Intelligent Design

A Twist on the Infinite Regress Argument

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In a previous post there was a vigorous debate about idnet.com.au’s suggestion that Craig Venter might soon manufacture a living organism from scratch. This comment caught my eye:  “OMG!! When Craig Venter produces a living organism, will this event trigger the infamous “infinite regress?” WHO DESIGNED CRAIG VENTER???”

Indeed.  Assume for the sake of argument that Craig Venter actually succeeds in creating life in the lab (We’ll call them Venter’s critters or “VCs” for short).  Then assume the dreaded super virus comes along and wipes out all life on earth except for the VCs, who are immune.  Assume further that a million years passes and there are no traces that any living thing other than VCs ever existed on earth.  Then two aliens come along.  Alien 1 of 2 observes the VCs running around, all of which are desendants of the original lab-created VCs.  The VCs exhibit irreducable complexity and complex specified information, and 1 of 2 therefore concludes that it is very unlikely that they were caused by chance and necessity, and therefore, making an inference to the best explanation, he concludes they were designed.  Alien 2 of 2, a dyed in the wool materialist, says, “1 of 2, you’re an IDiot.  You are just pushing the question back.  If these beasties were designed, tell me who designed the designer?” 

This thought experiment brings into relief the fatuousness of the “who designed the designer” argument.  2 of 2’s question is unanswerable.  1 of 2 would have no way to know who Craig Venter was, where he came from, what his purpose was, what process he used to design his critters, etc.  Nevertheless, his design inference would be correct. 

84 Replies to “A Twist on the Infinite Regress Argument

  1. 1
    p.noyola says:

    Let me predict what the materialists will say:

    1) How did ‘Alien 1’ infer a designer? What ‘proof’ is there that design was involved? (In this hypothetical, we witnessed the design, but Aliens 1 & 2 didn’t.

    2) Mutation and Natural Selection ‘designed’ Venter!

    Then it will be the same old argument all the way back, won’t it?

  2. 2
    Q says:

    To say “1 of 2 would have no way to know who Craig Venter was, where he came from, what his purpose was, what process he used to design his critters, etc.” is a mistak in intepreting the scenario presented. The virus hypotehtically “wipes out all life on earth except for Venter’s critters.” It does not destroy Ventners office, the buildings, the records, the surface of Earth, or all artifacts surrounding the creation of the life form.

    Artifacts will remain.

    This means that Alien 1 will likely be able to validate his claim through archeological, paleontologial, and physical investigations. He will be able to show that the life was crated through mechanisitc processes, and quite likely be able to find that it was created by Venter. If fact, by investigating the evidence surrounding his premize, Alien 1 will be answering Alien 2’s point – he will find the designer of this life form. His design inference will be proven, and details about it will have been demonstrated.

  3. 3
    getawitness says:

    BarryA, I assume that your hypothetical scenario wipes out not only all non-Ventner created life but all evidence that non-Ventner created life ever existed. You’d have to wipe out all evidence of the designer species (that is, Ventner and his type). They’d have to leave no trace whatsoever.

  4. 4
    Lutepisc says:

    BarryA, I like what you’ve done with this post. Actually, I owe a tip o’ the hat to MikeGene, an “online personality whose clear-thinking and lucid prose has been praised by those open and closed to the concept of intelligent design,” to quote ResearchID.org.

    MikeGene explored this aspect of the infinite regress argument here: http://telicthoughts.com/scifi-and-id/

    p.noyola, there wouldn’t be “proof” of ID…there isn’t now. But there would presumably be evidence of it, as there is now. (Of course in this scenario, we happen to know the answer…)

    RM & NS designed Venteer?? Isn’t that what’s being debated here? (A typical Darwinista approach to the question, it seems.)

  5. 5
    mike1962 says:

    Something has always existed.

    If “it” is time-based, there is an infinite regress, which is irrational to us.

    If “it” is not time-based, then “it” exists in a reality utterly unlike ours, is still irrational to us.

    Reason has its limits.

    Rationalism ultimately fails.

    The Big Ontological Question cannot be answered by appeals to Reason.

    This is a fact to be faced.

    Deal with it.

  6. 6
    Collin says:

    Great point Barry.

    Getawitness,

    Fine, all of that evidence is gone. Who cares. You miss the point.

  7. 7
    getawitness says:

    Collin, the point is that history leaves traces. In any normal history, a later scientist would say “they were designed, and probably by the Venterians” (or whatever). Another might say “I think they were designed by horses.” But for the question of “Who is the designer?” to be meaningless, we would have to assume an absolute break in history with no way of accessing the past. Otherwise, the question of “are they designed” is inextricably entangled in “who designed them?”

  8. 8
    Collin says:

    Getawitness,

    we are definately not trying to find out who the designer is with ID. That is the whole point. We are finding design, not the designer.

  9. 9
    bFast says:

    getawitness, “BarryA, I assume that your hypothetical scenario wipes out not only all non-Ventner created life but all evidence that non-Ventner created life ever existed.”

    This, of course is easy enought to achieve. It turns out that Craig Venter was on a spacecraft heading for distant realms at the time. (The earth had become uninhabitable because of global warming.) The new lifeform he created was proving deadly to the occupants of the spacecraft, so it was ejected to land on a lifeless planet.

    The equation here is not one of “is this what happened?” The equation is, “if this is how we got here, is science incapable of detecting that we are designed?”

    Now, the physics department will point out that their case for the big bang is pretty strong. They will conjecture that time itself began at the point of the bang. If they are correct, infinite regression of organisms like us is impossible. (Panspermia.org, which holds that a similar scenerio to this did happen argues that the big bang theory is a bunch of hot air.) Yet the point remains that science should be able to detect design without any a-priori knowledge of the designer. “You’re not alowed to postulate a designer” is falisfied by this argument.

  10. 10
    BarryA says:

    getawitness, there’s always a way to avoid dealing with the main point isn’t there?

  11. 11
    Frost122585 says:

    This thought experiment brings into relief the stupidity of the “who designed the designer” argument.

    I don’t think the who designed the designer argument is stupid at all. It does however reveal the incorrect locial criticism that the argument makes.

    This is a very impotant question. It is the essence of the design inference because the way in which we infer ID is through specified complexity. Secondly, No Free Lunch theorem states that when we see SC we can infer an intelligence played a role in its construction. People display SC and therefore according to the theory must have a designer. So I don’t think that the question is stupid at all. In fact it is at the core of ID. The problem with the argument is it is used as a tool to create the false impression that the ID argument is false, incomplete, contradictory or just pushing the problem back.

    The only allegation among thses which holds any water is the “pushing the problem back argument.” What is incorrect about this argument is the word “just.” ID doesn’t “just” push the problem back, it “explains” the origins of certain phenomena (SC) and through this yields greater insight into the nature of origins in general. The methodological materialist will approach science differently that the ID theorist. ID opens doors of inquiry while MM sticks its head in the sand. So I think as ID advocates we need to respond to this argument by saying “That’s a great question! What do you think designed the designer?” And when they pose no answer say “well I think that intelligence clearly played a role.” If they say “I don’t think anything did.” answer “well that is a possibility.” And if they say “I reject the fact that there is even a designer involved.” Say “well then your question has no merit.” After all, how can you ask a serious question about something you deny even exists.

    It is certainly a possibility that the designer was designed as we can posit the constraints of our natural laws, but to presuppose so would be coming to a conclusion not fully supported by the evidence. There is no proof that the designer is constrained to these laws. The argument can be made that since all of the ID that we experience first hand requires intelligent causation/intervention, that we should then, based on all the observable data used to formulate the theory, presuppose a designer of the designer. ID however is not about revealing the identity of designers. ID is not about “finding” designers in nature. ID is about detecting their handiwork or effects. ID is about inferring design based upon what we know about the effects of intelligence. If we look at statisitics and conculude that there is some fraud involved we may have n idea who committed the fraud yet at the same time we can infer the activity of intelligence. Therefore, all ID correlates is the role of intelligence with SC. We know of no natural source that can do this without intelligent causation and therefore the logic would seem to say that the designer needs to be designed itself but we ignore the logical possibility that we may one day find a case of SC or a designing intelligence that appears to not require ID to account for itself. Therefore, without knowing the identity and nature of designer first hand we are not logically forced to speculate on its designer.

  12. 12
    shaner74 says:

    “who designed the designer?” is as far removed from science as can be. It’s a shallow philosophical argument which betrays a paranoid atheistic agenda.

  13. 13
    BarryA says:

    Frost122585, sorry. You are wrong on this one. Look at the web site’s moderation policy under “arguments not to use.” The very first one is “who designed the designer?” I quote:

    “Put a Sock In It

    Arguments we’ve heard many times before and don’t want to hear again.

    If you insist on boring us with them you won’t be with us for long.

    Many of these can be found in the Pandamonium game. If you want to wage battles with these arguments go there and fight the pandas instead of us.

    Who Designed the Designer

    This argument points out that, by inferring a designer from complexity in machines, the designer must also be complexity. Why? Well just because it seems like he/she/it would. This of course then plunges into an infinite loop of who designed the designer. This infinite loop makes Intelligent Design somehow impossible. The really weird part is the argument is broadcast to us using a computer that was the result of intelligent design. Intelligent design does not speak to the nature of designers anymore than Darwin’s theory speaks to the origin of matter.”

  14. 14
    gpuccio says:

    Frost122585:

    what you write is very interesting, but in the end I agree with BarryA that the “who designed the designer” argument is, if not stupid, completely wrong and out of context.

    Let’s say that the argument assumes that intelligent is a byproduct of complexity. I that assumption is right, then the argument has some sense, but still ID concepts are valid. In that context, ID would be perfectly apt to detect design, but the problem would arise to identify the complex designer and explain its complexity. So, to sum up:
    a) If the assumption that intelligence is (always) the byproduct of complexity is right

    and

    b) If the ID procedures to detect design in biological beings are right (and they are!)

    then

    c) An infinite regress arises.

    But that infinite regress is not evidence that b) is wrong. It is evidence that a) is wrong.

    And, indeed, a) is wrong. Assuming that intelligence is (always) the byproduct of complexity is absolutely arbitrary. It is a compulsive assumption only in a purely materialistic context. In other words, it seems obvious to materialists only because of their irrational faith that only matter exists.

    But if we assume, perfectly reasonably, that consciousness and its attributes (including intelligence) are not the byproduct of material complexity (in other words, if we reject the AI theory), then the scenario changes completely. We have evidence, in biological beings, of consciousness which expresses itself through increasingly complex material forms. We have evidence, in human beings, of intelligent consciousness which expresses itself through a most complex material form, and introduces new design in ither naterial forms. We can, perfectly reasonably, make the hypothesis that intelligent consciousness may exist independently of a complex material form. That’s, exactly, the hypothesis that a God, or anyway some spiritual being, may exist.

    That hypothesis is not stupid. It is not anti-scientific. It has been the main cognitive hypothesis of mankind practically forever, and still is.

    The important fact is to acknowledge tha, in this context, a “purely spiritual” intelligent is usually considered as a simple entity, for many logical and cognitive reasons. In other words God, for most religious points of views, is simple, not complex. He/She/It is a simple fundamental reality, perfectly able to create complexity.

    So, to come back to the regress argument, let’s see what are the consequences of a correct ID inference, according to the two main possible hypotheses about the designer of biological complexity:

    1) The designer is an intelligent complex material being or beings, let’s say the classical ET. That’s a perfectly reasonable hypothesis. It indeed “pushes back” the problem, but it is a very interesting and scientific way of pushing it back. If we were designed by ETs, shouldn’t science be interested in discovering that and going on in the scientific inquiry? Certainly it should. But, certainly, in that scenario the problem of “who designed the designer” remains: it becomes a true scientific problem (who designed the ETs?)and it does create an infinite regress problem, which has to be met in some way by any materialistic approach. Because the alternative explanation, that biological complexity came out of itself, is simply wrong.

    2) The designer is some kind of “spiritual” being(s), is simple, and intelligent, and conscious. He/She/It can create complexity, but is no complex. He/She/It can interact with phenomena, but is not necessarily inside phenomena. That’s, in essence, a spiritual hypothesis for the Designer. That hypothesis perfectly explains the origin of design in living beings (and, obviously, in the whole universe). And it does not, in any way, create an infinite regress, because there is no complexity in the Designer which remains to be explained through material ways and causations. I would like to affirm, in patrial dissent with what somebody else has said, that this is not an “irrational” hypothesis. It is, indeed, a very “rational” one, one that has been sincerely believed and supported by most rational thinkers throughout history.

    And if that hypothesis is true, is the consequence that science has nothing more to say about biological design? Is that a science stopper?

    Absolutely not. Even if the designer is “spiritual”, and even if, in the ultimate sense, He/She/It may be out of the reach of scientific explanation (an assumption, but at least a very reasonable one), the “design” can certainly be explored from the side of science, both about its nature and structure and about the modalities of its introduction in natural history. In other words, even if the designer cannot be scientifically “explained”, certainly the designer’s interactions with phenomena must be observable, at least from our side of the interaction, that is phenomena. And that observation and analysis is, still, the role of science.

  15. 15
    Frost122585 says:

    BarryA, no problemo I had not read the policy yet. I have no desire or intrest in boring anyone at UD. But if my argument is wrong I wish I could see why.

    If the designer is not known then the natural laws that govern that designer are not known either. Therefore it does not logically fallow that restrictions on the designer, such as having a designer, are a “necessary” exponent of the theory of ID. It is therefore not an argument against ID. I am sure my logic is right because we infer design based on our own experience with known intelligences and this only allows us to search the effects of naturalistic intelligences but when the results of the search do not yield a material designer as in biology it then becomes possible to postulate that an unembodied intelligence did the designing. And as unembodied designer it more or may not play by all of the rules of the theory. This would not be the case however if we could point to examples of SC in the world that was not the result of prior intelligence. If we could the idea of an unembodied intelligence would break the rule of Occam’s Razor and become a superfluous hypotheses. But we cannot.

    What is wrong with an infinite God or repeating intelligence? ID does not speculate on the nature of the designer. In the computer simulater, the programer, a human, is the designer and displays SC therfore would too reuqire ID. The humans deisnger we dont know so it may or may not have a designer. Therefore, I maintain that the WDTD argument is perfectly consistent with ID. I think it is a legitimate mode of inquiry and is in fact the one used in No Free Lunch to explain why specified complexity can not be purchased without prior intelligence.

    For the record I don’t think a logical argument exists that is not compatible with ID.

    Feel free to set me straight if I made a logical error though, that is if I’m not boring you.

    After all you brought up the point originally and that is why I responded to it. It is the topic of the article.

    And yes, of course as a prime contributor I understand that you have priveleges the rest of the community does not have.

    Now, as you wish I will no longer comment on this topic. Ever, Ever again. Unless by total accident.

    With honest respect, your fellow Uncommon Dissenter,

    Frost122585

  16. 16
    Frost122585 says:

    Could I get a little help finding the web site’s moderation policy? Sorry.

  17. 17
    idnet.com.au says:

    Hey Frost122585 you are welcome. Your thoughts are very interesting and helpful. It is just that people in the past have played the “who designed the Designer” game ad nauseum.

  18. 18
  19. 19
    Frost122585 says:

    Thanks a bunch!

  20. 20
    BarryA says:

    Frost122585 I reiterate idnet.com.au’s comment. You are welcome here; I did not mean to imply that you are not. You write: “If the designer is not known then the natural laws that govern that designer are not known either. Therefore it does not logically follow that restrictions on the designer, such as having a designer, are a “necessary” exponent of the theory of ID.”

    ID is a scientific theory. It posits, broadly speaking, that non-intelligent causes (i.e., chance and necessity) have never been observed to cause either irreducible complexity (“IC”) nor complex specified information (“CSI”), and it is demonstrably astronomically improbable that they ever could cause either IC or CSI. Therefore, whenever IC and CSI are observed, chance and necessity are inadequate explanations for the observation. Intelligent agents, on the other hand, produce IC and CSI routinely. Even the simplest biological systems are rich in IC (at many layers) and CSI. Therefore, intelligent agency is the best explanation for the cause of the IC and CSI observed to exist within biological systems.

    That is as far as the theory goes. The ONLY conclusion that can be drawn about the intelligent agent is that it/he/she is capable of designing immensely complex biological systems. Notice that it says nothing about the nature or purpose of the intelligent agent. It says nothing about when or how the intelligent agent acted. It says nothing about whether the agent is natural or supernatural, personal or impersonal, or even whether he/she/it still exists.

    That is the point of my post. Whenever someone asks an ID theorist any question about the designer, the question is unanswerable by ID theory qua ID theory. This is not to say that many ID theorists don’t have personal views about that subject. Obviously, they do. But those views are not part of the theory.

    Does this answer your question or am I misunderstanding you?

  21. 21
    Frost122585 says:

    I agree with everything you said. My position is that ID makes claims about reality. The theory as I understand it is compatible with a universe that is infinite or ever regressing. This is simply a position of logic and one that I have pointed out can not be ruled out. While the theory says nothing about the designer except that it is of an intelligent agency, the theory is compatible with an infinite regressive universe just as it is with a God or alien intelligence or a natural intelligence or especially a God that IS finite that has no designer. This is because such a God could exist partly outside of the physical nature of the universe and therefore is not subject to the universal regress by our methods based on inter-universal observed intelligence.

    My point is a political and philosophical one. Fist philosophically I say ID is compatible with the infinite regress argument or that the argument does nothing to restrict redefine or disprove ID.

    My political point was as an ID advocate when someone asks me who designed the designer I say intelligence. If they then ask the question again I say what do you think designed the designer? Then they say they dont know and I say well at least I have a theory. If they say they think that there is no designer I say then we have nothing incommon to discuss on this point.

    I agree with the site this this argument gets old no boubt. But Im new had had no idea about the policy becuase I couldn’t find it.

    I welcome the WDTD arhument by darwinian evolutionists because we have at least one possible answer for it which is intelligence and they have no answer at all. Therefore WDTD is a winning as well as a whining issue for ID.

    Sorry BarryA for being repetitive and thanks for entertaining my perspective.

  22. 22
    kairosfocus says:

    H’mm:

    Gentlefolks, the discussion here triggered my mind, and so over at the core issue thread, I responded by raising some of the implications and underlying issues at post no 40.

    Thought you’d like to know, Frost. (Very impressed with your work.)

    BarryA, I think Frost is right that the WDTD argument becomes very interesting when we shift from sleight-of-mind distractive debate tactics to the ground of comparative difficulties and demand that evo mat advocates put their cards on “the inference to best explanation across comparative difficulties table” too.

    When that is done, as the post on the other thread raises, it soon emerges that they have not at all escaped the force of the WDTD argument. For, they have not accounted for the nature of the “dirt” in the wider cosmos as a whole, and the sub-cosmos making lottery machine that allegedly gave rise to our life-habitable cosmos by chance variations in the required physics.

    Quoting myself — ouch on the humility issue! — we can see that . . .

    [t]his is the “get your own dirt” issue — no “dirt” no material basis for the observed complexity of material bodies. So is the underlying reality a wider cosmos as a whole with a mechanism that throws up random variations in physical laws that in turn throws up sub-cosmi; at least one of which “just” happens to be life-friendly?

    If so, whence the “machinery” for the supercosmic lottery — is that not an instance of extreme organised complexity, capable of extremely fine adjustment? [That is, the materialist “explanation” has NOT escaped the issue of organised complexity! It has just managed to rhetorically distract attention by pointing elsewhere, and ducking the philosophical duty of comparative difficulties across competing explanations.]

    Or, do we have an intelligent ultimate being who [possibly exhibits the observed pattern of intelligent beings — of being complex unities, i.e at once complex AND simple (being individuals with a self)] created the cosmos in which we live [and if he wanted to he can use multiverses too . . .]?

    So, now, what best makes coherent and elegantly simple sense of the facts? Why?

    GEM of TKI

  23. 23
    Bob O'H says:

    The ONLY conclusion that can be drawn about the intelligent agent is that it/he/she is capable of designing immensely complex biological systems. Notice that it says nothing about the nature or purpose of the intelligent agent.

    I would disagree with your conclusion, Barry, I think the conclusion does say something about the nature and purpose of the intelligent agent. Obviously, as you state in the previous sentence, one can conclude that the intelligent agent was capable of designing complex systems, which puts some limits on the possibilities (it rules out most politicians, for example :-)). But we can also conclude that the intelligent designer wanted to create complex systems. i.e. there was a motive too (something that can be explored further). More importantly, I think it places limits on the designer. Very few systems have been shown to be IC or have CSI, and the impression I have is that it is conceded that many biochemical systems did evolve through natural selection. In that case, I think one can conclude that the designer wanted to create complex systems with CSI, rather than ones that didn’t have it.

    Alternatively, one might want to argue that the designer also designed systems that don’t exhibit CSI, in which case one has a designer who’s designs can’t always be detected. At this point, there’s really no material difference between this and claiming omnipotence in the designer.

    I guess my underlying problems is that as far a as I can see, the only way of avoiding a theory of intelligent design that accepts Last Thursdayism is to put limits on the designer, i.e. to start making claims about what the designer can and cannot (or did and did not) do. I would like to see these claims being made explicit, and dealt with. My feeling is that if ID is to be a science, it has to tackle these problems head on.

    Bob

  24. 24
    kairosfocus says:

    Bob:

    Interesting points.

    I suspect though that BarryA was getting at the characteristic issues and concerns of science qua science.

    Scientific findings do give rise to further questions, but for the moment these are worldview level questions.

    For the future, perhaps someone may find a way top make these questions subject to the mechanisms of science, at least in part. That would be a very interesting development — especially if we can come up with reliable empirically anchored ways to characterise the identity, nature and intent of designers from empirical traces. [Maybe the folks over at Langley have been working on it, but that we are not likely to know about for the better part of 50 years . . . like Enigma and Ultra.]

    Already, too, just the possibility that there are systems that empirically exhibit CSI, IC or OC [and IMHCO there are evidently a lot more than you seem to accept] has led to very interesting results and a significant impact on what we see as possible or actual in our world.

    GEM of TKI

  25. 25
    JGuy says:

    getawitness:

    BarryA, I assume that your hypothetical scenario wipes out not only all non-Ventner created life but all evidence that non-Ventner created life ever existed. You’d have to wipe out all evidence of the designer species (that is, Ventner and his type). They’d have to leave no trace whatsoever.

    That’s funny.. because it reveals that you are assuming that those two aliens would identify the lab equipment as intelligently designed equipment. What is your reasoning for such thinking?

  26. 26
    getawitness says:

    Actually, I was thinking that the aliens would have left the lab and started to transform the environment, and that the lab also would have been destroyed. The lab equipment, if left, would be evidence of a designer. An alien species capable of reaching earth would be able to piece together how the design happened. Again, design and designer implicated. Would they instead look at the microbes and say “these are too complicated to have evolved on their own”?

    Maybe it would be better to assume a longer time-scale. The Ventner-designed microbes leave the lab, and everything else gets destroyed: all evidence and traces gone. 3 billion years pass. Some of the descendants of the Ventner-described microbes evolve consciousness, and some of them come to think they’re designed. It would be useful, at that point, to have something about the designer there. Say, a strand of highly conserved DNA that said (c) 2010 Ventner Labs. There was an episode of Star Trek: the Next Generation that developed a panspermia story like that.

    BarryA, I suppose I’m supposed to deal with the main point by sitting back, scratching my head, and saying “You’re right. Profound analogy, man.” Well, not while I’m sober.

  27. 27
    JGuy says:

    getawitness:

    The lab equipment, if left, would be evidence of a designer.

    How do you knowit would be evidence of design? What is your reasoning?!

    I think BarryA’s point is valiud. He is proposing a hypthetical scenario that must be possible in a materialist paradigm! That would reveal that the alien that proposed an intelligent designer was CORRECT. And his analogy shows that a bias against intelligent design has this weakness – ie. to not find the real truth and promote BAD (misleading) form of scientific inquiry & practice.

  28. 28
    getawitness says:

    JGuy, I said the lab evidence is evidence of a designer, not of design. But I’m assuming a kind of continuity: that is, that the leftover lab equipment resembles the technology of the alien species enough to be recognizable. Nevertheless, the remaining lab equipment would be evidence of the mechanism, of how the designer worked. The ID argument not only doesn’t look for mechanism, it pretty much excludes such a search on principle.

  29. 29
    getawitness says:

    Correction: lab equipment.

  30. 30
    BarryA says:

    getawitness writes, “Well, not while I’m sober.”

    In the words of Bluto from Animal House, “My advise to you. Drink heavily.” 😉

  31. 31
    Patrick says:

    getawitness,

    In other words, like PZ Meyers you’re saying that in order for design detection to be valid the designer(s) must be detected first. This is a step-by-step process…essentially you’re demanding that scientists jump straight to the end in order to validate the first step.

    The first step, which is currently the focus of ID since it has developed formalized design detection methods, is determining design in a standalone object. The second step is to develop ID/design-compatible hypotheses that incorporate specific mechanisms for design. This is obviously a work in progress. As research continues hypotheses will be falsified by the evidence until one or several remain. Then, assuming we have a good grasp of the mechanism or other relevant evidence, we would use other methods for designER detection.

    BTW, your counter-scenario ignores some aspects.

    1. You assume that this lab survives intact for however many years.
    2. Where is the alien-to-human Rosetta stone that allows the aliens to comprehend our “leftovers”?
    3. There is a limited lifespan for the data integrity of hard drives, CD/DVDs, flash drives, tapes, etc. They’re very unlikely to find video or audio in a digital storage medium. Unless the aliens happen to come very soon after the extinction event they’ll only have limited physical objects as evidence, like photos and printouts, which themselves are subject to decay.
    4. “a strand of highly conserved DNA that said (c) 2010 Ventner Labs.” Obviously there would be a standard for transcribing such legal information, but it would not be directly in English. How would the aliens know how to translate this section of DNA into English, never mind their own language? Alien 2 of 2 would likely pass this section off as “junk DNA”.

    Bob,

    Very few systems have been shown to be IC or have CSI, and the impression I have is that it is conceded that many biochemical systems did evolve through natural selection.

    This is the second time recently I’ve seen someone say something like this. Why is it assumed that because there is a focus on relatively simple highlights that that is all there is? Also, “conceded”? ID proponents have been saying since the 1990’s that Darwinian mechanisms should be capable of producing minor changes to pre-existing information. So how are any of these examples of things stated to be expected within the limits of Darwinian mechanisms a concession?

  32. 32
    BarryA says:

    OK getawitness, I’ve edited the post to deal with your comments. Can’t wait to see how you’ll avoid the thrust of the argument now.

  33. 33
    D.A.Newton says:

    Isn’t is amazing and amusing that Q in #2 depends upon the existence of artifacts, the complexity of which is trivial with respect to Venter’s Critters, to confirm the design inference for said critters. Its like using BBs to confirm the existence of the boy who used a BB gun. Amazing!

  34. 34
    getawitness says:

    BarryA, I like the edit, which brings the analogy much closer to the ID argument. Of course, some differences remain. For example, the VCs apparently remain VCs over a million years; they haven’t evolved into different species. 🙂 VCs are and remain the “original” species, and so the question becomes one of abiogenesis (which is certainly where I’m most sympathetic to the ID idea).

    Apart from abiogenesis, we don’t face that situation. We have a lot of evidence of (for example) the relatedness of all things. Features such as mitochondrial DNA suggest convincing (to me) evidence for life having been “originally breathed into a few forms or into one,” to use Darwin’s language. The question we face is how to understand the history of that (now more or less obvious) relatedness. That’s where the scientifically interesting work happens. And my view is that there is no reason to understand that relatedness in interventionist terms, because that would require periodically suspending the normal operations of nature.

    BarryA, I want to be clear: I don’t oppose the idea of design, or arguments for it. I’m just not convinced that it belongs in science.

  35. 35
    StephenB says:

    —–“getawitness,” I said the lab evidence is evidence of a designer, not of design.”

    That’s like saying the portrait shows evidence of Leonardo Da Vinci, but not of the “Mona Lisa.”

  36. 36
    Borne says:

    D.A.Newton: “Isn’t is amazing and amusing …”

    Indeed. Darwinists are the pros of circular reasoning. Their theory is built on it.

  37. 37
    getawitness says:

    Patrick [33], I’m not sure whether my argument is “like PZ Myers” or what it would mean if it were. Unlike Myers, I’m not an atheist.

    The first step, which is currently the focus of ID since it has developed formalized design detection methods, is determining design in a standalone object.

    It would be nice if those methods were developed to the point where they were more widely accepted by the rest of the scientific community. For example, I wonder if they could be used in more pragmatic fields where determining design actually has immediate consequences, such as archeology. If design detection methods started to become widely cited as such in some area of science, they would be taken more seriously. But they haven’t proven their utility, or at least not as far I can tell. Selling the design argument on the grand scale should follow some way of making it useful and attractive on the small scale. Either that’s not been tried or it’s not been successful.

    As for what the “counter-scenario” ignores, it’s true that historical sciences are hard to perform and that evidence decays. This is why precisely why creationist claptrap about the alleged lack of transitional fossils and forms (both of which of course do exist) should be ignored. On the other hand, we do have a lot of history and a lot of physical records.

    The stuff about the Rosetta stone is interesting. It’s one reason why I find the SETI project problematic. Dr. Dembski has argued that SETI methods for detecting aliens are analogous to ID methods for detecting design. I think there are some problems with the analogy, but to the extent it works, it shows the poverty of SETI and not the robustness of ID. As Wittgenstein wrote, “If a lion could speak, we would not understand it.”

  38. 38
    Borne says:

    getawitness:

    “This is why precisely why creationist claptrap about the alleged lack of transitional fossils and forms (both of which of course do exist) should be ignored.”

    Where are they? Where are the traces of the millions of intermediates we’ve been hearing about for over 140 years?

    We have yet to see anything other than speculative claims over some creature being an intermediate to some other.

    We’ve been shown quaint, fabricated diagrams neatly lining up similar creatures, trees of life etc., but we’ve never seen a single piece of indisputable evidence for an intermediate of the kind required to demonstrate gradualism.

    Pointing to fossil remains that appear to share, morphologically speaking, traits of one creature and traits of another creature is hardly evidence.
    Indeed, it’s like saying, “hey, this duck looks like a goose therefore ducks must have come from geese.” Get the point?
    It’s called forcing the data into the theory.

    So what do you do? Invent just-so narratives that go leaps and bounds through the 1000’s of RM+NS steps required without stopping to examen the real complexity involved? That’s Darwinisms way.

    Rather look for a better explanation based on the evidence. You don’t try to shove the data into any theory but follow the data wherever it leads most logically. ID is doing this.

    We know what designed mechanisms look like through experience and abductive reasoning methods – the same used by forensics anthropologists every day to find cause of death, identity, origins etc. of cadavers.

    But the problem is far worse. There ought to be millions upon millions of clear intermediates. There are not.

    The only evidence acceptable would be the finding of 100,000’s of clearly graduating species all lined up nicely together, and that for a very large part of the 1.7 million known species recorded to date (+- 13000 more each added year). Nothing even remotely close exists. There are only +- 250,000 fossils in existence to date. All fully formed and well adapted. A very far cry from the humongous numbers Darwin expected to find.

    Those fossil species touted as transitionals are always assumed to be such, based on morphological similarity alone. Today we know that morphological likeness does not always coincide with genetic likeness thus bringing the whole “looks like this therefore comes from this” assumption to confusion.
    Q: How does Darwinism explain that? A: More speculation.

    We supposedly share share 50% DNA with bananas. What does that prove?

    Here’s what Darwin said: “The number of intermediate and transitional links between all living and extinct species must have been inconceivably great if this theory be true.”

    Do the math.

    BTW, every time you read these posts you make an unconscious design inference.

  39. 39
    StephenB says:

    Kairosfocus: at #14 (commenting about materialist strategy) … “they accept that there is a growing challenge, though of course they wish to frame it to their advantage.”

    Yes! WHOEVER FRAMES THE ISSUE, WINS THE DEBATE. By evoking the “supernatural” the game is radically altered.—— the focus shifts from “inferences about effects” to “speculations about causes.” Thus the modest goal of discerning a design is transformed into the presumptuous task of identifying an inscrutable cause— —–and not a single shot has been fired; not a single argument has been made.

    Further, the stage is set to 1) ask “who designed the designer” and 2) pretend that we were the ones who invited the inquiry. In confronting our adversaries, we should spend less time answering their irrational objections and more time asking them to clarify the murky and misapplied definitions that gave rise to those irrational questions.

  40. 40
    bornagain77 says:

    getawitness stated:

    “This is why precisely why creationist claptrap about the alleged lack of transitional fossils and forms (both of which of course do exist) should be ignored.”

    And what do evolutionists themselves say about the fossil record?

    “The evidence we find in the geological record is not nearly as compatible with Darwinian natural selection as we would like it to be …. We now have a quarter of a million fossil species but the situation hasn’t changed much. The record of evolution is surprisingly jerky and, ironically, we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transition than in Darwin’s time … so Darwin’s problem has not been alleviated”. Evolutionist David Raup, Curator of Geology at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History

    “… Every paleontologist knows that most new species, genera, and families, and that nearly all categories above the level of family appear in the record suddenly and are not led up to by known, gradual, completely continuous transitional sequences.” George Gaylord Simpson (evolutionist), The Major Features of Evolution, New York, Columbia University Press, 1953 p. 360.

    “No wonder paleontologists shied away from evolution for so long. It seems never to happen. Assiduous collecting up cliff faces yields zigzags, minor oscillations, and the very occasional slight accumulation of change over millions of years, at a rate too slow to really account for all the prodigious change that has occurred in evolutionary history. When we do see the introduction of evolutionary novelty, it usually shows up with a bang, and often with no firm evidence that the organisms did not evolve elsewhere! Evolution cannot forever be going on someplace else. Yet that’s how the fossil record has struck many a forlorn paleontologist looking to learn something about evolution.” – Niles Eldredge , “Reinventing Darwin: The Great Evolutionary Debate,” 1996, p.95

    “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology.” Stephen Jay Gould, Professor of Geology and Paleontology at Harvard University and the leading spokesman for evolutionary theory in America prior to his recent .

    “As Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould pointed out almost three decades ago, the general pattern for the evolution of diversity (as shown by the fossil record) follows precisely this pattern: a burst of rapid diversity following a major ecological change, and then a gradual decline in diversity over relatively long periods of time.” Allen MacNeill PhD.; (Evolutionist) Teaches introductory biology and evolution at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

    The following article is unique in that is shows the principle of Genetic Entropy being obeyed in the Trilobites, over the 250 million year fossil history of their life on earth (Note: the Trilobites appeared suddenly at the very beginning of the Cambrian explosion with no evidence of transmutation from the “simple” creatures that preceded them).
    http://www.terradaily.com/repo.....s_999.html

    As you can see, the fossil record is overwhelmingly characterized by suddenness and stability, as well as conforming precisely to the principle of Genetic Entropy (loss of information) when closely scrutinized for loss of diversity over long periods of time. For creatures who have lived in the ocean this fact is extremely clear, because their bones are fossilized in the ocean sediments very quickly. Unfortunately for land creatures, the fossil record is much harder to properly discern due to the rapid disintegration of animals who die on land. The large variety of hominid (man or ape-like) fossils that we do have piece-meal records of are characterized by overlapping histories of “distinctively different and stable” hominid species during the entire time, and the entire geography, each hominid species is found in the fossil record. There is never a transition between ANY of the different hominid species no matter where, or in what era, the hominid fossils are found.

    “If you brought in a smart scientist from another discipline and showed him the meagre evidence we’ve got he’d surely say, “forget it; there isn’t enough to go on.” David Pilbeam, Harvard University paleoanthropologist: from Richard E. Leakey’s book, The Making of Mankind, Sphere Books Limited, Barcelona, 1982, p. 43.

    “If pressed about man’s ancestry, I would have to unequivocally say that all we have is a huge question mark. To date, there has been nothing found to truthfully purport as a transitional species to man, including Lucy, since 1470 was as old and probably older. If further pressed, I would have to state that there is more evidence to suggest an abrupt arrival of man rather than a gradual process of evolving”. Richard Leakey, world’s foremost paleo-anthropologist, in a PBS documentary, 1990.

    Note: The hominid fossil record has now become even more confused, of any imaginary transitional scenario, since Dr. Leakey made this frank, but honest, admission.

    Israeli Researchers: ‘Lucy’ is not direct ancestor of humans Apr 16, 2007
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/S.....6152801536

    New Fossil Ape May Shake Human Family Tree August 22, 2007 (note; the word “Shake” was originally “Shatter” until national geographic realized it made Darwinism look bad)
    http://news.nationalgeographic.....l-ape.html

    http://www.darwinismrefuted.com/origin_of_man.html

    So getawitness do you still think it is just a great creationists conspiracy to fool a gullible public with their claptrap?

  41. 41
    getawitness says:

    Borne [40], I take it you deny common descent. If you read Patrick’s post, you’ll see that it gives plenty of reasons for the relative scarcity of fossils generally. There are other reasons as well: the presence of oceans over 2/3 of the world’s surface, for example. That we have as many fossils as we do is pretty heartening, IMO.

    But apparently no evidence will convince you:

    Those fossil species touted as transitionals are always assumed to be such, based on morphological similarity alone. Today we know that morphological likeness does not always coincide with genetic likeness thus bringing the whole “looks like this therefore comes from this” assumption to confusion.

    In other words, if a science uses assumptions (and all science does), you can freely reject it.

    Second, you’re wrong that forms are determined to be ancestral by morphological similarity alone. Morphological similarity is used in conjunction with a lot of other sciences, such as dating (do you reject that too?), population genetics, etc. Genetic analysis has further confirmed some relationships and modified others (for example, with regard to Neandertals).

  42. 42
    bornagain77 says:

    Hmmm,
    Getawitness, and what did the genetic anaysis tell us exactly?

    “The new molecular based phylogeny has several important implications. Foremost among them is the disappearance of “intermediate” taxa between sponges, cnidarians, ctenophores, and the last common ancestor of bilaterians or “Urbilateria.”…A corollary is that we have a major gap in the stem leading to the Urbilataria. We have lost the hope, so common in older evolutionary reasoning, of reconstructing the morphology of the “coelomate ancestor” through a scenario involving successive grades of increasing complexity based on the anatomy of extant “primitive” lineages.” From an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, in 2000

    Shoot Getawitness, the Genetic Data is so jumbled and antagonistic to Darwinism, that Koonin has invoked the Biological Big Bang to explain the genetic (molecular) differences.

    The Biological Big Bang for the major transitions in evolution

    Eugene V Koonin

    Abstract
    Background

    Major transitions in biological evolution show the same pattern of sudden emergence of diverse forms at a new level of complexity. The relationships between major groups within an emergent new class of biological entities are hard to decipher and do not seem to fit the tree pattern that, following Darwin’s original proposal, remains the nt description of biological evolution. The cases in point include the origin of complex RNA molecules and protein folds; major groups of viruses; archaea and bacteria, and the principal lineages within each of these prokaryotic domains; eukaryotic supergroups; and animal phyla. In each of these pivotal nexuses in life’s history, the principal “types” seem to appear rapidly and fully equipped with the signature features of the respective new level of biological organization. No intermediate “grades” or intermediate forms between different types are detectable. Usually, this pattern is attributed to cladogenesis compressed in time, combined with the inevitable erosion of the phylogenetic signal.

    I propose that most or all major evolutionary transitions that show the % e” pattern of emergence of new types of biological entities correspond to a boundary between two qualitatively distinct evolutionary phases.”

    and in summarizing He states:

    In modern cosmology, there is a striking analogy to this pattern, namely, the transition from the rapid, exponential expansion (inflation) of the multiverse to the much slower expansion occurring during the nucleation of an individual universe (see below). This transition corresponds to the Big Bang of the traditional of an expanding universe. Hence I denote the transitional events in the evolution of life the Biological Big Bangs (BBBs) and refer to the rapid stages of evolution as the inflationary phase. I elaborate on this analogy in the next section.

    As far as Neanderthal data, The genetic study on them proved that they were to far out of range for us to be directly related to them.

    So how does the genetic data support evolution again getawitness?

  43. 43
    Q says:

    D.A. Newton (#35) said “Isn’t is amazing and amusing that Q in #2 depends upon the existence of artifacts,…”

    Yes, maybe amusing. The point of mentioning the artifacts was to show that BarryA’s claim of “1 of 2 would have no way to know who Craig Venter was, … “ is insufficiently developed. His analogy is that because the creator of this life is no longer observable, we cannot learn about the creator of this life. But, his analogy fails because as he constructed the model, artifact will be left. At the same time, he did not show that this is the same as the creation of our life. In his model, the aliens could dig through 2000 years of evidence and quite likely find their answer. That may be totally contrary to our search of our origins – if we truly were created.

    However, his analogy does hold for a different investigation. The aliens could still examine the remains of earth, as per BarryA’s scenario. They could find books and CD’s describing the process Venter used. They may even find references to Venter’s name. Then, they could investigate Venter. Proceeding with this, they could dig deeper in the soil, and eventually gather enough evidence to suggest that either Venter’s origins were best explained as the actions of an intelligent creation, or they were best explained as the result of a non-intelligent creating process.

    Which leads to what I gleaned from BarryA’s comment – the question of “who” is the creator is also not adequate. If we agree that there is a before and after – the thing did not exist before and does now – then the “creation” did occur, somehow. Unless we know properties of that creation, the most we or the Aliens can clearly say is that a creation process occurred. The “who” may simply be the process, and may not even have the properties of a “who”. The Christian model of a “holy ghost” – with a presence in all of space and all powerful, could be the source of the creation, but be without a “who”-ness.

    I suggest that BarryA’s model be reworked, because his claims of “Alien 1” do not result from the model he presented. As a result, his assertions about “Alien 2” also cannot be arrived at from the model presented. [b]He may need to show that any creation event that resulted in us left no artifact – otherwise he is leaving open the analogous investigation that the Aliens could perform.[/b]

    BTW: Sometimes a BB is all that is needed for evidence – similar to the BB of finding a rabbit skeleton in Cambrian strata, should it ever happen.

  44. 44
    getawitness says:

    BA77, in [44] above you seem to be arguing against common descent. If common descent is untrue, then the genetic resemblances among different species are historically meaningless. (How convenient, though, that all life is based on DNA!) Anyway, if you’re arguing against common descent then you’re arguing for a version of special creation rather than intelligent design as such. I think ID should accept common descent and stick to what it might have something to say about, namely, how did the changes happen?

  45. 45
    Q says:

    getawitness, in 46, said “I think ID should accept common descent and stick to what it might have something to say about, namely, how did the changes happen?”

    But isn’t it already a framework that could allow for common descent? The support for ID is IC – and of specific relevance is the claim that IC can provide a better explanation of events than common descent. Thus, common descent is a method implicitely recognized by ID should IC NOT* be the best explanation.

    BarryA even includes this as an option in his statement “1 of 2 therefore concludes that it is very unlikely that they were caused by chance and necessity”. It’s just that according to ID, common descent is extremely unlikely.

    But, in this particular example, BarryA did not provide a scenario in which ID DOES* provide the best answer. It is still open as to whether Venter’s finished life forms will be IC – they may be functional as partial units, meaning that they may be reducible.

    *Sorry – haven’t figured italics yet.

  46. 46
    bornagain77 says:

    Getawitness:

    If common descent is untrue, then the genetic resemblances among different species are historically meaningless.

    BINGO,

    By golly you are a double winner tonight.

    The impossibility of information (CSI) generation by natural means precludes any increases in information for a 100% poly-functional genome.
    The similarities of the genomes of monkeys and man, though while interesting, is impossible to accomplish from first principles of science for a poly-functional thus poly-constrained genome (Sanford Genetic Entropy page 141).

    The best way to view the differences and similarities of the genome is to wipe the blackboard totally clean of any “radical” evolutionary biases that ignore Genetic Entropy and to look at the Genome from a fresh engineering perspective. This approach is the proper approach and will finally bring much of the genome into man’s understanding, if indeed, the complexity of the genome can even be tamed by man at all, which it very well could be out of the grasp of man to do.

    The Boston Globe
    DNA unraveled

    “The science of life is undergoing changes so jolting that even its top researchers are feeling something akin to shell-shock. Just four years after scientists finished mapping the human genome – the full sequence of 3 billion DNA “letters” folded within every cell – they find themselves confronted by a biological jungle deeper, denser, and more difficult to penetrate than anyone imagined.”

    http://www.boston.com/news/glo.....unraveled/

  47. 47
    getawitness says:

    BA77, thanks. I still hold with common descent, and think ID should as well. There’s clearly a development of life forms through history. Unless the designer was tinkering with different forms until hitting on the present organization, I don’t see what’s the point of all that history without relatedness. And as I said, mitochondrial DNA strongly suggests that we’re all related as far back as the origin of the cell nucleus. I’m suggesting that the best ID explanation within the framework of common descent is that existing species were intelligently manipulated periodically throughout earth history. And I’ve suggested a possible ID research program which would, through quantifying CSI, be able to name those moments of intervention. All this assumes the premise that increasing CSI requires intelligence — which I’m not convinced of, by the way, and measuring CSI would be one way to get there.

    Speaking of research programs, why don’t the ID leaders create ID-friendly peer-reviewed research journals? I understand there used to be some, but they all went belly-up.

  48. 48
    es58 says:

    So, if these aliens landed on Mars, and found our rover, with no other artifacts on the planet, and a1 said:
    design, does everyone agree that is inference to a designer is valid?
    if not,why not?

  49. 49
    es58 says:

    also, if they found microbes in the soil, like we’ve been looking for, might they assume that the life there designed the “artifact”? (which of course is wrong)

  50. 50
    Frost122585 says:

    es58,

    If they found our rover it would obviously be design if you use the method of Dembski’s explanatory filter. Or by the rules of theory of ID- the design inference- this would be an obvious fact.

    Now as for the microbes. If the microbes displayed SC then they would be excellent candidates for design. Especially if the aliens thought that the rover displayed the level of scientific advancement necessary for its designer to be able to design microbes.

    Here on earth there is no difference accept we don’t even need an alien rover to see that certain aspects of the cell require intelligent causation.

    ID studies the effects of intelligence and has concluded that there are clear signs of it in nature (i.e. the digital code in DNA) but it does not say who the designer is. The search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) is a government program that looks for radio signals coming in from space. If there is a highly improbable engagement of pulses that we reason could not be just natural we can infer that there is ET out there and is sending out a message or something of the sort. But at the same time we know NOTHING about the nature of this alien intelligence accept that it is sending radio pulses out in space and that we can pick them up.

    Your microbes bring up another great point which is if the aliens used the EF and concluded design of the microbes they would then likely or possibly posit that the designers of the rover were the designs of the microbes. This would as you pointed out be incorrect. This points out that ID does not tell us who the designer is it only tells us if something is designed. So we can infer the design of an ancient artifact reliably but some times we attribute that to a certain culture and later discover it was designed by a different culture we knew nothing about.

  51. 51
    jerry says:

    getawitness,

    Where is the information on mitochondria DNA that indicates there is unique common descent? This is the first I heard of it and would be interested in reading about it.

  52. 52
    bornagain77 says:

    Getawitness you stated:

    “And I’ve suggested a possible ID research program which would, through quantifying CSI, be able to name those moments of intervention.”

    What, Am I speaking Chinese?

    The principle of Genetic Entropy allows us to trace the CSI to point of implementation.

    A Cambrian Peak in Morphological Variation Within Trilobite Species
    Mark Webster

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/.....7/5837/499

    This study is excellent! It is a study of trilobites over their 270 million year history in the fossil record since their “abrupt” appearance at the beginning on the Cambrian explosion. Of special note: It studies within species variation instead of just among species variation. Within species morphological variation, over deep time, for the entire spectrum of trilobites, gives us a peak at CSI “degeneration” within trilobites over their 270 million year history.

    It follows Genetic Entropy to a tee buddy!

    “Early and Middle Cambrian trilobite species, especially, exhibited greater morphological variations than their descendants. This high within-species variation provided more raw material upon which natural selection could operate, Webster says, potentially accounting for the high rates of evolution in Cambrian trilobites. Such findings may have implications for our understanding of the nature of evolutionary processes, he says.

    Why the early trilobites were so morphologically diverse is a whole different mystery.”

    Guess what getawitness we know the answer to the mystery! CSI degeneration aka Genetic Entropy!

    And it gets even better if you go into the actual studies themselves you find all trilobites that branch off the “parent” trilobites species quickly lose variability that is found in the parent stock.

    I am extremely confident that this study, when it is fully fleshed out in all its detail, will fit the ID/Genetic Entropy perfectly.

    http://www.geotimes.org/july07.....72707.html

  53. 53
    getawitness says:

    BA77,

    Your version of ID apparently hinges on genetic entropy and rejects common descent. I’ve not read Sanford yet (I’ve ordered it through interlibrary loan, but it’s a very small press and not widely available in libraries). But genetic entropy is not a scientific principle — yet. Maybe it will be. Also, when you write,

    The principle of Genetic Entropy allows us to trace the CSI to point of implementation,

    I don’t know what you’re talking about. First, how would you decide when the points of implementation happened? You need a measure. You can’t simply point at new species and say “there,” becuase if you don’t accept common descent ID is just a version of periodic special creation. Second, something seems circular to me until it’s demonstrated conclusively that CSI is (a) coherent, quantifiable, and scientifically relevant, and (b) incapable of being produced through natural processes.

  54. 54
    getawitness says:

    Jerry, try “Mitochondrial evolution” by Gray, Burger, and Lang, Science 283. 5407, 1476-1481. Briefly, there is strong evidence that mitochondria are related to the origin of eukaryotic cells, which would mean that we’re all descended from bacteria.

    There are of course competing theories about how mitochondria evolved, with Lynn Margulis on one side and T. Cavalier-Smith on another. See Cavalier-Smith, “The phagotrophic origin of eukaryotes and phylogenetic classification of Protozoa,” International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (2002), 52, 297–354.

  55. 55
    jerry says:

    getawitness

    you said

    “incapable of being produced through natural processes.”

    Why didn’t you say

    “Until CSI is capable of being produced through natural processes. we should not accept that it can.”

    To me that would be a more logical statement. Why assume something can happen naturally when there is no evidence that there is any way it can. It just shows how Darwinists continually beg the question by assuming the assumptions they need no matter how illogical these assumptions may be. But without them they would have to fold their tent.

    CSI is coherent, quantifiable and scientifically relevant. You really should read more. An example is English writing on which this blog depends. All our posts are meaningless unless parsed through an English dictionary and English grammar to have a non arbitrary relationship with thoughts in our head. Similarly DNA is parsed through transcription and translation by mRNA, tRNA and Ribosomes to produce very functional proteins. There is probably another parsing process we are completely unaware of that relates the regulatory DNA to actions we are also not aware of but which are necessary for gestation and the funcitoning of the organism.

    Stop nit picking and try to learn.

  56. 56
    Q says:

    es58 (from 50), yes if the rover were found,there would be clues that design occured. But that would still say little about the tenets of intelligent design. Specifically, it would say nearly nothing about irreducible complexity, and would say nothing about whether IC was the best explanation of the origin of that rover.

  57. 57
    jerry says:

    getawitness,

    Thank you for the cite by Gray, Burger and Lang.

    We are well aware of Margulis’3 symbiosis hypothesis.

    I have downloaded the article and will see how much I can understand.

  58. 58
    getawitness says:

    jerry, “I need to read more?” I’ve read a lot of ID, including several books* by Dr. Dembski, both of Dr. Behe’s books, Wells’s Icons, and four or five works by Phillip Johnson. In all that reading, I have never encountered a rigorous argument for quantifying the amount of CSI in a system: only whether it’s there or not. Hell, I don’t even know what a unit of CSI would be called. I’ve asked here for someone to point me to such an argument, and I’ve gotten BA77 going on and on about genetic entropy and you telling me I need to read more. (I should be grateful: at least I didn’t get his list of “a million things theism didn’t predict.”) Meanwhile, nobody has pointed me to that elusive demonstration of measurement.

    Of course DNA works in a very complex way and requires a number of other elements to drive development of the organism. I never said otherwise. And quantifying the information in any developed organism would be very difficult. But nobody’s quantified CSI for me here, at all. And yet it’s “quantifiable”?

    You say I should prefer the statement “Until CSI is capable of being produced through natural processes. we should not accept that it can.” But there’s no evidence of intelligent intervention beyond CSI itself. No traces, which was my original point on this thread. Why should I write a natural history in which the normal rules of natural processes are suspended and the phrase “insert intelligent event here” substitutes? Reminds me of a famous scientific cartoon: I bet you know the one.

    *ID: The Bridge . . . was my first ID book. Then I read TDI and NFL.

  59. 59
    jerry says:

    CSI is very easy to quantify. How often that is actually done or not I do not know. I have a hard time following many of Dembski’s examples but Meyers uses the example of language which is easily understandable and almost directly comparable with DNA.

    Quantifying it can be done as easily it would be to estimate the chance reproduction of an English sentence or paragraph. As soon as you get to a paragraph you run out of time in the universe since its very beginning to reproduce it by chance or law.

    There is nothing in nature that is CSI except for DNA. If CSI could arise from one of three possible methods, why prohibit the only one we know of that has been shown to produce it in other areas. No you are arbitrarily limiting the most obvious answer because you do not want to accept it. You just repeat the same tired clichés.

    If you were sincere about it then you would consider it and compare it with the other possible answers. But every thing you seem to do is like a constant obstacle course of irrelevant issues.

    Essentially CSI is complex information that specifies something independent of it self that has function or meaning. As I said language is the best example in our daily lives.

  60. 60
    getawitness says:

    Jerry, I think there’s a lot more in nature that exhibits CSI than DNA. For example, all the living organisms which have DNA inside their cells!

    I’m still stuck on figuring out the relation between CSI and Shannon information, and determining a way of measuring CSI. As I said to BA77, not all DNA is CSI: a string of DNA containing a random mutation could decrease specificity and increase information. Or you could decrease the number of letters and have the same meaning. For example, most English words have vowels. And calculations of information include the vowels. But if I eliminate the vowels, y cn stll rd my wrtng prtty wll: th mnng stys lthgh th ttl nfrmtn my b rdcd.

  61. 61
    gpuccio says:

    getawitness:

    I must confess that I don’t really understand your problem about quantifying CSI. If you have a clear understanding of what CSI is (and I think you have), then you know that a CSI unit is “any” piece of information which has the following 3 properties:

    1) It is complex (that is, its chance to come out as a random result is lower than a conventional limit, which could well be Dembski’s UPB, although I think that a less severe limit would certainly be more appropriate).

    2) It is specified, in one of the many senses we have discussed in this blog. In particular, for biological information, specification is usually of the functional type.

    3) There is no known mechanism which can explain that informatioin in terms of necessity according to known material laws.

    That clearly defines a “unit” of CSI. A unit of CSI is any piece of information, however long and complex, which exhibits the above 3 properties, and ias explained by a “single” specification.

    To be more clear, a sequence of bits corresponding to prime numbers would be a single unit of CSI, however long it is.

    In biological beings, you have billions, trillions, probably quadrillions of units of CSI. You have only to choose. You are richer than Uncle Scriooge.

    Any single functional protein, longer than a minimum (should be, if I remember well, little more than 100 AA to satisfy Dembski’UPB), is a unit of CSI. Moreover, any protein network, where many different units interact to realize a meta-function, is a further unit of CSI. Any highly functional organisation (of organs, of systems, of the neural network) is a unit of CSI. The genetic code is a unit of CSI. The transcription system is a unit of CSI. The translation system is a unit of CSI. And so on, and so on.

    Practically everything, in a cell or in a multicellular being, is CSI. If you want to measure, you have just to count the functional units which are complex enough and for which you know no reasonable explanation. The result? Practically everything.

    You seem to think that CSI should be measurable in terms of some measure unit like bits, like Shannon information. I don’t think that is correct (although I leave the answer to Dembski or to people who have the qualifications to answer in more detail). In my opinion, CSI is a “property” of some global unit of information. You can measure the complexity of a unit of information, and verify that it is specified (in other words, that its complexity is functional). Finally, you can ascertain that no known necessary mechanism exists to explain that particular functional information. At this point, your result is: this information unit is a CSI unit. And you can count it in your general results.

  62. 62
    jerry says:

    getawitness,

    As I say you only nitpick. The examples you cite add nothing to the debate but only raise an irrelevant objection. Are you trying to prove yourself clever or trying to understand?

    Don’t you see that by raising irrelevant objections you only are conceding that ID is valid. If you had any objection of substance, it would have been raised a long time ago.

    Go out into the cyberspace and see what other irrelevancies you can dig up. I can guarantee you we have probably seen them all. Maybe one of the moderators should make a list of the silly objections we get like the way to disprove NDE is to find a rabbit in the Cambrian as opposed to someone showing us how NDE ever gave rise to anything of consequence.

    Nit picking, trivialities and clichés are all we get. Occasionally we get an interesting question, but it is infrequent. Keep chugging away.

  63. 63
    kairosfocus says:

    GAW:

    Re . . .

    I’m still stuck on figuring out the relation between CSI and Shannon information, and determining a way of measuring CSI

    Why not take a look here and here [both in my always linked] for a start, then come back to us?

    I note:

    1] Shannon info can be calculated or measured fairly easily, that is in large part why it was specified.

    2] Complexity can be measured or quantified, e.g by estimating the scale of the relevant configuration space — an aspect of he foundational thought in statistical thermodynamics’ concept of phase space.

    3] Compressibility can be defined and quantified, e.g. through Kolmogorov complexity [cf Dembski’s discussion].

    4] At the same time, we can identify specification in several ways, including of course K-compressibility.

    5] In many relevant cases, it is far more reasonable to identify functionality and observe the effect of random perturbation [bearing in mind error detection and correction and the potential to saturate these if the code distance is high enough], which gives and idea of how large the island/archipelago of functionality is.

    6] A comparison of the config space and the relative isolation of functional [which is easily macro-observable or describable] states within that — especially where several information-rich components must act together — easily leads to the impication that chance + necessity only is not credibly able to access functional states that require 500 – 1,000 or more bits of information storage capacity, on the gamut of the observed cosmos.

    7] The systems of interest, for origin of life and for body-plan level biodiversity, easily exceed this limit by many orders of magnitude.

    8] Additionally, in all observed cases where the Explanatory filter rules design and we can directly observe the causal process, systems that are beyond the UPB are designed by agents. [This post is a case in point.] That is, the EF is reliable when it rules “designed.” (As I discuss in another response to you this AM, this is the case of material interest and revolutionary impact.)

    GEM of TKI

  64. 64
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Your “eliminate the vowels” example illustrates: [1] the role of redundancy, [2] the capability of smart [functionally organised and complex!] receivers to decode near-enough words.

    In the relevant cases we have to account for the ORIGIN of such codes and processing machinery, as well as the algorithms that drive them! (Has a case of spontaneous — Chance + Necessity only — origin of such ever been observed for a CSI entity? Have we ever observed agents creating such, including exploiting necessity and chance or at least doing workarounds?)

  65. 65
    bornagain77 says:

    getawitness you stated:

    Jerry, try “Mitochondrial evolution” by Gray, Burger, and Lang, Science 283. 5407, 1476-1481. Briefly, there is strong evidence that mitochondria are related to the origin of eukaryotic cells, which would mean that we’re all descended from bacteria.

    There are of course competing theories about how mitochondria evolved, with Lynn Margulis on one side and T. Cavalier-Smith on another. See Cavalier-Smith, “The phagotrophic origin of eukaryotes and phylogenetic classification of Protozoa,” International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (2002), 52, 297–354.

    Thus I looked up your “solid proof” of common descent to see what you have so much confidence in as “solid proof” for our direct ancestry to bacteria.

    Gray study:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/.....alcode=sci

    “The serial endosymbiosis theory is a favored for explaining the origin of mitochondria, a defining event in the evolution of eukaryotic cells. As usually described, this theory posits that mitochondria are the direct descendants of a bacterial endosymbiont that became established at an early stage in a nucleus-containing (but amitochondriate) host cell. Gene sequence data strongly support a monophyletic origin of the mitochondrion from a eubacterial ancestor shared with a subgroup of the alpha -Proteobacteria. However, recent studies of unicellular eukaryotes (protists), some of them little known, have provided insights that challenge the traditional serial endosymbiosis-based view of how the eukaryotic cell and its mitochondrion came to be. These data indicate that the mitochondrion arose in a common ancestor of all extant eukaryotes and raise the possibility that this organelle originated at essentially the same time as the nuclear component of the eukaryotic cell rather than in a separate, subsequent event.”

    Thus Getawitness:
    Here we have the “hard evidence” sequence similarity founding a whole lot of unsubstantiated conjecture about what must have occurred because evolution is considered true prior to investigation. (It is called a “philosophical bias” when you decide what the evidence must say prior to investigation, and is clearly the practice of very bad science Getawitness!)

    You other study that you place so much faith in for “solid proof” of common descent:

    T. Cavalier-Smith study:

    http://ijs.sgmjournals.org/cgi...../2/297.pdf

    partial of Intro:

    These radical innovations occurred in a derivative of the neomuran common ancestor, which itself had evolved immediately prior to the
    divergence of eukaryotes and archaebacteria by drastic alterations to its eubacterial ancestor, an actinobacterial posibacterium able to make sterols, by replacing murein peptidoglycan by N-linked glycoproteins and a multitude of other shared neomuran novelties. The conversion of the rigid neomuran wall into a flexible surface coat and the associated origin of phagotrophy were instrumental in the evolution of the endomembrane system, cytoskeleton,
    nuclear organization and division and ual life-cycles. Cilia evolved not by symbiogenesis but by autogenous specialization of the cytoskeleton. I argue that the ancestral eukaryote was uniciliate with a single centriole (unikont)
    and a simple centrosomal cone of microtubules, as in the aerobic amoebozoan zooflagellate Phalansterium. I infer the root of the eukaryote tree at the
    divergence between opisthokonts (animals, Choanozoa, fungi) with a single posterior cilium and all other eukaryotes, designated ‘anterokonts’ because of
    the ancestral presence of an anterior cilium. Anterokonts comprise the Amoebozoa, which may be ancestrally unikont, and a vast ancestrally biciliate clade, named ‘bikonts’. The apparently conflicting rRNA and protein trees can be reconciled with each other and this ultrastructural interpretation if longbranch
    distortions, some mechanistically explicable, are allowed for.

    What a friggin story Getawitness, and all the many conjectures are derived because of sequence similarities and from what I can tell only one morphological similarity, with absolutely no lab work proving that these transformations are even possible in the first place! (you do remember the fact that all mutation studies done so far don’t offer any realistic hope for all these conjectures of his don’t you getawitness?)

    This is quite the tale. From what I can see the only really hard science in the whole paper is the sequence similarities he alludes to, before he goes off on his fantastic tangent about how evolution may have occurred.

    Methinks your hard science is wanting something fierce!

    Or is that, “Methinks I see/smell a weasel”

    If I wanted fanciful conjectures, based on what is now known about genetic sequence similarities, I much rather prefer Eugene Koonin’s Biological Big Bang Mo^del, since it is #1. More recent and accurate to the sequence similarity data we now have, and #2. More sober, and realistic, in its analysis of the tremendous problems presented by the radical changes implemented, in, as far as we can tell, an instant, by the fossil record itself.

    http://www.biology-direct.com/content/2/1/21

    The Biological Big Bang for the major transitions in evolution
    Eugene V Koonin

    Getawitness I thought you may actually have something when I saw you quote sources,,,But alas, it was just bedtime stories for the Darwinists’ children.

  66. 66
    es58 says:

    Q

    you wrote:

    …yes if the rover were found,there would be clues that design occured. But that would still say little about the tenets of intelligent design. Specifically, it would say nearly nothing about irreducible complexity, and would say nothing about whether IC was the best explanation of the origin of that rover.

    what part of the following would not be applicable, and what other elements would
    be necessary to point to design, for either an IDist, or any other science perspective:

    the rover:

    -) is composed of multiple parts

    -) these parts are arranged in a very specific way that gives the *appearance* of function

    -) if 1 or a few of these parts were removed or rearranged, the function would significantly
    degrade or be lost entirely

    -) there is a vast number of altnerataive ways that those same components could
    be arranged that would provide no function whatsoever

    and, combine with this, to a person who is well informed with regard to
    the state of the art of natural science, the realization that:

    -) the probability of these parts being arranged in this manner through natural forces
    is vanishingly small

    again, what is missing (I am not shooting for IC, but SC here)

  67. 67
    Patrick says:

    GAW:

    How do you mean quantifying? One quantifier is that CSI contains a minimum of 500 informational bits. Is that what you meant by quantifying?

    Or are you asking how to calculate the informational bits? For calculating the informational bits using 8-bit single-byte coded graphic characters, here is an example: “ME THINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL” The informational content of the individual items of the set is 16, 48, 16, 16, 32, 8, 48 plus 8 bits for each space. So aequeosalinocalcalinoceraceoaluminosocupreovitriolic would be 416 informational bits. The specification is that it is an English word with a specific function. That specific function does not have any intermediates that maintain the same function, so it is also IC. Here we have a situation where indirect intermediates are well below 500 informational bits and thus there is nothing to select for that will help much in reaching the goal. Thus this canyon must be bridged in one giant leap of recombination of various factors, making it difficult for Darwinian mechanisms.

    For biology, Dembski is using the same methods as Haldane I would assume:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-153125

    In order to determine whether or not there exists sufficient chance for any given sequence to occur it’s helpful to know the maximum size of the probability space. The probabilistic resources are limited by the maximum number of action quanta, h_bar, (Planck’s quantum of angular momentum) available.

    If the universe is finite with total mass/energy Mc^2, then the maximum number, N, of action quanta is readily calculated by:
    N = G * M^2 / (h_bar * c) ~ 10^123, where M is ~ 10^56 gm.

    For physio-chemical processes, probability space is greatly reduced compared to the estimated maximum of 10^123. I’ve read estimates of 10^40 for biological events, plus or minus one order of magnitude (more likely minus).

    Patrick [33], I’m not sure whether my argument is “like PZ Myers” or what it would mean if it were. Unlike Myers, I’m not an atheist.

    Meyers position is not dependent on his personal beliefs in this case (although obviously it stems from them). He believe that in order for the design detection to be valid that characteristics and/or the identity of the designer(s) must firmly be known.

    BTW, my discussion related to data integrity in digital storage mediums really is not relevant to arguments over common descent.

  68. 68
    Q says:

    Reply to es58 (#68), who said “I am not shooting for IC, but SC here”

    Oh, SC and not IC. That’s different. Seeing a rover that was obviously designed, the evidence would be pretty clear that the complexity of the rover was specified. There would even be a good clue that it was designed by intelligent beings.

    But, then in the same post, you mentioned “if 1 or a few of these parts were removed or rearranged, the function would significantly degrade or be lost entirely”. Am I wrong, or isn’t this a question related to irreducible complexity? Losing or changing parts is about reducibility and not specificity, isn’t it?

    Additionally, in your rover example, you didn’t provide enough information to answer if the function would even significantly degrade or be lost. As a simple example of what I mean (and not meant as the only way that my point could be manifest), a lens cap could have been designed onto the system, but with a poor opening mechanism. By simply removing the lens cap, the rover may actually operate better. If you had specified at the outset of your example that the rover was specified with an optimal design, only then would an answer to your specific question be available.

    You also mention “the probability of these parts being arranged in this manner through natural forces is vanishingly small”, similar to the arguments regarding the origins and permutations of life. Sure, the probability may be true, at least as it seems you intend it to mean. (In reality, that rover would have been built with natural forces of machinery, metallurgy, fingers manipulating screwdrivers, etc. I think you mean that it being arranged through non-intelligent forces is vanishingly small.) But, as with BarryA’s example, these two examples diverge from the arguments about the validity of evolution. Because, with both the rover and Venter’s life form, it is fully possible to understand who did the designing, how they implemented the design, etc., and all of this can be adequately explained in materialistic processes. Understanding the origins and evolution of life, as Dembsky, Behe, et al suggest, does not provide, or depend upon, an understanding of who the designer is, or what was done.

  69. 69
    kairosfocus says:

    Q

    First, functional degradation on random changes to parts is both an IC and a SC issue. Cf my discussion here, based on the late, great sir Fred Hoyle’s famous 747 in a junkyard built by a tornado example.

    Second, the issue (as discussed in the just linked — and BTW, it is also always linked) is that chance + necessity alone is, on maximal improbability, effectively incapable of successfully searching the configuration space on the gamut of the observed universe. Once we have the equivalent of 500 – 1,000 bits of information storage capacity, that begins to hold. On the rover, just the software alone for the embedded microcontrollers is vastly beyond that.

    Third, thinking as Kzinti just happening to come across a strange object on Mars: the well-known explanatory filter used routinely by keepers of large and small things [= “physicists,” hopefully delicious-for-dinner earthlings] reasons from empirical evidence in the context of the known causal factors and their properties: [1] chance, [2] mechanical necessity showing itself in natural regularities, [3] agency. When we deal with the sort of high contingencies relevant to the case, only 1 or 3 are candidates, and 1 is the default or null hypothesis. On the same reasoning that undergirds the highly successful field of statistical thermodynamics, the config space is now so large that 1 is eliminated in the same way we eliminate null hyps in general statistical hypothesis testing.

    This procedure is known to reliably work on cases where we do directly know the causal story through observation. There is no good reason to infer that it should suddenly fail on the grounds that we have not happened to observe the causal process and/or do not happen to know the specific designer or class of designer at work. Thus, on empirically anchored inference to best explanation of the observed functionally specified complex information beyond the 500 – 1,000 or so bits range, we conclude the Rover is designed.

    BTW, even the text written on various bits and pieces of the Rover would probably come across this threshold.

    On the nanotech of cell-based life, DNA is a known information storage medium, with 2 bits of capacity per nucleic acid [4-states]. In all known lifeforms, it runs from about 500,000 to 3 – 4 bn elements.

    The storage capacity is so far beyond the range required that this alone is decisive — save to one unduly influenced by the notion that science MUST explain based on chance + necessity only. That is called worldview level question-begging, unless one can successfully and independently show that agents COULD NOT have existed at the relevant point in time and space.

    In short, there is good reason to infer that life is in part the result of agency.

    GEM of TKI

  70. 70
    Q says:

    Reply to kairosfocus in post 71. Yes, I agree that the examples provided relate to both IC and SC. But, in a manner somewhat different that you are suggesting. I think we both agree that both the rover and Venter’s life form demonstrate the conditions of specificity. This, it seems we agree, is a good clue that they are both the result of agency. But, it seems clear, that these examples specifically stop there. They do not include enough requisite details make inferences at all related to any agency that would have been involved with the source and permutations of our life. Both of these examples unambiguiosly miss the essential element of irredicibility. Since they were both explicitly human made, then they are most likely fraught with sub-obtimal design. Maybe leaving out some carbon from the metals used in the rover would make it worked better. Maybe the axles were over-engineered, and get stuck in the grit to easily.

    Additional claims need to be provided about the rover and Venter’s life forms to adequately be able to claim that they are IC.

    I mention this because in BarryA’s original post, he asserted that “The VCs exhibit irreducable complexity and complex specified information”, and es58 was talking about “if 1 or a few of these parts were removed or rearranged, the function would significantly degrade or be lost entirely”. These are explicitly claims about IC. But, given that these two specific systems were created by people, we don’t really have enough information to trust that they meet anything more than the specificity claim. They did not exclude shoddy engineering – a very provable event in the course of most complex human projects!

    Of course, this is not an argument against whether our life was created and managed by intelligent agency. It is only meant to show that these two examples, and probably other examples based on human-made processes, fail as full analogies. Because, human-made systems are quite likely to be sub-optimal and reducing them might reasonably be expected to improve them.

  71. 71
    es58 says:

    Q

    you wrote:

    But, as with BarryA’s example, these two examples diverge from the arguments about the validity of evolution. Because, with both the rover and Venter’s life form, it is fully possible to understand who did the designing, how they implemented the design, etc., and all of this can be adequately explained in materialistic processes.

    These are 2 aliens landing only on Mars, they have never seen any designer, so how can they ‘understand’ who did the designing? Don’t they first have to infer a designer? All they know for sure is that neither they themselves, nor any beings of which they have been formerly aware, designed it.

  72. 72
    Q says:

    es58, in post 73, asked “These are 2 aliens landing only on Mars, they have never seen any designer, so how can they ‘understand’ who did the designing?”

    Consistent with the example of the rover, a very good expectation is that the aliens would look around, find earth, and continue their investigation.

    Even though for a moment all that they would know is “that neither they themselves, nor any beings of which they have been formerly aware, designed it”, the best explanation is that these interstellar investigators would keep looking and find the next planet over. They could then extend their investigation, and could quite reasonably be expected to find evidence of the rover’s designer (or of Venter’s life forms) The two examples were not sufficiently limited to exclude this obvious event.

    My purpose in pointing this out is that these examples which show what humans did only show that design can be specified. They are, as yet, inadequate to show that these designs are irreducible, especially given human tendencies to over-engineer things (i.e specify too much design). The examples also don’t show the foolishness of searching for the identity of a designer, because the examples leave behind evidence of the humans. Thus, these examples end up not being being able to illustrate that a designer of life on earth is beyond investigation. In fact, these examples tend to infer just the opposite – which is contrary to the goals of these examples.

    es58 also asked “Don’t they first have to infer a designer?”

    Sort of. They first need to infer that design occured, which they would in these examples because the examples are constructed so the specificity test would pass. Then, almost by definition, they would know that a designer was involved, whether they know anything about the designer or not. But, as is still consistent with these examples, they could keep looking, and still consistent with the examples, there would be a very good likelyhood that they would actually find out who is the designer of the rover (or of Venter’s life forms).

    Hopefully any examples that use Venter’s life forms, or the rover, could be refined so that they can adequately lead only to what they want to illustrate.

  73. 73
    Atom says:

    Hopefully any examples that use Venter’s life forms, or the rover, could be refined so that they can adequately lead only to what they want to illustrate.

    I think the original analogy did just fine. The aliens could not conclude (even tentatively) that anything was actually designed, as that would be the “easy answer” according to materialists/Darwinists. It would be “UnknownDesignerDunnit”, which robs them of the hard work of finding a completely unintelligent, ateleological explanation for the lifeforms. (Even though none exists.)

    And as was pointed out, if they conclude there was a Designer, who designed the Designer?

    I think the point is well made; it is actually pretty striking. Hopfully this will finally put to rest both the “Unknown Designer” and “Who Designed the Designer?” sophmorisms.

  74. 74
    Q says:

    Atom, in reply 75, said “The aliens could not conclude (even tentatively) that anything was actually designed, as that would be the “easy answer” according to materialists/Darwinists.”

    I am sure that BarryA’s example was meant to show that. However, I am suggesting, the specific example he chose leaves open a likely opportunity to ultimately see that the life form was designed, and actually who was the designer.

    As you indicated, the alien’s might not immediately have proof as to whether the life form was designed or not. But, BarryA did not exclude the opportunity to investigate. He also did not exclude he opportunity of the aliens to find Venters machinery or documentation surrounding Venter’s process. In his specific example, it is quite reasonable to expect that Venter, and his work, could be uncovered.

  75. 75
    Atom says:

    I see what you’re saying…just close off any loopholes that may exist.

    I still think it works, however, even with loopholes.

    If the aliens did have the opportunity to search for the “who” of the Designer or the “why”, I don’t think it would make a difference. Since they could not entertain the idea of design (due to the “Who Designed the Designer?” problem they’d see), they would never look. They would, out of necessity, continue down the fruitless road of looking for non-existent ateleological mechanisms instead of following the evidence where it leads.

    Who is to say that we’ll never uncover the ID machinery or documentation surrounding life on this planet (if the hypothesis is given a chance for serious investigation)? It is quite reasonable to expect that the Designer, and his work, could be uncovered.

  76. 76
    BarryA says:

    Q writes: “BarryA did not exclude the opportunity to investigate. He also did not exclude he opportunity of the aliens to find Venters machinery or documentation surrounding Venter’s process. In his specific example, it is quite reasonable to expect that Venter, and his work, could be uncovered.”

    In the post I wrote: “Assume further that a million years passes and there are no traces that any living thing other than VCs ever existed on earth.”

    If this does not exclude the matters you bring up, I don’t know what would.

  77. 77
    Q says:

    Atom, in 77 stated “I don’t think it would make a difference. Since they could not entertain the idea of design (due to the “Who Designed the Designer?” problem they’d see), they would never look.”

    Well, possibly. But, BarryA did specificallly state that Alien 1 “concludes they were designed.”

  78. 78
    Q says:

    BarryA, in 78, wrote “If this does not exclude the matters you bring up, I don’t know what would.”

    Yes, I understand that you meant that earth would look like only the VC’s ever existed here. But, your example would require the elimination of all evidence of other life ever existing. Real-world artifacts such as mining shafts, dredging, construction, LEM’s on the moon with plaques depicting earth – would also need to be removed within that million of years. That level of change was so large that it didn’t fit the environment in which you created the model – on earth. Quite simply, I suggest, that interpretation moved your example into the surreal. So, I read your statement as meaning that the evidence of what the living things were was destroyed. That, it seems, could be the result of a super virus or of VC’s critters and keeps the example as a practical what-if.

    Additionally, you asserted that the “VCs exhibit irreducable complexity”. Was that because they were life forms, or because you assumed that Venter could hit the optimal design? Since, in your model, the VC’s were man-made, it is quite reasonable to assume a less-than-optimal design, including some over-engineered parts. As such, it would be reasonable to expect that some simplification could result in improved functionality, and that the VC’s are automatically IC.

  79. 79
    Q says:

    Oops! Meant the last line above to be “and that the VC’s are not automatically IC.”

  80. 80
    BarryA says:

    Q, when I say “Assume further that a million years passes and there are no traces that any living thing other than VCs ever existed on earth,” I intend for the hypothetical to mean literally what it says. You can say, “Well it just doesn’t make sense for me to assume that” if you want to, but you won’t be responding to my point. You would simply be refusing to assume what I asked you to assume. You may refuse to deal with the hypothetical on its own terms if you like, but that is your problem, not a problem with the hypothetical.

    As far as irreducible complexity is concerned, you are confused about both the terms of the hypothetical and the definition of irreducible complexity.

    In my hypothetical I said “The VCs exhibit irreducible complexity and complex specified information.” One does not need to know why I said that for it to be true for purposes of the hypothetical. I said it because, for purposes of the hypothetical, it is simply true; in other words, it is a base assumption of the hypothetical. In other words, in the world of the hypothetical it is a brute fact that needs no justification.

    Leaving the hypothetical aside, you are using a definition of irreducible complexity that is not accepted by the ID community. You seem to believe an object is irreducibly complex only if it has “hit the optimal design.” That is not how I (nor anyone else in the ID movement of whom I am aware) uses the term. Even a very poorly designed object can be irreducibly complex if by removing just one of its parts it would lose 100% function.

  81. 81
    Atom says:

    @Q 79:

    Right, but his point was that Alien 2 does exactly what I’m discussing, namely, lets his assumptions/philosophical biases stop him from making the correct inference.

    He would take research dollars from and deny tenure* to any alien foolish enough to entertain a design hypothesis, since “Who Designed the Designer?” is an insurmountable barrier that could never be overcome in his mind. Thus, those who have an irrelevant “WDTD?” objection would not be able or think to look for a “who” or “why” in designed objects. They wouldn’t even be able to conclude design, though that would be the objective truth.

    *Ok, they’re aliens, but you get the point.

  82. 82
    Q says:

    BarryA, in 82, said “You may refuse to deal with the hypothetical on its own terms if you like, but that is your problem, not a problem with the hypothetical.”

    Yes, that is a valid point. I had assumed that the example was meant to represent events that may occur in the real world. If that is what you meant, then my point is that the example would need to be modified to accommodate those things that would remain in the real world. However, if you merely meant that in a hypothetical world, this hypothetical example could occur, then I concede.

    BarryA: “One does not need to know why I said that for it to be true for purposes of the hypothetical.”
    Again, if you are providing the example to represent a hypothetical that represents what could happen, then the irreducibility should have some standing other than an assertion. I mean, since you are talking about what Venter could do, then for this part of your example to work, Venter must really be able to create irreducible complexity. I’m not seeing that it is guaranteed that he can, and at least your example didn’t assert that he could.

    BarryA: “Even a very poorly designed object can be irreducibly complex if by removing just one of its parts it would lose 100% function.”

    Agreed, but in the example, no stipulation was made that by removing something from the VC it would lose 100% function. All that was provided is that Venter created them.

    Nonetheless, it seems that we really are in agreement in the usage. I’m suggesting that it is quite probable that Venter is not a really good bio-engineer, and he may over design some attributes. If so, then by removing some of the over-engineered parts, the functionality may actually work better. Venter is human after all, and we can’t expect that his design will necessarily be so finely tuned that he wouldn’t include cruft, such that removal of the cruft would benefit the VC.

    I am pretty sure that the goal of this example was not to create a straw man argument. But, until certain elements of the example are resolved, it doesn’t seem to be able to exemplify anything that could be used to explain the real world.

  83. 83
    es58 says:

    atom 83;

    that’s where I was going, thanks

  84. 84
    es58 says:

    and anyone who doesn’t think the rover is a product of nature is just not creative enough to figure out how it happened; could be ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that). (on the other hand, when face to face w/ Behe, he opted for lazy)

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