Intelligent Design

Astonishing Things Materialists Say

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Sev muses:

The problem for creationists is that positing an intelligence that is able to create life out of inanimate materials is to claim that life can be created out of non-living materials. The question then becomes, if it’s possible at the hands of a creator then why not through natural causation?

Hmmm.  The space station exists.  Just why couldn’t it have been built by blind purposeless natural causes?  I suppose the analogy is not really fair, because the nano-technology displayed in even the most simple life makes the space station look like a tinker toy.

50 Replies to “Astonishing Things Materialists Say

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    Yup — breathing spirit-fire into the dirt turned clay.

  2. 2
    rvb8 says:

    Is this a serious post, or an O’Leary poorly thought out after thought?

    Sev is saying, all the parts are there, thermodynamics is not afronted, and we know enough time has elapsed.

    Barry says the spacestation, and Mt Rushmore are designed therefore….

    This argument was used and thrown out at Dover. The length and depth of this piece suggests we ignore current experimentation, and once again resort to intuition, common sense, the gut, and this obvious explanation will become obvious to all.

    Unfortunately it was obvious the world was flat, it was obvious earthquakes were the gods fighting, lightning was obviously the province of god, and diseases obviously manifestations of god’s displeasure.

    Thank god (heh:), the obvious has been consigned to the rubbish bin of understanding, and we now prefer evidence, experimentation, and the unobvious, to the vacuous, empty, ‘obvious’.

  3. 3
    Eugene says:

    The exact same argument is supposed to be the problem for hard core materialists, yet it is never voiced this way. Let us assume that Universe started as a quantum event, and that life later emerged as a perfectly materialistic and mechanical process. It then follows that if we keep advancing science long enough, then one day we will be able to explain and reproduce at will both how the Universe can be started and how life be created from raw materials.
    Now, what in the world makes us so confident that somehow we’re going to be the first in this chain of intelligence capable of starting universes and creating life? It is a lot more likely that we’re not the first to figure this out.

  4. 4
    LocalMinimum says:

    rvb8:

    All the parts are there? Well, the same parts are there for practically anything material you can conceive of, including the space station. Atoms are all about this planet. You could even say it’s made of them.

    Thermodynamics is not affronted? But is it cooperative? Does it offer a career path for aspiring bits of mud? Or would it simply leave them to suffer their inertness until they’re swallowed by their neighboring star? We know enough time has elapsed? What is enough time, and how do we know that it is?

    We now prefer evidence, experimentation, and the unobvious? So, you offer that your position is unobvious; but can you offer evidence and experimentation to prefer it? Specifics, please.

  5. 5
    Origenes says:

    The problem for creationists is that positing an intelligence that is able to create life out of inanimate materials is to claim that life can be created out of non-living materials.

    Are there creationists who posit matter as life’s sole ingredient?

    The question then becomes, if it’s possible at the hands of a creator then why not through natural causation?

    Because natural causation lacks personhood, freedom, intelligence and purpose. A copy of ‘Summa Theologica’ by Thomas Aquinas consists solely of matter, yet the book can not be brought into existence by blind particles bumping into each other.

  6. 6
    Barry Arrington says:

    rvb8 @ 2,

    You don’t seem to understand what Sev or I said. I will try to help you.

    Here is the key sentence I was pointing out.

    “if it’s possible at the hands of a creator then why not through natural causation?”

    This question is astonishing, because the answer is so glaringly obvious, as even a moment’s reflection will reveal. Substitute “it’s” with any moderately complex created thing and you will see.

    if the space station is possible at the hands of a creator then why not through natural causation

    if a computer is possible at the hands of a creator then why not through natural causation

    if the comment rvb8 wrote is possible at the hands of a creator then why not through natural causation

    if the sonnets of Shakespeare are possible at the hands of a creator then why not through natural causation

    The answer to Sev’s question is obvious: “Because many things an intelligent agent can do are beyond the ability of blind unguided purposeless natural forces.”

    Now, we can argue about whether simple life is one of those things. But that there are some things that an intelligent agent can do that blind unguided purposeless natural forces cannot is beyond reasonable dispute.

  7. 7
    EricMH says:

    The other possibility is that life is not reducible to inanimate matter, a view known as vitalism. If living things are teleological, then their very operation cannot be explained by chance and necessity.

  8. 8
    LocalMinimum says:

    Origenes @ 5:

    I think like a programmer/simulation designer, and I imagine life as the set of configurations from which certain functionalities arise, and I generally approach life as we know it as being modulated wholly within matter. I tend to want to refactor any understanding to terms of the observable, when possible. I know better than to demand it, however.

    I also claim agnosticism with respect to the hard problem of consciousness, though I do recognize many issues of conceptual “weirdness” you run into when you try to attribute experience to matter alone.

  9. 9

    BA @ 6: Well said. Your original point was very easy to understand…and spot on.

  10. 10
    Axel says:

    Where on earth did you get the idea that Christians believe that God causes life to emerge from matter ? We believe/know that He inspires it with life, breathes life into it.

    Life is non-local in its origin, its nature partaking of the divine (since God is pure Spirit) is ultimately, imponderable and utterly, utterly mysterious.

  11. 11
    Axel says:

    Since I brought up the matter of God’s being pure spirit, I’m appending below the fascinatingly erudite Catechesis on the Holy Angels delivered by John-Paul II, which Christians, in particular, among us, may like. Some of you have perhaps read it, and I might even have posted it here before.

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/jp2angel.htm

  12. 12
    mikeenders says:

    “Sev is saying, all the parts are there, thermodynamics is not afronted, and we know enough time has elapsed”

    No, Sev is speaking out of VAST ignorance on behalf of “creationists”. From the “God Delusion” until now materialists have shown a sweeping intellectual dishonesty in not feeling they need to study and understand what they argue against before they argue against it. No Creationist believes God created out of “inanimate” materials but out of his own word and command which every Creationist believes is very animated and alive and a part of himself God infused into life.

    Whats next? Will Sev claim that because ventriloquists can pour something of themselves into their puppets bringing inanimate objects to “life” – at his or her hands – it leaves the door open to puppets doing so without them?

    He can certainly argue abiogenesis but claiming Creationists have a problem from their own stance is just idiocy based on not even having a rudimentary understanding of what “Creationists” hold to.

  13. 13
    mdvirgilio says:

    Really, dispatching with the arguments of materialists/atheists is like shooting fish in a barrel. it’s just too easy. Origenes (5) nails it. The former are always trying to sneak in “personhood, freedom, intelligence and purpose.” Sorry, matter qua matter has none of these. Unless, of course, we’re just lucky dirt, then somehow matter does!

  14. 14
    Florabama says:

    Excellent point, Eugene @ 3.

    “if it’s possible at the hands of a creator then why not through natural causation?”

    Why not:

    “if it’s possible through natural causation then why not at the hands of a creator?”

    But of course logic doesn’t apply to materialists.

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev, the open systems can do anything argument is a gross failure. KF

    PS: Two recent threads:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....evolution/

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....evolution/

  16. 16
    Origenes says:

    LocalMinimum @8

    LocalMinimum: I think like a programmer/simulation designer, and I imagine life as the set of configurations from which certain functionalities arise, and I generally approach life as we know it as being modulated wholly within matter. … I also claim agnosticism with respect to the hard problem of consciousness, though I do recognize many issues of conceptual “weirdness” you run into when you try to attribute experience to matter alone.

    It is utterly impossible for matter to be a free rational responsible person — I can provide arguments for this position. Secondly, with regard to organisms in general, I see neither a physical nor a (physically embedded) informational explanation for the self-organization of life. Here is a quote to illustrate my point:

    Stephen L. Talbott: I spoke a moment ago of molecular and cellular movements that seemed to be both meaningfully directed and unprogrammed. Here is a more concrete example. It deals with the fiendishly complex and coordinated response to a kind of challenge — a wound — that is always unique in its countless details. That is, the organism is facing something that neither it nor its ancestors have ever faced before in just this way. The description is offered by English biologist, Brian Ford:

    Surgery is war. It is impossible to envisage the sheer complexity of what happens within a surgical wound. It is a microscopical scene of devastation. Muscle cells have been crudely crushed, nerves ripped asunder; the scalpel blade has slashed and separated close communities of tissues, rupturing long-established networks of blood vessels. After the operation, broken and cut tissues are crushed together by the surgeon’s crude clamps. There is no circulation of blood or lymph across the suture.
    Yet within seconds of the assault, the single cells are stirred into action. They use unimaginable senses to detect what has happened and start to respond. Stem cells specialize to become the spiky-looking cells of the stratum spinosum; the shattered capillaries are meticulously repaired, new cells form layers of smooth muscle in the blood-vessel walls and neat endothelium; nerve fibres extend towards the site of the suture to restore the tactile senses . . . These phenomena require individual cells to work out what they need to do. And the ingenious restoration of the blood-vessel network reveals that there is an over-arching sense of the structure of the whole area in which this remarkable repair takes place. So too does the restoration of the skin. Cells that carry out the repair are subtly coordinated so that the skin surface, the contour of which they cannot surely detect, is restored in a form that is close to perfect. (Ford 2009)

    It is not being radical to point out that we can’t even begin to picture the unfathomable movement of trillions of molecules and millions of cells in the damaged area. The story is directed toward a desirable conclusion that you and I know very well — restoration to normalcy of a damaged body part — but how does the story “hold together” at the level of molecules and cells, which certainly do not “know” what we know? And yet, quite obviously, in some objective sense the necessary knowledge is there in the organism. It knows. It gets the job done.

    LocalMinimum: I tend to want to refactor any understanding to terms of the observable, when possible. I know better than to demand it, however.

    I take it that by ‘observable’ you mean ‘measurable’?

  17. 17
    Mung says:

    Is it fair and just, is it right, that we should pick on these poor benighted souls?

    Let us pray for them. Let us be merciful, as God has been merciful to us.

    Time + Chance + Poof = Life.

    Who can doubt it?

  18. 18
    Axel says:

    Just reading your response @6, factual though it was, had me laughing out loud. I suppose you would have been too dumbfounded drafting your response, for the really gross humour of rvb8’s fathomless inanity to have overwhelmed you.

  19. 19
    rvb8 says:

    Barry,

    If we are the product of a creator as you suggest with your examples of Shakepeare, and the Spacestation, then the natural world is also a product of said designer/creator, correct?

    We can detect His/Hers/Its fingerprints on design easily, using the (heh:), ‘design filter’, but we can’t detect it all the time?

    Is it reduced to this absurd statement; “If it looks complex it’s designed by the designer/creator?”

    Why is it, that if nature screams design, that no serious scientist agrees? That is still a fair question.

    Your condescension is fine on this site, don’t stray from the ‘chosen’ however. Pandas, and TSZ are different in ways that may cause you to, ‘spit the dummy’, (pacifier).

  20. 20
    critical rationalist says:

    From another thread….

    KF quoted

    . . . (1) A designer conceives a purpose. (2) To accomplish that purpose, the designer forms a plan. (3) To execute the plan, the designer specifies building materials and assembly instructions. (4) Finally, the designer or some surrogate applies the assembly instructions to the building materials.

    This is what I mean when I say ID greatly underestimates the role that knowege plays in design. It’s not even mentioned here at all.

    Someone could perform all of those steps and still not end up with a bridge that actually held up under load. That’s because working bridges that are constructed (as opposed to those that are washed away) are only brought about when the knowege of what transformations of matter are required were present there.

    If someone ordered the plans for a bridge, but was accidentally shipped plans for a boat, they would not end up with a bridge because that’s the purpose they had and believed the plans would build. Right? The outcome is independent of anyone’s belief or intent. And anyone can have a “plan”. That doesn’t guarantee it will result in the intended outcome.

    The strange thing is, when I point this out, no one seems to care.

    So, apparently, there is something implied by ID proponents which they think everyone knows or is supposedly obvious in that it doesn’t need to be explicitly included in the theory itself.

  21. 21
    LocalMinimum says:

    Origenes @ 16:

    It is utterly impossible for matter to be a free rational responsible person — I can provide arguments for this position.

    My thinking starts from a minimal belief (clockwork, material universe) and allows for greater possibilities. I understand the material world is, quite obviously, an incomplete portion of reality; and reality can not be fully reduced to what we know (or even can know). I just try to engage all possibilities that can be approached with my limited reason; and that which lies beyond is unapproachable, apart from revelation by that which lies beyond.

    Call it the legacy of a youth steeped in scientism, if you must. I am very much a child of “science”; though I studied Bible, too. I count Jesus as one of my primary inspirations towards pure, impartial reason. A verse that sticks with me is when the apostles wanted to interrupt the one driving out demons in Jesus’ name, and he said “If they are not against us, they are with us” – completely circumventing tribal thinking for the sake of a higher order Cause; what ought to be, as it were.

    I see neither a physical nor a (physically embedded) informational explanation for the self-organization of life

    Oh, we are in complete agreement on that point.

    I take it that by ‘observable’ you mean ‘measurable’?

    Yes, that is better.

  22. 22
    mikeenders says:

    We can detect His/Hers/Its fingerprints on design easily, using the (heh:), ‘design filter’, but we can’t detect it all the time?

    rvb8 We do detect design all the time. In laws, constants and mathematical order. The fact that the universe follows the language of basic logic (mathematics) continues to be a mystery to materialists but hardly surprising to us.

    Why is it, that if nature screams design, that no serious scientist agrees? That is still a fair question.

    Only on planets where invoking the no true Scotsman fallacy is a good argument.

  23. 23
    Macauley86 says:

    If [life] is possible at the hands of a creator then why not through natural causation?

    Life is only possible because of the underlying digital code that compiles inanimate matter into life forms. Given this code, it ***might*** be possible for natural processes to turn non-life into *simple* life (altough I’d rather put my money on Powerball tickets), but you still need a mind to come up with the digital code to assemble life, so you’ve only pushed the necessity of the mind back one stage. And before that, you need a universe where to place these life forms, therefore you need even more information (a mind) to create spacetime and its mathematical and chemical parameters.

    Seriously, I’d rather believe in Zeus and Moloch and the vermicious knids than be an atheist. At least ancient pagans had the common sense to recognize agency and intelligence behind natural phenomena, however misguided they were. To look at nature and attribute everything to chance is illlogical.

  24. 24
    Seversky says:

    Hmmm. The space station exists. Just why couldn’t it have been built by blind purposeless natural causes? I suppose the analogy is not really fair, because the nano-technology displayed in even the most simple life makes the space station look like a tinker toy.

    We recognize design only where it looks something like that we might design and because we don’t observe anything like it occurring through natural processes. Yes, a microscopic living cell is immensely complex when you look at it closely but comparing one to a factory based on some similarities in the internal processes is an analogy not necessarily evidence of design. To judge the value of an analogy you should also consider the differences. For example, a human factory is vastly larger than a living cell. It’s also made of refined metals, plastics and glass which you don’t find in the cell. Judged by those attributes of known design, the cell is not designed.

  25. 25
    Seversky says:

    Eugene @ 3

    Now, what in the world makes us so confident that somehow we’re going to be the first in this chain of intelligence capable of starting universes and creating life? It is a lot more likely that we’re not the first to figure this out.

    I don’t think we’re the first or that we are going to be the last. But in your argument, even the first intelligent life learns how to create life and universes by studying life and a universe that already exists. If an intelligent agent existed before our universe and the life it contains where did it get the knowledge of universes and life and the materials to make them?

  26. 26
    Seversky says:

    Origenes @ 5

    Are there creationists who posit matter as life’s sole ingredient?

    I don’t know but the matter must have come from somewhere or did it always exist?

    Because natural causation lacks personhood, freedom, intelligence and purpose. A copy of ‘Summa Theologica’ by Thomas Aquinas consists solely of matter, yet the book can not be brought into existence by blind particles bumping into each other.

    No, but neither would it exist without a material Aquinas to write it and material like paper for him to write it down on.

  27. 27
    Macauley86 says:

    Judged by those attributes of known design, the cell is not designed.

    The living cell is what it is and does what it does because of highly specified information (https://ds9a.nl/amazing-dna/). How can you possibly attribute its specified complexity to a non-rational source, and how is this non-rational source not only viable at all as a hypothesis, but in your mind even better than a rational source?

    We recognize design only where it looks something like that we might design

    By this standard, we might not be able to recognize specified information sent to us by aliens because it might look different from something we might design or compile. Or aliens might not think that the Arecibo message they receive is a product of intelligence because it does not look like something they would design.

    It’s silly. You know intelligence when you see it. You refuse to see it in this case for reasons that are not logical.

  28. 28
    Seversky says:

    mikeenders @ 12

    No Creationist believes God created out of “inanimate” materials but out of his own word and command which every Creationist believes is very animated and alive and a part of himself God infused into life.

    Talking about God creating life “out of his own word and command” or “breathed life” into inanimate matter are poetic metaphors at best. They are not scientific explanations of how it was done, just a roundabout way of saying you have no better idea than the rest of us.

  29. 29
    Eugene says:

    Seversky @25:

    >…where did it get the knowledge of universes and life and the materials to make them?

    It is possible we’re trying to simplify this ‘origin’ issue and frame it in terms that we can understand here. But with each nested layer of intelligence the level of complexity could be increasing (the life forms we could eventually create will likely be a lot simpler than ourselves, and so we’re likely a lot simpler than the intelligence which might have created us), hence after going through a few layers of nested intelligence towards the ‘origin’, the familiar concepts of logic, information, etc. maybe become very different from what we’re used to.
    I know it feels like it is impossible to escape the ‘origin’ issue, but then, for example, it is very hard for me to come to terms with the fact that the speed of light is constant while space is shrinking and expanding around it to accommodate. Or to visualize a 4D space. Or any number of advanced physics concepts. Maybe there are similar advanced concepts in logic and information which we’re just not capable of perceiving.

  30. 30
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, generally speaking, designers know what is required to develop a plan. The lack of use of a term does not imply absence of the concept. I suggest you look up ABET’s definition of engineering, which I have quoted here at UD recently. KF

  31. 31
    tjguy says:

    rvb8 @2

    Thank god (heh:), the obvious has been consigned to the rubbish bin of understanding, and we now prefer evidence, experimentation, and the unobvious, to the vacuous, empty, ‘obvious’.

    What is the problem with this way of thinking?

    He just assumes this “obvious” thing too will be relegated to the dustbin of understanding. That is what he believes – which is great, but it is nothing more than opinion/belief/worldview deduction, etc. right now.

    It is just as possible that the Materialist view of OoL will be relegated to the dustbin of understanding.

    And get this!

    He thinks that since we were able to learn how earthquakes work that we can also learn how life evolved. He equates the two things!

    Now, again, anyone see any problems with this claim?

    They are incomparable! One is vastly more complicated than the space station while the other is a simple deduction of natural law and forces at work in nature that can be studied, tested, and verified. If they could verify OoL in the same way, no one would have any problem with their claim, but they can’t. And, given the complexity of the problem I think it is likely they might never be able to do so.

    But this is the great hope of the Materialist – that one day they can find a way to show that life could evolved all by itself. That’s their great hope and desire and this hope and desire clouds their judgment when it comes to interpreting the data.

    For them, NOTHING is too difficult for evolution or blind random natural processes!

    NOTHING! Complexity be damned!

    So it really doesn’t matter what anyone finds in future. It doesn’t matter how complex the thing might be. That makes no difference.

    Since they do not believe in God, anything & everything that exists, even if can’t be explained, is still thought to have come into existence by pure random natural processes – including their own thoughts(Now there’s a thought to chew on for a while! – heh:) Anyway, that is what they believe.

    Well, as is obvious from this post, we all have beliefs that cannot be shown to be valid by science. Some will choose to believe in natural miracles of chance(In this case, Chance is science.) that so far are impossible to explain.

    Others though who are not bound by the Materialist worldview, might choose a different interpretation of the same data. They may choose to see life as possible evidence of a supernatural Creator.

    Neither side can prove their own beliefs are right, but both sides feel they have good reason/evidence on which to base their beliefs.

    So be it. Each to his own. For me, I do not think it is rational or logical to compare thunder or earthquakes with life itself, but I too have a bias. Of course, I have the added benefit of experiencing a relationship with God that also influences me to the design side of things. I’m firmly with Barry here and I think his OP makes a whole lot of sense.

    RVB8 is free to believe whatever he wants to believe or thinks is true. NO one can make up his mind for him. He has to trust his own evolving thought processes to lead him to the right conclusion – as we all do.

    After all, according to his worldview, his brain evolved in a way to lead him to believe in random natural processes as the answer to the problem of OoL and my brain evolved in a way to lead me to believe in God. So be it! There is nothing I can do about it! We are both slaves to the processes of nature that formed our brains and continue to form our thoughts so ultimately, we can’t help what we think/believe.

  32. 32
    Origenes says:

    LocalMinimum @21

    LocalMinimum: My thinking starts from a minimal belief (clockwork, material universe) and allows for greater possibilities. I understand the material world is, quite obviously, an incomplete portion of reality; and reality can not be fully reduced to what we know (or even can know). I just try to engage all possibilities that can be approached with my limited reason; and that which lies beyond is unapproachable, apart from revelation by that which lies beyond.
    Call it the legacy of a youth steeped in scientism, if you must.

    Thinking starts from consciousness. There can be no thinking without a thinker. There can be no understanding without a person who understands. Scientism overlooks this obvious fact and leads us to the notion that consciousness is secondary or even deniable.

    Without scientism, we look at life from the inside, from the first-person POV (OMG, you don’t know what a POV is?—a “point of view”). The first person is the subject, the audience, the viewer of subjective experience, the self in the mind.
    Scientism shows that the first-person POV is an illusion. Even after scientism convinces us, we’ll continue to stick with the first person. But at least we’ll know that it’s another illusion of introspection and we’ll stop taking it seriously. We’ll give up all the answers to the persistent questions about free will, the self, the soul, and the meaning of life that the illusion generates.
    [A.Rosenberg, ‘The Atheist’s Guide to Reality’, Ch. 9]

    If we are fully aware of the fact that thinking presupposes consciousness, we have solid ground to reject any theory that diminishes the role of consciousness — such as scientism. Such theories are self-referentially incoherent.

  33. 33
    Vy says:

    Talking about God creating life “out of his own word and command” or “breathed life” into inanimate matter are poetic metaphors at best.

    Or simply being honest.
    “Hey Cortana, set reminder”.

    They are not scientific explanations of how it was done, just a roundabout way of saying you have no better idea than the rest of us.

    Neither is:

    “Once upon a time, there was nothing then stuff happened. X seconds later, everything created itself including the laws of physics, chemistry etc. that bind said creation. We (claim to not know what we’re positing happened before those X seconds to avoid sounding like the loons we rightly should be called out as in public but we) know it wasn’t God because to say ‘God’ is an excuse (according to our strawman) but to say (Father) time, (Mother) nature and (Daughter) chance did it is far more scientific because ‘reasons'”.

  34. 34
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    rvb8 and Seversky don’t hold to materialism because they don’t see evidence; they don’t see evidence because they hold to materialism. Sin, which like HIV suppresses the natural immune response in the human body, has suppressed their spiritual immune response, as it did all of ours until we had a spiritual blood transfusion from Jesus Christ. Without it, as was the case with us, every part of them will wither, emancipated, and die.

    Sin is a moral and spiritual singularity. It is a black hole from which there is no return apart from the saving power of God. The Bible calls iniquity a mystery, which is something that cannot be understood apart from direct revelation from God.

    So rvb8 and Seversky will have this cold comfort: having stiff armed the merciful messages that God sends them deep in their infinite moral well, the truth is no longer obvious. They have blinded and deafened themselves, and call it normal, perceptive and wise.

    May God have mercy on them in the same way he had mercy on us.

    “He [Jesus] came to that which was his very own, but his own did not receive him. But to everyone who received him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God, who were born not of blood [i.e., matter], nor of the will of the flesh [i.e., natural processes], notlrnofnthenwill of man [i.e., direct intervention of a human mind], but of God.” –John 1:12-13

    It’s certainly not obvious, so you should be happy, but it is true.

  35. 35
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    rvb8 and Seversky don’t hold to materialism because they don’t see evidence; they don’t see evidence because they hold to materialism. Sin, which like HIV suppresses the natural immune response in the human body, has suppressed their spiritual immune response, as it did all of ours until we had a spiritual blood transfusion from Jesus Christ. Without it, as was the case with us, every part of them will wither, emaciated, and die.

    Sin is a moral and spiritual singularity. It is a black hole from which there is no return apart from the saving power of God. The Bible calls iniquity a mystery, which is something that cannot be understood apart from direct revelation from God.

    So rvb8 and Seversky will have this cold comfort: having stiff-armed the merciful messages that God sends them deep in their infinite moral well, the truth is no longer obvious. They have blinded and deafened themselves, and call it normal, perceptive and wise.

    May God have mercy on them in the same way he had mercy on us.

    “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John’s gospel, chapter 1, verses 11-13.

    Neither matter (i.e., blood), nor natural processes (i.e., the will of the flesh), nor the exercise of non-determined volition (i.e., human will) can reveal or accomplish this transformation. It is utterly un-obvious. It is from God.

  36. 36
    Heartlander says:

    To grasp the reality of life as it has been revealed by molecular biology, we must magnify a cell a thousand million times until it is twenty kilometres in diameter and resembles a giant airship large enough to cover a great city like London or New York. What we would then see would be an object of unparalleled complexity and adaptive design. On the surface of the cell we would see millions of openings, like the portholes of a vast space ship, opening and closing to allow a continual stream of materials to flow in and out. If we were to enter one of these openings with find ourselves in a world of supreme technology and bewildering complexity. We would see endless highly organized corridors and conduits branching in every direction away from the perimeter of the cell, some leading to the central memory bank in the nucleus and others to assembly plants and processing units. The nucleus of itself would be a vast spherical chamber more than a kilometer in diameter, resembling a geodesic dome inside of which we would see, all neatly stacked together in ordered arrays, the miles of coiled chains of the DNA molecules. A huge range of products and raw materials would shuttle along all the manifold conduits in a highly ordered fashion to and from all the various assembly plants in the outer regions of the cell.

    We would wonder at the level of control implicit in the movement of so many objects down so many seemingly endless conduits, all in perfect unison. We would see all around us, in every direction we looked, all sorts of robot-like machines. We would notice that the simplest of the functional components of the cell, the protein molecules, were astonishingly, complex pieces of molecular machinery, each one consisting of about three thousand atoms arranged in highly organized 3-D spatial conformation. We would wonder even more as we watched the strangely purposeful activities of these weird molecular machines, particularly when we realized that, despite all our accumulated knowledge of physics and chemistry, the task of designing one such molecular machine – that is one single functional protein molecule – would be completely beyond our capacity at present and will probably not be achieved until at least the beginning of the next century. Yet the life of the cell depends on the integrated activities of thousands, certainly tens, and probably hundreds of thousands of different protein molecules.

    We would see that nearly every feature of our own advanced machines had its analogue in the cell: artificial languages and their decoding systems, memory banks for information storage and retrieval, elegant control systems regulating the automated assembly of parts and components, error fail-safe and proof-reading devices utilized for quality control, assembly processes involving the principle of prefabrication and modular construction. In fact, so deep would be the feeling of deja-vu, so persuasive the analogy, that much of the terminology we would use to describe this fascinating molecular reality would be borrowed from the world of late twentieth-century technology.

    What we would be witnessing would be an object resembling an immense automated factory, a factory larger than a city and carrying out almost as many unique functions as all the manufacturing activities of man on earth. However, it would be a factory which would have one capacity not equalled in any of our own most advanced machines, for it would be capable of replicating its entire structure within a matter of a few hours. To witness such an act at a magnification of one thousand million times would be an awe-inspiring spectacle.
    – Michael Denton’s Evolution: A Theory in Crisis – (H/T Matt Chait)

  37. 37

    Dean @ 35: Exactly. I especially like the first sentence. Strong!

  38. 38
    LocalMinimum says:

    Seversky @ 24:

    For example, a human factory is vastly larger than a living cell. It’s also made of refined metals, plastics and glass which you don’t find in the cell. Judged by those attributes of known design, the cell is not designed

    Stonehenge was made out of stone, its arrangement is actually pretty simple. It has far more in common with local rock formations than a cell does with clay, and a naturalistic hypothesis of its formation should be far easier to produce than that of a cell. Its purpose had to be guessed at, and we weren’t building such structures when we found it. It’s also smaller than a factory. So, why do we assume it was designed?

  39. 39
    john_a_designer says:

    LocalMinimum,

    I think we can give an even simpler analogy: flint arrowheads. Have you ever been lucky enough to “discover” one? Why do we infer they were designed? Do we know who the designer was?

  40. 40
    LocalMinimum says:

    Origenes @ 32:

    Thinking starts from consciousness. There can be no thinking without a thinker. There can be no understanding without a person who understands.

    It would seem you’re defining “thinking” as involving consciousness. Machinery can perform heuristic operations, and can apply such a process to a Bayesian network to produce experiential inferences or a system of rules to build theorems. Machinery will be able to emulate the mechanical process of “thinking”. The only difference, from what we can currently predict, would be the expectation of the lack of conscious, personal experience. But we cannot rule that out through observation. Thus, the hard problem, approached from human knowledge, remains hard (or impossible).

    We would have to observe functionality in the human brain that goes beyond its physical composition to prove its operation an exception to natural law; though I fully expect its origin is.

    Most useful would be anomalies in energy consumption vs. processing results; if we could formulate a minimum energy cost for all possible sets of operations that could produce those results; as that would pit any naturalistic interpretation against a fundamental natural law, the conservation of energy.

    Of course, its operation is exceptional no matter which levels of reality its structure intersects. That Japanese supercomputer, burning however many megawatts, spending 40 minutes to emulate 1 second of computation from a device with a wattage less than that of an energy-saving lightbulb; with the supercomputer being carefully manufactured with our best technology using a massive external industrial complex; whereas the brain grows as one of many systems from a single cell. Sure, we can probably get the energy cost down with more specialized processors and better code, but the gap is obviously larger than that. By the time we get anywhere near the parameters of the brain, without straight up copying it…where will we be, technologically speaking? And how could mud emulate that society, knowledge system, and industrial infrastructure in this task?

  41. 41
    LocalMinimum says:

    Allow me to correct myself: I should have said “burning however many megawatt-seconds”. Forgive my sloppiness with the units.

  42. 42
    Origenes says:

    LocalMinimum @40

    LM: It would seem you’re defining “thinking” as involving consciousness.

    Thinking as a search for truth is personal. I want to know the truth, I want to understand things. This does not make any sense if it were the case that thinking is produced by something that is not “I”. If thinking stems from something beyond my control, then my search for truth is simply a non-starter. If I have no control over my thoughts and beliefs, then I am not rational.
    My point is that to those who demand understanding all notions of ‘consciousness independent thinking’ are totally uninteresting because they block personal access to understanding and truth.
    Equally uninteresting for those who demand understanding is the possibility that thoughts are produced by a ‘Lügengeist’.
    The bottom line is that one must assume to be a free responsible rational person in order to search for truth.

    I find it very odd that some people (like A.Rosenberg) hold that a search for truth can proceed without consciousness or without a consciousness in control of thinking.

    LM: Machinery can perform heuristic operations, and can apply such a process to a Bayesian network to produce experiential inferences or a system of rules to build theorems. Machinery will be able to emulate the mechanical process of “thinking”.

    Machinery does not understand anything (e.g. Searle’s Chinese room) and simply follows instructions from a conscious intelligent designer.

    LM: The only difference, from what we can currently predict, would be the expectation of the lack of conscious, personal experience.

    The only difference?

  43. 43
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    TWSYF @ 27 – Thanks! I’m sure the idea is not original with me, but I’m glad to put my oar in the water, so to speak!

  44. 44
    J-Mac says:

    The problem for creationists is that positing an intelligence that is able to create life out of inanimate materials is to claim that life can be created out of non-living materials. The question then becomes, if it’s possible at the hands of a creator then why not through natural causation?

    Forget natural causation! Nobody has proven ever it is intelligent enough to create life! Why dwell on wishful thinking?
    I don’t get it! |I don’t.

    Let materialists like rvb8 recreate what natural processes did (which means dumb luck did it) and go from there…Nobody would expect an intelligent rvb8 to create a perfect life first time around would he? I would be happy if he were able to create a crippled life as long as it was alive… Would it anybody?

    But shouldn’t rvb8 do a better job than the natural processes did having no intelligence and being driven by dumb luck?
    If they don’t that’s hmmm…

  45. 45
    LocalMinimum says:

    Origenes @ 42:

    Well, I believe I will now smash my smoke capsule and fire my grapple through the skylight, but with this last statement: if it should be possible for the human mind to be sufficiently capable to emulate itself, I would only count it as a credit towards the unfathomable brilliance of the original Designer. YHWH.

  46. 46
    Seversky says:

    Vy @ 33

    They are not scientific explanations of how it was done, just a roundabout way of saying you have no better idea than the rest of us.

    Neither is:

    “Once upon a time, there was nothing then stuff happened. X seconds later, everything created itself including the laws of physics, chemistry etc. that bind said creation. We (claim to not know what we’re positing happened before those X seconds to avoid sounding like the loons we rightly should be called out as in public but we) know it wasn’t God because to say ‘God’ is an excuse (according to our strawman) but to say (Father) time, (Mother) nature and (Daughter) chance did it is far more scientific because ‘reasons’”.

    Then it’s a good job that’s not what we say.

    I have agreed with kairosfocus that if there had ever been truly nothing then there would still be nothing (although it sounds vaguely oxymoronic to talk about nothing as “being” as if it were something). The problem with that position is that it implies that, since there is something, there must always have been something and infinities don’t set well either.

    I also agree that the origins of the laws or information or what-have-you that make the universe the way it is are a profound mystery. It is hard to imagine them surviving the unimaginably extreme conditions in the primordial singularity that eventually went “bang!”. But if they were added after the Big Bang from elsewhere how did that happen?

    The problem with saying that God did it is that all you are giving us is a name. It says nothing about how He did it and Christians don’t ask, which means they are applying a double standard. They demand that science provide a detailed explanation of how it came about but give their God a pass on the same question.

  47. 47
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    CR, generally speaking, designers know what is required to develop a plan. The lack of use of a term does not imply absence of the concept. I suggest you look up ABET’s definition of engineering, which I have quoted here at UD recently. KF

    Again, anyone can “develop a plan”. That doesn’t mean executing it will actually be successful.

    Designers are successful because they possess the necessary knowledge of what transformations need to occur. A plan that is successful is knowledge.

    If you order plans for a boat, but accidentally receive plans for a car instead, that doesn’t mean you’ll end up with a boat, because that’s what you though the plans would build. You end up with a car instead. Right? Furthermore, the designer’s “choices” are limited to steps that actually result in the correct transformations of matter. It could not choose some other steps and get a boat. Want a car? The number of choices are limited to those that actually result in a car, etc.

  48. 48
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, irrelevant, you are splitting hairs on a point where I pointed out that Dembski’s remark on design indicates requisite knowledge. There are far more substantial issues on the table. KF

  49. 49
    Vy says:

    Then it’s a good job that’s not what we say.

    On the contrary, it’s spot on. Sure, I missed the several ad hoc rescue devices but the summary shows how fantastical it is quite nicely.

    I have agreed with kairosfocus that if there had ever been truly nothing then there would still be nothing

    So we’re resurrecting yet another dead theory?

    (although it sounds vaguely oxymoronic to talk about nothing as “being” as if it were something).

    Absolutely. Unsurprisingly, many Atheists didn’t get the memo – Stephen “Gravity created the universe from nothing” Hawking, Lawrence “Universe from nothing” Krauss, and the numerous Atheists who yap about the universe being able to create itself from nothing, usually bait-and-switching from “nothing” to something – quantum vacuum – while claiming it’s “nothing”.

    The problem with that position is that it implies that, since there is something, there must always have been something and infinities don’t set well either.

    Yup.

    I also agree that the origins of the laws or information or what-have-you that make the universe the way it is are a profound mystery.

    Not really.

    It is hard to imagine them surviving the unimaginably extreme conditions in the primordial singularity that eventually went “bang!”. But if they were added after the Big Bang from elsewhere how did that happen?

    Good thing I neither imagine that nor believe they were added after supposed “bang”.

    The problem with saying that God did it is that all you are giving us is a name.

    Who’s responsible for the existence of JS? Brendan Eich
    Who’s responsible for the existence of C++? Bjarne Stroustrup
    Who’s responsible for the existence of Android? Bill Gates & Paul Allen
    Who’s responsible for the existence of the Mona Lisa? Leonardo da Vinci

    Aren’t names wonderful?

    Or perhaps you prefer three names but:
    “The problem with saying that [stuff happens + nature + time] did it is that all you are giving us is [three] name[s].”

    It says nothing about how He did it and Christians don’t ask

    Why do you lie?

    which means they are applying a double standard. They demand that science provide a detailed explanation of how it came about but give their God a pass on the same question.

    First of all, we’re not demanding “science” provide anything. We’re asking Atheists to back up their stories. Christians are quite capable of doing science, they have for over a millennia and that didn’t change because a theologian spun his grandfather’s stories in a new way.

    Secondly, you’ve got it waaay backwards. It is Atheists who demand(ed) that we provide a mechanistic, step-by-step explanation of a strawman god in his cosmic workshop fashioning amino acids, then proteins, then DNA, then God knows what else and when they don’t get what they want, they have nothing better to offer than “Ah, the consensus. And um, stuff happens + nature + time. We don’t know now, but we know you’re wrong and future research will prove us right”.

    Finally, nobody is giving God a pass on that.

  50. 50
    kairosfocus says:

    Vy, what I have argued is were there ever utter non-being, the true nothing then such would forever obtain. That a world is points to something always being there. That practically cries out for a necessary being root of reality, the real issue is, of what nature. KF

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