Intelligent Design

A 30-year old letter to the editor of the Purdue Exponent

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I was a visiting assistant professor (math/CS) at Purdue University in 1978-79, when I responded to a letter in the Purdue student newspaper (the Exponent), which compared those who doubt Darwin to “flat earthers”, as follows:

“Last year I surveyed the literature on evolution in the biology library of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and found Olan Hyndman’s The Origin of Life and the Evolution of Living Things in which he calls the neo-Darwinian theory of random mutation and natural selection `the most irrational and illogical explanation of natural phenomenon extant’ and proposes an alternative theory; Rene Dubos’ The Torch of Life in which he says `[The neo-Darwinian theory’s] real strength is that however implausible it may appear to its opponents they do not have a more plausible one to offer in its place’; and Jean Rostand’s A Biologist’s View in which he says that the variations which made up evolution must have been `creative and not random.’ Rostand, who elsewhere has called the neo-Darwinian theory a `fairy tale for adults,’ attributes this creativeness to the genes themselves, and says `quite a number of biologists do, in fact, fall back on these hypothetical variations to explain the major steps of evolution.’…I was not, however, able to find any books which suggested that this creativeness originated outside the chromosomes—these are restricted to theological libraries, because they deal with religion and not science, and their authors are compared to flat earthers in Exponent letters.”

To those who dismiss intelligent design as “not science”, I would like to pose the same question again, 30 years later: why is it science to attribute the major steps of evolution to creativeness in the genes themselves, but not science to attribute them to creativeness originating outside the genes? That is the only difference between Jean Rostand’s theory and the theory of intelligent design. Most ID critics today would probably respond that Rostand’s theory should also be considered “not science”, in fact, it could be easily argued that Rostand—though an atheist–was himself an ID proponent. But we all agree that the human brain is capable of creativeness, so I would then respond: why is it science to attribute creativeness to one part of an organism and “not science” to attribute creativeness to another part?

PostScript—in light of some comments below, let me make it clear that the issue being discussed is NOT whether or not the evidence supports any of these ideas, but whether they can be dismissed a priori as “not science”, before looking at the evidence. Darwinism is obviously a scientific theory, whether it is good science is another question. If Rostand’s theory is accepted as scientific, and housed in the biology library of a National Lab, there seems to be no reason to reject ID as “not science”, before looking at the evidence, as most scientists today still do. And if it is scientific to attribute creativity to the brain, how can it be “unscientific” to attribute creativity to the genes, as Rostand does? Whether the evidence supports Rostand’s theory is a completely separate issue.

209 Replies to “A 30-year old letter to the editor of the Purdue Exponent

  1. 1
    Joseph says:

    Anything but design. Anything but a designer.

    Keep saying that over and over- then repeat. 😉

  2. 2
    jerry says:

    If one does the same experiment as another scientist but concludes something different, is that science? Few would say it is not science because that is what science is about, exploring various explanations.

    If the conclusion is that an intelligent input might explain the results better than a naturalistic one, is the process still science? If this conclusion leads to numerous experiments or analyses that fail to support a naturalistic process, is this science? Is the intelligent explanation more supported or not.

  3. 3
    Barb says:

    “It looks designed, but it’s not.” – paraphrasing Richard Dawkins. That statement always struck me as being deeply idiotic. A library contains many hundreds of books; it was probably designed and built and stocked. A strand of DNA contains enough information to fill 1,000 encyclopedias; it was designed brought about by chance and mutation. Come on. This is common sense at work.

  4. 4
    IRQ Conflict says:

    OF course it is Barb. But as Joseph so aptly put it, there is no place like home.

  5. 5
    mereologist says:

    Granville Sewell asks:

    To those who dismiss intelligent design as “not science”, I would like to pose the same question again, 30 years later: why is it science to attribute the major steps of evolution to creativeness in the genes themselves, but not science to attribute them to creativeness originating outside the genes? …Most ID critics today would probably respond that Rostand’s theory should also be considered “not science”…

    Saying that something “isn’t science” is ambiguous. It can mean that something isn’t science at all because it is not empirically testable and falsifiable, or it can simply mean that something isn’t good science because it doesn’t fit the evidence. Phrenology is an example of something that is science, since it is testable and falsifiable, but not good science, since it is unsupported by evidence. Likewise with Rostand’s theory.

    To the extent that it puts forward falsifiable hypotheses, ID can be science in the first sense. It is not good science, though, because the evidence is solidly against it.

    But we all agree that the human brain is capable of creativeness, so I would then respond: why is it science to attribute creativeness to one part of an organism and not to another?

    I’m glad to hear that you agree that the human brain is capable of creativity. I suspect that other ID supporters here would deny that, instead attributing creativity to an immaterial mind or soul.

    As for why Rostand’s theory is bad science, just compare the structure of the brain to the structure of genes. Brains are extremely complex structures containing highly specialized information processing circuits. Genes are not.

    Also, there is no evidence of a mechanism by which genes could creatively direct their own mutations.

    ID is bad science because

    1) It requires us to assume the existence of an intelligent designer for whom there is no independent evidence; this is reminiscent of Molière’s fictional doctor who “explains” why opium puts people to sleep by saying that it contains a “dormitive principle”.

    2) It predicts and explains next to nothing, compared to the impressive predictive and explanatory capabilities of modern evolutionary theory.

    3) It is at odds with the evidence, unless we posit a designer who selects a method of design that is indistinguishable from unguided evolution. But if the designer chooses such a method, then one can only assert his existence in spite of the evidence, not because of it. This is a matter of faith, not science.

  6. 6
    Seversky says:

    Barb wrote @ 3

    “It looks designed, but it’s not.” – paraphrasing Richard Dawkins. That statement always struck me as being deeply idiotic. A library contains many hundreds of books; it was probably designed and built and stocked. A strand of DNA contains enough information to fill 1,000 encyclopedias; it was designed brought about by chance and mutation. Come on. This is common sense at work.

    Yes, if we came across an unknown building that was not a bookstore but contained thousands of books on shelves we might reasonably think it was a library of some sort because it looks like libraries we build. DNA, however, looks nothing like a library. It’s too small to be seen with the naked eye for a start. In fact, we can barely image it with our most powerful instruments. There are no tiny books in there which we can pick off shelves to read.

    Is it a repository of information? That depends on what you mean by “information”. It is certainly nothing like the information stored in books or contained in these posts. Perhaps, as Australian philosopher John Wilkins has suggested, information theory is useful as an analogy but it is misleading to think that DNA contains information in the sense that we normally use the word.

    The emphasis above was on the word “looks” because the whole Paleyist case rests on appearance. But looks can be deceptive. That was Dawkins’s point. We would think the watch on Paley’s heath was designed, even if we had never seen one before, because it looks like things we design. But suppose, instead of a watch, some time-traveler from the future left something like one of those “data crystals” used for information storage in TV science-fiction shows like Babylon 5 or Stargte SG-1. Imagine you were the walker on heath and stumbled across one. Would you think it was designed or just some unusual but naturally-occurring crystal?

    Some people think living things look designed because – in some respects – they look like things we design. But in other respects, like DNA and a library, they look nothing like past or present human artefacts. There is an all-too-human tendency to focus on the similarities and ignore the differences even though they may be as or more significant. That can be a mistake. There are berries which are tasty and nutritious for us to eat; there are other berries, which look similar but which would make us very ill if not kill us. As before, appearances can be deceptive.

    Intelligent Design cannot be absolutely ruled out as an explanation but its proponents, if they wish to make any headway persuading the scientific community that it is more than an outside chance, will have to show that it explains more and explains it better than the theory of evolution.

  7. 7
    IRQ Conflict says:

    Seversky wrote

    “But suppose, instead of a watch, some time-traveler from the future left something like one of those “data crystals” used for information storage in TV science-fiction shows like Babylon 5 or Stargte SG-1. Imagine you were the walker on heath and stumbled across one. Would you think it was designed or just some unusual but naturally-occurring crystal?”

    The analogy does not work because you didn’t test the crystal to see if it is more than just junk DNA.

    If the crystal was tested and found to be an information media then your assumption would be falsified no?

  8. 8
    AussieID says:

    Seversky,

    There are so many problems with your post … Time preculdes me from answering the majority.

    But one point made me start thinking: You pointed to the analogous “data crystals” used for information storage in TV science-fiction shows like Babylon 5 or Stargte SG-1. Then you asked for us to imagine we were walking on heath and stumbled across one.

    I like the idea. My problem is the singular dimensionality of your response. Firstly, Paley’s watch was different to everything else on that non-mechanistic beach so it was a singularity. the same if I was to find the crystal in a non-crytalline environment. To this point, there’s nothing really to note.

    Secondly, though, Paley’s watch DID something. It was ‘alive’ and was not some lifeless such as the rocks, or just moved because of the wind of the current. Your crystals (if i’ve got this right) if I were to look at them with some interest may also have something of ‘potential’ within.

    Thirdly, the watch and the ‘crystals’ both do something amazing. One is able to keep track of time … an amazing feature! Did that ability just happen? Did the crystals that allow teleportation/medical cures/etc just happen? If I was to find this crystal on the beach with further inspection I would be QUITE amazed!!!

    Lastly, you state about the size of dna: “There are no tiny books in there which we can pick off shelves to read.” Well, we are starting to READ it … but more importantly Paley and your science-fiction crystals shows miniaturisation: A skill to create objects smaller that function better.

    Isn’t that a skill? Might we find that skill being shown in extreme in DNA? Paley’s analogy still is quite strong.

  9. 9
    Barb says:

    “Yes, if we came across an unknown building that was not a bookstore but contained thousands of books on shelves we might reasonably think it was a library of some sort because it looks like libraries we build.”

    Correct.

    “DNA, however, looks nothing like a library. It’s too small to be seen with the naked eye for a start. In fact, we can barely image it with our most powerful instruments. There are no tiny books in there which we can pick off shelves to read.”

    But when scientists try to examine it and tell us laypeople that it contains the equivalent of 1,000 encyclopedias, and we laypeople know that 1,000 encyclopedias can only be the product of design, why not infer design here?

    “Is it a repository of information? That depends on what you mean by “information”. It is certainly nothing like the information stored in books or contained in these posts. Perhaps, as Australian philosopher John Wilkins has suggested, information theory is useful as an analogy but it is misleading to think that DNA contains information in the sense that we normally use the word.”

    I disagree. Consider what geneticist Maciej Giertych noted regarding DNA and RNA: “We have become aware of the massive information contained in the genes. There is no known way to science how that information can arise spontaneously. It requires an intelligence; it cannot arise from chance events. Just mixing letters does not produce words.”

    “The emphasis above was on the word “looks” because the whole Paleyist case rests on appearance. But looks can be deceptive.”

    They can be, but oftentimes, what you see is what you get.

    “That was Dawkins’s point. We would think the watch on Paley’s heath was designed, even if we had never seen one before, because it looks like things we design. But suppose, instead of a watch, some time-traveler from the future left something like one of those “data crystals” used for information storage in TV science-fiction shows like Babylon 5 or Stargte SG-1.”

    If we aren’t sure what it is, then the logical conclusion is to say so, and study it.

    “Imagine you were the walker on heath and stumbled across one. Would you think it was designed or just some unusual but naturally-occurring crystal?”

    I wouldn’t know without further information but I wouldn’t go making fantastical claims that it was from the future, either.

    “Some people think living things look designed because – in some respects – they look like things we design. But in other respects, like DNA and a library, they look nothing like past or present human artefacts.”

    For anyone to say something isn’t designed, they have to know what designed means.

    “There is an all-too-human tendency to focus on the similarities and ignore the differences even though they may be as or more significant. That can be a mistake. There are berries which are tasty and nutritious for us to eat; there are other berries, which look similar but which would make us very ill if not kill us. As before, appearances can be deceptive.”

    Whether or not berries are poisonous are not has no bearing on the question of how they got there in the first place.

  10. 10
    jerry says:

    Crick and Watson in 1953 immediately identified the DNA sequences as information even before they knew the full implications of the sequences. It is only on this site that some people fail to see the information in DNA. No it is not letters such as in a book of English sentences, but it similar in that the sequences of nucleotides like the sequences of letters mean something.

  11. 11
    vividbleau says:

    “No it is not letters such as in a book of English sentences, but it similar in that the sequences of nucleotides like the sequences of letters mean something.”

    It is a four letter chemical alphabet.

    I read somewhere , but I dont remember where, that DNA is not analogous to a written message rather it is actually a written message. A written message and DNA sequences are mathematically the same. Anyone remember something similar or is my memory faulty?

    Vivid

  12. 12
    Mapou says:

    Seversky @4:

    It is certainly nothing like the information stored in books or contained in these posts.

    I don’t see the big difference. The information in books can be digitized and the information in these posts are certainly digitized in our computers and servers. Genetic information is certainly based on a digitized code that can be read and interpreted by cellular machinery. The only difference between the taw is that computer information uses a binary code whereas genetic information uses a quarternary code.

    A code or information, in the Turing sense, is a string of symbols that can be interpreted by a reader and created by a writer. Even if the code/reader/writer system can modify itself, the initial input code must be designed. This definition fits the genetic code just as much as Egyptian hierogliphics, the binary voltages in my computer memory or the markings my books.

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    vivid this may be the quote your looking for:

    H.P. Yockey also notes in the Journal of Theoretical Biology:
    It is important to understand that we are not reasoning by analogy. The sequence hypothesis applies directly to the protein and the genetic text as well as to written language and therefore the treatment is mathematically identical:
    “Self Organization Origin of Life Scenarios and Information Theory,” J. Theoret. Biol.

  14. 14
    bornagain77 says:

    This may be of interest to you as well:

    Functional information and the emergence of bio-complexity:
    Robert M. Hazen, Patrick L. Griffin, James M. Carothers, and Jack W. Szostak:
    Abstract: Complex emergent systems of many interacting components, including complex biological systems, have the potential to perform quantifiable functions. Accordingly, we define ‘functional information,’ I(Ex), as a measure of system complexity. For a given system and function, x (e.g., a folded RNA sequence that binds to GTP), and degree of function, Ex (e.g., the RNA-GTP binding energy), I(Ex)= -log2 [F(Ex)], where F(Ex) is the fraction of all possible configurations of the system that possess a degree of function > Ex. Functional information, which we illustrate with letter sequences, artificial life, and biopolymers, thus represents the probability that an arbitrary configuration of a system will achieve a specific function to a specified degree. In each case we observe evidence for several distinct solutions with different maximum degrees of function, features that lead to steps in plots of information versus degree of functions.
    http://genetics.mgh.harvard.ed.....S_2007.pdf

    Mathematically Defining Functional Information In Molecular Biology – Kirk Durston – short video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUeCgTN7pOo

    Entire Durston Video:
    http://www.seraphmedia.org.uk/ID.xml

  15. 15
    vividbleau says:

    “vivid this may be the quote your looking for:”

    born yes thats it thanks.For the anti ID people if you are walking along the heath and find a written message what would you conclude? Chance? Neccessity? Intelligence?

    Vivid

  16. 16
    Nakashima says:

    Dr Sewell,

    It looks as if, 30 years on, Rostand’s theory of creative genes has not produced the necessary predictions to become accepted mainstream science. It seems to fall into that category of French frustration with the success of an English theory. Oh well.

    So are there “creative genes”? It seems not. So the basis for your questions evaporates.

  17. 17
    Tajimas D says:

    vivid said:

    A written message and DNA sequences are mathematically the same…For the anti ID people if you are walking along the heath and find a written message what would you conclude?

    I’m trying very hard to think of some property that living systems have that sand doesn’t… Some postulated process that might apply to the former, but not normally to the latter…

    By the way, you should try to be more careful how you phrase your question. It’s quite telling. If you’re asking me about a “written message”, it’s obvious that there was, by definition, a writer. It’s also obvious that you’ve presupposed the same answer about DNA.

  18. 18
    Graham says:

    I think mereologist (#5) got it in one.
    ID isnt science because it can never be falsified. If God did it (or a designer/creator/whatever) then presumably he could do it any way he pleases. He could introduce junk DNA, similarities to other species, differences, whatever. We cant possibly say that any of these features is ‘predicted’ because we dont know the mind of the designer.

    Thats why materialist science is productive, and ID is not (even after 10+ years).

  19. 19
    lamarck says:

    Graham, look into how falsifiability and preponderance of evidence harmonize and collide here. Can materialism ever be falsified in the way you ask of ID? How wide does ID have to make the materialism of the gaps through falsifiability before you side with the preponderance of evidence?

  20. 20
    Graham says:

    To lamarck (is that really you?)

    Here we go again. Materialism isnt proven/falsified or anything else. It is simply assumed. Its way too Jesuitical for me to try to justify that, all I can say is that materialism has provided us with everything we undertand about the universe, ie: it is productive, and the supernatural hasnt given us anything, ie: its un-productive. So, which horse would you back ?

  21. 21
    Phinehas says:

    @Graham:

    …all I can say is that materialism has provided us with everything we undertand about the universe, ie: it is productive, and the supernatural hasnt given us anything, ie: its un-productive.

    You’re simply begging the question. You have to assume that materialism explains things like morality, consciousness, life, and how the universe came into being in order to make your assertion about its supposed productivity. I can just as easily claim that revelation has provided us with more of an understanding than materialism ever will.

  22. 22
    vividbleau says:

    Re 17

    “It’s also obvious that you’ve presupposed the same answer about DNA.”

    I just asked a question which you did not answer. As for the presupposed part its Yockey making the claim that DNA sequences and written messages are mathematically the same.

    Vivid

  23. 23
    leenibus says:

    Dr Sewell,

    On a side issue, have you had a chance to re-read Olan Hyndman’s book some thirty years on, in the light of your current perception of Intelligent Design’s aims and goals? I cannot judge the book as I have not been able to find any online summary or excerpts using Google. However, I did find that Olan Hyndman has a website:
    http://timelinescroll.com/
    It clearly shows that he advocates bible-based Young Earth Creationism.

    Citing him may not serve to promote the view of ID as science rather than a thinly disguised religious viewpoint.

  24. 24
    Granville Sewell says:

    Leenibus,

    This is obviously not the same Olan Hyndman. The web site you link to is dated 1999, the book I read is dated 1952. In this book, Hyndman says “I have one strong faith, that scientific phenomena are invariable…any exception is as unthinkable as to maintain that thunderbolts are tossed as us by a man-made god named Zeus.” This Hyndman was most definitely NOT a young-earth creationist!

    Nice try though. If you really want to buy the book, it appears to be sold here:
    http://www.adamsavebooks.com/a.....lan_r.html.
    He basically proposed a Lamarkian alternative to Darwinism.

  25. 25
    Granville Sewell says:

    Mereologist,

    I thought I made it pretty clear that I was not discussing whether or not Rostand’s ideas, or ID, are “good” science, but whether they are science at all. We keep hearing that ID is “not science” and thus it doesn’t matter how much evidence we find for it, it has to be discarded a priori. My question is, on what basis can you discard ID before looking at the evidence, when almost identical ideas are taken seriously by scientists like Rostand, and housed in the biology library of a National Laboratory?

    And obviously, there is more evidence that the brain is capable of creativity than that the genes are. The point is, if you accept the first premise, you can’t exclude the second, a priori, as “not science”, BEFORE looking at the evidence.

  26. 26
    Granville Sewell says:

    Unrelated comment: I notice Steven Meyer’s book is still #550 on amazon.com. Also uniformly top reviews, so far.

  27. 27
    leenibus says:

    Hello again, Dr Sewell,

    Re the two Olan R. Hyndmans. You appear to be right – after a bit of searching I found an Olan R. Hyndman in a list of Iowa authors (posted by the University of Iowa Library). His birth year is given as 1899, so he is unlikely to be popping up online in this century!

  28. 28
    Lenoxus says:

    Suddenly I’m curious: Why isn’t the intelligent design hypothesis the more parsimonious assertion that some genes or genomes are themselves literally intelligent, or possess a property of intelligence?

    This was something that occurred to me when reading from The Edge of Evolution — the question of why design can only be realistically claimed for a few biological structures at most, and why nearly all of them could be accounted for by evolution. Could it be that “design”, if it exists in biology, is itself a sort of inherited trait, which may be gained or lost in unusual circumstances?

    This would certainly excuse the designer for any supposed “bad design”, because “design” would not be responsible for the whole shebang. It might also be testable; for example, one might propose that most immediate descendants of “designed” creatures, such as flagellum-propelled bacteria, should also develop complex structures in some way that defies known biology (for example, in one generation, or with a lot of intermediates that ought to die but don’t). Heck, maybe the passage of this “design gene” down one particular evolutionary pathway, but not all of them, ultimately lead to humans and all the nifty things that distinguish us from other primates.

    One answer to my question may be “well, there is no empirical evidence that genes possess intelligence”, but I’m pretty sure there’s just as little empirical evidence that they are created or modified by an extremely powerful immaterial mind. (Created/modified, maybe, immaterial being, no. Among other things, how in the world do we know that it is immaterial?)

  29. 29
    Lenoxus says:

    Oh, and something else I feel compelled to add. One advantage “creative genes” have over “creative designer” is that the former is just a figure of speech describing the potential of evolutionary mechanisms. No evolutionary biologist would say that perhaps the flagellum emerged complete in one generation, because genes are just that darn creative, don’t you know? Conversely, I’ve never heard an IDer deny that it’s at least possible that that’s exactly what happened.

  30. 30
    Joseph says:

    Graham,

    ID can be falsified by demonstrating that nature, operating freely, can account for everything.

    IOW substantiate the claims made by the materialist position.

    BTW what contributations have materialism made?

  31. 31
    PaulBurnett says:

    Joseph (#30) wrote: “ID can be falsified by demonstrating that nature, operating freely, can account for everything.

    and

    BTW what contributations have materialism made?

    “Nature, operating freely,” has given us short lifespans, high infant mortality rates, lots of diseases, limited food supplies, etc.

    Materialism has given us medicines to increase our lifespan, decrease infant mortality rates, cure diseases, and vastly increased food supplies. Plus technological toys used by some to carp against materialism.

  32. 32
    Clive Hayden says:

    PaulBurnett,

    ——“Materialism has given us medicines to increase our lifespan, decrease infant mortality rates, cure diseases, and vastly increased food supplies. Plus technological toys used by some to carp against materialism.”

    No it hasn’t. Our minds gave us those innovations, not our materials.

  33. 33
    bornagain77 says:

    Christianity gave us science in the first place:

    Christianity and the Birth of Science
    http://ldolphin.org/bumbulis/

    excerpt:
    As Charles Hummel notes,

    “Newton’s religion was no mere appendage to his science; he would have been a theist no matter what his profession.”

    Boyle set up Christian apologetics lectures. Babbage and Prout contributed to an apologetics series called the Bridgewater Treatises. Aggasiz, Cuvier, Fleming, Kelvin, and Linnaeus were what we now call ‘creationists.’ When I speak about Biblical beliefs that paved the way for science, I will use both Kepler and Pasteur to highlight two specific examples.

    Furthermore, many of these founders of science lived at a time when others publicly expressed views quite contrary to Christianity – Hume, Hobbes, Darwin, etc. When Boyle argues against Hobbe’s materialism or Kelvin argues against Darwin’s assumptions, you don’t have a case of “closet atheists.”

  34. 34
    R0b says:

    Clive:

    No it hasn’t. Our minds gave us those innovations, not our materials.

    Is materialism synonymous with materials?

  35. 35
    Clive Hayden says:

    R0b,

    Is materialism made up of material? Yes.

  36. 36
    Lenoxus says:

    Clive Hayden: “No it hasn’t. Our minds gave us those innovations, not our materials.”

    I’m curious if you could tell us what technological or scientific advancements have been achieved thanks specifically to non-materialist assumptions (not just non-materialist thinkers). The modern alethiometer? The medical theory of demonic possession? I admit I’m maybe being overly snarky. The thing is that I still haven’t run across any solid evidence for the supernatural in the first place, yet people keep asserting its existence all the time, and that science would recognize and incorporate it if only it didn’t unfairly rule it out altogether. Oh well.

    bornagain77: “Christianity gave us science in the first place”.

    I personally would argue that given that every culture in history has had its major religion, that particular “who gets to develop science” lottery had to be won by one of them. (Not to mention that significant pieces of modern science came from cultures that could variously be identified as Greek pagan, Hindu, and especially Muslim).

    Anyway, the relevant question is: does science today work from truly Christian assumptions, such as the doctrine of the Trinity? If not, should it?

    Is the scientific method spelled out in any Christian holy texts? If not, why not?

  37. 37
    R0b says:

    Is materialism made up of material? Yes.

    Now I’m fascinated. I’ve never understood the distinction between material and immaterial, but I assume that it has something to do with mass, or half-integer spin, or spacial location. Am I right? Does materialism have any of those properties?

  38. 38
    iconofid says:

    Granville Sewell:

    “Unrelated comment: I notice Steven Meyer’s book is still #550 on amazon.com. Also uniformly top reviews, so far.”

    I just checked, and it has slipped to #720. I looked at Jerry Coyne’s “Evolution is True”, (because it’s also only available in hardback) and that was at #237 even though it has been out for 6 months.

    But never mind! “Signature in the cell” is leading its category, Amazon tells us:

    “#1 in Books > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Creationism”

  39. 39
    Upright BiPed says:

    “Is the scientific method spelled out in any Christian holy texts? If not, why not?”

    I find it utterly amazing that in 2009 we still have people arguing these lines of thought. The capacity to separate their personal religion convictions from the empirical evidence is simply non-existent.

    Truly amazing.

  40. 40
    Ludwig says:

    Lenoxus @36:

    I’m curious if you could tell us what technological or scientific advancements have been achieved thanks specifically to non-materialist assumptions (not just non-materialist thinkers). The modern alethiometer? The medical theory of demonic possession?

    To be fair, some pretty substantial medical advances have been made from assumptions that were arguably non-materialist or based on Chi or other “spiritual” forces. Just look at how mainstream osteopathy has become in the U.K.

  41. 41
    Rude says:

    Materialism is the denial of purpose—that there is no purpose to discover other than that which we choose for ourselves. In the long run what Intelligent Design ends up arguing is that mind does not arise from mechanism, rather mechanism arises from mind, that design is real and in our experience issues only from mind. It’s all a question of “elementarity”—what are the “skyhooks” (using Daniel Dennett’s term)—what is elemental and what is derivative.

    All explanation begins with something—something that cannot be explained. The materialist wants to explain everything via chance and necessity (a la Jacques Monod)—which are themselves unexplainable at their deepest level. The materialist does not like the idea of ultimate purpose. Why should this be so? Why does not purpose head the list? Is it perhaps a matter of time and chance—of the antireligious roots of the Enlightenment? I think so. Perhaps in another time and place—if such time and place could ever have provided an honest drive for truth—design would be elemental. Someday, I believe, design’s acceptance will initiate the greatest advance in the scientific revolution yet.

    “Is the scientific method spelled out in any Christian holy texts? If not, why not?”

    The reason, dear Devil’s Advocate, is that there is no such thing as “the scientific method”. Science uses nothing more than the observation, reason and authority common to every day life. Science—our collective human knowledge—is built up progressively through the efforts of many and via no special ingredients other than carefulness and honesty. And honesty—as in an honest quest for truth—usually ignored in efforts to define the scientific method—is now evaporating as our moral capital degrades and the politicization of everything metasticizes.

    “I’m curious if you could tell us what technological or scientific advancements have been achieved thanks specifically to non-materialist assumptions …”

    The rise of science itself and, as I said, nonmaterialist assumptions such as honesty and curiosity and the belief—deep within our bones—that things are ordered and beautiful and good. Reason itself is nonmaterial and science does not advance as an algorithm run on some machine.

  42. 42
    JTaylor says:

    Ludwig: “To be fair, some pretty substantial medical advances have been made from assumptions that were arguably non-materialist or based on Chi or other “spiritual” forces. Just look at how mainstream osteopathy has become in the U.K.”

    Firstly the claims of osteopathy are questionable: http://www.quackwatch.com/04Co.....osteo.html

    Secondly, widespread or mainstream acceptance of a view or an ideology is not necessary ratification of that view (and I’m sure most ID supporters here would assent to this particularly in regards to how it applies to evolution).

    The UK does appear to have (too) readily embraced many dubious alternative practices – e.g., homeopathy, spiritualism, and many other New Age practices. But unfortunately when these are examined rigorously, quantitatively, and objectively, any real tangible benefits usually evaporate (e.g., http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=264)

  43. 43
    mereologist says:

    Granville Sewell writes:

    Mereologist,

    I thought I made it pretty clear that I was not discussing whether or not Rostand’s ideas, or ID, are “good” science, but whether they are science at all.

    Granville,

    Your response is mystifying. I addressed that point directly and at length:

    Phrenology is an example of something that is science, since it is testable and falsifiable, but not good science, since it is unsupported by evidence. Likewise with Rostand’s theory.

    To the extent that it puts forward falsifiable hypotheses, ID can be science in the first sense. It is not good science, though, because the evidence is solidly against it.

  44. 44
    T M English says:

    Granville asks,

    on what basis can you discard ID before looking at the evidence, when almost identical ideas are taken seriously by scientists like Rostand, and housed in the biology library of a National Laboratory?

    Rostrand’s work is no longer in the ORNL research library. The library no doubt used call numbers assigned by the Library of Congress. Natural philosophy is lumped with biology in the QH category. Thus the Library of Congress call number for Dembski’s No Free Lunch is

    QH360.5 .D46 2002.

    According to the entry on Rostrand in The Columbia Dictionary of Modern European Literature, “Rostrand is a liberal nature-philosopher of the old school.” Furthermore, A Biologist’s View is a book of aphorisms “more or less consciously evoking La Rouchefoucauld or even Blaise Pascal.”

    Not every book authored by a self-identified biologist is a work of modern science.

  45. 45
    David Kellogg says:

    Our minds gave us those innovations, not our materials

    That assumes that mental activity is not an outcome of material processes.

  46. 46
    Mapou says:

    Rude, I agree with you that the scientific method is a myth. People have been successfully doing research and development (observation and experiment) for tens of thousands of years before anybody began talking about the scientific method. The Maya priests developed an astronomical system that allowed them to precisely predict lunar and solar eclipses thousands of years in advance, forward or backward.

    The scientific community is prone to self-dishonesty and prejudice just like every other human enterprise. They love to erect personality cults (idol worship) around many of their famous scientists to the detriment of objectivity. Nobody can say anything against the ideas of Einstein, Feynman, Darwin, Hawking, etc., with impunity. The result is that scienctific knowledge is forced to advance through paradigm shifting revolutions a la Thomas Kuhn. It wouldn’t be so bad but lies and delusions find a way of surviving for years and even centuries within the community. It remains that true science is the product of diligence and brutal honesty.

    All IDers should read the work of Paul Feyrabend, especially his ‘Against Method’ in which he tears the scientific community a new orifice. Here’s one of my favorite Feyrabend quotes:

    “And a more detailed analysis of successful moves in the game of science (‘successful’ from the point of view of the scientists themselves) shows indeed that there is a wide range of freedom that demands a multiplicity of ideas and permits the application of democratic procedures (ballot-discussion-vote) but that is actually closed by power politics and propaganda. This is where the fairy-tale of a special method assumes its decisive function. It conceals the freedom of decision which creative scientists and the general public have even inside the most rigid and the most advanced parts of science by a recitation of ‘objective’ criteria and it thus protects the big-shots (Nobel Prize winners; heads of laboratories, of organizations such as the AMA, of special schools; ‘educators’; etc.) from the masses (laymen; experts in non-scientific fields; experts in other fields of science): only those citizens count who were subjected to the pressures of scientific institutions (they have undergone a long process of education), who succumbed to these pressures (they have passed their examinations), and who are now firmly convinced of the truth of the fairy-tale. This is how scientists have deceived themselves and everyone else about their business, but without any real disadvantage: they have more money, more authority, more sex appeal than they deserve, and the most stupid procedures and the most laughable results in their domain are surrounded with an aura of excellence. It is time to cut them down in size, and to give them a more modest position in society.”

    From Against Method by Paul Feyerabend

    The good thing about the internet is that science is being democratized. People are slowly realizing that they can publish their thoughts and findings on scientific issues without having to go through the incestuous and mind numbing peer review system. I predict that the most earth shaking scientific discoveries in this century will come from outside of the traditional scientific community, from rebels and mavericks who simply refuse to be *ss kissers. The ID community will need a few hard nosed rebels of its own.

  47. 47
    Joseph says:

    PaulBurnett:

    Materialism has given us medicines to increase our lifespan, decrease infant mortality rates, cure diseases, and vastly increased food supplies. Plus technological toys used by some to carp against materialism.

    Pasteur- of germ theory fame- was a Creationist.

    Nothing of what you stated is related to materialism.

  48. 48
    Joseph says:

    David Kellogg:

    That assumes that mental activity is not an outcome of material processes.

    And one way to refute that is to demonstrate that living organisms can arise from non-living matter without agency involvement.

  49. 49
    Nakashima says:

    Mr English,

    Whether the book is in the library or not is a misplaced appeal to authority, in this case the aura (or should I say glow) of ORNL. The book has had 30 years to make an impact and has had none. I think that is a more serious criticism.

  50. 50
    Granville Sewell says:

    T.M.English,

    Since you have used Google to try to find something negative about Jean Rostand, I decided to try my luck, and turned up the following short bio here

    “Jean Rostand: A world-renowned biologist, Rostand has received numerous awards and prizes for research into such areas as parthenogenesis, malformation in growth and structure of organisms, amphibian genetics, and cryogenics. He has written over 3 dozen scientific books and 16 short books on life and philosophy.”

  51. 51
    Nakashima says:

    Dr Sewell,

    You are falling into the same trap that you are trying to criticise Mr English for. Address the ideas, not the man. 30 years later, where are “creative genes”?

  52. 52
    Clive Hayden says:

    Lenoxus,

    ——“I’m curious if you could tell us what technological or scientific advancements have been achieved thanks specifically to non-materialist assumptions (not just non-materialist thinkers). The modern alethiometer? The medical theory of demonic possession? I admit I’m maybe being overly snarky. The thing is that I still haven’t run across any solid evidence for the supernatural in the first place, yet people keep asserting its existence all the time, and that science would recognize and incorporate it if only it didn’t unfairly rule it out altogether. Oh well.”

    What empirical evidence do you have that tells you you should have empirical evidence? The distinction is not scientific v. non-scientific thought, for all science relies on inference, that is, it relies on proper thought, laws of logic and reason, which cannot be something seen in a beaker or read on a dial. It is, as they say, something in your head. All achievements have been made because of our thought processes, and on that, empiricism gets you nowhere as far as development, for empiricism relies on thought, and not the other way around. I know I have to keep reminded the scientism folks here of this fact almost constantly, always correcting their misconceptions that science somehow brings you out of the magical world of inference and into some direct communication with the world, something like osmosis. It doesn’t. If popular thought believes that scientific thought is more reliable than any other kind of thought, popular thought is mistaken. For it is only on the power of thought to begin with that science even becomes known, not the other way around. I haven’t run into any evidence that the natural world isn’t supernatural, only half-witted philosophies that believe it to be, but have no real basis for it.

  53. 53
    David Kellogg says:

    Joseph,

    And one way to refute that is to demonstrate that living organisms can arise from non-living matter without agency involvement.

    You’ve posted a version of that comment a thousand times, but I fail to see its relevance here. The burden is on the non-materialist to show us that a non-materialist view of mind adds anything to our understanding.

  54. 54
    Joseph says:

    David Kellogg:

    The burden is on the non-materialist to show us that a non-materialist view of mind adds anything to our understanding,

    And who are you to make such a claim?

    And why do you just get to say things without having to substantiate it?

  55. 55
    Echidna-Levy says:

    Clive

    I know I have to keep reminded the scientism folks here of this fact almost constantly

    For somebody so keen to offer criticism on anothers writing you would have thought you’d put more care into your rare larger missive.

    Hoist with one’s own petard?

  56. 56
    Granville Sewell says:

    Nakashima,

    “Where are the creative genes?”

    Actually, Rostand’s idea that the variations (mutations) that made up the major steps of evolution must have been “creative, and not random” has been gaining steam for some time now in the scientific world, in case you haven’t noticed. Whether this creativeness comes from inside or outside the genes is an as yet unanswered question.

  57. 57
    Nakashima says:

    Dr Sewell,

    Thank you, you are correct. I hadn’t noticed.

  58. 58
    T M English says:

    Granville Sewell (50),

    Ad hominem attacks on a writer are much more effective and easier than dealing with what he wrote.

    Only someone ignorant of recent intellectual history would think that it was an slur to refer to a Continental researcher of the early-to-mid 20th Century as “a liberal nature-philosopher of the old school.” Do you really think that Rostand’s accomplishments in biology invalidate the characterization?

    You have deflected attention from the primary points of my comment, namely that A Biologist’s View is a collection of philosophical aphorisms, not a work of science, and that natural philosophy is grouped with biology in the QH category of the Library of Congress classification system.

    I also cued you in to the fact that intelligent design is right there in the QH section as well. In other words, this statement of yours is obsolete:

    I was not, however, able to find any books which suggested that this creativeness originated outside the chromosomes—these are restricted to theological libraries, because they deal with religion and not science, and their authors are compared to flat earthers in Exponent letters.

  59. 59
    Clive Hayden says:

    David Kellogg,

    ——“You’ve posted a version of that comment a thousand times, but I fail to see its relevance here. The burden is on the non-materialist to show us that a non-materialist view of mind adds anything to our understanding.”

    It shows that our understanding is different than material movements that couldn’t have been otherwise. It shows that logic and reason are real laws that have real adherence within thought, and that speed, velocity, weight and direction of atoms doesn’t determine your thoughts anymore than the physical material of a book’s page determines the meaning of the words. It’s simple, really. The very fact that anything can add to your understanding is an a priori reason to reject materialistic theories of mind, for it shows ability outside of material changes, for an argument doesn’t physically do anything to your material.

  60. 60
    Echidna-Levy says:

    Clive

    It shows that our understanding is different than material movements that couldn’t have been otherwise. It shows that logic and reason are real laws that have real adherence within thought, and that speed, velocity, weight and direction of atoms doesn’t determine your thoughts anymore than the physical material of a book’s page determines the meaning of the words.

    and because of that, what?

    The very fact that anything can add to your understanding is an a priori reason to reject materialistic theories of mind, for it shows ability outside of material changes, for an argument doesn’t physically do anything to your material.

    Then why do sections of the brain light up differently depending on what you are doing?

    And by “an argument doesn’t physically do anything to your material” I guess you mean that text on a screen like this does not change your mind, because it’s immaterial?

    If that’s so, would you agree that the “argument”, in this case delivered via photons to the eyes from the monitor, changed something material? I.E. the eyes had a set of chemical reactions that ended with nerve signals being generated and sent down the optic nerve?

    Would you agree with me up to that point?

  61. 61
    T M English says:

    Nakashima (49):

    You caught me in bad editing. I visited the ORNL site hoping to find A Biologist’s View or an ID volume in the QH section of the library. I should have just omitted the link to the site when I failed.

  62. 62
    Clive Hayden says:

    Echidna-Levy,

    Sure, I’ll agree with you up to that point, but the information content and meaningfulness isn’t physically transported in the ability to see, nor in the material composition of your computer screen, it is immaterial.

  63. 63
    Ludwig says:

    JTaylor @ 42,

    From your link:

    The Cranial Letter, published quarterly by the Cranial Academy, a component society of the American Academy of Osteopathy. The Summer 1993 issue stated that the Cranial Academy had 989 members. Other issues contained case reports stating that cranial therapy can cause knee pain to disappear within a week (Summer 1992), cure hives (Summer 1993), improve the mental condition of Down syndrome patients (May 1995), and correct crossed eyes (May 1996).

    I haven’t run into any evidence that cranial therapy doesn’t improve the mental condition of Down syndrome patients, only half-witted philosophies that believe it to be, but have no real basis for it.

  64. 64
    JTaylor says:

    Ludwig: ” haven’t run into any evidence that cranial therapy doesn’t improve the mental condition of Down syndrome patients, only half-witted philosophies that believe it to be, but have no real basis for it.”

    You didn’t look hard enough. There is plenty of information that suggests either there is no benefit, or if there is benefit it is due to other causes.

    http://faculty.une.edu/com/shartman/sram.pdf
    http://www.ncahf.org/articles/c-d/cranial.html

    Who’s right? I don’t honestly know. But there seems to be plenty of reason to be quite skeptical.

  65. 65
    Seversky says:

    IRQ Conflict @ 7

    Seversky wrote

    “But suppose, instead of a watch, some time-traveler from the future left something like one of those “data crystals” used for information storage in TV science-fiction shows like Babylon 5 or Stargte SG-1. Imagine you were the walker on heath and stumbled across one. Would you think it was designed or just some unusual but naturally-occurring crystal?”

    The analogy does not work because you didn’t test the crystal to see if it is more than just junk DNA.

    The point is that Paley’s little parable of the watch did not involve any testing. His argument was that appearances alone are sufficient for us to infer design. My counter-example was just trying to illustrate the point that appearances alone are not sufficient.

  66. 66
    T M English says:

    An interjection into the side discussion:

    Why explain experience in just one way? Why not maintain two or more belief systems in parallel? I contend that different belief systems have different utilities.

    When our objectives are prediction and control of phenomena, it is utterly impractical to accept that unobservable stuff may cause events. The success of science proceeding by methodological naturalism is undeniable. But life as a human being does not reduce to prediction and control of phenomena. There is much more to personal experience than that, including an ineluctable sense of oneself as an agent, responsible for one’s own actions.

    It seems that IDers want terribly to make science “tell the truth” about the reality of agency. I have stated many times at UD, in various incarnations, that this amounts to gross overvaluation of science. I agree with what Feyerabend wrote about scientists [from 46]: “It is time to cut them down in size, and to give them a more modest position in society.” But it seems to me that the ID movement wants to maintain the “high priest” status of scientists, and change out the priests (i.e., renew science and culture).

    I do not believe that science tells us the most important things to know in living our lives. Attempts to make science into some Hallowed Way to Truth distract people from what should be more important to them. And if those attempts were to succeed, they would make science less successful at what it presently does well.

  67. 67
    Seversky says:

    Barb @ 9

    But when scientists try to examine it and tell us laypeople that it contains the equivalent of 1,000 encyclopedias, and we laypeople know that 1,000 encyclopedias can only be the product of design, why not infer design here?

    Because they say “equivalent” not ‘the same as’. It is this problem of analogy again. The scientists are trying to give non-scientists some idea of the volume of “information” – for want of a better word – in a cell by expressing it in terms a layperson can better understand. It does not mean the cell contains information in the same sense as an encyclopedia or stores information in the same form as a book. In the use of any analogy it is important to be aware of its limitations, of the differences as well as the similarities.

  68. 68
    Upright BiPed says:

    Tom will no doubt lead the charge to bring (S)cience into an appropriate level of agnosticism on the matter of origins. 🙂

  69. 69
    Seversky says:

    AussieID @ 8

    I like the idea. My problem is the singular dimensionality of your response. Firstly, Paley’s watch was different to everything else on that non-mechanistic beach so it was a singularity. the same if I was to find the crystal in a non-crytalline environment. To this point, there’s nothing really to note.

    Paley’s argument was not that the watch looked different from what was around it but that in itself it looked designed

    Secondly, though, Paley’s watch DID something. It was ‘alive’ and was not some lifeless such as the rocks, or just moved because of the wind of the current. Your crystals (if i’ve got this right) if I were to look at them with some interest may also have something of ‘potential’ within.

    Again, Paley made the point that even if the traveler had never seen a watch before and had no idea how it was supposed to work or even if it was supposed to do anything at all, he would still infer design simply on the basis of what it looked like.

  70. 70
    Seversky says:

    Mapou @ 12

    Seversky @4:

    It is certainly nothing like the information stored in books or contained in these posts.

    I don’t see the big difference. The information in books can be digitized and the information in these posts are certainly digitized in our computers and servers. Genetic information is certainly based on a digitized code that can be read and interpreted by cellular machinery. The only difference between the taw is that computer information uses a binary code whereas genetic information uses a quarternary code

    The difference is that the encyclopedia contains information that was written as such to inform human readers. The degree to which it can be compressed or its complexity – whatever that might mean – are irrelevant. It is semantic information. Its value lies in the meaning it conveys between the human author and the human reader. Whatever is encapsulated in DNA it is not information in that sense.

  71. 71
    IRQ Conflict says:

    But it is information non the less.

  72. 72
    David Kellogg says:

    Clive, your comment asserting the non-materiality of mental activity seems like a lot of woo to me.

    Joseph, your comment

    And why do you just get to say things without having to substantiate it?

    is very amusing coming from you. Unsubstantiated drive-by comments are your métier.

  73. 73
    PaulBurnett says:

    Clive Hayden (#52) wrote: “All achievements have been made because of our thought processes…

    Here’s a thought process experiment: Suppose there were super-intelligent dolphins (or jellyfish or kiwi birds), with no capability whatsoever to manipulate their materialistic world. Even with highly advanced thought processes, how would they build a materialist civilization? How would they cure their sick and decrease their infant mortality rate and increase their food supply?

    You wrote earlier (#32) “Our minds gave us those innovations, not our materials.

    With the best of all possible minds, but no way to do anything with any material, how could my hypothetical super-dolphins’ minds have any material innovations?

  74. 74
    PaulBurnett says:

    iconofid (#38) correctly pointed out: “(Steven Meyer’s book) “Signature in the cell” is leading its category, Amazon tells us: “#1 in Books > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Creationism

    That’s because (as I have previously pointed out) it was published not by an actual science publishing house, but by HarperOne, a religious publishing house.

  75. 75
    Mapou says:

    Seversky @70:

    The difference is that the encyclopedia contains information that was written as such to inform human readers. The degree to which it can be compressed or its complexity – whatever that might mean – are irrelevant. It is semantic information. Its value lies in the meaning it conveys between the human author and the human reader. Whatever is encapsulated in DNA it is not information in that sense.

    How do you know that? It is true that when a computer programmer uses a high-level language such as c++ to write source code an application, the code can indeed be read and interpreted by another programmer. However, after compilation into native code, the resulting strings of zeros and ones are not meant for human consumption and a human would have an extremely hard time deciphering them. Yet, it is still information.

    I suggest that the genetic code is the result of an analogical process. The designers must have had all sorts of high-level tools with which to mix and reuse existing virtual sub-programs in many otherwise unrelated organisms before conducting actual in-vivo experiments. This is an example of a cut-and-paste approach to design that could not exist if evolution were true.

    It is a fact that many genetic code segments are laterally distributed among living organisms in a way that destroys the Darwinian tree of life, the same tree that was given as a prediction of evolution and was supposed to be a test of common descent.

    Now, I realize that your objection is that horizontal gene transfer is known to happen in viruses but I would contend that there are a huge number of much more complex organisms that do not exchange genes but that nevertheless show gene kinship that could only have happened via lateral transfers. Since the transfers do not occur naturally, it is only logical to assume that they did so artificially. Like it or lump it, this is a clear sign of intelligent design.

  76. 76
    Lenoxus says:

    Rude:

    Materialism is the denial of purpose—that there is no purpose to discover other than that which we choose for ourselves.

    I could as easily say that supernaturalism is the denial of purpose—that there is no purpose to discover other than that which intelligence supernatural forces choose for themselves.

    As long as I’m going with this word-in-mouth-putting, I’ll add: All explanation begins with something—something that cannot be explained. The supernaturalist wants to explain everything via immaterial forces—which are themselves unexplainable at their deepest level. The supernaturalist does not like the idea of ultimate purpose—after all, any “ultimate purpose” must remain subservient to the divine base of the universe; God does not answer to purpose, purpose answers to God. Why should this be so? Why does not purpose head the list?

    Okay, so here’s what I beleive. The metaphysical does not require the supernatural. I believe in love. I believe that, at one level, it can be “reduced” to electrical and chemical reactions, just as a delicious meal can be “reduced” to those things. I believe that, at another level, love is entirely a thing unto itself, an abstraction, a beautiful experience. I do not believe that this is a major contradiction. Where there are thinking and feeling beings like ourselves, there will be love, beauty, morality, and so forth, no matter what. If you wish to argue that the neural and chemical interactions which build up to these things are themselves impossible without a creator, fine — but don’t tell me that those things have no worth or existence in themselves. Don’t take those away from me and my fellow mortals, just so you can give them to God. Don’t argue that beings could think and feel but still have worthless lives.

    For the supernaturalist, on the other hand, nothing is either good or bad, or beautiful, or meaningful, but the divine creator makes it so. Or at least, that’s the sense I’m getting from these arguments that if you subtract a creator, you subtract all that other stuff. I don’t really believe that you believe that.

  77. 77
    Lenoxus says:

    Joseph: “Pasteur- of germ theory fame- was a Creationist.”

    Would anyone here argue that the germ theory of disease is a creationist theory, or one predicted by creationism? If not, is it at least an immaterial theory?

    Clive Hayden: “What empirical evidence do you have that tells you you should have empirical evidence?”

    If one were to argue about how empiricism accounts for itself, that would be a circular and useless argument. One thing I’ve never seen anyone demonstrate is some way in which empiricism actively contradicts itself. Unless, of course, you want to go the route of “everyone knows you can’t have logic and reason without a non-empirically-detectable God making it that way”.

    In any case, there’s no reason the container has to contain itself to be useful — it just has to contain something. And so far, to stretch that metaphor to the breaking point, methodological supernaturalism hasn’t been shown to be able to “contain”, or account for explanatorily, any known phenomenon.

    “If popular thought believes that scientific thought is more reliable than any other kind of thought, popular thought is mistaken.”

    And yet ID wants to join this thing called science? Also, I’m curious: What is the most reliable kind of thought, when it comes to determining principles and facts of the physical world? Is scientific medicine, for example, going about things completely the wrong way? What about engineering? Is there an immaterialist source of renewable energy people should know about?

    Or are the contributions of supernaturalism/immaterialism/theism mainly in the philosophical realm, where we can wonder about things like the origin of mind and reason? Does it contribute anything concrete to our understanding of mind, besides a proposed explanation of its origin?

  78. 78
    Mapou says:

    Lenoxus @75:

    Or are the contributions of supernaturalism/immaterialism/theism mainly in the philosophical realm, where we can wonder about things like the origin of mind and reason? Does it contribute anything concrete to our understanding of mind, besides a proposed explanation of its origin?

    I think this is a fair question. The non-materialists (I included) have not provided any clear answers that would tilt the weight of the debate in their favor. In the eyes of the materialists, this is the Achilles’ heel of non-materialism. I am a Christian and yet I agree with the logic of their argument in this regard. The hard and nasty truth is that we, non-materialists and creation/design believers have no more a leg to stand on than the UFO crowd. We need to provide incontrovertible evidence of the superiority of our worldview. Otherwise, we are tilting at windmills.

  79. 79
    Rude says:

    “I could as easily say that supernaturalism is the denial of purpose …” Who said anything about the supernatural?

    Anyway, Lenoxus, I’m not sure what you’re trying to say, but if you’re really interested in the subject I sugest you begin to familiarize yourself with the ID literature. You might end up disagreeing but at least it would be with what we are saying.

  80. 80
    T M English says:

    Upright BiPed says:

    Tom will no doubt lead the charge to bring (S)cience into an appropriate level of agnosticism on the matter of origins.

    Nobelist Tom (Cech) already has taken the lead. He says that it would take a time machine to know what really happened, and that OOL research is “a different kind of science.”

  81. 81
    Ludwig says:

    JTaylor #64:

    You didn’t look hard enough. There is plenty of information that suggests either there is no benefit, or if there is benefit it is due to other causes.
    http://faculty.une.edu/com/shartman/sram.pdf
    http://www.ncahf.org/articles/c-d/cranial.html
    Who’s right? I don’t honestly know. But there seems to be plenty of reason to be quite skeptical.

    I’ll agree with you to a point regarding the lack of controlled experiments demonstrating the efficacy of cranial therapy in alleviating the symptoms of Down syndrome, but I don’t know if the implications you’re making about osteopathy in general are warranted.

    Any good osteopath would tell you there’s no evidence that Down syndrome is a physical problem affecting the material composition of the brain. It is immaterial.

    All things being equal, it couldn’t hurt to include osteopathic treatments as a part of a special education curriculum.

  82. 82
    Clive Hayden says:

    David Kellogg,

    ——“Clive, your comment asserting the non-materiality of mental activity seems like a lot of woo to me.”

    Your comment asserting that the non-materiality of mind is unhelpful seems like a lot of nonsense to me. Assertions that things are “unhelpful” is itself unhelpful; you need to say how it is unhelpful, and in this regard saying that things are unhelpful doesn’t say why it’s unhelpful, which is especially unhelpful.

  83. 83
    Davem says:

    The Darwinists here might want to respond to Discovery magazine’s challenge:

    Can you communicate the most important idea in biology, and one of the most controversial ideas in our society, in a mere 120 seconds? Think you can convince even the most hard-headed creationist that Darwin was right? If so, show us—and that creationist—how it’s done.

    Your task is to create a video of no more than two minutes that will get the idea and significance of evolution across to an educated lay audience. Along the way, you can touch on points like how evolution works, how we know it to be true, the evolution of humanity, and the future of evolution.

    Science Against Evolution‘s entry is decent:http://www.scienceagainstevolution.org/v13i9f.htm

  84. 84
    Clive Hayden says:

    Davem,

    I read that too in Discovery magazine. They’re not biased or anything. 😉

  85. 85
    PaulBurnett says:

    Rude (#79) wrote: “Who said anything about the supernatural? …if you’re really interested in the subject I sugest you begin to familiarize yourself with the ID literature.

    Good idea. Let’s begin with the Wedge Document. It starts “The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles…

    Does that sound like science or supernaturalism? Does that sound like it would support science or creationism?

  86. 86
    Lenoxus says:

    Rude:

    “I could as easily say that supernaturalism is the denial of purpose …” Who said anything about the supernatural?

    Anyway, Lenoxus, I’m not sure what you’re trying to say, but if you’re really interested in the subject I sugest you begin to familiarize yourself with the ID literature. You might end up disagreeing but at least it would be with what we are saying.

    I’m responding to the charge that for the materialist (who believes in nothing but material forces and, I allow, the metaphysical) there is no source of ultimate purpose. My response is that for me, ultimate purpose is part and parcel with the existence of life, whereas for the immaterialist/supernaturalist/whatever, that purpose must be tethered to God — subtract God and you subtract purpose, even if living beings remain.

    Anyway, I’m pretty sure ID officially has nothing to say about the meaning of life, or if it does, that part of ID has nothing to do with what it wants to be, which is an accepted scientific theory.

  87. 87
    R0b says:

    Clive:

    Sure, I’ll agree with you up to that point, but the information content and meaningfulness isn’t physically transported in the ability to see, nor in the material composition of your computer screen, it is immaterial.

    Are you saying that information is immaterial in the substance dualist sense? Do you think materialists believe in information, according to your usage of the term?

    The very fact that anything can add to your understanding is an a priori reason to reject materialistic theories of mind, for it shows ability outside of material changes, for an argument doesn’t physically do anything to your material.

    If communicating information to a computer can change its state and behavior, is that an a priori reason to reject materialistic theories of computers?

  88. 88
    Joseph says:

    David Kellogg,

    I learned my tactics from evolutionists who never substantiate anything they claim.

    I love using their tactics against them and them sitting back and watching them implode.

  89. 89
    Joseph says:

    Ya see David your position boils down to the refusal to accept design as an explanation.

    You don’t have any positive evidence to support your claims.

    If you did you would just post it and be done.

  90. 90
    bornagain77 says:

    Though materialists seem to think they have contributed greatly to “real science” I find over and over that Christians were always the founding pioneers of each major branch of science:

    Famous Medical Breakthroughs – The Christian Pioneers – video

    http://edinburghcreationgroup.org/medical.xml

    As such from consistent facts as these, and from the numerous failed predictions and blind alleys of materialism, it could almost be argued that materialistic scientists are parasitic to true science.

  91. 91
    DATCG says:

    PaulB,

    How bout, lets start with your saint; Richard Dawkins. He who said evolution gives him reason for being a fulfilled atheist.

    Your fearless leader who said little green men may have seeded our planet.

  92. 92
    bornagain77 says:

    Off Topic: Turkish gameshow attempts to convert atheists:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new.....eists.html

    Excerpt: Those that crack will win a pilgrimage to the spiritual home of their newly chosen faith, Muslims will go to Mecca, Jews and Christians will go to Jerusalem and Buddhists will go to Tibet, the Guardian reports.

    According to the show’s slogans, contestants will also win “serenity” and “the biggest prize ever… the belief in God”.

  93. 93
    DATCG says:

    Meanwhile,

    Maybe David Kellog, et al, can begin to explain our capability to change intellectually, thoughtfully through willpower to stop one long term action(say smoking cigarrettes) and begin healthy new action of non-smoking.

    It takes a conscious act of the mind to recognize 1) its a habit, 2) its bad for our health, 3) that action must be taken to stop.

    There are many more steps I can add the smoking addict may take. Some stop cold-turkey, some it takes years to stop. Whats the difference? Materialism? Or willpower? Or a little of both?

    What materialist action in the brain starts the will to stop such a bad habit?

    Anyone with experience knows that the addict must first want to stop before success can be acheived at high level.

    What makes up that “want” “desire” and “will” to succeed?

    I’ve seen young boys and girls come out of the worst circumstances, drug using parents, beatings, molestations, etc., to move on and become successful in life. They are the rare few, most do not make it out of the cycle of violence, ignorance and drug abuse.

    I’ve also seen the richest children, with education from what society considers “good families flounder and fall into drug abuse, sex, rape, failed lives and ultimately death.

    Was it materialist accidents of a single neuron that caused one to be successful or one to fizzle?

    Or is the mind capable of overcoming shortcomings, failed parenting, drugs, beatings, molestations, etc., to fight through the worst conditions to eventually live a good life and have a good family?

    I think the sum is greater than its parts. We do not yet understand our own minds enough to logically deduce how our minds overcome external stimuli that is degenerative and harmful to us.

    I think, just like DNA, you will find there are many areas that coordinate together how the mind thinks, wills and decides how, when and where to overcome obstacles in life, mental and physical.

    Intelligence and willpower cannot be summmed up in a single firing of synaptic nerve, or two, or three. It is the whole that works together in a cascade of firings which manage our actions, our thoughts and our physical being.

    Yet nowhere will you fine one single area responsible for our decision to quit smoking or continue smoking.

    It is precisely because we are created to internalize language fro external points. To learn concepts, good and bad today and determine through logic(sometimes flip a coin) what actions are best to take in our lives.

    Why else does both sides believe education is important? At the least, we can all agree that children deserve the best education. Why?

    If we are just material objects who act out on materialist actions uncontrollable by our “will,” then why educate anyone? Why teach success? Why teach good, bad? Why teach children why it is good to study anything for any reason?

    The challenge is not for the thinker. The true challenge is for the unthinker – the materialist to find his way out of darkness. Yet such a concept of darkness cannot exist if you’re a materialist.

  94. 94
    SteveB says:

    Lenoxus,
    Thanks for the post–I enjoyed reading it. A follow-up question: Who gets to define what concepts like love, beauty, morality and worth mean?

  95. 95
    David Kellogg says:

    DATCG, I’ll put aside the tone of your comment and simply point out that not all materialism is reductionist. So when you write,

    I think the sum is greater than its parts,

    so do I, in the case of mental activity at least, because any reasonably comprehensive account of mental activity (note I do not say “the mind”) will be put forward at the level of system.

    Temperature is a result of the kinetic energy of many millions of molecules in the thing being measured, but there’s no explanation of a thermometer result that will add those all up, or could. The level of explanation is different.

  96. 96
    Upright BiPed says:

    “Anyway, I’m pretty sure ID officially has nothing to say about the meaning of life, or if it does, that part of ID has nothing to do with what it wants to be, which is an accepted scientific theory.”

    This is incorrect. ID has something to say about “meaning”. ID says that “meaning” has been incontrovertibly instantiated into physical reality by means of the physically inert instructions that organize inanimate matter into living tissue.

  97. 97
    Clive Hayden says:

    My Friend David,

    I feel like I know you, we’ve conversed so often, that is, until I read your comments over at AtBC, then it strikes me that you’re wearing a mask here.

    ——“so do I, in the case of mental activity at least, because any reasonably comprehensive account of mental activity (note I do not say “the mind”) will be put forward at the level of system.”

    Any reasonable account of mental activity will be put forward at the level of reason. There is a distinction to be made between mental and physical, mental means the mind, unless you’re a materialist, in which case you don’t make a distinction.

  98. 98
    Nakashima says:

    Mr DATCG,

    In reading your essay, the convinced materialist will simply identify ‘mind’ and ‘will’ with numbers and patterns of neurons, their connectivity, and the levels and rates of creation and degradation of various neurotransmitters.

    I’m not sure I understand your why educate question. Is it more like why, since everything predetermined by the material brain, or is it more like why, since I should be selfishly concerned only my own comfort? If the first, I never met anyone who thought materialism meant brains cannot change. If the second, enlightened self interest, golden rule, selfish genes, call it what you like. The materialist can maximize their comfort by being nice to others.

  99. 99
    Clive Hayden says:

    Nakashima,

    ——“The materialist can maximize their comfort by being nice to others.”

    Sure they can, or they could just as easily maximize their comfort by exploiting others. If there exist no standard to compare being nice and exploiting, well, one is just as good a means for comfort as the other. And this could be applied for any type of exploitation or any other action, all the way down, including something like organ harvesting. Does this strike you as outrageous? Why?

  100. 100
    DATCG says:

    David,

    I’ll address your false assertion about my “tone” first.

    “DATCG, I’ll put aside the tone of your comment.”

    I made a simple challenge. Nothing more. The “tone” you perceived was all in your “mind.” Yes, this is kinda funny. I didn’t expect this at all from you, because I was being serious in my questions.

    This is what I said,

    “Maybe David Kellog, et al, can begin to explain our capability to change intellectually, thoughtfully through willpower to stop one long term action(say smoking cigarrettes) and begin healthy new action of non-smoking.”

    Please show me what you mean David by “tone” in this challenge to you. Is a mere challenge a “tone” to you?

    Exactly how did you read anything objectionable into that challenge for a reasonable explanation? At this point, I do want to laugh – not at you – but about this entire debate. Why is that? Why do I find absurd your objection to my “tone” as a materialist David?

    My asking for an explanation of “will” was without any derogatory comment. Merely challenged you and others to explain something as simple as “will” to overcome certain actions and explain them materialistically. Why so objectionable to you?

    May it be; that your objection is not based upon a materialistic quantity? But upon “perceived”
    hurt “feelings” and “emotions”?

    How can materialist respond with sentimental tones of higher ethics than me? If we’re all material beings? Even though you entirely misread my meaning in the logical challenge to you. You now respond with a supposed “higher” tone of objection and response.

    Interesting, I was not aware materialist can distinuguish such thought processes of a higher “emotional” and objective mind.

    According to materialist-evilutionist, are we not driven by our lower evolutionary past? I jumped on your tree branch without asking? Therefore you jump to a higher one and bleat, bleat at me for leaping into your tree space?

    David, seriously, how can you claim a higher “tone” of civility? From a materialistic perspective? What is civil discourse and meaning to a materialist to begin with?

    Next, I’ll respond to your actual response. But you started us down an entirely different road, mainly with a wrong interpreatation of my challenge, then a snobbish retort.

  101. 101
    kairosfocus says:

    A note:

    Re Mr Kellogg on Temperature and “emergence” vs reductionism:

    FYI, temperature is a metric of the average random energy per degree of freedom of the microscopic particles in a body. (The Partition Function tells the story, bridging micro and macroscopic/aggregative phenomena. For a simple case, where PV = NkT for an ideal gas, cf here.)

    In short, emergence in the case of temperature is analytically accountable; in the case of mind as many materialists suggest “emergence”, it is a synonym for: Poof, lucky noise, magic!

    GEM of TKI

  102. 102
    SteveB says:

    Seversky,

    The emphasis above was on the word “looks” because the whole Paleyist case rests on appearance. But looks can be deceptive. That was Dawkins’s point. We would think the watch on Paley’s heath was designed, even if we had never seen one before, because it looks like things we design. But suppose, instead of a watch, some time-traveler from the future left something like one of those “data crystals” used for information storage in TV science-fiction shows like Babylon 5 or Stargte SG-1. Imagine you were the walker on heath and stumbled across one. Would you think it was designed or just some unusual but naturally-occurring crystal?

    Scene: The away-party is on an alien planet; the science officer is collecting samples. Fade in…

    Science Officer: Captain, I’d like to collect a sample of this unusual but naturally-occurring crystal and study it further.

    Captain Dawkins: Good idea Smithers; I like your scientific attitude.

    Later…

    SO: Captain, upon further study of the crystal, I have determined that it contains data–reams and reams of it. And while I’m not sure, I think I’m holding the specifications for a machine: a tiny, but very sophisticated nano-machine.

    CD: What do you mean Smithers? What kind of machine?

    SO: I don’t know sir. But it produces energy, it generates and disposes of waste, it can propel itself in a liquid medium and it is self-replicating! I’ll need more time–maybe years or even lifetimes–to figure it all out, but this can’t be the result of time, chance and natural law. I think someone or something actually made it. I think it was designed.”

    CD: Oh come now Smithers. Designed by whom?

    SO: I don’t know sir. I can’t determine that. I can only draw a broad conclusion based on the thing’s function.

    Long pause…

    Captain Dawkins: (patronizingly) Now Smithers, you know real science can’t allow that kind of conclusion. You see, we know some things only appear to have been designed….

    Queue the theme music. Fade out…

  103. 103
    Clive Hayden says:

    kairosfocus,

    ——“in the case of mind as many materialists suggest “emergence”, it is a synonym for: Poof, lucky noise, magic!”

    There is intentional vagueness in the word “emergence” so favored by materialistic conceptions of mind. It’s an elusive term, of which real understanding or meaning can only be got by reference to analogies like temperature, but all the analogies I’ve seen are false analogies. It seems that they have a vague notion in mind about an immaterial property emerging from the material, to account for things that are obviously metaphysical, but consistency would dictate that all things, even metaphysical things, would physically exist in some fashion, and all that falls under the supposed umbrella of “emergence” would be physical. It seems that the word tries to suit both purposes, accounting for the metaphysical and the physical, just by being ambiguous.

  104. 104
    lamarck says:

    Graham,
    “all I can say is that materialism has provided us with everything we undertand about the universe, ie: it is productive, and the supernatural hasnt given us anything, ie: its un-productive. So, which horse would you back ?”

    Materialism isn’t material based science, but the belief that all things are material. All of empirically verified micro ev lies in the field of ID for example. Any field can use it. So I would back the horse that as yet hasn’t died on the track, and there’s only two horses.

  105. 105
    BillB says:

    102 – SteveB

    I like your story and I tend to agree. If we found detailed schematics for a biological organism on some storage device it would be tempting to presume that they were blueprints for a designed mechanism.

    I would caution though that they could equally be the results of a biologists exhaustive analysis of the creature.

  106. 106
    DATCG says:

    David said,

    “so do I, in the case of mental activity at least, because any reasonably comprehensive account of mental activity (note I do not say “the mind”) will be put forward at the level of system.”

    So are you playing word games? Instead of “reasonably” accepting that a “system” can be a mind? My first thought, was how can you be “reasonablly” sure or comprehensive of anything if you a priori shut out one side of the equation?

    You then follow up with an analogy of a “thing”…

    “Temperature is a result of the kinetic energy of many millions of molecules in the thing being measured, but there’s no explanation of a thermometer result that will add those all up, or could.”

    This analogy fails. Measuring what “thing” David. Do the molecules produce a work of art? a computer? or in current news, Thriller? The thermometer’s created purpose by an intelligent designer is not to chart every molecule or add it up. It is simply a gauge to allowing thinking minds know hot or cold levels in order to prepare for a day, a week, etc., ahead in terms of specific locations, or in broader climate analysis for research.

    You are comparing apples to oranges. The architecture of the brain allows for Free will of choices and is influenced by languages of other minds. In fact, humans now believe their minds can control the climate globally.

    Are you saying molecules in the air can decide what they want to do? Or that the overall temperature as a “system” can make a decision to be cooler or hotter?

    Thus, carrying out your analogy to its logical conclusion. When the sun rises tomorrow in Death Valley, the “Temperature” of the “thing” can determine to remain at freezing during July?

    See the problem with your analogy?

    The brain/mind is the only free agent in the world that we know of to freely decide what, where, when, how and why it makes decisions either with concensus or against the crowd. Our minds can be like rocks or like the sand in the wind or the waves. But it is still a choice. We can use our minds to reconnect, go around, ignore, overcome past events and proceed onwards to success at the highest levels from the lowest. Can a temperature “thing” do this of its own free will?

    You then say,
    “The level of explanation is different.”

    True, as I pointed out. Though you mean it differently. I must point out to you, one is a complex mind. The other is a measurment of heat “things”.

    Measuring will of the mind is not the same thing as measuring temperature of Death Valley.

    This does nothing to explain how Will can overcome addictions. Where does “will” come from in a materialistic world?

    You cannot sum up will as a mixture of hot/cold molecules and assign a temperature to it. You can only see the result after Will has focused to take take actions or not take them.

    You can measure IQ levels, you can measure speed of 100yd dash, you can measure Indy cars, or fastballs and statistics of a pitchers FIP or ERA.

    But you cannot measure the Will of each individual to overcome their individual circumstances in life. It is only after they have exercised their Will, that you can measure their success/failures outcomes physically.

    This is the unexplainable being that we all seek to understand. We “will” top succeed in life at different levels and for different purposes, none of which are measurable by materialistic meaning.

    Free will also allows us to change our minds about such complex “things” as worldviews, such as the discussions we have today.

    If you are arguing that the molecule or the temperature change is what made me reconsider my atheist, evolutionist beliefs in the past, you will need to provide evidence, not just an analogy that fails.

    In the end, if SETI is allowed in University classes and is accepted by NASA and if even Richard Dawkins admits little green me may have seeded DNA in the past, then it is perfectly well that ID be allowed at the table of science. ID is merely the study of patterns to detect design.

    If Richard Dawkins himself admits there may be a higher, intellectual race of beings in the universe that may have seeded our beginnings, then we should be allowed to study such possible beginnings.

  107. 107
    dbthomas says:

    Clive @ 103:

    It’s an elusive term, of which real understanding or meaning can only be got by reference to analogies like temperature, but all the analogies I’ve seen are false analogies.

    You do realize that that applies equally as well (if not more so) to the unmeasurable, immaterial soul you posit. You may not like the analogies, but they at least demonstrate that emergence exists. Since the soul, as you affirmed on another thread, cannot be measured, its existence can only ever be an assumption, forever lacking evidence.

  108. 108
    Nakashima says:

    Mr Hayden,

    If there exist no standard to compare being nice and exploiting, well, one is just as good a means for comfort as the other.

    Luckily, there are. May I recommend Axelrod’s Evolution of Cooperation?

  109. 109
    Clive Hayden says:

    Nakashima,

    You may recommend it, however, you may also speak to its contents, as I don’t have time to read it.

  110. 110
    Clive Hayden says:

    dbthomas,

    ——“You do realize that that applies equally as well (if not more so) to the unmeasurable, immaterial soul you posit. You may not like the analogies, but they at least demonstrate that emergence exists. Since the soul, as you affirmed on another thread, cannot be measured, its existence can only ever be an assumption, forever lacking evidence.”

    You’re saying that “emergence” has the same evidentail faults as the “soul.” That emergence must be believed in like folks believe in a soul. I’m not sure your compatriots would like this definition very much.

  111. 111
    DG says:

    For those not immediately inclined to read Nakishama’s recommended ‘Evolution of Cooperation’ by Axelrod, you may be interested to know that in the introduction to the book, a certain R. Dawkins opines that “The Evolution of Cooperation deserves to replace the Gideon Bible.”
    Most suited to travelers and school children? Forbidden to be sold?
    I’ll have to explore.

  112. 112
    jerry says:

    “Since the soul, as you affirmed on another thread, cannot be measured, its existence can only ever be an assumption, forever lacking evidence.””

    I think Philip Johnson said that the mechanism for evolution is as mysteriously invisible as the supernatural. The above comment is rewritten:

    “Since the mechanism for evolution, as affirmed in every study of evolution, cannot be measured, its existence can only ever be an assumption, forever lacking evidence.”

    Let us make an agreement with the anti ID people here. We will agree to approach together those in charge of textbook publishing of science and the school boards in charge of science standards. We will both say that there is no scientific evidence for the soul just as there is no scientific evidence for how life evolved through the ages.

    We can then go out and celebrate our common efforts to uphold good science in our schools and share a beer or bread together. The anti ID will take the soul out of education and the pro ID will put truth back in it.

  113. 113
    Nakashima says:

    Mr Hayden,

    I strongly recommend it. It is full of interesting anecdotes, and quite short.

    Basically, if you are going to meet the same people over and over again, often needing their help to achieve your own goals, then it pays off to help them rather than knocking them (or their relatives) on the head for their kidneys. It even pays to be forgiving.

  114. 114
    dbthomas says:

    Er, not exactly Clive. Notice that “if not more so”? We know emergent phenomena exist, that biology is riddled with them, and we have a myriad of tools with which to investigate the brain. I simply prefer the option which actually allows investigation over unsubstantiated assertion (which, by virtue of measurement being ruled out ahead of time, is doomed to stay unsubstantiated). To return to the temperature analogy, at one time the best we could say was “hot” or “cold” or resort to one of the comparative forms. So yes, right now precision is lacking, but we’ve already got plenty of thermometers and calorimeters and the like. We’ll just have wait and see else turns up by putting them to good use. If the “emergence of mind” idea turns out to be like phlogiston or caloric, then so be it.

  115. 115
    jerry says:

    “We know emergent phenomena exist, that biology is riddled with them”

    It might be interesting to discuss the emergent phenomena that riddle biology. What are some of the more important ones?

  116. 116
    David Kellogg says:

    DATCG, I misread your tone (I had brought some baggage from another thread.) My apologies.

  117. 117
    David Kellogg says:

    Clive,

    There is intentional vagueness in the word “emergence” so favored by materialistic conceptions of mind.

    Compared to the vagueness (intentional or no) in design, agency, CSI, FSCI, active information, irreducible complexity, etc. etc.? If the lexicon of ID were assembled it a book, it would never stop wiggling!

  118. 118
    bornagain77 says:

    dbthomas states,

    Since the soul, as you affirmed on another thread, cannot be measured, its existence can only ever be an assumption, forever lacking evidence.”

    yet contrary to many claims of evolution, the soul does in fact have ways to be witnessed:

    The Day I Died – Part 4 of 6 – The NDE of Pam Reynolds – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WA37uNa3VGU

    Blind Woman Can See During Near Death Experience – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aw0lNh7NVb0

    Amazing Scientific Evidence That Mind Effects Matter – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9C5E2uDHrfA

    Miracle Of Mind-Brain Recovery Following Hemispherectomies – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krUHgqfWRw4

    Removing Half of Brain (Hemispherectomies) Improves Young Epileptics’ Lives – article
    Excerpt: “We are awed by the apparent retention of the child’s memory after removal of half of the brain, either half; and by the retention of the child’s personality and sense of humor.” Dr. Eileen P. G. Vining of Johns Hopkins University

    The Gallup poll in 1992 was of U.S. adults, and found 5% had a NDE: .05 = (number of those surveyed with a prior history of NDE)/(total number surveyed). That equates to 15 million of a population of 300 million

  119. 119
    bornagain77 says:

    The Placebo Effect
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udJ31KKXBKk

    Autistic Savant Stephen Wiltshire Draws the City Of Rome From Memory
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTINIOO0Hcc

  120. 120
    Mapou says:

    bornagain77 @118:

    I think that Stephen Wiltshire’s photographic memory is one of the biggest problems for materialists because it can be shown that the brain does not contain enough neurons and synapses to store all this information. Stephen can accurately draw the same scene using many different perspectives, recording times and scales.

    Having said that, I don’t think that this will convince the deniers. The believer will need to come up with a knock-out punch to win this fight because the opponent is resourceful, strong and willing to go the distance. This is true even if we think they don’t play fair. Who said the fight had to be fair anyway?

  121. 121
    Lenoxus says:

    SteveB:

    Lenoxus,
    Thanks for the post–I enjoyed reading it. A follow-up question: Who gets to define what concepts like love, beauty, morality and worth mean?

    Oh, that’s simple — I do! LOL, in seriousness, here are two answers to that question. The first is this review of David Aikman’s book The Delusion of Disbelief. Specifically, this excerpt from it:

    Tied up with this is an utter incomprehension [for David Aikman] at the thought of objective moral values. Since atheists think there’s no God for morality to be contingent on, obviously they must think morality is contingent on human opinion, right? At one point, Aikman goes so far as to suggest atheists are committed to thinking morality would have to be contingent something like a poll of college professors! (p. 122) But the entire point of thinking morality can’t be contingent on God’s whims is that it can’t be contingent on anybody’s whims.

    A second answer comes from someone I ordinarily disagree with. I think the points made are good, as in this excerpt, even if they’re made a little snottily (there’s not need to accuse anyone of a “conceptual vacuum”, Ayn):

    The concept of objectivity contains the reason why the question “Who decides what is right or wrong?” is wrong. Nobody “decides.” Nature does not decide — it merely is; man does not decide, in issues of knowledge, he merely observes that which is.

    A way I would personally phrase that is that morality is subjectively objective. (It’s not Objectivist, though.) The experience of pain, for example, is subjective, but the fact that one is experiencing it is objective, and the “wrongness” of suffering is likewise objective. In my view, there can be no suffering which does not have the quality of wrongness, except for when it leads to an ultimate reduction of suffering. (I’m sure a decent moral philosopher could derail that with a train-tracks thought problem, but those can derail almost any moral position.) Nonetheless, we don’t always have a straightforward path to which actions will cause or reduce suffering, which is why moral dilemmas exist. Determining how to stop a terrorist attack is subjective, but the wrongness of terrorist attacks is objective, due to the resultant suffering.

    Of course my whole “suffering is bad is suffering” line is circular, but no more so than the accounting of things is for the theist. For the theist, God is good because that is the definition of the nature of God, and there cannot possibly be a non-good God. I respect that deeply even as I find it unnecessary. 🙂

  122. 122
    Lenoxus says:

    Having written all that, I realized I only addressed morality at most, and you also asked about those other things I mentioned. I’ll just rattle ’em off: Love obviously exists, and it is a very subjective experience — yet its existence is objective — and we often can’t ‘decide’ what we want our love to do, as hundreds of pop songs attest. As for beauty, I find that as subjective as most people do — eye of the beholder and all that. If I had the time/energy, I could really go off on my feelings about beauty and its complexities, but I’ll just direct attention to a book The Beauty Problem, that has inspired most of my opinions on the subject. It’s available for a free download as a PDF here.

  123. 123
    Lenoxus says:

    Mapou:

    I think that Stephen Wiltshire’s photographic memory is one of the biggest problems for materialists because it can be shown that the brain does not contain enough neurons and synapses to store all this information. Stephen can accurately draw the same scene using many different perspectives, recording times and scales.

    Some might argue that his brain doesn’t have to “contain” all those perspectives and scales — just one amazingly precise image. And while it is certainly marvelous that all that can be recalled, consider the sheer amount of data one collects over a lifetime, much of it seemingly “lost” until just the right scent or sound brings it all back. What savants seem to be able to do is consolidate the use of that data (or perhaps have that data involuntarily consolidated), sometimes at the cost of certain social functions that have also been connected to the brain.

    All that said, I still believe in the metaphysical mind, even as it can be “reduced” to neurons. And I can’t help but note that there has yet to be a single human mind observed sans brain. Not one cadaver has been opened by medical students to reveal literally no brain, nor has an examined live brain gives off zero electromagnetic signals while still apparently functioning — possibilities which a purely immaterial explanation of mind ought to have no problem with. I think?

  124. 124
    PaulBurnett says:

    Lenoxus (#120) wrote: “For the theist, God is good because that is the definition of the nature of God, and there cannot possibly be a non-good God.

    The true-believer creationist theist’s God committed mass genocide on a geological scale a few thousand years ago, drowning all land animals except a few individual specimens on one wooden boat. Does that planetary mass murder define “good” or “non-good”?

    (And “Look what you made me do!” would not pass the Nuremburg test as an excuse.)

    Or look at it from the viewpoint of an evolution-believing theist: Since life began on earth, about 99.99+ per cent of all species that have ever evolved have become extinct. Would that level of death define “good” or “non-good”?

  125. 125
    Clive Hayden says:

    David Kellogg,

    ——“Compared to the vagueness (intentional or no) in design, agency, CSI, FSCI, active information, irreducible complexity, etc. etc.?”

    No. “Emergence” is vague without being compared to anything. It’s vague on its own. It’s, as you would say, “unhelpful.”

  126. 126
    Clive Hayden says:

    PaulBurnett,

    ——“The true-believer creationist theist’s God committed mass genocide on a geological scale a few thousand years ago, drowning all land animals except a few individual specimens on one wooden boat. Does that planetary mass murder define “good” or “non-good”?”

    Good.

  127. 127
    sparc says:

    I wish someone would add a new post, Grnville’s has been at the top for two days, this one isn’t worth that much exposure.

    Denyse, Bill, somebody…post something new and more interesting!

  128. 128
    Nakashima says:

    Would that level of death define “good” or “non-good”?

    LNC problem?

  129. 129
    David Kellogg says:

    Clive, you write,

    I feel like I know you, we’ve conversed so often, that is, until I read your comments over at AtBC, then it strikes me that you’re wearing a mask here.

    I’m the same guy. My vocabulary is a bit wilder over there, as it’s a rather freewheeling forum.

  130. 130
    bornagain77 says:

    I feel that music is knockout proof of the “spirit of man”. In fact I feel that this song absolute proof of Christ in these peoples lives:

    http://connect.tangle.com/view.....74882898ff

    Beholding your beauty is all I long for
    To worship You Jesus with my soul’s desire
    For this very heart you’ve shaped for your pleasure
    The purpose to lift your name high

    Hear and surrender in pure adoration
    I enter your courts with an offering of praise
    I am Your servant come to bring you glory
    As is fit for the work of your hands

    Chorus:
    Now unto the lamb who sits on the throne
    Be glory and honor and praise
    All of creation resounds with the song
    Worship and praise him the Lord of Lords

    Verse 2:
    The spirit now living and dwelling within me
    Keep my eyes fixed ever upon Jesus’ face
    Let not the things of this world ever sway me
    I’ll run ’till I finish the race

    Chorus 2:
    Singing unto the lamb who sits on the throne
    Be glory and honor and praise
    All of creation resounds with the song
    Worship and praise the Lord
    Now unto the lamb who sits on the throne
    Be glory and honor and praise
    All of eternity echoes the song
    Worship and praise him the Lord of Lords

    Bridge:
    Holy Lord
    You are Holy
    Jesus Christ is the Lord

    Chorus 3:
    Now unto the lamb who sits on the throne
    Be glory and honor and praise
    Call all the saints to join in the song
    Worship and praise him the Lord of Lords

    Ending:
    Lord of Lords
    Lord of Lords
    Lord of Lords

  131. 131
    sparc says:

    This like some others (not all) posts is displayed black when I open it in Firefox (newest version). This wasn’t the case when it was published. It’s still OK in Explorer 8.
    DO other people experience the same?

  132. 132
    David Kellogg says:

    BA77, what about the “spirit of birds”? Music appreciation (in the form of dancing at least) is apparently not limited to humans.

  133. 133
    Nakashima says:

    Mr Bornagain77,

    I followed the link to listen to the music you recommended so highly. We do seem to have a special place for music in us!

  134. 134
    vjtorley says:

    Paul Burnett:

    Thank you for your post. You wrote:

    Or look at it from the viewpoint of an evolution-believing theist: Since life began on earth, about 99.99+ per cent of all species that have ever evolved have become extinct. Would that level of death define “good” or “non-good”?

    I’d like to make a few short comments.

    1. Why do you care so much about species anyway, given that no-one views them as eternal and immutable “glassy essences” any more, as some of the Greek philosophers did? What makes species ethically sacred, and why should a good God be committed to their survival?

    2. Species don’t suffer. Animals do. If there is a theological problem here, it is not the fact that most species have become extinct, but rather the fact that 100% of all the animals that have ever lived either have already died or will die.

    3. Where do you get your “99.99+ per cent” figure from? I know that it is often cited in the literature, but I have yet to see any solid evidence for it. I understand that Dr. Arthur Jones has publicly called the figure into question (his videos on evolution are accessible on Youtube). I have yet to see a reply from anyone on this point.

    4. Does the death of a bacterium, a plant or a non-sentient animal constitute a theological problem for God’s goodness, in your opinion?

  135. 135
    Davem says:

    Animals do appreciate music. My ex’s dog used to go into a reverie whenever I played a certain piece on the guitar. For some reason that dog got despondent at times and if I played that for her she’d snap out of it.

  136. 136
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks:

    Mr Kellogg’s first drive-by attack on “emergence” having failed [he did not seem to know just how physicists — even humble applied ones — can show how Temperature emerges from microscopic phenomena (and pressure etc, BTW . . . )], he now goes on to try to assert that concepts linked to design theory are “vague.” (A sort of assertion of epistemic failure equivalency . . . )

    All of this in a context where there is a glossary and a weak objections corrective that discuss, point by point, with empirical exemplars and history of ideas references, the relevant concepts.

    Let us see if he will explain to us how as an example of functionally specific, complex information, a string of 143+ ASCII characters in English is, or how this differs fundamentally from the DNA code string for a protein of say 400 AA residues.

    GEM of TKI

  137. 137
    AussieID says:

    PaulBurnett,

    “(And “Look what you made me do!” would not pass the Nuremburg test as an excuse.)”

    You’re right, but that was where men were critical of men. The scenario that you paint is only applicable when the ‘other’ gods take this god to task for what he has done … like Odin and Ve taking on Vili for his actions. The Christian God doesn’t fit this scenario.

  138. 138
    Joseph says:

    David Kellogg:

    Compared to the vagueness (intentional or no) in design, agency, CSI, FSCI, active information, irreducible complexity, etc. etc.?

    1- Those terms are only vague to the willfully ignorant

    2 – Those ID terms are less vague than anything your position has to offer.

    Heck your position can’t even muster a testable hypothesis.

  139. 139
    Lenoxus says:

    Heck your position can’t even muster a testable hypothesis.

    Well, it can, but then the anti-evolution response is “That doesn’t count as evolution.” Or “that’s just a mosaic form.” Or “nested hierarchies have nothing to do with evolution”.

    Whereas the status of observed creation, testability-wise is…? Are there any circumstances where you can predict when or where design will occur, or when or where we will find fossil evidence of past design bridging a gap? Or is it all ex post facto? Just wondering.

  140. 140
    jerry says:

    When a Darwinist gets into trouble on how something happened, they have some magic incantations that they mutter that are signals to the chosen ones that all is well. When someone questions the Just So Story, the Sorcerer is alway ready.

    The low level spell is “it evolved.”

    When that doesn’t work, the next level of awe is “it was selected.”

    When that doesn’t work, The Sorcerer pulls out the nearly always reliable “It was exapted.”

    These are usually enough to turn the glazed over frightened trance of a Darwinist into a smirk of superiority.

    But for when the situation calls for the most powerful of all anti ID potions, the Sorcerer will pull out the most mesmerizing of all spells and say with disdain, “It emerged.”

    We need no further explanation, it emerged and all is well again in Darwinian Land. And they triumphantly say this is how science works in the real world.

    God, is this Darwinism powerful stuff. That is why I like the Disney metaphor. Once upon a time….as their just so stories begin.

  141. 141
    David Kellogg says:

    kairosfocus, you refer to my “drive-by attack on “emergence,'” but you [101] introduced the term — in quotes no less, and referring to me, though I did not use it! — in an attack on the concept. Try not to suggest I was using terms I didn’t. One might think you were assembling a straw man.

  142. 142
    DATCG says:

    David 116,

    You responded only in apology for misreading my tone.

    Why didn’t you answer regarding your analogy as a failure in comparison to the mind? I gave you several reasons why your analogy fails. Kairos summed up in shorter form quite well.

    Please address the issue at hand regarding your analogy. Explain why you think my position is wrong about the analogy and back up why you think it is appropriate.

    This way, maybe we can talk substance. Maybe you have a better analogy to put forward. By your non-answer to my response, at this point I think you simply do not have a rebuttal to my objection.

  143. 143
    David Kellogg says:

    DATCG, I didn’t respond to your reply because I don’t see how what you call Will can be studied scientifically.

    My analogy is weak, but so is every analogy we make for mental activity, including “the mind” itself. When we say the “mind” does something (or the “will,” fine) we’re assuming the existence of the mind. That’s why I referred to “mental activity” rather than “the mind.” “The mind” as immaterial object or what have you may be the conclusion of an argument, but I prefer not to make it a premise.

  144. 144
    David Kellogg says:

    Minor follow-up: when do we have what we call “minds”? Before birth? At birth? At birth we respond to certain stimuli and search instinctively for comforts: food, warmth, dryness. We could call such searching “mental activity.” But it’s unclear to me that a newborn baby has a “mind” at all, in the sense of a coherent thinking self, much less “free will.” What we call “mind” and “free will” arise later in a complex set of interactions between biology and environment. In most people they do emerge without problem, in the same way that most babies eventually learn to walk. But babies aren’t born walking.

  145. 145
    Joseph says:

    Heck your position can’t even muster a testable hypothesis.

    Lenoxus:

    Well, it can, but then the anti-evolution response is “That doesn’t count as evolution.” Or “that’s just a mosaic form.” Or “nested hierarchies have nothing to do with evolution”

    1- Evolution does not have a direction

    2- Nested hierarchies demand a direction of additive and immutable defining characteristics

    3- Transitional forms would violate the distinct categories required by nested hierarchies just by their very nature

    Am I typing to fast? Are you getting any of that?

    I also took the time to explain what is being debated.

    Biological Evolution, what is being debated

    Then all you have to do is produce a testable hypothesis.

  146. 146
    Clive Hayden says:

    David Kellogg,

    ——“But it’s unclear to me that a newborn baby has a “mind” at all, in the sense of a coherent thinking self, much less “free will.”

    The mind is there, the brain is still developing, because it is just a newborn.

  147. 147
    R0b says:

    kairosfocus:

    In short, emergence in the case of temperature is analytically accountable; in the case of mind as many materialists suggest “emergence”, it is a synonym for: Poof, lucky noise, magic!

    It’s certainly true that there is no theoretical gap between molecular behavior and temperature measurements, although I suspect there is an empirical gap. That is, I doubt that anyone has empirically confirmed that measuring the velocities of a mole of molecules and calculating the temperature therefrom yields the same result as a thermometer.

    But it is also uncontroversially true that there are theoretical gaps elsewhere. Take the Mandelbrot set, which is chock-full of complex high-level properties that haven’t been explained in terms of the set’s low-level definition. Nobody finds it necessary to mysticize this gap — we have no doubt that the higher level is reducible to the lower, but it’s difficult to do so. We call that emergence, not by way of explanation, but as a convenient label.

    Likewise, there is a theoretical gap between neural activity and consciousness. Bridging that gap may require positing something so foreign to our experience that we would label it immaterial, or it may be completely intractable. But one thing is for sure, the labels immaterial and emergence have little or no explanatory power by themselves.

    Which is not to say that the concept of emergence is unhelpful. I personally think it captures quite well, for instance, the qualities of some artificial life systems.

  148. 148
    David Kellogg says:

    Clive,

    The mind is there, the brain is still developing, because it is just a newborn.

    Well, that’s a nice assertion, but it’s only that. An assertion more in line with the evidence is that the brain develops in the body and in interaction with the body’s environment, and that these developmental interactions provide contexts in which mental activity can emerge and finally be classified as what we call “a mind.” You can say that “mind” was there all along, but it’s hard to find evidence for it.

  149. 149
    David Kellogg says:

    Clive, a second response to your

    The mind is there, the brain is still developing, because it is just a newborn.

    Where is the “there” that the mind is? There’s an immaterial mind in a physical location?

  150. 150
    Davem says:

    140 jerry

    Once upon a time….as their just so stories begin.

    That reminds me of something I once read:
    Frog + Kiss = Prince = Fairy Tale
    Frog + Time = Prince = Science

  151. 151
    Nakashima says:

    Mr Joseph,

    1- Evolution does not have a direction

    2- Nested hierarchies demand a direction of additive and immutable defining characteristics

    I think you are equivocating on the meaning of “direction”. Time’s arrow provides the direction. Nested hierarchies are defined by additive and immutable characters.

    3- Transitional forms would violate the distinct categories required by nested hierarchies just by their very nature

    Crocoducks maybe, Tiktaalik no.

  152. 152
    Joseph says:

    Nakashima-san,

    No equivocation on my part.

    It is a given the evolution doesn’t have a direction.

    Traits can be gained or shed- whatever works at the given time.

    Nested hierarchies are defined by additive and immutable characters.

    Thank you. And with evolution “additive and immutable” are not predictions.

    Things can stay the same. Whatever works.

    3- Transitional forms would violate the distinct categories required by nested hierarchies just by their very nature

    Crocoducks maybe, Tiktaalik no.

    Is tiktaalik a transitional?

    We have air breathing fish in the Amazon today and they ain’t transitioning to anything.

    But anyway the best one can expect from descent with modification is a lineage.

    Add divergence and you get branched lineages.

  153. 153
    Lenoxus says:

    jerry:

    When a Darwinist gets into trouble on how something happened, they have some magic incantations that they mutter that are signals to the chosen ones that all is well. When someone questions the Just So Story, the Sorcerer is alway ready.

    The low level spell is “it evolved.”

    When that doesn’t work, the next level of awe is “it was selected.”

    When that doesn’t work, The Sorcerer pulls out the nearly always reliable “It was exapted.”

    I can’t help but say that I love the “just-so story” characterization of evolutionary biology. Love it, love it, love it. Why? Because its claimants seem to think that design/creation/what-have-you is comparatively rigorous and explanatory and detailed and not pulled out of a hat at all. ID repeatedly “fulfills” its own low standard of explanation for biological complexity, then raises that standard to the level of you-need-a-time-machine when it comes to evolution.

    Evolution, selection, exaptation, and emergence are known physical biological phenomena, even if we don’t always know when which ones have happened and to what degree. “Design”, on the other hand, qualifies pretty well as an “incantation” for that list. Apparently, because IDers have one and only one spell, they aren’t “desperate” the way Darwinists are. (And of course, the incantation will always “work”, because any claimed design can never be disproven. If the designer wants a certain feature to occur, the odds of it occurring are always 100%.)

    I’m reminded of the time I attended a Behe lecture, and one slide he showed depicted an angel helping a bacterium overcoming the gaps to flagellum development; he was saying something like “Maybe the evolutionists think this is what happened!” I thought Dude, don’t ridicule yourself like this!

    Joseph:

    Transitional forms would violate the distinct categories required by nested hierarchies just by their very nature

    Huh? I’m not sure I even know what to say to this. You seem to think that because we can categorize life into groups based on their features, those categories must be “distinct” and not fluid. So even if you have land animals with bone structure similar to those of fish — and hence hypothesize that they are related — it should be impossible to find a “walking fish” between the two, because fish just plain don’t walk. But there really is no barrier there. It’s just a matter of terminology.

  154. 154
    Davem says:

    I repeat the assertion that there are no transitional forms. We never see the gradual development of wings from a rodent to a bat in the fossil record; what would a half-way creature like that look like anyway? Why would webs between the digits convey an advantage and why would the same mutations continually occur until the animal became capable of flight? Not to mention all the attendant features that would have to evolve such as musculature, tendons, blood vessels and a host of features that would satisfy the laws of aerodynamics. Saying that a flying animal could evolve from a land animal is like saying that copying errors in the design for an automobile led to so many improvements that were implemented that eventually the manufacturers had an airplane.
    The websites that supposedly show a handful (or two) of transitional forms are no proof at all. If the hippopotamus was extinct and fossils of it were found that indicated it’s aquatic nature, it would probably be heralded as the ancestor of the whale. 150 years of Darwinism and the best they can come up with for the sea to land transition is Tiktaalik?

  155. 155
    Joseph says:

    Transitional forms would violate the distinct categories required by nested hierarchies just by their very nature.

    Huh? I’m not sure I even know what to say to this. You seem to think that because we can categorize life into groups based on their features, those categories must be “distinct” and not fluid.

    Nested hierarchies require the categories be distinct.

    If they are fluid you don’t have a nested hierarchy.

    IOW TRY to stay focused on the context of my comment.

    And thank you for proving the theory of evolution shouldn’t expect a nested hierarchy.

  156. 156
    Joseph says:

    And Lenoxus,

    Your position doesn’t have any rigor.

    It just has a glossy narrative and the chant “anything but design”.

    Deal with it.

  157. 157
    DATCG says:

    David,

    Thanks for the response. The analogy I think is not just weak, it fails because unlike the mind, temperature cannot control individual switches or small groupings of related memories to be pulled up, analyzed, rejected, selected or inspected.

    For example, if I do a thought experiment…

    Yellow Tennis ball hovering in front of your eyes, spinning with the words Creation on them, you can see this in your minds eye. I can ask you to come up with your own image in turn to send back to me. You may selected a Mosaic Colored Tennis ball with fractals like a puzzle hovering from side to side, but not spinning.

    In each of these scenarios our mind(system if you prefer) makes decisions that interact with various subcompents of language, memory, imagery and decision logic. For example, I rejected some initial examples of tennis balls. I could just as easily said Paisely Beach Balls, bigger and more prominent in your view.

    Temperature as a measurement of aggregate heat mixture fails to be an analogy on multiple levels of comprehension. We know that molecules are heated by the sun, that temperature changes mainly due to sunlight/uv, shade, wind, etc. We also know that the global climate system does not act upon or select specific molecules to remember anything, let alone relay some bit of information.

    The analogy fails.

    The only analogy that will work is one of Design that current AI and robotics experts(agents of intelligence) are working on. This includes guided evolution and genetic algorithms.

  158. 158
    SteveB says:

    Lenoxus,

    Thanks for the reply.

    The concept of objectivity contains the reason why the question “Who decides what is right or wrong?” is wrong. Nobody “decides.” Nature does not decide — it merely is; man does not decide, in issues of knowledge, he merely observes that which is.

    Indeed. And the principle is verified by the clear consistency of moral opinion shared by, for example, Joseph Stalin and the Dalai Lama when each “merely observes that which is?”

  159. 159
    DATCG says:

    David said,

    “When we say the “mind” does something (or the “will,” fine) we’re assuming the existence of the mind.”

    I’m asking or trying to ask what is “will” and admit I cannot see a materialist solution at this time.

    Essentially, “will” is some sort of decision tree system. We cannot however today define why one person’s will is stronger than anothers in similar circumstances.
    It may be one saw a glimpse of information that “inspired” one person’s will to be “stronger” and try harder.

    This is all subjective stuff today, because in the end, each person must determine their own paths in life. So, I’m not assuming this “will” exist as a function of the “mind.” We know that something defined as “will” exist. You may not consider it scientific, yet the word defines elequently the existence of being actively committed to overcomming obstackles in life for example. Or lack thereof, as in “he lacked the will to continue the race, so he quit.”

    Yes, “will” it is an abstract definition because it is a summary of a systems decision making processes overall. But, since we cannot reduce it to a series of cascading events in the brain today does not delete it from existence.

    I’d argue, even moreso, if one day, you and I can peer into someone’s brain and watch how their “will” works in certain situations; it will still not transfer it to a materialist-only solution.

    Why? Because we know that complex decision systems today are created by intelligent designers.

    Another words, our minds can be designed by another designer. It can be Richard Dawkins little green guys from another galaxy. It simply does not matter who the creator is. What matters is can the ID theory to recognize patterns as intelligently created transfer into research.

    I think it does, just like Newton perceived order as a result of Design. So to, ID perceives order, for example in formerly and highly touted JunkDNA. Materialism linked to Unguided Evolutionism seeks chaos by nature, thus the heavy prediction of JunkDNA.

    But, just because we may understand how a lawn mower works from a spark plug to every single detail down to the 1000s of an inch blade sharpening, it does not exclude Design and only allow a materialist solution of emergence.

    But by rejecting “mind” or “will” outright, you David are making assumptions too. You only allow materialist dogma to rule your choices of research. This has resulted in faulty phylogenetic trees, failed TOLs, failed predictions all over the place, including Dino-Bird recently and JunkDNA.

    The happy middle should be neither of us know at this point. But I think Design has an upper edge on breadth of applications. Because Design can allow for random variation. We know this to be true. Whereas chaos without intelligent agency is never proven to build up any kind of intelligence. It is only an interpretation and ideas that say emergence happens to create these computers today we type on between us across complex networking systems. We have no proof, only an “assumption” inferred by materialist.

    In this case, Design as a Theory is as legitimate as Unguided processes or as SETI. Why is SETI along with NASA’s approval allowed to be taught in university classes?

    Just think about the inconsistency and hypocrisy for a moment David. If we allow NASA/SETI to cooperate on classes looking for extra terrestials, then we must admit there may be alien races far more intelligent and advanced than earth today. If so, then it is valid and legitimate that ID be allowed at the table.

    “That’s why I referred to “mental activity” rather than “the mind.” “The mind” as immaterial object or what have you may be the conclusion of an argument, but I prefer not to make it a premise.”

    Is this being intellectually honest? If you’re truly open “minded”, then you’d be willing to say, you don’t know. Instead, you stand by a materialist-only dogma. You end up with your own bias.

    I’m not arguing to get rid of the materialist options at university levels, or for ID to take over. I’m arguing to allow ID at the table of Science based upon the objective facts that 1) we don’t know which side is correct, 2) SETI is allowed and taught, 3) the only assumptions allowed today are materialist.

    So, by disallowing one “assumption”, you are only allowing your assumption.

    This is being hypocritical I think if we are to be honest. And I also think it sets a bad precedent to young, developing minds that only one opinion is allowed for debate.

    Therefore young minds need not exercise any skepticism at all. There is only one truth, that of your side David.

    It makes for very boring, irrational thought patterns and failed predictions like gradualism, TOL, dino-bird, JunkDNA, etc., to name a few.

    If the other side of critical views were allowed at the table long ago, many of the mistakes above, the failed predictions would have been caught at a much faster pace. Researchers would’ve been paying much more attention to so-called “non-coded” regions. Same thing with vestigial organs, another failed prediction.

    All this adds up to saying, allow the minority view more room, valid room for debate, for counter opinions and theoretical teaching at higher levels. It can only help each side.

  160. 160
    DATCG says:

    Nakashima,

    Hope you are well.

    “I think you are equivocating on the meaning of “direction”. Time’s arrow provides the direction.”

    Which arrow of time are you referring to?

    Times Arrow is only a recording of history as we know it. A direction forward can include mass extinction, mutation and death. I’m uncertain how it says anything in favor of unguided evolution that would not be true of guided evolution or designed evolution.

    “Nested hierarchies are defined by additive and immutable characters.”

    Nexted hierarchies as you speak of them are foggy edges. Correct?

    What happened to the nested hierarchy of Dino-Bird relationship?

    “Crocoducks maybe, Tiktaalik no.”

    Tiktaalik? You consider this a valid transitional form? Why?

    There are secular evolutionist who do not. So where do we stand? Your opinion only is valid for science? But dissenters, like those for 200yrs against Dino-Bird hypothesis are not allowed to be heard in classes?

    I’m curious who decides what is feasible for teaching these days. Especially after the epic failures of such large paradigm busting programs as the Dino-bird failure.

    This is the problem with interpreting history. Truth is neither you nor I were there in the past. Yet for 200yrs – Dino-Bird theory taught as FACT.

    Now, I’m curious Mr. Nakashima. Do you consider Tiktaalik as factual as Dino-Bird?

    We cannot ascertain whether the creature represents transition or not with any high percentage of objectivity. It is a subjective assumption on the part of Darwinist believers.

    It is a guessing game not any better than the fictional story of Dino-Bird evolutoin.

    Finally, the secular side admitted the anatomy would not allow for transition and realized the transitions would die. 200 years of failure is bad science.

    Story telling and fictional accounts do not equal science.

    If the Dino-Bird theory was allowed for so long. An anatomical restrictive event, what else is there, what other shoddy science is being allowed to creep into education? Despite long years of skeptical criticism by Creationist, minds and time were wasted simply because of bias and prejudice against someones religious views.

    Again, as I argued above. Let others with differing, but reasonable opinions at the table of science. Force the one-sided current paradigm. Allow much more open debates at university levels.

    Force the current leaders to answer questions at the highest levels. Allow the minority view a spot at the table to argue and debate. The current paradigms failed predictions keep adding up.

    This could save science and students another 200yrs of disastorous failure in guessing games and maybe help us to direct our educational and research money towards more worth goals of operational science and research instead of guessing games and outdated, unproven theory.

  161. 161
    DATCG says:

    For any responders… I’ll check back later tonight.

  162. 162
    jerry says:

    “Evolution, selection, exaptation, and emergence are known physical biological phenomena, even if we don’t always know when which ones have happened and to what degree. “

    Well it would be a good start to indicate just what can be attributed to each. Maybe you should do that since you admit you do not always know which happened and when. When that is done, then maybe we can have a discussion. Until then, they are just things pulled out of the back seat of one’s pants when one can not explain something.

    Design”, on the other hand, qualifies pretty well as an “incantation” for that list. ”

    Design is happening right now at MIT and many other places and by Craig Ventner privately. So I do not think it is an incantation.

    You seem to be advocating something that has never been shown to happen while ID is advocating something even us simpleton humans should be doing in a few years.

  163. 163
    Nakashima says:

    Mr Joseph,

    What distinction are you trying to make between nested hierarchies and diverging lineages?

  164. 164
    Joseph says:

    Nakashima-san:

    What distinction are you trying to make between nested hierarchies and diverging lineages?

    They ain’t the same thing.

    Lineages are based on descent.

    Nested hierarchies are based on characteristics.

    Descent is not a defining characteristic.

  165. 165
    Lenoxus says:

    Joseph:

    Your position doesn’t have any rigor.

    It just has a glossy narrative and the chant “anything but design”.

    As far as I’m concerned, ID doesn’t even offer a narrative of any kind. It consists of the word “design”, and as evidence, offers only arguments against evolution. That’s how it looks where I sit.

    SteveB:

    Indeed. And the principle is verified by the clear consistency of moral opinion shared by, for example, Joseph Stalin and the Dalai Lama when each “merely observes that which is?”

    Well, you’ve got me there. Unlike theists, atheists do sometimes disagree on major points of morality.

    Seriously, I’m not sure what universal, or even near-universal agreement, has to do with figuring out morals. This is what that reviewer Chris Hallquist was talking about with the “poll of college professors” thing. And as far as I can tell, belief in God hasn’t put all believers on the same wavelength ethics-wise.

    jerry:

    Design is happening right now at MIT and many other places and by Craig Ventner privately. So I do not think it is an incantation.

    You seem to be advocating something that has never been shown to happen while ID is advocating something even us simpleton humans should be doing in a few years.

    Huh? But I thought that whatever humans couldn’t do in a lab was supposed to prove that it couldn’t happen naturally and the designer must have done it… so confused now!

    Unless ID is now advocating that biological life forms were designed in physical labs comparable to MIT’s? If not, the comparison simply doesn’t stand. I personally won’t deny the minute possibility of life being physically designed by extraterrestrials (oh yes, like the Dawkins little green men that he prays to every night, tootle tee hee). I won’t even deny the possibility of an immaterial designer — I just want to know where is the flyin’ evidence? (For either).

    I recall something iconofid said in an earlier thread: having set such standards, if we witnessed an angel coming to earth and practising some genetic manipulation on one species or another, evolutionists would be perfectly justified in saying “O.K., design happens, but that’s just micro-design; you have no evidence for macro-design.”

    In other words, I.D.ers and creationists will never meet their own standards, but personally, I’m liberal, and I’d be happy to infer past angel interference from direct evidence of present angel interference.

    Substitute “designer” for “angel” in that and you might see what I’m getting at. We still haven’t seen design happen. Biological design in a lab is no more evidence for what ID asserts than evolutionary interactions in the stock market are evidence for biological evolution. It’s apples and oranges.

    Oh, and I have this weird allergy where if I encounter the claim that there is zero evidence for evolution, I sneeze this link. (Of course, it’s from talkorigins, who must be biased because the position they support is evolution, so y’all can safely keep on ignoring it.)

  166. 166
    Khan says:

    jerry,

    Design is happening right now at MIT and many other places and by Craig Ventner privately. So I do not think it is an incantation.

    are you extrapolating from micro- to macro-design? correct me if I’m wrong, but I think by your standards what is going on there just qualifies as “micro-design.” Or have they designed any novel complex traits?

  167. 167
    Joseph says:

    Lenoxus:

    As far as I’m concerned, ID doesn’t even offer a narrative of any kind. It consists of the word “design”, and as evidence, offers only arguments against evolution. That’s how it looks where I sit.

    Science is not conducted by who has the best narrative.

    Also ID is not an argument against evolution.

    IOW it looks like you do too much sitting and not enough reading.

    I take it that it stings that you can’t support your position.

    Don’t blame me for your issues.

  168. 168
    jerry says:

    “Unless ID is now advocating that biological life forms were designed in physical labs comparable to MIT’s? ”

    Such a silly question like this deserves a sarcastic response. Here is one I gave a few months ago to such an equally frivolous question.

    Someone actually wants the laboratory techniques used 3.8 billion years ago and whether they were comparable to MIT’s labs. You talk about bizarre. Are the actual lab specs and techniques used a few billion years ago similar to today’s primitive technology. Here is what I know.

    I got word from the designer a few weeks ago and he said the original lab and blue prints were subducted under what was to become the African plate 3.4 billion years ago but by then they were mostly rubble anyway from weathering and bombardment from space. The original cells were relatively simple but still very complex. Subsequent plants/labs went the same way and unfortunately all holograph videos of it are now in hyper space and haven’t been looked at for at least 3 million years. No further work has been done for quite awhile and the designer expects future work to be done by the latest design itself. The designer travels via hyper space between his home and our area of the universe when it is necessary.

    The designer said the techniques used were much more sophisticated than anything dreamed of by current synthetic biologist crowd but in a couple million years they may get up to speed and understand how it was actually done. The designer said it is actually a lot more difficult than people think especially since this was a new technique and he had to invent the DNA/RNA/protein process from scratch but amazingly they had the right chemical properties. His comment was “Thank God for that” or else he doesn’t think he would have been able to do it. It took him about 20,000 of our years just experimenting with amino acid combinations to get a set of usable proteins. And almost half that time just figuring out how to make a ribosome. He said it will be easier for current scientists since they will have a template to work off.

  169. 169
    jerry says:

    khan,

    The designer said it took around 10,000 years to design the ribosome. So MIT has a little way to go.

    One video I saw said they were designing a DNA sequence that would count the number of times a cell would divide so they could keep track of where each cell came from. That may qualify as a novel trait and depending upon the total system needed to accomplish this, will determine whether it a novel complex capability.

  170. 170
    jerry says:

    khan,

    Why don’t you straighten Lenoxus out since he does not seem to understand the debate.

  171. 171
    Khan says:

    jerry,

    The designer said it took around 10,000 years to design the ribosome. So MIT has a little way to go.

    haha. but i must say i’m surprised at your willingness to extrapolate from micro-to macro when this is when one of the things you routinely excoriate us evolutionists for.

    One video I saw said they were designing a DNA sequence that would count the number of times a cell would divide so they could keep track of where each cell came from. That may qualify as a novel trait and depending upon the total system needed to accomplish this, will determine whether it a novel complex capability.

    that’s the best evidence for macro-design you have? a video of someone saying they were working on something that might be novel complex trait? and you say we have no evidence for macroevolution? i know from human nature if you had better evidence you would shove it in our faces, so I conclude there is no evidence for macro-design.

    btw, that function is not really novel. ever heard of telomeres?

  172. 172
    jerry says:

    “btw, that function is not really novel. ever heard of telomeres?”

    It was meant for microbes.

    And the designer said it would take a couple million years to get up to speed. So I am willing to bet that MIT can beat that estimate. Also, I might have mis-heard the designer and it was thousands instead of millions. He thinks once you have the template, it will be easier.

  173. 173
    Khan says:

    jerry,

    It was meant for microbes.

    some bacteria have telomeres too.

    by your sarcasm and lack of subst antive response I’ll assume you have no evidence for macro-design and are taking it on faith.

  174. 174
    jerry says:

    khan,

    You can make up your own mind. Go here

    http://mitworld.mit.edu/video/363/

    There is a big department at MIt. Why not ask them how far along they are on this stuff

    http://web.mit.edu/be/index.htm

    At the moment I am watching a lecture to a class at MIT about this. If it is relevant, I will let you know.

  175. 175
    Lenoxus says:

    jerry: I love that account! I mean it. What’s strange to me is that you think it’s obviously ridiculous. You seem to assume that of course the designer wouldn’t leave all that physical evidence, and that the reader of those paragraphs holds the same assumption. You’re talking about God as though you think the idea of God actually doing all those detailed things is fundamentally ridiculous.

    Personally, I don’t think the idea of God talking directly to anyone (to pick one example) is in and of itself ridiculous. Lots of people have claimed just such conversations, yet are considered insane because only people from Long Ago are allowed to be prophets. (I only find it ridiculous to the extent that I disbelieve in God in the first place.)

    I’m reminded of a guy named Galen Strawson who said “It is tempting to conclude that if [God] exists, it is the atheists and agnostics that he loves best… for they are the ones who have taken him most seriously.”

    Why not take the designer seriously?

  176. 176
    Khan says:

    jerry,
    i read the account of the video, maybe i’ll watch it later. from the account, it seems like any macro-design is way off in the future and purely speculative. why don’t you go ahead and defend macro-design (design of novel complex biological traits), giving a brief account of the evidence that has convinced you it’s real and has been done already. you should be able to explain it in layman’s terms. you can take a couple of posts if you want to.

  177. 177
    Joseph says:

    Khan,

    Stop whining about design and focus on your position.

    Doesn’t it bother you that the only “evidence” for your position is the complete refusal to allow the design inference?

  178. 178
    jerry says:

    Lenoxus,

    A lot of things.

    First, I have been here about 4 years and seen hundreds of people coming here to undermine ID or straighten us out. None have. Every post for over 4 years is available on this site except for a few which were removed for obnoxious purposes.

    Second, we have the advantage over you who are new because we know you cannot not defend naturalistic evolution. Richard Dawkins cannot even do that without being exposed. You have to understand that there are two theories of naturalistic evolution, one that is not controversial but limited and one that is grandiose but completely unsupported. People like khan will claim that there is only one, but the evidence suggest that is not true.

    Third, I never mentioned God or suggested God. ID has nothing to do with religion and our experience is that anti ID people bring up God before ID people do. There are exceptions and there have been some here who only want to quote the bible or imply God is the designer. However, their arguments have nothing to do with ID.

    I can point you to major debates where the first thing out of the defender of naturalistic evolution is not science but that ID is religion based.

    Fourth, I can probably provide a much better defense of naturalistic evolution than most of those who come here defending Darwin can. I have read many of the books defending naturalistic evolution and know the arguments.

    The best argument for a naturalistic mechanism for evolution in my opinion is the geographical argument. However, there is absolutely no evidence for a gradualistic mechanism for evolution so the question becomes what is the naturalistic mechanism if not gradualism. Many evolutionary biologists have recognized this and this is one reason Stephen Gould declared neo Darwinism dead. People defend Darwin’s gradualism because that is the only mechanism they can conceive of that could make sense. Except it does not fit the data.

    Darwin had many ideas but there were four main ones, natural selection, gradualism, Malthusian competition and common descent. The first three are essentially dead as major factors in evolution. There is no forensic evidence for any of them as a factor in the second theory of evolution. Yes, there is change due to sexual reproduction and it is gradual but no evidence that the change can break out of the box of what the population gene pool determines is possible. Yes, there is natural selection but it is mainly a conservative mechanism and no evidence that it creates anything.

    The best argument for common descent is the genomic similarity of sequences in the various species. However, the fossil record says all the phyla started at roughly the same time with high disparity and almost no diversity so common descent runs up against a road block in the Cambrian. And probably later too.

    So does that leave Darwin 0 for 4 or hitless in the evolution sweepstakes. Now you understand the stakes. The hero whose birth we celebrate, whose likeness is on the 10 pound note and who is buried in Westminster Abbey may be a washout in the evolution derby. How does one explain that.

    Mainly by mocking those who have shown that the emperor is not wearing any clothes. The whistle blowers are anathema and must be suppressed at all costs. The emperor must have overwhelming support for the greater good. And you, like hundreds before you, have come to mock us or belittle us. Have at it. But it is not an argument. It is a rhetorical and political technique. And it is working so far but for how long.

  179. 179
    DATCG says:

    Kahn,

    “are you extrapolating from micro- to macro-design?”

    Have you not seen the latest anatomically correct legs, arms, etc., created by Intelligent Designers? Are you not aware of Robotics? How about Leonardo da Vinci?

    You seem to be coming from a very blind spot and ignoring the obvious.

    Notice that they work on micro and macro solutions, different Designers every day.

    Your point is meaningless. Frankly you just gave the argument away to Jerry.

    “…correct me if I’m wrong, but I think by your standards what is going on there just qualifies as “micro-design.””

    So what, it is still Intelligent Design. You score no points for this charade of a rebuttal.

    You lose in the case of macro Intelligent Designs as well. I’m trying to be very nice here, but your argument is vacuous.

    You must also be oblvious to research where science is recreating organs within weeks.

    And it is predicted in the not to distant future this will be common – by Intelligent beings, reproducing both by DNA, cellular and in working with engineered bio-mechanical devices.

    “Or have they designed any novel complex traits?”

    Are you stating that life engineers never will? Is this really your point? By asking the quetion, you’re not recognizing the Design elephant in the room.

    Design either at the micro or macro level happens daily by intelligent human beings.

    Do you realize how absurd your argument is now? You are making Jerry’s point for him and for the ID case.

    For example, Life Engineers are already contemplating, pontificating, considering systems archictecture designs for Evolutionary Design Life forms in the future. How can they anticipate and create a life form to adapt.

    This is not new stuff.

    If Designers in the future create a life form that evolves – they will do so intelligently, not blindly. The future is the end of blind, unguided processes. FrontLoading is a possible Intelligent Design future program for seeding other planets and terrraforming.

    You cannot argue with the future impact of the Design Paradigm.

    You can only argue about the past with story telling and psuedo-intellectual guesses about what “may” have happened. Arguing over the past is fun, but the future is Design.

    But story telling is not science. It will go the way of the Dino-Bird theory – extinct. It will be recognized as the guessing game that it is, and hopefully more money will be put forward to operational sciences.

  180. 180
    DATCG says:

    Lenoxus,

    If you know the bible, then you are aware of verses where the Creator states that man is without excuse for denying his existence…

    Romans 1:20
    “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

    Nature is His creation. You can believe, reject, etc., but you cannot deny He states that the evidence is seen right before your very eyes daily from the nanosize optic fibers in our eyes to the butterfly crystal structures that MIT researchers using the best equipment in the world are trying to duplicate.

    The complexity is the evidence of a Creator.

    But, ID does not and is not required to be dependent upon any religion.

    As a reminder, as Richard Dawkins stated so clearly for everyone to hear, maybe aliens from another world, with far advanced design seeded our planet long ago. He had to admit this with at least some objective honesty because no one knows where a symbolic code like DNA arose from. They do not know our origins.

    As for leaving evidence like a lab. What if an advanced civiliztion simply terraformed earth, seeded it and left?

    This too is possible. Because it is possible, merely claiming that evidence “must” be left behind is not evidence against ID.

  181. 181
    Khan says:

    DATCG,

    you don’t understand the debate. according to jerry, it is about the origin of novel complex traits. biological traits, not robotic ones. recreating organs is nice but that is not a novel trait, just a mimicry of something we already have. jerry thinks that design offers a better explanation than evolution because we have observed biological design in the field of synthetic biology. however, this has been on the level of switching genes around, with nothing novel or complex created. thus, he (and you too now) is guilty of the same sin he accuses evolutionists of, namely extrapolating from trivial, micro-design to macro design of novel complex traits. why do you think it’s acceptable to make the leap from micro to macro in this case but not in evolution?

  182. 182
    Lenoxus says:

    jerry:

    I never mentioned God or suggested God. ID has nothing to do with religion and our experience is that anti ID people bring up God before ID people do.

    You’re right, I was premature with that in this conversation. I was conversing in several threads at once, and one of them had gotten to be almost totally about God, so I got mixed up. Forgive me. The designer has reverted in my mind to a generic immaterial being who may or may not be God.

    The best argument for a naturalistic mechanism for evolution in my opinion is the geographical argument. However, there is absolutely no evidence for a gradualistic mechanism for evolution so the question becomes what is the naturalistic mechanism if not gradualism. Many evolutionary biologists have recognized this and this is one reason Stephen Gould declared neo Darwinism dead. People defend Darwin’s gradualism because that is the only mechanism they can conceive of that could make sense. Except it does not fit the data.

    Huh, so the physical evidence is in favor of saltation as means of explaining transitions between species? Do you mean that punctuated equilibrium is a theory of saltation? Personally, I always preferred the ID account whereby the designer’s action is to keep various organisms alive that supposedly otherwise would die due to their transitional nature. (“Gradualistic design”, I guess?). To each his own, though :). In any case, the whole question is restricted to fun debates like this until actual evidence for saltation appears. (Or if not saltation, what is the design alternative to gradualism?)

    The hero whose birth we celebrate, whose likeness is on the 10 pound note and who is buried in Westminster Abbey may be a washout in the evolution derby. How does one explain that.

    Mainly by mocking those who have shown that the emperor is not wearing any clothes.

    I would love to spend more time linking to positive physical evidece, but I know at this point that it’s pointless, because there’s a traditional pre-existing set of ways any such evidence can be rejected by anti-evolutionists. Then, of course, there’s a corresponding set of reflexive evolutionist responses. However, I’m not sure of any way Darwinists reflexively refute the positive physical evidence for design, because I’ve never heard of such evidence. You, at least, seem to think the idea of physical evidence for design (apart from the complex nature of the design itself) is inherently silly anyway. So that leaves nearly all the discussion in the question of the merits of ID philosophically speaking.

    DATCG:

    ID does not and is not required to be dependent upon any religion.

    As a reminder, as Richard Dawkins stated so clearly for everyone to hear, maybe aliens from another world, with far advanced design seeded our planet long ago.

    Ah, it would be one thing if ID allowed for that particular possibility and studied it. But it does not — this blog has had numerous entries concerning why science needs to transcend naturalism, etc. I’m not aware of a single member of the Discovery Institute, for example, who does not think the designer is a physical being subject to natural laws. I think it’s pretty safe to say that intelligent design argues specifically for a non-naturalistic designer.

    I think the Dawkins paraphrasing is getting ridiculous. I’m sure he’d agree that there’s just as little evidence for an ET designer as for a disembodied one — but the first one is still more plausible and scientifically sound, because it is based on the known phenomenon of physical life. That’s all that came down to. He never said that there was any gap in our understanding which a spaceship would fill.

    What if an advanced civiliztion simply terraformed earth, seeded it and left?

    This too is possible. Because it is possible, merely claiming that evidence “must” be left behind is not evidence against ID.

    Are you starting to see why ID has so little currency in the sciences? It’s not any philosophical objection to the conclusions of ID — it’s the philosophical objection to the lack of positive evidence.

    Yes, it certainly is possible that terraformers left zero evidence. It’s also possible that we’re all in the Matrix. There’s no way of knowing until the evidence turns up.

  183. 183
    jerry says:

    “I would love to spend more time linking to positive physical evidece,”

    As I said I have been here for 4 years and have read a lot of books promoting naturalistic evolution. And in none of these have I seen anything supporting the naturalistic hypothesis. We accept micro evolution and you will notice khan referring to my definition of macro evolution as the appearance of novel complex capabilities. That is where the debate is at and where any evidence marshaled should be directed.

    But I also said, we have the advantage in knowing it does not exist. Otherwise why would evolutionary biologists attack ID on religion and then fail to present this evidence. Interesting phenomenon. Evolutionary biologist all know the evidence does not exist but feign to be offended when ID say it does not exist and say the evidence is overwhelming and then mock us and belittle us in various ways. You are just another in a long line to exhibit the same behavior.

    A couple people recently have presented some bits and pieces that are interesting but are far from supporting any mechanism for a naturalistic evolution let alone for gradualism.

    The best answer as to what happened is that it is a mystery and it definitely isn’t gradualism.

    ” but I know at this point that it’s pointless, because there’s a traditional pre-existing set of ways any such evidence can be rejected by anti-evolutionists.”

    This is pre judging us and I do not think you want to do that. There is a whole range of people here and most will be willing to listen to any empirical evidence you have but as I said above, we have had evolutionary biologist fail to present relevant stuff.

    And by the way sounding absolute on things is a technique I use because I know that such an attitude will get people mad and push them to do either of three things. 1) leave the debate in frustration, 2) make ad hominem attacks or 3) try hard to refute this arrogant IDiot. Obviously I prefer 3) and we occasionally get some interesting data but most often it is irrelevant to the debate.

  184. 184
    Khan says:

    jerry,
    i have presented in the past some evidence for macroevolution (serial endosymbiosis). you shrug it off and say there’s no evidence it happened by naturalistic processes. whatever that means.

    now, i am still waiting for your evidence of macro-design that you find so convincing. i would love to hear about novel complex biological traits that have been invented by humans.

  185. 185
    sparc says:

    Joseph, did you finally present your ideas about information stored in DNA but not its sequence to Dr. Dembski? I am eager hear his opinion.
    In addition, has he finally subscribed to FCSI, FSCI or other combinations of the four letters? I had the impression that he kept the three letter CSI.

  186. 186
    Lenoxus says:

    jerry:

    As I said I have been here for 4 years and have read a lot of books promoting naturalistic evolution. And in none of these have I seen anything supporting the naturalistic hypothesis.

    You might be surprised when I say this — heck, even I’m surprised. But I personally agree with you. There is NO EVIDENCE FOR THE NATURALISTIC HYPOTHESIS.

    But that’s how it always would be, no matter what naturalistic universe we lived in. The only way we would “know” that naturalism accounted for every known phenomenon would be either if we knew how every known phenomenon worked at all times, or if we received a sign from On High (or whatever) that proclaimed naturalism (the second case would, of course, refute itself).

    There are some good reasons, which I’m sure you’ve heard before, why naturalism is the best default potition for science to take. The moment that indisputable, physical, non-“talky” evidence for the supernatural emerges, the debate — and the nature of science — will change completely. (By “talky”, I mean more evidence than just philosophical claims, or abstract mathematical arguments that, at best, refute certain specific naturalistic hypotheses).

    All this is akin to the example I used of the simulation in the Matrix films. Right now, the evidence that we are in fact in a simulation seems limited to the mathematical and philosophical arguments of people like Nick Bostrom. There’s no evidence I’m aware of that the Universe is not a simulation, but insufficient evidence to assume that it is, or that it is partially simulated, with the actually simulated portions accounting for currently unknown astronomical phenomena. (See what I did there?) So the reasonable default is to say that it is not.

    Since naturalism is a fundamentally “negative” position, it doesn’t make sense to ask for evidence “for” it until you point to a specific example of something you believe naturalism can’t do, such as the immune system.

    ” but I know at this point that it’s pointless, because there’s a traditional pre-existing set of ways any such evidence can be rejected by anti-evolutionists.”

    This is pre judging us and I do not think you want to do that. There is a whole range of people here and most will be willing to listen to any empirical evidence you have but as I said above, we have had evolutionary biologist fail to present relevant stuff.

    Well, I generally take the “fail to present relevant stuff” part to mean that I have nothing to add that you haven’t already heard and responded to before. I’m not saying that any IDers are being dishonest or ignorant in their interpretations of the evidence fore macro-evolution — just biased, the way that we’re all biased for what we believe in. Notice that I also added that evolutionists have reflexive responses. By that I meant that we evolutionists are not always bothering to think when we respond to anti-evolutionist arguments.

    And by the way sounding absolute on things is a technique I use because I know that such an attitude will get people mad and push them to do either of three things. 1) leave the debate in frustration, 2) make ad hominem attacks or 3) try hard to refute this arrogant IDiot. Obviously I prefer 3) and we occasionally get some interesting data but most often it is irrelevant to the debate.

    While I may have brought God into this, I would never, ever stoop to the awful (in the sense of both indecency and unoriginality) word “IDiot”. I still say “IDer” for brevity, but I assume it has no derogatory connotation.

    Though I am often sarcastic when it comes to defending the evidence for macroevolution, or defending my personal philosophy from charges of worthlessness, I truly do not wish to be meanspirited. But when the assertion is made that the evidence for macroevolution is zero, I have to say something. And when the assertion is made that Darwinism consists of the denial of design (design which, furthermore, is apparently obvious to everyone but close-minded biologists), I really have to say something, even though when that comes up, I’m at a bit of a loss for words.

    Is modern meteorology solely the assertion that weather patterns come from an unguided, naturalistic process? Why in the world should meterorology (or evolution) even be described as “unguided”? Until the arguments for design appear on the table, “unguided” is the obvious default, and calling evolution “not guided” is like calling it “not French”. 🙂

  187. 187
    Nakashima says:

    Mr DATCG,

    Tiktaalik? You consider this a valid transitional form? Why?

    Quoting the font of all truth, Wikipedia:

    Tiktaalik generally had the characteristics of a lobe-finned fish, but with front fins featuring arm-like skeletal structures more akin to a crocodile, including a shoulder, elbow, and wrist.

    ‘nuf said.

    Now, I’m curious Mr. Nakashima. Do you consider Tiktaalik as factual as Dino-Bird?

    I think you are comparing a fossil and a theory.

    200 years of failure is bad science.

    I’m not seeing the failure you refer to. After 200 years, Shubin finds Tiktaalik in exactly the spot that 200 years of evolution, geology and paleontology predict. No, definitely not seeing the failure.

    I wonder what the odds are of a tornado blowing through the Field Museum in Chicago, picking up Neil Shubin, carrying him to Ellesmere Island and dropping him next to Tiktaalik’s skull sticking out of the ground. Let’s calculate the expected length of time for Shubin, taking a random walk from his office in the Field Museum across the surface of the Earth, stopping every three feet and looking, to find a fossil between 360 and 380 million years old lying on the ground in front of him. Compare 5 years (the amount of time it actually took to find Tiktaalik) to this number. That ratio is the “failure of a bad science” ratio.

  188. 188
    Clive Hayden says:

    David Kellogg,

    ——“Where is the “there” that the mind is? There’s an immaterial mind in a physical location?”

    Yes.

  189. 189
    Joseph says:

    Lenoxus,

    What part of transcription, with its proof-reading, error-correction and editing, strikes you as being cobbled together via unguided processes?

    Add to the the process of translation- taking one macromolecule and creating another out of it- what part of that strikes you as being cobbled together via an accumulation of genetic accidents?

    This is what ID brings to the table-

    The view that living organisms are not reducible to matter and energy therefor we need to look in a new direction in order to understnad living organisms.

    The reductionist attitude has failed at every turn and it is time you step aside because it is clear you have no intention of supporting your position.

  190. 190
    Joseph says:

    Nakashime-san,

    Don’t use Wikipadia as a valid reference because it isn’t.

  191. 191
    Joseph says:

    sparc,

    Calm down.

    I just had major knee surgery last Tuesday and I am still in recovery mode.

    And even though it is obvious to me that there is software amongst the biological hardware- do you really think that molecules just assist other molecules to make other molecules?- trying to formulate ideas when I am living on pain-killers isn’t going to happen.

  192. 192
    DATCG says:

    Nakashima,

    I enjoy your comments and admit your obvious experience and knowledge of the field(s) are far above me Sir. I say this with all sincerity and respect. I learn much from you here.

    As well as I like your sense of humor, quoting Wiki 😉

    But, I’m curious do you think a walking catfish is a transitional form to tetrapods?

    What about the Coelacanth?

    It was once considered a transitiional fossil and used like Tiktaalik, until a fisherman caught the Fish in his net.

    I think Tiktaalik is similar to Dino-Bird theory because old bones were/are used to prop up both. Like Tiktaalik is used to prop up Fish to Tetrapod hypotheses. It could be an extinct branch unrelated to any transition period.

    The Coelacanth appeared one day as a living fossil in a fishermans net, detroying scientific claims. It was 1) not transitional, 2) not walking, 3) disrupted another TOL branch considered as fact.

    No matter how intelligent someone is in their respective fields of science(and I’m sure Shubin is among the best with sincere motives), this is still faith and belief in a theory. He seeks his assumptions and find them.

    Again, it easily might be a dead branch leading to extinction. How would Shubin, you or I know? We were not there to observe.

    History shows such guesstimates can be wrong. Based upon past failed fictional accounts it is just as likely or at least a “possibility” they’re wrong this time too.

    For all we know, Tiktaalik may go the way of the Coelacanth. A living version may appear. Or, to emphasize again, it may be some strange species unlinked in the chain of gradualistic events.

    Then where will Shubin be? Where will Wiki be?

    As to actual discovery, you are aware this is not unusual, correct?
    That such a prediction and find does not add evidence to it being transitional.

    Essentially, we have assertions after people spent years roaming known former lake/swamp areas. So what. I’m not aware of anyone disagreeing that you can find fossils of fish, crocks, alligators, or any other type of new fossils in such areas. Nor is it a secret these areas exist, except maybe to the uninformed.

    Certainly trained researchers know where to look for fossils in swamp areas, lakes, oceans and other locations. This is not proof of transition or of evolution. It merely means we understand where possible fossils may be found today.

    Like any Dino-Bird fossilized reporting from the past, or to be more bluntly, like the Coelacanth failure, this is still only an assertion without observation. It is inference at best.

  193. 193
    DATCG says:

    Nakashima, and if others like to chime in: Lenoxus or David, Kahn,

    Speaking of transition fossils.

    How many transition fossils are calculated between a fish and a tetrapod? Shouldn’t Shubin find thousands of Tiktaaliks?

    Or how many? Would you predict?

    1? 10? 100? 1000? 10,000? 100,000? even 1,000,000 million?

    How many transitional fossils do we have from Fish to Tetrapod? If I grant you for sake of this discussion – Tiktaalik is transitional? How many are there today?

    Gradual steps? How many transitional fossils should there be? If Darwin is correct. If Darwinist today are correct, gradualistic evolution is FACT, how many transitional fossils might be estimated between fish and tetrapod?

    I do not have the expertise to quantify it. But, surely there should be some statistics for numbers of transition fossils to be found.

    And based upon that evidence and other research, Shubin should be able to pinpoint millions of transitional fossils. Or, why am I wrong?

    How many transition fossils should there be – within reasonable guesstimations?

    Certainly there should; by definition of gradual steps of Darwinian philosophy, be multiple Cambrian Transition type Explosions all over the earth. Transitions exploding in size in comparison to either fish or tetrapods.

    Researchers like Shubin should be finding many thousand times more transitional fossils than any static forms like say, the Coelacanth fish.

    Don’t you agree? If not, why not?

    Why is the record exactly opposite of Darwin’s gradualism?

    Thanks, I’ll check in later tonight.

  194. 194
    Nakashima says:

    Mr Joseph,

    I think Wiki is fine for this level and topic. If you think it is wrong about Tiktaalik, please edit it.

  195. 195
    Nakashima says:

    Mr DATCG,

    Thank you for your fine compliments. I appreciate having fine people to talk with, also. And a sense of humor, especially about yourself, is essential.

    It is difficult to know what a walking catfish or Coelocanth is transitional to. We’ll have to wait several million years to find out! And it is certailnly possible that it would be transitional to something very similar, ne? If there is no strong selection pressure, there is no change in allele frquencies.

    I see you are very interested in the fragmentary and provisional nature of our knowledge, especially the fossil record. Science is so provisional! It should be the first lesson we teach children, before the specific fact patterns. There is an edge to our shared knowledge, which changes constantly. If anyone actually tried to make science a religion, it would cause a lot of anxiety for them. (For the view that religion is a search for certainty. For someone capable of seeing their religion as a source of personal challenge, I’m sure it would be different.)

    How many species are there in the fish-tetrapod transition? let’s say there 10 species in that swampy niche 385 million years ago. They each last 10 million years and branch into two new species. So each starting species becomes two and then four during the twenty million years Shubin was looking at. That is (1+2+4)*10=70. So the first guess is 70, but then you have to cut that down by how many will leave any fossils at all, in places on or near the surface of the Earth today. I personally would be happy to find even 10% of those possible species, so if we eventually found 7 fossils of distinct species, I’d think we were doing fine.

    That is a complete amateur guess, of course. The number of species that take advantage of the chance to radiate into new niches on land at the end of the transition could be higher.

    I think your concern about whether any specific fossil species is actually a member of a direct lineal parent of a living species is misplaced. Not only are most species extinct, most extinct species have no living descendents. That is the flip side of LUCA/Eve/etc. It doesn’t change the fact we can see characters in the fossil that bridge the space between an established niche and an open niche.

  196. 196
    sparc says:

    Joeph I hope you will recover soon.

  197. 197
    Joseph says:

    Thank you sparc, that is the plan anyway…

  198. 198
    Lenoxus says:

    DATCG:

    For all we know, Tiktaalik may go the way of the Coelacanth. A living version may appear.

    Have you ever heard the question “why are there still monkeys?” One answer that biologists give is that humans did not descend from the monkeys we see today, but from other primates. I think there’s a better, more succinct way of putting it: evolution does not require that descendant species “replace” their ancestors. Some descendants of Tiktaalik gradually adapted to life on land, and some didn’t. Species don’t come to unanimous decisions about what environments to remain in. It’s true that if some Tiktaaliks remained in the water, they probably would have changed a fair amount due to the usual drift. But that’s not a guarantee — consider sharks, for instance.

    On top of all that, no one is saying that Tiktaalik is definitely an ancestor to modern tetrapods. In fact, it’s more likely an “uncle”, because the odds of hitting upon an exact ancestor in one particular line of descent are pretty low, so all we can do is describe the degree of closeness between any two species. What Tiktaalik does show is that such a transition is possible. Even if it’s a weird “mosaic” made by the designer, Tiktaalik shows what an intermediary would look like, and that it’s therefore possible. The ID-sans-UCD hypothesis has never explained the designer’s motive in making such intermediaries.

    Nakashima:

    How many species are there in the fish-tetrapod transition? let’s say there 10 species in that swampy niche 385 million years ago. They each last 10 million years and branch into two new species. So each starting species becomes two and then four during the twenty million years Shubin was looking at. That is (1+2+4)*10=70. So the first guess is 70, but then you have to cut that down by how many will leave any fossils at all, in places on or near the surface of the Earth today. I personally would be happy to find even 10% of those possible species, so if we eventually found 7 fossils of distinct species, I’d think we were doing fine.

    Ah, but Nakashima, we still haven’t found those fossils by today, July 10, 2009. Time’s up!

    (Not to mention that whatever those paleontologists say, 90% of organisms fossilize. They do, I swear.)

  199. 199
    Nakashima says:

    Mr Leonoxus,

    Ah, but Nakashima, we still haven’t found those fossils by today, July 10, 2009. Time’s up!

    (Not to mention that whatever those paleontologists say, 90% of organisms fossilize. They do, I swear.)

    I thought we had until 2012? I’d better reset my secret decoder ring. 🙂

  200. 200
    Joseph says:

    What is the genetic data which demonstrates such a transition- from fish to tetrapod- is even possible?

    Also the vast majority (>95%) of the fossil record is of marine inverts- which is to be expected given what we know about the fossilization process.

    Yet in that vast majority evidence for universal common descent is missing.

    IOW you guys seem to think that science is done via imagination and promissory notes.

  201. 201
    Lenoxus says:

    Joseph:

    What is the genetic data which demonstrates such a transition- from fish to tetrapod- is even possible?

    Something just occurred to me in reading this. It’s this: when it comes to debates, evolution’s curse is its details. The theory is so immensely detailed in terms of evidence that there’s always another pathway to attack it on. One it’s been demonstrated beyond a doubt that the Tiktaalik fossil is intermediary, you can ask for the genetic evidence (never mind, of course, that obviously no extinct fishapod specimen has surviving DNA).

    My own brief web-research prompted by that question suggests that there are plenty of studies analyzing the genetic divergence between fish and tetrapods. (You’ll like this one, as it relates to front-loading.) No studies, however, appear to examine the question of whether the transition is “possible”. This is likely because very few people are raising the question. The question is kind of silly, given the fossil evidence of intermediaries, indicating that such a transition almost certainly happened. (Not to mention the morphological similarities between the relevant limbs, etc.) The only real question at this point is, which environmental factors spurred the selection for these limbs? There are plenty of different hypotheses out there, and perhaps one of them, thanks to the advantage of evidence, will win out in our lifetimes.

    Compare this to the following question: What is the data which demonstrates such a transition- from fish to tetrapod- is even possible for the designer to bring about? I’m being silly, because we all know that anything is possible for the designer. This saves you, I think, from the obligation of having to give an answer. I could very well ask that same question of every major evolutionary transition, but that would be wasting time.

    you guys seem to think that science is done via imagination and promissory notes.

    Whereas intelligent design…?

  202. 202
    Nakashima says:

    Mr Leonoxus,

    What is really amusing is that when you _start_ with the genetic evidence, such as the switch to woody perennial from annual in a plant, then the discussion becomes about something else. But you are correct, Mr Joseph’s default comeback to fossil evidence is a demand for genetic evidence of the same thing.

  203. 203
    Nakashima says:

    Please excuse me for misspelling your name!

  204. 204
    Lenoxus says:

    Nakashima — that’s fine, I think I might actually like it better! On another website, people have called me “Leno” for short (and I’m not much of a Jay Leno fan); “Leono” sounds cooler… 🙂

  205. 205
    Joseph says:

    1- The transitionals exist in the minds of those who need them

    2- There isn’t any genetic evidence to demonstrate the transformations are possible

    3- The plant thing has been explained.

    I can’t help it if you refuse to understand the explanation.

  206. 206
    Joseph says:

    Melzer S, Lens F, Gennen J, Vanneste S, Rohde A, Beeckman T. 2008. Flowering-time genes modulate meristem determinacy and growth form in Arabidopsis thaliana. Nature Genetics, published online: 9 November 2008-

    Art Hunt sez the following:

    Melzer et al. constructed double mutants deficient in the expression of these two proteins, with the intent of understanding the physiological significance of interactions between these two proteins, associations discovered using the so-called yeast two-hybrid assay.

    IOW nothing natural about the process.

  207. 207
    ohyes says:

    joseph:

    IOW nothing natural about the process.

    i am not a scientist, but isn’t that how all experiment are carried out? do you think this process could not have happened naturally?

  208. 208
    Joseph says:

    ohyes-

    Two simultaneous and specified mutations occurring naturally?

    Waiting for Two Mutations: With Applications to Regulatory Sequence Evolution and the Limits of Darwinian Evolution

    Not likely.

    However perhaps someone could plant thousands or even millions of these plants and see what happens.

  209. 209
    Joseph says:

    BTW are the experiments with fruit flies in which the fruit fly developed an extra pair of wings also evidence for macroevolution?

    How about the fruit fly with a leg for an antennae?

    If we go by the absurd claims of evolutionists then both would be evidence for macroevolution.

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