Intelligent Design

An Exchange With FG, Part 2

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I come back to FG, because I think he is seriously trying to engage with ID, and I am very pleased to report that he is making significant progress.

In my post “Who Designed the Designer Argument Demolished in Three Easy Steps”  I demonstrated that the infinite regress argument has no real force by giving what FG called a “concrete example” of how a design inference can be valid in the complete absence of any knowledge of who the designer was or where he/she came from.

FG writes. “When applied to a single concrete example like the one you gave, your inference could be valid . . .”

Wonderful!

FG then slips when he says: “The infinite regress problem is real and does defeat ID the moment your argument is invoked to explain first life.”

Not so. ID posits the following: CSI and IC have never been directly observed to have arisen though chance or mechanical necessity or a combination of the two. Conversely, CSI and IC are routinely observed to have been produced by intelligent agents. Moreover, intelligent agents leave behind indicia of their acts that can be objectively discerned. Therefore, using abductive reasoning, the best explanation for CSI and IC is “act of intelligent agent.”

How does this apply to first life? (By “first life” I presume FG means “first life on earth.”) Well, we cannot directly examine first life to determine whether it exhibited CSI and IC. We can only observe existing life, and when we do we find that even the most simple extant life forms are staggeringly complex. From this observation we infer that the first life on earth also exhibited CSI and IC. (To be sure, some would attempt to deny that first life is complex, but given the unanimous verdict to the contrary of all of our observations simple logic suggests that the burden is on those who make such a suggestion to demonstrate its plausibility.)

We cannot know for certain whether first life exhibited CSI and IC. ID merely says that if it did, the best explanation for the existence of the CSI and IC in first life is best explained by “act of intelligent agent.”

This is where FG goes off the rails. He/she asks “But who designed first life? By definition first life could not have been designed by a living being.” The answer is, as I have said many times before, ID does not examine the question “What is the source of all design?” ID examines the question “Is this particular thing designed?” And it says of the particular thing “first life on earth” that if it exhibited CSI and IC the best explanation for the existence of that CSI and IC is “act of intelligent agent.” A physicist (when he is doing physics) does not ask, “Why is there something instead of nothing?” Similarly, an ID proponent (when he is doing science) does not ask, “What is the ultimate source of all CSI and IC?”

Why is this? Because questions like “Why is there something instead of nothing?” and “What is the ultimate source of all CSI and IC?” are simply not subject to scientific investigation. This does not mean that grand metaphysical or philosophical questions like these are uninteresting. They are very interesting (even vitally important). Nevertheless, the answer to these questions cannot be investigated by scientific means.

Wittgenstein famously wrote: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” As a scientist a physicist cannot speak to the question “Why is there something instead of nothing?” Therefore, he must remain silent on that question. As a scientist an ID proponent cannot speak to the question “What is the ultimate source of all CSI and IC?” Therefore, he must remain silent on that question.

Therefore, to FG I say, many ID proponents have a view of the source of all CSI and IC. But those views are of the “metaphysical, philosophical and religious” sort. They are not scientific views and for that reason are not subject to scientific investigation. However, with respect to any particular, as you say, “concrete example” of CSI and IC, ID proponents argue that the best explanation for its existence is “act of intelligent agent.”

121 Replies to “An Exchange With FG, Part 2

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    How does this apply to first life? (By “first life” I presume FG means “first life on earth.”)

    faded_glory thinks she’s being cute by not making explicit what she means by first life, which is what allows her to maintain the illusion of an infinite regress.

    Here’s fg’s argument:

    All life requires a designer.
    A designer must be alive.
    Who designed the first designer?

    So much for the novelty of fg’s approach to asking who designed the designer.

    Now let’s all go about pretending that fg has posed a profound question which no one has answered.

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    I find it interesting that FG refuses to light and half burn a match then tilt the head straight up, and report on what happens and what it illustrates, then contrast the related significance of the truth expressed in 2 + 3 = 5.

  3. 3
    rhampton7 says:

    Conversely, CSI and IC are routinely observed to have been produced by intelligent agents. Moreover, intelligent agents leave behind indicia of their acts that can be objectively discerned. Therefore, using abductive reasoning, the best explanation for CSI and IC is “act of intelligent agent.”

    Also, by abductive reasoning, we can infer that there were multiple designers. Intelligent agents are mortal beings with lifespans that are woefully insufficient to span the appearance of life on Earth to the appearance of Man. Therefore the best explanation for the long history of intelligent actions is that of multiple designers.

  4. 4
    Mung says:

    Therefore the best explanation for the long history of intelligent actions is that of multiple designers.

    What long history of intelligent actions?

  5. 5
    Michael Servetus says:

    That which must need to have existed in order for all subsequent things to exist must have contained all necessary and excellent possibilities within itself always which must be life and must mean we are talking about eternal life. For while speaking of eternal life as prior to and foundational to material finite causes may sound strange and absurd upon first hearing to untrained minds, speaking of finite life or non life, birth and death and material causes is more absurd. Just as speaking of life from death vs life from life is. Finite temporal material causes only appear to be beginnings in a space time order and so mislead the philosopher scientist who will not follow the lead of physical logic which points to another cause.

    “Behold, there exist the sky and the earth. They cry out that they have been made… They cry out also that they did not make themselves: we are because we have been made; we were not before we were, to be able to be made by ourselves.” — Ecce sunt coelum et terra, clamant quod facta sunt… Clamant etiam quod se ipsa non fecerint: ideo sumus quia facta sumus; non ergo eramus, antequam essemus, ut fieri possemus a nobis. Et vox clamantium est ipsa evidentia (St. Augustine, Conf. xi, 4).

  6. 6
    rhampton7 says:

    What long history of intelligent actions

    Stephen Meyer believes that, in addition to the first appearance of Life on Earth and/or the first cell, intelligent actions occurred many times thereafter:

    Contrary to Darwinian orthodoxy, the fossil record actually challenges the idea that all organisms have evolved from a single common ancestor. Why? Fossil studies reveal “a biological big bang” near the beginning of the Cambrian period (520 million years ago) when many major, separate groups of organisms or “phyla” (including most animal body plans) emerged suddenly without clear precursors.

    Fossil finds repeatedly have confirmed a pattern of explosive appearance and prolonged stability in living forms, not the gradual “branching-tree” pattern implied by Darwin’s common ancestry thesis.

    There are also reasons to doubt the creative power of Darwin’s mechanism of natural selection. While many scientists accept that natural selection can produce small-scale “micro-evolutionary” variations, many biologists now doubt that natural selection and random mutations can generate the large-scale changes necessary to produce fundamentally new structures and forms of life.

  7. 7
    Mung says:

    Well, I agree the Cambrian explosion is a bit of an enigma, but after that?

    Don’t we have a lot of variation on a theme? Can you give a specific example of something that would indicate a different designer?

    Let’s say that Venter et al. succeed:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M.....boratorium

    Someone looking at that, and other extant life, would infer multiple designers?

  8. 8
    rhampton7 says:

    Mung,

    Between the first cell and the Cambrian is a span of several billion years – a span far greater than the life of any known intelligent agent (or any known form of life). Furthermore, given the complex intricacies of these designs, it would seem to be beyond the capabilities of any single intelligent agent.

    Thus by abductive reasoning, we can infer that there were multiple designers.

    To use an old analogy, if we stumbled upon a clock in a forest, we would correctly surmise it to have been designed by an intelligence. Like wise, if we found a thousand year old sundial, a hundred year old pocket watch, and a modern digital watch, we would correctly surmise the design (and construction) to be the work of multiple intelligences of multiple generations.

  9. 9
    ScottAndrews says:

    rhampton7,

    Your reasoning is, well, reasonable.
    But the only thing we can infer about the designer or designers is intelligence.
    We can’t use the product (ourselves) to measure what produced it. If someone makes an ice sculpture could we accurately say that person must only live a few hours?

  10. 10
    SteveGoss says:

    Rhampton7-
    What would make you think that a designer (or consortium of designers) would need to be in any way similar to life on earth?

    On your analogy, would it still be a correct assumption that the thousand ear old sundial, the hundred year old watch and digital watch were the work of multiple designers if it were found that inside each one was built from the exact same formulation of aluminum?

  11. 11
    rhampton7 says:

    We can’t use the product (ourselves) to measure what produced it.

    Sure we can, or at least that’s how understand Meyer’s argument for Intelligent Design – logical inferences based on observable cases of intelligence and the information it creates.

    …postulations of design are constrained by theoretical competition. The plausibility of historical theories must be adjudicated against background information about the causal powers and proclivities of both nature and agency. Intelligent design can be offered, therefore, as a necessary or best historical explanation only when available naturalistic processes seem incapable of producing the explanandum effect, and when intelligence is known to be capable of, and thought inclined to, produce it. Thus, modern scientific advocates of intelligent design such as Charles Thaxton, Walter Bradley, Dean Kenyon, Michael Behe and William Dembski insist that they postulate antecedent intelligent activity, not because of what we do not know, but because of what we do know about what is, and is not, capable of producing, for example, “information” (Meyer, Thaxton and Bradley and Kenyon)…

  12. 12
    rhampton7 says:

    On your analogy, would it still be a correct assumption that the thousand ear old sundial, the hundred year old watch and digital watch were the work of multiple designers if it were found that inside each one was built from the exact same formulation of aluminum?

    Certainly possible – the designers may have used the same metallurgical process or obtained the aluminum from the same source (which could be another designer precedent to the three or more clock designers)

    Point is, when we make inferences about intelligent agents, we make logical conclusions based on what we already know to be true about said intelligent agents.

    What would make you think that a designer (or consortium of designers) would need to be in any way similar to life on earth?

    I can only say that we do not know of an intelligent agent that is capable of living for several billion years, or without impairment of it intellectual capabilities in much shorter frames of time. Entropy is particularly cruel to biological life.

  13. 13
    avocationist says:

    Faded Glory asks a legitimate question, which is whether a designer could at least be imagined as a possibility. It may be outside the purview of answerable scientific questions, but it’s a question a skeptic would naturally ask.

    But I seem to recall someone answered it well on a previous thread. Where she’s stuck, and Rhampton as well, is in thinking that the designer had to be a biological life form like ourselves, and obviously it could not be.
    So the question they are really asking is whether there could be a mind capable of acting within or upon the cosmos that is not embodied.

  14. 14
    faded_Glory says:

    Barry,

    Thanks for the follow up. I am rather busy right now but I will try to post a response later today, or else tomorrow.

    fG

  15. 15
    ScottAndrews says:

    avocationist @13,

    That’s a false choice between a biological life form like ourselves and one that is disembodied.
    Why would “disembodied,” which implies having a physical body and then being separated from it, even be one of the choices?

  16. 16
    Mung says:

    rhampton7,

    Are you saying that you can’t give an actual example of a living organism that appears to have been designed by a different designer?

    So can’t I, using abductive reasoning, infer that they all had the same designer?

  17. 17
    Mung says:

    By the way, I’d like to point out your original argument:

    Therefore the best explanation for the long history of intelligent actions is that of multiple designers.

    I’m asking for an example.

  18. 18
    rhampton7 says:

    Mung,

    A great example is the domestication and breeding of dogs. It’s the result of many thousands of intelligent designers working over many thousands of years to create all manner of forms for all sorts of reasons.

  19. 19
    Mung says:

    So according to you, dogs look like they are the product of intelligent actions?

    By that measure, doesn’t every single species on the planet look like the product of intelligent actions?

  20. 20
    Mung says:

    p.s. What is it about dogs that makes them appear to be the product of a different designers?

  21. 21
    avocationist says:

    Scott @15

    You are right, I should have expressed it differently. I was not referring to a mind which had once had a body. I was rephrasing the argument as I see it, and in which FG made the same point in an earlier thread. Point being that if life as we know it requires an intelligent designer, then that designer could not also have been alive in the same way that biological life forms are.

  22. 22
    rhampton7 says:

    Chiefly, time and location. That’s a standard practice in fields that utilize the detection of intelligence, like Archeology.

  23. 23
    rhampton7 says:

    Point being that if life as we know it requires an intelligent designer, then that designer could not also have been alive in the same way that biological life forms are.

    1. It would be scientifically presumptuous to state that there was only one designer to begin life on Earth.

    2. Stephen Meyer also recognizes additional acts of Intelligent Design billions of years after the appearance of life. It would be scientifically presumptuous to state that the two events are attributable to the same designer(s).

  24. 24
    Mung says:

    Chiefly, time and location.

    Is this in response to my question about dogs?

    The sign of intelligent activity in dogs is time and location?

  25. 25
    rhampton7 says:

    What is it about dogs that makes them appear to be the product of a different designers?

    The development of dog breeds took thousands of years in locations across the globe – this fact is not disputed. Thus it’s the primary reason why we infer the many dozens of breeds to be the work of (many thousands of) different designers.

    Also worth noting is the improbability that pockets of intra-species types, like the Daschund, Grey Hound, could have occurred without intelligent design, as O’Leary explains:

    There are only certain ways that dogs can really live in the wild.

    For example, a greyhound can run faster than a wolf, because he doesn’t have heavy jaws – but what happens when he catches up with the prey?

    Someone throws him a bag of Science Diet for Adult Working Dogs, right?

    Human interventions almost always assume that we protect the life form from the normal routine of nature – otherwise there would be no reason to bother.

    And nature is limited to certain routines. A wild animal that cannot feed itself will die.

    But a Bassett Hound can live as long as its owner is willing to pay for advanced veterinary medicine, necessitated in part by the odd way the creature was bred.

    If all the dogs in the world ran away, 50 years later, you would likely see only nature’s usual wolfhound type.

  26. 26
    kairosfocus says:

    RH7:

    The core design of life on earth is unified, with many key conventions in common [start with the chirality of proteins and the opposite chirality of nucleic acids], a signal of unified control on the design.

    The design of the cosmos is even more strongly unified, starting with laws and material constituents.

    GEM of TKI

  27. 27
    ScottAndrews says:

    Avocationist,

    Point being that if life as we know it requires an intelligent designer, then that designer could not also have been alive in the same way that biological life forms are.

    Why couldn’t life on earth have been designed by others of a similar form? It sounds unlikely to me too, but that’s hardly a basis for ruling it out or for imagining a paradox where one doesn’t exist.

    What if we just don’t know what type of life designed this life? Unknowns are okay. They don’t have to be unknown forever. Rejecting a line of inquiry because it leads to an unknown really is a science stopper.

    The only objection left is infinite regression. As explained previously, any explanation of anything leads to infinite regression. Try it. Explain the computer on your desk, what caused it, what caused it, etc., and sooner or later you get to the point where you don’t know what caused the previous cause, but you know that it still needed a cause, etc.

    But you still know where your computer came from, and you can even go a few steps back from there. We don’t need to know what caused the Big Bang before we can explore causes for what’s right in front of us.

  28. 28
    kairosfocus says:

    SA:

    FG et al are studiously avoiding the issues and points on cause, contingent and necessary beings, and the alternatives on life.

    I still invite them to reflect with me ont he implicaitons of what happens when a match is truck and half burned then tilted until the head is straight up. Then, compare the truth expressed in 2 + 3 = 5,then look at the issue of contingent vs necessary beings in light of necessary causal factors.

    Try here.

    GEM of TKI

  29. 29
    faded_Glory says:

    As a quick heads-up, I a working on a response.

    My objection to the way Barry has laid out his argument is not one of ‘who designed the desgner?’.

    It is more akin to the barber’s paradox.

    I believe that Barry either has to qualify his argument and restrict it to a subset of life, or allow for the possibility of non-living intelligence. The way he has presented it though, and certainly now that he wants to extend it to first life, it is like the barber’s paradox: a seemingly logic argument that on closer inspection turns out to be impossible.

    More later.

    fG

  30. 30
    kairosfocus says:

    FG:

    Have you lit a match, half burned then tilted it head up, watched the result and asked yourself about causal factors and contingent vs necessary being yet?

    If not, understand please that until you understand and address the issues here, you are in no position to assert a serious view on the matter. And so far, you have been ducking aside.

    GEM of TKI

  31. 31
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: FG, to save a long exchange, kindly note that in the just linked, the issue of a necessary being is tied to the question of self-moved, self-directed beings as first causes. Once there is no reason to confine “life” to biological cell based life, it is entirely possible for there to be other classes of self-moved being, indeed, there are serious arguments that point to a self-moved being as the causal root of the cosmos we experience. Have you interacted as yet with Plato’s discussion of the self-moved in The Laws, Bk X? If not, why then are you claiming to have found something comparable to the Barber’s paradox?

  32. 32
    avocationist says:

    I went back over the thread and realized I never said “disembodied.” I said an entity that is not embodied. Not the same.

    Rhampton @23,
    “1. It would be scientifically presumptuous to state that there was only one designer to begin life on Earth.”

    I think it is presumptuous to know whether it is presumptuous! It could go either way as far as I’m concerned. With Denton’s view it could be one designer. If life forms were really designed and not frontloaded, I tend to think there were many designers. In other words, I don’t think God did it, I think it would be a delegated task.

    “2. Stephen Meyer also recognizes additional acts of Intelligent Design billions of years after the appearance of life. It would be scientifically presumptuous to state that the two events are attributable to the same designer(s).”

    Why? You are ruling out a divine designer. So if we are a long term project by extraterrestrials millions of years ahead of us in development, but who have meat bodies like ourselves, then how could life get started? We are back to FG’s point, that first life could not have been started by a biological life form.

    And by the way, humans did not design dogs! We brought out and accentuated and suppresed various characteristics which were within their genome by selective breeding, but that really has nothing to do with the kind of problems intelligent design deals with.

  33. 33
    avocationist says:

    Scott Andrews,

    “Why couldn’t life on earth have been designed by others of a similar form? It sounds unlikely to me too, but that’s hardly a basis for ruling it out or for imagining a paradox where one doesn’t exist.”

    Well, if biological life with its complexities requires a designer, then how is the life form like ours to come about, without design, and then design more life like ours, which requires design? It has to be something different.

    “What if we just don’t know what type of life designed this life? Unknowns are okay.”

    Yes, they are and I myself am quite puzzled about how life forms got here. I haven’t got a favorite theory.

    As far as infinite regression, it is a logic problem that leads the mind to an inescapable but mind boggling conclusion – that there is something that must be really different and outside of time, cause, and effect.

  34. 34
    kairosfocus says:

    Avo:

    All of this about one or more designers is tangential, red herring and strawman relative tot he essential point.

    The scientific inference to design is on causal factor, not on identity of designers. We empirically know that design is real and that it often leaves characteristic empirical signs, that are tested and reliable.

    For a scientific project that is enough.

    Under certain conditions, we may be able to identify candidate designers, through a sort of extension to detective, forensic techniques or historical techniques.

    Sometimes, as with Stonehenge, we cannot.

    But that does not mean that this was not designed nor that we cannot tell that from CSI and IC.

    It is a commonplace in a digital age, that digital, functionally specific info — especially coded info, of sufficient complexity, is a reliable sign of design. Yet, we have seen here in recent days how a 196 ASCII character, Engligh text copyright announcement would be rejected as a sign of design by some objectors.

    That tells us all we need to know, that for some who we deal with, NO amount of evidence would ever open their minds to see that design as causal process can be properly and reliably inferred on signs. Sadly, their minds — at least for now — are closed on the subject.

    Perhaps the shock of recognising that, may lead to a rethink.

    But, when it comes to designers, the truth is that familiarity with mindedness has led us to contempt. Mind is an astonishing mystery, one that easily rises above materialistic explanation.

    the study of contingent being and its dependence on necessary, external causal factors will son lead to realising that there is a logically possible class of beings without such external dependence, which class would at once be eternal, with no beginning and no end. The nature of the propositional truth in expressions like 2 + 3 = 5, shows that such logical possibilities can be actualised.

    And, when we look at our observed, material cosmos, we begin to see that it is a contingent being, and so points beyond itself to a necessary being as its source. Multiply that by its fine tuning for C-chemistry, cell based biological life and we see that an excellent candidate for the root necessary being for the cosmos, is purposeful, powerful and intelligent.

    There is good reason for seeing such a being as a living being, even though not a biological cell based being.

    This may be shocking for materialists but this is much like the story of the mountain climber who after arduous labours mounts the final ledge only to see a welcoming party.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: And both life on earth and the physics of the cosmos show a powerful unity of being that points to unity in the root source. Though of course it is entirely possible on the design inference that we are the direct product of an advanced race that ran or is running a project in our solar system.

  35. 35
    Mung says:

    Many posts later and we’re still waiting for fg’s definition of life and first life and an explanation of why, under those definitions, “first life” even requires a cause, much less an intelligent cause.

    Still waiting.

  36. 36
    ScottAndrews says:

    Avocationist,

    Well, if biological life with its complexities requires a designer, then how is the life form like ours to come about, without design, and then design more life like ours, which requires design?

    It’s not a bad question. It’s just irrelevant. If the evidence points to intelligent design, then it just does. Your point seems to be that if the evidence leads us to a conclusion and the conclusion leads to more unanswered questions, then we should scrap the evidence and the conclusions.

    ID is often called a “science stopper.” What you’re describing is a science stopper in the truest sense. If anything leads to unanswered questions, stop looking.

    As far as infinite regression, it is a logic problem that leads the mind to an inescapable but mind boggling conclusion – that there is something that must be really different and outside of time, cause, and effect.

    Then why repackage the infinite regression argument as something else? And why apply it selectively?

  37. 37
    rhampton7 says:

    kairosfocus, avocationist,

    Yes, it is presumptuous to claim with certainty that there was only one designer, or two, or three… And no, this does not rule out the possibility of a divine designer. However, it would be equally presumptuous to claim there is only one divine designer (even within the Christian context – more on that if you want to entertain a side topic).

    That we humans have used what was available to design dog breeds does not eliminate the possibility that God, for example, designed the universe. Likewise, the creation of the first life form does not eliminate the possibility that multiple, mortal designers of unknown origin subsequently modified what was available on Earth.

  38. 38
    faded_Glory says:

    Barry,

    Here is my response to your OP directed at me. Before I start, I want to thank you for keeping our conversation on topic and free from the type of cheap personal digs I see all too often around here. I appreciate that and I will do my best to respond in kind.

    Before I give my response, let me restate your argument here for ease of reference.
    ————————-
    Barry said:

    Question to be investigated: What is the origin of complex specified information (CSI) and irreducibly complex (IC) mechanisms seen in even the simplest living things?
    Hypothesis: CSI and IC have never been directly observed to have arisen though chance or mechanical necessity or a combination of the two. Conversely, CSI and IC are routinely observed to have been produced by intelligent agents. Moreover, intelligent agents leave behind indicia of their acts that can be objectively discerned. Therefore, using abductive reasoning, the best explanation for CSI and IC is “act of intelligent agent.”
    ———————————

    Now my response.

    Have you heard of the barber’s paradox?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barber_paradox

    Basically, the barber paradox is a seemingly logical statement that, upon closer inspection, proves to be logically impossible. My contention is that your argument is a similar paradox, unless you put certain limits on its applicability (which I don’t think you do) or unless you allow for the existence of a particular class of entities (intelligent agents that are not alive) which I suspect you also don’t do – but please correct me if I have that wrong, because in that case my objection will melt away.

    Here is the barber paradox:

    “The barber shaves all and only those men in town who do not shave themselves.”

    At first sight there is nothing wrong with this statement, until one asks the question:

    “Who shaves the barber?”

    The problem now is that the choice of answers is limited to:

    – he shaves himself (but that contradicts the statement that he only shaves men who don’t shave themselves)
    – the barber shaves him (but that is himself, so again it contradicts the statement).

    This shows that what at first sight is perfectly reasonable statement suffers from a fatal flaw, and as a consequence the statement is not one that relates to reality. It is mere words, strung together, without actual meaning.

    There are ways to circumvent this problem (a bit like I have suggested way to circumvent a similar logical bust in your argument), but they need to be specified separately and explicitly. Some examples:

    – the barber is a woman
    – the barber isn’t from this town

    and there may well be others.

    However, in its general form as presented above, the statement is logically incoherent and literally meaningless.

    Note that, just as in the case of your argument, there is no problem if someone asks the question on specific examples, such as: Who shaves Mr. Smith who lives two streets away from the barber?

    In particular cases like this, the statement is coherent and will produce a sensible answer. It is only when applied to the barber himself that it fails, and is exposed as a logical impossibility.

    This is just like your example of Jerry Coyne’s organisms, which indeed don’t pose a logical problem for your argument.

    However, the moment your argument fails is when someone asks the question: who or what designed first life?

    —————–

    So how does this barber compare to your argument?

    You say first that CSI and IC are observed in even the simplest of living things.
    If we assume that first life is one of those simplest of living things, it will contain CSI and IC.

    (Note: this is a junction where you could still choose to jump off the runaway argument by stating that it should not be applied to first life. Scott Andrews offered this exit strategy and it is valid. You, however, explicitly say that you want it to be applied to first life here:

    —————
    Barry said:

    “Well, we cannot directly examine first life to determine whether it exhibited CSI and IC. We can only observe existing life, and when we do we find that even the most simple extant life forms are staggeringly complex. From this observation we infer that the first life on earth also exhibited CSI and IC.”
    ————-

    So you do indeed want it to be applied to first life.

    Note that when I say ‘first life’ I mean exactly that – not ‘first life on Earth’ but first life anywhere. First really means First.

    According to your argument, this first life has to be generated by an intelligent agent.

    Here is the second junction where you could still jump off the runaway argument: if you allow for intelligent agents that are not alive, it is possible that first life was generated by intelligent agent(s) that were not alive.

    I don’t think you allow for this possibility, so let me proceed on that assumption. If you do allow for it, please say so and my objection to your argument will vanish.

    Assuming that an intelligent agent has to be alive, your argument now boils down to saying that “first life was generated by something alive.”

    Hey Presto – this is logically incoherent (anyone disputes this? really?). It is exactly like: the barber shaves himself but doesn’t shave himself but shaves himself but doesn’t…….etc, etc.

    At this point your argument flies off the rails and is just words strung together, meaningless.

    ———-

    I hope it is now clear that I do not ask the question: who designed the designer?

    I ask the question: who or what designed first life?

    And your argument goes POP at that point.

    You cannot apply it to first life without it becoming logically incoherent, and as a result, meaningless.

    Unless you allow for intelligent agents that are not alive.

    fG

  39. 39
    Barry Arrington says:

    Faded Glory, seriously, which part of “ID does not ask what is the ultimate source of all design” do you not understand? Why do you fault ID for not answering a question it never asks? I’ve explained over and over and as simply as I can. Yet you refuse to accept it. I can’t help you.

  40. 40
    faded_Glory says:

    Barry, I don’t ask for the ultimate source of all design, I ask for the source of first life, trying to apply your argument.

    If you don’t want it applied to first life, just say so and we have no quarrel. Otherwise, my objection stands.

    fG

  41. 41
    faded_Glory says:

    The barber paradox doesn’t just vanish when someone declares the question ‘who shaves the barber’ out of bounds. The paradox is there, the sentence is meaningless, with or without the question being asked explicitly. Don’t you agree?

    fG

  42. 42
    kairosfocus says:

    FG:

    1: Barry is strictly correct.

    2: You have had your answer to your question since last weekend but refuse to attend to it.

    3: Mung’s challenge to define what you mean by “life” and by extension why you seem to wish to dismiss the view that is expressed in phrases like “The Living God” is also relevant.

    So, let’s ask a very simple one in reply: Have you done the match exercise yet?

    If not, why not?

    If so, what is your response to the discussion here?

    And, why have you been acting as though the answer has not been accessible to you all along?

    In short, your behaviour — after several days — is looking extraordinarily like a game driven by self justification in closed-mindedness and talking points pushing, on at least three fronts.

    I think you have some fairly serious explaining to do. And remember, a carpenter had no problems following the basic issues raised in the linked.

    Failing that, the astute onlooker can see for him or her self that you are so far studiously evading the key issues on the merits while pushing talking points in a circle.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  43. 43
    rhampton7 says:

    Why do you fault ID for not answering a question it never asks?

    Isn’t ID about inference? This is what Stephen Meyer said in an interview with Ben Wattenberg:

    For us the inference to design is an inference. And it’s a justified inference because of what we know about the cause and effect structure of the world. Namely that it always takes an intelligence to produce information. And we find the information in the cell therefore we think it’s the best explanation of that evidence that intelligence played a role. But given that that’s a scientific conclusion based on an analysis of data, you have to remain open to the evidence changing or different interpretations.

    So if I understand faded_Glory corectly, and If ID is predicated on what we know about causation, then it would seem to me fair to follow the inferences as far as causation will allow, which leaves us at the the Barber’s chair.

  44. 44
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Onlookers, observe the artful use of “first life” by FG.

    If by that FG means first cell based, genetically controlled biological life on earth, the evidence we see from its presumptive descendants — digitally coded, functionally specific, complex information with algorithms and algorithm executing machines points to design.

    That is the observational wall.

    Beyond that wall one is doing worldviews analysis not science, and on that side the issues in the above linked are inescapably on the table. Just, FG refuses to address them, probably because they point where FG would not go.

  45. 45
    ScottAndrews says:

    fg,

    Note that when I say ‘first life’ I mean exactly that – not ‘first life on Earth’ but first life anywhere. First really means First.

    I took it as meaning ‘first life on Earth.’ I didn’t think I was offering an alternative. That’s why I don’t see a contradiction. How can science ask what caused X without first knowing what X is?

    It’s still another take on infinite regression. If every cause requires a cause, how can there even be a ‘first’ cause, intelligent or otherwise?

    We can’t escape that question regardless of which cause we go with.

  46. 46
    faded_Glory says:

    I think I need to be clear here: I am using ‘life’ in exactly the same way Barry uses the expression ‘living things’.

    It goes without saying that we should stick with the same understanding of the word throughout the argument. We don’t want to subtly change the meaning halfway through, wouldn’t we?

    fG

  47. 47
    faded_Glory says:

    Scott,

    That is fine, if you say you don’t think Barry’s argument should be used on things we only imagine, but don’t have actually available for investigation, I am all for that.

    I just think then that this should be made clear in the way the argument is formulated.

    It might then also be a good idea to include in the sidebar summary of ID that it is agnostic about the origin of first life on Earth because we can’t directly investigate it. Seems perfectly reasonable to me.

    fG

  48. 48
    ScottAndrews says:

    In the OP Barry said, “By “first life” I presume FG means “first life on earth.”

    From that standpoint there’s no contradiction. If, on the other hand, we say that the absolute first life required life to create it then the “logical incoherence” comes in. That would mean that first is not first.

    Am I doing my good deed for the day if I point out that perhaps there was nothing to debate?

  49. 49
    ScottAndrews says:

    On second thought, that’s one sad, lame good deed.

  50. 50
    kairosfocus says:

    Scott:

    What FG is plainly studiously ducking is the issue of contingent vs necessary beings. (Notice how, since the weekend I have been challenging FG to do the match exercise, to no effect.)

    Let’s go in steps:

    1: FG is ostensibly interested in the origin of the first life, per just above, and poses the claimed dilemma of infinite regress or life from non-living intelligence, even latterly posing Russell’s Barber in the village paradox.

    2: The dilemma is a false one. there is a serious and well warranted alternative that is being studiously ignored and on the lame excuse that FG finds what I have written hard to follow. (Note, earlier in the week I tested it on a carpenter, no problem.)

    3: Start with a match, and strike it then half burn it, and tilt up the head, watching it gutter down and go out.

    4: You just saw how a contingent being — here a flame — depends on the presence of one or more external necessary causal factors. So, absent that factor, it cannot begin, or ceases. THAT WHICH HAS A BEGINNING OR MAY CEASE HAS A CAUSE.

    5: Now, what would happen if a being had no dependence on external necessary causal factors? ANS: It would not have a beginning nor could it cease from being.

    6: For instance consider the truth in the expression 2 + 3 = 5. Can you propose a possible time or place where this would not be so? [Note: nothing, proper, is neither a time nor a place nor an existence. A vacuum is a place and it has measurable properties.]

    7: This truth is so, it is necessarily so, and will always be so. In short we see here an example of a necessary being. This is not just an airy fairy idea.

    8: Now, if we look at our observed cosmos it had a beginning per scientific observational evidence, i.e it is contingent. It is also evidently fine tuned for C-chemistry, cell based life.

    9: The former of these points to a root cause that is a necessary being, that grounds the existence of our cosmos.

    10: the latter is best explained on that being having purpose, power, skill and knowledge to create a cosmos.

    10: thus, the alternative that FG is refusing to see is that the observed cosmos comes from a necessary being, with purpose, knowledge and power to create a cosmos such as we inhabit.

    11: Such a necessary being would be in Plato’s words, self-moved, and ensouled. It would be living. Also, as a necessary being, it would be without external causal dependence and so would be without beginning or end.

    12: Now, an odd property of such a necessary being is that if a candidate to be that sort of being is not self-contradictory and thus impossible, it will be actual. (And indeed, the usual suggestion is that the sort of true propositions given above reside in the mind of that being who is also the architect of the observed cosmos.)

    _________

    So, plainly here is no need to resort to an infinite regress, nor to something that is non-living in order to explain the origin of biological, C-chemistry based life.

    The dilemma collapses.

    But, if one is insistent one can pretend that the issue has not been answered.

    Similarly, one can pretend that the whole issue is not tangential to and distractive from the key issue: if obse4rved object X, shows signs S that reliably point to design as cause then one is warranted it infer that X is designed, whether or no object Y, a candidate designer was designed in turn.

    FOR INSTANCE, THE COMPUTER YOU ARE LOOKING AT THIS ON IS DESIGNED. IT SHOWS MANY SIGNS OF THAT. THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH DEBATES AS TO WHETHER THE CREATORS OF COMPUTERS, HUMANS, WERE DESIGNED IN TURN.

    The whole “who designed the designer” argument in its various mutant forms, is a red herring fallacy.

    GEM of TKI

  51. 51
    rhampton7 says:

    Now, what would happen if a being had no dependence on external necessary causal factors? ANS: It would not have a beginning nor could it cease from being.

    As best as Science can determine (most) radioactive decays “happen with no visible external provocation.” So we can’t say with certainty causal necessity is universally true.

    Tim Mooney explains:
    The “real” cause of radioactive decay has two meanings. The first is a statistical definition. If a light nucleus has too many neutrons compared to the number of protons in the nucleus, the nucleus will be radioactive. What constitutes “too many” depends upon the element. So for example 3H is radioactive and so is 14C. For heavy nucleii if there are “not enough” neutrons, that isotope will be radioactive. Thus 235U is much more radioactive than 238U. The second definition of the “actual cause” means if I sit and look at a single nucleus, will there be any indication that it is “about to decay” the answer is no one knows at least at the present time. Radioactive decay appears to be a statistical event.

  52. 52
    kairosfocus says:

    RH7:

    You are not dealing with SCIENCE here but with LOGIC, a precondition for science.

    You have made a category error.

    The appeal to science in this context is typically symptomatic of being caught up in scientism — the notion that science [especially as redefined in positivistic, materialistic terms] swallows up knowledge and rationality, which is a serious error.

    GEM of TKI

  53. 53
    kairosfocus says:

    RH7:

    Secondly, you are wrong on radioactivity decay specifically, and wrong in a way that depends on a logical error.

    Y’see, there are two main types of causal factors of relevant interst, necessary ones and sufficient ones. Absent a necessary causal factor and something will not begin, or will cease. Absent a sufficient cluster of factors — which must include all necessary ones — and something WILL happen.

    What happens with RA decay is that we do know some necessary factors, but we do not know a sufficient one beyond once we have a population of unstable atoms, some will decay according to a law. But, there are no ends of necessary factors involved, e.g. so simple a one as the need to have the unstable atoms present, and the space in which they exist, with applicable laws of physics.

    A truly a-causal event would happen from nowhere or anywhere anytime for no reason and without any constraints.

    A world like that would be a chaos, not a cosmos.

    So, let us put this old saw about how quantum events do not have causes, to sleep. We do not know the sufficient conditions that make a particular quantum event happen here, now this way rather than that, but we do know necessary factors.

    An event constrained in that way is NOT a-causal.

    GEM of TKI

  54. 54
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: RH7, why not do the half burned match exercise and report to us on the implications of the demonstrated reality of necessary causal factors?

  55. 55
    rhampton7 says:

    Logic can be tested with Science.

    Suppose you had carefully laid out 10 matches on an inflammable surface, and then isolated them from outside influence. Without some initiating cause, we would expect those 10 matches to stay unlit. But suppose that when we actually observed the matches, half of them underwent spontaneously combustion throughout the course of 24 hours. Repeating the experiment does not change the result, nor does changing the experimenters or the laboratory.

    Now if you’re an open minded scientist and/or logician, at this point you would have leave open the possibility that your initial premise may be wrong — wouldn’t be the first time that logic was falsified by data.

  56. 56
    material.infantacy says:

    John Lennox on who created the creator.

    [transcribed from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=222ihLZlujQ, beginning at 01:07:00]
    A Matter of Gravity: God, the Universe and Stephen Hawking – the 2010 Margaret Harris Lecture on Religion (Dundee University). Professor John Lennox investigates Steven Hawking’s metaphysical claims in his latest book “The Grand Design”.

    “…Richard Dawkins’ knock-down argument in the book The God Delusion: …’if you claim that God created the universe, well, first of all, that’s no explanation at all, because by definition God is more complex than the universe you’re explaining; secondly, if you claim that God created the universe, then you have to logically ask who created God, and who created the god that created the god that created the god that created…, and so on’.

    Sounds brilliant, doesn’t it? I think it’s very silly ladies and gentlemen. Let me analyze it briefly.

    ‘God is no explanation at that ultimate level because he’s more complex than what you’re explaining.’ So I pick up a book, and it’s called The God Delusion. It’s 400 pages long, it’s very complex. But then I discover that it emanates from the brain of one Richard Dawkins, which is infinitely more complex — at least I think he believes that — than the book itself. So therefore by definition that is no explanation since the explanation is more complicated than the thing you’re explaining. There’s something wrong with that, isn’t there?

    And Brian Davies, fellow of the Royal Society, who’s just a brilliant mathematician, has just written a book on beliefs in science. And he points out the elementary fact that explanations are often very much more complex than the thing you’re explaining, and he imagines and attempt to explain a paper clip. Very simple isn’t it? But if you’re going to explain it completely you have to go into steel making, paper, everything. You see, we’ve been bamboozled into thinking that explanations must inevitably be reductionist from the complex to the simple.

    Now that is a very important methodology in science, that kind of methodological reductionism; but ontological reductionism will not do, because in many areas our explanation is more complex. And that is the fun of it.

    Incidentally, isn’t it odd — let me leave you with this little thing — isn’t it odd…. You see…is there a beach at Dundee? I haven’t determined that yet…there is a beach. Well you go down to the beach in Dundee and you see a few letters of your name in the sand, and you immediately refer upwards to intelligent causation, don’t you. And then you go into the laboratory…and there’s a special laboratory at Oxford that hasn’t been invented yet… and it’s got a magic stereoscopic microscope in it; and through it you see a double helix uncoiling and spitting off letters, CGATTCGAATCG, three-and-a-half billion of them in exactly the right order, like a computer program, and you ask, well, what’s the ultimate reason for that? Chance and necessity? What, chance and the laws of nature, yes?

    It strikes me, ladies and gentlemen, there’s something odd going on. How is it that three letters of our name in a language spell intelligence, and three point five billion letters, in a code, spell simply chance and necessity? Now I’m not denying that chance and necessity do a great deal, that’s not the point; it’s the question of what does the text say?

    But I haven’t answered the question, here it comes. Who created God? Well if you ask the question, who created God, you’re assuming that God was created, aren’t you, by definition. But what if God wasn’t created? Then the question falls. You see, hidden in the question is the assumption. If I suddenly find my wallet is gone this evening after I finish speaking, and I say to you: who stole my wallet? Well the assumption is that somebody stole it, and I might have just forgotten it — and my wife would tell me that’s the most likely explanation. In other words, when you ask, who created God, you’ve immediately closed down the range of possible explanations in terms of a created God. If Richard Dawkins had written a book called, The Created God’s Delusion, I suspect it wouldn’t have sold many copies; because we don’t need him or anyone else to tell us that created gods are a delusion.

    Ladies and gentlemen, the central claim of Christianity is that God already existed; the Word already was, it wasn’t created. The universe was created. Ah, but then, it’s a wicked thing in me; but then I’m Irish, albeit of Scottish descent ladies and gentlemen. But I did turn the question around on Richard Dawkins.

    I said, that question works both ways, Richard. You believe it’s legitimate to ask, who created the creator. OK, let’s try. You believe the universe created you. Who created your creator?

    I’m still waiting for an answer. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.“

  57. 57
    Mung says:

    faded_Glory:

    I think I need to be clear here: I am using ‘life’ in exactly the same way Barry uses the expression ‘living things’.

    I don’t think you are, but we can let Barry speak to that.

    When Barry speaks of living things, he is talking about biological life, on earth, and he is talking about biological life on earth that is currently alive.

    If that is in fact the case, then it makes absolutely no sense to speak of ‘first life.’

    It seems that you want him to accept your evolutionary assumptions about the history and evolution of life, and he is under no obligation to do so.

    Since there is no regress in his argument, it follows that there is no infinite regress.

    Barry:

    We can only observe existing life, and when we do we find that even the most simple extant life forms are staggeringly complex.

    Besides which, if we are going to regress each form of life back to some prior form, there is absolutely no reason to think that each prior form was more complex nor that it was the designer of each subsequent form.

  58. 58
    kairosfocus says:

    RH7:

    Logic, FYI, is a criterion of science. For instance ti is at the foundation of mathematics.

    What is tested is not the LOGIC but the underlying postulates or axioms in a given model, or even claimed facts.

    And notice, you have tried to change the subject.

    The issue is to have a burning match, and to allow it to half-burn, then tip it up. This removes the fuel effectively and the fire goes out.

    This illustrates how a necessary causal factor operates.

    Of course we know — did you look at the second illustration in the linked article here? — that the fire triangle gives us the sufficient cluster of necessary factors, you do not need to inform us of that.

    Now, you go on to propose is spontaneous combustion as a falsification of the requirement for oxidiser, heat and fuel [inclusive of the sustaining chain reaction]. Sorry, spontaneous combustions happen where we MEET the relevant conditions — e.g. oily rags get hot enough to move from warming up to bursting into flames — and matches are designed so that hey do not spontaneously ignite under the normal circumstances that are implied in the matches exercise.

    Since on experience at UD we need to cut off red herring chases at outset, here is Wiki on the causes — yup — of spontaneous combustion:

    Cause and ignition

    A substance with a relatively low ignition temperature begins to release heat, which may occur in several ways, such as oxidation or fermentation.
    The heat is unable to escape, and the temperature of the material rises
    The temperature of the material rises above its ignition point

    Combustion begins if a sufficiently strong oxidizer, such as oxygen, is present.
    [ –> Notice how fuel, heat and oxidiser are all present . . . each is necessary and the three together are sufficient]

    [edit] Pyrophoric substances
    Main article: Pyrophoricity

    The element sodium is an example of a pyrophoric material which can undergo a kind of spontaneous (and potentially very violent) explosion when exposed to oxygen, water, or moisture in the air. Pyrophoric substances have an autoignition temperature below room temperature and often require mere contact with air or water in order to spontaneously ignite. [–> they can pull the Oxy out of the water to burn] A characteristic of pyrophoric materials is also their large specific surface of contact with air. Raney nickel is pyrophoric because of the very fine size of its particles. Rieke metals are even more dangerous . . .

    In short, you have plainly tried to head off on a tangent after a red herring.

    Yes, if we were in another world where the fire triangle was not a sufficient cluster of necessary conditions for a fire, fires would not work the way they do in our world, but the point still obtains that things that begin or may end have necessary causal factors. As we saw for spontaneous combustion.

    So, can wee now come back on track please?

    What is crucial for the present analysis is to understand that absent one or more necessary causal factors and an effect will not begin, or if a going concern, it will cease. So, we can understand contingency.

    From contingency, we can move on to necessity of being.

    Thence we can look at the existence of a cosmos that is credibly contingent and fine-tuned for C-chemistry, cell based life.

    In that context, we can address the implications of an observed contingent and fine tuned world, in terms of a reasonable candidate to be the underlying necessary being, even through a multiverse speculation.

    GEM of TKI

  59. 59
    kairosfocus says:

    MI:

    Well done.

    Did you do the transcript yourself?

    G

  60. 60
    material.infantacy says:

    Thanks KF. Indeed, I haphazardly typed the thing. I thought it worth the effort.

  61. 61
    ScottAndrews says:

    KF,

    I’m sold on a non-contingent being, mainly for reasons outside of science and perhaps not strictly logical.

    Logically, though, two factors require it.
    First, there must be non-contingent cause. Otherwise any existence is a logical impossibility.
    Second, the cause is evidently intelligent.

    I don’t think that FG was missing the point, but perhaps was trying make infinite regression take sides, which it doesn’t.

    If you use IR specifically with regard to life, in the sense that only life begets life, it might seem possible to force a “natural” beginning, even if it’s numerous regressions in the past.

    But that fails because it still leads to the same question – what caused the natural cause. Even if one rejects a non-contingent being, IR can’t be used to refute one side of the argument without also refuting the other.

  62. 62
    rhampton7 says:

    kairosfocus,

    You have noted that matches can undergo spontaneously combustion if there is some root cause. I agree – and this is where radioactive decay differs.

    The instability of the atom is not a cause but a state of potential, like an unlit match. The actual cause, the thing that triggers the decay to occur at moment X and not Y. This is not known nor has it ever been observed. In fact, the logic from which many theoretical models of Quantum Mechanics are driven postulates there is no cause.

    So you can not claim with certainty, using either logic or scientific data, that causation is a universal necessity.

  63. 63
    avocationist says:

    Kairosfocus and Scott,

    I believe you have misunderstood me. I am a firm believer in intelligent design.

    “It’s not a bad question. It’s just irrelevant. If the evidence points to intelligent design, then it just does.”

    But you said I should not rule out that we were designed by beings like ourselves, to which FG makes a valid objection. Aliens like us just moves the regress back.
    I hope I’m not muddying the waters here, because I am not quibbling with the design inference.

    “Your point seems to be that if the evidence leads us to a conclusion and the conclusion leads to more unanswered questions, then we should scrap the evidence and the conclusions. ”

    Nah, I never said such a thing.

    “Then why repackage the infinite regression argument as something else? And why apply it selectively?”

    I am not sure how I have done that. I am merely responding to what I see as a valid point of FG.

    Rhampton-

    “However, it would be equally presumptuous to claim there is only one divine designer”

    Well, I can see a possibility of only one divine being. Not sure what you mean by divine?

    “the (divine) creation of the first life form does not eliminate the possibility that multiple, mortal designers of unknown origin subsequently modified what was available on Earth.”

    Well no, not at all, but they would need to be more than one celled beings themselves!

  64. 64
    kairosfocus says:

    MI:

    great job.

    SA:

    the problem with infinite regresses as I have pointed out for several days now is that a countable infinity of cardinality Aleph null, is not traversible step by step. You can no more count down from minus infinity to zero than you can count up from zero to positive infinity.

    RH7:

    Your repeat problem is refusal to recognise the significance of necessary causal factors.

    If something begins or may cease, it is contingent and has necessary causal factors, period.

    We may be unable to identify the sufficient factors for a particular atom of radium to decay, but we know that if there is no radium atom, that decay is not going to happen. We know that if there is not an unfavourable particle balance in the nucleus, alpha emission will not happen, and ditto for beta or K-capture etc. And an atomic nucleus has to be in an excited state for gamma emission to restore it to a lower energy state.

    Similarly, when Planck studied cavity radiation, he discovered that the best explanation for the spectrum was that energy had to come off in h*f lumps, which five years later fitted in with the Einstein explanation that atoms had to absorb in lumps to emit photoelectrons. Below the right frequency, no emission regardless of intensity, above it, emission regardless of how weak the light.

    Similarly, the Pauli exclusion principle for fermions like electrons with spin half leads to the sort of pattern of orbitals we see in atoms, and for that matter in how semiconductors behave — I have Fermi level in mind — etc.

    And so on and so forth.

    What is happening is that there is a confusion where cause is being mistaken for only meaning sufficient cause.

    And so, can we come back from this red herring sidetrack too?

    GEM of TKI

  65. 65
    Petrushka says:

    The actual cause, the thing that triggers the decay to occur at moment X and not Y. This is not known nor has it ever been observed. In fact, the logic from which many theoretical models of Quantum Mechanics are driven postulates there is no cause.

    In fact, if there is a local cause, Quantum theory is wrong.

    And quantum theory is the most successful theory ever, in terms of predicting results. None of its predictions have ever been incorrect, regardless of how fine the measurement.

  66. 66
    faded_Glory says:

    Mung:

    When Barry speaks of living things, he is talking about biological life, on earth, and he is talking about biological life on earth that is currently alive.

    If that is in fact the case, then it makes absolutely no sense to speak of ‘first life.’

    It seems that you want him to accept your evolutionary assumptions about the history and evolution of life, and he is under no obligation to do so.

    ————

    As I have said several times now, that is perfectly ok. I get it. Really. ID, in the form of Barry’s argument, is agnostic about the origin of life on Earth, and even on the origin of life in general.

    I think it is a rather unexpected conclusion but I have no quarrel with it.

    Still, to emphasise once again, my objection to the argument is not one of infinite regress, just as the barber paradox is not one of infinite regress.

    I am not asking who designed the designer. I am asking what designed first life. Do you see the difference?

    I am asking this to highlight that Barry’s argument blows up when applied to first life, as the result of a built-in logical contradiction. Exactly as the barber statement blows up when someone asks who shaves the barber.

    This has nothing to do with infinite regress, but everything with a built-in self-referential logical contradiction. These things are not the same.

    In fact it is the law of non-contradiction that is in play here. Something can not be first life, and not first life, at the same time.

    I think that you actually know this – why else would you stress that the argument should only be used on life on Earth that is currently known?

    fG

  67. 67
    kairosfocus says:

    Avo:

    The inference that on the dFSCI in cell based life that exhibits metabolism and self replication on a von Neumann self replicator, points to design, does not even address the issue of the identity of that designer.

    So, we have an observational evidence wall in hand. As in, we are looking at the Galilean criterion for science: if the ideas are not currently subject to empirical observation you are not discussing science here.

    It is possible that we are the product of another race within our cosmos, as has been acknowledged form the very first ID technical book, TMLO. We do not have evidence to determine that specific identity of the designer question.

    But that does not undermine the force of inference to design of the living cell on its abundant signs of design. In the hands of ever so many what we are seeing is a red herring distraction.

    The question they have put on the table, in its various forms, is a PHILOSOPHICAL question, and is one that is amenable to the analysis of the logic of cause. All too much so, that is why there is an attempt to divert or to ignore.

    There is good reason to see that traversing a countable infinity in steps is a self-defeating option.

    So, the question is, what is the terminus for life.

    the answer to that lies down the road of first understanding necessary causal factors, a real challenge as the mistaken arguments that quantum phenomena are without cause, show. the simple half burned match exercise will teach much to those willing to be taught.

    Once that is understood, you will be able to see what a contingent being is, and why it is said that that which begins or may cease from being has a cause. Namely, it thus shows its dependence on external necessary causal factors.

    Such beings are by convenient label, contingent.

    Now, as the truth expressed as 2 + 3 = 5 exercise shows, there is at least one class of the other kind of being, those which are not begun or sustained by external causes, though they may be warranted on logical or demonstrational grounds.

    We thus come to necessary beings, beings that have no external causal dependence on necessary factors. A candidate to be this will thus be either impossible — the entity cannot exist at all, or it will be actual.

    And, we have here the situation that we live in a cosmos that is evidently both contingent and fine tuned for the sort of C-chemistry cell based life we enjoy. [That is on empirical data our cosmos appears to be best explained as designed.]

    Even though a multiverse speculation, that points to a root cause in a necessary being. One that on the fine tuning evidence, is purposeful, powerful, kno3ledgeable and skilled enough to create a cosmos.

    That is a worldview level analysis on inference to best explanation. But that is also sufficient to show that the imagined objection that designed life would have to come form non living intelligence, falls flat.

    For there is a serious alternative to the imagined dilemma, that falls into neither trap as suggested. It even gives a locus for the eternality of true propositions: they are held eternally in the mind of the architect of the cosmos as just identified as a best explanation.

    Of course, all of this means that in a context of the weight of scientific evidence and onward worldviews considerations, theism is a viable worldview.

    That’s the problem: that is in many circles today a most politically incorrect notion.

    But, be that political incorrectness as it may, such theism as worldview has this supreme advantage: it is in fact quite viable on the evidence and logic.

    As has been held by many great minds form Plato et al, to Newton et al and down to today.

    GEM of TKI

  68. 68
    kairosfocus says:

    FG:

    Why are you so insistent on going in circles in the teeth of easily accessible facts and reasoning?

    FACT NO 1: MODERN ID BEGAN WITH AN EXAMINATION OF THE ORIGIN OF LIFE ON EARTH, per TMLO, 1984.

    Second, Barry was directly addressing the origin of the only scientifically observed form of life on earth: metabolising cells with self replication facilities.

    That is where the observational evidence wall is.

    If you want to move the wall, provide observational evidence of other forms of biological life.

    Which, plainly, you cannot.

    Next, the first life argument has in it no logical contradiction whatsoever.

    The design argument on first cell based life — per observations, is that the signs point to design.

    If you want to speculate on a prior form of life that did not have metabolism and self replication based on informational macromolecules, admit that you are indulging in a philosophical speculation absent observational evidence.

    Next, the notion that there is an infinite regress of root forms of life causing subsequent forms, or else there is a resort to non-living intelligence, is nonsense, and it has been repeatedly pointed out to you since last weekend.

    Just, you continually insist on ignoring it.

    Yes the ULTIMATE root of cell based life as we observe could not have been a cell based life form. Just as, the root of a contingent cosmos based in key part on atomic matter, is beyond such.

    But as was again outlined above, once the logic of cause is followed up and the roots of a fine tuned cosmos are properly analysed, there is an obvious answer: a necessary, purposeful, creative being.

    No infinite regress, and a root life that does not require a beginning.

    The perception of a contradiction is most likely driven by a priori materialism that refuses to entertain the possibility of such a necessary being [in a context that is philosophical! but usually not acknowledged as such], and certainly refuses to engage in serious discussion about it.

    GEM of TKI

  69. 69
    Upright BiPed says:

    #60

    It was.

  70. 70
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: maybe I need to highlight what is required to defeat a contradiction.

    If claims P, Q, R, . . . are held to be in contradiction, on logic, that means there cannot be a possible — non contradictory — state of affairs on which P, Q, R, . . . can be simultaneously true.

    That is an extraordinarily stringent requirement.

    All that is required to defeat it is that there is a logically possible — does not have ot be plausible to you — state of affairs where the P AND Q and R . . . PLUS some E, a harmonising explanation, are possible.

    The obvious one here is that life on earth and the fine tuned cosmos are the product of an intelligent architect who is a purposeful, powerful, creating and necessary being.

    So, there is no contradiction.

    In addition, on inference to best explanation, which is what addresses plausibility, such a being is a serious candidate indeed.

    There is no contradiction in the notion of a contingent being, indeed we know many such up to and including our cosmos.

    there is no contradiction in the observation that such a being is dependent on one or more necessary causal factors. And, once we recognise the obvious fact that a necessary causal factor is just that, a causal factor, we have abundant empirical evidence that that which begins or may cease to exist has a cause. And no evidence to the contrary, claims about quantum phenomena notwithstanding.

    Next, there is no contradiction in the idea of a being that has no external necessary CAUSAL factors, though of course there may be logical relations. The truth in the expression, 2 + 3 = 5 is a case in point. This was always true and it will not cease from being true.

    That our observed cosmos is contingent and had a beginning usually estimated at 13.7 BYA these days, is a commonplace. Even through multiverse speculations, that points to a necessary being as the causal root of why there is something rather than nothing.

    And given the evidence of fine tuning, it is reasonable to argue that the relevant being is powerful, purposeful and creative, all of which point to a self-moved, ensouled being with a mind, a highly intelligent one.

    Such a cosmic architect and creator is a reasonable and — save to those who are closed a priori or even militantly hostile to such possibilities — plausible view, not an unreasonable one.

    In short, FG, you have inadvertently added to the force of the reason to believe in such a cosmic architect.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Onlookers, observe this line of reasoning is independent of any scriptural or religious tradition, it is a philosophical argument. One that will gain further force once we trace the roots of our common understanding that we are indeed under moral obligations, i.e there must be an is sufficient to ground ought, e.g failing this, we have no grounds for rights, and our objections to evil become of no more weight than objections to say prunes, as C S Lewis was fond of saying.

  71. 71
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 2: Nothing just above means a real nothing, no space, time, matter, energy, potential, laws etc, no mind, nothing, nothing nothing. [When people try to pull a cosmos out of a quantum fluctuation, there has to be something there to fluctuate.]

  72. 72
    Upright BiPed says:

    Johmn Lennox is a living, breathing, reason why scientists should be forced to take a senoir-level class in philosophy in order to practice science.

  73. 73
    ScottAndrews says:

    Avocationist,

    Never mind me. I get wrapped up in little details and miss the context.

  74. 74
    rhampton7 says:

    If something begins or may cease, it is contingent and has necessary causal factors, period.

    That’s a supposition. Under the DeBroglie-Bohm model of Quantum Mechanics, classical determinism (the kind of cause and effect scenario you constantly refer to as self-evidently true) simply does not exist.

  75. 75
    kairosfocus says:

    RH7:

    The above is inadvertently all too revealing.

    Let’s start with something basic: have you lit a match, half burned it, then tilted its head up yet?

    If so, tell me what happened, and tell me what that says about the factors, fuel, heat and oxidiser, as necessary factors for a fire that when jointly present will lead to or sustain the fire.

    Kindly show me a case of something that begins to be or may cease from being, that does not have a necessary causal factor that the absence or removal of it will block the beginning or continuation.

    Now you keep on bringing up quantum mechanics, but seem to be unable to distinguish a necessary causal factor from a sufficient causal factor, as in you have plainly not learned the lesson of the match.

    Again, on the crude level, no radium atom, no decay. No excitation of an atom nucleus, no gamma emission. No photons of sufficient energy, and no photo emission, etc etc.

    Nor am I speaking of a determinism.

    It is sufficient causal factors that WILL make an event happen, i.e they will be sufficient to determine that an outcome will result.

    SUFF CAUSE FACTORS => effect

    (IF SCF, THEN effect)

    Necessary causal factors by direct contrast must be present and if absent will BLOCK an event, they are precisely not deterministic.

    Effect => NECESS CAUSE FACTORS

    (UNLESS NCF, Then no effect.)

    Necessary factors are on the opposite side of the implication sign!

    Please, go do the match exercise.

    GEM of TKI

  76. 76
    rhampton7 says:

    kairosfocus,

    You can find better descriptions then what I’m about to offer, provided you do some investigation on your own.

    In the classical view, a given effect – say the burning of a match – would be said to be caused by the striking of it. In actuality, there’s quite a lot that goes on in between (as you noted with chemical reactions), but the model works well enough to be useful. Likewise, it would be said that the boiling of a particular pot of tea in China had no practical influence in this cause-effect relationship.

    In the DeBroglie-Bohm model, however, the pot of tea and everything else in the universe is absolutely necessary in determining the outcome of the match being struck. Make no mistake, this is not a description of Chaos theory in that distant variables have a infinitesimally small but greater than 0 influence, but a description of the universe as an singular whole wherein every iota is equally and fundamentally critical in determining any and all outcomes. There is but only one universal wave function. Thus the universe is the only true observer (intelligent agent), the only true cause, and the only true effect, and we humans are no more individual, independent actors then the laws of physics or time or space. Because of this self-referential nature, if the universe did existed in some form before the Big Bang without beginning or end, then it’s entirely possible that it is God, the first cause.

    Granted, this is not an orthodox religious view, but it is a logical inference.

  77. 77
    avocationist says:

    rhampton –

    I must say, you seem to engage in magical thinking. You also left in the air the assertion that people designed dogs, which they most certainly did not.
    +++++++++++++++++
    I admit at this point I’m a tad confused about just what FG is driving at. Isn’t it so that we have more than just current life forms, but also good fossil evidence of the very first bacteria, and that they were sufficiently complex? So if FG wants to discuss first life ever, is he/she conceding the point as to life here but perhaps hoping for simpler life forms within the galaxy?

    I thought, Ah, perhaps he/she is trying to trap Barry into admitting that he thinks the designer is God, but KF, at any rate, has admitted that.

  78. 78
    avocationist says:

    Kairos,

    You have said that if the being is not logically impossible, it will be actual.
    Can you explain that?

    Scott @61,

    Re the noncontingent being:

    “Logically, though, two factors require it.
    First, there must be non-contingent cause. Otherwise any existence is a logical impossibility.
    Second, the cause is evidently intelligent.”

    Why would a noncontingent being not also be uncaused? Doesn’t ’cause’ imply a time when it was not? If you call it self-caused, then how can an intelligence cause itself?

  79. 79
    tgpeeler says:

    FG @ 65 “In fact it is the law of non-contradiction that is in play here. Something can not be first life, and not first life, at the same time.”

    This is true. But here’s how the logic works. There had to be a first life. No? Yes. If there were no first life there would be no life at all. But there is life, so there must have been first life.

    So far, so good. Nothing to see here folks, move right along.

    But here’s the rub and here’s where the infinite regress problem gets solved. I think I can safely say that every cell ever observed in all of human history came from another cell. In fact, although I am no biologist, not even close, I believe that is part of “cell theory.” The biology version of quantum physics, maybe.

    So we understand that all cells that we have ever seen come from other cells. Another way to say this is that life comes from life. So what about the FIRST life? That’s the 14.5 Trillion dollar question, isn’t it?

    The first life CANNOT (read and think carefully here) be like all of the other life BECAUSE all of the other life came from (was caused by) prior life. But there is nothing prior to FIRST. That’s what the word means (law of identity, which you evidently have some regard for since you cited the law of non-contradiction (LNC) which is just another way of looking at the law of identity). So if the first life can’t be CAUSED (by prior life) IT MUST HAVE BEEN UNCAUSED. Law of non-contradiction and law of excluded middle (LEM) apply. Caused or uncaused. It can’t be both (LNC) and it must be one or the other (LEM). Those are our choices.

    If something is uncaused, that means it must have always existed. IT MUST HAVE. There is no weasel room here. The first life, like the first cause, must be uncaused.

    Uncaused is another way of saying infinite. If something exists yet is uncaused then it MUST HAVE always existed.

    If it has always existed then we say that it is infinite. If it is infinite then we know that it is immaterial. Why? Because if something is material you can count it and that means it’s finite. We are talking definitions here. Law of identity. (without which no rational thought is possible)

    So WE KNOW (because we can “do the math”) that the First cause of life is uncaused, infinite, eternal, always existing, (take your pick) Life.

    See. Not so hard at all.

  80. 80
    tgpeeler says:

    avocationist @ 76 “I thought, Ah, perhaps he/she is trying to trap Barry into admitting that he thinks the designer is God, but KF, at any rate, has admitted that.”

    Of course he’s admitted that. It’s the ONLY logical explanation.

    Let’s try a thought experiment here.

    Imagine a car in a parking lot. Imagine that it is running. Imagine that you walk up to me and say, who turned that car on? Imagine that I say no one did – it’s always been running.

    You immediately know I’m full of it for these reasons. First law of thermodynamics – energy is neither created or destroyed (the universe is finite). Second law – energy gets used up and is no longer usable.

    The gas tank has a finite amount of fuel (first law). The gasoline in the gas tank will eventually be used up (second law). So if the car had been running for an infinite amount of time then it would have already run out of gas. But it is still running so it hasn’t run out of gas so it hasn’t been running for an infinite amount of time. Therefore, it’s been running for a FINITE amount of time therefore SOMEBODY STARTED THE CAR.

    Now, substitute universe for car and the mass/energy (or whatever physicists call it) of the universe for gasoline and you’ll get it.

  81. 81
    tgpeeler says:

    R7 @ 75 “Because of this self-referential nature, if the universe did existed in some form before the Big Bang without beginning or end, then it’s entirely possible that it is God, the first cause.”

    This is pantheism. It’s atheism with the term “Universe” instead of “God.”

    It is impossible for a finite thing – the universe, to be infinite. See laws of identity, non-contradiction, and excluded middle. On the other hand, the First Cause, which must be uncaused, also must be an immaterial being. Has to be. So the infinite cannot be the finite so the infinite is apart from the finite so pantheism is nonsense. Literally.

  82. 82
    avocationist says:

    Thanks TG. Perhaps you’ll have a look at my post 77.

    Now, I would ask you, if the finite is apart from the infinite, from what or how did the finite get created?

    And have you any conception at all what an immaterial being would be “made of” so that it is not nothing, and so that it can influence matter?

  83. 83
    faded_Glory says:

    avoctionist,

    No, I am not trying to ‘trap Barry’. He presented an argument, in good faith undoubtedly, and it struck me that there is an inherent flaw with the argument, so I opened a discussion about it, also in good faith.

    The point I am driving at is simple and I have made it numerous times now: I sincerely think that his argument falls in the same class of statements as the barber’s paradox. I have explained my reasoning and nobody here has yet shown that it does not.

    I do believe that it is fairly straightforward to amend Barry’s argument to escape the paradox, just like it is easy to amend the barber’s paradox itself to avoid the logical pitfall. I have made two suggestions on how this can be done. It is up to Barry if he wants to take this on board or not.

    However, trying to make the problem go away by declaring the question ‘what created first life’ out of bounds is just as impotent as trying to make the barber’s paradox problem go away by declaring the question ‘who shaves the barber’ out of bounds.

    This is the length and breadth of my argument. If others want to push it into other domains that is up to them.

    fG

  84. 84
    faded_Glory says:

    tgpeeler said:

    ————-

    “This is true. But here’s how the logic works. There had to be a first life. No? Yes. If there were no first life there would be no life at all. But there is life, so there must have been first life.

    So far, so good. Nothing to see here folks, move right along.

    But here’s the rub and here’s where the infinite regress problem gets solved. I think I can safely say that every cell ever observed in all of human history came from another cell. In fact, although I am no biologist, not even close, I believe that is part of “cell theory.” The biology version of quantum physics, maybe.

    So we understand that all cells that we have ever seen come from other cells. Another way to say this is that life comes from life. So what about the FIRST life? That’s the 14.5 Trillion dollar question, isn’t it?

    The first life CANNOT (read and think carefully here) be like all of the other life BECAUSE all of the other life came from (was caused by) prior life. But there is nothing prior to FIRST. That’s what the word means (law of identity, which you evidently have some regard for since you cited the law of non-contradiction (LNC) which is just another way of looking at the law of identity).”

    —————–

    Well yes, this is exactly what have been arguing here, and I am glad that you at least see my point and are in agreement.

    However, than you go on and conclude:

    “So if the first life can’t be CAUSED (by prior life) IT MUST HAVE BEEN UNCAUSED.”

    Well, no. An alternative solution is that first life was caused by something that was not itself alive. All you have to allow for is the possibility that a non-living entity or process could be classified as intelligent. On what grounds do you rule that out?

    fG

  85. 85
    avocationist says:

    OK, FG, but neither have you (yet) responded to the two or three posts that I think address your problem.

    What do you mean by a nonliving entity or process? An ‘entity’ implies a being, and if this being gives life, how do you decide it isn’t alive?

  86. 86
    faded_Glory says:

    avocationist,

    Can you please remind me of which posts these are? There are quite a lot, some maintain that I am asking ‘who designed the designer’, which I am not; others suggest that we can avoid the paradox by positing uncaused life (not sure how that avoids the paradox – life is still life, whether it is caused or uncaused; besides, I think the idea of uncaused life carries a lot of bagage that sometimes makes people overlook some implications: once we allow for uncaused life, why not propose the simple solution that first life on Earth was uncaused?

    I have suggested several solutions myself:

    – make it clear that the argument only applies to life we can actually investigate (like Barry’s Jerry Coyne example). Don’t extrapolate it from there to first life because it will blow up. The consequence of this is that ID, in the form of Barry’s argument at least, is agnostic on the question of what caused first life. I would readily agree with that – I am agnostic myself on that question because I accept that we simply don’t know.

    – an alternative solution is not to (silently) rule out the possibility of non-living intelligence. First life could theoretically be the product of non living processes that could be clasified as intelligent on the strenght of what they manage to achieve. I realise that this opens the huge can of worms of what intelligence is, what its prerequisites are, and so on – but why would ID shy away from such discussions if Intelligence is such a central part of its tenet?

    There may well be other ways to prevent the paradox. Leaving Barry’s argument stand as it is though, is not valid, imho.

    fG

  87. 87
    kairosfocus says:

    Avo, 77:

    You have said that if the being is not logically impossible, it will be actual.

    Can you explain that?

    I am discussing necessary beings here; as opposed to impossible ones, which are by definition non-beings.

    If you do the match exercise — and all of us should do it to give us a common empirical/ observational base, you will see how a flame is a contingent being. (Notice how the objectors tip-toe around this case study? That should tell you something.)

    The flame depends for its existence on three necessary causal factors, that together happen to be sufficient: fuel [i.e. inclusive of the required chain reaction], oxidiser, heat. (Even, spontaneous combustion, as I clipped Wiki above on.)

    We thus see —

    here we are looking at the logic of cause [and no prizes for guessing why, under present political correctness, we have not been taught this in Science 101 courses! This stuff is red-hot, and most unwelcome or even utterly confusing and controversial in very powerful quarters! (There is such a thing as induced incomprehensibility, when one is committed to a system that blocks ability to see what would otherwise be obvious.)] . . .

    — how a contingent being depends on an external, necessary causal factor, so that it can be “switched on” or “switched off.”

    This is the root of the saying that if something begins or can cease from being it has a cause. [“Cause” is the label, causation is the reality. And the good old burning match case is an apt illustration that allows us to break through some heavy-duty mental blocks, if we are willing. remember the old stories of those who refused to look through Galileo’s telescope and see for themselves? Guess why several people over the past week or so have apparently refused to do the match exercise, and certainly will not discuss it . . . ]

    It is also the root of the point that once we see this possibility and reality of necessary causes, we can realise that things that begin are not a-causal. (Hence, too. my repeated remarks above that typical quantum phenomena — contrary to a lot of sloppy discussions from surprising sources — are not a-causal.)

    There are two other possibilities: necessary beings, and impossible beings.

    An impossible being is one whose existence would be self contradictory, like a circle square. Being circular implies NOT being square, and the converse, so such a being is not possible, it cannot exist.

    Now the third logical possibility is a being that is both logically possible and has in it no external, necessary causal factors. Such a being would have no beginning, and as there is nothing to switch it off, is also without an end of being.

    The truth in the expression 2 + 3 = 5 is an example [you should see Russell in the famous debate with Fr Copeleston hasten to wall off this type of case before trying to argue for actual infinite regresses — astonishing!], just to illustrate the existence of such a being. This truth was always so, and will always be so, on pain of reduction to absurdity.

    Now, you will note that it is being argued that if a necessary being is possible, it is actual. That is, such a being is being contrasted to IMPOSSIBLE beings. Impossible beings, of course are not actual.

    Here is Maverick Philosopher, who has spoken aptly:

    Nicolai Hartmann, Moeglichkeit und Wirklichkeit, p. 29 . . . Hartmann is saying in effect that everything contingent is actual, and that the contingent and the necessary are polar opposites: what is contingent is not necessary, and what is not necessary is contingent.

    I beg to differ. First of all, not everything contingent is actual. My being asleep now and my being awake (= not asleep) now are both possible states of affairs. The second is actual, the first is not. But both are contingent. So not everything contingent is actual. The imagery of possible worlds ought to make this graphic for the modally challenged. A contingent state of affairs is one that obtains in some but not all possible worlds. Now my being asleep now obtains in some but not all possible worlds. Therefore, my being asleep now is contingent though not actual. So not everything contingent is actual.

    Second, it is not the case that x is contingent if and only if x is not necessary. For there are states of affairs that are not necessary but also not contingent. My being both awake and not awake now is an impossible state of affairs. It is neither necessary nor contingent. Not necessary, because it does not obtain in every possible world. Not contingent, because it it does not obtain in some (but not all) possible worlds.

    The polar opposite of the contingent is not the necessary but the the noncontingent. The noncontingent embraces both the the necessary and the impossible, that which exists/obtains in all worlds, and that which exists/obtains in no world.

    Reality, then, is modally tripartite:

    The necessary: that which exists/obtains in all possible worlds. The contingent: that which exists/obtains in some but not all possible worlds. The impossible: that which exists/obtains in no possible world.

    You say you are uncomfortable with the patois of possible worlds? The distinctions can be sliced without this jargon. The necessary is that which cannot not be. The contingent is that which is possible to be and possible not to be. The impossible is that which cannot be.

    And that’s all she wrote, modally speaking.

    Are we just playing with idle abstract concepts here? So, the question of mere ivory tower circularity arises?

    NO.

    For, to bring out the way existence of a candidate necessary being that is not an impossibility is implicated as actual, let us deal with the key case in view.

    We live in a world where there is something, not nothing. An observed cosmos that by common consent on the results of science since the 1920’s – 60’s, is seen as contingent, i.e. it had a beginning.

    Did it come from an infinite regress?

    No, as it is impossible to stepwise traverse such a regress, and reach to now. [Just as you cannot count up 1, 2, 3 . . . infinity-1, infinity, no more, you cannot count down from minus-infinity to zero.] Besides, such a cosmos would have already reached heat death by which the energy concentrations that lead to gradients that drive change, including life, would have dissipated.

    Did something come from nothing?

    No, as something will not come from a REAL nothing. No matter, space, energy, time, laws of reality, mind, etc. If there was nothing to begin with, there would be nothing to follow.

    Something ultimately had to be there and had to be always there, for there to be a world in which we can live today. The question is not if there was a beginningless entity, but what it is. And, by the force of the logic, such an entity is one without causal dependence on an external necessary factor — there is no on/off switch for it, it is always “on,” in any actual or possible world.

    We already saw that for something like the truth being expressed in our symbols string: 2 + 3 = 5. Where also 2 + 2 = 5 is an impossible being.

    So, strange as it seems to us, we have tow modes of actual existence: that which is contingent, dependent on at least one on/off condition, and that which is necessary, that which has no on/off switch. Impossible beings, like circle squares [contrary to that old TV programme!], simply are not actual.

    Is the observed universe the necessary being? Nope, as it is contingent.

    So, then, what is?

    A multiverse? By common presentations, such would be a cluster of the contingent, distributed by chance to form a population of actual worlds, a set of sub universes that are this way or that, with distributed parameters and laws — with us as a happy chance outcome. Oops, the sub cosmi are then contingent, we need the “bakery” to cook them up. So, something lies aback such a speculative — there is a want of empirical data — suggested world.

    That leads to the need for a cosmos bakery that can cook up such fine-tuned for life sub-cosmi as we represent. In Collins’ words:

    Suppose we went on a mission to Mars, and found a domed structure in which everything was set up just right for life to exist. The temperature, for example, was set around 70 °F and the humidity was at 50%; moreover, there was an oxygen recycling system, an energy gathering system, and a whole system for the production of food. Put simply, the domed structure appeared to be a fully functioning biosphere. What conclusion would we draw from finding this structure? Would we draw the conclusion that it just happened to form by chance? Certainly not. Instead, we would unanimously conclude that it was designed by some intelligent being. Why would we draw this conclusion? Because an intelligent designer appears to be the only plausible explanation for the existence of the structure. That is, the only alternative explanation we can think of–that the structure was formed by some natural process–seems extremely unlikely. Of course, it is possible that, for example, through some volcanic eruption various metals and other compounds could have formed, and then separated out in just the right way to produce the “biosphere,” but such a scenario strikes us as extraordinarily unlikely, thus making this alternative explanation unbelievable.

    The universe is analogous to such a “biosphere,” according to recent findings in physics . . . . Scientists call this extraordinary balancing of the parameters of physics and the initial conditions of the universe the “fine-tuning of the cosmos” . . . For example, theoretical physicist and popular science writer Paul Davies–whose early writings were not particularly sympathetic to theism–claims that with regard to basic structure of the universe, “the impression of design is overwhelming” (Davies, 1988, p. 203) . . .

    So, we are back to a cosmos-bakery, the issue has been pushed back one step by the multiverse, not eliminated.

    Do we have a bakery that somehow was just there and could not have been otherwise?

    Or, are we looking at a cosmic architect who set up the bakery, and who would be the candidate necessary being of relevance?

    [And, nope, I am NOT making the inference that this is God, though the theistic view is an obvious presentation of this idea.]

    Now, could the cosmic architect be a platonic demiurge? Well, that demiurge found the forms in being and found formless chaotic matter to be shaped on the forms, however imperfectly. Nope, we are not there yet.

    H’mm, try out ying-yang, a duality of opposed forms. Or even a quarrelling pantheon. that indeed gets us to the diversity, but it has a big hole in the middle: how then do we find a unity?

    We need a unified, necessary being capable of explaining a fine tuned cosmos such as we inhabit, or at least the bakery that cooks up such sub-cosmi. Such a being is powerful, intelligent, purposeful, knowledgeable, skilled and creative.

    Thus, self-moved and ensouled, in Plato’s terms. Living, though prior to biological life.

    You may propose other candidates as you will, but you will understand why theists see this as a case where cosmology, once it established a beginning, and once it has shown just how credibly fine-tuned the cosmos is for life, points to a unified, necessary, intelligent, purposeful, creative being. (And BTW, Christian theists, see the required unity as also embracing diversity! That gets us into another worldviews debate on explaining the one and the many.)

    That now old story about astrophysicists rushing out from their observatories to get baptised and join the First Church of God, big bang was not simply a joke. Like all great jokes, it has a bite of reality to it.

    Nope, the matter is not a confession of guilt on the charge of being a theist, but the context of the results of the science. The science came first, reluctantly, and the inference that God is now on the table as a very viable reality indeed, came after.

    (And, notice, we are here underscoring that biological ID issues do not implicate design of life by a creator within or beyond the world, i.e. we have a that tweredun case on this, not a whodunit case. Of course, even through “assistants,” the setting up of a fine tuned cosmos in which such life is facilitated, points to ultimate cause in the necessary being behind the cosmos.)

    Okay, I hope that helps us all see why modes of being boil down to being exhausted by the contingent and the necessary, impossibility being a non-mode.

    GEM of TKI

  88. 88
    faded_Glory says:

    avocationist,

    Your second question: “What do you mean by a nonliving entity or process? An ‘entity’ implies a being, and if this being gives life, how do you decide it isn’t alive?”

    Good question. However, if we decide that that what created first life is alive by virtue of it being a life-giving entity, we haven’t
    really solved the paradox, haven’t we?

    It is interesting to see how so many of us (I’d wager all of us, actualy) wade into these discussions bandying terms and words around, and thinking that we all know what they mean and that we all agree on their meaning. As the conversations unfold we often get to a point where the block to concluding them sucessfully turns out to be that we do not actually agree on the meaning of the words we use.

    Unfortunately at that point I have seen many of the conversations here bog down, or worse, end in annoying cyberspats.

    I guess what I mean by a non-living process is one that fails the critter test. Is it a live critter, a dead critter or not a critter at all?

    Tongue in cheek, sure, but I don’t have the stomach to go into a death match on definitions. I think we probably agree closely enough on what is alive and what is not that we can live with some fuzziness at the boundary. What do you say?

    fG

  89. 89
    faded_Glory says:

    For non-living process read non-living entity.

    fG

  90. 90
    kairosfocus says:

    RH7, 75:

    In the DeBroglie-Bohm model, however, the pot of tea and everything else in the universe is absolutely necessary in determining the outcome of the match being struck.

    pardon, but you are simply distracting yourself with irrelevancies.

    Once we see that no radium atom, no decay of same, we see an example of how quantum phenomena are — even trivially — subject to necessary causal conditions and so are by force of logic, not a-causal.

    We know per observation that the tilted up half burned match will make the flame try to burn the already burned part, and — lacking in the heat level to burn carbon [and remember a bot of sodium dropped onto water can strip the O out of the water to burn!] — the flame will die out.

    What is central here is that we see necessary causal factors in action as realities of our world.

    We live in a world in which there are on/off switches, and a lot of things are dependent on the switches being on.

    That is what then raises the issue of the always on — without an on/off switch.

    As was again just discussed.

    GEM of TKI

  91. 91
    kairosfocus says:

    FG:

    Pardon me but you are beginning to come across like the scholastic scholars who refused to look at Jupiter etc for themselves through Galileo’s telescope.

    You have had — for about a week now — a serious answer to your claimed dilemma and your claimed contradiction.

    You have found a threadbare excuse to avoid addressing it.

    Not even to do the simple half burned match exercise.

    That is telling, sadly telling.

    Let’s sum up: there is no dilemma and there is no contradictory challenge of first life coming from non-living intelligence, as there is the option that life that is biological is causally rooted in a necessary being that is powerful enough to build a cosmos, knowledgeable and intelligent enough to make it a fine tuned one suited for C-chemistry cell based life, has the purpose to decide to do that, and the skill to actually carry it out. that is, we see here a self-moved, ensouled, creative necessary being. That is we have here a candidate root of life that is living and is without cause as without dependence on an on/off switch — a necessary causal factor.

    And, so stringent is the charge, contradiction, that simply a logically possible state of affairs — it does not at all have to be plausible to you, just logically possible — suffices to overturn it, as I took time to explain above.

    But, beyond that, there is serious reason to consider that it is plausible indeed, even, reasonable that his may well be the actual state of affairs.

    GEM of TKI

  92. 92
    kairosfocus says:

    TGP:

    Some serious points

    GEM of TKI

  93. 93
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: And, FG, Barry’s argument, on his limited focus, is perfectly valid. Whatever the state of the cause of this entity X with signs S of design, we are entitled to infer from signs to design as cause of X. We may then follow up the ladder to Y etc. And, in the end, we find ourselves looking at the issue of the contingent vs the necessary vs the impossible as beings. For which the half-burned match case study is a good gateway, one you seem astonishingly averse to going through.

  94. 94
    tgpeeler says:

    fg @ 83 “Well, no. An alternative solution is that first life was caused by something that was not itself alive. All you have to allow for is the possibility that a non-living entity or process could be classified as intelligent. On what grounds do you rule that out?”

    I rule it out on these grounds. Information and life are inextricable. You can’t have life without information (DNA/RNA) and you can’t have information without life.

    Information requires, requires, the laws of rational thought (identity, non-contradiction, excluded middle, and causality), the symbols and rules of a “local” language (here English), free will, and purpose.

    Describe to me one non-living (i.e. governed by the laws of physics) entity or process that can reason, and freely and purposefully manipulate symbols in accordance with the rules of reason and the local language to generate information. Then we can talk. Until then, you are engaging in the idlest sort of speculation.

  95. 95
    faded_Glory says:

    Why are you talking about information, tgpeeler? How does that relate to my post?

    fG

  96. 96
    tgpeeler says:

    fG, I say again, you can’t have life without information. How is this not clear? If you can’t have life without information then you can’t have a conversation about the origin of life without explaining the origin of information. Am I missing something?

    “To start with, a brief introduction to modern evolution theory is given (chapter 1). A central and fundamental concept of this theory is that of “biological information,” since the material order and the purposiveness characteristic of living systems are governed completely by information, which in turn has its foundations at the level of biological macromolecules (chapter 2). The question of the origin of life is thus equivalent to the question of the origin of biological information.” Information and the Origin of Life, from the introduction.”

  97. 97
    rhampton7 says:

    kairosfocus 90,

    Your understanding of causality (classical determinism) does not comport with Quantum theory and the experiments and observations to date. Please take this piece of advice as honest and sincere: you need to learn the difference between logical suppositions and logical proofs.

  98. 98
    faded_Glory says:

    tgpeeler,

    Ok, so you don’t think that this particular suggestion to resolve the barber’s paradox in Barry’s argument is valid.

    No problem, it was just a suggestion. I think there may be other people who do not share your particular concerns about the orign of life. And so the debate goes on.

    The problem remains, though, that we need to offer a solution to the paradox that first life cannot be created by something that is itself alive. That is not a matter for negotiation, it is a basic consequence of the law of non-contradiction.

    In the meantime Bary has put up a new post where he offers the solution that we should only use his argument on things we can actually investigate. I believe we agree that first life is not open to such investigation, and therefore we should stop short of using his argument on the question of the origin of first life.

    I am happy with that. How about you?

    fG

  99. 99
    kairosfocus says:

    RH7:

    I observe, again, that you refuse to do the match exercise.

    Kindly note, I distinguish, on excellent grounds [and in very good company), between a necessary causal factor and a sufficient cluster of causal factors.

    Let’s keep the matter simple: unless the material causal factor of one or more Radium atoms is present, there will be no — zip, zilch — possibility of a Radium atom decaying. This is a trivial case.

    Similarly, unless there is a photon of sufficient energy there will be no photo emission. Indeed it is explaining this that largely won Einstein his Nobel Prize.

    What is happening is that cause is being confused with sufficient causal factors, which are unknown for most quantum phenomena.

    And, pardon the directness: I am precisely speaking of the logical OPPOSITE of determinism, classical or otherwise.

    For instance, certain influences must be there for a person to act in a certain way. But that precisely only says these are necessary causal factors, not sufficient ones. A person influenced by genetics, environment and so forth, may still have a real choice.

    Maybe, you will listen to Wiki as a 101, since you refuse to attempt even the basic exercise of the half-burned match:

    Causes are often distinguished into two types: Necessary and sufficient.[7] A third type of causation, which requires neither necessity nor sufficiency in and of itself, but which contributes to the effect, is called a “contributory cause.”[8]

    Necessary causes:

    If x is a necessary cause of y, then the presence of y necessarily implies the presence of x. The presence of x, however, does not imply that y will occur.

    Sufficient causes:

    If x is a sufficient cause of y, then the presence of x necessarily implies the presence of y. However, another cause z may alternatively cause y. Thus the presence of y does not imply the presence of x.

    Contributory causes:

    A cause may be classified as a “contributory cause,” if the presumed cause precedes the effect, and altering the cause alters the effect. It does not require that all those subjects which possess the contributory cause experience the effect. It does not require that all those subjects which are free of the contributory cause be free of the effect. In other words, a contributory cause may be neither necessary nor sufficient but it must be contributory . . .

    Going back to quantum phenomena, we know of necessary constraints, that may block the occurrence of an event. We may know of circumstances that are sufficient for us to observe a population, statistical pattern of behaviour, e.g. RA decay where we know what the population will do but not the individual atom. But that is not determinism, not by a long shot.

    Please read me as I am not as the caricature you have imagined me to be.

    GEM of TKI

  100. 100
    avocationist says:

    FG-

    Can you please remind me of which posts these are?

    Alas, no. I’m sure one at least was on an older thread. But one result was in asking you for a definition of life. Which I think you haven’t given, because when you say:

    – an alternative solution is not to (silently) rule out the possibility of non-living intelligence. First life could theoretically be the product of non living processes that could be classified as intelligent on the strenth of what they manage to achieve. I realize that this opens the huge can of worms of what intelligence is, what its prerequisites are, and so on – but why would ID shy away from such discussions if Intelligence is such a central part of its tenet?”

    I would like to know what you might mean. I agreed that if first life is complex it cannot have been created by a similar biological life form.

    So the question is, do you refuse to consider a nonembodied mind, or do you consider such a mind to be nonliving, and when you say a nonliving intelligence, are we back to natural selection and the assertion that it can achieve CSI?

  101. 101
    avocationist says:

    KF-

    I do not need to do the match experiment as I did it mentally years ago. I agree it leads to a necessary being, but I did not see how you came to the conclusion that a being who is not logically impossible will be actual. Is that what you said?

  102. 102
    avocationist says:

    FG-

    Well, let us say we are discussing a divine entity. Divine meaning uncaused and always existing. Would you call that nonliving? Because it does fail the critter test!

    Something that is unborn, cannot die, and yet is conscious – wouldn’t that be even MORE alive than biological life forms?

  103. 103
    kairosfocus says:

    Avo:

    A serious candidate necessary being — no external necessary causal factors, recall [cannot be turned on or off] — that is not IMPOSSIBLE will be actual.

    The reasons were explained in steps above.

    GEM of TKI

  104. 104
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Just think: such a serious candidate being must now be actual, and it cannot have had a beginning by being switched on, nor can it be turned off to cease from being. So, it always was and always will be. [Think about the truth expressed in 2 + 3 = 5: now true, had no beginning, will have no end, cannot be turned on or off.] Does that help?

  105. 105
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Now think about a serious candidate NB that tuns out to be impossible. It is not actual now, never was and never will be.

  106. 106
    avocationist says:

    KF –

    Well, if you say necessary being, that that ends it. Necessary is necessary. I think I misunderstood you to say that something that can be, will be.

    As to 2 + 3 being five in all possible worlds, do you agree that it is not true if there were only nothingness, i.e., that even abstract, nonmaterial items in the realm of ideas depend upon matter for their existence?

  107. 107
    faded_Glory says:

    avocationist:

    “I agreed that if first life is complex it cannot have been created by a similar biological life form.

    So the question is, do you refuse to consider a nonembodied mind, or do you consider such a mind to be nonliving, and when you say a nonliving intelligence, are we back to natural selection and the assertion that it can achieve CSI?”

    ——————-

    If your postulated unembodied mind is living, the biological life it creates isn’t first life, is it now? So the paradox then doesn’t kick in when we ask what created first biological life, but rather it kicks in when we ask what created the living unembodied mind, assuming that *that* is now first life.

    The paradox doesn’t go away and it still blows up Barry’s argument.

    I am not asserting here that natural selection can create CSI, I am demonstrating that Barry’s argument goes up in a logical puff of smoke when applied to first life, whichever way you want to slice and dice that. Purely by analysis of the logic. There just can’t be life before first life, and unless you allow for non-living intelligence, the argument goes pop.

    Which is why Barry and I now agree not to use it on first life. How about you?

    fG

  108. 108
    faded_Glory says:

    avocationist:

    “Well, let us say we are discussing a divine entity. Divine meaning uncaused and always existing. Would you call that nonliving? Because it does fail the critter test!

    Something that is unborn, cannot die, and yet is conscious – wouldn’t that be even MORE alive than biological life forms?”

    ————-

    If you call it alive, how do you apply Barry’s argument to it without it blowing up? The argument I mean, not the divine entity, lol.

    I guess you could postulate a non-living intelligent divine being as the cause of first life, and prevent the argument from blowing up that way, but if you do that I fail to see what the word ‘divine’ adds to the explanation.

    All fun and games, but by far the easier solution is to not apply the argument to first life. Like qualifying the barber statement by making an explicit exception for the barber himself, and thereby avoiding the paradox.

    It does mean, though, that ID (in the form of Barry’s argument) is agnostic about the origins of first life (I just love to point that out every time lol).

    fG

  109. 109
    kairosfocus says:

    Avo:

    If there was a true nothing there would be nothing to be discussed and no-one to discuss it.

    G

  110. 110
    kairosfocus says:

    FG:

    Pardon, but it is now clear that you are in an unnecessary web of self defeating word games:

    If your postulated unembodied mind is living, the biological life it creates isn’t first life, is it now?

    Really, now, the issue of what you mean by “first life” vs what BA has been discussing has been on the table for days.

    In addition, it is a week now since the answer to this one was given:

    the paradox then doesn’t kick in when we ask what created first biological life, but rather it kicks in when we ask what created the living unembodied mind, assuming that *that* is now first life.

    by refusing to address the issue of necessary vs sufficient cause, and that of contingent vs necessary being, you have made up a false conundrum.

    If you simply scroll up there you will find cogent responses, and there is a whole post that responds here.

    Here is a clue, to help avoid caricatures of the issue: it is that which begins to exist or may cease from existing that has a cause. (For such things have external necessary causal factors. Once something has no external necessary causal factor it will either be impossible and non-existent, or if it is possible it will exist now and will have always existed and will always exist.)

    GEM of TKI

  111. 111
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: On observation, cell-based biological life, the kind we observe embeds a metabolic system and a complex, digital code based self replication facility. Yes, digital code. That strongly points to design. On the meaning of design, the first cell based life was a product of intent, knowledge and skill, i.e. intelligence. Now, design theory qua design theory can only infer to design as causal process on evidence — as just outlined, as you have been told over and over. That tweredun is enough to drive a scientific revolution, now in progress. Whodunit, we do not know from the signs of design in the currently observed living cell and its reasonably inferred ancestors. Pointing beyond, these C-chemistry cell based life forms are dependent on a credibly fine tuned cosmos, which in turn points to a root cause in a necessary, intelligent and creative, purposeful being. Such a being does not require a creator, for reasons already explained over and over again. However, given the implications of purpose intelligence etc such a being would reasonably be called living. Nor is this a particularly novel inference, it was on record from the days of Plato in The Laws Bk X, as was also repeatedly pointed out to you over the past week but studiously ignored.

  112. 112
    avocationist says:

    FG-

    “If your postulated unembodied mind is living, the biological life it creates isn’t first life, is it now?”

    Yes, because when we say first life, we mean biological life which is the entire point of Darwinism and ID.

    ” So the paradox then doesn’t kick in when we ask what created first biological life, but rather it kicks in when we ask what created the living unembodied mind, assuming that *that* is now first life.”

    It is not first biological life and I am not going to entertain who created the Creator!

    “Which is why Barry and I now agree not to use it on first life. How about you?”

    I’ll agree to no such thing. We can specify first biological life.

    “If you call it alive, how do you apply Barry’s argument to it without it blowing up?”

    The design inference? Barry never intended his argument to apply to a divine being. You are saying that a divine being cannot be uncaused and also alive. So we are back to definitions.

    “I guess you could postulate a non-living intelligent divine being as the cause of first life, and prevent the argument from blowing up that way, but if you do that I fail to see what the word ‘divine’ adds to the explanation.”

    It is only for lack of a better term that we use the same word, ‘living’ to apply to both God and biological life. Perhaps other languages may be richer. But I will not agree that the divine mind is nonliving. It might be a nondivine mind that creates life, but it would need to be nonembodied, I would think.

    “All fun and games, but by far the easier solution is to not apply the argument to first life. Like qualifying the barber statement by making an explicit exception for the barber himself, and thereby avoiding the paradox.

    It does mean, though, that ID (in the form of Barry’s argument) is agnostic about the origins of first life (I just love to point that out every time lol).”

    And now I see what you are after! You want ID to concede that it cannot address the arrival of life on this planet. You will not accomplish anything of lasting value with word games, although it may be so that we don’t have enough real world data to definitively state that first life was incapable of arising through your secret intelligent forces. But so far, things are pointing toward ID.

  113. 113
    kairosfocus says:

    Avo:

    It’s not just a matter of English, there is an underlying serious issue.

    Here is Plato on the matter, in The Laws bk X:

    ____________

    >> Ath. . . . when one thing changes another, and that another, of such will there be any primary changing element? How can a thing which is moved by another ever be the beginning of change? Impossible. But when the self-moved changes other, and that again other, and thus thousands upon tens of thousands of bodies are set in motion, must not the beginning of all this motion be the change of the self-moving principle? . . . . self-motion being the origin of all motions, and the first which arises among things at rest as well as among things in motion, is the eldest and mightiest principle of change, and that which is changed by another and yet moves other is second.

    [[ . . . .]

    Ath. If we were to see this power existing in any earthy, watery, or fiery substance, simple or compound-how should we describe it?

    Cle. You mean to ask whether we should call such a self-moving power life?

    Ath. I do.

    Cle. Certainly we should.

    Ath. And when we see soul in anything, must we not do the same-must we not admit that this is life?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Cle. You mean to say that the essence which is defined as the self-moved is the same with that which has the name soul?

    Ath. Yes; and if this is true, do we still maintain that there is anything wanting in the proof that the soul is the first origin and moving power of all that is, or has become, or will be, and their contraries, when she has been clearly shown to be the source of change and motion in all things?

    Cle. Certainly not; the soul as being the source of motion, has been most satisfactorily shown to be the oldest of all things.

    Ath. And is not that motion which is produced in another, by reason of another, but never has any self-moving power at all, being in truth the change of an inanimate body, to be reckoned second, or by any lower number which you may prefer?

    Cle. Exactly.

    Ath. Then we are right, and speak the most perfect and absolute truth, when we say that the soul is prior to the body, and that the body is second and comes afterwards, and is born to obey the soul, which is the ruler?

    [[ . . . . ]

    Ath. If, my friend, we say that the whole path and movement of heaven, and of all that is therein, is by nature akin to the movement and revolution and calculation of mind, and proceeds by kindred laws, then, as is plain, we must say that the best soul takes care of the world and guides it along the good path. [[Plato here explicitly sets up an inference to design (by a good soul) from the intelligible order of the cosmos.] >>
    _____________

    We are swimming in fairly deep waters here.

    GEM of TKI

  114. 114
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Those word games have long since been cogently answered, but ignored on a lame excuse. When I see the reaction to how some Scholastics refused to look through Galileo’s telescope, I then reflect on how for a week, several objectors have refused to get a box of matches and dot he half-burned match exercise. At least the Scholastics had the excuse that the optics of those early telescopes were rather problematic. (That’s why Newton gave up and invented the reflector.)

  115. 115
    tgpeeler says:

    fG @ 98 “The problem remains, though, that we need to offer a solution to the paradox that first life cannot be created by something that is itself alive. That is not a matter for negotiation, it is a basic consequence of the law of non-contradiction.”

    One of us has a serious, fatal, misunderstanding of the law of non-contradiction. I could not be more sure that it is not me. But, in the spirit of knowing I will be happy to read your explanation of the statement above that I quoted. If you’ve already made a post on that, please direct me to it. Thanks.

    “I am happy with that. How about you?”

    Not even close.

  116. 116
    Zoe says:

    ‘First life’ by implication, re ‘Intelligent agent’ who created/caused all things to come into ‘being’ cannot apply, as ‘First’ by definition means a beginning, and such absolute Omnipotence is necessarily sufficient from eternity to eternity, has NO* beginning, has NO* end, just IS*

    This fact, scientifically, is overwhelmingly confirmed by millions of fossils, who repeatedly speak, in their eloquent silence, loudly, that we were ALL* created, that’s why we ALL* appear fully formed, no transitional fossils will ever be found, as we did not ‘evolve’ we were created.

  117. 117
    avocationist says:

    “The problem remains, though, that we need to offer a solution to the paradox that first life cannot be created by something that is itself alive.”

    Let me correct that.

    First biological life cannot have been created by prior biological life.”

  118. 118
    faded_Glory says:

    avocationist, tgpeeler e.a.

    I am going to draw a line under this partiucular discussion.

    In parallel conversations, Barry and I have discovered that we are in agreement that his particular ID argument should only be used on things we can directly observe. It should not be used to answer questions about first life, since we can’t directly observe and investigate this first life.

    Limiting the use of his argument in this way takes away my specific objection that triggered this thread.

    Of course there are many who are still interested in pursuing the argument beyond the agreed limits. No problem, but let’s be clear: as Barry points out in the Demands of Charity thread, and I agree with him:

    “Please understand the distinction between metaphysical arguments and scientific arguments on this blog. ID proponents make both kinds of arguments, but when they are making the former they are NOT making ID arguments. ”

    This thread has wandered pretty far into the metaphysical territory and I am just not interested in going there. My objection was not metaphysical, it was technical and it has been answered to my satisfaction.

    I don’t have much beef with ID as a metaphysical concept. Personally I don’t like metaphsical discussions much so this is where I bow out.

    Have fun,

    fG

  119. 119
    kairosfocus says:

    FG:

    RE: In parallel conversations, Barry and I have discovered that we are in agreement that his particular ID argument should only be used on things we can directly observe. It should not be used to answer questions about first life, since we can’t directly observe and investigate this first life.

    You are here distorting what Barry has repeatedly said, probably inadvertently. (But also, you should have cited specifically where Barry said what you claim, and what was said. In addition, there is a significant issue that you have yet to address, dealing with a half-burned match and what it is telling you about the roots of reality as we experience it . . . it is significant that after a full week, you have still managed to avoid doing so simple an observational exercise, much less discussing it. )

    From what we have followed, Barry has pointed out, again and again — it is in the OP to this thread, that the focus of the design inference is on the causal process of the particular object of study, on signs it exhibits.

    Let’s roll the tape from the OP:

    ID posits the following: CSI and IC have never been directly observed to have arisen though chance or mechanical necessity or a combination of the two. Conversely, CSI and IC are routinely observed to have been produced by intelligent agents. Moreover, intelligent agents leave behind indicia of their acts that can be objectively discerned. Therefore, using abductive reasoning, the best explanation for CSI and IC is “act of intelligent agent.”

    How does this apply to first life? (By “first life” I presume FG means “first life on earth.”) Well, we cannot directly examine first life to determine whether it exhibited CSI and IC. We can only observe existing life, and when we do we find that even the most simple extant life forms are staggeringly complex. From this observation we infer that the first life on earth also exhibited CSI and IC. (To be sure, some would attempt to deny that first life is complex, but given the unanimous verdict to the contrary of all of our observations simple logic suggests that the burden is on those who make such a suggestion to demonstrate its plausibility.)

    We cannot know for certain whether first life exhibited CSI and IC. ID merely says that if it did, the best explanation for the existence of the CSI and IC in first life is best explained by “act of intelligent agent.”

    This is where FG goes off the rails. He/she asks “But who designed first life? By definition first life could not have been designed by a living being.” The answer is, as I have said many times before, ID does not examine the question “What is the source of all design?” ID examines the question “Is this particular thing designed?” And it says of the particular thing “first life on earth” that if it exhibited CSI and IC the best explanation for the existence of that CSI and IC is “act of intelligent agent.”

    a: He is careful to note that we do not directly observe the first biological life on this planet.

    b: We reasonably infer it and its characteristics from its observed “simplest” unicellular descendants, and from traces that we can observe, commonly dated 3.5 – 3.8 BYA, or about 200 mn years after the end of the suggested late bombardment era.

    c: This is not unusual for origins science, to infer a deep past state of affairs on observations in the present. If you object to this, then you should be objecting to the whole body of scientific investigations of the deep and unobserved past, which plainly you do not.

    d: In short, your objection is selectively hyperskeptical.

    e: Going on, Barry has correctly highlighted that the design inference is on signs in a particular object [especially CSI, IC] and point to design of that object. In this case, to design of the model organisms of life, reflected in what has been reproduced over the years to bring descendants of the first living cell based organisms to today.

    f: Debate talking points on who designed the designer, or was the designer of the first cell based organism alive, etc are therefore tangential.

    g: In addition, claims of logical contradiction, fall to the ground as there is a logically possible state of affairs under which first cell based life on earth traces to a necessary, powerful, creative being who is architect of the cosmos. Such a being would reasonably be described as living, and would have no beginning, by the force of being a necessary being.

    h: At no point over the past week have you seriously engaged this issue, not even by doing so simple an exercise as to light and half-burn a match then tilt its head up so the flame goes out, then reflect on what that is telling us about contingent beings and the possibility of necessary beings.

    i: In that context, the following does not appear in a favourable light:

    This thread has wandered pretty far into the metaphysical territory and I am just not interested in going there. My objection was not metaphysical, it was technical and it has been answered to my satisfaction.

    I don’t have much beef with ID as a metaphysical concept. Personally I don’t like metaphsical discussions much so this is where I bow out.

    j: Origins science issues inherently are about the deep and unobserved, unrecorded past. therefore, issues of worldview assumptions and alternatives are inevitable. Indeed, that is precisely the concern that has led to the highlighting of Lewontin’s notorious 1997 NYRB remarks:

    . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident [[actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . ] that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [[i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [[i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [Onlookers if you think the immediately following JUSTIFIES the just clipped, cf the notes here]

    k: We see here where worldview level question begging is being injected into the very definition and process of science as a censoring a priori [and the context of the just linked shows that this is a major trend pushed by the likes of the US NAS and NSTA], robbing it of its capacity to freely seek the empirically warranted truth about the deep past of origins.

    l: In that context, a refusal to examine the relevant issues, is tantamount to saying that you want to allow that inserted question begging to stand, unchallenged.

    m: And whether or not we like worldview level discussions has nothing to do with their materiality to the issues at stake. If they are material, we had better know enough to draw our own reasonably informed conclusions.

    n: In addition, the real issues on the nature of cause are not particularly metaphysical, they are logical and epistemological. If we are concerned to think of causes and effects coherently, we need to be aware of the distinction between necessary and sufficient causal factors.

    o: Beyond that, this then leads to the logical distinction between contingent beings and necessary ones. A distinction that is as familiar as what happens when we tilt a half-burned match upright so the head is uppermost and the flame goes out.

    p: That is, we see how fuel is a necessary factor for a fire, and we see how this is linked to the fact that a fire begins and may go out under certain circumstances. From this, we see (and may inductively test) the general principle: that which begins and/or may cease from existing, has external, necessary causal factors.

    q: Such tests will abundantly vindicate its general correctness.

    r: In that context, we see that biological life has a beginning and an external cause — both int eh individual case and in the first instance.

    s: Since it is reasonable that that first life had in it a metabolic system [complete with the ATP synthase mini factory that manufactures the key energy battery molecule of life], and a von Neumann digital code based self-replication facility, such is credibly replete with functionally specific, complex organisation and information.

    t: For which the only empirically credible cause is DESIGN AS PROCESS, TRACING TO INTELLIGENT AGENTS. (As BA pointed out in the OP.)

    u: Of course, from the days of TMLO, the first technical ID book in 1984, it has been highlighted that design inference is not capable of identifying the agent or agents involved, nor whether such would be within or beyond the observed cosmos.

    v: But there is another side to ID, the cosmological, whereby the fine tuning of the cosmos we observe that facilitates C-chemistry, intelligent life, highlights FSCO/I, setting the cosmos to a finely balanced local operating point.

    w: This is multiplied by the evidence that points to the cosmos as having a beginning at a finite distance in the past, usually estimated as 13.7 BYA.

    x: That is, the observed cosmos is contingent and dependent on an external cause. In turn, that raises the implication that the contingent cosmos — even through a multiverse speculative model — traces to an underlying necessary being. One that on the fine tuning is purposeful, powerful, knowledgeable, skilled, creative and intelligent.

    y: Such a being, on very reasonable and longstanding grounds, can be legitimately viewed as living.

    z: That is, biological life — and FYI, FG, this was a metaphysically tinged claim or argument — does not necessarily lead to the dilemma of infinite regress or else rooting biological lifer in non-living intelligence. Once we see the logic that points to a necessary, living and intelligent being behind the cosmos, we have very reasonable grounds tor terminating the infinite regress, and for inferring to a living necessary being as architect of the cosmos.

    _______

    So, it is evident that there is a very reasonable and satisfactory answer to the attempted dilemma posed a week ago.

    Just, unfortunately, those who posed the objections — on the record of the past week — do not seem to want to seriously discuss it. So, on fair comment, with apologies to Kant: they seem content to rest in their a priori materialistic [or fellow traveller] metaphysical, epistemological and logical slumbers.

    GEM of TKI

  120. 120
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: FG’s latest contention is taken up further here based on the above.

  121. 121
    tgpeeler says:

    fG “Personally I don’t like metaphsical discussions much so this is where I bow out.”

    Of course you don’t… how convenient… but this isn’t primarily a metaphysical discussion although there are metaphysical overtones. It’s an epistemological discussion and I’d think that qualifies for this kind of thread. Your arguments are bankrupt and I think you know it.

    Adios…

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