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Thomas Aquinas contra Transformism

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In my previous post Synthesis-versus-Analysis I dealt with the distinction between “true whole” and “false whole”. Now let’s see how that had relations with Aquinas and his refutation of biological macroevolution.

About the origin of man and the relations between his soul and body, Aquinas was clear:

Reply to objection 3: Some have claimed that the [first] man’s body was formed antecedently in time, and that later on God infused a soul into the already formed body. But it is contrary to the nature of the perfection of the first production of beings that God would make either the body without the soul or the soul without the body; for each of them is a part of human nature. It is especially inappropriate to make the body without the soul, since the body depends on the soul, but not vice versa. [Summa Theologiae, 91, IV]

Note that the above quote especially applies to the negation of the arise of man from a non-human being (anthropoid). But in general denies the material macroevolution of any living being, because no being is inanimate (also if obviously human soul is incomparably higher than any animal soul) and Aquinas states that “soul is the form of the body” (in Scholasticism, in general, the “form” is the qualitative “principle” or “essence” of a thing):

Reply to objection 3: […] But since the soul is the form of the body, it does not have esse separately from the body’s esse; instead, it is united to the body directly through its own esse. [ibidem, 76, VII]

We can conclude that Aquinas is contra universal macroevolution in principle, because macroevolution is transformation of bodies only, while in Aquinas soul and body are not separable and the latter causatively depends on the former. By the way, this crystalline Aquinas’ position, shows how inconsistent are some Catholics (or even neo-Thomists!) who think to can believe, in the same time, in the Catholic doctrine (of which Aquinas is the master reference) and biological transformism.

But here I want to elaborate a bit specifically the above Aquinas statement: “But it is contrary to the nature of the perfection of the first production of beings that God would make either the body without the soul or the soul without the body”.

Beings are “perfect” because they are “true wholes”. If they are “true wholes” then their constitution / organization spiritus-anima-corpus must be an integrated “unit” or “oneness”. As I said in the linked post a “true whole” is a synthesis that can be neither produced nor conceived by analysis, rather only by means of “synthetic knowledge” (related to intelligent design). Because of such “synthetic knowledge” any kind of being is a top-down manifestation / instantiation of a metaphysical archetype into matter, by means of a vertical causation across the three layers: spiritual, animic (soul), corporeal (body).

Differently, a material macroevolution, or macro-morphing, of a being A to a being B would be a step-by-step analytic process, which — as we have seen — can never reach the limit of the target “true whole”. If the limit unit is not reached, and the beings are units, they neither can be produced by such analytic manner nor we can speak of “perfection”, neither about the process nor about its result. Goes without saying that such analytic process fails also because doesn’t work at all on the spiritual and animic planes.

As a consequence, only the above synthetic “vertical causation” can account for the “perfection of the production of perfect beings”, as Aquinas puts it. Any analytic serial horizontal macroevolution wouldn’t be “perfect” and wouldn’t produce “perfect” beings at all. This is the reason why Aquinas speaks of “perfection of the first production of beings” and coherently denies transformism.

Of course Aquinas’ cosmologic teachings about creatures’ origin, which are rigorously based on ontological principles, agree perfectly with the modern perspective of engineering. To provide a practical example, engineers never physically transform — say — cars into airplanes, rather they design in abstracto and assembly cars and airplanes independently. Also engineers apply an intelligent “vertical causation”, from abstract archetypes to material systems. No wonder, it couldn’t be otherwise because truth, at any level, is necessarily coherent, and the principles of intelligent design are universal.

133 Replies to “Thomas Aquinas contra Transformism

  1. 1
    vjtorley says:

    Hi niwrad,

    I greatly enjoyed reading this fascinating post. I was very interested to see the skillful use you made of the concept of perfection, in your exposition of what Aquinas wrote in the Summa Theologica, I, q. 91, art. 3. I hadn’t thought about the passage in quite that way before.

    I should mention that since Aquinas followed Aristotle’s biology, he did not view all living beings as perfect. The term “perfect being” was restricted by Aquinas to animals that reproduce sexually, and are “generated from seed.” Other creatures, he believed, were generated from dead or decaying matter. Today, of course, we know better. While not all organisms reproduce sexually, none are capable of being generated from dead or decaying matter. Hence one could argue that Aquinas would have rejected macroevolution, period.

    I should add that while Aquinas believed that new species could arise through hybridization (e.g. mules), he denied that one species could change into another over time. Here are a few pertinent texts:

    Aquinas taught that the original species of plants and animals had been created in the works of the six days, and that they would last until the end of time, when the movement of the heavens will stop (see his Quaestiones Disputatae De Potentia Dei [Disputed Questions on the Power of God], Question V, article IX).

    Additionally, in his Summa Theologica I, q. 118, art. 3, reply to objection 1, Aquinas writes that all the species created by God were created in the first works: “God is said to have rested on the seventh day, not from all work, since we read (John 5:17): “My Father worketh until now”; but from the creation of any new genera and species, which may not have already existed in the first works.”

    Further confirmation of Aquinas’ views on the fixity of species is given in the following paragraph, where he writes: “Something can be added every day to the perfection of the universe, as to the number of individuals, but not as to the number of species” (Summa Theologica I, q. 118, art. 3, reply to objection 2).

    Finally, given Aquinas’ assertion (see above) that living things reproduce according to their kind (Summa Theologica I, q. 72 a. 1, reply to obj. 3), there could be no question of an existing species evolving into a new species as a result of mutations accumulating over the course of time. That would contradict his essentialism.

  2. 2
    niwrad says:

    Thanks vjtorley,

    My posts are really poor thing compared to yours!

    Yes, you are right, “perfection” has multiple meanings. In its higher sense, it can be applied to the metaphysical total Reality only, then properly nothing in the existence is “perfect”. Among the lower meanings there is that I used here.

    Again you are right that medieval biology that Aquinas could know was much more limited than modern one. But the really great thinkers are indeed who were able to arrive to an universal synthesis illuminating all things, also if the analytic knowledge of details at their disposal was limited. And I am sure you and I agree that Aquinas was doubtlessly one of them!

  3. 3
    Box says:

    A “true whole” (oneness) does not consist of parts – like the human mind. Obviously the body consists of parts. Therefor I reject Aquinas notion of the body being part of any oneness.

  4. 4
    Silver Asiatic says:

    By the way, this crystalline Aquinas’ position, shows how inconsistent are some Catholics (or even neo-Thomists!) who think to can believe, in the same time, in the Catholic doctrine (of which Aquinas is the master reference) and biological transformism.

    Excellent point (in an equally excellent posting). It’s surprising that so many neo-Thomists miss this very obvious aspect of Aquinas’ teaching. At the same time, some might accept this argument and still reject ID since they’ll accept this as a philosophical refutation of Darwinism but not as a position in support of ID. I think that’s mistaken for the reason you gave — namely, that ID does show scientific evidence of a being’s wholeness (irreducibility) which points to vertical causation (design).

    Again, this was very good and I hope more ID researchers will look into this area. As it stands, Aquinas’ teaching is generally distorted on this topic by the very people who identify themselves as his followers.

  5. 5
    niwrad says:

    Box #3

    Body is a unit per se, because at least:

    (1) The body is an image of an archetype. Archetypes are true wholes and their images somehow inherit this property.

    (2) The body parts we consider are so functionally interrelated that it is hard to separate them.

    (3) In the embryo development all parts are in potency a whole and one cannot properly say they develop individually; it is a wonderful orchestration.

    (4) As Silver Asiatic rightly says, the irreducible complexity paradigm is everywhere applied. Even when some body parts are amputated, the soul continues somehow to feel them.

    (5) The body of an individual recognizes its parts and reject the implant of those of another individual.

    (6) Indeed this morning! a doctor said to me “there is not such thing as to cure a part of the body, we should cure a patient as a whole”.

    (7) A true top-down design perspective is always a synthetic vision, especially in biology. You are right that “body consists of parts”, but only from the analytic bottom-up reverse-engineering viewpoint. I don’t even cite the Darwinian perspective, which is nonsense.

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    But it is contrary to the nature of the perfection of the first production of beings that God would make either the body without the soul or the soul without the body; for each of them is a part of human nature. It is especially inappropriate to make the body without the soul, since the body depends on the soul, but not vice versa.

    Since everybody has a soul would not this also imply that God, besides creating humans uniquely, created each human uniquely?

  7. 7
    Box says:

    Niwrad: Body is a unit per se, because at least:

    (1) The body is an image of an archetype. Archetypes are true wholes and their images somehow inherit this property.

    An archetype, if it can ground its own existence (which does not make sense to me), may be a true whole, however the body is not. A true whole does not inherit anything from something else; is independent. A unit, a true whole, cannot be caused by something else (external from the true whole).

    Niwrad: (2) The body parts we consider are so functionally interrelated that it is hard to separate them.

    The body symbolizes a unit. It is a material manifestation of a spiritual unit, but it is not identical with it, nor is it part of a true whole.

    Niwrad: (3) In the embryo development all parts are in potency a whole and one cannot properly say they develop individually; it is a wonderful orchestration.

    The wonderful orchestration does not originate from the body.

    Niwrad: (4) As Silver Asiatic rightly say, the irreducible complexity paradigm is everywhere applied. Even when some body parts are amputated, the soul continues somehow to feel them.

    A true whole cannot be amputated.

    Niwrad: (5) The body of an individual recognizes its parts and reject those of another individual.

    The body symbolizes a unit.

    Niwrad: (6) Indeed this morning! a doctor said me “there is not such thing as to cure a part of the body, we should cure a patient as a whole”.

    He is right. The body symbolizes a unit.

    Niwrad: (7) A true top-down design perspective is always a synthetic vision, especially in biology. You are right that “body consists of parts”, but only from the analytic bottom-up reverse-engineering viewpoint. I don’t even cite the Darwinian perspective, which is nonsense.

    There is top-down causation of the parts (body) but this top-down causation does not originate from the body.

  8. 8
    niwrad says:

    bornagain77 #6

    Good comment. In a sense it is so! Each individual is God’s creation, also if it is the result of biological reproduction across millennia.

    From the ontological viewpoint each individual is a vertical instantiation from God to matter, so to speak.

    It is said: “the return paths which lead to God are numerous as the souls of men” (thus also atheists have their path obviously…). This direct return (from the creature to the Creator) is possible indeed because of the above instantiation (from God to the particular individual).

  9. 9
    bornagain77 says:

    niwrad, it might be helpful to add that, due to vastly improved resuscitation techniques, we have far more observational evidence for the reality of the soul today than Aquinas had in his day. Moreover, in confirmation of Aquinas overall thesis, we have no observational evidence that ‘transformism’, i.e. macro-evolution, between species is possible.

    Near-Death Experiences: Putting a Darwinist’s Evidentiary Standards to the Test – Dr. Michael Egnor – October 15, 2012
    Excerpt: Indeed, about 20 percent of NDE’s are corroborated, which means that there are independent ways of checking about the veracity of the experience. The patients knew of things that they could not have known except by extraordinary perception — such as describing details of surgery that they watched while their heart was stopped, etc. Additionally, many NDE’s have a vividness and a sense of intense reality that one does not generally encounter in dreams or hallucinations.,,,
    The most “parsimonious” explanation — the simplest scientific explanation — is that the (Near Death) experience was real. Tens of millions of people have had such experiences. That is tens of millions of more times than we have observed the origin of species, (or the origin of life, or the origin of a molecular machine), which is never.,,,
    The materialist reaction, in short, is unscientific and close-minded. NDE’s show fellows like Coyne at their sneering unscientific irrational worst. Somebody finds a crushed fragment of a fossil and it’s earth-shaking evidence. Tens of million of people have life-changing spiritual experiences and it’s all a big yawn.
    Note: Dr. Egnor is professor and vice-chairman of neurosurgery at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65301.html

    “A recent analysis of several hundred cases showed that 48% of near-death experiencers reported seeing their physical bodies from a different visual perspective. Many of them also reported witnessing events going on in the vicinity of their body, such as the attempts of medical personnel to resuscitate them (Kelly et al., 2007).”
    Kelly, E. W., Greyson, B., & Kelly, E. F. (2007). Unusual experiences near death and related phenomena. In E. F. Kelly, E. W. Kelly, A. Crabtree, A. Gauld, M. Grosso, & B. Greyson, Irreducible mind (pp. 367-421). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

    Michaela’s Amazing NEAR death experience – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTcHWz6UMZ8

    supplemental notes;

    Memories of Near Death Experiences (NDEs): More Real Than Reality? – Mar. 27, 2013
    Excerpt:,,,researchers,, have looked into the memories of NDE with the hypothesis that if the memories of NDE were pure products of the imagination, their phenomenological characteristics (e.g., sensorial, self referential, emotional, etc. details) should be closer to those of imagined memories. Conversely, if the NDE are experienced in a way similar to that of reality, their characteristics would be closer to the memories of real events.
    The researchers compared the responses provided by three groups of patients, each of which had survived (in a different manner) a coma, and a group of healthy volunteers. They studied the memories of NDE and the memories of real events and imagined events with the help of a questionnaire which evaluated the phenomenological characteristics of the memories. The results were surprising. From the perspective being studied, not only were the NDEs not similar to the memories of imagined events, but the phenomenological characteristics inherent to the memories of real events (e.g. memories of sensorial details) are even more numerous in the memories of NDE than in the memories of real events.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....190359.htm

    A Doctor’s Near Death Experience Inspires a New Life – video
    Quote: “It’s not like a dream. It’s like the world we are living in is a dream and it’s kind of like waking up from that.”
    Dr. Magrisso
    http://www.nbcchicago.com/on-a.....31791.html

    Dr. Eben Alexander Says It’s Time for Brain Science to Graduate From Kindergarten – 10/24/2013
    Excerpt: To take the approach of, “Oh it had to be a hallucination of the brain” is just crazy. The simplistic idea that NDEs (Near Death Experiences) are a trick of a dying brain is similar to taking a piece of cardboard out of a pizza delivery box, rolling it down a hill and then claiming that it’s an identical event as rolling a beautiful Ferrari down a hill. They are not the same at all. The problem is the pure materialist scientists can be so closed-minded about it.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....51093.html

  10. 10
    Box says:

    Bornagain77,
    your post about NDE’s is most relevant. I have to admit that I wasn’t aware of the fact that according to Aquinas soul and body are not separable – together they are a true whole (!!?). Therefor, (unless I’m missing something) according to Aquinas, NDE’s are impossible.

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    But alas Box, when the soul leaves the body, the body disintegrates into dust in fairly short order. Thus, once again, supporting Aquinas’s overall thesis that the body cannot exist without the soul.

    semi-related notes;

    The Unbearable Wholeness of Beings – Stephen L. Talbott
    Excerpt: Virtually the same collection of molecules exists in the canine cells during the moments immediately before and after death. But after the fateful transition no one will any longer think of genes as being regulated, nor will anyone refer to normal or proper chromosome functioning. No molecules will be said to guide other molecules to specific targets, and no molecules will be carrying signals, which is just as well because there will be no structures recognizing signals. Code, information, and communication, in their biological sense, will have disappeared from the scientist’s vocabulary.
    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/.....-of-beings

    Coast to Coast – Vicki’s Near Death Experience (Blind From Birth) part 1 of 3
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e65KhcCS5-Y

    Quote from preceding video: ‘I was in a body and the only way that I can describe it was a body of energy, or of light. And this body had a form. It had a head. It had arms and it had legs. And it was like it was made out of light. And ‘it’ was everything that was me. All of my memories, my consciousness, everything.’ –
    Vicky Noratuk

  12. 12
    niwrad says:

    Box,

    Soul and body are not separable in life, but soul and body are separated by death. NDEs are events where you are “near death”, where you experiment a bit of this separation, a partial detachment.

    Conversely, all the experiences where one tries to detach soul from body, the voluntary “exits in the astral or etheric body” — as some call them — are extremely dangerous indeed because a total detachment means death. Sure I do not suggest them.

  13. 13
    Box says:

    Niwrad: Soul and body are not separable in life, but soul and body are separated by death.

    If they are separable by death, why do you (and/or Aquinas) refer to beings (soul and body) as “true wholes”? Can two things be a true whole for a limited time period? Can a true whole be split in two separate things? I don’t understand.

  14. 14
    bornagain77 says:

    Box, as was illustrated in the ‘squaring the circle paradox’ on niwrad’s previous thread,,, a ‘true whole’ necessarily exists prior to, and apart from, the parts. i.e. A ‘true whole’ can exists apart from the parts but the parts cannot “‘approach’ true wholeness” without the true whole.

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    IMHO, This parts/whole argument reached its most rigorous form in Gödel’s Incompleteness theorem:

    Kurt Gödel – Incompleteness Theorem – video
    https://vimeo.com/96082228

    Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem says:
    “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle – something you have to assume but cannot prove.”
    http://www.perrymarshall.com/a.....s-theorem/

    Taking God Out of the Equation – Biblical Worldview – by Ron Tagliapietra – January 1, 2012
    Excerpt: Kurt Gödel (1906–1978) proved that no logical systems (if they include the counting numbers) can have all three of the following properties.
    1. Validity … all conclusions are reached by valid reasoning.
    2. Consistency … no conclusions contradict any other conclusions.
    3. Completeness … all statements made in the system are either true or false.
    The details filled a book, but the basic concept was simple and elegant. He summed it up this way: “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle—something you have to assume but cannot prove.” For this reason, his proof is also called the Incompleteness Theorem.
    Kurt Gödel had dropped a bomb on the foundations of mathematics. Math could not play the role of God as infinite and autonomous. It was shocking, though, that logic could prove that mathematics could not be its own ultimate foundation.
    Christians should not have been surprised. The first two conditions are true about math: it is valid and consistent. But only God fulfills the third condition. Only He is complete and therefore self-dependent (autonomous). God alone is “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28), “the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13). God is the ultimate authority (Hebrews 6:13), and in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).
    http://www.answersingenesis.or...../equation#

    As to:

    “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle”

    The preceding statement has now received empirical confirmation. Particles, which we obviously can draw a circle around, are not self-sustaining entities, as is presupposed in reductive materialism, but are dependent on something outside themselves to explain why they act the way they do:

    Contextuality is ‘magic ingredient’ for quantum computing – June 11, 2012
    Excerpt: Contextuality was first recognized as a feature of quantum theory almost 50 years ago. The theory showed that it was impossible to explain measurements on quantum systems in the same way as classical systems.
    In the classical world, measurements simply reveal properties that the system had, such as colour, prior to the measurement. In the quantum world, the property that you discover through measurement is not the property that the system actually had prior to the measurement process. What you observe necessarily depends on how you carried out the observation.
    Imagine turning over a playing card. It will be either a red suit or a black suit – a two-outcome measurement. Now imagine nine playing cards laid out in a grid with three rows and three columns. Quantum mechanics predicts something that seems contradictory – there must be an even number of red cards in every row and an odd number of red cards in every column. Try to draw a grid that obeys these rules and you will find it impossible. It’s because quantum measurements cannot be interpreted as merely revealing a pre-existing property in the same way that flipping a card reveals a red or black suit.
    Measurement outcomes depend on all the other measurements that are performed – the full context of the experiment.
    Contextuality means that quantum measurements can not be thought of as simply revealing some pre-existing properties of the system under study. That’s part of the weirdness of quantum mechanics.
    http://phys.org/news/2014-06-w.....antum.html

    ‘Quantum Magic’ Without Any ‘Spooky Action at a Distance’ – June 2011
    Excerpt: A team of researchers led by Anton Zeilinger at the University of Vienna and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences used a system which does not allow for entanglement, and still found results which cannot be interpreted classically. http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....111942.htm

    Falsification of Local Realism without using Quantum Entanglement – Anton Zeilinger – video
    http://vimeo.com/34168474

    Free will and nonlocality at detection: Basic principles of quantum physics – Antoine Suarez – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhMrrmlTXl4

    Verse and Music:

    Acts 17:28
    For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

    The Broken Beautiful – Ellie Holcomb
    http://myktis.com/songs/broken-beautiful/

  16. 16
    Box says:

    Bornagain77,
    thank you for the explanation. I have noticed that I have a totally different idea about what a “true whole” is. Let me tell you one thing: for me the mind-body-aggregate is not a candidate. And I believe that you are with me on this one.

  17. 17
    niwrad says:

    Box #13

    Only archetypes are indestructible. When they are instantiated in the cosmos as images, these images unavoidable become destructible. So, soul-body is a unit in principle (as archetype), but when it gets in “the reign of generation and corruption” (a la Aristotle) its unit can be disrupted.

    Similarly, a circle is a non-squared true whole in principle, but a circle drawn on a piece of paper can be cut by scissors in parts or even totally burnt.

  18. 18
    rhampton7 says:

    I try not to let this stuff get to me, but this is just ignorant. Catholicism is not a wrapper for Thomism, though it is very influential in the ongoing synthesis of two thousand years of theology.

    More to the point, it is the Church who believes that ensoulment occurs at conception, not Aquinas (Aquinas on Human Ensoulment, Abortion and the Value of Life).

    Aquinas held that God immediately creates the human soul and (at the same time) infuses it into the body. That said, the human rational soul is created and infused into the body only when the human parents have, by their generative act, produced a material substance that is disposed to receive and to be informed by a human soul. In one place Aquinas follows Aristotle in saying that the rational soul is infused at 40 days for males, and at 90 days for females.
    Why, then, did Aquinas hold that the process of human conception must occur gradually and incrementally? Why did he hold that first vegetative life was produced, then sensitive life, and so on? Why not immediate hominization? The answer lies in his belief that there is a great distance between the beginning point of the generative process, that is, the material out of which the human being is produced (menstrual blood), and the end point, the coming to be of a human being. Traversing this distance requires a gradual process. In one of his fuller treatments of the issue, he writes:

    And we must observe a difference between the process of generation in men and animals and in air or water. The generation of air is simple, since therein only two substantial forms appear, one that is displaced and one that is induced, and all this takes place together in one instant, so that the form of water remains during the whole period preceding the induction of the form of air. On the other hand, in the generation of an animal various substantial forms appear: first the semen, then blood and so on until we find the form of an animal or of a man.

    According to Pasnau, Aquinas held that in order for the rational soul to be infused, certain material conditions have to obtain. In particular, while intellectual acts are not themeselves material they depend upon the operations of the senses, and these require a developed brain. Hence the organs upon which the rational soul’s activities rely must be fully developed, in the sense of having their powers not in remote potentiality but ‘in hand’, that is, as immediately exercisable capacities to support intellectual operations. It is indeed true that Aquinas held that organs must be present before human ensoulment.

  19. 19
  20. 20
    niwrad says:

    rhampton7 #18

    Catholicism is not a wrapper for Thomism.

    Yes, Catholicism is not properly a “wrapper” for anything, however, for example, Pope Pius XII, in encyclical “Humani generis” (1950): “The priests be trained on the philosophical doctrines according to the method, doctrine and principles of Doctor Angelicus”.

    The questions you put on the table are interesting and complex but are only tangentially related to my post. If the corporeal embryo development is just so complex that in the XXI century scientists don’t know how it works, go figure how complex is the entire manifestation of the soul->body unit, and how hard were for Aquinas (XIII century) to know details about. But — see Pius XII above — Aquinas was about principles, not details.

    Your issues have basically to do with the development perspective of the soul->body unit, while my post was primarily about the hierarchy and the unity of soul-body. Maybe we could say, in short, the former is about the dynamics, the latter about the statics.

    Moreover, “soul” is a term with countless meanings and sub-meanings, in relation with the fact that soul is far more complex than body. For example, when we speak of “rational soul” (a sub-meaning) and ask the exact time when “it was infused”, it is obvious that rationality is “in potency” already included in the “soul” (meant as principle of the body — major meaning), but it will be really “in act” subsequently. This and other timing problems, in a sense are of detail compared to the matter of principle that my post wanted to focus a bit.

  21. 21
    E.Seigner says:

    niwrad
    Moreover, “soul” is a term with countless meanings and sub-meanings, in relation with the fact that soul is far more complex than body.

    In Christian theology (and theology of any other major religion I know), soul is actually simple, concerning its composition. Namely, it’s not composite at all. It’s a single substance/essence. You are right that soul is more complex than body only if by “complex” you mean “complicated for me to understand” but this is not so for all people and certainly not in standard theology.

  22. 22
    Silver Asiatic says:

    You are right that soul is more complex than body only if by “complex” you mean “complicated for me to understand” but this is not so for all people and certainly not in standard theology.

    There is a lot of complexity with regards to what the soul is and how it works. There’s the physical interface and connection between soul and body, how are souls different from another (what features or characteristics distinguish them), how the soul animates the body, how different levels of memory, imagination and rationality are present in a non-composite thing, does the soul capture, store and retrieve knowledge, what are the capabilities of the soul (e.g., bilocation), what power over physical nature can the soul have, what is the precise distinction between spirit and soul, what is the difference in the soul’s function in a resurrected body, how do sin and grace affect the soul, and how, precisely, God will reunite both at the final resurrection.

    I’d say that there are general answers to these questions in theological literature but I haven’t seen anyone say that this is simple and easy-to-understand.

    Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    367 Sometimes the soul is distinguished from the spirit: St. Paul for instance prays that God may sanctify his people “wholly”, with “spirit and soul and body” kept sound and blameless at the Lord’s coming.236 The Church teaches that this distinction does not introduce a duality into the soul.237 “Spirit” signifies that from creation man is ordered to a supernatural end and that his soul can gratuitously be raised beyond all it deserves to communion with God.238

    368 The spiritual tradition of the Church also emphasizes the heart, in the biblical sense of the depths of one’s being, where the person decides for or against God.239

  23. 23
    niwrad says:

    E.Seigner #21

    In addition to what Silver Asiatic said, note that “simple” and “complex” have multiple meanings. “Simple” means also “indivisible”. In some cases this indivisibility can well coexist with complexity.

    In the soul-body couple the former stays on the side of essence while the latter on the side of substance. The essence of soul is indeed one of those cases where there are in the same time indivisibility and complexity (the complexity of true essence).
    Anyway this is another topic worth of a post…

  24. 24
    E.Seigner says:

    niwrad
    “Simple” means also “indivisible”.

    Right. And complex is its opposite – divisible, composite.

    To say that the word has multiple meanings translates directly into that you had no idea in what sense you were using it and this of course doesn’t help you in any way. In the context of theological metaphysics, “complex” is reserved as a technical term and if you mean “complicated” you’d better say so.

    The fact is that when talking ID, which this blog is mostly about, “complex” basically means “complicated” and this makes it all the more important to be precise in terminology. Otherwise people might get the idea that souls can be detected like you claim to detect intelligent design.

  25. 25
    Silver Asiatic says:

    In the context of theological metaphysics, “complex” is reserved as a technical term

    Could you provide a couple of references here?
    1. On the statement itself regarding the reservation of that term.
    2. What is theological metaphysics (and the context of it)?

  26. 26
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Otherwise people might get the idea that souls can be detected like you claim to detect intelligent design.

    Detection of intelligent design – as in forensics. Right?

  27. 27
    E.Seigner says:

    Silver Asiatic

    Could you provide a couple of references here?
    1. On the statement itself regarding the reservation of that term.
    2. What is theological metaphysics (and the context of it)?

    1. Logically, the word used for a technical term is reserved in the (con)text where it is used as the technical term.
    2. It’s metaphysical implications of the definition of a theological term, in this case of the term soul.

    Reference? E.g. the Thomist definition of the soul in Catholic Encyclopedia: “..though connaturally related to the body, it is itself absolutely simple, i.e. of an unextended and spiritual nature. It is not wholly immersed in matter, its higher operations being intrinsically independent of the organism..”

    “Simple” is a technical term here, provided with the definition. “Complex” is its opposite, a technical term the same way. Therefore, in comments to this blog post about Thomism one should not expect to be able to say “soul is far more complex than body” without a challenge.

    Detection of intelligent design – as in forensics. Right?

    As in whatever way the ID theory claims to be able to do it.

  28. 28
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Thanks, E.Seigner. I was looking for a reference to the term “theological metaphysics” because I had never seen that before. I also don’t think the term “soul” is theological. Its a philosophical term aligned with the nature of man. But yes the soul is not composed of parts. True.

  29. 29
    StephenB says:

    E. Seigner

    The fact is that when talking ID, which this blog is mostly about, “complex” basically means “complicated” and this makes it all the more important to be precise in terminology. Otherwise people might get the idea that souls can be detected like you claim to detect intelligent design.

    Let’s not lose track of the differences in the arguments. ID argues on behalf of design, allowing for the possibility of guided macro-evolution and ruling out unguided macro-evolution; niwrad argues against unguided macro-evolution and guided macro-evolution.

    Also, there is a clear difference between niwrad’s assertion that gradualism cannot produce a true whole, which is based on deductive, philosophical methods, and ID’s assertion that gradualism cannot produce complex specified information, which is based on inductive, scientific methods.

    Further, the two arguments are designed for different purposes: ID’s argument exposes the rigid ideology of materialist ideology; niwrad’s argument exposes the intellectual dishonesty of neo-Thomists, who slander their master by defending Darwinian evolution in his name.

    Yes, we could fuss over the differences in the meaning of “simple” and “complex,” but it is easy to search for small faults while ignoring the larger context. Notice, for example, that for ID science, “complex” is less about being “complicated,” (as you indicated), and more about being “unlikely.”

  30. 30
    Mung says:

    A creationist who believes in evolution within kinds cannot be a Thomist?

  31. 31
    StephenB says:

    A creationist who believes in evolution within kinds cannot be a Thomist?

    Sure, why not?

  32. 32
    niwrad says:

    StephenB #29

    Thanks for your synopsis. However there are no “small faults”. E.Seigner and I use the same terms with different meanings. He defines his terms, I define mine.

    Here I mean “simple” as indivisible, not composed by parts. This indivisibility doesn’t necessarily mismatch with a “complexity” of aspects / attributes / contents that we can consider upon the simple thing. From our human perspective, a multiplicity can be somehow overlapped upon a unit, without any contradiction with the fact that such unit isn’t composed by parts. There is difference between “composed by parts” and “multiplicity overlapped upon a unit by us”. As M.Eckart concisely put it, in a unit things are “fused but not confused”.

    By the way, indeed E.Seigner’s quote from Catholic Encyclopedia does show I am coherent: “soul is itself absolutely simple […] its higher operations [note the plural] being intrinsically independent…”. Here we have a unit with a multiplicity of higher operations (aka complexity in my sense). That’s somewhat my argument.

  33. 33
    StephenB says:

    niwrad, I agree. I said that he was “searching” for small faults at the expense of a larger context. I didn’t mean to suggest that he “found” one. I am sorry if my language was misleading. On the other hand, I did find a small fault with his imprecise definition of ID’s complexity.

  34. 34
    E.Seigner says:

    StephenB

    I said that he was “searching” for small faults at the expense of a larger context. I didn’t mean to suggest that he “found” one. I am sorry if my language was misleading. On the other hand, I did find a small fault with his imprecise definition of ID’s complexity.

    Actually, the point with my pointing out the “small fault” (which is not so small really) was also meant as an indication of a more fundamental problem. Here we have a post with quotes from Thomas Aquinas on an ID blog. My point is that Aquinas and ID don’t mix at all. Getting “simple” and “complex” all mixed up is just the tip of the iceberg here.

  35. 35
    Silver Asiatic says:

    E.Seigner

    As in whatever way the ID theory claims to be able to do it.

    What is your view on ID? How do you think ID detects evidence of design?

    Just wondering because it seems like you’re dismissing any and all inferences from evidence to a design-conclusion. Is that true?

  36. 36
    StephenB says:

    E. Seigner:

    Here we have a post with quotes from Thomas Aquinas on an ID blog.

    There is nothing at all out of order in presenting a philosophical argument against anti-Design partisans. UD defines its own parameters. Others do not define them for us. Aquinas is very popular around here for good reason.

    My point is that Aquinas and ID don’t mix at all.

    If that is your point, then you are in serious error. Multiple posts have been written here on that subject. No one has ever successfully argued that Aquinas is incompatible with ID. Indeed, we have made it clear that many of Aquinas’ disciples do not understand ID or even their own master. He was the premiere design thinker.

    Getting “simple” and “complex” all mixed up is just the tip of the iceberg here.

    No one is getting them mixed up. There is the little problem of context that you are not taking into account.

    Meanwhile, have you nothing to say about the outrage of neo-Thomists who seek to reconcile Aquinas with Darwin?

  37. 37
    Mung says:

    Mung: A creationist who believes in evolution within kinds cannot be a Thomist?

    StephenB: Sure, why not?

    StephenB:

    Meanwhile, have you nothing to say about the outrage of neo-Thomists who seek to reconcile Aquinas with Darwin?

    That’s why.

    How can Aquinas be reconciled with Darwin as long as it is strictly “within kinds”?

    According to the OP Aquinas was opposed to transformism. Now I’m hearing that he wasn’t?

  38. 38
    StephenB says:

    Mung @47, I guess I am still not clear on your objection.

    My understanding of niwrad’s interpretation of Aquinas’ philosophy, which I don’t dispute, is that it rules out the transformation or “macro-evolution,” which represents a continuous change in body plans, taking evolution through all the taxonomic levels.

    With macro-evolution (as opposed to micro-evolution) one “form” (body plan) gives way to another another form (another body plan), and then another and another. This is what I understand niwrad to mean by transformation, that is, the change from one form into another. That is what we mean by [trans][form]ation.

    Assuming niwrad’s interpretation is correct, a non-human, which is one form (or essence) cannot give rise to a human, which is another form (or essence). I don’t understand, then, why a creationist who accepts small micro changes, none of which represent a change in form, would violate the spirit of Thomism.

    I know that you don’t make frivolous objections, so you must have something else in mind.

  39. 39
    Mung says:

    SB,

    Do you really think that Aquinas meant by transformism what you mean by transformism? The injection of the distinction between ‘microevolution’ and ‘macroevolution’ must surely be acknowledged as blatantly anachronistic.

  40. 40
    niwrad says:

    Mung #39

    StephenB is right and I agree. Aquinas was against universal transformism, not against limited variation. He knew that organisms have a plasticity that could be injected in potency in the kinds by design just from the beginning. The distinction between ‘microevolution’ and ‘macroevolution’ (also if expressed with different words) is not anachronistic. After all artificial breeding has been practiced since the beginning of human civilization.

  41. 41
    StephenB says:

    Mung

    Do you really think that Aquinas meant by transformism what you mean by transformism?

    Do you really think that Aquinas used the word “transformism?” That is niwrad’s term to summarize Aquinas’ philosophy. So if you want a definition, it will have to come from the person who decided to use the term.

    I will, however, tell you what I think about the question of evolution. First, there is the narrow question of what Aquinas actually believed, namely, that [a] one species cannot change into another (that doesn’t mean that change cannot occur within a species). Second, there is the broader question of [b] what Aquinas’ overall philosophy can be reconciled with.

    What someone believes to be true is not synonymous with what that belief can be reconciled with. Example: ID believes that certain features in nature are best explained by an intelligent cause. Accordingly, ID is compatible with micro or macro evolution, but it is not compatible with Darwinian evolution. Still, ID does not believe in either macro-evolution or micro evolution.

    I understand niwrad to be arguing the broader question about compatibility. In that context, we can be sure that Aquinas’ philosphy cannot be reconciled with macro-evolution. As far as I can tell, we cannot, with that same confidence, say the same thing about micro-evolution. If you would care to argue otherwise, I would certainly listen respectfully to your case.

    Meanwhile, I don’t think you can claim that a creationist who accepts evolution within a species violates the spirit of Thomism in the same way as the Theistic Evolutionist who accepts macro-evolution in the name of Thomism. No way.

  42. 42
    E.Seigner says:

    Silver Asiatic

    What is your view on ID? How do you think ID detects evidence of design?

    Just wondering because it seems like you’re dismissing any and all inferences from evidence to a design-conclusion. Is that true?

    Yes, I dismiss any and all possibility of inferring design from evidence. In my view, the idea of detecting intelligent design (more obviously, the idea of detecting intelligence) stems from a category error. Pursuit of this idea can only produce pseudoscience, never science.

    StephenB

    No one has ever successfully argued that Aquinas is incompatible with ID.

    Doesn’t this very blogpost demonstrate that Aquinas’ metaphysics does not permit neither macroevolution or ID?

    StephenB

    Meanwhile, have you nothing to say about the outrage of neo-Thomists who seek to reconcile Aquinas with Darwin?

    No, because I don’t know such neo-Thomists. In fact, I don’t know of any neo-Thomists at all, either favourable towards ID or not otherwise. And I am not a Thomist myself, just sort of familiar with Thomism.

    In this case there’s enough Aquinas quoted on the blog post to draw serious conclusions. Somehow it seems I draw different conclusions from it than you folks.

  43. 43
    Silver Asiatic says:

    E.Seigner

    Yes, I dismiss any and all possibility of inferring design from evidence. In my view, the idea of detecting intelligent design (more obviously, the idea of detecting intelligence) stems from a category error. Pursuit of this idea can only produce pseudoscience, never science.

    Thanks for your reply. In scientific terms, even though we might (correctly) say that ‘God designed everything’, we make a distinction between random causes and outcomes produced by physical law. We can observe, for example, that laboratory hybrids create new varieties of plants which will remain consistent for new generations. We can compare this to what happens in the wild. We can say that ‘God created them all’ and that’s true, but for science, there is a difference between the plants hybridized in the lab and the plants left in the wild. Science would consider the conditions in the wild to be random. Weather patterns, competition, soil conditions – those are considered random. Yes, if we had access to God’s divine plan for all of nature, we could know precisely where the clouds will be each moment, what shape they will take and exactly how many raindrops will fall in exactly which spots at exactly which time. God knows that. But He doesn’t reveal those things – he leaves them a mystery so we have something to figure out.
    That mystery is what science considers “randomness” and for the sake of ordinary human conversation (perhaps some extraordinary humans know those mysteries of God), we just say that there are random causes.

  44. 44
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Quoting below from Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Q. 103, adding emphasis:

    Whether the world is governed by anyone?

    I answer that, Certain ancient philosophers denied the government of the world, saying that all things happened by chance. But such an opinion can be refuted as impossible in two ways. First, by observation of things themselves: for we observe that in nature things happen always or nearly always for the best; which would not be the case unless some sort of providence directed nature towards good as an end; which is to govern. Wherefore the unfailing order we observe in things is a sign of their being governed; for instance, 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]. Secondly, this is clear from a consideration of Divine goodness, which, as we have said above (Question [44], Article [4]; Question [65], Article [2]), was the cause of the production of things in existence. For as “it belongs to the best to produce the best,” it is not fitting that the supreme goodness of God should produce things without giving them their perfection. Now a thing’s ultimate perfection consists in the attainment of its end. Therefore it belongs to the Divine goodness, as it brought things into existence, so to lead them to their end: and this is to govern.

    Reply to Objection 1: A thing moves or operates for an end in two ways. First, in moving itself to the end, as man and other rational creatures; and such things have knowledge of their end, and of the means to the end. Secondly, a thing is said to move or operate for an end, as though moved or directed by another thereto, as an arrow directed to the target by the archer, who knows the end unknown to the arrow. Wherefore, as the movement of the arrow towards a definite end shows clearly that it is directed by someone with knowledge, so the unvarying course of natural things which are without knowledge, shows clearly that the world is governed by some reason.

    Summarizing: There are some who claim the world was created by chance and there is no evidence of Intelligent Design. However, through scientific research we observe evidence in nature of order (complex specified functions) and therefore can infer not chance, but intelligence governs these things.

    Science observes this, just as if we saw a well-ordered room, we would infer a designer that ordered the room.
    When we see irreducible functions occurring for definite ends (circulation system, immune responses, procreation), it is like when we see an arrow directed at a target. We infer that an archer sent the arrow to the target.

    Conclusion: If Aquinas was alive today, he probably would lose his job at a Catholic university (or never get the job) for being an ID advocate. 🙂

  45. 45
    E.Seigner says:

    Silver Asiatic

    Conclusion: If Aquinas was alive today, he probably would lose his job at a Catholic university (or never get the job) for being an ID advocate.

    I draw a totally different conclusion. ID is a project to detect intelligent design, whereas Aquinas sees design throughout. Some design is man-made, but everything else in the world, animate and inanimate, including man’s intellect, is God-made. This is irreconcilable with ID’s definition of intellect, ID’s definition of design, and ID’s definition of intelligent design, which are just a fundamental category error. Aquinas is consistent and does not make the category error. He says straightforwardly that there is unfailing order “always or nearly always” in the universe and whenever there is order, it’s a case of “providence”.

    Reply to objection 1 that you quoted is particularly unconditional saying that everything moves towards an end and is therefore guided by knowledge, including natural things. Therefore natural things are indistinguishable from intelligently designed things, but isn’t this distinction the whole basis of ID? The attempt to distinguish between designed and undesigned things is inherently untenable and Aquinas makes no such attempt.

  46. 46
    Silver Asiatic says:

    E.Seigner

    Interesting comments, thanks. I appreciate your insights.

    ID is a project to detect intelligent design, whereas Aquinas sees design throughout. Some design is man-made, but everything else in the world, animate and inanimate, including man’s intellect, is God-made.

    You cite two kinds of design: Man made design, and God made design. You’ve stated earlier (#42):

    I dismiss any and all possibility of inferring design from evidence

    How would you infer man-made design vs God-made design? For example, a house burned down. Was it caused by arson, or did God cause it? If you cannot use scientific evidence to infer design, what do you do?

    This is irreconcilable with ID’s definition of intellect,

    What do you think ID’s definition of intellect is?

    ID’s definition of design,

    As above, what do you think that definition is?

    and ID’s definition of intelligent design,

    And one more time, if you would. Thanks.

    Aquinas is consistent and does not make the category error. He says straightforwardly that there is unfailing order “always or nearly always” in the universe and whenever there is order, it’s a case of “providence”.

    When we see order, we see design, yes. When we say “nearly always”, what does that mean to you? Sometimes (nearly always) there is order, and sometimes not. How do you distinguish that? When we see order, we have evidence of design, but we don’t always see order — only “nearly always”.

    Therefore natural things are indistinguishable from intelligently designed things, but isn’t this distinction the whole basis of ID?

    No, it’s not a distinction between natural and design. It’s a distinction between “that which shows evidence of having been designed with intelligence” and “that which appears as the product or chance or natural-law”.

    So, we see a stone shaped in the image of a famous man. We know that chance or natural law cannot produce that, thus we conclude that the face was intentionally designed and not the product of chance.

    Aquinas explains ID and this distinction later in the same article. While we know that God designed everything, God also wanted to show the beauty of order.

    But, you can’t see the beauty of order unless you know what disorder is. So, God shows us things that look like chance or disorder. That way, we know what design looks like. If everything is design, then the word design is meaningless.

    We can see what chance produces. A pile of rocks after an avalance, patterns of raindrops on the ground. Gravity, physical matter and chance.

    Here’s how Aquinas explains the ID inference in the same Question, Article 3:

    Objection 1: It would seem that not all things are subject to the Divine government. For it is written (Eccles. 9:11): “I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the learned, nor favor to the skillful, but time and chance in all.” But things subject to the Divine government are not ruled by chance. Therefore those things which are under the sun are not subject to the Divine government.

    Reply to Objection 1: These things are said to be under the sun which are generated and corrupted according to the sun’s movement. In all such things we find chance: not that everything is casual which occurs in such things; but that in each one there is an element of chance. And the very fact that an element of chance is found in those things proves that they are subject to government of some kind. For unless corruptible things were governed by a higher being, they would tend to nothing definite, especially those which possess no kind of knowledge. So nothing would happen unintentionally; which constitutes the nature of chance. Wherefore to show how things happen by chance and yet according to the ordering of a higher cause, he does not say absolutely that he observes chance in all things, but “time and chance,” that is to say, that defects may be found in these things according to some order of time.

    Notice, Aquinas states: “In all such things we find chance: not that everything is casual which occurs in such things; but that in each one there is an element of chance.”
    Interesting, unless things were governed, nothing would happen unintentionally. The fact that we can see the difference between chance and intention enables us to recognize design. God made it that way.

    You would not recognize the remarkable existence of the human eye, for example, without recognizing what chance produces. Evolution is a random process. We see what it produces. A physical-chemical reaction like the Big Bang produces chance results, but we see order instead. That’s the ID argument. It’s based on evidence we observe scientifically. We see order, we eliminate chance or natural law as the secondary cause of it, so we infer design. Yes, the first cause of everything is God, but science is looking at secondary causes.

    The attempt to distinguish between designed and undesigned things is inherently untenable and Aquinas makes no such attempt.

    Yes, that would be a problem, but ID does what Aquinas does. Notice, Aquinas doesn’t say that chance events are undesigned. He only says that we observe design in order.
    That’s what ID does.

    ID states that some things show scientific evidence of having been designed with intelligence. Other things do not give that evidence – but it does not mean they were “undesigned”. It’s just they appear to be products of randomness or known laws. We distinguish between design and what natural laws produce, as with forensics. We can’t conclude that something is “undesigned” but only that it shows evidence of having been caused by chance or natural laws.

  47. 47
    E.Seigner says:

    Silver Asiatic

    How would you infer man-made design vs God-made design? For example, a house burned down. Was it caused by arson, or did God cause it? If you cannot use scientific evidence to infer design, what do you do?

    This question is entirely nonsensical. Not only because it displays the category error that makes ID theory fundamentally problematic for me, but also because you present the question to me, while it’s exactly your job to show that “scientific evidence to infer design” is a coherent concept and a meaningful entreprise. My point is that it’s an incoherent concept and an impossible entreprise.

    What do you think ID’s definition of intellect is?

    The section ID Defined on this site says this: “The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection.” Looks like natural selection is said to be undirected process here. This is a very profound error and no amount of details around the definitions of “intelligent” and “design” can hide it. For Aquinas (and for me too, incidentally), natural selection is very much a guided process, as much as any possible intelligently designed process would be.

    Even for atheists natural selection is an essentially guided process in the sense that it’s deterministic, law-like. Atheists may make the error of assuming no guider or law-giver behind the process, but this doesn’t change the law-like nature of the process for them. ID theorists make a more fundamental error and mistakenly believe that natural selection is unguided and there’s supposedly some other process that can be shown to be guided and called “intelligent” as distinguished from unguided natural processes. Atheists don’t go that far in their own error. For atheists, the process is unguided only nominally, while for all practical purposes it’s guided, it’s perfectly deterministic and orderly.

    Notice, Aquinas states: “In all such things we find chance: not that everything is casual which occurs in such things; but that in each one there is an element of chance.”
    Interesting, unless things were governed, nothing would happen unintentionally. The fact that we can see the difference between chance and intention enables us to recognize design. God made it that way.

    I also notice how Aquinas states in the end of your quote: “…he does not say absolutely that he observes chance in all things, but “time and chance,” that is to say, that defects may be found in these things according to some order of time.” That is, where *you* see chance as total disorder, Aquinas sees time as the ordering element, hence there’s the ordering element everywhere. Inasmuch as time is everywhere in the universe, there’s no absolute disorder at any point. In Aquinas’ metaphysics, from the relative point of view there’s always some order or another, and from the absolute point of view there’s absolute order.

    ID states that some things show scientific evidence of having been designed with intelligence.

    This is incoherent because there’s nothing designed without intelligence. If it’s designed, it should go without saying that it’s designed with intelligence. Otherwise it would be undesigned, chaotic, formless, purposeless. But science doesn’t study chaos. Science aims to determine natural order, scientific laws or laws of nature, i.e. consistent design-like features. Therefore for science there is no “scientific evidence for having been designed”, much less “having been designed with intelligence”.

    Science presupposes order – with or without intelligence – and studies the order, consistent and persistent properties, laws of nature. The thing you call design is indistinguishable from order or laws of nature. Dawkins even has a book The Blind Watchmaker, hasn’t he? He absolutely admits that there’s design in nature throughout. He just doesn’t admit the designer. The designer is undetectable by design, just like you won’t find the watchmaker in any watch. To assume that you can find the watchmaker in the watch is a metaphysical category error.

  48. 48
    Silver Asiatic says:

    E.Seigner

    Thanks again for your willingness to discuss this. I appreciate the opportunity to learn your views.

    SA: How would you infer man-made design vs God-made design? For example, a house burned down. Was it caused by arson, or did God cause it? If you cannot use scientific evidence to infer design, what do you do?

    ES: This question is entirely nonsensical. Not only because it displays the category error that makes ID theory fundamentally problematic for me, but also because you present the question to me, while it’s exactly your job to show that “scientific evidence to infer design” is a coherent concept and a meaningful entreprise. My point is that it’s an incoherent concept and an impossible entreprise.

    Ok, you haven’t explained why it is impossible to determine, scientifically, that a fire was created by man-made design or by random cause (God-made design). But it’s important to me to know that you think this would be pseudo-science, or a category error or non-coherent.

    For you, there is no way, scientifically to evaluate evidence and determine an event was designed.

    For Aquinas (and for me too, incidentally), natural selection is very much a guided process, as much as any possible intelligently designed process would be.

    That does explain your position. I don’t know how you determine the difference between a guided and unguided process though.

    Even for atheists natural selection is an essentially guided process in the sense that it’s deterministic, law-like.

    Yes, natural selection has some law-like features, but it is not a sufficient explanation for the development of life on earth.

    ID theorists make a more fundamental error and mistakenly believe that natural selection is unguided and there’s supposedly some other process that can be shown to be guided and called “intelligent” as distinguished from unguided natural processes.

    Again, ID doesn’t state that natural selection is unguided, only that natural selection cannot explain the development of things which have the appearance of having been designed.

    For example, was the image on the Shroud of Turin was not created by a known natural process. It was not created by natural selection. We use science to determine that. There is no man-made process yet known to account for the image. But it does look like it was designed. Markings on other burial cloths do not look designed. Science evaluates these kinds of things. In fact, some European scientists recently declared that the image on the Shroud was not produced by known natural processes.

    That is, where *you* see chance as total disorder, Aquinas sees time as the ordering element, hence there’s the ordering element everywhere.

    I didn’t say total disorder. If you read again, we know what order is because we know what disorder is. We know what design is because we know what chance is. We can scientifically determine the difference between the two. We can see aspects of the universe that conform to mathematical structures — thus order. Other aspects do not — thus randomness. But that does not mean total chaos or complete disorder.

    Inasmuch as time is everywhere in the universe, there’s no absolute disorder at any point. In Aquinas’ metaphysics, from the relative point of view there’s always some order or another, and from the absolute point of view there’s absolute order.

    That’s a good explantion – yes, I agree. But we do also see the difference between chance and order — thus between randomness and design.

    But science doesn’t study chaos. Science aims to determine natural order, scientific laws or laws of nature, i.e. consistent design-like features. Therefore for science there is no “scientific evidence for having been designed”, much less “having been designed with intelligence”.

    When we don’t know why something happens, science may conclude it is a random, accidental, chance event. But with study, some law may be discovered. So, we see the difference between chance and law. We can do the same between chance and intelligent design. You can read my symbols and language because I designed this text. I can also produce text by chance that you cannot read.

    The thing you call design is indistinguishable from order or laws of nature. Dawkins even has a book The Blind Watchmaker, hasn’t he? He absolutely admits that there’s design in nature throughout. He just doesn’t admit the designer.

    Yes, he admits that things look designed. But he says that they’re not designed — they are created by a blind watchmaker, evolution. Can a blind, purposeless process create the complex functional organisms in nature? Dawkins says, yes. Blind, physical laws caused human beings to evolve from ape-like ancestors in that view.

    The designer is undetectable by design, just like you won’t find the watchmaker in any watch. To assume that you can find the watchmaker in the watch is a metaphysical category error.

    Yes, you’re right, but ID says nothing about finding the designer. It only sees evidence of design. We know what intelligence can produce and we know what random chaos produces. We also know what physical laws like gravity produce. We see what natural selection can produce. We can determine the difference between those things.

  49. 49
    niwrad says:

    E.Seigner

    You are a compendium of near all the anti-ID arguments and Silver Asiatic is doing an excellent job in replying to you. Your debate is polite and interesting. I am proud to host it in the thread I started.

    I don’t want to interfere (and certainly I wouldn’t be smart like Silver Asiatic), however I would add only a bit. A same object can be seen from quite different viewpoints. When Aquinas says that in the cosmos all is order, his viewpoint in that moment, is an absolute pure metaphysical one. In fact, from such highest viewpoint all things are finally recomposed and integrated in the metaphysical total Perfection.

    The ID viewpoint when it examines the same objects is quite different and lower. For ID there are differences after all between a scrap and the Space Shuttle, and by analyzing these differences, argues that an intelligent cause has something more to do with the latter. Aquinas sure was able to consider both the two viewpoints, and to distinguish them carefully. A wise dictum of Scholasticim was indeed “distingue frequenter”.

  50. 50
    Mung says:

    E.Seigner:

    The attempt to distinguish between designed and undesigned things is inherently untenable and Aquinas makes no such attempt.

    Intelligent Design does not attempt to distinguish between designed and undesigned things. If you think it does then you are mistaken and need to adjust your thinking.

  51. 51
    StephenB says:

    E. Seigner

    My point is that it’s (design detection) an incoherent concept and an impossible enterprise.

    You come home, enter your living room, and find that your boxes, papers, and clothes are scattered all over the floor. Some of the furniture has been toppled. Lately, your neighborhood has been experiencing storms with damaging winds. Criminals have also been roaming the area.

    Was this chaos the result of intelligent activity by a burglar or by the natural activity of a tornado? Oh, there is one more piece of information: The dresser drawers are open and the jewelry is gone. Can you draw an inference about which kind of cause was at work?

  52. 52
    Silver Asiatic says:

    niwrad @#49 — thanks for your kind words. 🙂 That was a very good explanation regarding the absolute metaphysical sense of order vs the lower-level view from science.

    I did catch a mistake …
    E.Seigner quoted an ID definition:

    The section ID Defined on this site says this: “The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection.”

    I incorrectly said that ID doesn’t say that natural selection is unguided. What I meant was, “unguided in an absolute, metaphysical sense”. It is considered unguided in the biological sense.

  53. 53
    Mung says:

    niwrad,

    I think you’re abusing Aquinas. Surprise! But what do I know.

    StephenB,

    vjtorley has often expressed his views on common descent. I don’t believe I have ever seen you contradict or challenge him. Have you?

    So, can we make any sense out of what the argument is and what it does or does not prove?

    From the OP:

    Note that the above quote especially applies to the negation of the arise of man from a non-human being (anthropoid). But in general denies the material macroevolution of any living being, because no being is inanimate …

    Does it really?

    “The saying that man and animals have a like beginning in generation is true of the body.”

    Q 75, Art 6, Obj 3

    fn 4 from Kreeft’s A Shorter Summa (p 101):

    Bodies could have evolved, but not souls.

    Does Kreeft just not understand Aquinas?

  54. 54
    Mung says:

    StephenB:

    Do you really think that Aquinas used the word “transformism?”

    Interesting question, one which I assume is rhetorical. I accuse you of an anachronism and your response is to accuse the creator of the OP of an anachronism?

    I only wish you had made the point sooner.

    Do you really think that Aquinas used the word “transformism?” That is niwrad’s term to summarize Aquinas’ philosophy. So if you want a definition, it will have to come from the person who decided to use the term.

    Why does niwrad honor you for defending his position if you’re not willing to defend his position?

    It seems to be that you are defining your terms in a circular manner.

    micro-evolution is that species of transformism which is acceptable given the position of Thomas Aquinas.

    macro-evolution is that species of transformism which is not acceptable given the position of Thomas Aquinas.

    But the OP uses transformism to mean macro-evolution, so we’ll leave that to niwrad to sort out.

    But YEC’ism is perfectly compatible with whatever, since we can’t be bothered to define our terms in any meaningful way.

    Really?

    How many species are extant today?

    How many species disembarked from the ark?

    Are you aware of any YEC who believes that all extant species were directly created by God, approx 6000 years ago?

    Or do they believe that extant species evolved?

    Do we need to discuss specific examples?

    Rodents are mammals of the order Rodentia, characterized by a single pair of continuously-growing incisors in each of the upper and lower jaws. The name is derived from the Latin r?dere, to gnaw. About forty percent of all mammal species are rodents, and they are found in vast numbers on all continents except Antarctica. They are the most diversified mammalian clade and can be found in a variety of terrestrial habitats including human-made environments. There are species that are arboreal, fossorial, and even semi-aquatic. Well known rodents include mice, rats, squirrels, prairie dogs, porcupines, beavers, guinea pigs, and hamsters, but rabbits, hares and pikas are now considered to be in a separate order, Lagomorpha.

    All the same kind? All the result of micro-evolution? All the same FORM with the same BODY and the same SOUL?

  55. 55
    StephenB says:

    Why does niwrad honor you for defending his position if you’re not willing to defend his position?

    That comment is toally without warrant. I suggested that you ask him for his own definition of “transformism” since you rejected my account of his definition, which is based on the words “trans” and “form.”

  56. 56
    StephenB says:

    Mung:

    micro-evolution is that species of transformism which is acceptable given the position of Thomas Aquinas.

    I don’t follow you. I defined transformation as a change in form, which occurs in macro-evolution. It does not occur in micro-evolution.

    Beyond that, I can only tell you that prior to being exposed to niwrad’s argument, I believed that Thomism could be reconciled with guided macro-evolution but not with unguided macro-evolution. His new approach has caused me to revisit that view.

    At this point, I am still processing it, but it seems legitimate to me. Perhaps you or ES will provide an objection that will change my mind back again. I am a sucker for a good argument.

  57. 57
    StephenB says:

    Mung

    vjtorley has often expressed his views on common descent. I don’t believe I have ever seen you contradict or challenge him. Have you?

    Obviously, I have immense respect for VJ Torley. I usually agree with his comments. Recently, though, during what I believe was his successful refutation of Ed Feser on the question of context and design detection, I did, nevertheless, lean closer to Feser on one side issue, namely his point that nothing can be moved or changed except by something outside the thing being changed. I consider this point to be sacrosanct from a Thomistic point of view. Ultimately, nothing can change or move unless something on the outside causes it to happen. I will argue that point all day long–even if an anti-ID partisan like Feser holds it. Still, I am considering VJ’s objection (perhaps exception would be a better word) to that view, which, again, is thoughtful. I have consulted two other Thomists that I respect to get their take on it. Things can get complicated.

    Does Kreeft just not understand Aquinas

    Again, I have tremendous respect for Peter Kreeft. I owe him a great deal. Still, I am not with him in all things. Yes, he accepts the possibility that macro-evolution could have occurred. I would love it if he could respond to niwrad’s argument, but that is unlikely to happen. VJTorley didn’t seem to have any significant criticism of it, and he was the first one to respond. Perhaps, he, like me, needs a little more time to process it.

    I also think Kreeft is a little to easy on Islam, but that is a story for another day. Also, keep in mind that, though he accepts Aquinas’ design arguments, as well he should, Kreeft rejects (last time I checked) ID science, saying that he doesn’t believe “design can be measured.” In that context, I think he misunderstands ID. Inexplicable!

  58. 58
    E.Seigner says:

    Silver Asiatic

    Ok, you haven’t explained why it is impossible to determine, scientifically, that a fire was created by man-made design or by random cause (God-made design). But it’s important to me to know that you think this would be pseudo-science, or a category error or non-coherent.

    For you, there is no way, scientifically to evaluate evidence and determine an event was designed.

    There’s this science called criminal forensics, I guess. For them any housefire would look natural in the sense that that’s what they see often enough. The fire would look as if due to natural causes if the fire started on the roof (likely lightning), less so when it started near ground or indoors (electricity failure, self-igniting materials, or arson). To suspect an accidental or wilful human agent, all other causes have to be carefully eliminated. It would be good to find an open lighter there, a can of fuel or such. Most cases like this remain unresolved because the evidence burns down with the victims. In older times conclusions were drawn bolder, nowadays far more cautiously because we are now more sensitive to the fact that astonishingly much depends on the one who draws the conclusions. Many times the conclusion is not the interpretation of forensic evidence, but of psychological motivation in an attempt to impute guilt or assumption on how the accident might have occurred.

    Moreover, law contains the concept “act of God” which basically means wider natural catastrophy or mayhem, and in an area at the time when such occurs, officials won’t go into the details if this or that particular event was “God” or “man”. They only address the general problem according to a rule of thumb they came up with for the time being. This is not a precise science and never will be.

    As for Shroud of Turin, it definitely depends on the one who draws the conclusions. Huge stone staircases amazingly similar to those in Egyptian and Mayan pyramids and paths of stone resembling Roman roads have been found in several places at the bottom of the Atlantic. Those who want to interpret this as clear archeological evidence of Atlantean civilization cannot be stopped, and disbelievers have no other option but to express their disbelief – and disregard the “evidence”.

    Yes, [Dawkins] admits that things look designed. But he says that they’re not designed — they are created by a blind watchmaker, evolution. Can a blind, purposeless process create the complex functional organisms in nature? Dawkins says, yes.

    And this should tell you how astonishingly much depends on the one who draws the conclusion. Dawkins’ conclusion is rationally prudent in its own way. Normally when we “detect design” we also find the designer and can ask questions about intents and purposes. Without the designer, there’s no clear border between design and non-design. Dawkins’ conclusion is more cautious due to lack of communication from the designer, yours is more bold, but there is and never will be any clear-cut evidence to sway people, because it’s essentially a matter of internal interpretation, not of external evidence. It’s like arguing over whether this or that particular thing is warm or cold. There’s no way to settle on a border between warm or cold, because the border would be arbitrary in any case and the whole issue of warm and cold would still remain completely a matter of interpretation. Warm and cold is not in things per se, even though temperature can be measured. Warm and cold is in how we perceive things.

    Same with design. Design is not in things, even though we observe degrees of order and structure; it’s crucially in how we interpret things. The interpretation depends on your metaphysics, not on the physics of the thing. When one argues with a guy like Dawkins, it’s a fight between different metaphysics and between intellectual/cultural backgrounds. It’s a matter of interpretation of facts, not a matter of what the facts are. Both sides agree down to details what the physical and biological facts are. What differs is the interpretation.

    Therefore I’d say the following to niwrad:

    A same object can be seen from quite different viewpoints. When Aquinas says that in the cosmos all is order, his viewpoint in that moment, is an absolute pure metaphysical one. In fact, from such highest viewpoint all things are finally recomposed and integrated in the metaphysical total Perfection.

    The ID viewpoint when it examines the same objects is quite different and lower.

    This lower viewpoint is already covered by normal science and ID with its faulty metaphysics has nothing to add to it. It only makes matters worse.

    The metaphysical baggage of materialist/atheist scientists is so thin that it is sufficiently neutral and makes the scientists efficient at their work. Problems emerge only when they extrapolate and interpret the results of their studies, but even this is not much of a problem provided that the public is perceptive enough to distinguish between the study or experiment and its wider interpretation. Since materialist metaphysics is vacuous, interpretations quickly go far and wide whichever way, so it’s easy for the public to see when the scientist is outside his own area of expertise.

    Given that the interpretation of facts entirely depends on metaphysics (and therefore, when approaching facts, the metaphysics should be either pristine or rigorously coherent), the skewed metaphysics and flawed key concepts of the ID theory can only lower the general standards of science, not add anything to it. Plenty of evidence of this here.

  59. 59
    niwrad says:

    Mung #53

    In Q.75, Art.6, Reply to objection 1: I read:

    “Thus, the claim that man and the other beasts have a similar principle of generation is true with respect to the body; for all animals are alike in being made from the earth [substance].”

    There, Aquinas doesn’t mean evolution in the modern sense at all.

    So I don’t understand why, from that, Kreeft claims:

    “Bodies could have evolved [!?], but not souls.”

    I explain his interpretation with a commitment to evolutionism.

    Your general accusation that “I abuse Aquinas” is odd: at the very end, in my OP I simply state that Aquinas was a creationist. Do you believe that he wasn’t? That instead he was an evolutionist ante litteram?

  60. 60
    StephenB says:

    Mung

    I accuse you of an anachronism and your response is to accuse the creator of the OP of an anachronism?

    I didn’t accuse the creator OP of anything. On the contrary, I have defended his use of the word “transform” and even offered my own explanation of what he means by it.

    I simply pointed out that you erroneously attributed that word to Aquinas. It was, therefore, inappropriate to ask me if his meaning of the word was the same as mine.

  61. 61
    StephenB says:

    E. Seigner

    My point is that it’s (design detection) an incoherent concept and an impossible enterprise.

    My question @51 persists:

    You come home, enter your living room, and find that your boxes, papers, and clothes are scattered all over the floor. Some of the furniture has been toppled. Lately, your neighborhood has been experiencing storms with damaging winds. Criminals have also been roaming the area.

    Was this chaos the result of intelligent activity by a burglar or by the natural activity of a tornado? Oh, there is one more piece of information: The dresser drawers are open and the jewelry is gone. Can you draw an inference about which kind of cause was at work?

  62. 62
    E.Seigner says:

    @StephenB
    What scientific bearing does your question have? Sure I can infer there was criminal intent behind the disappearance of the jewelry – from my own point of view – but the same “evidence” matters zilch for outsiders such as police, because it’s my job to establish that I had any jewelry there in the first place. I could show proofs of purchase but this would not be proof of where I kept the jewelry and so on and so forth. I assume that when you talk about evidence, there should be some broader bearing than just me, right? Your question has nothing to do with science, no matter how long it persists for you.

  63. 63
    niwrad says:

    E.Seigner

    My point is that it’s (design detection) an incoherent concept and an impossible enterprise.

    So you, before, say, a Samsung tv set, cannot infer it is designed. Or, at maximum, you can infer design only because you know there exist some Korean engineers who work hard to sell odd black boxes. You spend money for buying it not because you see the tv set working and doing some functions. For you, to detect such functions is “an incoherent concept and an impossible enterprise”. ?

  64. 64
    E.Seigner says:

    So you really do not see the principled flaw that your question presupposes? The flaw is in that you cannot point out where the line is between design and non-design, but this is what is necessary to make this a scientific matter.

  65. 65
    niwrad says:

    E.Seigner #64

    There is no need to know exactly where the line is between design and non-design to infer that a tv set is designed. In fact it is so filled with complex functions that in any case it is surely very distant from such line.

    Similarly, if you go from Mexico to New York, you don’t need to know exactly where the frontier line is between Mexico and USA, to infer that you stay in New York.

    See also:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ak-excuse/

  66. 66

    E.Seigner,

    I think you may be making a category error.

    Chance and natural law causes/effects may be subcategories of intelligent design, but that doesn’t mean they cannot be scientifically distinguished from each other and from the rest of the super-category. Subcategories C (chance) and N (natural law) are distinguishable from everything else in the super-category they inhabit, which would be what IDists call “intelligent design”.

    If the sub-categories are not in some way distinguishable from the super-category, there wouldn’t be any way to mark off a subcategory. Thus, your argument that subcategories of ID leave no means by which to identify that which is not contained by either subcategory is logically (and scientifically) erroneous.

    Perhaps semantically ID is not a good thing to call “everything else” in the supercategory outside of the two subcategories (chance & natural law), but that’s just a matter of semantics.

  67. 67

    IOW, if one holds the philosophical position that ID is the superset, then chance and natural law are simply distinguishable subsets. If we offer “subset ID” as a third subset which contains “everything else” not in the chance and natural law subsets, then ID would be the attempt to quantify those characteristics that define the third subset, or “everything else” not attributable to chance and natural law.

  68. 68
    Box says:

    E.Seigner, there is no line between design and non-design in your metaphysical position – since according to you everything is designed. However thomistic metaphysics is not fundamental to modern naturalistic science. Of course you are well aware of the fact that quite the opposite is true.
    So why do you hold that, from a scientific point of view, we cannot infer that a Samsung tv set is designed?

  69. 69
    E.Seigner says:

    William J Murray

    I think you may be making a category error.

    Chance and natural law causes/effects may be subcategories of intelligent design, but that doesn’t mean they cannot be scientifically distinguished from each other and from the rest of the super-category.

    Brilliant. Exactly in this manner I see you making the category error. The rest of what you say makes no sense at all due to undefined concepts, so I will rephrase this construct in concepts that none of us should have any quibble about.

    There’s undeniably warm and cold. Let’s say you have the Warmth Project going on and you promote the claim that some characteristics of objects are scientifically better explained by warm than by cold. Obviously, the background assumptions of this project only work as long as it is ignored that warm and cold are different occurrences of the same phenomenon, namely temperature. As soon as temperature is understood, it’s understood that it makes no sense to contrast warm and cold in any strict sense. There is no absolute measure of warm versus cold. Instead there’s temperature everywhere.

    Now, replace warm and cold with design and non-design. This is the “lower viewpoint” of your perspective (as niwrad said), whereas I interpret Aquinas to view the matter on the “temperature” level and he never stoops lower from there.

    Another way to construe how your project could be meaningful is to identify the characteristics of design, about the same way as characteristics of living organisms are identified in biology. The characteristics of living organisms are response to stimuli, reproduction, growth and development and self-regulation. What are the identifiable characteristics of (intelligent) design? How do you define them?

    In this discussion you keep throwing some silly scenarios at me which should make it obvious that some design is there. Naturally I cannot deny that when a house is burning that there’s warmth there, but this does nothing to refute the fact that warmth is on the same indivisible continuum with cold. This is why intelligent burglars, shrouds of Turin, Korean tv sets etc. are a red herring. They are highly arguable examples. When jewelry is stolen from me, for me it’s a case of burglary alright, whereas police has to work to eliminate the possibility of, e.g. insurance fraud where I could be guilty. See how interpretative it is? It’s all too argueble just like warmth and cold are perceived differently by people who live in Alaska as compared to those who live in Florida.

    You have failed to define your own basic terms and that’s why, in my view, you don’t have a scientific theory at all.

  70. 70
    CLAVDIVS says:

    Box @ 68

    So why do you hold that, from a scientific point of view, we cannot infer that a Samsung tv set is designed?

    Design of a TV by humans is a scientific inference.

    Design of a TV by an unidentified intelligence with unspecified means, motive and opportunity cannot be a scientific inference. Rather, it is a metaphysical speculation.

  71. 71
    bornagain77 says:

    LOL @ 70, OMG, the brain damage inflicted by the blind devotion to the (unsubstantiated) materialistic worldview is much, much, worse than I suspected,,,

    “Failure to acknowledge design leads to irrationality”
    Michael Behe – Life Reeks Of Design – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hdh-YcNYThY

  72. 72
    CLAVDIVS says:

    LOL @ 71, OMG, how can you not realise how completely lost that post makes you look. I’m embarrassed for you.
    – Doesn’t address my argument
    – Doesn’t realise I acknowledge design
    – Doesn’t remember I’m not a materialist

  73. 73
    bornagain77 says:

    To add to Behe’s observation that the “Failure to acknowledge design leads to irrationality”, I will add that unless design is presupposed at some level then science itself becomes impossible.

    The Great Debate: Does God Exist? – Justin Holcomb – audio of the 1985 Greg Bahnsen debate available at the bottom of the site
    Excerpt: The transcendental proof for God’s existence is that without Him it is impossible to prove anything. The atheist worldview is irrational and cannot consistently provide the preconditions of intelligible experience, science, logic, or morality. The atheist worldview cannot allow for laws of logic, the uniformity of nature, the ability for the mind to understand the world, and moral absolutes. In that sense the atheist worldview cannot account for our debate tonight.,,,
    http://justinholcomb.com/2012/.....god-exist/

    The Atheist’s Guide to Intellectual Suicide – James N. Anderson PhD. – video
    https://vimeo.com/75897668

    “If you do not assume the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not assume the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If you do not assume libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not assume morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place.”
    – William J Murray

    In fact to deny design altogether leads to the epistemological failure of science.

    BRUCE GORDON: Hawking’s irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: What is worse, multiplying without limit the opportunities for any event to happen in the context of a multiverse – where it is alleged that anything can spontaneously jump into existence without cause – produces a situation in which no absurdity is beyond the pale. For instance, we find multiverse cosmologists debating the “Boltzmann Brain” problem: In the most “reasonable” models for a multiverse, it is immeasurably more likely that our consciousness is associated with a brain that has spontaneously fluctuated into existence in the quantum vacuum than it is that we have parents and exist in an orderly universe with a 13.7 billion-year history. This is absurd. The multiverse hypothesis is therefore falsified because it renders false what we know to be true about ourselves. Clearly, embracing the multiverse idea entails a nihilistic irrationality that destroys the very possibility of science.
    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....arguments/

    Alvin Plantinga – Why No One (Can) Believe Atheism/Naturalism to be True – video
    Excerpt: “Since we are creatures of natural selection, we cannot totally trust our senses. Evolution only passes on traits that help a species survive, and not concerned with preserving traits that tell a species what is actually true about life.”
    Richard Dawkins – quoted from “The God Delusion”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4QFsKevTXs

    Self-refutation and the New Atheists: The Case of Jerry Coyne – Michael Egnor – September 12, 2013
    Excerpt: Their (the New Atheists) ideology is a morass of bizarre self-refuting claim. They assert that science is the only way to truth, yet take no note that scientism itself isn’t a scientific assertion. They assert a “skeptical” view that thoughts are only constructed artifacts of our neurological processing and have no sure contact with truth, ignoring the obvious inference that their skeptical assertion is thereby reduced to a constructed artifact with no sure contact with truth. They assert that Christianity has brought much immorality to the world, yet they deny the existence of objective morality. They assert that intelligent design is not testable, and (yet claim the counter proposition, that life is not designed, is testable).
    And they assert that we are determined entirely by our natural history and physical law and thereby have no free will, yet they assert this freely, claiming truth and personal exemption from determinism. Here is a case in point.,,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....76541.html

    Even atheists themselves, who are trained to think like ‘scientists’, i.e. trained to deny design no matter what the evidence says to the contrary, still cannot rid themselves of ‘design thinking’.

    Design Thinking Is Hardwired in the Human Brain. How Come? – October 17, 2012
    Excerpt: “Even Professional Scientists Are Compelled to See Purpose in Nature, Psychologists Find.” The article describes a test by Boston University’s psychology department, in which researchers found that “despite years of scientific training, even professional chemists, geologists, and physicists from major universities such as Harvard, MIT, and Yale cannot escape a deep-seated belief that natural phenomena exist for a purpose” ,,,
    Most interesting, though, are the questions begged by this research. One is whether it is even possible to purge teleology from explanation.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65381.html

  74. 74
    bornagain77 says:

    Which should not be surprising since, being made in God’s image for a relationship with God, we were ‘designed’ to intuitively recognize design,,

    Children are born believers in God, academic claims – 24 Nov 2008
    Excerpt: “Dr Justin Barrett, a senior researcher at the University of Oxford’s Centre for Anthropology and Mind, claims that young people have a predisposition to believe in a supreme being because they assume that everything in the world was created with a purpose.”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new.....laims.html

    Young Children Think Like Scientists – 27 September 2012
    Excerpt: “What these experiments show if you give the children one of these causal problems like figuring out how the machine works and then just leave the video recorder running, what you see is when the child[ren] are just spontaneously playing. … What they do is to do a bunch of experiments that will give them just information they need to figure out how the toy works,” Gopnick said.
    http://www.livescience.com/235.....tists.html

    Geometric Principles Appear Universal in Our Minds – May 2011
    Excerpt: Villagers belonging to an Amazonian group called the Mundurucú intuitively grasp abstract geometric principles despite having no formal math education,,, Mundurucú adults and 7- to 13-year-olds demonstrate as firm an understanding of the properties of points, lines and surfaces as adults and school-age children in the United States and France,,,
    http://www.wired.com/wiredscie.....-geometry/

    “Geometry is unique and eternal, a reflection from the mind of God. That mankind shares in it is because man is an image of God.”
    – Johannes Kepler

    Belief in God is a Properly Basic Belief (Alvin Plantinga) – video
    http://www.closertotruth.com/v.....inga-/1261

    Another interesting argument comes from the leading philosopher and Christian, Alvin Plantinga—he asked, what evidence does anyone have for the existence of other people’s minds? He argued cogently that the evidence for God is just as good as the evidence for other minds; and conversely, if there isn’t any evidence for God, then there is also no evidence that other minds exist—see God and Other Minds, Cornell University Press, repr. 1990.
    http://creation.com/atheism-is-more-rational

    supplemental note:

    Look Who’s Irrational Now – 2008
    Excerpt: “What Americans Really Believe,” a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/.....54585.html

  75. 75

    E.Seigner said:

    In this discussion you keep throwing some silly scenarios at me which should make it obvious that some design is there.

    You have me confused with someone else. That was my first post in this thread.

    What are the identifiable characteristics of (intelligent) design? How do you define them?

    Generally speaking, functionally specified complex information beyond the known capacity of the subset categories’ ability to produce, either separately or in combination.

    This is why your “warm and cold” analogy is inappropriate; warm and cold are ambiguous or at best arbitrary concepts. If, however, one examines what natural law produces, and what “chance” produces, there are categorical limitations wrt FSCI that are not arbitrary or, beyond a certain point, ambiguous.

    There may be some gray area, but chance and natural law as subcategories are insuffucient subset aspects of the superset ID to create a computer or a 747 or this post by themselves. You know it and I know it; it’s certainly not ambiguous.

    To argue otherwise is to deny the obvious. There’s no good reason to claim that the differential between what the subcategories can achieve by themselves and what what can be achieved inclusive of what lies outside of those subsets is not a scientifically measurable commodity.

    It seems to me to be more a matter of a philosophical a priori to insist that the subsets cannot be distinguished from the surrounding ID than a matter of logcial, practical or scientific limitation.

  76. 76
    E.Seigner says:

    @William J Murray
    I didn’t confuse you with anyone. I just assumed you had read up on the discussion. Please do now.

    [Intelligent design is, g]enerally speaking, functionally specified complex information beyond the known capacity of the subset categories’ ability to produce, either separately or in combination.

    This is why your “warm and cold” analogy is inappropriate; warm and cold are ambiguous or at best arbitrary concepts.

    It’s glaringly obvious how warm and cold is precisely the right analogy. In defining the intelligent design, you just pile undefined concepts on undefined concepts, such as:
    – functionally specified complex information
    – known capacity
    – subset categories’ ability to produce

    What are “subset categories” so that they would have the ability to produce? Produce what? Produce “complex information”? Information is not information without interpretation, so this requires an interpreter and this in turn highlights all the problems I have already mentioned.

    What is the “known capacity”? Is it some level of “complex information” beyond which it can be determined to be due to an intelligent cause? How do you ensure that this level is not arbitrary? How do you ensure the level is unambiguous and understood the same way by all? To me it looks as arbitrary as the line between warm and cold.

    Moreover, if “complex information” beyond a set point is due to intelligent agent, then below that point the “complex information” is due to other, “unintelligent” causes, which makes the concept of information incoherent – unintelligent causes don’t produce information in the relevant sense, much less “complex information”. By the way, why is it “functionally specified complex information”? Is it to be distinguished from “unspecified simple information”? Looks like you are not really talking about information at all here.

    In conclusion, everything is undefined from the beginning to the end. You have not a single concept that science uses or could use.

    There may be some gray area, but chance and natural law as subcategories are insuffucient subset aspects of the superset ID to create a computer or a 747 or this post by themselves. You know it and I know it; it’s certainly not ambiguous.

    This blatantly disregards my earlier point that of course there’s evident heat when a house burns, but this does nothing to refute the fact that warm and cold are on the same unbroken continuum and both are really modes of temperature. You did not manage to frame ID differently than warm and cold.

    I argue that we don’t detect design or intelligent design. We observe structure and order. Some structure and order is culturally interpreted as stemming from human agents. The rest of structure and order is natural, God-given. There’s some structure and order throughout, and there’s nothing inherently special about man-made “design” that would make it separately detectable other than in the sense of culture and art, which are not the topic of precise sciences. Aquinas makes precisely the same point.

  77. 77
    StephenB says:

    E Seigner

    What scientific bearing does your question have? Sure I can infer there was criminal intent behind the disappearance of the jewelry – from my own point of view – but the same “evidence” matters zilch for outsiders such as police, because it’s my job to establish that I had any jewelry there in the first place.

    First, you can, as you discovered, draw the inference to design (a burglar) by ruling out natural causes (a tornado). If it was, as you say, an impossible process or an incoherent concept, you could not have made the inference. ID and several other scientific disciplines use the same process, albeit in a more formalized way.

    Second, other observers can arrive at the same conclusion by using other evidence, such as the open dresser drawers or the selectively broken glass around the windows. Your report that the jewelry is missing simply increases the probability of an intelligent cause and decreases the probability of a natural cause.

    I could show proofs of purchase but this would not be proof of where I kept the jewelry and so on and so forth.

    Irrelevant to the inferential process. Either way, it is just one piece of evidence among many.

    I assume that when you talk about evidence, there should be some broader bearing than just me, right?

    Evidence can be known by few or by many. Evidence is evidence.

    Your question has nothing to do with science, no matter how long it persists for you.

    I said that “my question persists” as a diplomatic way of saying that you may have missed it and to refrain from saying that you were running away from it.

    In the beginning, you said that the inferential process by which design is detected was “impossible” and “incoherent.” Now, after having been disabused of that notion, you agree that it is possible and coherent, but you want to change the subject and claim that it is not science. If you keep moving the goalposts, we will get nowhere.

    In any case, the design inference which I helped you through is the same process used in anthropology, archeology, forensic sciences, cryptanalysis and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. In each case, the inference is based on empirical evidence. In the simple case I designed for you, the evidence was, among other things, the open dresser drawers, the missing jewelry, and the selectively broken glass. By that process, you ruled out a natural cause and affirmed an intelligent cause. We do the same thing every day and in many ways. ID, and other historical sciences, simply formalize and quantify the process.

  78. 78
    E.Seigner says:

    StephenB

    First, you can, as you discovered, draw the inference to design (a burglar) by ruling out natural causes (a tornado). If it was, as you say, an impossible process or an incoherent concept, you could not have made the inference. ID and several other scientific disciplines use the same process, albeit in a more formalized way.

    Maybe I should have added from the beginning another issue that plagues all these scenarios: “Design” is an incidental, practically irrelevant characteristic here. The more immediate concerns are things like how and why of the event and the specific agent, the guilty person, not some “intelligent design”. Those are specific concerns, and even they are so highly interpretative and arguable that they are not any kind of precise science. Criminal investigators are not considered scientists. They may consult scientists and experts for an opinion, but their own investigation is not a precise science.

    Second, other observers can arrive at the same conclusion by using other evidence, such as the open dresser drawers or the selectively broken glass around the windows. Your report that the jewelry is missing simply increases the probability of an intelligent cause and decreases the probability of a natural cause.

    And they would think, “Hmm, indeed looks very much like intelligent design. Yep, this explains it!”? You have not shown in any way how ID could begin to be a coherent usable concept and how it could be formalised for any sensible purpose.

    “I could show proofs of purchase but this would not be proof of where I kept the jewelry and so on and so forth.” Irrelevant to the inferential process. Either way, it is just one piece of evidence among many.

    Are you serious? Have you ever met a policeman? When you turn to them to report that something has been stolen from you, you will be confronted with the attitude designed to remove your desire to report your case. If you persist, you will face questions that will make you doubt that you had the thing in the first place. Psychological game will be all over you and there will be tons of scenarios applied to the facts. Throughout, “design” will be a totally irrelevant aspect. Design will be an irrelevant consideration because, as Aquinas points out, everything is designed, created, so this is the least of anyone’s worries.

    But feel free to suggest how ID theory could benefit anyone involved in their conclusions. What do ID concepts add to the situation that we don’t have now?

    In the beginning, you said that the inferential process by which design is detected was “impossible” and “incoherent.” Now, after having been disabused of that notion, you agree that it is possible and coherent, but you want to change the subject and claim that it is not science. If you keep moving the goalposts, we will get nowhere.

    Sorry for the false impression. Let’s reiterate. ID theory is impossible because design is objectively undetectable – except in cases where it’s blatantly obvious, but in those cases we are already looking at a myriad of things that demand far more urgent attention. I see no way to define design other than structure or order, in which case it can be found absolutely everywhere in the universe, just like Aquinas says. Attempts to distinguish design from non-design are as incoherent as attempts to distinguish warm from cold, in fact even more incoherent than that.

    In any case, the design inference which I helped you through is the same process used in anthropology, archeology, forensic sciences, cryptanalysis and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

    Without even looking them up, I can safely say none of these uses ID theory. All of them use pattern-matching, searching repetitious patterns. None of them has any use for the concept of “specified complex information”. All of them presuppose that the data under investigation is information of some level, caused by agents with will and intellect, and they interpret the data based on these presuppositions. All “design” in the data is obviously projected by the metaphysics. It’s not in the physics.

  79. 79
    Mung says:

    Thomas Aquinas contra Anti-Transformism:

    … nothing which was made by God afterwards [i.e., after the seventh day] is totally new; indeed all such things had preceded in some way in the works of the six days. Some of them had pre-existed materially, as the woman had in the rib of Adam out of which God formed her. Others pre-existed in the works of the six days not only materially, but also causally, as the individuals which are now being generated; they were there causally in the first individuals of their species. And new species too, if any appeared, pre-existed in certain active principles …

    – (S.T., I, q. 73, a. 1, ad 3)

    From Bobik, Joseph. Aquinas on Matter and Form and the Elements. p. 220

    So here we have a few interesting points.

    Against the YEC’s we have God continuing to make things after the seventh day.

    We have God making the form of woman from the form of a rib. If that’s not transformism what would be?

    We have the acknowledgement of at least the potential appearance of new species. The only limit placed on this by Aquinas here being that they pre-exist in whatever they originate from. I fail to see how this is a bar to “macro-evolution.”

    Aquinas cites with favor the position of Augustine:

    … as Augustine teaches, two things are to be observed in questions of this kind. The first is this: to hold to the truth of Scripture unwaveringly. The second is this, since divine Scripture can be interpreted in many ways: not to adhere so tenaciously to a given exposition of it as to presume to assert it as the meaning of Scripture, if it has been shown with certitude to be false; lest Scripture be ridiculed by those who do not believe, and obstacles be placed in the way of their becoming believers.

    – (S.T., I, q. 68, a. 1, c.) Bobik p. 220-221

    Bobik, like Kreeft, allows for evolution of the body within Aquinas:

    Applying the immediately preceding (pp. 205-207) to the three works of the initial six-day production of corporeal creatures … one can see in Aquinas’ thinking a kind of primitive and implicit version of a physical universe which has banged out of, expanded out of, an initially infinitesimally miniscule one, coupled with a similarly primitive and implicit version of the evolution of life on the planet Earth. A bare outline this expansion of the universe, and of this evolution of life, was presented above on pp. 195-199.

    – Bobik, p. 207

    In a footnote on p. 197: Man was there, but only with respect to the body, not the soul.

    I recommend this book to anyone wanted to dig deeper into the question raised by the OP.

    Further:

    The elements [in Aquinas: fire, air, water and earth] depend on the heavens and the heavenly bodies not only for their existence as elements, but also for their transformations into one another, and for their becoming ingredients of mixed bodies, and in a determinate order from the lower (less perfect) to the higher (more perfect) sorts. This will make clear how the four elements fit into the developmental (in a way, evolutionary) tria opera of God’s creative production of corporeal creatures, i.e., into the opus creationis, the opus distinctionis and the opus ornatus, in which there is a passage from being not yet fully formed to becoming progressively more fully formed.

    – Bobik, p. 199

    To me, that sounds like transformism.

  80. 80
    niwrad says:

    Mung #79

    Aquinas:”new species too, if any appeared, pre-existed in certain active principles”

    To “pre-exist in certain active principles” has nothing to do with modern evolutionism.

    Against the YEC’s we have God continuing to make things after the seventh day.

    Again, “God continuing to make things” has nothing to do with evolutionism, because it is obvious that metaphysically God continues to create the world here and now.

    We have God making the form of woman from the form of a rib. If that’s not transformism what would be?

    No transformism, pure design. “Making the form of woman from the form of a rib” has to be interpreted symbolically (as near all Genesis has to be). The design of woman is that of man with design variants.

    We have the acknowledgement of at least the potential appearance of new species.

    As already said, new species can appear (microevolution) because they are under the threshold of kind / family (macro-evolution is above such threshold).

    Bobik allows for evolution of the body within Aquinas.

    That’s Bobik’s opinion, there are multitudes of Thomist theistic evolutionists out there. If you want to cite all them, you will finish “the week of three Thursday” as they say in my country.

  81. 81
    Mung says:

    E.Seigner:

    ID theory is impossible because design is objectively undetectable – except in cases where it’s blatantly obvious

    Design is objectively undetectable.

    Except when it isn’t objectively undetectable.

    Therefore ID theory is impossible.

    Irrational much?

    I see no way to define design other than structure or order…

    If design depended on your personal definition it wouldn’t be scientific.

    I see no way to define design other than structure or order, in which case it can be found absolutely everywhere in the universe, just like Aquinas says.

    Order is everywhere, but so is absence of order. ID however does not define lack of order as not designed. If you understood ID arguments you would know why this is so, but it’s pretty obvious by now that you have no interest in understanding.

    Attempts to distinguish design from non-design are as incoherent as attempts to distinguish warm from cold, in fact even more incoherent than that.

    Why do you persist in repeating this canard? This is completely irrelevant. It has nothing to do with intelligent design. This has been pointed out to you repeatedly.

    You are demonstrating that you’re just another anti-ID bigot, impervious to countervailing evidence and reason.

    Congratulations.

  82. 82
    bornagain77 says:

    CLAVDIVS, I’m sorry if you took offence to my ‘blunt’ comment at 71. I did not mean it towards you personally.

  83. 83
    niwrad says:

    E.Seigner #78

    Without even looking them up [anthropology, archeology, forensic sciences, cryptanalysis and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence], I can safely say none of these uses ID theory. All of them use pattern-matching, searching repetitious patterns. None of them has any use for the concept of “specified complex information”.

    Pattern-matching is eminently “specified complex information”. Pattern-matching is even an extremely tricky branch of computer programming. It is evident you never used it and have no idea about.

  84. 84
    StephenB says:

    E. Seigner

    Maybe I should have added from the beginning another issue that plagues all these scenarios: “Design” is an incidental, practically irrelevant characteristic here. The more immediate concerns are things like how and why of the event and the specific agent, the guilty person, not some “intelligent design”. Those are specific concerns, and even they are so highly interpretative and arguable that they are not any kind of precise science. Criminal investigators are not considered scientists. They may consult scientists and experts for an opinion, but their own investigation is not a precise science.

    We are discussing the inferential process by which design is detected. We are not discussing the hundreds of other techniques used by law-enforcement officials. If you don’t think forensic science is real science, we can discuss that point as well.
    .

    And they would think, “Hmm, indeed looks very much like intelligent design. Yep, this explains it

    Explains what? They would say the same thing you said. Natural causes were not responsible for the chaos. The design inference detects the presence of intelligence. It doesn’t presume to serve as a substitute for all other means of investigation.

    Are you serious? Have you ever met a policeman? When you turn to them to report that something has been stolen from you, you will be confronted with the attitude designed to remove your desire to report your case. If you persist, you will face questions that will make you doubt that you had the thing in the first place. Psychological game will be all over you and there will be tons of scenarios applied to the facts. Throughout, “design” will be a totally irrelevant aspect. Design will be an irrelevant consideration because, as Aquinas points out, everything is designed, created, so this is the least of anyone’s worries.

    At the moment, we are not discussing psychology, Aquinas, or the games people play. The issue on the table is the formal (and informal) method by which one rules out a natural cause and affirms an intelligent cause.

    But feel free to suggest how ID theory could benefit anyone ….

    How about the ability to detect the difference between a murder and an accidental death? How about the ability to create new interest in the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas? How about the ability to discredit neo-Darwinism, one of the most destructive ideas to ever plague the mind of man?

    Let’s reiterate. ID theory is impossible because design is objectively undetectable – except in cases where it’s blatantly obvious, but in those cases we are already looking at a myriad of things that demand far more urgent attention. I see no way to define design other than structure or order, in which case it can be found absolutely everywhere in the universe, just like Aquinas says. Attempts to distinguish design from non-design are as incoherent as attempts to distinguish warm from cold, in fact even more incoherent than that.

    You seem to have forgotten about the thesis that ID is challenging. Neo-Darwinism holds that Aquinas, and anyone who agrees with him, including you and I, are wrong to believe that design is obvious—or even true. On the contrary, they claim to have shown through scientific methods that biological design is an illusion. For neo-Darwinists, living organisms simply give the “appearance” of design. They aren’t really designed at all. ID says—wait, not so fast, let’s take the data, use your own methods, compare your hypothesis with ours, (design vs. law/chance), and follow the evidence where it leads. We win every time.

    Without even looking them up, I can safely say none of these uses ID theory. All of them use pattern-matching, searching repetitious patterns. None of them has any use for the concept of “specified complex information”. All of them presuppose that the data under investigation is information of some level, caused by agents with will and intellect, and they interpret the data based on these presuppositions. All “design” in the data is obviously projected by the metaphysics. It’s not in the physics.

    Actually, that isn’t correct. When an archeologist detects design in an ancient hunter’s spear, he is drawing an inference, recognizing that wind, air, and erosion cannot explain the form. The evidence suggests the presence of intelligent agency and the existence of an artifact. He doesn’t presuppose human agency. It is the same process by which he infers that the symbols and messages on the inside of a cave were not caused by the weather.

  85. 85
    Mung says:

    niwrad,

    Why not just quote Aquinas as saying that God created the body of the first man directly from the slime of the earth and be done with it?

    I answer that, The first formation of the human body could not be by the instrumentality of any created power, but was immediately from God. … So a form which is in matter can only be the cause of another form that is in matter, according as composite is made by composite. Now God, though He is absolutely immaterial, can alone by His own power produce matter by creation: wherefore He alone can produce a form in matter, without the aid of any preceding material form. For this reason the angels cannot transform a body except by making use of something in the nature of a seed, as Augustine says (De Trin. iii, 19). Therefore as no pre-existing body has been formed whereby another body of the same species could be generated, the first human body was of necessity made immediately by God.

    http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1091.htm#article2

    Aquinas does not deny that the formation of a body can be by the instrumentality of a created power, but rather that this was not the case with respect to the first human body.

    He admits that a form which is in matter can be the cause of another form that is in matter.

    He admits a body can be transformed given something in the nature of a seed, following Augustine.

  86. 86
    E.Seigner says:

    niwrad

    Pattern-matching is eminently “specified complex information”. Pattern-matching is even an extremely tricky branch of computer programming. It is evident you never used it and have no idea about.

    Pattern-matching is not itself information, but a procedure performed on data presupposing that the data could have the quality of information, message or program.

    StephenB

    We are discussing the inferential process by which design is detected.

    At no point did we detect any design. There are contexts where we presuppose design, and this presupposition, given certain legal or cultural contexts, is all we do. There’s a difference between detection and presupposition. I don’t detect that tv sets are designed by intelligent agents. I presuppose it. When my jewelry is gone, I have to recall where I last left it. If I know for sure where it should be but it’s not there, then someone took it. But was it a burglar or a magpie, there’s no telling unless there’s additional context again. At no point is it detection in the relevant sense, but contextual deduction.

    They would say the same thing you said. Natural causes were not responsible for the chaos. The design inference detects the presence of intelligence.

    And what you call design inference is either incoherent or irrelevant given the examples. And given Aquinas’ metaphysics, design is everywhere, i.e. “design inference” is utterly trivial.

    Actually, that isn’t correct. When an archeologist detects design in an ancient hunter’s spear, he is drawing an inference, recognizing that wind, air, and erosion cannot explain the form. The evidence suggests the presence of intelligent agency and the existence of an artifact.

    This is clearly not what’s happening in archeology. Archeologists recognize artefacts because they already know other similar artefacts. This is pattern-matching where human agency is presupposed.

    By the way, do you notice what is going on with all of your scenarios? They all concern human agency. That’s the only case where “design inference” seems to work to “detect intelligent design”. There’s an obvious reason for this. Namely, given human civilization, we can presuppose human agency for artefacts within a certain range of shapes and structures, and for common human behaviours. The “design inference” completely fails outside that range. You have no examples of non-human agency that could serve as evidence to infer design or a designer. And it’s not inference anyway, but presupposition or contextual deduction, in support of which we match familiar patterns.

    How about the ability to create new interest in the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas? How about the ability to discredit neo-Darwinism, one of the most destructive ideas to ever plague the mind of man? … You seem to have forgotten about the thesis that ID is challenging. Neo-Darwinism…
    I see. So, ID theory is really a campaign with an agenda, not science. You are on a crusade to discredit Neo-Darwinism. This entirely explains why there’s no identifiable method, no coherent terminology, and no sensible background metaphysics. It’s because there’s something else altogether that is more important than science to you. Suddenly it all makes sense. Thanks for telling.

  87. 87
    Mung says:

    E.Seigner:

    By the way, do you notice what is going on with all of your scenarios? They all concern human agency. That’s the only case where “design inference” seems to work to “detect intelligent design”.

    But design is objectively undetectable, you said so yourself. And therefore ID theory is impossible.

    Do you likewise think that order is objectively undetectable?

  88. 88
    Mung says:

    I see. So, ID theory is really a campaign with an agenda, not science.

    Yep. Right there with global warming.

  89. 89
    Box says:

    E.Seigner: By the way, do you notice what is going on with all of your scenarios? They all concern human agency. That’s the only case where “design inference” seems to work to “detect intelligent design”. There’s an obvious reason for this. Namely, given human civilization, we can presuppose human agency for artefacts within a certain range of shapes and structures, and for common human behaviours. The “design inference” completely fails outside that range. You have no examples of non-human agency that could serve as evidence to infer design or a designer.

    Actually we do have plenty examples of non-human agency. Beavers, birds’ nests, termite mounds, etc

  90. 90
    Box says:

    (follow up #89) … the cosmos and last but not least life in general …

  91. 91
    StephenB says:

    E Seigner

    At no point did we detect any design.

    Yes, we did. We detected the designed activity of an intelligent agent, a burglar, by ruling out the law-like regularity of a natural process, a tornado.

    There’s a difference between detection and presupposition.

    A presupposition begins with a concept; an inference, which defines detection, begins with an observation.

    I don’t detect that tv sets are designed by intelligent agents. I presuppose it.

    Irrelevant. If you found a functional machine on the planet Mars, you would infer that it was the designed product an intelligent agent.

    When my jewelry is gone, I have to recall where I last left it. If I know for sure where it should be but it’s not there, then someone took it. But was it a burglar or a magpie, there’s no telling unless there’s additional context again. At no point is it detection in the relevant sense, but contextual deduction.

    Your are confusing yourself again by introducing irrelevant and extraneous material. The issue is not who took the jewelry. The issue is, what is the best explanation for a messy living room; a burglar or a tornado. The missing jewelry, along with several other factors, such as selectively broken glass open dresser drawers are the evidence to be considered.

    And what you call design inference is either incoherent or irrelevant given the examples.

    I have already proven both of those claims to be false.

    And given Aquinas’ metaphysics, design is everywhere, i.e. “design inference” is utterly trivial.

    Aquinas’ metaphysical model, elegant as it is, has nothing at all do with ID’s scientific methods for challenging the neo-Darwinist claims, which is that science is proven that design is an illusion. You must confront that subject if you want to attain credibility in these discussions.

    Without even looking them up, I can safely say none of these uses ID theory. All of them use pattern-matching, searching repetitious patterns. None of them has any use for the concept of “specified complex information”. All of them presuppose that the data under investigation is information of some level, caused by agents with will and intellect, and they interpret the data based on these presuppositions. All “design” in the data is obviously projected by the metaphysics. It’s not in the physics.

    Excuse me, but this is total nonsense. None of the relevant sciences presuppose human agency. If they did, they wouldn’t be science.

    Forensic scientists use evidence to differentiate between accidental death and murder. They do not presuppose murder.

    Archaeologists detect design in artifacts. Otherwise, they could not differentiate between clay and a clay pot They do not presuppose the clay pot.

    Cryptanalysists use the same method to break codes and detect real messages from meaningless sequences of characters. .They do not presuppose meaning.

    Academics use design detection to catch plagiarists. They do not presuppose plagiarism

    Arson investigators follow the evidence to determine the cause of fire, whether it was by design or by chance. They do not presuppose arson.

    SETI searches for meaningful messages from outer space. They do not presuppose extra-terrestrial intelligence.
    Insurance investigators use design detection to investigate the possibility of fraud. They do not presuppose fraud.

    You really need to abandon this line of reasoning, if, indeed, we can characterize it as reasoning.

    I see. So, ID theory is really a campaign with an agenda, not science. You are on a crusade to discredit Neo-Darwinism. This entirely explains why there’s no identifiable method, no coherent terminology, and no sensible background metaphysics. It’s because there’s something else altogether that is more important than science to you. Suddenly it all makes sense. Thanks for telling.

    You began by asking this question:

    “But feel free to suggest how ID theory could benefit anyone involved in their conclusions. What do ID concepts add to the situation that we don’t have now?”

    So, I provided a specific answer to a specific question. In response, you resort to a cheap round of motive mongering. Obviously, you do not rate the courtesy that I have extended to you.

  92. 92
    E.Seigner says:

    StephenB

    Excuse me, but this is total nonsense. None of the relevant sciences presuppose human agency. If they did, they wouldn’t be science.

    Forensic scientists use evidence to differentiate between accidental death and murder. They do not presuppose murder.

    They know what an accidental death looks like as distinguished from murder and in each new case they look for the same patterns. Nobody detects murder. It’s not even in the vocabulary. It’s possible to witness murder though. And they definitely presuppose one or the other, either death due to murder or due to other causes. Murder has to be established or eliminated, and they go over the relevant signs.

    Archaeologists detect design in artifacts. Otherwise, they could not differentiate between clay and a clay pot They do not presuppose the clay pot.

    “Detect design” is not in the vocabulary. Archeologists know what clay pots look like and compare and match them to new findings.

    Cryptanalysists use the same method to break codes and detect real messages from meaningless sequences of characters. .They do not presuppose meaning.

    Pattern-matching.

    Academics use design detection to catch plagiarists. They do not presuppose plagiarism

    Again, “design detection” is definitely not in the vocabulary. It’s a search for matching paragraphs, sentences, and phrases.

    Arson investigators follow the evidence to determine the cause of fire, whether it was by design or by chance. They do not presuppose arson.

    Same as with those who investigate causes of death.

    SETI searches for meaningful messages from outer space. They do not presuppose extra-terrestrial intelligence.

    I’m quite sure they presuppose the possibility of finding what they are looking for. Otherwise why would they do it?

    Insurance investigators use design detection to investigate the possibility of fraud. They do not presuppose fraud.

    But they need to methodically eliminate the chances of fraud, so this is exactly what they are looking for. Meaning: yes, they presuppose the possibility and they go through the relevant patterns and scenarios.

    You deliberately misread what I meant by presupposing. But okay, it’s easy to misread it when you are not used to catch yourself from presuppositions. You take so much for granted that it shows in your vocabulary.

    At no point did we detect any design or intelligence. Those are not objective things to be detected. We have fundamentally different ideas what’s going on in those cases. We also have different ideas about what constitutes science.

    “But feel free to suggest how ID theory could benefit anyone involved in their conclusions. What do ID concepts add to the situation that we don’t have now?”

    So, I provided a specific answer to a specific question. In response, you resort to a cheap round of motive mongering. Obviously, you do not rate the courtesy that I have extended to you.

    You mean your remarks “to discredit neo-Darwinism, one of the most destructive ideas to ever plague the mind of man” were seriously meant as answer to my question? Well, you actually noticed that I thanked you for this already, even though I didn’t close the quote correctly in the end of my previous message. Thanks again.

  93. 93
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Mung @ 85

    Why not just quote Aquinas as saying that God created the body of the first man directly from the slime of the earth and be done with it?

    That’s a lot simpler argument. Aquinas makes it a statement of fact – absolutely clear, no ambiguity. Evolution from animal to man is rejected outright.
    … I know, there are all sorts of ways of getting around this if you really want to, and that’s what today’s neo-Thomist theistic evolutionists will invariably do.
    As for Thomas as a YEC – I don’t believe he said anything about the age of the earth so it’s more of an open question (not 100% certain about that).

  94. 94
    StephenB says:

    E. Seigner,

    They know what an accidental death looks like as distinguished from murder and in each new case they look for the same patterns.

    Irrelevant to the order of events. Forensic scientists do not presuppose intentional homicide nor do they presuppose accidental death. None of the sciences I listed are presuppositional. They are all evidence based. They allow the evidence to speak and then draw an inference to the best explanation. Pattern analysis, when it is used, is not the process; it is part of the process.

    The methods involved in all these sciences requires a step-by-step process that always begins and ends the same way. Do you know these steps and can you articulate them in the proper order? If not, then please do not waste any more of my time. I have little patience for willfully ignorant people that resist remedial education.

  95. 95
    Mung says:

    Thomas Aquinas Was a Transformist!

    Interestingly, the personist view of human beings is in some ways similar to the Scholastic view, held by Aquinas among other others (following Aristotle), of ‘delayed ensoulment’, whereby the rational soul was thought to come into existence at least forty days after conception. … they thought that what existed immediately prior to rational ensoulment (itself an act of God) was an animal that was sufficiently materially complex to be turned, by substantial transformation, into a body made human by the infusion of a rational soul.

    – David S. Oderberg. Real Essentialism, p. 250

  96. 96
    niwrad says:

    Mung #95

    Likely the incorrect view of Oderberg is based on the following statement by Aquinas:

    “For, since the soul is united to the body as its form, it is united to the body as its proper act. Now the soul ‘is the act of an organic body’ (Aristotle, II De Anima, 412b, 5-6) Therefore, the soul does not exist in the semen in act before the organization of the body.” (Summa Contra Gentiles, II, ch. 89)

    The key point in the above quote is indeed “in act“. It is reasonable that soul cannot be in act before the organization of the body is developed enough. No one pretends that a new born is just intellectually in full action at 40 days from the conception. It is not even 40 months after the birth! Aquinas meant that at the human conception the rational soul is in potency. Otherwise Aquinas couldn’t have stated: “But it is contrary to the nature of the perfection of the first production of beings that God would make either the body without the soul or the soul without the body”. Aquinas rightly assumes that to infuse a human soul in a pre-existent animal body is not perfection of creation.

    Oderberg and other modern thinkers misunderstand Aquinas because they basically have a reductive and evolutionist conception of man as a not integrated set of pieces.

  97. 97
    Mung says:

    niwrad,

    But it is contrary to the nature of the perfection of the first production of beings that God would make either the body without the soul or the soul without the body.

    But Aquinas isn’t talking about the same thing here as you are. Aquinas is talking about the creation of the first man, Adam, and answering a completely different objection on a completely different matter.

    Objection 1. It would seem that the body of the first man was not made of the slime of the earth.

    http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1091.htm#article1

    And it’s evident from the title to Art IV and the nature of the 3rd objection in Art IV that it is still the creation of the first man as described in Scripture that is in mind.

    http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1091.htm#article4

    It is also evident that after the soul departs the body, the matter that was the living body itself has a substantial form, but one that is different.

    So here we have from conception through birth and life and in death at least three different substantial forms.

    It is reasonable that soul cannot be in act before the organization of the body is developed enough.

    And I don’t think that is reasonable at all and I shall do my best to explain why.

    Simply, except prime matter, there is no matter without form.

    In addition, what is it that brings about the development of the body to the point that it is “developed enough” for the soul to be present “in act”?

    It may be a developing embryo, but that is still what it is, and thus it has a substantial form.

    I’ve got to thank you anyways for getting me reading Oderberg again. 🙂

    niwrad:

    Oderberg and other modern thinkers misunderstand Aquinas because they basically have a reductive and evolutionist conception of man as a not integrated set of pieces.

    You haven’t read Oderberg, have you. I’d recommend him. He’s often quoted by Feser. 😉

  98. 98
    Mung says:

    Mung: Why does niwrad honor you for defending his position if you’re not willing to defend his position?

    StephenB: That comment is toally without warrant.

    I apologize.

    At times I think I am just so witty and just can’t wait to have others observe my wittiness. (Pettiness might be more apt.) =P

    I knew it was an unnecessary barb when I wrote it.

    Peace

  99. 99
    StephenB says:

    Mung, you are very gracious. Also, you revived my interest in Oderberg again. I read “Essentialism” last year, but it was a book I borrowed from library, so I had to return it sooner than I would have liked.

    He did write (I think) a chapter on evolution and essentialism, but I can’t remember his exact take. One thing I do remember was his hesitation to accept ID for reasons that most of us have long since dealt with. LOL

  100. 100
    niwrad says:

    Mung #99

    Nothing of what you write or cite shows that Aquinas stated that man was produced by “ensoulment” of animal. Adam was a pure spiritual being before acquiring a body. “Ensoulment” of animal is nonsense for the principles of his own worldview. He would be horrified by the idea.

    Anyway if you want to believe that for me is ok. I give up trying to convince you. I have other things to do, so I leave you and others to continue the discussion, if you want. Thanks to all for the participation.

  101. 101
    Mung says:

    niwrad:

    Nothing of what you write or cite shows that Aquinas stated that man was produced by “ensoulment” of animal.

    If you are talking about his view on the first man I don’t find that relevant to the argument I am making. I already pointed out that Aquinas taught the immediate creation of the first man by God.

    niwrad:

    “Ensoulment” of animal is nonsense for the principles of his own worldview. He would be horrified by the idea.

    Let’s permit Aquinas to speak for himself.

    [7] This truth [the immediate creation of each human soul by God] also seems to be implied in sacred Scripture, for in speaking of the formation of other animals, it ascribes their souls to other causes, as in the text: “Let the waters bring forth the creeping creatures with a living soul” (Gen. 1:20), and so it is with other things. But when man is spoken of later on, the creation of his soul by God is revealed: “God formed man of the slime of the earth, and breathed into his face the breath of life” (Gen. 2:7).

    http://dhspriory.org/thomas/ContraGentiles2.htm#87

    I wonder what he means by “other animals.”

    As to what Oderberg was referring to, if we’re talking about any text from Aquinas it is more likely to be this one:

    [3] Moreover, as Aristotle teaches in the De generation animalium [II, 3], the fetus is an animal before becoming a man. But, during the time in which the fetus is an animal and not a man, it has a sensitive and not an intellective soul; and, just as in other animals, this sensitive soul in indubitably produced by the active power of the semen. And yet that same sensitive soul is potentially intellective, just as that animal is potentially a rational animal; and the notion that the supervening intellective soul is substantially distinct from the sensitive one has been refuted already. It therefore seems that the substance of the intellective soul is derived from a power in the semen.

    http://dhspriory.org/thomas/ContraGentiles2.htm#88

    I humbly submit to you that you really need to re-think your stance.

  102. 102
    Mung says:

    StephenB:

    He did write (I think) a chapter on evolution and essentialism, but I can’t remember his exact take. One thing I do remember was his hesitation to accept ID for reasons that most of us have long since dealt with.

    I think you are probably referring to the chapter that I am currently reading, Species, biological and metaphysical.

    He doesn’t really give any ground to the Darwinists, imo, showing how their ideas about essentialism are for the most part misguided and irrelevant.

    But he does not find any metaphysical reason why members of one species could not give rise to a new species. Note that this is not a species changing. It is the appearance of a new species.

  103. 103
    Mung says:

    Oderberg on Intelligent Design Theory:

    Note here the difference in what I am claiming about organisms and the view associated with what has come to be known as ‘intelligent design’ (ID) theory. ID theorists tend to treat organisms (apart from humans) as divinely made machines that can be understood according to the principles of human engineering and other technology. And they consider the complexity of such organisms to be largely if not wholly quantifiable and subject to empirical testing.

    That’s from a footnote on p. 287. He cites no ID sources in support of his claims about ID.

    Intelligent Design theme song:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D.....understood

  104. 104
    StephenB says:

    Mung @103:

    Yes, that is the passage that I had in mind. What is it, I wonder, that prevents such talented men as Feser and Oderberg from investigating ID’s actual arguments. Heaven knows they have the intellectual capacity to absorb them. At the very least, they could read “God and Evolution,” in which Jay Richards and Co., thoroughly debunks this strawman argument.

  105. 105
  106. 106
    Mung says:

    SB, I have a theory.

    Most probably have other over-riding interests and demands on their time. “Understanding ID qua ID” is not a particular priority. So they read what someone else has written, perhaps even someone they trust, and that’s where their conception of ID is derived from.

    Oderberg cites Machuga 2002: 161-6

    I suppose perhaps I could spring for the few dollars at about 50c a page just to see what this guy has written about ID and where he got it from.

    But why on earth does someone feel the need to attack ID [an assumption] in a book on the human soul?

    I think I need to go back and see if Thomas Woodward has written on the sociology of the anti-ID mindset, lol.

    I think I’m an honest searcher. I have reservations about ID. But it’s just frustrates the heck out of me when I cannot find Christians who can it least give it a fair hearing (Kenneth Miller comes to mind as the most egregious Christian critic).

    Do your research. Quote and cite your sources. Don’t lie about or misrepresent ID or it’s arguments. It undermines your credibility.

    If you’re relying on your readers to just not know what you’re up to, to be informed enough, shame on you.

    /end rant

  107. 107
    Mung says:

    Feser’s main objection to ID seems to be that it is metaphysically superfluous.

    That deserves a big so what imo. It misses the point in two respects: 1) ID is not metaphysics, and 2) a distinction can be made between something that is not necessary to a particular end and something that is not useful to a particular end.

    I don’t want to know why ID is not necessary, I want to know why it is not useful, or why it is even harmful.

    On that point Feser argues that ID accepts the mechanistic view of the neo-Darwinists in order to argue against the neo-Darwinists. Here I have some sympathy with what he says.

    I think VJT has a post on whether ID is mechanistic. I need to find that OP.

  108. 108
    Mung says:

    There is so much that is just plain wrong about this OP. It’s a shame that niwrad has chosen to bow out of defending it’s content.

    For example:

    Note that the above quote especially applies to the negation of the arise of man from a non-human being (anthropoid). But in general denies the material macroevolution of any living being, because no being is inanimate

    That is just silly, or ignorant, or false, or fails to accurately communicate the thought of the author.

    God is not an animate being. Therefore God is an inanimate being. Are angels animate or inanimate beings? Are plants animate or inanimate beings? Are any of the above non-beings?

    …no being is inanimate…

    Does anyone want to argue that what niwrad really meant was that no inanimate being is an animate being?

    If so, how does that help his argument?

  109. 109
    Mung says:

    From the OP:

    We can conclude that Aquinas is contra universal macroevolution in principle, because macroevolution is transformation of bodies only, while in Aquinas soul and body are not separable and the latter causatively depends on the former.

    Again, this is just silly, mistaken, false, incoherent, or fails to accurately communicate the thought of the author.

    Any material substance has a substantial form. The only matter without form is prime matter.

    There is just no such thing as “transformation of bodies only” without transformation of form.

    The implication of what is asserted in the OP is that Aquinas would have accepted a body without form, and that is just absurd.

  110. 110
    StephenB says:

    I think niwrad is trying to say something like this:

    Souls are unchangeable. Accordingly, one kind of soul could never evolve into another kind of soul.

    One body type could evolve into another body type if each wasn’t inextricably tied to a soul.

    But each body type is, indeed, tied to a soul that is unchangeable and unfit for any other kind of body.

    A rational human soul is a different form than a non-rational pre-human soul.

    Thus, a pre-human, which is not a composite of rational soul and body, cannot morph into a human, which is.

    Neither can a pre-human body wait around for an implanted human soul since it already has a soul of its own.

  111. 111
    E.Seigner says:

    StephenB

    What is it, I wonder, that prevents such talented men as Feser and Oderberg from investigating ID’s actual arguments. Heaven knows they have the intellectual capacity to absorb them.

    1. Lack of solidity in background metaphysics. You don’t even acknowledge the need for metaphysical structure. Your background assumptions should be explicit and understood exactly one way, because everything you derive from it depends on it. If you had the metaphysics laid out properly, things like “soul is far more complex than the body” would not happen. This is for me personally the biggest obstacle with ID. Other reasons are also pretty serious though.
    2. Lack of rigour in the key concepts. You have not defined design. What’s worse, you don’t even acknowledge the need to define it. Yet you go on talking about detecting it and you don’t see the screaming self-contradiction in this. And I mention this completely apart from what I see as category error in trying to conceive of design as something objectively detectable. AFAIK, Feser rejects ID because his metaphysics, same as mine, block any possibility of defining design as something objectively detectable, but as I found out in this discussion, you even don’t see the need to define the concept of design as anything. As long as the key concept is not defined, ID theory is obviously not a scientific theory in the first place and doesn’t even deserve to be taken seriously.
    3. Key motivation of the project is not science. The aim of the project is, as per someone, “to discredit neo-Darwinism, one of the most destructive ideas to ever plague the mind of man.” If I need to say what’s wrong with this statement, then the wrongness of this statement is even worse than it appears. Scientific projects aim to reveal truths about reality. Other theories may be debunked as a side-effect. If “discrediting” a mainstream scientific theory is the central and only aim, then you don’t have scientific motivation. Not to mention that given the tools and methods that you allow yourselves (cited in previous points) your aim is unobtainable anyway.

    These are some of the reasons why you don’t even have Craig and Plantinga investing anything in your project. They certainly look like serious enough reasons for me.

  112. 112
    Upright BiPed says:

    The irony in #111 is thick.

  113. 113
    DavidD says:

    Elisabeth Seigner
    “They certainly look like serious enough reasons for me.”

    And this ultimately says it all in a nut shell. It doesn’t look that way to you. So who are you ?

    Upright BiPed
    “The irony in #111 is thick.”

    Probably as thick as the head of Bier she helps manufacture down in Bavaria. Nice one Elisabeth

  114. 114
    StephenB says:

    E. Seigner,

    These are some of the reasons why you don’t even have Craig and Plantinga investing anything in your project. They certainly look like serious enough reasons for me.

    In other words, even after my chiding and prompting, you still cannot identify or describe ID’s methods, which means that you don’t have the slightest idea of what you are talking about.

    Key motivation of the project is not science.

    That is correct. Motives have nothing to do with methods. So, apply that principle, stop the motive mongering, and learn something about the science.

    AFAIK, Feser rejects ID because his metaphysics, same as mine, block any possibility of defining design as something objectively detectable

    So, as far as you are concerned, there is no way to distinguish a random sequence of letters from a well-written paragraph, or a dented rock from an ancient hunter’s spear, or a pile of sand from a sand castle. And you really think that St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest thinkers who ever lived, would support your position. On the contrary, he would laugh his head off at your naivete and then scold you for slandering his name.

  115. 115
    StephenB says:

    E Seigner”

    These are some of the reasons why you don’t even have Craig and Plantinga investing anything in your project.

    Both men affirm that design is objectively detectable.

    From William Lane Craig:

    …”suppose some archaeologists were digging in the earth and they came across entities that looked for all the world like tomahawk heads and arrowheads and pottery shards. They would be rational in inferring that these artifacts are not the result of the chance processes of sedimentation and metamorphosis. They would be rational in inferring that these were, in fact, artifacts that are the products of intelligent design. They would be rational in drawing that explanation, or that conclusion, as the best explanation even if they had no explanation at all of who these people were or where they came from. They might have no explanation at all of who these designers were, but clearly the best explanation for the arrowheads and the pottery shards is that they were the product of intelligent design.

    To take another illustration, imagine that astronauts landing on the moon were to discover on the dark side of the moon a pile of machinery. They would be rational in inferring that the best explanation for this machinery is intelligent design, even if they had no idea at all who made this machinery or how it came to be there. Suppose they were able to determine it wasn’t American made or Soviet made. They don’t have any idea who made this machinery or how it got there. Still it would be obvious that this was the product of intelligent design. You do not need to be able to explain the explanation in order to recognize that the explanation is the best.”

    Aquinas would certainly agree, as would any rational person.

  116. 116
    E.Seigner says:

    StephenB

    So, as far as you are concerned, there is no way to distinguish a random sequence of letters from a well-written paragraph, or a dented rock from an ancient hunter’s spear, or a pile of sand from a sand castle.

    Okay, so despite all my explanations how this distinction occurs, you still manage to deny the obvious. The obvious is that the distinction is subjective, not objective. I.e. a dog or an illiterate would not be able to tell a random sequence of letters apart from a well-written paragraph. Most people untrained in archeology would not be able to tell stone-age spearheads from random pebbles, etc. The distinction is possible, yes, but it crucially depends on who is distinguishing. The distinction is completely dependent on the relevant preparation of the person. This is what it means to say that the distinction is not objective. It is subjective.

    Craig makes the same point when he says: “…suppose some archaeologists were digging in the earth and they came across entities that looked for all the world like tomahawk heads and arrowheads and pottery shards. They would be rational in inferring that these artifacts are not the result of the chance processes…” Exactly right for archeologists, but completely different for anyone non-specialist and non-rational, which highlights the subjective nature of the inference. At no point is there any “detection of intelligent design” going on in the relevant sense, and given the normal definitions of intelligence (psychological) and design (artistic), there’s no way for objectivity to enter the picture.

    If intelligent design were objective, then everybody would agree on its “facts”, but the fact is that it’s completely subjective, which calls people to investigate its background assumptions and motivation rather than “facts”. Naturally so, because it has no objective facts there to study.

    In all the examples and analogies cited it makes all the difference how to approach the facts. Since you fail to recognize this, you are evidently unfamiliar with the sciences you cite and also not interested in making your own project a science. It takes a scientist to understand the nature of what’s going on in the process of interpretation of facts and artefacts and this is how I can safely say you have no clue of what you are talking about when you claim ID theory to be scientific to any degree. And what you say about motivation makes it conclusively clear that you have no interest to get a clue either. Inability to recognize the distinction of subjective and objective is a sure sign of pseudoscience, and unwillingness to acknowledge that the distinction even exists is even more so.

  117. 117
    DavidD says:

    Elisabeth
    “If intelligent design were objective, then everybody would agree on its “facts”,

    Ooooo, we have a consensus is on our side argument. Elisabeth, how well did the overwhelming consensus of belief in the Darwinian Theory of Evolution have in your country in the 1930s & 40s ?

  118. 118
    Upright BiPed says:

    you still manage to deny the obvious. The obvious is that the distinction is subjective, not objective. I.e. a dog or an illiterate would not be able to tell … This is what it means to say that the distinction is not objective. It is subjective.

    Since a dog cannot tell that the earth travels around the sun, then our observation of the earth traveling around the sun is subjective ?

    Okay, got it. Another powerful refutation of ID.

  119. 119
    Box says:

    Summary: things are only objective when dogs can perform them? 🙂

  120. 120
    Joe says:

    Wow, according to E. Seigner all of science and mathematics is subjective because dogs and morons can’t understand them.

    Just when I thought it couldn’t get any dumber…

  121. 121
    Silver Asiatic says:

    On that point Feser argues that ID accepts the mechanistic view of the neo-Darwinists in order to argue against the neo-Darwinists. Here I have some sympathy with what he says.

    I agree that does sound like a problem, except that “the view of the neo-Darwinists” is what we’d also call “mainstream science”. What Feser offers is a far more radical critique, and I fully agree with him that modern science is based on the wrong metaphysics. I’d like to see some credentialed Thomistic biologists who do new peer-reviewed research using a non-mechanistic model.
    Thus far, all we have is the critique and no alternative to support. I don’t think ID needs a mechanistic model to support its findings. Design-detection is easily supported under a Thomistic metaphysics (see #44 in this thread).

  122. 122
    jerry says:

    Just when I thought it couldn’t get any dumber…

    He doesn’t really believe this but it shows how absurd the position one has to take if they are going to deny the ID hypothesis has any merit.

    One still has to look at yourself in the mirror each day.

  123. 123
    StephenB says:

    E. Seigner

    Okay, so despite all my explanations how this distinction occurs, you still manage to deny the obvious. The obvious is that the distinction is subjective, not objective. I.e. a dog or an illiterate would not be able to tell a random sequence of letters apart from a well-written paragraph. Most people untrained in archeology would not be able to tell stone-age spearheads from random pebbles, etc.

    Where do you get all this nonsense? It is an objective fact that an ancient hunter designed his spear. It is an objective fact that you, as an author, designed your paragraphs. All rational people can immediately recognize the difference between a rock formed by wind, air, and erosion and a spear formed by intelligent agent. It requires no training to differentiate between a random sequence of characters and a well-written paragraph.

    The distinction is possible, yes, but it crucially depends on who is distinguishing. The distinction is completely dependent on the relevant preparation of the person. This is what it means to say that the distinction is not objective. It is subjective.

    I don’t think you know the meanings of the terms you are using. Subjective refers to the thinking subject; objective refers to the object that is being thought about. Thus, the subject makes a design inference about the object of the investigation, which is the designed artifact.

    Exactly right for archeologists, but completely different for anyone non-specialist and non-rational, which highlights the subjective nature of the inference.

    No, Craig’s point is that any rational person would come to the same conclusion. That is why he offered two examples, one of which has nothing to do with historical science. Designed artifacts (and organisms) leave clues.

    At no point is there any “detection of intelligent design” going on in the relevant sense, and given the normal definitions of intelligence (psychological) and design (artistic), there’s no way for objectivity to enter the picture.

    Subjectivity refers to the thinking subject that makes the design inference, not the objective reality of the thing that was designed or the objective fact that it was designed. Please try to grasp this point.

    If intelligent design were objective, then everybody would agree on its “facts” , but the fact is that it’s completely subjective, which calls people to investigate its background assumptions and motivation rather than “facts”. Naturally so, because it has no objective facts there to study.

    You say that ID has no objective facts to study, but you don’t have a clue about what ID studies or which methods it uses. I know that you are unfamiliar with those methods because I asked you to articulate them and you could not do it? Isn’t it time that you stopped reacting and started thinking? What do you hope to gain by remaining hopelessly uninformed?

    In all the examples and analogies cited it makes all the difference how to approach the facts. Since you fail to recognize this, you are evidently unfamiliar with the sciences you cite and also not interested in making your own project a science.

    Interesting. I provide general information about the methods of several scientific disciplines, all of which were new to you, and now, all of a sudden, you are the expert. I guess this means that you can finally give me the step-by-step process that they all use. Please do so now. If you need help, let me know.

    It takes a scientist to understand the nature of what’s going on in the process of interpretation of facts and artefacts and this is how I can safely say you have no clue of what you are talking about when you claim ID theory to be scientific to any degree. And what you say about motivation makes it conclusively clear that you have no interest to get a clue either. Inability to recognize the distinction of subjective and objective is a sure sign of pseudoscience, and unwillingness to acknowledge that the distinction even exists is even more so.

    I wish you would not crowd three of four distinct philosophical errors in the same paragraph. It makes it extra hard for me to write a comprehensible paragraph in response. In the first sentence, you argue falsely that only a scientist can interpret facts. In the second sentence, you allude to a process without even knowing what it is. In the third sentence, you renew your irrelevant motive mongering. In the fourth sentence, you continue to obsess over subjectivity and objectivity even as you remain confused about both concepts. Just take one idea and try to develop it.

  124. 124
    E.Seigner says:

    StephenB

    I don’t think you know the meanings of the terms you are using. Subjective refers to the thinking subject; objective refers to the object that is being thought about. Thus, the subject makes a design inference about the object of the investigation, which is the designed artifact.

    You are repeating exactly what I said, but in a tone as if you were arguing against me. Who are you really arguing with? Can’t you see that you are proving my point?

    Subjectivity refers to the thinking subject that makes the design inference, not the objective reality of the thing that was designed or the objective fact that it was designed. Please try to grasp this point.

    You are finally grasping what I have been saying all along. The inference is subjective, done by the subject. The inference that there could be any intelligent agency behind the object is completely up to the subject. None of it can be detected in the object. The “design” is not in the physics of the object, but is completely projected by the metaphysics of the subject. That’s why different people with different metaphysics, different training and different expectations reach different conclusions concerning the same object, often even radically different.

    For example that the sun is hot is an objective fact. Even dogs get it and hide from the sun. Far more subjective is the idea that the sun is the giver of life on earth. Dogs don’t entertain this idea, but humans do, at least those who are inclined to contemplate life and nature. That the sun is created is an idea of religious believers, while looking for design in the sun is the idea of design theorists, just like looking for alien life is the idea of ufologists. And both ID theorists and ufologists appear to have amassed plenty of scientific facts that somehow fail to make any point to everyone else – and of course it’s the fault of everyone else.

    You say that ID has no objective facts to study, but you don’t have a clue about what ID studies or which methods it uses. I know that you are unfamiliar with those methods because I asked you to articulate them and you could not do it?

    Actually, I asked you about the methods and concepts and you have completely failed to articulate anything sensible about them. What I have read on the Resources section on this site betrays utter lack of method and you are only confirming it. Somehow you managed to not notice when you blatantly contradict the Resources section. For example I quoted from the Resources section that the ID theory holds that natural selection is undirected or unguided, but you pretty soon contradicted this, apparently because it was me quoting it. Looks like you think everything I say must be contradicted. You enjoy contradicting so much that now for several rounds you have been contradicting yourself.

    I wish you would not crowd three of four distinct philosophical errors in the same paragraph. It makes it extra hard for me to write a comprehensible paragraph in response. In the first sentence, you argue falsely that only a scientist can interpret facts. In the second sentence, you allude to a process without even knowing what it is. In the third sentence, you renew your irrelevant motive mongering. In the fourth sentence, you continue to obsess over subjectivity and objectivity even as you remain confused about both concepts. Just take one idea and try to develop it.

    I summed up all the points that you had been unable to reply. And your lack of response conclusively sums up your inability to clarify the ID theory when questions are posed.

    The first point was about scientific interpretation of facts. If we are not talking about scientific interpretation of facts, then we are not talking about science, and all your examples and scenarios are irrelevant, because it was your job to prove that ID theory has something scientific in it, that you are somehow doing science. Now it’s clear that there’s none of it here. When I mention the process of interpretation of facts, i.e. the scientific method, you don’t even know what is being said. In this discussion it was your job to demonstrate something scientific about the ID theory, but now you are totally tired of science.

    Motivation is quite relevant here, because you brought it up yourself, not me. In my opinion it matters quite a lot if global warming statistics are analyzed with the motivation to support a policy harboured by some cronies or if the job is done to determine a scientific truth. Of course, you like to contradict me, so you have already contradicted this point a few times. Thus only proving my point. Thanks yet again, even though this was the point I really didn’t want to be proven.

  125. 125
    Silver Asiatic says:

    E. Seigner #116

    Just a brief observation … I think the following might indicate where there is a major misunderstanding. You said (I bolded):

    At no point is there any “detection of intelligent design” going on in the relevant sense, and given the normal definitions of intelligence (psychological) and design (artistic), there’s no way for objectivity to enter the picture.

    Yes, artistic is one defintion of design — but that’s not what ID is talking about. It’s design as in the phrase “by design” — or “with purpose”. Design is a plan or conscious intent. It can be artistic or functional. Anything that was created with a deliberate act would be designed. Things are “desgined for” something. There is a purpose.
    If you’re thinking just about artistic design, this might explain why you put so much emphasis on subjectivism. Art is a matter of taste.

  126. 126
    StephenB says:

    E. Seigner

    The inference that there could be any intelligent agency behind the object is completely up to the subject.

    It is certainly up to the subject and not the object to establish the hypothesis. A designed object cannot establish a hypothesis. Check!

    None of it can be detected in the object.

    No. It is the design in the object that is detected. Reality is objective; perception is subjective. We are capable of apprehending reality as it is. We don’t just experience a series of meaningless sense impressions.

    The “design” is not in the physics of the object, but is completely projected by the metaphysics of the subject.

    No. The object is really designed. The subject apprehends the design that is in the object. There is a subject and there is an object.

    That’s why different people with different metaphysics, different training and different expectations reach different conclusions concerning the same object, often even radically different.

    Everyone knows that a sand castle is designed and is not the product of wind, air, and erosion. You know it too. Why you will not admit it is a mystery.

    For example that the sun is hot is an objective fact. Even dogs get it and hide from the sun. Far more subjective is the idea that the sun is the giver of life on earth. Dogs don’t entertain this idea, but humans do, at least those who are inclined to contemplate life and nature. That the sun is created is an idea of religious believers, while looking for design in the sun is the idea of design theorists, just like looking for alien life is the idea of ufologists. And both ID theorists and ufologists appear to have amassed plenty of scientific facts that somehow fail to make any point to everyone else – and of course it’s the fault of everyone else.

    The sun was designed to warm the earth. This is a statement about the object of investigation. We can apprehend that design. This is a statement about the subject that investigates the object.

    If the sun had not been objectively designed to warm the earth, it would not warm it the earth. Your personal or subjective metaphysics will not cause the sun to be designed or to warm the earth. Again, you are not making the distinction between the subject and the object.

    Actually, I asked you about the methods and concepts and you have completely failed to articulate anything sensible about them.

    That is not a true statement. I explained, in brief, that ID makes an inference to the best explanation. This is a fact, but it is not the whole story. Rather than acknowledge the fact or ask for more detail, you simply ignored the point and injected a few irrelevant comments about metaphysics.

    What I have read on the Resources section on this site betrays utter lack of method and you are only confirming it For example I quoted from the Resources section that the ID theory holds that natural selection is undirected or unguided, but you pretty soon contradicted this, apparently because it was me quoting it. Looks like you think everything I say must be contradicted. You enjoy contradicting so much that now for several rounds you have been contradicting yourself.

    Darwinian evolution does hold that natural selection is an undirected process. That is why ID argues against it. That is why legitimate Thomism argues against it. Darwinism is not, as you say, an “intelligently designed process” Where you got that idea I will never know, but it does help me to understand at least a part of your confusion.

    The first point was about scientific interpretation of facts. If we are not talking about scientific interpretation of facts, then we are not talking about science, and all your examples and scenarios are irrelevant, because it was your job to prove that ID theory has something scientific in it, that you are somehow doing science. Now it’s clear that there’s none of it here.

    On the contrary, ID is scientific because it uses the same methods as the other sciences listed. If they are sciences by virtue of their methods, then ID is science for the same reason. Thus, it is your job to show that they are not science or that ID doesn’t use their methods.

    When I mention the process of interpretation of facts, i.e. the scientific method, you don’t even know what is being said. In this discussion it was your job to demonstrate something scientific about the ID theory, but now you are totally tired of science.

    I have tried to keep you focused on science, but you continue to inject metaphysics, subject/object theory, and a whole series of other irrelevant topics. ID is a historical science. The methods of historical science are well established. Among other things, they involve the application of abductive reasoning, an appeal to current causes now in operation, and a focus on causes that are known to produce the effect—all for the purpose of drawing an inference to the best explanation among competing alternatives. These are, in part, ID’s methods, about which you know nothing. Naturally, this limitation doe not prevent you from commenting on the subject at length.

    In my opinion it [motivation] matters quite a lot if global warming statistics are analyzed with the motivation to support a policy harboured by some cronies or if the job is done to determine a scientific truth. Of course, you like to contradict me, so you have already contradicted this point a few times. Thus only proving my point. Thanks yet again, even though this was the point I really didn’t want to be proven.

    Everyone is motivated and everyone has biases. That is the whole point of scientific methods. Their objective is to filter out the biases and prejudices and let the evidence speak. Yes, that evidence must be interpreted in a rational way.. Thus, the quality of the science is totally dependent on the integrity of the methods and the rational standards that inform the methods. If any of these factors break down, science is compromised. The role of metaphysics is to insure that rational standards are maintained.

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    Upright BiPed says:

    The pattern I’ve found so often (and it is indeed a pattern) is that those who just stand on this utterly pointless and ill-conceived demarcation issue — just wholly animated by it — are those who are the most thoroughly lost when it comes to physical evidence. They have no clue.

    The relentless manufacturing of protection from evidence, and the personal inability to deal with evidence tend to go hand in hand.

    Why not have the courage of your convictions and deal with the evidence instead of blindly parroting that it doesn’t exist.

  128. 128
    kairosfocus says:

    SB & UB: I am unfortunately too busy with local brush fires — latest is where should the permanent sea port be built project cycle management shell games, but I think part of the problem is misunderstandings of inductive reasoning, influences of naive falsificationism (a shot of Lakatos and some Feyerabend might do good?), multiplied by trendy literary theory, po mo etc. The basic answer to all such is, any grand delusion argument is a self-referential own goal and must fail. We learn food from poison inductively, and that pharmacology is the study of poisons in small and useful doses much the same way. Just so, we know to expect Julie mango trees to yield that noble fruit, not thorns and thistles by inductive recognition of the identity, nature and associated dynamics of a certain object in our gardens and orchards. So, we have a well-warranted belief that come mango time we are in for a taste treat. In short induction allows us to gain access to reasonable, weak form [reliable as opposed to absolute certainty not in our gift. . . ) knowledge. In that context, we see causes now occurring and their characteristic effects, which are empirically reliable signs. Design –> FSCO/I, for instance. We have every epistemic right on inspecting traces of the otherwise unobserved deep past of origins to hold that a reliable sign speaks true until demonstrated not to be reliable. Just as, in court or in history, we trust the known habitually accurate and careful even when they are the only accessible source. For, we understand that character is a part of the identity, and A is A, so it is reasonable to expect A to run true to form. And lurking underneath is abductive inference to best explanation in light of the implicit premise that we live in an intelligible cosmos not a chaos. Which, is full of hints as to the source and sustainer of that wonderful order. KF

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    Silver Asiatic says:

    One of the theistic evolution arguments I’ve seen is that “from God’s perspective, nothing is random”. Therefore, evolution is an intelligently designed process. Or as it was already stated; “everything is designed”.
    Then there will be a strong resistance to admitting that we can actually tell the difference between things that have been designed and things not designed.

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    Mung says:

    “For example that the sun is hot is an objective fact.”

    Is not.

  131. 131
    StephenB says:

    Silver Asiatic

    One of the theistic evolution arguments I’ve seen is that “from God’s perspective, nothing is random”. Therefore, evolution is an intelligently designed process.
    Or as it was already stated; “everything is designed”.

    Then there will be a strong resistance to admitting that we can actually tell the difference between things that have been designed and things not designed.

    I think ID can make the following case: Everything was designed ultimately, but some things were designed indirectly through secondary causes and natural laws and other things were designed directly through primary causes. It would seem that only the latter leaves detectable design patterns.

    In keeping with that point, the TE proponents seems a bit schizophrenic to me. They are reduced to saying that God’s natural revelation is disordered and inconsistent: As they would have it, the Creator revealed himself to us in his cosmology only to turn around and hide himself from us in his biology.

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    Silver Asiatic says:

    Interesting points. Yes, that does seem schizophrenic and I don’t understand why there is so much opposition to the idea of “intervention” since the entire process would be an intervention into reality, as was the creation of physical laws, the fine-tuning of the cosmos or the creation of the human soul (for many TE’s).
    Then the different attitude towards cosmology from biology. I hate to say it but I think a lot is driven on the fear of being anti-Darwin, and thus the target of ridicule and of being labeled ignorant fundamentalist creationists.

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    Mung says:

    E.Seigner:

    For example that the sun is hot is an objective fact. Even dogs get it and hide from the sun.

    Otoh, my cat seeks out the sun. Therefore it is not hot.

    Objective fact.

    One wonders whether creatures that seek out the sun outnumber those who hide from the sun. Will the numbers decide what is objective?

    Should we exclude plants, on principle?

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