A friend wonders how SETI would know if a signal comes from an intelligent source.
Can’t nature just produce intelligence via natural selection acting on random mutations?
Well, don’t they use the same criteria for detecting intelligence as ID?
From SETI@home, criteria such as narrow-band, pulsed radio patterns, that intelligent intention easily explains but natural causes would not:
If our stellar friends are trying to put actual information on their signal (very likely), the signal will almost certainly be pulsed. We’ll be looking for this too.
He also found us this, from Evolution News & Views, answering a reader’s query about “methodological naturalism”*:
Epistemology — how we know — and ontology — what exists — are both affected by methodological naturalism. If we say, “We cannot know that a mind caused x,” laying down an epistemological boundary defined by MN, then our ontology comprising real causes for x won’t include minds.
MN entails an ontology in which minds are the consequence of physics, and thus, can only be placeholders for a more detailed causal account in which physics is the only (ultimate) actor. You didn’t write your email to me. Physics did, and informed you of that event after the fact.
*Methodological naturalism is, in my view, just the scam that Christian Darwinists and like-minded folk use to keep their jobs at Bible colleges. See, the idea is that science must assume that nature is all there is, irrespective of evidence. Hardly any philosophy or religion except new atheism teaches that, so they can’t come right out and say it. But we can, so we’ll help.
Oddly, SETI doesn’t like ID, for what sound like confused reasons:
The way this happens is as follows. When ID advocates posit that DNA–which is a complicated, molecular blueprint–is solid evidence for a designer, most scientists are unconvinced. They counter that the structure of this biological building block is the result of self-organization via evolution, and not a proof of deliberate engineering. DNA, the researchers will protest, is no more a consciously constructed system than Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. Organized complexity, in other words, is not enough to infer design.
If it is self-organization, what is the “self” that is doing the organizing?
But the adherents of Intelligent Design protest the protest. They point to SETI and say, “upon receiving a complex radio signal from space, SETI researchers will claim it as proof that intelligent life resides in the neighborhood of a distant star. Thus, isn’t their search completely analogous to our own line of reasoning–a clear case of complexity implying intelligence and deliberate design?” And SETI, they would note, enjoys widespread scientific acceptance.
Actually, SET doesn’t enjoy widespread scientific acceptance; it just isn’t worth attacking, a different proposition.
They should really come to the What Is Information? meet this coming weekend. A serious look at the nature of information might be far more fruitful than simply avoiding a cave full of bawling Darwin trolls.
Follow UD News at Twitter!