of reeds, all tangled and knotted up in elaborate ways. He has to decide whether this knot was designed by someone for a specific purpose or whether it was the product of natural forces. Could it be the product of some reeds that got tangled up by wind, earth movement, or some other natural force? He doesn’t know just by looking — and in this case the archeologist has information about knots that we do not have about life.

    Let me put it in syllogism form:

    1. Knots can be complex objects
    2. Knots can be complex objects created by force applied by an intelligent entity or undirected, unintelligent natural events
    3. Therefore, because a knot is a complex object, it does not follow that it was designed by an intelligent entity and not a natural event

    I’m not certain which one of these premises you disagree with. But if you accept the premises, you have to accept that complexity is not a necessary (and definitely not a sufficient) condition for concluding that an object is an artifact of intelligent design. You may argue that other factors combined with the perceived complexity of an object indicate intelligent design, but complexity in and of itself does not.

    The problem I perceive in your syllogism is that premises (1) and (2) are somewhat indistinguishable–that is, premise (2) is simply a more amplified version of premise (1). Therefore, there is no conclusion to draw, but, rather, a question to be asked. The question is–based on what is written in (2): can we tell if a “knot” has been designed or not (no pun intended)?

    My answer would be along these lines: the “reeds” in question have, based on their biological characteristics, would have some number of “natural” positions. For example, if the reeds were interwoven slightly, this could be the result of the wind blowing or of animals trodding it down. Now the “number” of “natural” positions that would not be “complex” because there are only so many of them. Now, if the archeologist does, indeed, find the reeds in a “complicated” pattern, then, based on the “weaving pattern” observed, the “number” of possible positions would now be much higher. If this “number” were sufficiently high, then the number of possible configurations would be high, and hence a large “probability space.” Thus, in this case, the “complexity” is high enough to perhaps distinguish between chance, i.e., random, forces causing the configuration, or whether the cause of the knotting was design. However–and this is a very big “however”–the “probability space” in this example is very likely not sufficiently large enough for the archeologist to have a high degree of confidence in the answer he arrives at. For example, the total possible number of configurations might be in the order of a billion. That seems high, but it isn’t extremely high; whereas, for example, for a protein, on the other hand, the probability space would number in the order of 20^300th power–unbelievably large. It’s the largeness of this probability space that ID takes advantage of.

    So, in other words, for ID to function properly, the probability space–and hence the complexity–must be very, very high. Thus, we can, on our own, make determinations between what we consider “complex” and “not-complex”, and, then, subsequently, to what is “designed” or “not-designed”. But we’re doing this on our own. And……..a “false positive” is possible; whereas, in ID, the possibility of a “false positive” is eliminated.

    Hope this has been helpful.

  83. 83

    Hey, not fair! Aris was supposed to respond to me first.

  84. 84
    SteveB says:

    Wow Aris, you have a lot more free time than I do! I’d like to repond but likely won’t be able to do so right away. Stay tuned.

  85. 85
    SteveB says:

    Aris:

    Lots to say; too little time. Here’s a quick response, with more later if I have the time. You say, for example, “Science deals with what is observable…” and later, “The strength of science is indeed its limits,” and again, “what is not reasonable is to pretend that science asks teleological questions.”

    I agree completely. Indeed, if standard, garden-variety neodarwinism were actually to submit to these limitations, I think we wouldn’t have an argument. Furthermore, if this is the standard, neodarwinism is by definition not scientific because it speculates about what is not observable, and draws conclusions that are explicitly teleological. A cursory reading of either Sagan or Dawkins makes this abundantly clear. I can dig up some quotations if you need me to.

    In short, the good news: I largely agree with your definitions of science. The bad news: neodarwinism, by the standard you have defined, is not scientific.

    More details later if I have time.

    -sb

  86. 86
    nostrowski says:

    Aris: You ask people to imagine what’s behind their computer in the way of knots as an example of chance. Yet, these knots have a high probability of intelligent causation. When this dawns on you, you then decide that earthquakes threw peripherals hither and yon to randomly generate knots. This is a complete departure from your original premise and, thus, comedic in value. Is it my fault your original example was asinine?

    And as for snarkiness, physician heal thyself.

    Meanwhile, you have yet to answer how the presumption of design specifically closes off investigation and analysis. I asked in post #40 and #47. Or are these questions not up to the mighty war god’s celestial standards?

  87. 87
    nostrowski says:

    Let me give you an example from life: You take your car to a mechanic to be fixed. A good mechanic will observe how your car behaves, open the engine up, take things apart, experiment with different configurations, switch parts, etc. A good mechanic will be open minded and will try an unconventional part and consider a suggestion that seems radical about connecting some wires a different way, etc. However, would you take your car to a mechanic who was “open minded” to the point of expanding car repair to include prayer, crystals, chanting, and other activities that do not fall within what we understand as the parameters constraining mechanics (i.e. to work with the engine as a natural object)?

    Why can’t you have a discussion on the merits (or the lack thereof) of ID without reference to prayer, crystals, chanting, exorcising priests, ghosts, goblins, gremlins, ad nauseum? Why the continual deflections? For, if they are not deflections, they are, dare I say it, the snarkiness of which you accuse others. Do you see evidence of biological design? Yes or no? And specifically, without your penchant for coarse analogies, why or why not?

  88. 88
    nostrowski says:

    And, yes, I still wait on #’s 40 and 47 patiently.

  89. 89
    SteveB says:

    Aris: I hope you come back…

    In looking through your posts, it’s pretty clear you’ve created a false dichotomy (“x instead of y” is a common form in your writing). Consider, for example: “human beings at a certain point in their history started looking for natural explanations to phenomena instead of relying on faith and divine authority…” or “If human beings continued to insist that, for instance, electricity was not a natural phenomenon with a natural explanation, but instead it was the creation of a supernatural entity, they would not have been able to understand…”

    I myself do not for a moment think that electricity is, as you say, the “creation of a supernatural entity,” as if by praying I could somehow get God to turn on the lights for me. Thus, this whole line of argument seems to be, if not an intentional a straw man, a profound misunderstanding or misrepresentation of ID.

    What you call a “natural phenomenon” I would simply call rule-governed. And this rule-governed nature of the universe is what makes science possible. Thus, people can study & understand the principles that govern, for example, electricity, and consequently develop applications like, for example, computers. These principles apply equally to me and to you regardless of our world views. And so, every scientific endeavor from the polio vaccine to the Hubble telescope has been accomplished because the people working in the field have adhered to this principle of methodological naturalism.

    The problem with neodarwinism, however, is that there is an additional requirement of epistemological naturalism, thus introducing philosophy into their science.

    And so one of the common objections that ID advocates raise against the prevailing neodarwinist orthodoxy is that they don’t play by the same rules that they insist their critics follow. For example, you say: “Because of this a posteriori knowledge we are prone to look for similar patterns in other things (such as life on Earth) that we do not already know were designed.” I can respect the view you have articulated here: we don’t know; the jury’s still out. I also don’t know in any absolute sense. I have evidence for my world view and have become personally convinced, but I don’t–and no one can ever–know absolutely.

    Not so the typical neodarwinist. Consider, for example, Dawkins, who says: “So powerful is the illusion of design, it took humanity until the mid-19th century to realise that it is an illusion.” He, in spite of obvious appearances, definitively knows that the universe is the product of naturalistic processes.

    And what has brought him to this conclusion? Is it the rigors of objectivity and the scientific method? Hardly. He “knows” this, because it is the faith he started with, because he would be apostate if he were to reject it, and becasue his a-priori naturalism demands it.

    And this is faith, not science.

Leave a Reply