Intelligent Design

Computational Intelligence and Darwinism

Spread the love

This UD post got me to thinking. I do that from time to time.

On the subject of computational intelligence I have some minor credentials, including a Silver Medal at the first Computer Olympiad in London, sponsored by David Levy of chess fame. You can access the final results of my research and efforts in computational artificial intelligence (AI) here:

If you have a computer with sufficient memory and disk space you can explore the only perfect-play endgame algorithm ever invented for the game of checkers (known as draughts in the UK).

It was my exploration into computational AI that initially caused me to have doubts about the creative powers of the Darwinian mechanism, which I now consider to be a transparent absurdity as an explanation for almost anything of any significance, and certainly not as an explanation for human intelligence.

Here’s why.

Computer programs that play games like checkers and chess involve two primary algorithms, a brute-force tree search and a leaf-node static evaluator. The tree search says, “If I move here, and the opponent moves there, and I move thus…” Unfortunately, the exponential explosion of possibilities means that the search must eventually be terminated. At that point a static positional evaluator must be invoked. This requires designing heuristics that can evaluate the position with no further search.

The problem is that these heuristics are difficult to devise and encode, and they are often wrong, because of tactical considerations that lurk beyond the horizon of the search and the fact that the heuristics can have unanticipated side-effects.

A human player might say, “Hmmm, if I move here, this will create a positional weakness from which the opponent cannot possibly recover.” There is no way to encode such knowledge, which comes from human experience and positional recognition.

The other problem is that computer programs like mine do not play against the opponent; they play against themselves. The tree search assumes that the opponent sees everything it does, which in a human-versus-human game is not the case. In one game my program played against a grandmaster human, the human was in deep trouble, and he told me so. The computer was considering the move the human feared, which would lead to a very difficult, razor-thin draw. But the program searched so far ahead that it found the draw, assumed the human would see it as well, and played a move that gave the program a few more meaningless points, letting the human off the hook.

All attempts at computational language interpretation have been dismal failures for similar reasons. Even the best spell- and grammar-checkers are astronomically stupid:

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rare lea ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

The point is: With all our human intelligence, technology, and inventiveness, how can anyone who is still in contact with reality believe that random accidents engineered our brains and minds?

163 Replies to “Computational Intelligence and Darwinism

  1. 1
    cbburn1 says:

    An interesting article has just come out relating to humans outperforming supercomputers in modelling the folding of proteins.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....151406.htm

    How loud does the case for ID have to be for it to be heard?

  2. 2
    Petrushka says:

    http://www.bobnewell.net/check.....grams.html

    Blondie24 seems to play an adequate game of checkers with no opening move database and no endgame database.

  3. 3
    Petrushka says:

    Checkers is a completely deterministic game. Perfect play by both sides leads inevitably to a draw. A computer program called Chinook plays perfect checkers and cannot be beaten.

    More interesting games are Backgammon and poker, which are not completely deterministic, and for which neural networks and evolutionary algorithms prevail.

    Snowie, a neural network backgammon player, is generally regarded as able to beat any human player.

  4. 4
    Peepul says:

    This is a simple statement of incredulity.

    Suppose I were to say ‘I find it completely credible that evolution engineered our minds and brains’ (as in fact I do). Where does that leave us?

    What you or I believe to be credible is useless as an argument.

    Only evidence counts.

  5. 5
    Petrushka says:

    An interesting article has just come out relating to humans outperforming supercomputers in modelling the folding of proteins.

    Brute force methods don’t work very efficiently on really complex problems. It’s interesting, though, that dumb chemistry goes directly to the answer. Almost as if unguided chemistry can cut the gordian knot of seemingly astronomical possibilities.

  6. 6
    GilDodgen says:

    I am very familiar with Chinook and know Jonathan Schaeffer quite well. Jonathan is Chinook’s primary author and won the gold medal at the Computer Olympiad I mentioned. Back in 2003 I computed the eight-piece database and uncovered errors in the Chinook database that had gone undetected by Jon’s database validation code. They recomputed it, went on to compute much larger databases, and eventually solved the game.

    I am also quite familiar with Blondie. It is noteworthy, extremely interesting, and certainly deserving of credit that Fogel created Blondie’s static evaluator using “evolutionary” algorithms. However, Blondie is really quite weak, and gets most all of its strength from its rather primitive tree search.

    Yes, many games are now played better by computer programs than by the best humans. Today’s best chess programs, like Rybka, are rated above 3,000. Garry Kasparov, perhaps the best chess player of all time, was rated 2851 at his peak.

    Despite all of this, “intelligent” computer programs are not really intelligent at all. Brute force and clever algorithms can be used to defeat the best humans in some games (although in other games, like Go, the best programs are pitifully weak amateurs). The point is that the human mind is vastly more sophisticated than any of this technology. Human minds invent the games, create computers, and program the computers to play the games they invented.

  7. 7
    GilDodgen says:

    It’s interesting, though, that dumb chemistry goes directly to the answer.

    It’s not dumb chemistry, it’s programmed chemistry.

  8. 8
    Petrushka says:

    It’s not dumb chemistry, it’s programmed chemistry.

    Not sure what you mean by that.

    The chemistry of protein folding is programmed?

  9. 9
    uoflcard says:

    Petrushka:

    Gil:

    It’s not dumb chemistry, it’s programmed chemistry.

    Not sure what you mean by that.

    The chemistry of protein folding is programmed?

    I think I see the question you are asking. How can the physical forces that cause proteins to fold be programmed? I would assume that they’re not, that each protein fold could be reduced to the laws of physics. But it’s like saying the inner workings of a computer is “dumb electricity”. Sure, the flow of electrons is reducible to the laws of physics, but it was intelligence that set up (programmed) the computer to behave in that fashion. In other words, a computer could be called programmed electricity, just like proteins could be called programmed chemistry.

    The same concept could be applied to basically any designed object or system. An internal combustion engine is certainly explicable in natural terms, but it was intelligence that designed it. Same with a plumbing system, vacuum cleaner, centrifuge…I guess I don’t need to list everything humans have ever created.

  10. 10
    Petrushka says:

    But it’s like saying the inner workings of a computer is “dumb electricity”. Sure, the flow of electrons is reducible to the laws of physics, but it was intelligence that set up (programmed) the computer to behave in that fashion.

    I’m always curious about what people are claiming to be designed. If the properties of matter are such protein folding can be said to be designed, then other phenomena could be designed also, including evolution.

    Just trying to get a handle on what is being claimed.

  11. 11
    veilsofmaya says:

    @Perushka (#9)

    If the properties of matter are such protein folding can be said to be designed, then other phenomena could be designed also, including evolution.

    I’ve always wondered this as well.

    Since designers choose specific designs over others, designing evolution represents one possible choice the a designer could have made. It’s unclear how ID excludes this choice other than by making assumptions about the designer which are not actually present in the theory of ID.

    It’s only by moving beyond an abstract design that one could even start to evaluate what a designer would or would not do in specific instances. This includes implement TE.

    Can someone provide an explanation as to why TE wasn’t selected by the designer in place of “solution” presented posited by ID?

  12. 12
    cbburn1 says:

    @Petrushka (#9)
    @veilsofmaya (#10)

    In an evolutionary context, progressing from the simplest to more complex lifeforms, given the huge number of (invalid)possibilities for evolving a new protein fold how is that nature succeeds in finding solutions that are so sparcely distributed in the search space? The search must be directed by programming protein folds according to some desired goal. Douglas Axe’s work explains this eloquently in http://bio-complexity.org/ojs/.....O-C.2010.1 .
    If Axe is right, clearly a rethink is needed regarding natural selection and random variation.

  13. 13
    aiguy says:

    Gil,

    Despite all of this, “intelligent” computer programs are not really intelligent at all.

    I disagree completely – I think that many computer programs are indeed really intelligent! Now, how do you propose we resolve our differing viewpoints here, Gil?

    Do you have some sort of test that we can apply to various things to determine if they really intelligent or not?

    Brute force and clever algorithms can be used to defeat the best humans in some games (although in other games, like Go, the best programs are pitifully weak amateurs).

    Yes indeed! Brute force and clever algorithms can make for very truly intelligent behaviors.

    The point is that the human mind is vastly more sophisticated than any of this technology. Human minds invent the games, create computers, and program the computers to play the games they invented.

    No question that humans are still vastly more sophisticated! Still, computers are catching up very quickly. I expect that this September a computer will overtake humans in yet another game… and this one is extremely wide-ranging and requires expertise in many, many areas of general knowledge as well as proficiency in natural language. I’m talking of course about the game of Jeopardy!

    Anyway, let’s get back to the point here. Please give me the test that we can apply to any arbitrary system of our chosing where the results of the test will tell us if the system is unintelligent, “intelligent”, or really intelligent.

    Can you tell us what that test is? (hint: I think you can’t, and this label of “intelligence” is purely a subjective description).

  14. 14
    aiguy says:

    P.S. As my friend Drew McDermott famously noted, “Saying Deep Blue doesn’t think about chess is like saying airplanes don’t fly because they don’t flap their wings”.

  15. 15
    wagenweg says:

    aiguy @ 13,

    “Saying Deep Blue doesn’t think about chess is like saying airplanes don’t fly because they don’t flap their wings”.

    I disagree in that Deep Blue doesn’t comtemplate chess, is not at awe with it, and doens’t find pleasure in playing it, just as the plane does not intellectually absorb or experience the wonder of flying flapping wings or not.

    The analogy of the airplane lacks something. What would Mr, McDermott say to the analogy of an airplane and an eagle both of which do not flap their wings? (although an eagle can that is not how they fly primarily) The plane flys because some human at the helm causes it to. An eagle flys for example as a search for food. I would like to see a program designed that could first identify hunger (not the measurable calculation of lack of food in a test tube) then take flight in search for food, capture it, and then consume it.

    Call deep Blue intelligent if you want but their is a vast differnece between living and non living intelligence which I think is the main point that is being made here.

  16. 16
    aiguy says:

    Wagenweg,

    I disagree in that Deep Blue doesn’t comtemplate chess, is not at awe with it, and doens’t find pleasure in playing it,

    I see. For you, then, in order for something to be said to “think”, it must be capable of “awe” and also find “pleasure” in various pursuits.

    Interesting criteria. Are there any other ones you’d like to add? Also, can you provide some way for us to measure the “awe” and “pleasure” that may or may not be occuring in various systems at a given time?

    …just as the plane does not intellectually absorb or experience the wonder of flying flapping wings or not.

    Are you saying that in order to fly something must “intellectually absorb or experience the wonder” of flying? Really?

    Also, are you quite sure that birds “intellectually absorb or experience the wonder” of flying? How can you tell?

    The analogy of the airplane lacks something. What would Mr, McDermott say to the analogy of an airplane and an eagle both of which do not flap their wings? (although an eagle can that is not how they fly primarily)

    Dr. McDermott would of course say that all of these things fly. His point was that function is distinct from implementation.

    The plane flys because some human at the helm causes it to.

    Most planes are like this, but a few experimental aircraft can navigate completely autonomously – including landings and takeoffs.

    An eagle flys for example as a search for food.

    Among other things…

    Sorry, but what exactly is your point?

    I would like to see a program designed that could first identify hunger (not the measurable calculation of lack of food in a test tube) then take flight in search for food, capture it, and then consume it.

    That’s all quite doable with current technology except perhaps the part about “identifying hunger” rather than measuring it.

    Can you tell us how to objectively determine if this autonomous craft is actually “identifying hunger” rather than merely “measuring a lack of food”? Do you have some sort of instrument that will distinguish these things?

    Call deep Blue intelligent if you want but their is a vast differnece between living and non living intelligence which I think is the main point that is being made here.

    And here is my point: You can go on and on about what you think the differences are between various agents. What you cannot do is come up with some actual set of criteria that you will stick with that can distinguish “true” intelligence in general. In other words, there is no criteria – no specific set of observable attributes or abilities – that you can define which will allow us to divide things in the world into “real intelligent agents” and “not real intelligent agents”.

  17. 17
    cbburn1 says:

    @ aiguy (#12)

    Set up a Turing Test to provide logically sufficient conditions for the attribution of intelligence, but with changing context. So if Deep Blue is the subject, in the context of standard chess rules it will pass. Then change the rules progressively, ie remove pieces, change the way they move, redefine what constitutes a win. Probably sooner rather than later Deep Blue will fail, as it has no ‘mental’ state representative of the human ability to think strategically and adapt.

  18. 18
    cbburn1 says:

    I should have mentioned that the criterion for failure would be the inability of Deep Blue to participate at all in the ‘redefined’ game of chess.

  19. 19
    aiguy says:

    cbburn1,

    Set up a Turing Test to provide logically sufficient conditions for the attribution of intelligence, but with changing context. So if Deep Blue is the subject, in the context of standard chess rules it will pass.

    Really? If I was playing a chess game against an unknown opponent, I don’t think I could tell if my opponent was a human or a computer. Could you?

    Then change the rules progressively, ie remove pieces, change the way they move, redefine what constitutes a win. Probably sooner rather than later Deep Blue will fail, as it has no ‘mental’ state representative of the human ability to think strategically and adapt.

    In a Turing test, the point is for the computer system to fool the human interviewer into thinking the responses are coming from a human. If I was interviewing an unknown candidate the candidate began to lose this complicated chess game where the rules kept changing, I might think I was playing a human being who wasn’t very good at chess and couldn’t keep the ever-changing rules straight.

    As far as thinking strategically and adapting, computers excel at that sort of thing of course. That’s why computers are in charge of designing and planning complex shipping routes for FedEx packages in the face of ever-changing priorities and circumstances, for example.

    Also, I’m not sure why you’re talking about “mental” states or representations, as these are not factors in evaluating a Turing Test. What we’re looking for here are things we can observe, right? We can’t observe mental states.

  20. 20
    aiguy says:

    I should have mentioned that the criterion for failure would be the inability of Deep Blue to participate at all in the ‘redefined’ game of chess

    I see. So in order to tell if something is intelligent or not, you get them to play a game of chess and start changing the rules on them, and see if they can learn the new rules. Is that your final answer?

  21. 21
    Mung says:

    More interesting games are Backgammon and poker, which are not completely deterministic, and for which neural networks and evolutionary algorithms prevail.

    Yup. I was playing in a poker game once and one of my cards evolved into a fifth Ace. Imagine how disconcerting it was when the other players refused to accept my explanation!

  22. 22
    Clive Hayden says:

    Peepul,

    What you or I believe to be credible is useless as an argument.

    Only evidence counts.

    I find that incredible. 🙂

  23. 23
    cbburn1 says:

    @aiguy

    I think you’ve misunderstood my point. The test I’m referring to is the ability to conceptualise and adapt to a new situation, the rules the testee would know about (or at least made available through an interface). For example, say in one rule change all pieces can only move one step at a time as pawns. Would Deep Blue then be able to participate (without considerable reprogramming)? Probably not, then the test fails. I suspect even a novice player could cope with this.

  24. 24
    Petrushka says:

    The test I’m referring to is the ability to conceptualise and adapt to a new situation, the rules the testee would know about (or at least made available through an interface). For example, say in one rule change all pieces can only move one step at a time as pawns. Would Deep Blue then be able to participate (without considerable reprogramming)?

    I’m sure Deep Blue relies on a database of opening moves and such. So do human players, at least good ones do.

    But if you started not with Deep Blue, but a generalized learning program along the lines of Blondie24, I’m confident that a program that learns would stomp a human into the ground after a series of rule changes.

  25. 25
    aiguy says:

    Right, Petrushka.

    Anyway cbburn1, you seem to think that learning and adapting are critical in separating “real” intelligence from the “fake” intelligence (the kind that Gil thinks computers are limited to).

    Now here’s are two questions for you ID folks:
    1) What evidence do we have that the Designer of ID is capable of learning?
    2) Since Darwinian evolution is capable of learning and adapting, does that mean that Darwinian evolution ought to be called “intelligent”?

  26. 26
    GilDodgen says:

    The hallmark of intelligence is understanding. Computer programs, no matter how sophisticated or impressive in what they can do in a limited domain (after having been intelligently designed by human engineers), do not understand.

    Understanding means taking a learned concept and applying it in a different, novel situation. There is nothing in computational “intelligence” that comes anywhere close to this.

    I had the honor of knowing Marion Tinsley for a few brief years before he died. He was without doubt the greatest checkerist of all time. I could tell you many amazing stories about him. He was a prodigy who entered Ohio State University at the age of 14, a university math professor, a born-again evangelical Christian, and one of the nicest people you could ever know.

    I’ll tell you one story:

    I was playing a mail-play game against the world mail-play checkers champion, Richard Fortman. I would let my program run overnight, send off the move, and wait for a reply. At one point Richard told me that my program had played into a published loss, and he gave me the supposed refuting winning move. My program expected this move, and had a response that showed a drawing score.

    So, I called up Marion. He was watching a Nova science TV program but said he would rather talk to me. I told him the story and asked for his opinion. He said, “Run up the game.” I asked, “Would you like to get your board?” He replied, “That won’t be necessary.” So, I rattled off the moves from the opening in rapid-fire checkers notation, some 30 of them, told him which move my program made, and which move Fortman said was a published winning refutation. I did not tell Marion which move my program said was a drawing move.

    Marion thought for no more than a few seconds, and gave me the drawing move the program had found after searching more than a billion positions overnight.

    But I digress and return to my original thesis: Intelligence is fundamentally characterized by understanding, whereby what has been learned can be applied in novel situations.

    The most sophisticated computer programs can do nothing of the sort. I once told Marion, “My program does not even know it’s playing checkers.”

    He laughed.

  27. 27
    Petrushka says:

    The most sophisticated computer programs can do nothing of the sort. I once told Marion, “My program does not even know it’s playing checkers.”

    AI discussions always lead to unexpected places.

    Does a cat know it is a cat? Is there any animal other than a human that knows or understands anything?

    Does anticipation count?

    A while back there was a story about a Turing test in which programs competed against humans in a blind test.

    It was a limited test. You were only allowed the query the unknown entity about a limited range of topic on which it was an expert.

    A woman was judged by most to be a computer program because she knew too much about Shakespeare, her area of expertise.

  28. 28
    Petrushka says:

    The most sophisticated computer programs can do nothing of the sort. I once told Marion, “My program does not even know it’s playing checkers.”

    Checkers is a trivial game. I don’t disparage the effort required to “solve” it, but the point is it is just tic-tac-toe with a larger database.

    Programs that rely on a database will always be trivial from the perspective of AI or I.

    Folks at Stanford are building rather sophisticated silicon neurons. I’m not going to predict that this will lead to artificial intelligence anytime soon, but I will bet it will lead toward another level of commercial products.

    I’m betting that good language translation is less than 20 years away. Cars that will avoid accidents. Traffic lights that will optimise traffic rather than delay it. Good legal and medical advice.

  29. 29
    GilDodgen says:

    I’ll bet that within 20 years chance-and-necessity Darwinism will be laughed at as the most grandiose stupidity and fraud in the history of pseudoscience.

  30. 30
    Mung says:

    Petrushka @24:

    But if you started not with Deep Blue, but a generalized learning program along the lines of Blondie24, I’m confident that a program that learns would stomp a human into the ground after a series of rule changes.

    So much fun.

    1. Deep Blue is not a generalized learning program.

    So what?

    Is Deep Blue a generalized CHESS learning program?

    2. a generalized learning program along the lines of Blondie24

    How does Blondie24 fare at CHESS against Deep Blue?

    How long will it take for a generalized CHESS learning program like Blondie24 to beat a program like Deep Blue?

    3. I’m confident that a program that learns would stomp a human into the ground after a series of rule changes.

    Why are you so confident? Humans easily undertand rule changes. Do you disagree?

    On the other hand, computer programs have to be instructed that the rules have changed (by design), and they have to be told what the new rules are (by design), and they have to be DESIGNED to adapt to the new rules.

    Needless to say. I’m not convinced by your grandiose claims.

    But feel free to submit your code.

  31. 31
    aiguy says:

    Gil,

    The hallmark of intelligence is understanding. Computer programs, no matter how sophisticated or impressive in what they can do in a limited domain (after having been intelligently designed by human engineers), do not understand.

    My computer programs understand all sorts of things. How are we to decide which one of us is right? What test might we perform to resolve the matter?

    You haven’t even attempted to address the issue, which is to provide an operationalized definition of “intelligence”. There is a good reason you didn’t try, though. It’s because there is no such definition.

    Here’s why: http://cognorama.blogspot.com/.....cause.html

    Understanding means taking a learned concept and applying it in a different, novel situation.

    I especially like this one in the context of ID. Evolution learns, adapts, and applies what it learns in different, novel situations.

    There is no evidence, however, that if a “designer” designed life, that it learned anything at all or adapted to any novel situation.

    So according to your definition of “intelligence”, evolution is intelligent, but the Designer of life may not be.

  32. 32
    avocationist says:

    AIGuy,

    I haven’t been here a while and spent a LONG time on some previous threads re your discussion of Meyer and I don’t know if it was ever resolved but it seems to me you misunderstood what Meyer says about our universal experience:

    1) Meyer claims to explain the very first living cell from simpler non-living chemicals.
    2) This means that the cause he infers cannot itself be a living thing.
    3) Meyer claims that the cause he infers is known to our uniform and repeated experience.
    4) But nothing in our uniform and repeated experience can create complex mechanisms except living things.
    5) Therefore Meyer is wrong.

    On #3, Meyer is referring to our experience that human intelligence is the cause of our own complex creations, but you seem to think that he means that we all experience a disembodied intelligence or that he is referring to human beings as a whole. No, he is referring to our intelligence only. So we can infer from the experience we DO have, the necessity of an intelligence to come up with IC and FCSI.

    I see that you have trouble with the idea of a disembodied entity but I don’t know why people use the word nonmaterial. What can that mean? I think it is an outdated idea from earlier eras. Either something exists or it doesn’t. So many things that we never knew existed have been discovered such as ultraviolet or gamma rays – our physical senses only pick up so much of reality but we already know there is much more.

  33. 33
    DATCG says:

    Aiguy,

    Do you think there are levels of intelligence?

    When you say; “operationalized” please expand. What is your definition?

    Are you saying we cannot measure such things in the future?

  34. 34
    DATCG says:

    #33 Aiguy,

    “My computer programs understand all sorts of things.”

    Were your computer programs designed?

  35. 35
    DATCG says:

    Aiguy,

    fyi, if you leave comments, I may not be able to respond until tomorrow. Have a good day.

  36. 36
    kairosfocus says:

    Avocationist:

    Let’s start at the top of your attempted “proof” in no 33:

    1) Meyer claims to explain the very first living cell from simpler non-living chemicals.

    2) This means that the cause he infers cannot itself be a living thing . . .

    1 –> Plainly, Meyer’s context — as in (as StephenB so often reminds us) we should always read reasonably, and for context — is that the living cells in question are those relevant to the life we encounter on earth.

    2 –> Of course, the origin of the first cells relevant to earth will not be the same cells, as something will not create itself out of nothing for no reason.

    3 –> But, it is immediately a non-sequitur to infer that the source of said cell-based life relevant to earth “cannot itself be a living thing.”

    4 –> For, as is well known, one logical possibility is that life as we know it on earth is a technology of another form of life (which — given the recent work of Venter et al — could even be based on similar structures and systems).

    5 –> You have therefore set up and knocked over a question-begging strawman.

    6 –>Even more important — and given that a strawman is actually also a distractive red herring — you have distracted attention from the argument that Meyer and others have actually made.

    7 –> You know or should know (and the Weak Argument correctives you seem to have neglected are there to help) that the real issue is that the cell exhibits digitally coded, functionally specific, complex algorithmic [and coded — i.e. linguistic]information, or dFSCI as GPuccio abbreviates.

    8 –> Now, dFSCI is a very familiar phenomenon in an information age, indeed it is the key element that makes the PC you are using to read this and make comments here work.

    9 –> It is also a well known fact that such dFSCI, in every case where we directly observe the origin, is produced by intelligence.

    10 –> Similarly, on the strength of the fact that we are ourselves intelligent and can contrast other creatures who do not produce dFSCI-based systems, we can conceptualise what intelligence is based on known examples and counter-examples, and follow and slightly expand Wiki’s definiton of intelligence that apears in the UD glossary:

    “. . . capacities to reason, to plan [[which entails (i) to purpose, (ii) to conceive or imagine a path to achieve it and (iii) to set out steps to fulfill the path], to solve problems, to think abstractly, to comprehend ideas, to use language [including codes and dFSCI], and to learn.” [[Wikipedia: article, “Intelligence.”]

    11 –> Surely, if we were to encounter an entity more or less like that, we would deem it intelligent, especially if its capacity was flexible. (Contrast what would happen to a computer chess machine if you were to suddenly say, let’s change rule a, b, c etc, by contrast with even a novice human player.)

    12 –> Now, one of the challenges on origin of life is that whenever and wherever it happened, it happened in a deep past we cannot observe, nor do we have generally accepted records. That is the source of the sting in Job when YHWH speaks out of the storm in ch 38:

    1 . . . the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:
    2 “Who is this that darkens my counsel
    with words without knowledge?
    3 Brace yourself like a man;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.
    4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand . . .

    13 –> Plainly, this is a very good and deep challenge to the project of origins science.

    14 –> The best answer we can give is that once (i) we can establish an empirically reliable pattern in the present, (ii) we can observe traces of he past in the present, and (iii) we can see a credible set of initial circumstances that through those patterns would give rise to sufficiently similar traces, (iv) we may scientifically infer on best explanation, that the suggested circumstances and dynamics are a credible — albeit inevitably provisional — origins narrative.

    15 –> Of course, one thing that we have no right to do, is to claim that such an inferential reconstruction is a fact beyond reasonable dispute or doubt. (Sadly, it is necessary to note this, as there is a tendency to over-claim the factual basis for evolutionary theories of origins.)

    16 –> Coming back from epistemological underpinnings (and yes, science inescapably rests on philosophical foundations), we can note that there is a clear, empirically reliable pattern concerning dFSCI: it is a sign that — per a massive base of observations and without a credible counterexample that can stand basic scrutiny — reliably points to directed contingency as its origin.

    17 –> That is, dFSCI, on empirical warrant, points to design its relevant causal factor. (Indeed, on the search space challenges, the other main source of contingency, chance, is not a credible source for dFSCI.)

    18 –> So, we have good reason to see that he dFSCI in the cell is the product of intelligence, and not the credible product of chance circumstances, molecular noise and undirected chemical processes in Darwin’s hypothetical pond or a modern equivalent.

    19 –> To overturn that, all that would be required is to empirically demonstrate that dFSCI can, with reasonable likelihood, be produced by undirected chance and mechanical necessity in a reasonable natural circumstance. Or even, just in a credible computer or experimental setup. [Genetic Algorithms, to name a favourite rabbit trail, are in fact designed, and build in a lot of intelligently sourced active information that allows them to outperform blind chance plus necessity.]

    ___________

    Now, onlookers, that we so routinely see specious objections to the above chain of reasoning, whether in the simple summary above or in the full treatment in Meyer’s work or elsewhere, is telling us something about the actual balance of the case on the merits.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Onlookers may find the beta test introductory survey here helpful. Note especially the remarks on origin of life and of body plan level biodiversity in light of the implications of embryological development.

  37. 37
    aiguy says:

    avocationist,

    I haven’t been here a while and spent a LONG time on some previous threads re your discussion of Meyer and I don’t know if it was ever resolved but it seems to me you misunderstood what Meyer says about our universal experience:

    1) Meyer claims to explain the very first living cell from simpler non-living chemicals.
    2) This means that the cause he infers cannot itself be a living thing.
    3) Meyer claims that the cause he infers is known to our uniform and repeated experience.
    4) But nothing in our uniform and repeated experience can create complex mechanisms except living things.
    5) Therefore Meyer is wrong.

    On #3, Meyer is referring to our experience that human intelligence is the cause of our own complex creations…

    Well, that is what we have experience of, yes. Human beings and other animals act with what we call “intelligence”.

    …but you seem to think that he means that we all experience a disembodied intelligence

    He refers to both living things one hand, and hypothetical immaterial intelligent beings on the other hand, all together under the label “intelligent agency”. But we only have experience of one of these two types of things, not the other.

    No, he is referring to our intelligence only. So we can infer from the experience we DO have, the necessity of an intelligence to come up with IC and FCSI.

    But obviously human beings didn’t create the first living cell – nothing remotely like anything in our experience could have, because in our experience we only see complex FSCI-rich things acting intelligently.

    I see that you have trouble with the idea of a disembodied entity but I don’t know why people use the word nonmaterial. What can that mean?

    In this context I’m referring to intelligent beings which do not have complex, FSCI-rich physical bodies. Meyer says he’s explaining how these complex FSCI-rich physical bodies first came to exist, so he can’t possibly say that something else with an FSCI-rich physical body was responsible.

    That leaves something unknown to our experience, which is some sort of intelligent being that did not have an FSCI-rich physical body.

    * * *

    DATCG,

    Do you think there are levels of intelligence?
    When you say; “operationalized” please expand. What is your definition?
    Are you saying we cannot measure such things in the future?

    An operationalized definition is one that science can work with because it is described in terms of things independent researchers can observe and agree on. So the definition describes how to go about observing (detecting or measuring) the thing in question. The definition of “gravity” is operationalized (or “heat” or “mutation” or “gene” or any other scientific explanatory concept), but not the word “intelligence”.

    Unless given a specific operationalized definition in a particular context (for example, you can define it as what is measured by a particular IQ test), the word “intelligence” isn’t useful in science.

    Yes, I work in a field called “artificial intelligence”, and for us the label is completely unimportant, since we simply research ways for computer systems to do things that humans do. So for AI we simply mean by “intelligent” nothing except “whatever folks would tend to call intelligent if a human being did it.”

    We don’t attempt to explain how our systems work by calling them “intelligent” – that would be funny, really. Can you imagine I build some computer system that designs electronic components, and somebody asks me how it works, and I say “Well, you see, my program works because it is intelligent!”. Everybody would laugh, and then say “Seriously, AIGuy, how does your program work?”

    * * *

    DATCG,

    My computer programs understand all sorts of things.
    Were your computer programs designed?

    Were you designed?

    According to ID, you don’t need to know the origin of something in order to determine if it is intelligent or not.

    http://cognorama.blogspot.com

  38. 38
    veilsofmaya says:

    @cbburn1 (#12)

    The search must be directed by programming protein folds according to some desired goal.

    cbburn1,

    You seem to be suggest an intelligent designer could iterate over protein folding geometry space to select working proteins “in his head”, but could not design a natural process that does the same thing. Furthermore, a designer could have a goal of finding any functional proteins rather than looking for any proteins in particular. Again, this seems to be making rather specific assumptions about the designer that are not evident in the theory of ID.

    For example, we can use DNA and quantum mechanics to solve problems that would be normally untraceable. That is, we can enlist the laws of physics to perform factorizations in polynomial time which would normally take millions of years using existing computing algorithms. We also observe the cell performing sequence alignment and other tasks that appear to be NP-complete. Given that we as designers can do this in the lab, it would seem that one could use the same “inference” that ID uses with regards to design to assume some hypothetical designer who is much more intelligent and powerful than us could do the same thing while ‘designing” the universe.

    Again, I find it odd that, on one hand, ID claims that we cannot know who the designer is, but ID proponents seem to make assumptions about the designer as if they know who the designer is, what he would or would not do, etc.

    That a hypothetical designer would chose to do X rather than Y seems rather arbitrary assumption, which doesn’t seem very scientific.

  39. 39
    Petrushka says:

    I’ll bet that within 20 years chance-and-necessity Darwinism will be laughed at as the most grandiose stupidity and fraud in the history of pseudoscience.

    People have been making and losing that bet for 150 years. I believe we are within a few years of seeing the end of one famous bet.

  40. 40
    Upright BiPed says:

    They made the same bet as to whether the universe had a beginning, or had always been.

    They had been making that bet for a lot longer than 150 years.

    How’d that work out?

  41. 41
    Petrushka says:

    For example, we can use DNA and quantum mechanics to solve problems that would be normally intractable. That is, we can enlist the laws of physics to perform factorizations in polynomial time which would normally take millions of years using existing computing algorithms. We also observe the cell performing sequence alignment and other tasks that appear to be NP-complete.

    I think this is consistent with something I’ve been arguing for a couple of weeks. Biological evolution is absolutely the fastest possible way to solve the problems of survival that living things face.

    One can always posit an omniscient and omnipotent creator/designer, but anything less would necessarily have to use biological evolution.

    Simulations of things like protein folding, no matter how powerful we make our computers and algorithms, will always be slower than the real thing, because a folding protein is, in effect, a quantum computer. Nothing in the physical world can be faster.

  42. 42
    cbburn1 says:

    @veilsofmaya (#38)
    ‘You seem to be suggest an intelligent designer could iterate over protein folding geometry space to select working proteins “in his head”, but could not design a natural process that does the same thing.’
    The evidence as presented in Douglas Axe’s paper suggests very strongly that natural selection and random variation cannot achieve this. Do you disagree with the data he presents?
    Given the size of search space, the rarity and disparity of functional proteins, how does one account for the large number of enzyme complexes we see now? Does NS/RM have this power, or is some additional directing influence involved?

    ‘That a hypothetical designer would chose to do X rather than Y seems rather arbitrary assumption, which doesn’t seem very scientific’
    Fair point, but you have to follow the evidence. Your view regarding quantum mechanics and natural law appeals me with its eloquence but Axe’s findings are quite compelling.

  43. 43
    cbburn1 says:

    @veilsofmaya (#38)

    For example, we can use DNA and quantum mechanics to solve problems that would be normally untraceable. That is, we can enlist the laws of physics to perform factorizations in polynomial time which would normally take millions of years using existing computing algorithms.

    I may be misunderstanding the above, it is important not to overlook any presupposed information that may be being used, regarding fitness functions and the use of operations to contruct functional proteins. Does this accurately reflect the problem presented to NS/RM, a non-goal driven search mechanism, to find what are very complex biological structures?

  44. 44
    cbburn1 says:

    @Petrushka (#41)

    I think this is consistent with something I’ve been arguing for a couple of weeks. Biological evolution is absolutely the fastest possible way to solve the problems of survival that living things face.

    Axe talks about this for evolved biological resistance – this is restricted to a local search resulting in one or two amino acid changes in the enzyme. The problem of evolving novel folds still remains.

  45. 45
    avocationist says:

    AIguy,

    I have not been able to figure out how to do quotes here. You said:

    “He refers to both living things one hand, and hypothetical immaterial intelligent beings on the other hand, all together under the label “intelligent agency”. But we only have experience of one of these two types of things, not the other.”
    Yes, my point was that Meyer did not imply that we have experience of both. (Many people may say they do, but it is very subjective, shall we say.)

    And: “But obviously human beings didn’t create the first living cell – nothing remotely like anything in our experience could have, because in our experience we only see complex FSCI-rich things acting intelligently”

    Yes, obviously. It would take something outside our experience to create matter and life forms. If an intelligence did it, it would have to be different than us. That is the implication. but I am merely pointing out that I don’t think you have found Meyer in error because I don’t think he intended to say anything other than that we see complexity created by intelligence, and therefore we must assume that it took an intelligence to create the life forms initially. The implications disturb you, but that is for you to ponder.

    And: “In this context I’m referring to intelligent beings which do not have complex, FSCI-rich physical bodies. ”

    Yes, that’s the problem isn’t it. But when I said why call it immaterial, I was not referring to you. It is a general question, why do we refer to “spiritual” things as nonmaterial? How do we know they are nonmaterial? Do we know everything about the cosmos and its energies? As I said, either a thing exists or it does not. What can nonmaterial mean? I think it means we can’t perceive it, but we already know that some very real and material things are not perceivable by our senses.

  46. 46
    alan says:

    veilsofmyer #38:
    “You seem to be suggest an intelligent designer could iterate over protein folding geometry space to select working proteins “in his head”, but could not design a natural process that does the same thing.”

    Beside the response by cbburn re. Douglas Aex’s work – are you saying you are a Theistic Evolutionist then and would this not necessitate an admittance to ID?

  47. 47
    alan says:

    p.s.

    Could we design an A.I. that could determine how stupid a human being could be? (Like the guy who just killed himself in the international Sauna competition.)

  48. 48
    aiguy says:

    Avocationist,

    I have not been able to figure out how to do quotes here.

    Use the “blockquote” tags.

    It would take something outside our experience to create matter and life forms. If an intelligence did it, it would have to be different than us. That is the implication. but I am merely pointing out that I don’t think you have found Meyer in error because I don’t think he intended to say anything other than that we see complexity created by intelligence,

    But nobody has ever ever seen complexity created by intelligence per se, any more than anyone has ever seen complexity created by complexity per se. Both “intelligence” and “complexity” are properties of other things, not things-in-themselves.

    What we see create complexity are living things that have complex physical bodies and have various physical and mental abilities.

    …and therefore we must assume that it took an intelligence to create the life forms initially. The implications disturb you, but that is for you to ponder.

    You are completely mistaken to imagine that the implications disturb me. What disturbs me is this specious argument that refies intelligence as though it is something that exists independently of the life forms that exhibit intelligent behavior.

    To say “an intelligence created life” is as meaningless as saying “a complexity created life”. Nothing at all follows from either of these statements.

    But when I said why call it immaterial, I was not referring to you. It is a general question, why do we refer to “spiritual” things as nonmaterial? How do we know they are nonmaterial? Do we know everything about the cosmos and its energies?

    No, we clearly do not know everything about the cosmos, the mind, or matter and energy. There are deep mysteries that we do not understand.

    What I object to is pretending that we can explain these things by imagining a human-like mind could be responsible when we have no reason to think a human-like mind could exist prior to human-like brains. Of course there may be other sorts of “minds” that are not human-like, but we know precisely nothing about what that might mean. In other words, may be nothing at all in common between our human minds and the cause of life. Maybe the cause of life had a very different sort of consciousness, or maybe it wasn’t conscious at all. We have no way of knowing.

  49. 49
    Petrushka says:

    Axe talks about this for evolved biological resistance – this is restricted to a local search resulting in one or two amino acid changes in the enzyme. The problem of evolving novel folds still remains.

    It’s just as big a problem for a designer. The fastest possible way to compute folds is to let the proteins do it. There are no computational shortcuts taht are faster, and it is unlikely that any computational algorithm will ever be faster than a quantum computer.

    And assuming you set up a laboratory to force the production and testing of novel proteins, you still have the problem of testing their fitness in a living ecosystem.

  50. 50
    avocationist says:

    aiguy,

    OK, with much difficulty I was able to get something in blockquotes, but cannot figure out how to end it. So I still can’t use it.

    “But nobody has ever ever seen complexity created by intelligence per se,any more than anyone has ever seen complexity created by complexity per se. Both “intelligence” and “complexity” are properties of other things, not things-in-themselves.

    A strange argument. First, complexity and intelligence are not words in the same category. Intelligence is a noun, but complexity is an adjective.
    So, we see the actions of intelligence, and we can surely say that intelligence used with a will is the key attribute needed to build CSI. It has been said we cannot know the things in themselves. If that is what you are saying, it seems to have little meaning to our problem.

    “What we see create complexity are living things that have complex physical bodies and have various physical and mental abilities.”

    So perhaps you are asking in the case of an intelligent designer, what other attributes would this entity have, if not a body? And basically, what I get from reading your posts, is that you find the idea of a mind without our type of body hard to imagine. Why is that? Why should there only exist that which we already know about and see with our senses on this planet?

    See how things are really run from the inside with a wondrous micro-reality so removed from our clumsy senses that until the invention of the microscope it was absolutely unimagined? And that micro-reality we have not gotten to the bottom of yet, it being so subtle and elusive. And consider the electromagnetic spectrum.

    The existence of anything at all cries out for explanation. If there is no soul or mind but only matter, then matter is God, being self-existing. And if matter is self-existing it is very different from what we think; fundamentally at odds with basic common sense: things cannot pop into existence from a prior condition of nothingness. So yes, your mind resists but there is really no choice. Something very other is at the root of existence.

    Then, too, if you want God to have a body, why shouldn’t it be the entire cosmos?

    “What I object to is pretending that we can explain these things by imagining a human-like mind could be responsible when we have no reason to think a human-like mind could exist prior to human-like brains.”

    Well, it is a funny thing. I think there is quite a lot of evidence that mind is independent of brain, but others say there is not.

    I am however not at all sure what sort of consciousness the creator has. It may indeed by very different. I suspect lesser beings may have created life.

  51. 51
    aiguy says:

    avocationist,

    Here is how to make a quote:

    (blockquote)Your text goes here(/blockquote)

    Except replace the parentheses with angle brackes ”.

    AIGUY: But nobody has ever ever seen complexity created by intelligence per se,any more than anyone has ever seen complexity created by complexity per se. Both “intelligence” and “complexity” are properties of other things, not things-in-themselves.
    AVO: A strange argument. First, complexity and intelligence are not words in the same category. Intelligence is a noun, but complexity is an adjective.

    You’re mistaken. “Intelligence” is a noun, and so is “complexity”. The related adjectives would be “intelligent” and “complex”.

    So, we see the actions of intelligence, and we can surely say that intelligence used with a will is the key attribute needed to build CSI.

    You can say that, but I could surely say that the actions of brains is the key attribte needed to build CSI. As far as the evidence goes, we’re both right.

    It has been said we cannot know the things in themselves. If that is what you are saying, it seems to have little meaning to our problem.

    No, I’m not brining up ultimate problems in epistemology. I’m just pointing out the obvious: In our experience, every intelligent agent invariably is a complex physical living thing.

    So perhaps you are asking in the case of an intelligent designer, what other attributes would this entity have, if not a body?

    No, I’m not asking that. I’m saying that we have no evidence that intelligent beings can exist without complex physical bodies. In our experience, intelligence is a property of living organisms.

    And basically, what I get from reading your posts, is that you find the idea of a mind without our type of body hard to imagine. Why is that?

    Because in our experience, minds are invariably associated with bodies. Moreover, I believe minds need to process information, and as far as we know information is invariably associated with states of physical systems.

    Why should there only exist that which we already know about and see with our senses on this planet?

    No reason. All sorts of things may exist that we don’t know about. We can imagine, or choose to believe, any number of things outside of our experience.

    The existence of anything at all cries out for explanation.

    It would great if we could explain everything, but we can’t.

    If there is no soul or mind but only matter, then matter is God, being self-existing.

    I don’t know what this means.

    And if matter is self-existing it is very different from what we think; fundamentally at odds with basic common sense: things cannot pop into existence from a prior condition of nothingness.

    It is quite certain already that matter is very different from what we think and fundamentally at odds with common sense. We also know that things do indeed pop into existence from a prior condition of nothingness. If you aren’t aware of these things, you need to read about physics.

    So yes, your mind resists but there is really no choice. Something very other is at the root of existence.

    So you say.

  52. 52
    avocationist says:

    aiguy,

    You’re mistaken. “Intelligence” is a noun, and so is “complexity”. The related adjectives would be “intelligent” and “complex”.

    I see you are right, but when you said an intelligence creates, it makes sense. But when you said a complexity creates, it doesn’t. ??

    You can say that, but I could surely say that the actions of brains is the key attribte needed to build CSI.

    No, brains are not sufficient. We see that many animals have brains, but their intelligence is not adequate. So the brain that creates CSI must be of sufficient intelligence.

    In our experience, every intelligent agent invariably is a complex physical living thing.

    The only agent we know capable of CSI is us! Although to be sure animals do create things which nature does not, such as bird nests.

    I’m saying that we have no evidence that intelligent beings can exist without complex physical bodies. In our experience, intelligence is a property of living organisms.

    Yes, but the problems we are trying to solve, one of which is how anything can exist at all, point to something a bit outside our experience. When we see that life forms must have been initiated by an intelligence, and that intelligence must have not had a meat body, we can come to the conclusion that it is reasonable to posit the possibility of a different sort of being.

    It is like a clue. You seem to think that as a default we should assume that there is nothing outside our experience, when the data actually seem to point instead to the expectation that there is.

    Moreover, I believe minds need to process information, and as far as we know information is invariably associated with states of physical systems.

    Well, here is where I run into difficulties on a forum such as this. I find it difficult to discuss nonphysical reality as I don’t see there being such a thing. As I said, either a thing exists or it doesn’t. What does it mean to exist? To exist is to be not nothing. Whereas I believe in God, I don’t separate the physical from the spiritual. I believe this is an old convention from ages past in which such an idea seemed necessary to explain spirit. So if I think that our consciousness survives the death of the body, that does not mean it is truly nonphysical. Yes, I could agree a mind needs to process information. Yet I see no contradiction in a mind without a heavy body. So just to be perfectly clear, I do not see a disembodied mind as not being physical, or two such minds communicating as being outside the conventional universe or processing information that is not physical. There is really no such thing as physical or spiritual. There is only reality, and it is all one.

    We can imagine, or choose to believe, any number of things outside of our experience.

    Yet there are many interesting books that are asking the questions that need to be asked. Our instruments are not yet adequate and yet have already proven the unseen microworld. And we know that we have not gotten to the bottom of reality so we know there is more. This is a very reasonable expectation and you dismiss it as silly imagination.

    The existence of anything at all cries out for explanation.

    It would great if we could explain everything, but we can’t.

    It surprises me how people don’t see what a fundamental question this is. It is THE question, metaphysically.

    If there is no soul or mind but only matter, then matter is God, being self-existing.

    I don’t know what this means.

    Continuing from above, although you deny it below, matter cannot pop itself into existence. Physics seems to state (I am no physicist, just a lay person) that things pop into existence, but when I inquired further, I find that they speak of a quantum foam. Well a quantum foam may as well be the void of pure potential of Buddhism. Physicists see particles pop in and out of existence, but they have no idea how and from where! It is VERY premature to announce that particles pop into existence from a state of true nothingness. Besides, there is no such thing as nothingness. The cosmos already exists and it is full of stuff. To say that particles pop into existence is like a baby looking at blinking Christmas tree lights and supposing that each blink is a brand new light.

    What we experience is that all things are caused in an endless chain, yet there must be something at the root of reality which is quite different, that is not caused, i.e., self-existent. Otherwise, its turtles all the way down.

  53. 53
    aiguy says:

    avocationist,

    I see you are right, but when you said an intelligence creates, it makes sense. But when you said a complexity creates, it doesn’t. ??

    It makes no more sense to say “an intelligence” does something than it does to say “a complexity” does it. Both of these terms refer not to things-in-themselves, but rather to properties of other things. Intelligence does not exist per se, just as complexity does not exist per se. In order to make sense you must say what it is you are referring to that you find intelligent or complex.

    You have now discovered why ID is completely empty as a theory of anything – because it doesn’t actually refer to anything that can cause life or anything else.

    AIGUY: You can say that, but I could surely say that the actions of brains is the key attribte needed to build CSI.
    AVO: No, brains are not sufficient. We see that many animals have brains, but their intelligence is not adequate. So the brain that creates CSI must be of sufficient intelligence.

    I didn’t say brains were sufficient, but they are apparently necessary (at least some physical information processing mechanism seems necessary to be able to think).

    The only agent we know capable of CSI is us! Although to be sure animals do create things which nature does not, such as bird nests.

    Of course other animals (which I see as part of nature of course) create CSI – in termite mounds, bird bowers, bee hives, beaver dams, etc. In our experience, complex physical living things create CSI.

    Yes, but the problems we are trying to solve, one of which is how anything can exist at all, point to something a bit outside our experience.

    I agree. That is why Stephen Meyer is wrong when he claims that ID posits a cause that is known to our experience, which ID calls “an intelligence” or “an intelligent agent”. As we’ve discussed, there is no such thing as “an intelligence”, just as there is no such thing as “a complexity”. Nor can we say precisely what “intelligent agency” means in the abstract. Rather, we know only that living things create other living things, and that some living things also create artifacts of complex form and function.

    When we see that life forms must have been initiated by an intelligence,…

    There you go again. If by “an intelligence” you mean “something which is intelligent”, then you really need to say what it is you are talking about. Obviously we can call anything capable of producing CSI intelligent, but that doesn’t help us explain anything. If “intelligence” means simply “able to produce CSI”, then ID theory is pretty silly: “ID holds that CSI in biology was created by something able to produce CSI”. Duh!

    …and that intelligence must have not had a meat body, we can come to the conclusion that it is reasonable to posit the possibility of a different sort of being.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “being” but yes, I think we do not know what the cause of life was.

    It is like a clue. You seem to think that as a default we should assume that there is nothing outside our experience, when the data actually seem to point instead to the expectation that there is.

    No, you misunderstood me. Stephen Meyer claims that ID points to a cause within our experience. Apparently you and I agree that he is wrong.

    So just to be perfectly clear, I do not see a disembodied mind as not being physical, or two such minds communicating as being outside the conventional universe or processing information that is not physical. There is really no such thing as physical or spiritual. There is only reality, and it is all one.

    That’s all fine. Whatever ontological beliefs you may have, I think we agree that if ID is going to posit something intelligent that created life, it is speculating about the existence of a sort of thing that is outside of our uniform and repeated experience, contra Meyer and and many other ID proponents.

    Yet there are many interesting books that are asking the questions that need to be asked. Our instruments are not yet adequate and yet have already proven the unseen microworld. And we know that we have not gotten to the bottom of reality so we know there is more. This is a very reasonable expectation and you dismiss it as silly imagination.

    You again misunderstood me. I do not think imagining these things is silly. My point is just that we are in fact imagining them, rather than finding them in our experience as Meyer et al try to have us believe.

    I do not object to the notion that mind is somehow involved in the universe in ways we don’t understand and that mind had something to do with the creation of the universe, or of life. I do strongly object to the notion that any of this can be supported by empirical evidence.

    It surprises me how people don’t see what a fundamental question this is. It is THE question, metaphysically.

    Of course it is THE question metaphysically! And metaphysics is not at all silly. However, metaphysics is also not science. ID proponents go to great lengths to insist that ID is not metaphysics, but rather is science. That is what I argue against.

    Continuing from above, although you deny it below, matter cannot pop itself into existence. Physics seems to state (I am no physicist, just a lay person) that things pop into existence, but when I inquired further, I find that they speak of a quantum foam.

    Yes. Matter is much weirder than we can imagine.

    Well a quantum foam may as well be the void of pure potential of Buddhism. Physicists see particles pop in and out of existence, but they have no idea how and from where! It is VERY premature to announce that particles pop into existence from a state of true nothingness.

    Right – nobody claims to understand quantum physics conceptually, even though the math agrees with experiment perfectly. It’s all very mysterious.

    What we experience is that all things are caused in an endless chain, yet there must be something at the root of reality which is quite different, that is not caused, i.e., self-existent. Otherwise, its turtles all the way down.

    So it seems we don’t disagree about too much here. I am not a theist, but otherwise I have no objection to anything you’ve said. I’m an atheist not because I believe in some sort of “materialism” that precludes God. Rather, I am a non-cognitivist – a mysterian – who believes we just have no conception of the truth of these ultimate metaphysical questions.

    What I argue against in these forums is the idea that scientific inquiry leads to the conclusion that some entity with human-like consciousness and mental abilities could somehow have existed and created life, the universe, and everything. I have no objection to people who choose to believe this, but I object to those who claim they know it’s true by means of science.

  54. 54
    avocationist says:

    aiguy,

    You have now discovered why ID is completely empty as a theory of anything – because it doesn’t actually refer to anything that can cause life or anything else.

    You exaggerate! Technically, perhaps you are correct that “an intelligence” doesn’t refer to anything, but we know that what is meant is an ‘intelligent entity.’ That is an awfully slim reason to say that ID is empty!

    I didn’t say brains were sufficient, but they are apparently necessary…

    But you see it is the intelligence, as opposed to blind processes, that is at issue. Whether the intelligence requires a meaty brain or not is a matter of dispute. In a funny way, you are using the “who designed the designer” argument, as well as the argument that we must identify the designer if we are to posit that one must exist. But as you know, ID only asserts what can be deduced from what we know and stops there.

    That is why Stephen Meyer is wrong when he claims that ID posits a cause that is known to our experience,

    Sigh. But I have already explained that Meyer did not mean that the intelligence that created life forms is part of our experience. He meant only that it is our experience that it takes intelligence to create CFSI and unguided nature never does. That is all.

    If by “an intelligence” you mean “something which is intelligent”, then you really need to say what it is you are talking about.If “intelligence” means simply “able to produce CSI”, then ID theory is pretty silly: “ID holds that CSI in biology was created by something able to produce CSI”. Duh!

    Yes, I indeed do mean an intelligent entity and I am sure there are many examples of terms not being quite linguistically correct but understood by all. I guess the reason in this case is that ID bends over backwards to make clear that the intelligent entity’s identity is unknown or unprovable at this point and not necessary to the inference.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “being”

    Really? Well, I consider myself a being, a composite being with a body, a brain, a personal history of this body and a soul, and I do not think that this body is the only one my soul has occupied.

    No, you misunderstood me. Stephen Meyer claims that ID points to a cause within our experience. Apparently you and I agree that he is wrong.

    Probably I should not even paste this as I have already stated what Meyer meant, which means he thinks that our experience of what intelligence does is a clue to a cause outside our experience.

    Re ID positing an intelligence, of course, you know, it is within ID to posit frontloading or panspermia or alien terraformers, but in the end it just begs the question of where the information comes from.

    I do not object to the notion that mind is somehow involved in the universe in ways we don’t understand and that mind had something to do with the creation of the universe, or of life. I do strongly object to the notion that any of this can be supported by empirical evidence.

    Well, you know, since I am attracted to this sort of thing, I find what evidence there is, and I think it is real and growing.

    Of course it is THE question metaphysically! And metaphysics is not at all silly. However, metaphysics is also not science. ID proponents go to great lengths to insist that ID is not metaphysics, but rather is science. That is what I argue against.

    So you think ID is metaphysics? The problem here is that there is one reality, and it is not divided up into physical and metaphysical, science and spirit. It’s all here together. The reason science is limited is that we have not yet discovered ways to inquire into and study metaphysics. But people are working on it. With our eyes, we see a certain amount of the electromagnetic spectum. But our instruments have discovered more, beyond what we see. They are real but we can’t see or feel them directly. It’s the same with metaphysics. It is silly for people to get too wrapped up in these labels which are about moving targets. Science is the study of reality.

    I’m an atheist not because I believe in some sort of “materialism” that precludes God. Rather, I am a non-cognitivist – a mysterian – who believes we just have no conception of the truth of these ultimate metaphysical questions.

    Nice! I like it. You are a real thinker. Me, I choose to make God everything, because I see no other option.

    Why? Because the self-existent cannot be avoided, and self-existence is THE definition of God, and all things can only come of one source, (the self-existent)and all things are therefore connected, arising out of God.

    What I argue against in these forums is the idea that scientific inquiry leads to the conclusion that some entity with human-like consciousness and mental abilities could somehow have existed and created life, the universe, and everything. I have no objection to people who choose to believe this, but I object to those who claim they know it’s true by means of science.

    And yet you have almost reasoned yourself there…
    But they do use science/math and also logical deduction.
    It is the implication, of where the clue may lead to, that suggests a possible metaphysical answer, but ID itself – no. It is indeed science, math, logic.

  55. 55
    avocationist says:

    aiguy,

    By the way, I don’t remember if I said this, but since I do find the idea of the nature of God and the divine mind so mysterious, I am not at all convinced that the designer is God or is one entity. There could surely be other types of entities besides ourselves and God.

  56. 56
    aiguy says:

    avocationist,

    AIG: You have now discovered why ID is completely empty as a theory of anything – because it doesn’t actually refer to anything that can cause life or anything else.
    AVO: You exaggerate! Technically, perhaps you are correct that “an intelligence” doesn’t refer to anything, but we know that what is meant is an ‘intelligent entity.’ That is an awfully slim reason to say that ID is empty!

    Actually, we do not what is meant by an “intelligent entity” except in the most subjective, non-scientific way. If I told you that I have an intelligent entity in my laboratory and that this entity was not a living organism, then you wouldn’t know one single thing about this entity that we could verify in any way. You couldn’t tell me one specific thing this thing could do, or couldn’t do. You couldn’t tell me if it could read a book or bake a cake or speak French or write a computer program.

    There is no definition for the word “intelligent entity” in science at all, because the term cannot be operationalized (i.e. cannot be expressed in terms of observable traits).

    But you see it is the intelligence, as opposed to blind processes, that is at issue. Whether the intelligence requires a meaty brain or not is a matter of dispute.

    Yes, it is a matter of dispute whether or not mind exists apart from physical processes. Nevertheless you blithely assume that this dispute has already been resolved when you say intelligent is “opposed to blind processes”! What you are assuming is that dualism is true and physicalism is false, and that intelligence does not arise from mechanism. You may be right and you may be wrong, but philosophers haven’t managed to answer this question yet and they’ve been working on it for a few thousand years now.

    ID (as espoused by its leading proponents) assumes that dualism is true. This is a metaphysical – rather than a scientific – position, but ID folks tend to downplay that 🙂

    In a funny way, you are using the “who designed the designer” argument, as well as the argument that we must identify the designer if we are to posit that one must exist. But as you know, ID only asserts what can be deduced from what we know and stops there.

    I am absolutely not talking about either of those things, no. I am not asking “who designed the designer” because I am not talking about the origin of the designer at all. And I am not asking about the designers “identity” because I don’t believe the cause of life is something that has an “identity” (a name, for example) any more than the gravity has an “identity”.

    I’m simply pointing out that if you are going to claim to have a scientific explanation that posits a cause for some phenomenon, you actually have to say what it is you are offering as an explanation. Saying “the cause was complex” doesn’t aid our understanding at all. Neither does saying “the cause was interesting” or “the cause was happy” or “the cause was blue” or “the cause was intelligent”. None of these are explanations, because they all fail to mention what the cause was supposed to be.

    Sigh. But I have already explained that Meyer did not mean that the intelligence that created life forms is part of our experience. He meant only that it is our experience that it takes intelligence to create CFSI and unguided nature never does. That is all.

    But I have already explained that there is no science behind the assumption that there is a known distinction between “intelligence” and “unguided nature”. What is it you think “guides” nature that allows humans to be intelligent? Mind? You are again assuming that metaphysical mind/body dualism is true. That’s just fine, but completely unscientific.

    Yes, I indeed do mean an intelligent entity and I am sure there are many examples of terms not being quite linguistically correct but understood by all.

    The term is understood as a general descriptive label, but not as a characterization of a scientific cause or explanation. Imagine I wrote a computer program that did something that seemed intelligent (like designed an electronic circuit) and somebody asked me how it worked. If I explained “It works by means of intelligence” they would laugh, because I haven’t actually told them anything that explains how the circuits got designed.

    The word “intelligence” is like the word “athleticism”. It is a general, subjective label that we use to describe various things human beings (and perhaps other animals) can do. But there is no objective meaning to these terms.

    I guess the reason in this case is that ID bends over backwards to make clear that the intelligent entity’s identity is unknown or unprovable at this point and not necessary to the inference.

    I’ve already explained that just saying the cause has an “identity” reveals the anthropormorphic assumptions underlying ID. The question is not who the cause of life is, but what. If it turns out to be a person of some sort that has a name, that would be another story… but we don’t know that.

    Really? Well, I consider myself a being, a composite being with a body, a brain, a personal history of this body and a soul, and I do not think that this body is the only one my soul has occupied.

    All fine and good. All as completely unscientific as any set of beliefs could possibly be.

    Re ID positing an intelligence, of course, you know, it is within ID to posit frontloading or panspermia or alien terraformers, but in the end it just begs the question of where the information comes from.

    Each of these are different theories. To lump them all under “ID” is nothing but equivocation, intended to make it difficult to argue against ID. Nobody writing books on ID believes in pansermia or extra-terrestrial engineers. As for front-loading, yes this is another hypothesis, but the confusion there is that the front-loader may not have been a conscious entity either.

    So you think ID is metaphysics?

    Yes of course it is.

    The problem here is that there is one reality, and it is not divided up into physical and metaphysical, science and spirit.

    But ID proponents like Meyer and Dembski disagree with you. They believe there is a division between science on one hand and theology/philosophy on the other hand. They claim that ID is scientific and not metaphysical. That is why I say they are wrong.

    The reason science is limited is that we have not yet discovered ways to inquire into and study metaphysics.

    That’s right. As we learn more, some metaphysical questions become informed by science. But currently the mind/body problem remains the realm of philosophy, and since ID rests squarely on one particular solution to the mind/body problem (i.e. that mind exists apart from mechanism and could have been responsible for the first CSI-rich organisms), then ID is metaphysics. (Real scientific theories do not rest on the truth of one answer or another to the mind/body problem).

    But people are working on it. With our eyes, we see a certain amount of the electromagnetic spectum. But our instruments have discovered more, beyond what we see. They are real but we can’t see or feel them directly. It’s the same with metaphysics. It is silly for people to get too wrapped up in these labels which are about moving targets. Science is the study of reality.

    Science is distinguished by appeal to observations, whether directly or with instruments. We have scientific answers to some questions, but many other questions cannot be resolved empirically. The existence of a conscious being prior to first life is among those.

    Nice! I like it. You are a real thinker. Me, I choose to make God everything, because I see no other option.

    !! The option of course is to say “I just do not know”. I’m very comfortable with that… I can’t understand why everyone doesn’t admit this.

    Why? Because the self-existent cannot be avoided, and self-existence is THE definition of God, and all things can only come of one source, (the self-existent)and all things are therefore connected, arising out of God.

    Everybody has a different definition of “God” of course. Your definition of God, “self-existence”, doesn’t imply sentience. Sentience (consciousness) is one of the attributes that define God for some other people, though. This is why I’m a non-cognitivist… I don’t believe anybody really knows what they’re talking about when they talk about “God”. There is no clear referent for the term at all.

    But they do use science/math and also logical deduction.

    No, there is no science, no math, and no logic behind ID whatsoever! All of these books with all of this talk of math and biology are actually talking about evolutionary theory, not ID! One of the many mistakes that ID makes is that focussing on the shortcomings of current theories somehow constitutes evidence for their particular theory, which is that some sort of conscious entity existed prior to life and somehow created the first living cell. No science, no math, no logic… just the ancient philosophical design argument disguised as science.

  57. 57
    kairosfocus says:

    Onlookers:

    Re AIG et al: You have now discovered why ID is completely empty as a theory of anything . . .

    If wishes were horses,beggars would own vast stables.

    On understanding that design is directed contingency, and that intelligence is: “capacities to reason, to plan, to solve problems, to think abstractly, to comprehend ideas, to use language, and to learn” . . .

    We may easily see that our experience of ourselves as intelligent purposeful creatures is a precondition of the life of reason, and of science existing.

    So, the attempt to dismiss such as vague and empty is self-referentially absurd.

    In any case, despite many strawman arguments, ID is about inferring from the observed patterns and traces of design on observationally known cases to characteristic signs of design. Thence, to infer on cases where similar signs are evident but we could not have or simply did not directly observe, that on the Darwin-Lyell uniformity principle, that the items showing the signs were also designed.

    There is none so blind as he who is determined not to see what is not friendly to his preferences.

    GEM of TKI

  58. 58
    aiguy says:

    KF,

    On understanding that design is directed contingency,…

    “Directed contingency” is not defined operationally, and so cannot be of use in science. You fail to describe what it is you believe is directing anything of course… might it be immaterial mind that transcends physical cause? Of course that is what you mean. That’s fine… but it is merely one philosophical stance on the mind/body problem, not some feature of observable truth or settled science.

    We have no way of testing if any particular event is an instance of “directed contingency” or not. You may wax philosophical (and you do!) about this and all manner of other things, and I have no objection to that. Just don’t pretend you are doing anything connected to science.

    …and that intelligence is: “capacities to reason, to plan, to solve problems, to think abstractly, to comprehend ideas, to use language, and to learn” . . .

    But there are many problems with this definition in the context of ID of course.

    How might you go about testing the hypothesis that the Designer of Life is capable of learning? Perhaps the Designer was unable to learn anything, but rather already knew everything It needed to know to design life already. In that case the Designer would not meet your own criterion for being an intelligent entity.

    How is it you might determine that the cause of life did or did not “comprehend ideas”? For that matter, how do you know that Darwinian evolutionary processes do not “comprehend ideas”? Don’t give me a philosophical argument here… tell me what experiment I can run or what concrete observation I can make that will decide the matter. Of course there is none.

    How might you demonstrate the fact that ID’s Designer can solve problems in general? Perhaps the only thing that the Designer was capable of doing was creating the biological structures we see, and is unable to do anything else at all.

    You have no way of showing that there exists a Designer who has any of these attributes. You are free to imagine such an entity, of course, but don’t pretend that your beliefs have any support in what we know from experience and observation.

  59. 59
    kairosfocus says:

    Onlookers:

    Demonstrably false and disingenuous from one who should know better:

    No, there is no science, no math, and no logic behind ID whatsoever! All of these books with all of this talk of math and biology are actually talking about evolutionary theory, not ID! One of the many mistakes that ID makes is that focussing on the shortcomings of current theories somehow constitutes evidence for their particular theory, which is that some sort of conscious entity existed prior to life and somehow created the first living cell.

    AIG knows or should know that the design inference is premised on the observed patterns of causation linked to among other things digitally coded, functionally specific, complex information; which is a quantitative concept, as even the 101 level Weak Argument Correctives here from 25 on would at once demonstrate.

    He knows or should know of inter alia the work of Durston, Chiu, Abel and Trevors, as well as Marks and Dembski et al.

    Moreover, all of this is premised on refusing to acknowledge a patent fact: directed contingency exists, and it often leaves characteristic, recognisable and often measurable signs. Further, the other commonly observed causal factors do not leave those signs, per massivge observation. So, on recognising an empirically reliable causal patern and itrs signs, we have aperfect epistemic right to infer from such signs to causes, when we did not directly observe teh causes.

    Notice, we have focussed on observables, where they can be found, and we have inferred form sign to signified causal factor, as opposed to the source of that factor. For, that is what the signs warrant. In short, we can credibly establish that ’tweredun.

    There is an onward interesting whodunit question, but that is secondary to what has been established. So, we have a case where we know thsat the routine source of design is intelligence. We have empirical evidence that points to such action in places and times where we were notthere to do it.

    So what, we have no good grounds to infer that we or creatures like us exhaust the set of possible intelligences. And, as noted, we have empirically based evidence that here points beyond us.

    So, we need to open our horizons to possible intelligences beyond ourselves.

    When critique has to depend on misrepresentation, that is telling us it is driven by ideology, not truth-seeking.

    Sad, really.

    GEM of TKI

  60. 60
    kairosfocus says:

    Onlookers:

    Classic,saddening, case of self-referential absurdity:

    “Directed contingency” is not defined operationally, and so cannot be of use in science. You fail to describe what it is you believe is directing anything of course… might it be immaterial mind that transcends physical cause?

    This is of course a case of a contingent text string, part of a message of 2121 128-state ASCII characters in contextually responsive [though rhetorically distractive] English, i.e it lies on an island of function in a config space of ~2,47*10^4469, which is vastly more than the 10^150 or so states the 10^80 or so atoms of the universe will have across their 10^25 s thermodynamic lifespan, i.e we have prima facie evidence that the search resources of our cosmos would be fruitlessly exhausted on a random search to arrive at the text or something sufficiently similar to function in its place.

    But, there that text is, produced in at most a couple of hours.

    Why?

    It sure did not credibly arise form blind chance and mechanical necessity acting on a keyboard, in the shape of a pounding chimp or otherwise.

    No. On observation and experience, it is intelligence, of whatever ultimate nature, that directed the contingent string to a desired configuration. Following Marks and Dembski, we can even quantify the active information that led to the capacity to overperform the predictable effect of a random walk based search.

    But, while AIG exemplifies an intelligence in action, he wishes to pretend that since we cannot produce a definition to suit his criteria of “operationality,” such intelligence is not real. Actually, “there are more things in this world than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” 9What we are actually seeing is the implicit back-door imposition of a priori materialism, as is addressed here at basic level for reasonably open-minded people. Those who are willfully obtuse and thus selectively hyperskeptical, through the fallacy of the sadly ideologised, closed mind, can only be exposed as self-referentially absurd. In this case,as refusing to recognise that behind every precising verbal definition tied to operational concepts is a cluster of examples that allow us to identify the relevant concepts and define their borders; though using our own intelligence — thus we are our own examples. And to deny what we are and need to develop the desired definition, is plainly self-defeatingly illogical and absurd. )

    But, let us pause to give a word or two on definition,a s this seems to be the rhetorical tactic being played just now. So, we call the usual hostile witness, Wiki, on Definition:

    An intensional definition, also called a coactive definition, specifies the necessary and sufficient conditions for a thing being a member of a specific set. Any definition that attempts to set out the essence of something, such as that by genus and differentia, is an intensional definition.

    An extensional definition, also called a denotative definition, of a concept or term specifies its extension. It is a list naming every object that is a member of a specific set . . . .

    One important form of the extensional definition is ostensive definition. This gives the meaning of a term by pointing, in the case of an individual, to the thing itself, or in the case of a class, to examples of the right kind. So you can explain who Alice (an individual) is by pointing her out to me; or what a rabbit (a class) is by pointing at several and expecting me to ‘catch on’.

    It is obvious that definitions on matters of observation, regardless of debates on the matter,, are in the end forced to work by first focussing on examples adequate to identify the concept and t6o set tight enough borders for practical work. For instance, energy is defined on what it does, not what it essentially is: that which is capable of being converted into physical work is or contains energy; which we then quantify by looking at cases on standardised units, arriving at 1 Joule = 1 Newton-metre. (In turn the unit of force depends on recognising what a push or pull is — notice how we are now back at what we recongie, and by how much push will move how much mass with what acceleration.)

    Looking at a highly relevant casein point, life has no operational, standardised defition, because life is too complex for that. Life is defined on identified examples and family resemblance. Wiki again:

    Life (cf. biota) is a characteristic that distinguishes objects that have signaling and self-sustaining processes (biology) from those that do not,[1][2] either because such functions have ceased (death), or else because they lack such functions and are classified as inanimate . . . .

    Since there is no unequivocal definition of life, the current understanding is descriptive, where life is a characteristic of organisms that exhibit all or most of the following phenomena:[14][16][17]

    1. Homeostasis: Regulation of the internal environment to maintain a constant state; for example, electrolyte concentration or sweating to reduce temperature.
    2. Organization: Being structurally composed of one or more cells, which are the basic units of life.
    3. Metabolism: Transformation of energy by converting chemicals and energy into cellular components (anabolism) and decomposing organic matter (catabolism). Living things require energy to maintain internal organization (homeostasis) and to produce the other phenomena associated with life.
    4. Growth: Maintenance of a higher rate of anabolism than catabolism. A growing organism increases in size in all of its parts, rather than simply accumulating matter.
    5. Adaptation: The ability to change over a period of time in response to the environment. This ability is fundamental to the process of evolution and is determined by the organism’s heredity as well as the composition of metabolized substances, and external factors present.
    6. Response to stimuli: A response can take many forms, from the contraction of a unicellular organism to external chemicals, to complex reactions involving all the senses of multicellular organisms. A response is often expressed by motion, for example, the leaves of a plant turning toward the sun (phototropism) and by chemotaxis.
    7. Reproduction: The ability to produce new individual organisms, either asexually from a single parent organism, or sexually from two parent organisms.

    So, is biology not a science [and is to be contemptuously dismissed to he nether regions], because it is the study of life, which cannot meet AIG’s clever little rule?

    Obviously not.

    AIG’s question-begging, selectively hyperskeptical a priorism is thus exposed for all to see.

    Going back to intelligence and directed contingency, we know that text strings [a relevant example] can take up various configs, and we can distinguish three different categories with Abel and Trevors, random sequence, orderly and [typically algorithmically] functional sequence. This can be quantified in functional bits or fits as Durston et al — including the same T & A — have for 35 protein families, by extending the commonly used concept of average number of bits of information per symbol, H.

    At a much simpler level, simply observing contingency [1 if high], functionality [1 if present in a context . . . remember if DNA strings don’t work an animal etc dies, probably as an embryo] and number of bits equivalent used, and multiplying, then asking whether the number of functioning bits in use exceeds about 1,000 bits, is enough to quantify for a lot of practical purposes.

    Now, simply looking at basic easily accessible information would have sufficed to correct the many errors and fallacious declamations above, but the homework to get it right was not done.

    This, sadly, does not speak well of AIG’s behaviour.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  61. 61
    avocationist says:

    Oh aiguy! Of course we know what an intelligent entity is! We may say a house, but you do not know what type of house, or its appearance and therefore you say the term has no meaning? Intelligent entity is a broad category, but you are miffed because this entity is undefined. This is the first of several spots where I find your arguments quite simply unreasonable. If we are not going to be reasonable, then what are we doing?

    I will use less quotes, because the system here is unbearably cumbersome, typing all that mess out. Other forums have better systems.

    So you see, you are using the old argument that we know nothing about the entity. I thought you were different…of course the nature of the entity is important. But ID is an inference, based upon logic, patterns, math, science, that tells us such an intelligent entity has been at work. Even if that entity is Satan himself and we are all damned forever, we must follow the evidence, not our emotions.

    I’m sorry to be so impatient but I have seen that this argument, in which the ID inference is refused because the entity is not known – it is an endless argument because the resistance is – well, why don’t you tell me what it is? I’d like to know.

    Yes, it is a matter of dispute whether or not mind exists apart from physical processes. Nevertheless you blithely assume that this dispute has already been resolved when you say intelligent is “opposed to blind processes”! What you are assuming is that dualism is true and physicalism is false, and that intelligence does not arise from mechanism.

    I did not say “is opposed” I said “as opposed.” So far as I can see, there are two choices here. Either life forms needed the input of a directed intelligent will or they are the products of blind processes. You seem to posit a third one, an unconscious God. You may elaborate.

    ID does not exactly assume that dualism is true. ID simply says that observed patterns in nature would require an intelligent entity to produce. It is a very narrow slice. It is NOT metaphysical. You must be reasonable or how can we talk? Stick to the facts!!! Yes, most ID people are metaphysicians, and yes the implication at least leads to a real possibility of a metaphysical clue. Why are you angry at clues?

    And I am not asking about the designers “identity”

    Why, yes you did.

    because I don’t believe the cause of life is something that has an “identity” (a name, for example) any more than the gravity has an “identity”.

    Ah, so you do have some beliefs…it seems you think there may be some sort of god principle, but it is more like a force without personal consciousness? Is that right?

    I’m simply pointing out that if you are going to claim to have a scientific explanation that posits a cause for some phenomenon, you actually have to say what it is

    No, we don’t.
    And isn’t it you who says people should admit when they don’t know something?

    Of course there is science behind the study of what unguided nature can produce and what an intelligent entity with a will can do. What use is denying the obvious? Of course, nature as a whole setup, the universe and chemisty, it also looks like a designed system. But that designed system does certain things, and does not do others. I see nothing wrong with your points here, that we should look deeper into nature and not take it for granted. But you are also saying that we cannot study the difference between natural processes and intelligent minds, which is to lay a ridiculous barrier in the study of the evolution of life. Why do you want to do that?

    And by the way, there is nothing unscientific about believing mind is not confined to body. Just because science has not yet figured out the energetic pathways of ESP does not mean I haven’t seen it at work.

    The term is understood as a general descriptive label, but not as a characterization of a scientific cause or explanation.

    You are right that the cause is inferred to be an intelligent one, but that we have very little else to say. It’s a start though.

    ID does not say the cause has an identity. Perhaps every entity does…I’m not sure. People in general make a lot of anthropomorphic assumptions about God, yes.

    The question is not who the cause of life is, but what.

    Hmm…I could agree. I myself am interested in both as regards myself. What am I? Who am I?

    As to my paragraph about soul and body, it was not supposed to be scientific, it was in answer to your saying you did not know what the word being means.

    I don’t think frontloading could have been done unconsciously.

    Yes, you are right that other ID proponents may disagree with me on the division of philosophy and science. Or maybe not. It may be that they have to operate within the confines as understood by others. My understanding is that nothing is outside the realm of science. But they have to argue with the academics, who will not have such a thing.

    Oh, by the way, I have the solution to mind existing apart from mechanism. This of course is a problem. But as I said the other night, the entire cosmos is one unified thing, and it is all God. There is nothing outside of God and God is in everything, because everything arises out of God. So for God to manipulate matter is not action at a distance.

    !! The option of course is to say “I just do not know”. I’m very comfortable with that… I can’t understand why everyone doesn’t admit this.

    It is a common malady however. You see, humankind is in an awful position. We are terrestrial angels, highly intelligent and yet we are here in a state of darkness, not knowing who we are, what we are, where we are, or what the future holds. Reality is maya. What to do? People like to have answers, and when they as a group can agree on some answers, it pushes back the darkness just a little. When someone doubts, it raises the spectre of the possibility of their own delusion, and they get angry. Hence they say that God will be angry with the doubter. But that is an anthropomorphic projection. It is they who are angry.

    Everybody has a different definition of “God” of course.

    I’m pretty sure mine is the only valid one.

    Your definition of God, “self-existence”, doesn’t imply sentience.

    No. It is the most fundamental of requirements. Existence. As opposed to, you know, nothingness.

    No, there is no science, no math, and no logic behind ID whatsoever!

    What Kairosfocus said.

  62. 62
    aiguy says:

    KF,

    Demonstrably false and disingenuous from one who should know better

    Ah, no better way to start your debate rebuttal than with an ad hominem insult of course. I’ve not suggested anyone here is being disingenuous, and you shouldn’t either. But of course you do.

    AIG knows or should know that the design inference is premised on the observed patterns of causation linked to among other things digitally coded, functionally specific, complex information; which is a quantitative concept, as even the 101 level Weak Argument Correctives here from 25 on would at once demonstrate.

    In other words, the “design inference” is based on nothing except the same analogy that ancient philosophers made when they noted complex form and function in both nature and in the things people made. No math or science required – just an analogy, that’s all it is.

    He knows or should know of inter alia the work of Durston, Chiu, Abel and Trevors, as well as Marks and Dembski et al.

    None of these people work on anything having to do with demonstrating that a conscious entity existed who was capable of creating the first living cell, of course. Instead they are preoccupied with showing that current biological theories fail to account for biological complexity (and I agree with that already).

    Moreover, all of this is premised on refusing to acknowledge a patent fact: directed contingency exists, and it often leaves characteristic, recognisable and often measurable signs.

    These “measurable signs” are the result not of directed contingency, but rather of living things. Unless you can tell us how to detect this “directed contingency” scientifically you really don’t have a leg to stand on.

    This is the second time I’m asking you to tell us how to distinguish “directed contingency” from any other cause in our experience. Unless you can actually tell us how to test for this, I will assume you concede the point.

    So, we need to open our horizons to possible intelligences beyond ourselves.

    I’m completely open to the possibility; unfortunately we don’t have any evidence that any extra-terrestrial life forms have ever existed, nor any evidence that anything except life forms can be intelligent.

    It sure did not credibly arise form blind chance and mechanical necessity acting on a keyboard, in the shape of a pounding chimp or otherwise.

    Uh, no KF – I am not a chimp. I assure you I am a human being, just like you are. The text you observe on your screen has been arranged by human beings. I’m surprised you could not make this inference yourself, based on our experience of what things can type in English.

    But, while AIG exemplifies an intelligence in action, he wishes to pretend that since we cannot produce a definition to suit his criteria of “operationality,” such intelligence is not real.

    I appreciate the compliment, but I cannot take credit for devising the methods and practices used in science. Operational definitions are of course fundamental to science – they are merely definitions that can be grounded in our uniform and repeated experience.

    Actually, “there are more things in this world than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

    In modern parlance, this quote would read “there are more things in this world than are dreamt of in science”. And that is of course true! Science cannot answer all questions, and it currently is unable to answer questions regarding the origin of life and the origin of the universe. You can imagine various answers, and you can generate philosophical arguments regarding what sorts of ideas appeal to you on grounds of plausibility, aesthetic appeal, etc. What you are unable to do is characterize what you think the cause of life was in a way that we test against our uniform and repeated experience.

    What we are actually seeing is the implicit back-door imposition of a priori materialism

    I’m not a materialist, so you’re about as wrong about this as you can be.

    An intensional definition, also called a coactive definition, specifies the necessary and sufficient conditions for a thing being a member of a specific set. Any definition that attempts to set out the essence of something, such as that by genus and differentia, is an intensional definition.

    You are unable to provide an intensional definition of intelligent agency in a way that independent observers can apply your definition with reliable agreement to any arbitrary entity in question. If you disagree, then just tell us what this definition is.

    Tell us, KF, once and for all: What is a definition of intelligent agency that I can apply to anything – a rabbit, a rock, a chess-playing computer, a dolphin, a termite, a thundercloud, an amoeba, a river, an atom, a star, a weather system, a worm… What single intensional definition of “intelligence” can I use to test each of these things and the outcome will unequivocably tell all fair observers if this thing is intelligent or not?

    For instance, energy is defined on what it does, not what it essentially is

    Every cause in science is defined by what it does, and not what it “essentially is”! If you can’t say what something does (and just as importantly what it does not do) then you can’t offer it as an explanation for anything else of course!

    Looking at a highly relevant casein point, life has no operational, standardised defition, because life is too complex for that. Life is defined on identified examples and family resemblance.

    Yes, of course! But no scientist has ever used the concept of “life” to explain anything! “Life” is not a scientific cause of observed phenomena! Living things are what biologists study, not a concept they offer to explain what they see!

    So, is biology not a science [and is to be contemptuously dismissed to he nether regions], because it is the study of life, which cannot meet AIG’s clever little rule?

    I’m afraid you aren’t being quite clever enough. Biology studies and tries to explain life; it does not offer “life” as the explanation for anything. Cognitive science (including my field, AI) studies and tries to explain intelligence; it does not offer “intelligence” as the explanation for anything.

    This, sadly, does not speak well of AIG’s behaviour.

    Ah yes – you both open and close with insults. Feeling vulnerable, GF? If not, how about you just stick to the debates rather than attacking the messenger?

  63. 63
    aiguy says:

    avocationist,

    Oh aiguy! Of course we know what an intelligent entity is! We may say a house, but you do not know what type of house, or its appearance and therefore you say the term has no meaning? Intelligent entity is a broad category, but you are miffed because this entity is undefined. This is the first of several spots where I find your arguments quite simply unreasonable. If we are not going to be reasonable, then what are we doing?

    Not only am I being reasonable, but I am quite correct. Please read my reply to KF and tell me, if you can:

    1) What an operationalized definition of intelligence is that we can use to test all of the example entities I proposed

    -OR-

    2) Tell me how we are supposed to conduct science when our explanations are utterly subjective? How can we decide if A causes B when we can’t even agree on what A is in the first place?

    There are no scientific theories in which the causal explanation offered does not have a operationalized definition. NONE.

    I’m sorry to be so impatient but I have seen that this argument, in which the ID inference is refused because the entity is not known – it is an endless argument because the resistance is – well, why don’t you tell me what it is? I’d like to know.

    Read this carefully: I am not asking about the identity of the entity. Do you understand that? What I am asking is what you could possibly be talking about when you say “entity”. Is it a force? A spirit? An animal? An atom? A dog? An unknown property of matter or energy? An unknown property of an unknown substance? Part of space-time geometry?

    What I am asking is how you can characterize this whatever it is in way that we can decide if it exists or not! Is there anything you can say about it that we can compare to our observations and see if it is consistent or not? What can this thing do? What can’t this thing do?

    So far as I can see, there are two choices here. Either life forms needed the input of a directed intelligent will or they are the products of blind processes.

    “Blind” is a metaphor, not an obsevable property. You don’t mean “blind” as in “cannot use eyes to interpret electromagnetic energy in the visible spectrum”, right? In that case, what do you mean by “blind processes”?

    You seem to posit a third one, an unconscious God. You may elaborate.

    What do you mean by “God”? You said it meant “self-existing”. Now you seem to be changing your story… what does “self-existing” have to do with consciousness?

    ID does not exactly assume that dualism is true.

    If ID does not entail dualism, then ID makes no sense. This is because ID necessarily separates intelligence from “blind processes”, which is a dualistic assumption.

    AIG: And I am not asking about the designers “identity”
    AVO: Why, yes you did.

    Why, no, I didn’t.

    Ah, so you do have some beliefs…it seems you think there may be some sort of god principle, but it is more like a force without personal consciousness? Is that right?

    I have no idea! What is a “god principle”???

    AIG: I’m simply pointing out that if you are going to claim to have a scientific explanation that posits a cause for some phenomenon, you actually have to say what it is
    AVO: No, we don’t.

    Fine, that’s just fine. Feel free to explain everything, then, with undefined terms. Do you know what explains protein folding? Portanity! How about the origin of the physical constants? Mislemtans were responsible – I’m sure of it!

    What – you don’t know what portanity and mislemtans are? Who cares? According to you, we needn’t explain what our causes are – we just have to believe we’re right!

    And isn’t it you who says people should admit when they don’t know something?

    YES. So please admit you don’t know any better than I do what accounts for protein folding, the origin of the physical constants, or the origin of life.

    Of course there is science behind the study of what unguided nature can produce and what an intelligent entity with a will can do.

    Unguided nature? When nature is “guided”, what is it guided by???

    And by the way, there is nothing unscientific about believing mind is not confined to body. Just because science has not yet figured out the energetic pathways of ESP does not mean I haven’t seen it at work.

    Yes, if you want to base ID on evidence of paranormal phenomena then I have no problem with that. But please be explicit that this is what you are doing. Most ID proponents reject that outright (I’ve asked them!).

    You are right that the cause is inferred to be an intelligent one, but that we have very little else to say. It’s a start though.

    No, it isn’t a start. It says precisely nothing, nada, zero. It is meaningless in the context of ID. If you disagree, please answer the first question in this post.

    As to my paragraph about soul and body, it was not supposed to be scientific, it was in answer to your saying you did not know what the word being means.

    Well it wasn’t scientific. So please don’t pretend that a scientific explanation can refer to a “being”, because you can’t say what it is you mean.

    I don’t think frontloading could have been done unconsciously.

    We all have our subjective opinions and hunches of course. What we don’t have is any science to inform us on the matter.

    Oh, by the way, I have the solution to mind existing apart from mechanism. This of course is a problem. But as I said the other night, the entire cosmos is one unified thing, and it is all God. There is nothing outside of God and God is in everything, because everything arises out of God. So for God to manipulate matter is not action at a distance.

    I do like philosophy, but I’m not interested in discussing philosophy or theology on this forum. Thanks anyway.

  64. 64
    Upright BiPed says:

    Aiguy,

    Not to butt in here, Just a side issue…

    What exactly do you propose as immaterial and how do you define it?

  65. 65
    aiguy says:

    UB,

    You ask a good question, but not directly relevant to any of my arguments.

    My argument here is that our experience confirms that intelligent behavior invariably arises from complex physical entities – things we can observe which are rich in FSCI. In other words, these are the exact same things that ID (e.g. Stephen Meyer) claims to explain.

    So for our purposes here I would say that an immaterial intelligence would be something that is not a complex FSCI-rich physical mechanism. Perhaps it would share ontological status with the rest of the observable universe and perhaps not, but it would not meet Meyer’s description of a physical machine rich in FSCI.

  66. 66
    Upright BiPed says:

    AIGuy,

    “You ask a good question, but not directly relevant to any of my arguments.”

    Yes, I introduced the question as a side issue. So what do you propose as immaterial, and how do you define it?

    If you would prefer not to answer the question, that is your perogative.

  67. 67
    aiguy says:

    UB,

    I think I did respond, actually, with a definition suited to our purposes in the present discussion.

    There are other senses of the word of course (including “unimportant” and “irrelvant”!). But as for a more general definition suited to a discussion of metaphysical ontology, I’ll pass for now, at least until I understand better the context of your interest.

  68. 68
    kairosfocus says:

    Onlookers:

    You may well find this exchange helpful to clarify many of the issues in this thread.

    Much moreso, sadly, than what is going on above. (Right now I am not much inclined to go chasing in circles over and over again in thee hope that a spiral that will make some progress will emerge.)

    GEM of TKI

    PS: This outline may help you clarify a bit of the background to the above commentary.

    PPS: For some reason I forgot to mention the very first design theory technical work in the context of mathematical and scientific (in particular thermodynamics, cf my always linked APP 1]considerations, TMLO [fat download]. Remember,this is 25 years ago, so the talking point on “no math” has to be held a willfully malicious, slander-driven lie by those who are primarily responsible [After all Dembski is a mathematician, cf his personal site and onward links to the Evo Info lab], and an irresponsible failure to check basic facts by those who propagate it.

  69. 69
    aiguy says:

    KF,

    You may well find this exchange helpful to clarify many of the issues in this thread.

    Translation: KF has no rebuttal or argument, and so resorts to linking to others.

    Much moreso, sadly, than what is going on above. (Right now I am not much inclined to go chasing in circles over and over again in thee hope that a spiral that will make some progress will emerge.)

    Translation: KF could not respond to my questions regarding how we might test for intelligence, or any of my other points. So he’s giving up.

    This outline may help you clarify a bit of the background to the above commentary.

    PPS: For some reason I forgot to mention the very first design theory technical work in the context of mathematical and scientific (in particular thermodynamics, cf my always linked APP 1]considerations, TMLO [fat download]. Remember,this is 25 years ago, so the talking point on “no math” has to be held a willfully malicious, slander-driven lie by those who are primarily responsible [After all Dembski is a mathematician, cf his personal site and onward links to the Evo Info lab], and an irresponsible failure to check basic facts by those who propagate it.

    As I’ve now made clear three times, all of the math that Dembski bothers with concerns evolutionary theory, not ID theory. He uses math to try and demonstrate that evolutionary theory cannot account for what it claims to explain (speciation and the creation of biological structures).

    There is no math at all that anyone has presented in defense of the hypothesis that ID theory presents, viz. that some conscious being existed who created first life.

  70. 70
    CJYman says:

    aiguy:
    “As I’ve now made clear three times, all of the math that Dembski bothers with concerns evolutionary theory, not ID theory. He uses math to try and demonstrate that evolutionary theory cannot account for what it claims to explain (speciation and the creation of biological structures). ”

    So then apparently, you’ve exposed your ignorance three times since Dembski and Marks do not purport to use math to show that evolutionary theory can not account for what it claims to explain. Their results, after all, are based on the very operation of evolutionary algorithms which can be programmed to produce whatever it is the programmer wishes. You should actually read their work, especially since Dembski no longer argues, in principle, against a Darwinian theory of evolution. Instead, he sees even that type of evolution to be inherently teleological. You should read what he has recently written for EIL.

    The measurements that EIL is concerned with provide support for the hypothesis that law+chance absent foresight will not produce evolutionary algorithms. The earlier measurements (FSCI) are more general in their application and in our repeat and uniform experience are connected to what we experience as foresight (but of course you’ll neither negate nor confirm this as I’ve seen countless times before). Furthermore, neither FSCI nor evolutionary algorithms are seen to be produced absent foresight in the causal chain. Furthermore, the math that we are referencing deals with a chance assemblage of laws and provides evidence that a chance assemblage of laws (one without any end target — “blind” if you will), will produce either FSCI nor an evolutionary algorithm. Put the math together with our uniform and repeat experience and you get an inference no less as effective and strong as the inference to past evolution or the Big Bang.

    But, you should already know and understand this.

  71. 71
    zeroseven says:

    KF;

    As you keep appealing to “onlookers”, I feel I am entitled to express this opinion:

    I can understand it is frustrating to have your arguments so effectively countered by aiguy, but I really wish you would lay off the insults and ad hominem remarks.

  72. 72
    kairosfocus says:

    Onlookers:

    It is clear that AIG is unwilling to see what others are doing or saying in their own terms. He consistently has put words and concepts in our mouths that do not belong there, and has then used caricatures to try to deride persons.

    I have already provided adequate information, directly and by links to sort out the real issues that have been raised above. Where my problem is, is that I now have no confidence that AIG will be responsive to evidence or to reason. If he is unwilling to acknowledge so basic a set of facts as the mathematical arguments used to make the positive case for design or the fact that directed contingency is a commonly observed pattern of cause and effect in our observation [including posts in the thread] or that — regardless of debates on our ultimate nature — we are empirically recognisable as intelligent based on patterns of observable behaviour, etc, then I have good reason to believe that I am dealing with an unfortunately ideologised, closed mind that because of its a priori commitments will reject corrections.

    I have therefore simply put some basic points on record and linked or pointed to where more can be seen.

    If you are open to it.

    When I therefore saw AIG’s onward responses, and the tone involved, it has simply underscored that it makes little sense to spend time and effort to try to go through a point by point corrective to AIG’s misconceptions and caricatures above.

    AIG:

    Sorry, but you have and have had more than adequate information to correct your many errors of fact and conception, also of portrayal of others. And, you have a basic duty of care to be accurate, fair and reasonable.

    Unless I see reason to believe you are being reasonable, I have no reason to try to argue with a closed and unfair mind.

    Sorry if that is painful, but that is what you have left me little alternative but so say in so many words.

    Good night.

    GEM of TKI

  73. 73
    zeroseven says:

    CJYman,

    Can you clarify then what their maths does support? That is, does it explain how ID works?

  74. 74
    Upright BiPed says:

    Aiguy,

    I’m sorry, you are at an ID forum and suggest you believe in existence of the immaterial, then when asked about it, you think the question has to do with what you consider “irrelevant” or “unimportant”.

    I’m sure you are wise in “passing” on the question.

  75. 75
    aiguy says:

    CJYMan,

    So then apparently, you’ve exposed your ignorance three times since Dembski and Marks do not purport to use math to show that evolutionary theory can not account for what it claims to explain. Their results, after all, are based on the very operation of evolutionary algorithms which can be programmed to produce whatever it is the programmer wishes. You should actually read their work, especially since Dembski no longer argues, in principle, against a Darwinian theory of evolution. Instead, he sees even that type of evolution to be inherently teleological. You should read what he has recently written for EIL.

    I’m well aware of Dembski’s changing rhetorical strategies. I have said here that the math Dembski uses is about evolutionary theory, and has nothing at all to do with the claim that a conscious being existed and created first life. If you think I’m wrong, please give us a hint as to what sort of mathematical analysis might be of service in that regard. If you (like Dembski) merely talk about probabilistic analysis that show “unguided” or “blind” (dualistic notions, both) processes being unable to produce what we observe, then I will be right.

    Note that it is very hard to argue against ID of course, because just about every person on this board and every published ID proponent has radically different notions of what this “theory” entails. What I am arguing is this: We have no empirically-based reason to think that a conscious being existed prior to – and was responsible for creating – the first living organism.

    When you (or Dembski) suggest that “evolution may be teleogical”, that requires a good deal of clarification of course. By teleogical one may be referring merely to a process that incorporates negative feedback to correct toward some set-point, having nothing to do with sentience or general problem-solving abilities at all (i.e. radically different from our intuitive notions of intelligent, which entail conscious awareness).

    The measurements that EIL is concerned with provide support for the hypothesis that law+chance absent foresight will not produce evolutionary algorithms.

    Exactly. This has nothing to do with demonstrating the existence of a conscious entity that created life. This is exactly what I mean.

    The earlier measurements (FSCI) are more general in their application and in our repeat and uniform experience are connected to what we experience as foresight (but of course you’ll neither negate nor confirm this as I’ve seen countless times before). Furthermore, neither FSCI nor evolutionary algorithms are seen to be produced absent foresight in the causal chain.

    There are two things you might mean by “foresight” here. The first is the experience of conscious awareness of future goals that human beings experience. The second is an algorithm that incorporates information pertaining to specific search targets. There is no known connection between these two senses of the word, even though you and Dembski pretend that there is.

    Furthermore, the math that we are referencing deals with a chance assemblage of laws and provides evidence that a chance assemblage of laws (one without any end target — “blind” if you will), will produce either FSCI nor an evolutionary algorithm. Put the math together with our uniform and repeat experience and you get an inference no less as effective and strong as the inference to past evolution or the Big Bang.

    I really don’t think I can make this any more clear than this: Let’s assume that Dembski, using flawless math, has proved conclusively that no lawlike mechanism that anyone has ever thought of could in principle account for the FSCI we observe. OK? Now, if that is the case, what is the conclusion? The conclusion would be we do not know what caused it.

    You could imagine some unknown type of conscious entity capable of creating first life, but I could imagine some unknown type of unconscious process that did it. You think it was conscious because humans (and other animals) are conscious; I think it wasn’t conscious because it wasn’t a human (or other animal). You might be right, and I might be right. If there was any science to settle the question, we could decide… but there isn’t.

    But, you should already know and understand this.

  76. 76
    Upright BiPed says:

    “You could imagine some unknown type of conscious entity capable of creating first life, but I could imagine some unknown type of unconscious process that did it.”

    Please do. I have a copy of Dr Abel’s work sitting here in front of me, and I would be interested how you get to bio-function by purely lawlike and stochastic processes.

    Please add the appropriate detail. Thanks.

  77. 77
    aiguy says:

    UB,

    AIG: You could imagine some unknown type of conscious entity capable of creating first life, but I could imagine some unknown type of unconscious process that did it.
    UB: Please do.

    Ok, I just imagined it.

    I have a copy of Dr Abel’s work sitting here in front of me, and I would be interested how you get to bio-function by purely lawlike and stochastic processes. Please add the appropriate detail. Thanks.

    Eh??? I said I was imagining an unknown type of unconscious process… so how in the world could I describe it in detail? That is as silly as me asking you to imagine your unknown type of conscious entity and then describe in detail how it manages to produce bio-function!

    (Don’t forget to describe how this imaginary Designer can be so brainy if it doesn’t have a brain, or how it can be so handy if it doesn’t have any hands!)

    Nobody knows how human beings manage to produce FSCI, and nobody knows if anything besides human beings (or arguably some other animals) can do it, and nobody knows if there are other unknown types of processes that can do it. (Obviously random-generation-and-test algorithms do produce FSCI, but I am not convinced that this is the whole story behind biological evolution, even though most biologists think just that).

  78. 78
    aiguy says:

    UB,

    Sorry – I missed this:

    I’m sorry, you are at an ID forum and suggest you believe in existence of the immaterial, then when asked about it, you think the question has to do with what you consider “irrelevant” or “unimportant”.

    I suggested that I “believe in the immaterial”? Sorry, what is it that I said that gave you that impression? I actually think that talk about “natural vs. supernatural” and “material vs. immaterial” just confuses the issues.

    Instead, I try to adopt the same realist position as the ID authors I read, which entails that there exists a real world which we can know through our uniform and repeated experience. Whether or not what we experience is material or immaterial, natural or supernatural, I really couldn’t say without a great deal of philosophical work to define these terms… and I’m just not interested in doing that.

  79. 79
    CJYman says:

    aiguy:
    “If you (like Dembski) merely talk about probabilistic analysis that show “unguided” or “blind” (dualistic notions, both) processes being unable to produce what we observe, then I will be right.”

    Of course you’re right that the mathematical analysis only shows that a random set of laws will not produce FSCI. That’s what I already stated and that is what the ID theorists also state. You must have missed that second part where I included, and the ID theorists include an inference to complete the ID Theory.

    What you are stating boils down to …

    I understand that we experience that “x” is utilized in the generation of “y” but I don’t like that so I’m going to say that there must also be “z” that can produce “y”. Well then, go ahead and provide your case, but science can only deals with what we presently know, not pure imagination of what may or may not exist. A scientist then provides an inference into what most likely occurred or existed in the past based on our uniform and repeated experience of presently acting cause and effect. As I’ve stated before that’s merely the limitations of science. So, yes, ID Theory does provide a no-go theorem akin to the no-go theorem re: the Laws of Thermodynamics and the impossibility of perpetual motion free energy machines. But ID goes beyond and offers an inference which I’ve already explained many times before and you have not yet negated.

    In fact, referencing the inference to the conscious definition of foresight, you seem to not want to respond to my questions of whether you experience foresight as I have defined it, if the engineer can produce complex circuitry (FSCI) without foresight as I have defined it, or if you can provide an example of FSCI being generated absent foresight (as I have defined it) in its causal chain. So there is really not much more that can be said and I’m still really not sure where your problem with ID Theory lies.

  80. 80
    Upright BiPed says:

    Aiguy,

    So even in principle, if we walk outside and find a mop bucket perched precariously on top of the mailbox and I say that “someone put it there” and you say “no” of course the wind and gravity did it – you then can suggest you are not obligated to explain your position because I am unable to tell you the shoe color of unknown conscious entity my explaination requires?

    I find that intersting. It must be a very comfortable corner of reality for you.

    First you decline to say what immaterial realities you are open to, and now you slide away from offering a description of a purely stochastic and lawlike process leading to bio-function – after you’ve imagined it being the explanatory equal of agency.

    Of course, my point in this is perfectly obvious. You havent even a conceptual clue of a lawlike and stochastic process that could lead to bio-function, and as a placemat for that emptiness, your only reply to this is to misprepresent ID proponents and add to their arguments what they do not argue.

    For you to stand here and chastize ID proponents for not having the cajones to say “we don’t know” is a rich irony indeed. It is no less self-serving than anything else you’ve said.

  81. 81
    CJYman says:

    aiguy:
    “You could imagine some unknown type of conscious entity capable of creating first life, but I could imagine some unknown type of unconscious process that did it. ”

    Uhuh … sufficiently organized conscious brains are capable of producing FSCI. There are no examples of unconscious processes producing FSCI absent a conscious foresight in the causal chain.

    I don’t see what the problem is.

  82. 82
    zeroseven says:

    UB, just to put my 2 cents in, even though for some reason I am moderated and therefore never able to participate in real time…

    Your scenario with the bucket illustrates aiguy’s point perfectly. We have experience with humans putting buckets on top of things so of course we are going to infer a person did it and not the wind.

    We do not have experience with disembodied minds (or anything else) putting buckets on things, so would not infer that a disembodied mind or other “intelligent entity” put it there. Likewise with the first life.

  83. 83
    aiguy says:

    CJYMan,

    Of course you’re right that the mathematical analysis only shows that a random set of laws will not produce FSCI. That’s what I already stated and that is what the ID theorists also state. You must have missed that second part where I included, and the ID theorists include an inference to complete the ID Theory.

    My point was, and what I said, was that no math was involved in the inference to a conscious designer. What you have just said is exactly that. Apparently you thought you disagreed with me, but now you realize that you don’t.

    What you are stating boils down to… I understand that we experience that “x” is utilized in the generation of “y” but I don’t like that so I’m going to say that there must also be “z” that can produce “y”. Well then, go ahead and provide your case, but science can only deals with what we presently know, not pure imagination of what may or may not exist. A scientist then provides an inference into what most likely occurred or existed in the past based on our uniform and repeated experience of presently acting cause and effect. As I’ve stated before that’s merely the limitations of science.

    I think we’re agreeing here as well for the most part, except perhaps you think that science always provides an answer (an inference to the best explanation) no matter how unsupported that “best inference” might be. That’s not the case. If we really don’t know what the cause of something is, we don’t just take the “least wild guess”… we say instead “we do not know”.

    So, yes, ID Theory does provide a no-go theorem akin to the no-go theorem re: the Laws of Thermodynamics and the impossibility of perpetual motion free energy machines.

    In physics these are often called “limitive laws” and play an essential role in our understanding. The conservation laws, the Pauli exclusion principle, and Heisenberg uncertainty principle are all foundational.

    Just for the sake of argument (I don’t actually believe this at all) let us agree that Dembski has proven a limitive law that says no combination of reguarlity and chance can create FSCI. (I don’t believe this because we have no reason to think we’re aware of every aspect of “regularity”). Anyway, assume this is true. As I’ve said over and over again, that is no reason at all to believe that some conscious “entity” of some sort exists and that this thing could create life!

    But ID goes beyond and offers an inference which I’ve already explained many times before and you have not yet negated.

    I think here’s where we need to clarify and disagree. I think that the design inference is an anthroporphic mistake. I think proving that we don’t know how life started doesn’t prove that whatever did cause it was a conscious being. I think that whatever you mean by “foresight” (and I think it is very unclear what you think it is) there is no method for determining if the cause of life experienced it or not. I think just because human beings are conscious and build complex machines does not make it likely that whatever caused life is also conscious.

    I know you disagree, so let’s leave it there.

    In fact, referencing the inference to the conscious definition of foresight, you seem to not want to respond to my questions of whether you experience foresight as I have defined it,

    ??? Yes of course I experience conscious awareness, including awareness of what I want to design. I also generate FSCI without conscious awareness, however, as all of us do. I have no idea of unconscious generation of FSCI constitutes “foresight” or not. I also do not know if consciousness plays a causal role in planning. You don’t know these things, either.

    …if the engineer can produce complex circuitry (FSCI) without foresight as I have defined it, or if you can provide an example of FSCI being generated absent foresight (as I have defined it) in its causal chain. So there is really not much more that can be said and I’m still really not sure where your problem with ID Theory lies.

    Here’s what I’ve said previously (in the previous thread where you called natural evolution “artificial intelligence” for some reason):

    Of course I can demonstrate FSCI being generated absent conscious foresight! People who talk in their sleep are not conscious of their actions, but generate high levels of FSCI in their grammatical sentences. Much of our mental activity is known to proceed unconsciously – everything from our complex physical planning tasks required to ride a bike or drive a car to the way we often solve difficult math problems when we’re not consciously thinking about them.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-361127

    So yes, I really did give you examples. I think you just aren’t… conscious of them 🙂

    UB,

    So even in principle, if we walk outside and find a mop bucket perched precariously on top of the mailbox and I say that “someone put it there” and you say “no” of course the wind and gravity did it – you then can suggest you are not obligated to explain your position because I am unable to tell you the shoe color of unknown conscious entity my explaination requires?

    I find that intersting. It must be a very comfortable corner of reality for you.

    Only a fool would fail to realize what actually was responsible for that bucket’s placement, which would be a human being. No sane person would imagine that it was the wind, or gravity, or an ant, or an elephant, or a ghost, or a god, or an alien from outer space. Everyone who was not delusional or otherwise mentally defective would infer anything but a human being as the cause.

    First you decline to say what immaterial realities you are open to,

    Wrong. I said that the label of “immaterial” required a good deal of definitional work in order to talk about coherently, and that these sorts of categories didn’t help clarify our knowlege.

    …and now you slide away from offering a description of a purely stochastic and lawlike process leading to bio-function – after you’ve imagined it being the explanatory equal of agency.

    Here is what I wrote: That is as silly as me asking you to imagine your unknown type of conscious entity and then describe in detail how it manages to produce bio-function.

    Read this carefully: Neither of us can describe anything in detail which is capable of generating the FSCI we see in biology.

    Of course, my point in this is perfectly obvious. You havent even a conceptual clue of a lawlike and stochastic process that could lead to bio-function, and as a placemat for that emptiness, your only reply to this is to misprepresent ID proponents and add to their arguments what they do not argue.

    You haven’t even a conceptual clue of an unlawlike and non-stochastic process that could lead to bio-function, and as a placemat for that emptiness, your only reply to this is to mispresent my arguments.

    For you to stand here and chastize ID proponents for not having the cajones to say “we don’t know” is a rich irony indeed. It is no less self-serving than anything else you’ve said.

    I don’t know, and neither do you.

    CJYman,

    aiguy: You could imagine some unknown type of conscious entity capable of creating first life, but I could imagine some unknown type of unconscious process that did it.
    CJY: Uhuh … sufficiently organized conscious brains are capable of producing FSCI. There are no examples of unconscious processes producing FSCI absent a conscious foresight in the causal chain.

    I don’t see what the problem is

    First, we do not know if “sufficiently organized conscious brains” are capable of producing FSCI or not – that is an unsupportable metaphysical position called materialism (or physicalism), and it happens to be a very unpopular stance here at UD. In any event, all that we know is the working brains seem to be necessary for thought, but we don’t know if they are sufficient.

    Second, if you would like to propose a version of ID theory that claims “a sufficiently organized conscious brain” was the cause of first life, please be my guest. I somehow doubt that this idea is quite as popular as Meyer’s formulation 🙂

  84. 84
    avocationist says:

    aigyuy,

    I just spend 90 minutes on a reply, and my computer crashed or closed for updates. I guess I will try to recompose some of it but in much briefer form.

    In your question about intelligence, you ask whether or not the item has it. But it’s a sliding scale. Piddling about a precise definition, and of an entity we have not seen, is not necessary. We are using it in the common, everyday sense.

    You say you are not asking about the identity of the designer but proceed to do precisely that. You ask all the attributes. We do not know the attributes except we see that a certain minimum of intelligence is need to produce FCSI. Your spaceship has just landed upon a strange planet and your crew comes upon an artifact, like a TV. You don’t know what sort of beings you may meet, but you can be pretty sure you have a couple of attributes more or less right, intelligence, directed toward a goal.

    Asking attributes is very similar to asking the identity of the designer.

    Whatever it is, of course it exists! (?)

    Unfortunately we know rather little about it. But that should not stop our inquiry, should it? We have a choice here. Either the Darwinists are on the right track, or we should seek an intentional cause.

    Of course blind is a metaphor, one we use here frequently for ease of communication.

    Me: “You seem to posit a third one, an unconscious God. You may elaborate.”

    You: What do you mean by “God”? You said it meant “self-existing”. Now you seem to be changing your story… what does “self-existing” have to do with consciousness?”

    No, I am not being inconsistent; the question was to you, not me. I was stating that you seemed to posit the possibility of an unconscious force of some sort.

    Since you ask, I do ponder the attributes of God, and am fairly sure there is a consciousness and a mind, but I don’t speak with certainty nor can I imagine what that mind and consciousness are like. But that self existent thing is surely the source of life. Not necessarily the designer of the biological systems.
    ******

    Surely you can see a difference between making up a nonsense word with no prior meaning, and stating that the TV your crew found was most likely made by an intelligent being that would at least be recognizable to us as such.

    There’s a book you might like, The Great Cosmic Serpent. It’s about DNA more or less. He posits that DNA might be a continuously living entity with an indwelling intelligence of life.

    “Yes, if you want to base ID on evidence of paranormal phenomena then I have no problem with that. But please be explicit that this is what you are doing. Most ID proponents reject that outright (I’ve asked them!).”

    They reject it only if it infringes on the clarity of the barrier between the ID INFERENCE and the intelligent entity itself. But we can of course discuss it and often do. You said you don’t want to discuss philosophy and yet many of your questions are in that area. Also, your problem seems to be that while you admit Darwinist evolutionary theory is lacking, you see a big hurdle with either a disembodied mind and/or with this mind acting without mechanism. So I offered my ideas on that. And not only mine. There is plenty of evidence for it. As for the idea that the godlike Source is always and intimately permeating that which must logically have arisen out of this source, that is logic and not just intuition.

    Now, perhaps there is no truly scientific explanation of what a being is, and yet you call yourself a human being, and you admit that a human being placed the broom on the mailbox. How can you say that when you don’t even know what a human being really is?

    You seem to me a person who both thinks outside the box and yet refuses to at the same time.

    When I said frontloading could not be done unconsciously, it was not baseless opinion. To create a frontloaded system would require even more intelligence and forethought than creating as you go.

  85. 85
    Upright BiPed says:

    Aiguy,

    Only a fool would fail to realize what actually was responsible…

    No argument here.

    Read this carefully: Neither of us can describe anything in detail which is capable of generating the FSCI we see in biology.

    Read this carefully: Three subsets of sequence complexity and their relevance to biopolymeric information, Dr David Abel and Jack Trevors, Theoretical Biology and Medical Modeling. 2005; 2: 29. doi: 10.1186/1742-4682-2-29.
    You’ll find a fine analysis of the types of sequencing that can and cannot lead to FCSI in biology, and you’ll also find a clearly written statement as to a cause which is capable of bringing such sequencing into existence.

    As before, your only option is to assign to the paper something it does not contain.

  86. 86
    aiguy says:

    avocationist,

    I just spend 90 minutes on a reply, and my computer crashed or closed for updates. I guess I will try to recompose some of it but in much briefer form.

    I hate when that happens.

    In your question about intelligence, you ask whether or not the item has it. But it’s a sliding scale. Piddling about a precise definition, and of an entity we have not seen, is not necessary. We are using it in the common, everyday sense.

    Intelligence is “a sliding scale”? How is this scale measured? By a standardized intelligence test I presume? Great – which test shall we give to the Intelligent Designer… the Stanford-Binet? (I hope the Designer knows how to work a pencil!)

    You say you are not asking about the identity of the designer but proceed to do precisely that. You ask all the attributes.

    If you claim I say something, you need to provide a quote to support your claim. Otherwise you just put words in mouth. You are wrong on both counts – I ask neither the identity nor all the attributes. So please provide quotes rather than strawmen and perhaps we can move forward at a little better pace.

    I did not ask for all the attributes – only a sufficient level of characterization that would enable us to decide if this thing being hypothesized actually exists or not.

    We do not know the attributes except we see that a certain minimum of intelligence is need to produce FCSI.

    No we don’t. If you disagree, please tell me how we can resolve the matter by appeal to observation. Thanks!

    Your spaceship has just landed upon a strange planet and your crew comes upon an artifact, like a TV. You don’t know what sort of beings you may meet, but you can be pretty sure you have a couple of attributes more or less right, intelligence, directed toward a goal.

    What I would infer would be that a biological organism very similar to human beings were involved. They must have had eyes and brains to process visual information similarly to human beings. They must have had ears to hear the audio. They must have had hands and fingers to operate the TV controls similarly to humans. And since I could infer all this, I would hypothesize that their brain was similar to human beings and so they probably had other abilities similar to human beings too.

    We could infer all of this by finding something like a TV. We can infer none of these things by looking at a cell.

    Asking attributes is very similar to asking the identity of the designer.

    I have told you many times that it is not the same at all. We do not ask about the “identity” of the force that holds electrons in orbit, do we? No, we ask for the attributes of that force.

    Unfortunately we know rather little about it. But that should not stop our inquiry, should it? We have a choice here.

    That’s right. We actually know nothing about it, and we should definitely proceed in our inquiries, so someday we might know something. We agree!

    Either the Darwinists are on the right track, or we should seek an intentional cause.

    That’s wrong. Darwinian evolution does not attempt to explain first life. And you can seek an intentional cause all you’d like – just don’t claim you’ve found one until you can provide some evidence.

    Of course blind is a metaphor, one we use here frequently for ease of communication.

    LOL! Sorry, but ease of communication isn’t an excuse for failing to describe what it is your theory is proposing. Please do us the favor of spelling it out! What do you mean if not “blind”? When you say “unguided nature”, you imply that some nature is “guided”. Guided by what, avocationist?

    I was stating that you seemed to posit the possibility of an unconscious force of some sort.

    I claim we do not know. Maybe the actual cause was conscious, maybe not. We have no way of knowing.

    Surely you can see a difference between making up a nonsense word with no prior meaning, and stating that the TV your crew found was most likely made by an intelligent being that would at least be recognizable to us as such.

    We would recognize that the TV was built by something very much like a human being. Whatever created first life was certainly not like a human being, so this whole “TV scenario” really gets you nowhere at all.

    There’s a book you might like, The Great Cosmic Serpent. It’s about DNA more or less. He posits that DNA might be a continuously living entity with an indwelling intelligence of life.

    There is no shortage of speculation and imagination. There is shortage of science.

    AIG: Yes, if you want to base ID on evidence of paranormal phenomena then I have no problem with that. But please be explicit that this is what you are doing. Most ID proponents reject that outright (I’ve asked them!).”
    AVO: They reject it only if it infringes on the clarity of the barrier between the ID INFERENCE and the intelligent entity itself. But we can of course discuss it and often do. You said you don’t want to discuss philosophy and yet many of your questions are in that area.

    No, none of my questions are in that area. All of my questions ask for experience-based evidence for the claims of ID. I don’t want to talk about your philosophical and theological speculations at all, and I keep saying so.

    There have been some paranormal researchers who actually do science; I’m not averse to their work a priori. I think the evidence is very weak for paranormal phenomena, but I think it remains an open question. If ID was a real science, paranormal research is exactly what ID researchers would be doing, instead of talking about Darwin’s theory all the time.

    Also, your problem seems to be that while you admit Darwinist evolutionary theory is lacking, you see a big hurdle with either a disembodied mind and/or with this mind acting without mechanism.

    What I see is that we have no empirical reason to believe that anything without a complex physical body can have the same abilities that human beings do. We have no observations of anything remotely like this in our uniform and repeated experience.

    Now, perhaps there is no truly scientific explanation of what a being is, and yet you call yourself a human being, and you admit that a human being placed the broom on the mailbox. How can you say that when you don’t even know what a human being really is?

    We all know what human beings are. We don’t have a characterization of “beings” in general, however. Do you mean “animal”? “Life form”? “Thing with an immortal soul”?

    You seem to me a person who both thinks outside the box and yet refuses to at the same time.

    I think outside of the box, yes. The only thing I refuse to do is pretend I know something based on scientific evidence when I don’t. I wish more people did that.

    When I said frontloading could not be done unconsciously, it was not baseless opinion. To create a frontloaded system would require even more intelligence and forethought than creating as you go.

    If by “intelligence and forethought” you mean conscious experience, then I disagree completely. (And if you don’t, then I don’t know what you mean).

    How do you propose we settle these disagreements by appeal to the evidence of our experience? (hint: we cannot).

  87. 87
    aiguy says:

    UB,

    AIGUY: Only a fool would fail to realize what actually was responsible…
    UB: No argument here.

    Hahahaha…I get it! You leave the part out of my quote that explains why you are confused, so you can pretend I was wrong. That’s funny!

    Read this carefully: Three subsets of sequence complexity and their relevance to biopolymeric information, Dr David Abel and Jack Trevors, Theoretical Biology and Medical Modeling. 2005; 2: 29. doi: 10.1186/1742-4682-2-29.
    You’ll find a fine analysis of the types of sequencing that can and cannot lead to FCSI in biology, and you’ll also find a clearly written statement as to a cause which is capable of bringing such sequencing into existence.

    As before, your only option is to assign to the paper something it does not contain.

    Like KF, you seem to be unable to mount an argument of your own, or respond to any of mine, so you resort to pointing to what other people write. Well OK, but if you’re going to rely on other people’s arguments, the very least you can do is provide a few excerpts that illustrate what you are alluding to. Oh well, I guess I have to do all the work here…

    So you claim there is some “clearly written statement” about this mysterious cause…. really? He explains how we know some conscious being existed prior to life, and how it managed to think up designs for biology, and then build some biological structures? Awesome! I can hardly wait. Here, let me take a look…

    Well, I don’t see anything like that. What might you be talking about… hmmm…

    Well sorry, but there is nothing remotely like what you suggest in that paper. The only explanation that these guys offer says nothing about consciousness at all. It says nothing about a being that existed prior to life who thought about designing a genome. What they do refer is something they call “choice contingency”.

    Well, OK, there’s a name for something… I’m sure they’ll get to this detailed description of how this thing creates biological function somewhere… still looking…

    Nope, sorry. They don’t say at all how biological structures were created, much less all about a hypothetical conscious entity being involved! All they talk about is what they think can’t account for it, then allude to “choice contingency” as their solution.

    Can they really know about every unconscious process that exists in nature and say they are all “law-like” in the manner they describe (which is to say incapable of producing what we observe)? Obviously many scientists think otherwise (cf. the late Brian Goodwin and especially Stuart Kauffman on the topic).

    And more importantly, are these guys really describing what you say they are – a detailed description of what was responsible? Or some detailed description of how some conscious entity built living things? No, of course they aren’t, not at all. The only allude to “choice contingency”, but fail to describe what that is supposed to be, much less describe it in detail!

    Here, in his own words, is Jack Trevors’ opinion on the matter:

    He [Jack Trevors] notes, however, that not even evolution deigns to tell us where or how life itself first came about or how DNA’s instructions came to be. Perhaps the birthplace of those instructions — like the very creation of the universe itself — is, in Trevors’ words, both “unknowable and ‘undecidable’ at this point in time.

    http://www.uoguelph.ca/atguelp.....file.shtml

    Aha! A man after my own heart! Since you seem to be enamored of these guys’ work, perhaps you will now agree with them and me: We do not know!

    Can we agree now that nobody knows?

  88. 88
    CJYman says:

    aiguy:
    “My point was, and what I said, was that no math was involved in the inference to a conscious designer. What you have just said is exactly that. Apparently you thought you disagreed with me, but now you realize that you don’t.”

    I never did disagree with you. How could I, when you were merely restating something I’ve already explained before?

    But now I’m starting to question myself. Is the inference to design truly independent of mathematical analysis? Well, the observation of the link between foresight and FSCI is independent of math as it is based on uniform and repeat experience, however the no-go theorem that the math provides does indirectly support the ID inference and together with the inference allows one to form ID Theory. But then again, that’s pretty much what I’ve already explained.

    aiguy:
    “I think we’re agreeing here as well for the most part, except perhaps you think that science always provides an answer (an inference to the best explanation) no matter how unsupported that “best inference” might be. That’s not the case. If we really don’t know what the cause of something is, we don’t just take the “least wild guess”… we say instead “we do not know”. ”

    … of course, but in this case, you have to ignoring what we do experience daily, as summed up in the three questions re: your experience of foresight, the engineer’s utilization of foresight, and the generation of FSCI absent foresight in the causal chain that I keep asking you and you have not yet sufficiently answered or answered at all.

    aiguy:
    “Just for the sake of argument (I don’t actually believe this at all) let us agree that Dembski has proven a limitive law that says no combination of reguarlity and chance can create FSCI. (I don’t believe this because we have no reason to think we’re aware of every aspect of “regularity”). Anyway, assume this is true. As I’ve said over and over again, that is no reason at all to believe that some conscious “entity” of some sort exists and that this thing could create life! ”

    That math (assuming it does what it purports to do), combined with our repeated and uniform experience of our own use of foresight to generate FSCI, would provide an apparently water-tight case for ID Theory.

    aiguy:
    “I think here’s where we need to clarify and disagree. I think that the design inference is an anthroporphic mistake. I think proving that we don’t know how life started doesn’t prove that whatever did cause it was a conscious being. I think that whatever you mean by “foresight” (and I think it is very unclear what you think it is) there is no method for determining if the cause of life experienced it or not. I think just because human beings are conscious and build complex machines does not make it likely that whatever caused life is also conscious. I know you disagree, so let’s leave it there.”

    Well, let me just clarify my position before we just “leave it there.”

    1. Re: “anthropomorphic mistake,” that is nothing more than a cop-out that would not work if we found FSCI such as a manuscript on the other side of the universe. Furthermore, and I’ve already explained this, when it comes to “belief” I also don’t think that the “ultimate designer” is conscious in the exact same way that humans are conscious, but that has nothing to do with science. Science can only work with what we have available and in our repeat and uniform experience we do experience foresight and we utilize it to produce FSCI and there is no example of FSCI being produce absent foresight in the causal chain. Add the math which is used to create a no-go theorem, and you have a testable and falsifiable hypothesis based on math and uniform and repeat experience. That’s all that science is about.

    For you to come up with imaginary causal factors that you can’t define and we never experience has nothing to do with science.

    Furthermore, if we just “leave it there” then there is nothing more to discuss as you now seem unwilling to understand and look into ID Theory. Instead, you wish to provide undefined speculation as some sort of argument against the math and uniform and repeat experience upon which ID Theory is based.

    2. As to foresight not being well defined … how is “your ability to envision a future goal and then organize matter and energy in the present to accomplish that goal in the future” not a good definition? Can you answer the question: “do you experience foresight as I have defined it?” If you can answer in the affirmative, how is the definition not good enough?

    I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on that one.

    aiguy:
    “Yes of course I experience conscious awareness, including awareness of what I want to design.”

    So that’s an emphatic “yes” to my question “does foresight exist?”

    aiguy:
    “I also generate FSCI without conscious awareness, however, as all of us do.”

    Yes, and computers do the same all the time. That was never my contention. You however must first use your foresight to generate the FSCI the first time you do so, and then once you develop muscle and other types of memory by producing that FSCI with your foresight many times, you will then be able to produce that particular type of FSCI on autopilot. So, the production of FSCI still requires foresight in its causal chain.

    If you disagree with me then show me the engineer who could design complex circuitry on “autopilot” without first utilizing his foresight to originally learn and practice the designing of complex circuitry.

    aiguy:
    “I have no idea of unconscious generation of FSCI constitutes “foresight” or not.”

    It would be more akin to artificial intelligence, which still (from everything we presently know and experience) requires foresight in its causal chain.

    aiguy:
    “I also do not know if consciousness plays a causal role in planning. You don’t know these things, either.”

    This is what I do observe, and all that is required to formulate a scientific hypothesis … I envision a future goal (FSCI) before I begin the planning stage and if I don’t envision the future goal I don’t plan, organize matter and energy, and arrive at FSCI. Also, as already explained, this process must first take place many times before memory and autopilot can kick in.

    However, let’s say that our consciousness is indeed only an observer and is causally impotent … I’ve replied to that here (http://telicthoughts.com/what-.....ent-244642).

    aiguy:
    “Of course I can demonstrate FSCI being generated absent conscious foresight! People who talk in their sleep are not conscious of their actions, but generate high levels of FSCI in their grammatical sentences. Much of our mental activity is known to proceed unconsciously – everything from our complex physical planning tasks required to ride a bike or drive a car to the way we often solve difficult math problems when we’re not consciously thinking about them.”

    And in accordance with the question I actually asked, all these activities require foresight in their causal chain. Yes, we can go on auto pilot, but only because we’ve previously used our foresight to be able to produce these patterns and store them in memory. You have yet to show an example where FSCI was generated absent foresight in its causal chain.

    aiguy:
    “First, we do not know if “sufficiently organized conscious brains” are capable of producing FSCI or not – that is an unsupportable metaphysical position called materialism (or physicalism), and it happens to be a very unpopular stance here at UD.”

    But it makes no difference how foresight is produced. The only thing required is that it exists, and we utilize it to produce FSCI, which you seem to agree with now based on your some of your answers to my questions.

    The only reason I discussed a sufficiently organized information processing system as the producer of foresight was to show that even given the materialist premise, ID Theory still works just fine.

    aiguy:
    “In any event, all that we know is the working brains seem to be necessary for thought, but we don’t know if they are sufficient.”

    Of course. And all we know and experience is that foresight seems to be necessary for the production of FSCI.

    aiguy:
    “Second, if you would like to propose a version of ID theory that claims “a sufficiently organized conscious brain” was the cause of first life, please be my guest. I somehow doubt that this idea is quite as popular as Meyer’s formulation 🙂 ”

    Probably not, and the only reason I propose it is to show that the subject of material vs. immaterial has no bearing whatsoever on the fundamentals of the science of ID Theory.

    All that matter is …

    1. Foresight exists.

    2. We use our foresight to generate FSCI.

    3. FSCI will not be produced absent foresight in its causal chain.

  89. 89
    CJYman says:

    aiguy:
    “Can we agree now that nobody knows?”

    Based on the reasoning you’ve brought forth here, we would never know anything about the past. You seem to not allow experience of present acting causes as inference into causal factors in the past. Oh well, then I guess we are at an impasse and nothing more can be said other than you don’t like how science operates and you feel more comfortable either in your own ignorance or in imagining undefined causal factors that we do not experience and which may or may not be able to account for the effects we observe. That is basically what you have been saying this whole time.

    What more can I say … I am going to have to just agree to disagree with you.

    Oh, and one more question for you, aiguy, before I’m out: “why do you insist on everyone agreeing to not know anything about the causal factor that produces FSCI, when some of us actually do realize that foresight appears to play a necessary role based on our uniform and repeat experience especially since there is no example of FSCI being generated absent foresight in its causal chain? Imagine a scientist working the way that you want this done. He would always be saying “I don’t know” regardless of the fact that effect “y” is always present when “x” is first present and effect “y” is never present absent “x.” Would he be a good scientist if he ignored his own work and just said “I don’t know,” or should he publish his findings of the apparent relationship between “x” and “y” based on his uniform and repeat experience?

  90. 90
    Upright BiPed says:

    Aiguy,

    You seem to be reduced to silliness.

    Your argument has been repeatedly addressed by everyone who has interacted with you so far. Your mischaracterization of the ID argument has been noted by Kairos, me, Vivid, CY, Above, CJYman, GilDodgen, Joseph, and nullasalus – on at least four threads.

    Your entire last post continues to be based upon that misrepresentation, and you know it.

    Clearly, you refuse to drop your misrepresentation because without it (you end up back at the actual ID argument and) you have nothing.

  91. 91
  92. 92
    aiguy says:

    CJYMan,

    But now I’m starting to question myself. Is the inference to design truly independent of mathematical analysis? Well, the observation of the link between foresight and FSCI is independent of math…

    There is no scientific between something called “foresight” and FSCI. Rather, there is a link between “human beings” and FSCI. You say that “foresight” is what enables humans to think; others say it is “neuronal activity”. You say consciousness is required; this is by no means evident.

    you have to ignoring what we do experience daily, as summed up in the three questions re: your experience of foresight, the engineer’s utilization of foresight, and the generation of FSCI absent foresight in the causal chain that I keep asking you and you have not yet sufficiently answered or answered at all.

    I really don’t mean to skip your questions. I think I’ve answered these: Yes I experience conscious awareness of my intentions and goals. Everything we see creating FSCI is a human being or other animal, but when humans or other animals produce FSCI it is not always accompanied by conscious awareness of the planning involved.

    Please tell me explicitly what other questions you think I haven’t answered.

    That math (assuming it does what it purports to do), combined with our repeated and uniform experience of our own use of foresight to generate FSCI, would provide an apparently water-tight case for ID Theory.

    The problem with this is the you are reifying foresight. There is no science to that. I’ve said this in many different ways, but you don’t acknowledge it. You don’t know what foresight is, or what it does, or what it doesn’t do, or what conditions are required for it to operate, or what it has to do with consciousness. For you, “foresight” means the same thing as res cogitans. There is nothing scientific about it – nothing that we can test. Just because you are consciosu and you design FSCI does not mean that your consciousness has a causal role in this process, and many cognitive scientists believe it does not.

    1. Re: “anthropomorphic mistake,” that is nothing more than a cop-out that would not work if we found FSCI such as a manuscript on the other side of the universe.

    This is a very old mistake. You name something that humans make, then ask what we would think if we found this extra-terrestrially. You say it we would infer “intelligent agency”. But that is wrong – we would instead infer “a life form similar to human beings”.

    Furthermore, and I’ve already explained this, when it comes to “belief” I also don’t think that the “ultimate designer” is conscious in the exact same way that humans are conscious, but that has nothing to do with science. Science can only work with what we have available and in our repeat and uniform experience we do experience foresight and we utilize it to produce FSCI and there is no example of FSCI being produce absent foresight in the causal chain. Add the math which is used to create a no-go theorem, and you have a testable and falsifiable hypothesis based on math and uniform and repeat experience. That’s all that science is about.

    You’re half right – there is no science to support Meyer’s claim that the cause of life was conscious. So we both agree he’s completely wrong about that.

    We both agree that Stephen Meyers is wrong when he claims that scientific evidence supports the conclusion that a conscious being was responsible for creating the first living cell.

    That is a great result, really. I’ll be happy if that’s the only thing we agree on!

    You’re wrong, however, about experiencing foresight as the cause of FSCI. We do not. We experience foresight (the conscious awareness of our intentions), and we create FSCI, but the two are not related in any way that we understand. There are situations where we believe some choices are under the control of our conscious intent when they are not. And there are also situations where we are not conscious of making choices and producing FSCI when we actually are.

    For you to come up with imaginary causal factors that you can’t define and we never experience has nothing to do with science.

    Yes, quite so. True for everyone. No imaginary conscious things, no imaginary unconscious things, no imaginary connection between what human beings experience in their minds and what caused first life. Imagination is fine, but it’s not science.

    Furthermore, if we just “leave it there” then there is nothing more to discuss as you now seem unwilling to understand and look into ID Theory. Instead, you wish to provide undefined speculation as some sort of argument against the math and uniform and repeat experience upon which ID Theory is based.

    Now you are really building strawmen, CJY. You have it all wrong. I have said over and over and over and over again that I am providing no explanation at all, so for you to pretend that I am using an undefined speculation as an argument against ID is ridiculous. I am saying that we can all make up all kinds of speculations – that’s easy – but there is no empirical reason to believe any of them.

    2. As to foresight not being well defined … how is “your ability to envision a future goal and then organize matter and energy in the present to accomplish that goal in the future” not a good definition?

    If what you are saying is scientific, then it is not predicated on dualism, right? In other words, IF I adopted a materialist viewpoint your definition would be just as meaningful, right?

    OK, from a materialist viewpoint, when a human designs a watch, it is something that happens in strict accord with natural law. Physics determines how the environment interacts with the structures and chemistry of the brain, and out comes a watch. It’s just law + chance, nothing more. Our experience of consciousness has nothing to do with it – it is purely epiphenomenal.

    (I’m not saying we know this is true – it’s just arguendo).

    So IF that were true, then ID Theory would say: First life was created by something that operated according strictly according to law + chance, just like everything else.

    Can you answer the question: “do you experience foresight as I have defined it?” If you can answer in the affirmative, how is the definition not good enough?

    Because our conscious experience may be epiphenomenal (i.e. not causal).

    AIG: Yes of course I experience conscious awareness, including awareness of what I want to design.
    CJY: So that’s an emphatic “yes” to my question “does foresight exist?”

    If you define “foresight” as “conscious awareness of future goals”, then yes. But we have no evidence that this is what causes those goals to be reached. I have been working in cognitive science for thirty years, and to us these distinctions are obvious. I realize, however, that people who have not studied cognitive psychology have a hard time understanding that our intuitions about what our minds are and how they work are not necessarily correct. We used to have an intuition that we thought with our hearts and that our brains were for cooling our blood. After some research we figured out we thought with our brains. Recently it has become clear that we think with our whole body (our intestines are particular active in our decision-making, but we are not conscious of those processes).

    We now have an intuition that our conscious desires cause our plans to form. Research indicates that this intuition may also be wrong, and that our incipient plans actually cause our conscious desires instead. It’s all pretty speculative – nobody knows how it works. Which is why it is just ridiculous to claim we understand how humans create FSCI and pretend that we have reason to infer that the same thing was responsible for creating first life.

    The next paragraphs in you post revisit the same idea. You keep talking about our “experiencing” foresight, but then you say this has nothing to do with consciousness. Please tell me what it means to experience foresight if you are not conscious of it.

    You continue to reify “foresight” as something that exists and causes plans to form. I refute that with research that indicates our experience of foresight may well be epiphenomenal, and be the result of our plans rather than the cause.

    If you disagree with me then show me the engineer who could design complex circuitry on “autopilot” without first utilizing his foresight to originally learn and practice the designing of complex circuitry.

    The fact that we produce many types of FSCI without awareness is one piece of evidence that consciousness is not causal in producing FSCI at all. There is lots of other evidence (cf. Daniel Wegner especially).

    Please (and this goes for onlookers too) do not pretend that I am claiming any particular theory of mind is true. What I claim is that we do not understand what minds are or how they work, and what ID does is to assume one particular theory of mind and pretend that we know it is true.

    The only reason I discussed a sufficiently organized information processing system as the producer of foresight was to show that even given the materialist premise, ID Theory still works just fine.

    You don’t need to believe in materialism in order to reject as scientific any theory which assumes dualism. Scientific theories need to be neutral on theories of mind; any theory that is predicated on one particular stance on the mind/body problem is not scientific. We know that people cannot design things unless they have a working, complex, physical brain. We know that computers cannot design things unless they have a working, complex, physical processor. We know of nothing else that designs things. That is what we know from our experience, no matter what solution to the mind/body problem you happen to like.

    AIG: Second, if you would like to propose a version of ID theory that claims “a sufficiently organized conscious brain” was the cause of first life, please be my guest. I somehow doubt that this idea is quite as popular as Meyer’s formulation
    CJY: Probably not, and the only reason I propose it is to show that the subject of material vs. immaterial has no bearing whatsoever on the fundamentals of the science of ID Theory.

    But it has everything to do with it. I believe you and I agree that unless you assume dualism, ID theory is stuck with positing a complex physical mechanism as the cause of life. That doesn’t mean we assume materialism; it is simply the only stance that is supported by our experience. We know that people have brains and we know people have conscious experience, but we do not know if consciousness is causal.

    All that matters is …

    What is mind? No matter. What is matter? Never mind! (just an old joke).

    Based on the reasoning you’ve brought forth here, we would never know anything about the past.

    That’s ridiculous. How do my arguments pertain to geology, for example?

    You seem to not allow experience of present acting causes as inference into causal factors in the past.

    That’s ridiculous! That is exactly how we must make inferences about the past.

    Oh, and one more question for you, aiguy, before I’m out: “why do you insist on everyone agreeing to not know anything about the causal factor that produces FSCI, when some of us actually do realize that foresight appears to play a necessary role based on our uniform and repeat experience especially since there is no example of FSCI being generated absent foresight in its causal chain?

    It always amazes me that people enamored of a supposedly scientific theory called “Intelligent Design” have such little interest in learning about what scientists who actually study intelligence have to say about it. How many books on the subject of cognitive science have you read? Have you read Daniel Wegner? Gerald Edleman? Christof Koch? Pat Churchland? V.S. Ramachandran? How about philosophers of mind like John Searle? David Chalmers? Hilary Putnam? Stephen Pinker?

    What you will learn is that these matters are far from settled, and people argue every imaginable solution to the mind/body problem, just as they have for thousands of years. You say this has no impact on ID but you just don’t understand – if human beings’ ability to create FSCI is nothing but law+chance, and “foresight” is just a label for the purely mechanical processes that happen to go on inside our bodies and we happen to have conscious awareness of, then all of ID collapses.

    Imagine a scientist working the way that you want this done. He would always be saying “I don’t know” regardless of the fact that effect “y” is always present when “x” is first present and effect “y” is never present absent “x.” Would he be a good scientist if he ignored his own work and just said “I don’t know,” or should he publish his findings of the apparent relationship between “x” and “y” based on his uniform and repeat experience?

    For most of history people thought the Sun burned in the way a campfire burned. They had experience of setting fire to wood or straw and seeing the light and heat emanate; it was reasonable to assume the same thing was what caused the Sun to give off light and heat. It wasn’t until the 20th century that people figured out no amount of fuel could keep the Sun burning the way it does, if it really was the sort of fire we knew about. It turned out a very different mechanism is responsible for the radiation of the Sun (nuclear fusion rather than chemical oxidation).

    Human beings create FSCI; we don’t know how. FSCI exists in biology; we don’t know how it got there. You claim the same thing is behind both phenomena. You may be right, but you may be wrong. I’m the only one who is certain to be correct: I claim we do not know.

  93. 93
    aiguy says:

    UB,
    Instead of debating and making arugments, you just complain about me and point to other people who you wish could refute my arguments. Here is your last post, and as everyone can see, as all of your posts, you have failed to produce a single argument of your own or refute a single point I’ve made.

    You seem to be reduced to silliness.

    An insult, not an argument.

    Your argument has been repeatedly addressed by everyone who has interacted with you so far.

    You are mistaken; CJY and I agree that Meyer is wrong to infer consciousness, for example. Gil never responded to me at all. And Vivid thought my argument as “air tight”!

    Your entire last post continues to be based upon that misrepresentation, and you know it.

    That is an unspecified accusation, not an argument. And the “you know it” part is just another groundless personal attack.

    Clearly, you refuse to drop your misrepresentation because without it (you end up back at the actual ID argument and) you have nothing.

    There are plenty of people I enjoy debating with, like CJY and Nullasulus, even though we disagree about lots of things. Clearly you are unable to debate at all. Sorry.

  94. 94
    avocationist says:

    Aiguy,

    The only intelligence test we have for the designer is that it was capable of producing the things designed.

    You:
    “If you claim I say something, you need to provide a quote to support your claim. Otherwise you just put words in mouth. You are wrong on both counts – I ask neither the identity nor all the attributes. So please provide quotes rather than strawmen and perhaps we can move forward at a little better pace.”

    What I am asking is what you could possibly be talking about when you say “entity”. Is it a force? A spirit? An animal? An atom? A dog? An unknown property of matter or energy? An unknown property of an unknown substance? Part of space-time geometry?

    But that was not the only one. There were at least three. You asked if it could speak French I believe. Perhaps it was in a post to someone else. I couldn’t find it.

    Aiguy:“I did not ask for all the attributes – only a sufficient level of characterization that would enable us to decide if this thing being hypothesized actually exists or not.”

    What I see is that you cannot make a design inference as a stand alone. That of course was the purpose of the spaceship scenario. Naturally, you are right that in such a situation the intelligence would almost certainly be humanlike. However, in the case of biological life forms, it looks strongly as though the designer would be fairly different from us. Thus, the intelligence and directed will are pretty much all we have.

    Also, asking for many different types of attributes is indeed very close to asking the identity. An identity, such as a personal name, or a category of beings, such as “angels” really does not mean much unless we know the attributes. Many names are built upon attributes. In addition, whether or not you asked for the attributes or the identity, the problem is the same: you cannot accept a design inference based upon the amount of data that we have. You want more attributes than we have.

    As to whether we can resolve that the designer is intelligent by observation, I am simply going to leave that because others have done a good job answering it.

    Aiguy:“That’s wrong. Darwinian evolution does not attempt to explain first life.”

    Does this mean it is only first life that you think we haven’t answers to and you are satisfied with the rest of evolution theory?

    By unguided forces of nature I mean that wind blowing pebbles around will not produce a sonnet.

    We would recognize that the TV was built by something very much like a human being. Whatever created first life was certainly not like a human being, so this whole “TV scenario” really gets you nowhere at all.

    You say we can only discuss evidence and not philosophical speculations. As I’ve explained, for me there is no subject not within science’s purview, and I have no division between paranormal and regular reality. But your questions are about the reality of a designer that may fit the definition of nonphysical or spiritual or that sort of label.

    ID is embarked upon an inquiry that does lead to such questions, as to the attributes of the designer. Well, what if that designer is indeed to be found only within the realm of what you call paranormal? Things which are outside our physical sensing ability may or may not leave clues even when we cannot see them directly. Sunburned skin is a clue to uva or uvb rays. How are we to find out more if we negate the search? You will say that you do no such thing, but you go back and forth, back and forth.

    You also make the argument that ID should not focus on evolution theory. Why, if the theory is obviously inadequate and its claims and suppositions absurd? Even if we don’t have all the correct answers, is there something wrong with pointing out when we are obviously on the wrong track?

    Aiguy:The only thing I refuse to do is pretend I know something based on scientific evidence when I don’t. I wish more people did that

    In general I agree, although I say it about many types of things, including religion. But I think the design inference is reasonable.

  95. 95
    Upright BiPed says:

    Aiguy,

    You are hardly the first to come here and misrepresent what ID claims, and then dig in your heals. Whenever confronted with the misrepresentation, you simply repeat it as if you haven’t heard a word. In your attacks on Meyer’s claim of universal experience, you stated early on “if ID wishes to posit a known cause as an explanation of FSCI in biology”. You were then corrected on the issue that ID does not posit universal experience in the creation of FSCI in biology; instead ID posits universal experience of a known cause of FSCI in every other venue but biology… then draws a valid INFERENCE to that which is found in biology. If I remember correctly, someone used the forum’s strike-out function and gave your sentence back to you with the words in biology stricken from it in order to draw your attention to what the claim actually is. And also to highlight the fact that ID draws a valid inference from a known process in operation today in order to provide a plausible explanation of the unobservable past.

    It never registered.

  96. 96
    kairosfocus says:

    UB: Guess why. Sad really. G

  97. 97
    aiguy says:

    avocationist,

    The only intelligence test we have for the designer is that it was capable of producing the things designed.

    I love this one. What you are saying is that your testable definition of “intelligence” is that it can create just the sorts of things we observe!

    AIG: What caused the complex form and function in biology?
    AVO: Something “intelligent”!
    AIG: Really? What is your operational definition of “intelligent”?
    AVO: That which can create complex form and function!

    Come on, Avocationist. Can’t you see this is just a bit circular? Moliere could not have parodied science any better than you just did.

    Look here:

    NotNewton: I have discovered what causes apples to fall! I call it “gravity”!
    AIGUY: Really? What is your operational definition of “gravity”?
    NotNewton: “That which causes things to fall!”

    Can you see why this theory of gravity is vacuous? Now, how about this:

    Newton: I have discovered what causes apples to fall! I call it “gravity”!
    AIGUY: Really? What is your operational definiton of “gravity”?
    Newton: It is a force that exists between any two objects. It acts at any distance. It acts instantaneously. It acts through empty space with no intermediate medium. It acts with a quantified force that diminishes with the square of the distance. It produces an acceleration in both bodies directly toward each other which is proportional to the product of their masses. It…
    AIGUY: Hey, nice job, Newton! Looks like you have yourself a scientific theory!

    Are you getting the picture?

    So you need to provide some testable characterization in order for everyone to decide if what you are talking about actually exists, rather than being just something you made up. I listed lots of ways to characterize an intelligent agent in testable ways – I’m not asking for you to answer ALL of them… rather I’m asking for you to answer ANY of them!

    Obviously you are claiming that it can create the FSCI we see in biology – that is what we are trying to explain! If your claim is not entirely vacuous, then you need to specify what else is true about this purported “being”.

    What I see is that you cannot make a design inference as a stand alone. That of course was the purpose of the spaceship scenario. Naturally, you are right that in such a situation the intelligence would almost certainly be humanlike. However, in the case of biological life forms, it looks strongly as though the designer would be fairly different from us. Thus, the intelligence and directed will are pretty much all we have.

    You have precisely nothing until you tell me, at long last, what your operational definition of “intelligence” is.

    An identity, such as a personal name, or a category of beings, such as “angels” really does not mean much unless we know the attributes.

    Yes, that is 100% correct!!! It doesn’t mean anything until you know the attributes, and the attributes must be somehow testable!!! I think you are beginning to understand.

    Many names are built upon attributes. In addition, whether or not you asked for the attributes or the identity, the problem is the same: you cannot accept a design inference based upon the amount of data that we have. You want more attributes than we have.

    Uh, you have precisely zero attributes. None. You haven’t said one single thing about this hypothetical designer that we can use to decide if it exists or not.

    As to whether we can resolve that the designer is intelligent by observation, I am simply going to leave that because others have done a good job answering it.

    Oooh, that’s not good. Nobody else has even tried to answer that. The way scientists measure intelligence is with standardized IQ tests, and obviously that isn’t going to work in the context of ID, right (I don’t think the Designer will be able to fill out the Scantron form, do you?)

    Aiguy:“That’s wrong. Darwinian evolution does not attempt to explain first life.”
    AVO: Does this mean it is only first life that you think we haven’t answers to and you are satisfied with the rest of evolution theory?

    Actually no, I think evolutionary theory is essentially true as far as it goes, but that it is fundamentally incomplete, and so it fails to account for the complex form and function we see.

    By unguided forces of nature I mean that wind blowing pebbles around will not produce a sonnet.

    Sorry, but you didn’t answer the question. I asked the following: If you believe there is a difference between “guided” and “unguided” forces in nature, please tell me what it is you think is guiding the “guided” forces. (hint: You have no idea; I think its best to just come out and say it).

    You say we can only discuss evidence and not philosophical speculations.

    On the contrary, we are all free to speculate to our hearts content. It’s fun! The only thing I object to is when folks decide to claim that their speculation is not philosphical or theological, but it is instead scientific. I really don’t like that at all.

    As I’ve explained, for me there is no subject not within science’s purview, and I have no division between paranormal and regular reality. But your questions are about the reality of a designer that may fit the definition of nonphysical or spiritual or that sort of label.

    I’m not interested in labels. I don’t care what is normal vs. paranormal, natural vs. supernatural, physical vs. immaterial, etc. I only care that science is grounded in our shared experience, and that inferences that can’t be grounded in our shared experiences (like the speculation that a conscious being created life) not be palmed off as “science”.

    ID is embarked upon an inquiry that does lead to such questions, as to the attributes of the designer.

    Let me know when they find some answers!

    Well, what if that designer is indeed to be found only within the realm of what you call paranormal?

    That would be just fine – I really would find it terribly exciting if someone found a way to demonstrate that mind could exist or act without a physical medium. I followed the PEAR program for many years hoping they’d succeed… but they really didn’t. Also Rupert Sheldrake, who I believe is a pretty good scientist who has been treated badly for some minor missteps…

    Things which are outside our physical sensing ability may or may not leave clues even when we cannot see them directly. Sunburned skin is a clue to uva or uvb rays. How are we to find out more if we negate the search? You will say that you do no such thing, but you go back and forth, back and forth.

    Oh, please. I have never changed my position one bit. Obviously science discovers all manner of things we can’t observe directly – everybody knows that. What we typically observe directly are our instruments, or statistical summaries of observations. This has nothing to do with the limitations of our unaided senses, avocation. Good grief.

    You also make the argument that ID should not focus on evolution theory. Why, if the theory is obviously inadequate and its claims and suppositions absurd?

    I think it’s quite interesting that people analyze evolutionary theory and find its faults. Lots of people who I respect (like Stuart Kauffman) do that. These people are doing science, evaluating evidence for and against current theories. That’s all great.

    It has nothing to do with the hypothesis that a conscious being created life. I’m not sure why this is hard to understand. It has nothing to do with “intelligent design”.

    Even if we don’t have all the correct answers, is there something wrong with pointing out when we are obviously on the wrong track?

    As I just said, there is nothing wrong with that – it is an interesting and important thing to do. The mistake people make is to think that once they’ve shown current evolutionary theory to be wrong/incomplete, that somehow means that their particular theory is vindicated! This is ridiculous. Here:

    IDGUY: Biological complexity was either caused by Darwinian evolution or a conscious entity. I’ve proven blind forces can’t do it, so it must have been a conscious entity.
    AIGUY: Really? By that logic you can conclude anything!
    IDGUY: What do you mean?
    AIGUY: Biological complexity was either caused by blind forces or there is an infinite number of universes. I’ve proven blind forces can’t do it, so there must be an infinite number of universes!

    Oops.

    Aiguy:The only thing I refuse to do is pretend I know something based on scientific evidence when I don’t. I wish more people did that
    AVO: In general I agree, although I say it about many types of things, including religion. But I think the design inference is reasonable.

    Reasonable or not (and I happen to think not) it is most certainly not supported by our uniform and repeated experience. So I just wish ID folks would stop saying that it is!

  98. 98
    aiguy says:

    UB,

    You are hardly the first to come here and misrepresent what ID claims, and then dig in your heals.

    My representations of ID come directly from one if its leading proponents, Stephen Meyer. I have provided a number of quotes (with references) in order to back this up. If you think Meyer is misrepresenting ID, I suggest you take it up with him.

    You must admit that even among ID enthusiasts there is a great deal of disagreement. CJYman, for example, believes that Meyer is wrong when he claims to have supported the idea that the Designer of ID would necessarily have a conscious mind. Do you believe CJYman is also misrepresenting ID?

    In your attacks on Meyer’s claim of universal experience, you stated early on “if ID wishes to posit a known cause as an explanation of FSCI in biology”. You were then corrected on the issue that ID does not posit universal experience in the creation of FSCI in biology; instead ID posits universal experience of a known cause of FSCI in every other venue but biology… then draws a valid INFERENCE to that which is found in biology.

    This is just a misunderstanding, not a misrepresentation. Perhaps this will clear it up:

    1) ID notes that living things create FSCI in the artifacts they build.
    2) ID claims that the same thing that enables living things to create FSCI in their artifacts is what is responsible for the creation of first life. This thing that is responsible both for our artifacts (like watches and airplanes) and biological systems (like eyeballs and flagella) is called “intelligence”.

    Do you think this is a misrepresentation of ID? This is exactly what I meant.

    My objection to Meyer calling it a “known cause” is this:

    1) We have no knowledge of anything which is not itself a life form that can create FSCI.
    2) Whatever created the very first life form could not logically have been a life form itself.
    3) Therefore we have no knowledge of anything which could have created the first life form.

    If I remember correctly, someone used the forum’s strike-out function and gave your sentence back to you with the words in biology stricken from it in order to draw your attention to what the claim actually is. And also to highlight the fact that ID draws a valid inference from a known process in operation today in order to provide a plausible explanation of the unobservable past.

    It never registered.

    I responded to that. Please try and understand my point, after having accused me of misunderstanding ID (or worse, deliberately mispresenting it!) My point is that while the actions of living things are known to create FSCI, there is nothing else known to our experience that does. Therefore when Meyer claims there is a known cause that could account for first life, he is wrong.

    The reason you think he’s right is because you treat “intelligence” as something that exists independently of living things. Perhaps you are right, and perhaps you are wrong. But either way, the matter is certainly not resolved by appeal to our experience. In our experience, intelligence is not a thing-in-itself at all. Rather, it is merely a property of living things, like “complexity” or “athleticism”.

    IN OUR EXPERIENCE:
    Complexity doesn’t create FSCI; only complex life forms create FSCI.
    Dexterity doesn’t create FSCI; only dextrous life forms create FSCI.
    Physicality doesn’t create FSCI; only physical life forms create FSCI.
    Intelligence doesn’t create FSCI; only intelligent life forms create FSCI.

    I understand you have a different view of mind and matter; your solution to the mind/body problem is that mind is distinct from matter, and that mind interacts with matter in a way that directs its actions. This is a metaphysical stance (called dualism) that can’t be judged right or wrong by experiment or observation. I’m not saying you are wrong, but I am saying that any theory based on the truth of any particular solution to the mind/body problem (whether it is materialism, dualism, or idealism) is not based on our uniform and repeated experience.

  99. 99
    tgpeeler says:

    aiguy – I’m late to this party but I notice above that you close with the mind/body problem. I believe it can be judged right or wrong by applying reason to evidence.

    Let’s assume for a minute that the materialists are right. In other words, mind = brain. In other words we are “just” very sophisticated “sensing machines.”

    This immediately suggests several questions to me.

    The first, most obvious is, if all I can understand about the physical world (which is all that exists according to the materialist ontology) is what I sense via sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch, then how could I possibly even know of the existence of abstract things like mathematics, the laws of physics, the laws of logic, economics, golf, etc…???

    In other words, if I only have access to the material world then how is it that I know of the abstract world? The answer seems to be that there is more to us than our brains. In fact, one could make a modus tollens argument out of this.

    If I only had senses to experience the physical world I could never know of the abstract world. (This is true by definition, law of identity)

    But I do know of the abstract world.

    Therefore, it is false that I only have sense experience.

    The further conclusion follows that there is an abstract or immaterial or “non-sensing” aspect of our being. We call this a mind or soul.

  100. 100
    CJYman says:

    aiguy:
    “IN OUR EXPERIENCE:
    Complexity doesn’t create FSCI; only complex life forms create FSCI.
    Dexterity doesn’t create FSCI; only dextrous life forms create FSCI.
    Physicality doesn’t create FSCI; only physical life forms create FSCI.
    Intelligence doesn’t create FSCI; only intelligent life forms create FSCI.”

    You’ve missed two important and simple points …

    IN OUR EXPERIENCE:

    1. We envision future goals (FSCI) that do not yet exist and then engineer matter and energy to accomplish that goal (FSCI).

    2. There is no known example of FSCI being generated absent the process in number 1 in operation in the causal chain.

    It’s really that simple. There is no need to discuss mind/body duality or how foresight operates. Those are interesting questions yet make no difference to the ID inference so long as foresight exists and is used to generate FSCI. ie: will the engineer be able to create complex circuitry if he could not engage in the process described in point number 1 above.

    I’ll be back to respond to your earlier replies that were directed to myself.

  101. 101
    CJYman says:

    aiguy:
    “CJYman, for example, believes that Meyer is wrong when he claims to have supported the idea that the Designer of ID would necessarily have a conscious mind. Do you believe CJYman is also misrepresenting ID?”

    I’m sorry, but to me this provides a staggering amount of evidence that either you do not thoroughly read through my responses or you purposefully twist what others are stating, which it seems you’ve been accused of here on this thread already.

    So hold on aiguy, not so fast … I only provided a link to a definition of intelligence that doesn’t require consciousness.

    But then I also backed up the inference that, based on the best information we presently have, the designer is most likely conscious. Remember my little rant about “that’s just how science works. We have to utilize presently acting causes to infer to past causes.” If FSCI only arises once we have used our consciousness to envision a future target and there is no example of FSCI being generated absent conscious foresight in its causal chain, then conscious foresight most likely is necessary and we can use that to infer conscious foresight whenever we come across FSCI.

    I’ve merely shown that there can be two different versions of ID Theory based on two very similar ideas of targets. The only difference is that one would include conscious awareness of the target in the definition and one would not. The only reason I included this is to argue that even IF, and that is a big IF, consciousness is causally impotent ID Theory is still useful and really doesn’t have to change much at all. BTW, I think that the best hypothesis for the operation of consciousness is that provided by Penrose and Hameroff and it appears that according to their model, consciousness is not merely epi-phenomenal.

    Here is the link [http://telicthoughts.com/what-is-an-intelligent-cause/#comment-244642] to my comment re: a non-conscious definition of intelligence. So IF, and again that is a BIG IF, consciousness is indeed epi-phenomenal, the intelligent designer would have to be an artificially intelligent system (in line with the definition I’ve given in the link). However, this would only work if artificial intelligence can generate consciousness since we are indeed conscious. Furthermore, if consciousness is indeed the most complex phenomenon in existence and if the Conservation of Information Law that Dembski has been working on is correct [that FSCI can not be increased only transferred and transformed] then this provides evidence that AI will not produce consciousness without conscious foresight already in that AI’s causal chain.

  102. 102
    CJYman says:

    aiguy:
    “Reasonable or not (and I happen to think not) it is most certainly not supported by our uniform and repeated experience. So I just wish ID folks would stop saying that it is!”

    So now you are stating that you’ve never envisioned a future target that does not exist and then engineer matter and energy in the present to accomplish that goal in the future? I’m seriously confused here … is that what you are stating?

  103. 103
    aiguy says:

    tgpeeler,

    I’m late to this party but I notice above that you close with the mind/body problem. I believe it can be judged right or wrong by applying reason to evidence.

    Wow – nice! We’re all late to this party, actually, since the mind/body problem has been a matter of unresolved debate for literally thousands of years. Anyway it’s about time somebody has figured it out!

    Let’s assume for a minute that the materialists are right. In other words, mind = brain.

    That is one particular materialist theory, called identity theory. There are others of course.

    In other words we are “just” very sophisticated “sensing machines.”

    This immediately suggests several questions to me.

    The first, most obvious is, if all I can understand about the physical world (which is all that exists according to the materialist ontology) is what I sense via sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch, then how could I possibly even know of the existence of abstract things like mathematics, the laws of physics, the laws of logic, economics, golf, etc…???

    You know each of these things differently I’d say. There’s good evidence that we are born knowing some of it (counting arithmetic, intuitive/qualitative physics, deduction and induction, etc). More formal representations of physics, logic, math, economics, etc – these are all encoded by cooperative effort among many individuals and taught. I have no idea why you would say this presents a problem for materialism.

    Think of it this way: Computers can know about the existence of abstract things like logic, math, economics, etc, and I don’t think anyone believes computers are inhabited by res cogitans, so it appears that thinking machines have no trouble with abstraction.

    In other words, if I only have access to the material world then how is it that I know of the abstract world?

    Because machines can represent things; they assume physical states which map to the world at various levels of abstraction.

    The answer seems to be that there is more to us than our brains. In fact, one could make a modus tollens argument out of this.

    I don’t intend any offense, really, but if the solution was this easy, don’t you think this matter would be settled by now? May I inquire if you’ve ever actually studied the arguments that have been made by the many dozens of great thinkers on all sides of this debate throughout history, and studied their rebuttals?

  104. 104
    aiguy says:

    CJYman,

    You’ve missed two important and simple points …
    IN OUR EXPERIENCE:
    1. We envision future goals (FSCI) that do not yet exist and then engineer matter and energy to accomplish that goal (FSCI).

    2. There is no known example of FSCI being generated absent the process in number 1 in operation in the causal chain.

    It’s really that simple. There is no need to discuss mind/body duality or how foresight operates. Those are interesting questions yet make no difference to the ID inference so long as foresight exists and is used to generate FSCI. ie: will the engineer be able to create complex circuitry if he could not engage in the process described in point number 1 above.

    Let’s say we have a machine that is programmed to design various complex devices. Although it is impossible for anyone (including the programmers) to predict what designs the machine will invent, the machine operates strictly according to deterministic laws (including perhaps a deterministic pseudo-random generator). Would you say this machine has “foresight”?

    Perhaps you will say that the computer does not have foresight, but that the human programmer did. If this is your response, you must tell us how you have decided this is the case. What is it about the computer that makes you think it lacks foresight, while the human has it?

    Or, perhaps you will say that the computer does have foresight. But do you really think it “envisions” future goals? What does it mean to “envision” a future goal when the computer presumably has no conscious experience of a “mind’s eye”?

    While you ponder these questions, keep in mind that according to ID theory, one mustn’t ever ask the question “Who designed the designer?”. ID dictates that we can infer that something is intelligent without regard to the origin of the entity in question. For example, we can say that human beings are intelligent even though ID holds that human beings themselves were designed by some other intelligent designer.

    AIG: CJYman, for example, believes that Meyer is wrong when he claims to have supported the idea that the Designer of ID would necessarily have a conscious mind. Do you believe CJYman is also misrepresenting ID?
    CJY: I’m sorry, but to me this provides a staggering amount of evidence that either you do not thoroughly read through my responses or you purposefully twist what others are stating, which it seems you’ve been accused of here on this thread already.

    So hold on aiguy, not so fast … I only provided a link to a definition of intelligence that doesn’t require consciousness.

    It was not my intent to misrepresent you; I had interpreted the fact that you denied the importance of any particular commitments about mentality except for “foresight”, and had indicated that “foresight” may well occur without consciousness, as allowing for the possibility of unconscious design. That is why I said you agreed the Designer would not necessarily have a conscious mind.

    Gee whiz. I have had to repeat my arguments dozens and dozens of times to everybody here, and I have been misconstrued, misrepresented, misquoted, and had words put in my mouth by all concerned – over and over again. Yet I have not once accused anyone of willfully and purposefully twisting my arguments! Forum arguments are difficult for a number of reasons, and these are difficult questions. I assure you I have not twisted anyone arguments purposefully, and will continue to believe that when people mistake everything I say it is because I haven’t been sufficiently clear and they haven’t been sufficiently attentive, and not because they are choosing to purposefully lie about what I’m saying.

    I’ve merely shown that there can be two different versions of ID Theory based on two very similar ideas of targets. The only difference is that one would include conscious awareness of the target in the definition and one would not.

    Good grief, CJY! First you accuse me of purposefully misconstruing your argument, and then you repeat exactly what I had summarized your position to be! That is all I said – that you denied ID theory necessarily posited a conscious mind!

    BTW, I think that the best hypothesis for the operation of consciousness is that provided by Penrose and Hameroff and it appears that according to their model, consciousness is not merely epi-phenomenal.

    Maybe, maybe not. No science there yet, but interesting speculation. I’m not talking about that, however – I’m talking about the fact that ID’s claims do not rest on experience the way Meyer claims.

    Here is the link [http://telicthoughts.com/what-is-an-intelligent-cause/#comment-244642] to my comment re: a non-conscious definition of intelligence. So IF, and again that is a BIG IF, consciousness is indeed epi-phenomenal, the intelligent designer would have to be an artificially intelligent system (in line with the definition I’ve given in the link).

    You called natural Darwinian evolution an “artificially intelligent” system, and I’ve asked you to clarify that statement three times now to no avail. Can you please tell me the difference between what you consider an artificially intelligent system and other types of intelligent systems? Since presumably you believe we humans are the artifacts of a Designer, do you believe that we are also artificially intelligent?

    Furthermore, if consciousness is indeed the most complex phenomenon in existence

    Huh? How do you imagine we can guage the complexity of consciousness? What possible metric might you be thinking of? This is getting pretty far out there…

    … and if the Conservation of Information Law that Dembski has been working on is correct [that FSCI can not be increased only transferred and transformed] then this provides evidence that AI will not produce consciousness without conscious foresight already in that AI’s causal chain.

    I’ve heard a whole lot of philosophical arguments for and against AI in my time, but this numbers among the most strange and far-fetched. Unless you wish to claim that these ideas of yours can be emprically substantiated, I will pass on debating these notions.

    So now you are stating that you’ve never envisioned a future target that does not exist and then engineer matter and energy in the present to accomplish that goal in the future? I’m seriously confused here … is that what you are stating?

    If I were you I would definitely accuse you of willfully misrepresenting me and failing to read my posts. But I am not you, so I won’t. I will tell you that I have repeatedly stated that I have of course experienced exactly that. I have gone on to explain in some detail why many cognitive scientists believe there is good empirical evidence to suggest that conscious foresight is not causal in this process.

    I am not taking a stand on the causal or ontological status of consciousness one way or another. It is clear, however, that Meyer’s version of ID rests squarely on dualism/interactionism, as does Dembski’s version of ID (and Dembski has said so quite explicitly, although he denies his version of interactionism is Cartesian).

  105. 105
    CJYman says:

    aiguy:
    “You say that “foresight” is what enables humans to think; others say it is “neuronal activity”. You say consciousness is required; this is by no means evident.”

    When did I say that “foresight” is what enables humans to think? I have defined foresight as “envisioning a future target that does not exist and then engineering matter and energy in the present to accomplish that goal.” This is not a process that “enables” us to think … this is a description of the very process of thinking itself. Maybe that is why you’ve been misunderstanding and misrepresenting my arguments.

    CJYman:
    “you have to ignoring what we do experience daily, as summed up in the three questions re: your experience of foresight, the engineer’s utilization of foresight, and the generation of FSCI absent foresight in the causal chain that I keep asking you and you have not yet sufficiently answered or answered at all.”

    aiguy:
    “I really don’t mean to skip your questions. I think I’ve answered these: Yes I experience conscious awareness of my intentions and goals. Everything we see creating FSCI is a human being or other animal, but when humans or other animals produce FSCI it is not always accompanied by conscious awareness of the planning involved.”

    Of course, and we’ve already been over this a few times. A computer can also produce FSCI without accompanying conscious foresight. However, conscious foresight is in the causal chain. This is why I keep asking you to provide an example of FSCI that did not require foresight in the causal chain.

    So at least we agree that we do have foresight and use it in the generation of FSCI … ie, when we design complex circuitry or in your case more likely complex software. Now, there is one more question that needs to be answered … can you provide any examples of FSCI being generated without foresight in its causal chain?

    aiguy:
    “The problem with this is the you are reifying foresight. There is no science to that.”

    I’m not sure what you are saying here.

    aiguy:
    “I’ve said this in many different ways, but you don’t acknowledge it. You don’t know what foresight is, or what it does, or what it doesn’t do, or what conditions are required for it to operate, or what it has to do with consciousness.”

    1. Then how can you acknowledge that you possess foresight as I have defined it, when you don’t know what it is?

    2. Furthermore, if you’ve agreed that in order for the engineer to produce complex circuitry he must first be able to envision a future target that does not yet exist and then manipulate matter and energy in the future in order to accomplish that goal, then how can you say that you don’t know what this process does?

    3. What do you mean by “I don’t know what this process ‘doesn’t do’.” Tell me, based on the same idea that you are attempting to get across here, just so I understand what you are stating and the relevance of the question, what does the Big Bang not do?

    4. The conditions for its operation have nothing to do with its existence or the ID inference. I’ve already explained this and you have not shown otherwise.

    aiguy:
    “For you, “foresight” means the same thing as res cogitans. There is nothing scientific about it – nothing that we can test.”

    Yes science does deal with testing, and it also deals with uniform and repeat experience. Do you regularly experience foresight? Is there anyone that will deny the existence of foresight? Secondly, we can test for the previous existence of foresight by calculating for FSCI. This is so, because of our repeat and uniform experience of foresight and our repeat and uniform experience of using foresight (the process that I have already defined) to generate FSCI, and our lack of any experience of FSCI being generated absent foresight in the causal chain. Thus, call it what you will, ID Theory is based on repeat and uniform observation, mathematics to provide a no-go theorem, testing to see if FSCI will be generated absent foresight in the causal chain, and potential falisifiability. ID Theory does what it sets out to accomplish and it is just as scientific as any other historical scientific discipline which relies on inference.

    CJYman:
    “1. Re: “anthropomorphic mistake,” that is nothing more than a cop-out that would not work if we found FSCI such as a manuscript on the other side of the universe.”

    aiguy:
    “This is a very old mistake. You name something that humans make, then ask what we would think if we found this extra-terrestrially. You say it we would infer “intelligent agency”. But that is wrong – we would instead infer “a life form similar to human beings”.”

    … which was able to utilize its foresight. That ommission is also another mistake. This is the whole idea behind SETI. Oh, BTW, now that we are here, do you see SETI as a scientific research program?

    aiguy:
    “You’re half right – there is no science to support Meyer’s claim that the cause of life was conscious. So we both agree he’s completely wrong about that.”

    I just provided evidence that supports Meyers claim based on an inference no less effective as that used to support the Big Bang … and actually more so since we experience foresight, yet we’ve never experience anything remotely like the big bang … and all you say in return is “no!” and “we completely agree.” That makes no sense whatsoever.

    aiguy:
    “You’re wrong, however, about experiencing foresight as the cause of FSCI. We do not.”

    So then you disagree that you first envision a future target that does not yet exist before you engineer FSCI such as a software program?

    CJYman:
    “For you to come up with imaginary causal factors that you can’t define and we never experience has nothing to do with science.”

    aiguy:
    “Yes, quite so. True for everyone. No imaginary conscious things, no imaginary unconscious things, no imaginary connection between what human beings experience in their minds and what caused first life. Imagination is fine, but it’s not science.”

    Except that, and its already been pointed out to you, we have no experience of FSCI being generated absent foresight in the causal chain but we do experience the generation of FSCI by utilizing the process that I’ve already described and defined as foresight. So, your unconscious unspecified generator of life (an instance of FSCI) is nothing more than unspecified, speculative imagination and ID Theory’s intelligent designer of life is based on something that does exist and does generate FSCI.

    CJYman:
    “2. As to foresight not being well defined … how is “your ability to envision a future goal and then organize matter and energy in the present to accomplish that goal in the future” not a good definition?”

    aiguy:
    “If what you are saying is scientific, then it is not predicated on dualism, right? In other words, IF I adopted a materialist viewpoint your definition would be just as meaningful, right?”

    Possibly, so long as materialism, however you are defining it is able to account for the existence of foresight. It appears that we both agree that foresight exists so whatever it is founded upon must be able to account for it.

    aiguy:
    “OK, from a materialist viewpoint, when a human designs a watch, it is something that happens in strict accord with natural law. Physics determines how the environment interacts with the structures and chemistry of the brain, and out comes a watch. It’s just law + chance, nothing more. Our experience of consciousness has nothing to do with it – it is purely epiphenomenal.”

    You have demonstrated nothing of the sort. You’ve merely assumed consciousness to be epiphenomenal. It’s quite obviously so much more than just law+ chance that is required since there are many layers of structure of organization (specifically organized quantum effects ala Penrose and Hameroff, the structure of the brain, the structure of cells, the sequencing of DNA) that aren’t defined by only law + chance and law+chance on its own absent this process of foresight in the causal chain has not been shown to be able to produce any of those structures or FSCI or foresight itself. To say that it is nothing but law+chance is quite obviously incorrect. Here is a link (http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-337588) to an in depth discussion I’ve already had with someone on this exact subject. Please go through that discussion as I’d rather not have to repeat the whole thing over again.

    aiguy:
    “So IF that were true, then ID Theory would say: First life was created by something that operated according strictly according to law + chance, just like everything else.”

    It really depends on how you are defining “materialism.” Can foresight even exist under materialist presuppositions?

    CJYman:
    ” Can you answer the question: “do you experience foresight as I have defined it?” If you can answer in the affirmative, how is the definition not good enough?”

    aiguy:
    “Because our conscious experience may be epiphenomenal (i.e. not causal).”

    But whether or not your consciousness is epiphenomenal, you still seem to have agreed that you experience foresight as I have defined it. If someone can provide evidence that consciousness is epiphenomenal then Id will merely have to change slightly as I’ve already explained. However, as I’ve said, I believe that the best theory of consciousness is that of Penrose and Hameroff which seem to place consciousness as non-epiphenomenal.

    I apologize, but I’m going to leave out the rest of your post since it seems to deal with the distinction between consciouness being epiphenomenal or not and I have already provided a useful definition for either scenario as the topic pertains to ID Theory. Basically either way, IMO it really doesn’t affect ID much at all. Here again is the link (http://telicthoughts.com/what-.....ent-244642) to my thoughts on that subject.

    I would like to come back, though, and discuss whether or not consciousness is epiphenomenal and what the latest evidence shows. However, if consciousness is indeed shown to be epiphenomenal this will only have an impact on one interpretation of ID Theory.

  106. 106
    CJYman says:

    aiguy:
    “Good grief, CJY! First you accuse me of purposefully misconstruing your argument, and then you repeat exactly what I had summarized your position to be! That is all I said – that you denied ID theory necessarily posited a conscious mind!”

    I apologize if I misunderstood what you said, but it appeared that you were saying that I agreed with you that Meyers was wrong in inferring a conscious mind when I did no such thing. I want to make it clear, and I did already make it clear, that I believe the inference to be well supported since FSCI has not been seen to be generated absent a conscious mind in its causal chain. Here’s the example I referred to again …

    Imagine a scientist working the way that you want this done. He would always be saying “I don’t know” regardless of the fact that effect “y” is always present when “x” is first present and effect “y” is never present absent “x” [in its causal chain]. Would he be a good scientist if he ignored his own work and just said “I don’t know,” or should he publish his findings of the apparent relationship between “x” and “y” based on his uniform and repeat experience?

    Then I stated that IF, and it’s a bit IF, consciousness is shown to be epi-phenomenal, then Meyers is wrong.

    CJYman:
    “Furthermore, if consciousness is indeed the most complex phenomenon in existence”

    aiguy:
    “Huh? How do you imagine we can guage the complexity of consciousness? What possible metric might you be thinking of? This is getting pretty far out there…”

    When we understand how consciousness operates we should be able to measure the complexity of its operation … unless it is not “material/physical” and not amenable to measurement. Is that what you are suggesting?

    aiguy:
    “… and if the Conservation of Information Law that Dembski has been working on is correct [that FSCI can not be increased only transferred and transformed] then this provides evidence that AI will not produce consciousness without conscious foresight already in that AI’s causal chain.”

    aiguy:
    “I’ve heard a whole lot of philosophical arguments for and against AI in my time, but this numbers among the most strange and far-fetched. Unless you wish to claim that these ideas of yours can be emprically substantiated, I will pass on debating these notions.”

    I did not deny that machines, in principle, can not become conscious. I denied that AI could produce a conscious being without consciousness already in the causal chain. I’m just dealing with some IFs here that will have to be decided during future research, just as you are when you are dealing with the possible epi-phenominalism of consciousness.

    Until someone provides a good explanation of the operation of consciousness, I don’t see how anyone can suggest that consciousness is epi-phenomenal. The main reason that I am not presently in the epi-phenomenal camp is because IMO the only real testable and falsiifiable solution which actually provides a potential mechanism for consciousness is the theory provided by Penrose and Hameroff and it appears that their theory does not place consciousness as merely epi-phenomenal.

  107. 107
    CJYman says:

    aiguy:
    “Gee whiz. I have had to repeat my arguments dozens and dozens of times to everybody here, and I have been misconstrued, misrepresented, misquoted, and had words put in my mouth by all concerned – over and over again. Yet I have not once accused anyone of willfully and purposefully twisting my arguments! Forum arguments are difficult for a number of reasons, and these are difficult questions. I assure you I have not twisted anyone arguments purposefully, and will continue to believe that when people mistake everything I say it is because I haven’t been sufficiently clear and they haven’t been sufficiently attentive, and not because they are choosing to purposefully lie about what I’m saying.”

    Sometimes it can just get a little frustrating, as I’m sure you’ve also experienced, trying to explain a concept or idea or position over and over again, yet having someone consistently not “get it right.” I do apologize for any accusations and I hope we can eventually understand what each other is saying.

  108. 108
    Upright BiPed says:

    Aiguy at 98,

    You may not be aware of this, but many people here are already well-acquainted with your argument. It isn’t particularly new, and has been argued on these pages and elsewhere long before Meyer wrote his book (given his background, I am almost certain he was aware of it himself). Despite the twist du jour, the argument is the same as it has always been; to escape the design inference one must deny that the self exist. The problem is that none of you cats can ever develop a rationale for doing so, and you virtually always deposit the idea right where it hurts – like a bandage for the self-inflicted wound of ignoring the self-evident – and then you act like you didn’t mean it in virtually every other thing you do in life. One smells a rat.

    Of course you’ve sought to immunize yourself here by claiming you are disinterested in any such arguments, only to then assume them fully within your comments.

    In any case, I am appropriately leery of any empirical quest that begins by demanding that I must ignore homeplate for the practice of empiricism itself. This is not a strength. It is not a sign of post modern wisdom or a cleansing of the intellectual pallet. It’s just the same old philosophical sales pitch it’s always been, and in your case its part of a rabbit trick for the reasons I’ve already noted.

    And what it is that I am to give my self up for? What? What is it? Because some people believe some weird things? Because some people kill each other and fart on the elevator? Because even really smart people follow errors in their perception? Sorry, but these peculiarities are hardly up to the task of causing me think I am not here.

    To concede what you demand, the conscious self is not just my own personal imagination, but is imagination itself, certainly in no need of me along its causal plane. But then again, imagination doesn’t really exist either; that’s just an interesting state of chemical affairs which I/we named after I/we thought of it. My self would have to exist in order for me to compare my self to the world around me and make up names for what I observe. Nope, I cannot exist, only it can – in all its emergent glory – as the unconscious output of an elaborate chain of inanimate chemical accidents.

    I remember commenting here once about the utter arrogance of such a position. And by the way, you also seem to be enamored with the idea that this conundrum has been festering for eons, and you imply this fact must indicate something truly substaintial. I would suggest what you are seeing is nothing more than an effect which can be observed when bad ideas are useful, and therefore don’t go away.

    And of course no idea could be, or has been, as useful as this one. Its usefulness is obvious. If the self exist, then so does language and information – and the game is up.

  109. 109
    CJYman says:

    aiguy:
    “It is clear, however, that Meyer’s version of ID rests squarely on dualism/interactionism, as does Dembski’s version of ID (and Dembski has said so quite explicitly, although he denies his version of interactionism is Cartesian).”

    I’m not sure about that, however Dembski has stated that the intelligent designer could be a “teleological law” which would be more akin to my non-conscious definition of intelligence.

  110. 110
    kairosfocus says:

    UB:

    Sometimes it helps to use a concrete or plausible example or two to cut through the tangled multiply tangential verbiage, strawman caricatures and rhetorical plays.

    I suggest we go back to four comparative cases:

    1] SB’s 1963 Corvette Stingray moulded in sand on a beach, compared to a fossilised animal in sandstone.

    2] Old Man of the Mountain vs Geo Washington at Mt Rushmore (cf my discussion that starts with this case here as Fig I.1, see also Fig I.3 on a dolphin wire mesh with facets vs Nefertiti with a 3-D face mask.)

    3] The comparison of the “wiring diagram” — I am copying Wicken’s term) for a petroleum refinery with the similar flow network for the metabolic reactions in the cell. [Cf. the onward full bore metabolic reactions chart.]

    4] The comparison of the digital code for say this web page [hit “Character Encoding” or the like, in the View menu] with the DNA for an organism.

    1 –> Ask yourself, why is it that we so confidently identify the directed contingency in the ‘vette sand sculpture, and in Mt Rushmore. (Ask yourself whether it would be credible to try to explain these as the products of waves, erosion etc, i.e chance and necessity in their environment.)

    2 –> There is but one honest answer: we confidently identify the directed contingency — which we are familiar with as designers ourselves — because we see here functionally specific, complex information in 3-D form and we have no good reason to believe that the sort of natural forces [as opposed to artificial ones] that account for even a Man of the Mountain, or sand dunes and ripples, will give rise to the relevant specific and complex organisation and implied information to match the portraits of car and man.

    3 –> To identify the presence of FSCI, observe how a 3-d wire mesh can be made to model the item, and how tightly it has to be specified to get the sculptures right. In addition, observe how such configurations will come from vast configuration spaces that would empirically lock out chance variations from such particularity.

    4 –> Next, we turn to the chemical flow networks. FSCI rapidly emerges from the specifics of the functional organisation of the petroleum plant.

    5 –> Similarly, once we see the functional specificity and complexity of the text strings for this page, we have little difficulty identifying he FSCI.

    6 –> Now, whatever our ultimate natures, we know ourselves to be designers, and to have intelligence. We know on direct observation that FSCI is routinely produced by such creatures like ourselves, directly or indirectly; and well within the scope of resources of he cosmos — utterly unlike what a troop of monkeys would do in the similar situations.

    7 –> BTW, the difference between a chimp at a keyboard and a man, shows that the matter is not explained on being embodied, but on possessing verbal intelligence. So the repeated deflections to our intelligence being embodied are a strawman distraction.

    8 –> We know that intelligence exists and what it does, regardless of its potential nature or natures. (And I happen to suspect that intelligence may be able to come in different ontological flavours.)

    9 –> So, we have a duty to allow the evidence of reliable signs of intelligence speak, as facts that will constrain our speculations on its possible natures.

    10 –> And — uncontested though obscured and derided amidst the smoke of burning strawmen soaked in appeals to prejudice and to ad hominems — we can see that FSCI and especially dFSCI is an empirically reliable sign of directed contingency, on cases were we independently know the causal story.

    11 –> We also have good search space reasons to infer that on the gamut of the observed cosmos, try converting the universe into monkeys, keyboards with computers on tables, and bananas etc — and the universe would reach heat death long before they could produce something comparable to this single post. [And the DNA for a simplest organism is much more complex than that.]

    12 –> Now, the fossil mould and DNA are “natural” features tracing to the unobserved remote past, which exhibit FSCI. So, are they counter examples?

    13 –> Far from it. They allow us to use the principle of inference from observed reliable pattern to explain the past (as the already linked page discusses in brief).

    14 –> The principle that some would divert our attention from, to suggest that we are smuggling in assumptions about the ultimate nature of reality into our start-points. But the truth of the above is obvious: we are starting from empirical experience and are reasoning on facts and reasonable inferences form reliable patterns of causation and their signs.

    15 –> The fossil mould first. The matrix took its shape passively from a bio-form. maybe a shell, maybe a trilobite, or whatever. The FSCI traces to the DNA in the bioform from whenever and the resulting embryological development.

    16 –> So, we are back to DNA, which is digitally coded, functionally specific algorithmic complex information playing a part in both metabolism and cell-level replication, thence embryological development. Codes, algorithms, implementing machines — where do these come form on our observation?

    17 –> Would a tornado at Round Rock, TX be likely enough to be credible to plausibly explain the assembly and load up a functioning Dell?

    18 –> Would a universe of Round Rocks and tornadoes make any material difference to the result? [On the implications of FSCI, not at all. No more than a universe full of monkeys etc would be plausible to explain the posts in this thread.]

    19 –> And, remember, that for first life, we are needing to explain the origin of an algorithmic, coded digital information system based body plan that allows self-replication a la von Neumann. (Speculations on hypothesised replicator molecules is in a morass of empirical difficulties.)

    20 –> For novel body plans, the islands of embryologically feasible function have to be reached per 10’s of millions of bases worth of DNA, before we can credibly talk about hill-climbing off variation and selection for superior function.

    21 –> You have to have function before you can talk about improvement.

    22 –> So, we have fgood reason to infer that life as an information system based on dFSCI, is designed.

    23 –> Now we cannot properly impose a rejection of this on claiming that one has to independently show the existence of an intelligent designer at that time.

    24 –> This is a turnabout tactic, based on implicit assumption that on a priori materialism, despite want of evidence, only chance and necessity can be allowed as explanations. (But we know that chance necessity and design are observed causal factors nor can we reasonably assume that we or entities like us exhaust the set of possible designers. So, let us allow the evidence to point for itself.)

    25 –> On considering the further factor [discussed in the same page with video and onward link on details] that the cosmos itself exhibits fine-tuned complex cosmological organisation that sets up a context in which C-chemistry cell based life is possible, then it points to intelligent design of our cosmos.

    26 –> In light of the credible conclusion tha tour cosmos is contingent, this also raises the question of its orgin in a necessary being, one that is not credibly explained on an eternal wider material cosmos, or heat death would have already rendered a cosmos like outrs moot.

    27 –> So we have no good reason to a priori rule out or dismiss the possibility of an immaterial [remember, heat death . . . ], powerful intelligent designer [recall, fine tuned complex organisation of a UNIVERSE and its underlying physics] of the cosmos.

    28 –> That may not be palatable to those committed to or under the control of a priori materialist ideology[which often likes to wear a lab coat] but it puts right back on the table exactly the sort of possibilities that such would like to dismiss and deride without consideration.

    __________________

    GEM of TKI

  111. 111
    aiguy says:

    CJYman,

    When did I say that “foresight” is what enables humans to think? I have defined foresight as “envisioning a future target that does not exist and then engineering matter and energy in the present to accomplish that goal.” This is not a process that “enables” us to think … this is a description of the very process of thinking itself. Maybe that is why you’ve been misunderstanding and misrepresenting my arguments.

    If you believe that foresight is “the very process of thinking itself”, then you exclude most of human mental ability from your definition of “thought”. For example, our ability to infer (make deductions, inductions, and abductions) does not entail envisioning future goals, but it’s hard to believe you wouldn’t consider these sorts of inferences as thought.

    A computer can also produce FSCI without accompanying conscious foresight. However, conscious foresight is in the causal chain. This is why I keep asking you to provide an example of FSCI that did not require foresight in the causal chain.

    Sorry but you still haven’t been clear.

    1) You say that foresight comes in two varieties, conscious and unconscious. Is that right?
    2) You say that when computers use foresight it is of the unconscious variety, and when humans use it, it can be either conscious or unconscious. Correct?
    3) You say that there can be no unconscious foresight unless it has been arranged (e.g. programmed) by conscious foresight. Is that what you mean?

    So at least we agree that we do have foresight and use it in the generation of FSCI … ie, when we design complex circuitry or in your case more likely complex software. Now, there is one more question that needs to be answered … can you provide any examples of FSCI being generated without foresight in its causal chain?

    Sorry, but you haven’t qualified which sort of “foresight” you are talking about. If you don’t want me to “mispresent” your arguments, I’m afraid you’ll need to take a bit more care in defining and using your terminology.

    AIG: The problem with this is the you are reifying foresight. There is no science to that.
    CJY: I’m not sure what you are saying here.

    I meant that you are describing “foresight” as though it is a thing-in-itself rather than a property of something else. For example if you said “Her beauty got her the job”, people would understand that you meant she got the job because she was beautiful, not because beauty is something that exists independently of her physical body and could causally act in the world.

    1. Then how can you acknowledge that you possess foresight as I have defined it, when you don’t know what it is?

    I do not “possess” foresight because foresight is not something one can “possess”. Rather, I have conscious experiences of future goals (of course). Your definition of foresight goes beyond this, however, and includes the physically causal acts of realizing those goals. Since I believe these two things (conscious experience and physical behavior) may be causally independent, then I cannot say I have “foresight” as you define it.

    2. Furthermore, if you’ve agreed that in order for the engineer to produce complex circuitry he must first be able to envision a future target that does not yet exist

    Again we need to be more clear on terminology if you don’t want me to misunderstand you. Above I’ve tried to clarify what you mean by “foresight” and as best I can determine you think it comes in these two varieties – conscious and unconscious. Now, when you say “envision” do you believe that we can “envision” things both consciously and unconsciously? And can you offer a way we can tell if a computer, say, is “envisioning” something or not? Until I understand this better, I can’t answer your question without the danger of being nonresponsive to your point.

    3. What do you mean by “I don’t know what this process ‘doesn’t do’.” Tell me, based on the same idea that you are attempting to get across here, just so I understand what you are stating and the relevance of the question, what does the Big Bang not do?

    The Big Bang does not cause blue-shifted spectra, and it does not cause uniform background radiation in the ultra-violet range, and it does not cause a china teapot to orbit Venus… I could name as many things as you wish.

    Now, what does “foresight” not do?

    Do you regularly experience foresight?

    In hopes of improving our communication, I will repeat this once again:

    1) I experience conscious awareness of future goals
    2) I cause the realization of FSCI that match those goals
    3) I do not know if the conscious awareness I experience is necessary to realize those goals or not, and nobody else knows this either. It is a subject of philosophical debate that is just beginning to become informed by scientific research.
    4) If your definition of foresight entails that the conscious awareness of future goals (what you call “envisioning”?) is causal, then I can’t say if I experience that or not.
    5) If there can be “unconscious envisioning”, then I do not experience that, no (because I only “experience” things I am conscious of!!!)

    Is there anyone that will deny the existence of foresight?

    It depends, as I’ve just explained. You need to be more careful with your terms. I don’t really know what you mean by “envisioning” (i.e. Is it necessarily something that we consciously experience? Can we experience something unconsciously?)

    Until you are more clear about the relationships among these concepts (foresight, consciousness, envisioning, causality, and FSCI) we will continue to talk past each other.

    AIGUY: This is a very old mistake. You name something that humans make, then ask what we would think if we found this extra-terrestrially. You say it we would infer “intelligent agency”. But that is wrong – we would instead infer “a life form similar to human beings”.
    CJY: … which was able to utilize its foresight. That ommission is also another mistake. This is the whole idea behind SETI. Oh, BTW, now that we are here, do you see SETI as a scientific research program?

    SETI seeks extra-terrestrial life forms, not “foresight”. They hire astrobiologists to look for planets that can support “life as we know it” (what they say). They do not assume that foresight exists independently of life as we know it.

    So then you disagree that you first envision a future target that does not yet exist before you engineer FSCI such as a software program?

    I do not always end up engineering what I first envision; typically the engineering process is the result of a certain amount of trial and error. But beyond that I will tell you once again: Just because human beings picture things in the “mind’s eye” as they construct plans does not mean that this is a necessary aspect of planning. Computers generate complex plans without (presumably) being conscious of their goals.

    A materialist might say the following: My brain, as a result of its structure and physical interactions with the environment mediated by my senses, causes my fingers to move on the keyboard in such a way as to produce a program. During this process, I have conscious experiences too, which is my own perception of these physical, deterministic processes occuring in my brain. These conscious experiences are not the cause of my programming, however; rather they are an independent function that serves to narrate and explain what my brain is doing.

    Now, if what you are referring to “envisioning” is the conscious experience of the future goal, then no, if this materialist is correct it would not be necessary to envision the future goal. It would only require that the unconscious brain processes are functioning properly.

    You may think this viewpoint is incorrect, but I hope you will agree that this remains a philosophical issue without scientific resolution.

    Except that, and its already been pointed out to you, we have no experience of FSCI being generated absent foresight in the causal chain but we do experience the generation of FSCI by utilizing the process that I’ve already described and defined as foresight.

    You are assuming that envisioning is causal, which is an unsubstantiated claim. Ouija board uses experience external intelligent agency producing FSCI in the words being spelled out. But their experience is mistaken; it is really themselves generating unconscious plans to produce the FSCI. Various experiments reveal that people experience that they have conscious control over certain functions, while in truth they have no control over them at all.

    So your belief that we can infer causality here is unsupported; you have shown nothing but correlation between conscious envisioning and planning, and there is very good reason to doubt the causality is how you believe it to be.

    So, your unconscious unspecified generator of life (an instance of FSCI) is nothing more than unspecified, speculative imagination and ID Theory’s intelligent designer of life is based on something that does exist and does generate FSCI.

    This is mistaken for all the reasons I’ve given, but you’ll need to complete the clarifications I’ve asked for before we can ever agree on this. (The clarifications are at the beginning of this post, where I ask you to summarize the relations among foresight, envisioning, consciousness, causality, and FSCI.

    AIG: OK, from a materialist viewpoint, when a human designs a watch, it is something that happens in strict accord with natural law. Physics determines how the environment interacts with the structures and chemistry of the brain, and out comes a watch. It’s just law + chance, nothing more. Our experience of consciousness has nothing to do with it – it is purely epiphenomenal.
    CJY: You have demonstrated nothing of the sort. You’ve merely assumed consciousness to be epiphenomenal.

    Are you kidding? How many times must I tell you? Sorry, but I will have to resort to a more aggressive font to catch your attention here. I am not taking a position on the mind/body problem. I do not assume that consciousness is causal, nor that it is epiphenomenal. I do not know the answer and nobody else does either. The mind/body problem has not been resolved by science. That is my point: Since ID requires particular solutions to the mind/body problem, and these solutions can’t be demonstrated empirically, then ID is not based on our experience.

    It’s quite obviously so much more than just law+ chance that is required since there are many layers of structure of organization (specifically organized quantum effects ala Penrose and Hameroff, the structure of the brain, the structure of cells, the sequencing of DNA) that aren’t defined by only law + chance and law+chance on its own absent this process of foresight in the causal chain has not been shown to be able to produce any of those structures or FSCI or foresight itself. To say that it is nothing but law+chance is quite obviously incorrect. Here is a link (http://www.uncommondescent.com…..ent-337588) to an in depth discussion I’ve already had with someone on this exact subject. Please go through that discussion as I’d rather not have to repeat the whole thing over again.

    If you are going to argue that the mind/body problem has been solved empirically – by Penrose/Hameroff or anybody else – then we can quit right here. If you wish to claim that science now has some way to demonstrated that our mental abilities transcend physical cause (and that we know everything there is to know about “physical cause” in the first place!) then we have nothing left to discuss.

    This is precisely what I mean when I say ID rests on metaphysical assumptions about the mind/body problem. You have denied this, but apparently what you mean is that your dualistic solution has already been demonstrated by science!

    Then I stated that IF, and it’s a bit IF, consciousness is shown to be epi-phenomenal, then Meyers is wrong.

    Come on, then – let’s see if we can actually agree here with some clarity. HERE IS OUR BEST SHOT AT CLARIFYING THE ISSUE:

    1) As I have said (in bold, above), we have no empirical solution to the mind/body problem, and so it remains in philosophical debate, just as it has been for thousands of years. So we do not know, scientifically, if consciousness is epiphenomenal or not.

    2) You have just said that Meyer is right if and only if epiphenomenalism is false.

    3) Since we cannot determine the truth of epiphenomenalism by reference to experience, then our experience cannot tell us if Meyer is right or wrong.

    4) Therefore Meyer’s conclusion does not rest on our uniform and repeated experience.

    aiguy: Huh? How do you imagine we can guage the complexity of consciousness? What possible metric might you be thinking of? This is getting pretty far out there…
    CJY: When we understand how consciousness operates we should be able to measure the complexity of its operation … unless it is not “material/physical” and not amenable to measurement. Is that what you are suggesting?

    I’m pointing out that we most certainly do not understand how conciousness “operates”!!!! Much less does anyone have the faintest idea how we might go about measuring the “complexity” of consciousness!

    I did not deny that machines, in principle, can not become conscious. I denied that AI could produce a conscious being without consciousness already in the causal chain.

    We do not know what sorts of things can be conscious, or why.

    Until someone provides a good explanation of the operation of consciousness, I don’t see how anyone can suggest that consciousness is epi-phenomenal.

    The reason it can be suggested is exactly the one you provide: Because nobody has a good explanation of consciousness (or whether it can be said to “operate” at all). One argument for epiphenomenalism is the apparent causal closure of the physical world of course. But I do NOT want to debate this!!! All I want is for you to agree that these questions have not yet been resolved empirically!!!

    The main reason that I am not presently in the epi-phenomenal camp is because IMO the only real testable and falsiifiable solution which actually provides a potential mechanism for consciousness is the theory provided by Penrose and Hameroff and it appears that their theory does not place consciousness as merely epi-phenomenal.

    First I think we have different interpretations of P/H’s theory. But I do not want to debate that either.

    If you wish to claim that Penrose/Hameroff has solved the mind/body problem and demonstrated that consciousness is causal, and that this is the science upon which Meyer can be shown to be correct, then we can stop now. In that case, you’ll need to let Meyer know that his claims rest on the truth of this new theory by Penrose and Hameroff!

    I’m not sure about that, however Dembski has stated that the intelligent designer could be a “teleological law” which would be more akin to my non-conscious definition of intelligence.

    Dembski has admitted that his view requires “an extended ontology” in his words. But yes, he also alludes to “teleogical law” (which is a bit confusing since he denies lawlike causes can account for CSI!). It’s all very confused.

    So, CJYman, I will ask you to please try and be as clear as you can and tell me what you think the relations are: foresight, envisioning, consciousness, causality, FSCI. Which concepts entil which other concepts?

    And I’m very disappointed you didn’t answer my explicit questions about the computer, because they were designed to clarify these very issues. I’ve reposted them with the specific questions in bold:

    AIGUY:

    You called natural Darwinian evolution an “artificially intelligent” system, and I’ve asked you to clarify that statement three times now to no avail. Can you please tell me the difference between what you consider an artificially intelligent system and other types of intelligent systems? Since presumably you believe we humans are the artifacts of a Designer, do you believe that we are also artificially intelligent?

    Let’s say we have a machine that is programmed to design various complex devices. Although it is impossible for anyone (including the programmers) to predict what designs the machine will invent, the machine operates strictly according to deterministic laws (including perhaps a deterministic pseudo-random generator). Would you say this machine has “foresight”?

    Perhaps you will say that the computer does not have foresight, but that the human programmer did. If this is your response, you must tell us how you have decided this is the case. What is it about the computer that makes you think it lacks foresight, while the human has it?

    Or, perhaps you will say that the computer does have foresight. But do you really think it “envisions” future goals? What does it mean to “envision” a future goal when the computer presumably has no conscious experience of a “mind’s eye”?

    While you ponder these questions, keep in mind that according to ID theory, one mustn’t ever ask the question “Who designed the designer?”. ID dictates that we can infer that something is intelligent without regard to the origin of the entity in question. For example, we can say that human beings are intelligent even though ID holds that human beings themselves were designed by some other intelligent designer.

  112. 112
    Upright BiPed says:

    KF @ 110

    Entirely correct.

  113. 113
    kairosfocus says:

    AIG: For Teleological Law, read — it’s written into the physics. think about what programming life into the basic physics of the cosmos implies. (Cosmological finetuning is already part way to that, BTW, and it is a serious issue in Cosmology. Watch the video int he already linked.) G

  114. 114
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: And as for the fulminations against foresight and purpose in creating directed contingency, you used it to create the posts protesting the concept and trying to come up with exceptions. As to PC’s, where do they come from again? [Have you ever seen a design spec? A Blueprint? A Complex ckt drawing, much less one for a Motherboard? And even spaghetti code has purpose. And BTW, what were you doing when you hit he submit button? (This is beginning to remind me of my old cultic group deprograming days . . . there is a cultic mindset and it utterly twists obvious reality to try to force-fit it into the program. Only, it doesn’t really work. But, for those caught up, it is very hard to see that until something breaks in their personal life. And then it is usually too late to stop massive pain. For major institutions and cultures there is a groupthink problem, and I am seeing symptoms of that all over the place in the Darwinist tactics these days. Something big is going to have to crash to break the mindset. And it is going to be painful.)]

  115. 115
  116. 116
    tgpeeler says:

    aiguy @ 103 “I have no idea why you would say this presents a problem for materialism.”

    I guess that must be because you did not read my post. IF the only way we have to know of things is via sense experience, and materialists of all stripes claim this, they have to, they DENY the existence of the abstract world, THEN the only things I could possibly know are things that I could “sense.” That means things that I can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. Do you understand this?

    So IF it is true that the only way I can know something is by sense experience THEN how is it that I am aware of abstract things??????? Which are, BY DEFINITION, beyond being sensed?????

    But I do know of abstract things like mathematics, laws, information, justice, love, etc… etc… etc…

    Therefore, THEREFORE, there MUST be something more to me than the physical.

    How about this time, you actually disagree with what I said rather than float a straw man and argue against that.

    Let me help. You can say there are other ways to sense the physical world and they are: (you fill in the blanks).

    Or you can say of course our five senses can be used to detect, understand, and manipulate the abstract world. We do it by: (you fill in the blank).

    This is how you defeat an argument. You actually attack what the other person said.

    Or you can say, tgpeeler, you insufferably arrogant so and so, haven’t you read and studied the many dozens of great thinkers and their arguments and counter-arguments? I will say, yes, I’ve read enough to know that many of them are merely spouting nonsense. My argument makes sense. Kindly deal with it and leave the ad hominems at home. In philosophy, there are no authorities, only arguments. Or haven’t you heard???

  117. 117
    tgpeeler says:

    more aiguy @ 103 “Because machines can represent things; they assume physical states which map to the world at various levels of abstraction.”

    Oh really? And why is it that “machines can represent things”??? Do you think it might possibly have anything to do with a human agent who programmed the machine to represent things with electronic 1s and 0s??? Maybe? But all that is beside the point. The point I was making anyway.

    “They” assume… a machine assumes? I MUST BE misunderstanding you because this borders on incoherent. You may gain some insight into what machines can “understand” by reading John Searle’s Chinese room thought experiment.

    I will reply again if you actually deal with my argument instead of ignoring it. I look forward to seeing your rebuttal.

  118. 118
    aiguy says:

    tgpeeler,

    IF the only way we have to know of things is via sense experience, and materialists of all stripes claim this, they have to, …

    Wow, you are wrong already. Materialists claim that there is nothing except physical entities and causes in the world. However, they do not claim that all human knowledge is derived from sensory experience. Research reveals that we are born with a good deal of knowledge which can not derive from sense experience, and materialists believe this knowledge is encoded in genetic and epigenetic information. Noam Chomsky – a fully committed materialist if there ever was one! – famously argued that humans are born with innate linguistic knowledge.

    …they DENY the existence of the abstract world,

    This is patently ridiculous. Of course materialists do not deny the existence of the “abstract world”! Rather, materialists believe that all abstractions are reducible to physical entities and causes! Everything is an abstraction, of course! A chair is an abstraction; a brain is an abstraction; an atom is an abstraction, an electron is an abstraction… These are all abstractions (as opposed to noumenon). Materialists just happen to believe that all of these abstractions fundamentally derive from the same sort of stuff (which is why materialism is monistic) and that stuff is physical.

    THEN the only things I could possibly know are things that I could “sense.” That means things that I can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. Do you understand this?

    This is complete nonense. This is a bizarre caricature of materialism, so naive that a freshman philosophy student would dismiss it instantly. Materialists make inferences to – and believe in – all sorts of things that are inaccessible to our unaided senses, quite obviously.

    So IF it is true that the only way I can know something is by sense experience THEN how is it that I am aware of abstract things??????? Which are, BY DEFINITION, beyond being sensed?????

    It is not at all clear that you are aware of abstract things, tgpeeler. Judging by your argument, it would appear there is much about abstraction you have yet to learn.

    But I do know of abstract things like mathematics, laws, information, justice, love, etc… etc… etc… Therefore, THEREFORE, there MUST be something more to me than the physical.

    Sigh. Materialists understand all of these things in terms of the material of course. Do yourself a favor and read a book – just one single book – on beginning philosophy. You would learn that the difference between materialists and non-materialists has nothing to do with abstraction. Rather, the difference has to do with something called ontology.

    How about this time, you actually disagree with what I said rather than float a straw man and argue against that.

    You are so confused that it is difficult to even explain to you why you are wrong. My best advice to you is to begin by reading about metaphysical ontology, and then read about how materialists interpret levels of abstraction and inference to unseen entities. Trust me: Everybody knows that we can’t see, hear, smell, taste, or touch a neutrino, but the physicists who describe their existence are still and yet materialists of the highest order.

    Or you can say, tgpeeler, you insufferably arrogant so and so, haven’t you read and studied the many dozens of great thinkers and their arguments and counter-arguments? I will say, yes, I’ve read enough to know that many of them are merely spouting nonsense. My argument makes sense. Kindly deal with it and leave the ad hominems at home. In philosophy, there are no authorities, only arguments. Or haven’t you heard???

    I am content at this point to leave this discussion to the review of the fair reader, and will submit to their judgement as to whether I have dismissed your views prematurely.

    AIGUY: Because machines can represent things; they assume physical states which map to the world at various levels of abstraction.
    TGP: Oh really? And why is it that “machines can represent things”??? Do you think it might possibly have anything to do with a human agent who programmed the machine to represent things with electronic 1s and 0s??? Maybe? But all that is beside the point. The point I was making anyway.

    Perhaps you might enjoy thinking about this: You suggest that machines can only represent things because they have been designed by “human agents”. And I presume that you also believe that human agents are the products of design – am I correct? And so you (presumably, again) believe that we can only represent things mentally because we have been designed by the Intelligent Designer. Is this what you think?

    AIGUY: Because machines can represent things; they assume physical states which map to the world at various levels of abstraction.
    TGP: “They” assume… a machine assumes? I MUST BE misunderstanding you because this borders on incoherent. You may gain some insight into what machines can “understand” by reading John Searle’s Chinese room thought experiment.

    Yes, you are misunderstanding what I wrote, and I must say this is the most comical error that I have seen on an ID forum in a very long time.

    I wrote that machines assume physical states which map to the world. The word “assume” in that sentence means (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/assume ):

    assume (verb): 5. to take on; be invested or endowed with: The situation assumed a threatening character

    So when I said machines assume physical states I meant they take on various states. In other words, the physical states of machines change in ways which map to (by which I mean systematically correlate with) various features of the external world.

    You, however, mistakenly thought the word sense I intended was this:

    assume (verb): 1. to take for granted or without proof; suppose; postulate; posit: to assume that everyone wants peace

    Thank you for that one, tgp, really. Very, very funny. I will get a lot of mileage out this.

    I will reply again if you actually deal with my argument instead of ignoring it. I look forward to seeing your rebuttal.

    Let’s just say I did not rebut your argument, so you really don’t have to rely again, OK?

  119. 119
    Ilion says:

    AIGuy:I have no idea why you would say this presents a problem for materialism.

    TGPeeler:IF the only way we have to know of things is via sense experience, and materialists of all stripes claim this, they have to, they DENY the existence of the abstract world, THEN the only things I could possibly know are things that I could “sense.” That means things that I can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. Do you understand this?
    .
    So IF it is true that the only way I can know something is by sense experience THEN how is it that I am aware of abstract things??????? Which are, BY DEFINITION, beyond being sensed?????
    .
    But I do know of abstract things like mathematics, laws, information, justice, love, etc… etc… etc…
    .
    Therefore, THEREFORE, there MUST be something more to me than the physical.

    AIGuy:Wow, you are wrong already. Materialists claim that there is nothing except physical entities and causes in the world. However, they do not claim that all human knowledge is derived from sensory experience. Research reveals that we are born with a good deal of knowledge which can not derive from sense experience, and materialists believe this knowledge is encoded in genetic and epigenetic information. …

    Wow! The only way to explain AIGuy’s persistent and willful self-contradiction is one of these three:
    1) he is utterly incapable of understanding what he’s talking about … and what he himself said.
    2) he lacks some prior knowledge or understanding … such that he is unable to understand what he himself said.
    3) he declines to correctly understand what logically follows from materialism … and from what he himself has said.

    Option #1 amounts to “AIGuy is stupid” (I’m sure that’s not it). Option #2 amounts to “AIGuy is ignorant” (in this context, I’m sure that’s not it — how can one really be ignorant about one’s own assertions?). Option #1 amounts to “AIGuy is intellectually dishonest.”

  120. 120
    avocationist says:

    aiguy,

    I love this one. What you are saying is that your testable definition of “intelligence” is that it can create just the sorts of things we observe!

    The way scientists measure intelligence is with standardized IQ tests, and obviously that isn’t going to work in the context of ID, right

    Asking me for a definition of intelligence is merely an invitation to long and irrelevant debate. Perhaps, as you pointed out above, if the designer is an omnipotent being it cannot learn, although the ability to learn seems like an important part of a good definition. What sort of IQ would it take to design the first cell? Gee, I don’t really know. And maybe it’s a good question for those interested in pursuing it. But whatever it is, some entity or entities had it.

    However, in the case of biological life forms, it looks strongly as though the designer would be fairly different from us. Thus, the intelligence and directed will are pretty much all we have.

    You have precisely nothing until you tell me, at long last, what your operational definition of “intelligence” is.

    I can see that you are intelligent, and apparently can design computer programs, and yet I don’t know your precise IQ and STILL haven’t got my very own operational definition of intelligence!

    Uh, you have precisely zero attributes. None. You haven’t said one single thing about this hypothetical designer that we can use to decide if it exists or not.

    First of all, we do not have zero. We have intelligence and what I called directed will and CJ calls foresight. This also means, if not personal consciousness of our type, awareness. It’s current or former existence is a whole nother ball of wax.

    I don’t necessarily think God is the designer, but certainly is the only source of anything. I can and do doubt absolutely everything, but never the existence of God. It’s a point of logic, not faith.

    Sorry, but you didn’t answer the question. I asked the following: If you believe there is a difference between “guided” and “unguided” forces in nature, please tell me what it is you think is guiding the “guided” forces. (hint: You have no idea; I think its best to just come out and say it).

    What I was referring to is the difference between natural processes, versus what can happen when we purposely guide nature’s materials to create things that do not occur without that interference.

    The only thing I object to is when folks decide to claim that their speculation is not philosophical or theological, but it is instead scientific.

    How come when the PEAR project or Rupert Sheldrake do it, that is scientific?

    I only care that science is grounded in our shared experience, and that inferences that can’t be grounded in our shared experiences (like the speculation that a conscious being created life) not be palmed off as “science”.

    Oh, those engaging in scientific endeavors are constantly speculating about things they haven’t seen and cannot (yet) test.

    Obviously science discovers all manner of things we can’t observe directly – everybody knows that. What we typically observe directly are our instruments, or statistical summaries of observations. This has nothing to do with the limitations of our unaided senses, avocation. Good grief.

    Well it seems to me that there is a barrier in your thinking. You are somewhat open to “other” possibilities, but see no bridge to get there. My point was that we may have perfectly valid clues as to the existence of a designer(s) despite not having much of a testable nature to work with, as of yet.

    You say that Stuart Kauffman is doing science when he points up the faults of evolution theory, but many ID theorists do that, too.

    It has nothing to do with the hypothesis that a conscious being created life. I’m not sure why this is hard to understand. It has nothing to do with “intelligent design”.

    And why would the discussion of intelligent beings be unscientific? I’m just asking.

    DGUY:
    What do you mean?
    AIGUY: Biological complexity was either caused by blind forces or there is an infinite number of universes. I’ve proven blind forces can’t do it, so there must be an infinite number of universes!

    Multiple universes is the same as blind forces. It just increases the time and particles to help overcome probabilistic hurdles.

    So far, the only alternative to undirected natural forces and directed intentional ones is an unconscious force of some kind, but I think CJ is doing well with that.

  121. 121
    kairosfocus says:

    Avo:

    Well said.

    Again, we have an elaboratable definition of “intelligence” that has been sitting in the UD glossary for nearly two years, and which we can easily enough develop details on by following the reference in Wiki (and, all the links you could want are there in the glossary item):

    “capacities to reason, to plan, to solve problems, to think abstractly, to comprehend ideas, to use language, and to learn.”

    So, ever so much of the verbiage above was distractively irrelevant.

    And, BTW, IQ is a metric of differential intelligence, not of intelligence per se.

    GEM of TKI

  122. 122
    aiguy says:

    avo,

    Asking me for a definition of intelligence is merely an invitation to long and irrelevant debate.

    No, asking ID what it means when it says that an “intelligent designer” created life is the central question here. I’m certainly not the only one who has pointed out this out.

    Perhaps, as you pointed out above, if the designer is an omnipotent being it cannot learn, although the ability to learn seems like an important part of a good definition.

    Most scientists consider learning as a critical part of what they mean by “intelligence”. If the cause of life was not capable of learning, then, ID would be wrong and the cause would not be intelligent. Omipotence (I think you meant “omniscience”, really) would only be one reason the cause of life couldn’t learn; maybe the Designer knew only how to produce various biological structures, knew nothing else at all, and was incapble of learning anything else – an extreme savant, as psychologists would say.

    Computers that can play chess may be very good at playing chess, but many of these programs are not capable of learning, and they usually can’t do anything else at all. We don’t usually consider these programs to be intelligent; they are just very good at playing chess. Perhaps whatever created life was like that – not generally intelligent, but only good at generating the biological systems we see.

    (Here is where you say that something intelligent must have designed the chess program. And then I say in that case, who designed the Designer? And you say maybe the Designer exists uncaused. And then I say if you can posit some generally intelligent being who exists uncaused, I can certainly posit something that is not generally intelligent that exists uncaused.)

    What sort of IQ would it take to design the first cell? Gee, I don’t really know. And maybe it’s a good question for those interested in pursuing it. But whatever it is, some entity or entities had it. However, in the case of biological life forms, it looks strongly as though the designer would be fairly different from us.

    No, the designer would not be farily different from us. Rather, the designer of the first life form would be radically different from us, because it would not even have been a living thing! That is why we have absolutely no idea about any attribute at all that this thing might exhibit.

    We have no idea about any attribute at all. If you disagree, please tell me one single attribute that ID claims the Designer of First Life exhibits. And please, please do not say “The attribute that ID claims the Designer of First Life exhibits is… the ability to create First Life”!

    Thus, the intelligence and directed will are pretty much all we have.

    If you are going to claim that you know something about the cause of life, and you’d like people to be able to decide if you are right are not, then you need to say what it is you think you know about it.

    For example if I claimed something was “blue”, you would know some things that were supposed to true about it. You could say, for example, that if you were to shine white light on this thing (whatever it was), the light it would reflect back should be primarily in the blue part of the spectrum. If it turned out that this thing did not reflect blue light, then you would know I was wrong in my claim.

    If I claimed something was “massive”, you would know that I was saying it would be accelerated in the presence of another mass, and that it would have momentum if it was moving, and so on. If it turned out that this thing did not accelerate in the presence of another mass, or that it had no momentum, then you would know I was wrong in my claim.

    Likewise if I claimed something was massless, or electrically charged, or radioactive, then you would know how to go about seeing if I was right or wrong. You (or some scientist) would know just how to go about seeing if the attributes associated with each of these labels were exhibited by this thing or not.

    What if I claimed something could do math problems, or do a crossword puzzle, or answer questions about something they’d read? Sure – if I claimed this, you would know what I meant and you could think of a way to determine if my claim was correct or not. Likewise if I claimed something could play chess, or build a spider web, or find buried peanuts – these are all descriptions that are meaningful in a way that would enable you to ascertain if I was right or not.

    Do you get the idea here? Now let’s try it with your claim.

    Say I claimed something has “intelligence” and “directed will”. Now you would like to determine if I am right or not. What exactly do you do in order to see if I’m right?

    Obviously you have no answer to this question, because the terms “intelligence” and “directed will” are very different from all the other terms we’ve been talking about. All those other terms tell us something about the thing we’re making claims about. In contrast, saying something has “intelligence” and “directed will” tells us nothing at all that we can use to determine if it is true or not.

    If you disagree, Just answer the question: How would you go about seeing if I was right or wrong when I said something had intelligence and directed will.

    AIGUY: You have precisely nothing until you tell me, at long last, what your operational definition of “intelligence” is.
    AVO: I can see that you are intelligent, and apparently can design computer programs, and yet I don’t know your precise IQ and STILL haven’t got my very own operational definition of intelligence!

    Here I will try to explain to you why you have a hard time understanding this. When you say that I appear to be intelligent, you certainly feel as though you have made a concrete claim about me. But the only reason you think that is because you have not merely inferred that I am an “intelligent agent”. The truth is you have inferred that I am a human being! Admimt it – that is what you think.

    You have not simply concluded that I am some unknown type of entity who exhibits “intelligence and directed will” of course! You know all sorts of things about me!. You know some things about me with virtual certainty, like that I have a brain and muscles and sense organs, that I breathe and eat and drink, etc. You know other things with a high degree of probability – that I can do arithmetic, do a crossword puzzle, answer questions about something I’ve read, solve a maze, recognize a melody, draw a stick figure… and so on, ad infinitum.

    You know all of these things about me not because you have determined I am an “intelligent agent”. NO! Rather, you know these things about me because you know that I am a human being. If I told you that something was intelligent but was not itself a life form, then all of these assumptions would be groundless! You would not know if a single one of these attributes was true or not!

    This really is the central confusion in your thinking, so please make sure you understand what I am saying here.

    AIGUY: Uh, you have precisely zero attributes. None. You haven’t said one single thing about this hypothetical designer that we can use to decide if it exists or not.
    AVO: First of all, we do not have zero. We have intelligence and what I called directed will and CJ calls foresight.

    As I have just tried very hard to explain, this is precisely where you are confused. None of these things mean anything concrete – they only have concrete meaning when they (implicitly) refer to human beings (or perhaps other animals) – not when they refer to entities that are completely unknown to us.

    This also means, if not personal consciousness of our type, awareness.

    OK – this really IS a concrete claim. We all know what conscious awareness is, so when you make the claim that the Designer of Life was conscious, I do know just what you are talking about specifically. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no way of decided whether or not this claim of yours is true. Think about it – we couldn’t even decide if Terri Shiavo had conscious awareness, and she was surrounded by instruments and doctors studying her in detail! So how are we going to decide if some unknown entity who existed prior to first life had conscious awareness? Do you think bees or termites are conscious when they create their complex artifacts? Your guess is as good as anyone’s, since we have no way to determine this.

    I don’t necessarily think God is the designer, but certainly is the only source of anything. I can and do doubt absolutely everything, but never the existence of God. It’s a point of logic, not faith.

    I’m pretty good at logic, actually, but I don’t know what you mean by the word “God”.

    AIGUY: Sorry, but you didn’t answer the question. I asked the following: If you believe there is a difference between “guided” and “unguided” forces in nature, please tell me what it is you think is guiding the “guided” forces. (hint: You have no idea; I think its best to just come out and say it).
    AVO: What I was referring to is the difference between natural processes, versus what can happen when we purposely guide nature’s materials to create things that do not occur without that interference.

    Sorry, but you didn’t answer the question. I asked the following: If you believe there is a difference between “guided” and “unguided” forces in nature, please tell me what it is you think is guiding the “guided” forces. So far, your answer is “we” (i.e. human beings). Is that what you mean? If not, please tell me what it is that is capable of guiding forces. (hint: You mean consciousness, don’t you?)

    How come when the PEAR project or Rupert Sheldrake do it, that is scientific?

    Because they (Jahn and Sheldrake) use the scientific method. All of their definitions are fully operationalized. They clearly state their hypotheses, draw meaningful predictions from their hypotheses, design controlled experiments to test their predictions, and publish their data. That is why. Jahn found statistically significant results to support his hypothesis that humans can affect external physical events by consciously thinking about them. However, the effect was vanishingly small, so the only way he could achieve statistical significance was to run gigantic numbers of trials. This amplifies the possibility that his results were confounded and didn’t really support his hypothesis. While most of the scientific dismissed his results for this reason, I believe it remains an open question.

    Oh, those engaging in scientific endeavors are constantly speculating about things they haven’t seen and cannot (yet) test.

    Yes of course we all speculate. I’m not talking about speculations. I’m talking about scientific results. Most scientists make the distinctions clear, but some don’t.

    Well it seems to me that there is a barrier in your thinking. You are somewhat open to “other” possibilities, but see no bridge to get there. My point was that we may have perfectly valid clues as to the existence of a designer(s) despite not having much of a testable nature to work with, as of yet.

    You are speculating, then.

    You say that Stuart Kauffman is doing science when he points up the faults of evolution theory, but many ID theorists do that, too.

    Yes, that is all that ID theorists do scientifically. Let’s agree arguendo that ID theorists are as scientific as Kauffman when they analyze evolutionary theory. They are then doing perfectly good science… but it has nothing to do with “intelligent designers”. Instead, it has to do with “evolutionary theory”.

    And why would the discussion of intelligent beings be unscientific? I’m just asking.

    It is neither scientific nor unscientific to discuss intelligent beings. It is unscientific to offer “intelligence” as a cause, because we have no way of telling if it is true or not. There is no scientific result in any field that offers “intelligence” per se as a cause of anything.

    AIGUY: Biological complexity was either caused by blind forces or there is an infinite number of universes. I’ve proven blind forces can’t do it, so there must be an infinite number of universes!
    AVO: Multiple universes is the same as blind forces. It just increases the time and particles to help overcome probabilistic hurdles.

    I didn’t say “multiple universes”. I said an “infinite number of universes”. If there are an infinite number of universes, then an infinite number of universes with exhibit life forms which are astronimically improbable, and an infinite number of universes will exhibit no life at all, and so on.

    So far, the only alternative to undirected natural forces and directed intentional ones is an unconscious force of some kind, but I think CJ is doing well with that

    We don’t know what the answer is. You can say an unspecified non-living but conscious being, or you can say an unspecified non-living and unconscious force, but neither of these alternatives are testable, and we observe neither of these things in our experience.

  123. 123
    Upright BiPed says:

    Aiguy @ 118

    Your reply to Tom Peeler was laced with all the arrogance befitting a failed argument. It is the failed argument itself (not you), coming from a willfully closed mind (you), which forces the arrogance into play. It is referred to as assuming a position you cannot defend. Here is how it works. Tom gave you a straightforward challenge. If you intend on successfully refuting it, then there here are four possibilities that flow forward. 1) You can attack his argument from the front and simply defeat it in easily accessible logic and rationale. 2) You can return with a counter argument which does not make a frontal attack, but instead hopes to distract him from his position. 3) You can abandon the argument without changing your position, or 4) Well, here you must make a decision. If you cannot attack on the front, and if you cannot distract him, and if you intend to remain in the argument, then you must by necessity simply assume your conclusions. Which is what you’ve done, you’ve assumed territory you cannot defend.

    As far as Tom’s argument, I am almost certain he was not asking you to simply assume your conclusions, but to defend them instead. I am just as certain that he did not ask you to point to the conclusions of others and simply assume them as well. Perhaps you’d be better off carrying on a conversation with persons less qualified to judge your comments. Your expectations of being given a hall pass are misplaced. You see, that is how debate works.

    As far as your response to Peeler’s challenge, I think these words are appropriate, although they’ve already been used on this thread: “Instead of debating and making arguments, you … point to other people who you wish could refute my arguments…and …you have failed to produce a single argument of your own or refute a single point I’ve made.”

  124. 124
    Zach Bailey says:

    Onlookers will judge for themselves whether points have been answered perhaps. (At least those who have the stamina to keep reading this thread!)

  125. 125
    Zach Bailey says:

    I, for one, will be moving on to more productive pastures.

  126. 126
    vividbleau says:

    “Materialists just happen to believe that all of these abstractions fundamentally derive from the same sort of stuff (which is why materialism is monistic) and that stuff is physical.”

    Got it, abstractions are physical stuff.

    Vivid

  127. 127
    aiguy says:

    Hi Vivid,

    AIGUY: Materialists just happen to believe that all of these abstractions fundamentally derive from the same sort of stuff (which is why materialism is monistic) and that stuff is physical.
    VIVID: Got it, abstractions are physical stuff.

    No, in the view of materialists abstractions are reducible to physical stuff. So a materialist would say that “economics” is an abstraction that ultimately reduces to physical acts of physical human beings.

    Here’s a simpler example: A chair is an abstraction. I could show you lots of different pictures of things and you would identify some as chairs and some as not-chairs. It’s not easy though, and there would be lots of instances where you might disagree with other people about what is a chair and what is something else. The abstract idea of a chair usually involves four legs, for example, but there are things that most people would call chairs that have no legs at all (like a beach chair with just the seat and the back). Some chairs have no backs, some have arm rests, etc. (It’s hard to teach a computer what a chair is for this reason!)

    But ultimately the abstraction of “chair” always refers to some physical object. Now you see what I mean when I say that abstractions reduce to physical things.

    Materialists believe that all abstractions reduce to physical things, in particular the abstraction of “mind”. For a materialist, a “mind” is just another way of talking about what brains do.

  128. 128
    tgpeeler says:

    aiguy @ 118 “Wow, you are wrong already. Materialists claim that there is nothing except physical entities and causes in the world. However, they do not claim that all human knowledge is derived from sensory experience.”

    Wow, you’ve already made my point. They do claim that nothing exists except physical entities and causes (I thought we were past that, I had moved to another, less fundamental claim) and in the same breath you announce that somehow they claim to know things apart from sensory experience, right after acknowledging that they claim there is nothing beyond sensory experience.

    How do you not understand this internal contradiction? May I ask that you actually consider what I am saying and address the argument. Sigh…

    Maybe this will help. IF I am going to be an intellectually honest materialist (there is no such creature) THEN I would have to admit that I could know nothing other than sense experience. I say this for two reasons. First, my ontology demands it. That is, IF there is nothing beyond the material that exists which may be sensed, THEN how could I possibly sense something, be aware of something, that is not physical (doesn’t exist)?

    Second, since the physicalists in philosophy of mind disavow the existence of immaterial mind (nature is causally closed, you see), then I’d have no way to grasp the abstract even if there were abstract things to grasp. In other words, if ALL there is to me is sense experience, THEN I have no way to grasp the existence of abstractions even if they existed. Which, of course, my ontology as a materialist denies.

    Jaegwon Kim gets this:

    ““So all roads branching out of physicalism may in the end seem to converge at the same point, the irreality of the mental. This should come as no surprise: we should remember that physicalism, as an overarching metaphysical doctrine about all of reality, exacts a steep price.” Mind in a Physical World, page 119.”

    Of course, he believes it anyway. So sad.

  129. 129
    Clive Hayden says:

    aiguy,

    But ultimately the abstraction of “chair” always refers to some physical object. Now you see what I mean when I say that abstractions reduce to physical things.

    Can you show me the physical abstraction of dignity? of freedom? of love? of the square root of two? of zero? can you please show me the physical abstraction of logic and reason? of laws of nature?

  130. 130
    tgpeeler says:

    more on aiguy, can’t help it, too much error to ignore…

    “This is patently ridiculous. Of course materialists do not deny the existence of the “abstract world”! Rather, materialists believe that all abstractions are reducible to physical entities and causes! Everything is an abstraction, of course! A chair is an abstraction; a brain is an abstraction; an atom is an abstraction, an electron is an abstraction… These are all abstractions (as opposed to noumenon). Materialists just happen to believe that all of these abstractions fundamentally derive from the same sort of stuff (which is why materialism is monistic) and that stuff is physical.”

    I quote:

    “Materialism is the naturalistic metaphysics that regards nature as consisting of matter in motion. Whatever is apparently not matter in motion is to be regarded as “mere appearances” of what is matter in motion. All explanation, therefore, in philosophy as well as in science, is to be phrased in terms of the laws now known or yet to be discovered concerning the relationships among the different kinds of matter and the laws of their motion with respect to each other. Philosophic Inquiry, page 338.”

    “Materialists deny that the world includes both mental and material substances. Every substance is a material substance. Minds are fashioned somehow from the same elementary components from which rocks, trees, and stars are made.” Philosophy of Mind, page 51.

    So you have just demonstrated the first art of the materialist. The open denial of what you believe. You say, OF COURSE the abstract world exists (your ontology says not), but it’s NOT REALLY abstract!!! Wow, look Ma, no hands!!!

    So explain to me, just give me one example, of how sub-atomic particles in energy fields relate to, oh, I dunno, mathematics or the rules of logic. I’ll wait.

  131. 131
    Upright BiPed says:

    Aiguy, I tried to tell you. 🙂

    No hall pass.

  132. 132
    tgpeeler says:

    !!!!!! aiguy, thanks for stating my point so clearly even as you disagree with me…

    “This is complete nonense. This is a bizarre caricature of materialism, so naive that a freshman philosophy student would dismiss it instantly. Materialists make inferences to – and believe in – all sorts of things that are inaccessible to our unaided senses, quite obviously.”

    The problem is not that I am caricaturing materialism, I am merely pointing out the logical ABSURDITY of it. Look at what you JUST WROTE.

    “Materialists make inferences to – and believe in – all sorts of things that are inaccessible to our unaided senses”

    EXACTLY. I am merely pointing out the egregious intellectual hypocrisy of someone who, on the one hand says, as a metaphysical doctrine, that nothing exists beyond the material world, and on the other hand avails himself of abstracta whenever it suits him. It’s intellectual degeneracy, is what it is. It is self-destructive and will, if left to its own ends, destroy western civilization. We’ll see how that turns out.

    That you can read, and apparently understand, the words I am writing, yet not have the first clue about what I am saying is so depressing, on a number of levels. It’s a reflection of how far gone rational thought is from our world.

  133. 133
    aiguy says:

    tgp,

    As I have said dozens of times on this forum, I do not happen to be materialist. I was trying to explain the materialist viewpoint, but I do not happen to agree with it (but of course not for the reasons you have tried to argue).

    Materialists do not deny abstraction. They deny non-physical ontological status, which is something entirely different. There is no contradiction between materialism and abstraction, because materialists do not deny that we can think, and thinking always entails abstraction. Materialists believe that our thinking proceeds as according to physical causes operating on physical entities.

    Computers can learn to recognize faces. A “face” is an abstraction, but can be reduced to physical features (eyes, nose, mouth, eyebrows… or skin, teeth, hair… or molecules, atoms… you can reduce these things to any level of abstraction you wish). Computers are also abstractions, and they too can be reduced to physical features (chips, transistors, wires… or atoms, electrons, etc). So we have one abstraction (a computer) learning to recognize another abstraction (faces), and everything is reducible to physical entities.

    Of course you will point out that the human who created the computer system cannot be reduced to physical entities and cause, because you believe there is something else in a human being that is not in a computer – an immaterial, causal mind (and an immortal soul perhaps). That is the difference between you and a materialist. You both understand abstractions just fine, but you believe that in order to have conscious thought at all we require something that transcends physical cause and entities. Materialists believe that there is no special mind-stuff or sould that inhabits our bodies; they believe that our thinking operates mechanically.

    The reason I am not a materialist has nothing to do with mental abilities or with abstractions, but rather with our subjective experience of conscious awareness. My position is called neutral monism, which holds that there is only one sort of substance (rather than making an ontological distinction between mind and matter), but that this substance cannot be understood as we intuitively think of matter. Modern physics (especially quantum physics) has already clearly revealed that matter is a very bizarre thing; I believe that there must be something about what we call matter that has aspects of consciousness associated with it. None of this has anything to do with science, of course – it is all nothing but philosophical speculation – but neutral monism seems like the most reasonable position to me.

  134. 134
    tgpeeler says:

    aiguy, if you’d like for me to give you some references, I can. Maybe this will serve as a start. I realize that I have probably not read very much by your standards but this is just what I found in my library within five feet of where I sit. (I don’t have time to do more than titles, sorry) In no particular order:

    The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy
    The Oxford Guide – Philosophy
    Historical Introduction to Philosophy
    Agents Under Fire
    The Really Hard Problem
    Infinity and the Mind
    Philosophy of Mind
    The Emperor’s New Mind
    The Conscious Mind
    the blank slate
    Saving Belief
    Consciousness Explained
    The Problem of the Soul
    The Mystery of Consciousness
    Two Visions of Mind and How to Reconcile Them
    mind language and society
    The Rediscovery of the Mind
    Breaking the Spell
    Freedom Evolves
    The Emergent Self
    Language Truth and Logic
    Grammatical Man
    Being Logical
    Logic (Kant)
    Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy
    A History of Philosophy (Copleston 9 volumes)
    The Last Word
    The View From Nowhere
    Metaphysics (Rutledge Series)
    Philosophy of Mind (Heil)
    Being and God
    Epistemology An Anthology
    Modern Philosophy (Scruton)
    The Quest For Being
    The Passion of the Western Mind
    God and Philosophy
    Beyond Good and Evil
    Aristotle Posterior Analytics
    Aristotle Metaphysics
    The Consolations of Philosophy
    Philosophy 101 by Socrates
    The Breakdown of Cartesian Metaphysics
    Nichomachean Ethics

    oops, just saw another shelf

    Causal Asymmetries
    What Philosophers Know
    Darwin’s Dangerous Idea
    Nature, Design, and Science
    German Essays on Science in the 20th Century
    Teleology Revisited
    There Is A God
    Critique of Pure Reason
    A Primer on Postmodernism
    Hume and Locke (Thomas Hill Green)
    The Vision of Hume
    Hume in 90 Minutes
    On Hume
    Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding
    The Philosophy of Language
    Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion
    The Life of David Hume (excellent, BTW)
    A Treatise of Human Nature
    Meditations on First Philosophy
    The Cambridge Companion to Locke
    An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
    Introduction to Logic (Copi)
    Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy
    Logic Made Easy
    Introduction to the Theory of Logic
    An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic
    Socratic Logic (on my desk)
    Kant – A very short introduction (on my desk)
    Godel’s Proof (on my desk)
    Socratic Logic (on my desk)
    The Ascent of Man (on my desk)

    I freely recognize and acknowledge that I am probably ill-read by most standards. I guess that’s why I keep trying. It’s just so hard to keep up with you guys.

    p.s. Just for fun and because you got me started on this. Here’s what else is on my desk that’s not been read and put away or has been read and I’m rereading.

    Atheist Universe
    Billions of Missing Links
    The Making of the Fittest (2 copies – how did that happen? Anybody need one?)
    Outliers
    A Christian Manifesto
    Crappie Fundamentals (for you, G!)
    Philosophia Cristi, Vol 11, No 2
    Genetic Entropy & The Mystery of the Genome
    The Devil’s Delusion
    The Darwin Myth
    Origins of Life
    Signature in the Cell
    The Descent of Man (Darwin)
    Golfing Wit (Christmas present)
    The Qur’an
    Empire of Liberty
    From Darwin to Hitler
    Grammatically Correct

    I also like SEP online.

    I hope this helps.

  135. 135
    Ilion says:

    AIGuy:As I have said dozens of times on this forum, I do not happen to be materialist. …

    An incoherent materialist is still a materialist. A materialist proposing ad hoc propositions and entities to graft onto his materialism in a vain attempt to ward off some of the more absurd of the logically inescapable implications of materialism is still a materialist.

    Only someone who actually rejects the premises of materials can say, “I do not happen to be materialist.

  136. 136
    tgpeeler says:

    aiguy @ 133

    I don’t really need for you to tell me how the materialists parse their irrationality. I pretty much get that. But thanks for trying to explain it to me. I don’t want to seem ungracious.

    Here’s the thing about your last post. What are you trying to say, exactly? And on what basis do you say it? Can you articulate that? What is the “so what” of your last post?

    And, btw, it doesn’t look to me like you really do grasp what’s going on here (you know, in the universe). That you are a neutral monist tells me that. You make no distinction between matter and mind. So to resolve the obvious differences and the obvious existence of matter and mind you just say there is no difference. There’s just one “substance.” And that would be different from materialism how? Exactly?

    Let me offer a possible problem for your ontology. I presume that you know of and are in agreement with the law of non-contradiction. Given that, how do you claim that abstract “substances” are the same as material substances when abstract substances are not located or extended in space and time but material substances are? Abstract substances do not have mass but material substances do (ok, maybe except for photons). Abstract substances are not subject to the laws of physics but material substances are (photons included). Abstract substances cannot be converted to energy but material substances can. Abstract substances cannot be used to heat or move matter but material substances (energy) can. Given these obvious differences, and the LNC, how do you say that they are the same?

    Movie time. Later…

  137. 137
    kairosfocus says:

    TGP:

    Da’s not a bad reading list, mon.

    Especially the Fundamentals.

    Fish don’t play at rhetorical games. Either they bite or they don’t. (And using a sounder helps freshwater fishermen solve one of the puzzles we surf rats face: is they elsewhere or is they just not interested?)

    But then . . . last Monday 6 am I parked just across from a beach I go by every day almost; some emergency car repairs.

    Quiet morning, hardly any waves; 60 ft from shore, a ~ 30″ Spanish Mackerel [I assume, Kings usually are not that close in] in a classic leap — overenthusiastic about his her (bigger) breakfast I’d say.

    I gotta go out about 5:00 am same beach one of these days, with my son, a heavy surf rod and a steel leader! (Razors for teeth.)

    “Kingfish” steaks [grill or escoveitch . . . ], probably just as nice as Crappie. [Mind you, I have never eaten the latter. But by all accounts they are pretty good for fresh water fish. Hey, look, most “snapper” in Jamaica nowadays is probably red colour hybrid Tilapia originally from Israel. So freshies can taste as good as salties. (Though there was a project to grow ’em in salt water to improve the flavour just as I left Ja to return to M’rat. I missed the fish fry to prove the claim . . . )]

    As to the thread, it is indeed becoming a parody of the multi-dimensional self-referential incoherence of evolutionary materialism.

    And, soon enough the voila-poof magic of E-M-E-R-G-E-N-T properties will doubtless show up explicitly.

    (It’s already peeking though the fog.)

    G

  138. 138
    tgpeeler says:

    G, I’d love to go surf fishing with you some day. Maybe we can make it happen. Who knows. 🙂

  139. 139
    Upright BiPed says:

    Count me in as well. I’ll bring some Lake Brownwood Crappie for comparison.

  140. 140
    aiguy says:

    tgp,

    What are you trying to say, exactly? And on what basis do you say it? Can you articulate that?

    Here is the argument I’ve been making:

    While ID theory is described very differently by different people, I take Stephen Meyer’s formulation to be representative of the version most ID enthusiasts adhere to: The existence of the first living cell is best explained by the actions of a conscious, rational being, and this conclusion is supported mainly because it appeals to a cause which is known to our uniform and repeated experience.

    Given that version of ID, I criticize it on the grounds that in our uniform and repeated experience, all conscious rational beings are comprised of living cells – the very thing Meyer purports to account for. He may hypothesize that a conscious rational being could exist which is not comprised of living cells, but the truth of that hypothesis is not evident from our uniform and repeated experience.

    CJYman argued, among other things, that ID did not necessarily require the Designer to be conscious (although CJY himself believed that was a reasonable inference as well). So the discussion turned to this other version of ID, where the claim is not to a “conscious” agent but rather to an “intelligent” agent.

    Now, it is clear what “conscious” refers to; we each experience consciousness, and we might define it as that which disappears when we fall into a dreamless sleep and returns when we awaken.

    “Intelligence” on the other hand is a very slippery concept. Like the concept of “life”, it seems we know it when we see it, but it is notoriously different to craft a definition that captures our intuitions while being specific enough to be interpreted consistently by independent researchers. There are no scientific theories that offer “intelligence” per se as an explanation for any observed phenemon, and there are no operationalized definitions of the term that can be applied in general, and not specific to particular life forms or even life forms in general.

    You make no distinction between matter and mind.

    I do make a distinction between mind and matter. I do not, however, believe this distinction is ontological.

    But, as I’ve said since my first post here, I am not interested in debating metaphysics here. I have written over and over that I am making no claims regarding the truth of any particular metaphysical stance. My argument entails neither materialism nor any other view; it only entails that the matter is not currently amenable to empirical resolution (scientific test).

    You joined the debate and claimed that you could show, by applying reason to evidence, that materialism was false. If that were true, then my argument would fail, and Meyer would be right.

    I pointed out that your view – that materialism has been disproven empirically – would surprise the majority of academics working in the field, and that your idea that materialism is incompatible with abstraction was… ideosyncratic. I think it’s clear that every flavor of materialism and dualism has very difficult challenges to overcome, and that it is utterly misguied to assert that the matter has been settled by clear interpretation of shared experience.

    I don’t believe we will come to agree on that point, and I am quite content to have clarified the issues and leave it at is.

  141. 141
    CJYman says:

    Hello aiguy,

    I am getting busy again so I will have to bow out of the conversation for now. I do believe I’ve presented my view on the issue, so with that I will say that it has been a good discussion (barring the occasional frustration — on both of our parts I’m sure), and I look forward to continuing our discussion at another time.

    Take care.

  142. 142
    aiguy says:

    CJYman –

    Thanks very much. I actually think we made some progress in clarity, and as a result converged just a tiny bit. We’ll definitely pick it up again someday – I enjoyed it.

    Cheers!

  143. 143
    tgpeeler says:

    aiguy, I’d rather be fishing with G and Upright anyway. I can live with ideosyncratic, it’s invalid and unsound that give me problems. BTW, you can’t possibly ignore metaphysics as you answer this question of ID or any other question that matters to human beings. Because whatever turns out to be true about metaphysics informs everything else. You can see that, right? It would matter whether or not Jesus is the actual Second Person of the Trinity or not, wouldn’t it? He can’t be both and He must be one or the other. In either case, vastly different things follow. Right?

    “that materialism has been disproven empirically – would surprise the majority of academics working in the field, and that your idea that materialism is incompatible with abstraction was… ideosyncratic.”

    It only surprises anyone with a prior commitment to materialism. Any fool can see that materialism is false (you see, I’m proof of that). I’m not a trained philosopher but I figured that out in about ten minutes once I determined to actually think about it. The vast majority of all of the philosophy I have read is nonsense, literally. Someone can have a stack of Ph.D.’s and still, if they violate identity or non-contradiction or excluded middle they are wrong. Authority is meaningless in argument.

    To say materialism could be disproved empirically is irrational anyway. Empirical evidence is about what we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. No? Of course it is. So how to prove materialism false empirically, which would require abstract evidence, that by definition can’t be empirically detected? Ha. Nice one.

    It only takes a tightly reasoned argument to destroy materialism and its big brother naturalism. For in those ontological systems, all explanations are necessarily confined to the laws of physics. So the only explanatory tool in the answer kit is physics. But physics cannot account for language. Why? Symbols and rules. Physics has nothing to say about either. Never has, never will. So the following modus tollens argument stands.

    If naturalism/materialism/physicalism are true, then physics can explain everything. (true by definition)

    But physics cannot explain language. (I’ll elaborate if necessary but you are a smart guy. Surely you can see that.)

    Therefore, naturalism/materialism/physicalism are not true. In fact, it’s not even possible for any of them to be true. That is, they are necessarily false.

    I hate to disappoint the “professionals” who spend their lives wondering about these kinds of things but that game is way past over.

    Of course, you are free to disabuse me of this ideosyncratic argument by attacking the validity of the logical structure. Oops, modus tollens is valid. Or you can attack one of the premises. I won’t hold my breath.

    The thing that has amazed me about this entire conversation with you is that you appear to be a bright, educated, well-spoken person. Yet you cannot see, or will not see, the most fundamental truths of logic and how they inform every truth claim. Go figure. Good luck.

  144. 144
    avocationist says:

    tgpeeler,

    (aiguy, I am not at home for a day or so and don’t have much computer time right now.)

    If it’s not too late, I’d like your opinion on something. I have no problem with the existence of spiritual things, souls, mind, God. But I realized some time ago that I don’t buy the concept of nonmaterial reality. Either a thing exists or it does not. There is no nonexistence. If a thing did not exist, that would be true nothingness and nothing could happen.

    But if a mind can interact with matter, or if two minds can communicate at a distance, then they are tied in with matter.

    No problem with different states of matter, or dimensions and such, but my question is, what does it mean to exist? How can a thing exist and be called nonmaterial? I am some sort of monist.

    Having said that, I agree that the concept I have of the number 4 is indeed nonmaterial, but it is based upon my experience of material things. I guess this is what aiguy was saying. Without material things, no concept of number 4.

    Have you seen Ervin Lazslo’s book called Science and the Akashic Field? It’s a modern take on the ether theory, and shows how we can begin to look for answers to such things as perhaps ESP. People speak of the Mitchelson Morley experiment, but when I read about it I see that the experiement was completely inadequate to find the ether, which they expected to be like a wind.

    I see the entirety of existence as being all of a piece, with everything on one side of the equation: existence.

    What do you mean by the term nonmaterial as regards minds or souls or even God?
    (I don’t know why that number 1 is haning out there.)

  145. 145
    kairosfocus says:

    TGP & UB,

    First things first!

    Mebbe one day let’s do the Texas coast and lake thing!

    (Reds or sea trout could stand in for kings. Crappie can star as themselves. Any Lakes in TX got Peacock Bass?)

    G

    _________________

    Onlookers:

    Re AIG, 140:

    While ID theory is described very differently by different people, I take Stephen Meyer’s formulation to be representative of the version most ID enthusiasts adhere to: The existence of the first living cell is best explained by the actions of a conscious, rational being, and this conclusion is supported mainly because it appeals to a cause which is known to our uniform and repeated experience.

    Given that version of ID, I criticize it on the grounds that in our uniform and repeated experience, all conscious rational beings are comprised of living cells – the very thing Meyer purports to account for. He may hypothesize that a conscious rational being could exist which is not comprised of living cells, but the truth of that hypothesis is not evident from our uniform and repeated experience.

    1 –> It is first and foremost extremely disappointing to see, after many correctives in this thread and elsewhere, that AIG is still misrepresenting the actual Design Inference. (Beyond a certain point, AIG, that is no longer a question of mere misunderstanding, so kindly get it corrected.)

    2 –> By substituting an inference to agent [and a debate over embodiment as opposed to discussing signs of intelligence] for an inference to design, AIG rhetorically diverts — that’s a red herring headed for a rhetorically loaded strawman, trifecta combination fallacy style — the argument from an empirical inference on observed patterns of cause-effect and signs of the causal pattern, to a direct metaphysical debate on existence or not of agents in the remote past.

    3 –> This also, not coincidentally, rhetorically tries to remove the possibility of empirical evidence from especially the digital code in the heart of life and the significance of such dFSCI being allowed to speak to the question of what sort of causes were acting at the point of origin of first life.

    4 –> By sharpest contrast, we may read from the Definition of ID linked on this page (top right, under ID Links):

    The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection . . . .

    In a broader sense, Intelligent Design is simply the science of design detection — how to recognize patterns arranged by an intelligent cause for a purpose. Design detection is used in a number of scientific fields, including anthropology, forensic sciences that seek to explain the cause of events such as a death or fire, cryptanalysis and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). An inference that certain biological information may be the product of an intelligent cause can be tested or evaluated in the same manner as scientists daily test for design in other sciences.

    ID is controversial because of the implications of its evidence, rather than the significant weight of its evidence. ID proponents believe science should be conducted objectively, without regard to the implications of its findings. This is particularly necessary in origins science because of its historical (and thus very subjective) nature, and because it is a science that unavoidably impacts religion.

    Positive evidence of design in living systems consists of the semantic, meaningful or functional nature of biological information, the lack of any known law that can explain the sequence of symbols that carry the “messages,” and statistical and experimental evidence that tends to rule out chance as a plausible explanation. Other evidence challenges the adequacy of natural or material causes to explain both the origin and diversity of life.

    5 –> While the above is reasonable, I think that how the above is set up [putting the conclusion first] opens the door for the sort of tangential tactic we saw above, and I prefer the approach in the Short Glossary of [ID-related] terms, also top right this page, under Quick Reference Resources:

    [ . . . ]

  146. 146
    kairosfocus says:

    Intelligent design [ID] – Dr William A Dembski, a leading design theorist, has defined ID as “the science that studies signs of intelligence.” That is, as we ourselves instantiate [thus exemplify as opposed to “exhaust”], intelligent designers act into the world, and create artifacts. When such argents act, there are certain characteristics that commonly appear, and that – per massive experience — reliably mark such artifacts. It it therefore a reasonable and useful scientific project to study such signs and identify how we may credibly reliably infer from empirical sign to the signified causal factor: purposefully directed contingency or intelligent design. Among the signs of intelligence of current interest for research are:

    [a] FSCI — function-specifying complex information [e.g. blog posts in English text that take in more than 143 ASCII characters, and/or — as was highlighted by Yockey and Wickens by the mid-1980s — as a distinguishing marker of the macromolecules in the heart of cell-based life forms], or more broadly

    [b] CSI — complex, independently specified information [e.g. Mt Rushmore vs New Hampshire’s former Old Man of the mountain, or — as was highlighted by Orgel in 1973 — a distinguishing feature of the cell’s information-rich organized aperiodic macromolecules that are neither simply orderly like crystals nor random like chance-polymerized peptide chains], or

    [c] IC – multi-part functionality that relies on an irreducible core of mutually co-adapted, interacting components. [e.g. the hardware parts of a PC or more simply of a mousetrap; or – as was highlighted by Behe in the mid 1990’s — the bacterial flagellum and many other cell-based bodily features and functions.], or

    [d] “Oracular” active information – in some cases, e.g. many Genetic Algorithms, successful performance of a system traces to built-in information or organisation that guides algorithmic search processes and/or performance so that the system significantly outperforms random search. Such guidance may include oracles that, step by step, inform a search process that the iterations are “warmer/ colder” relative to a performance target zone. (A classic example is the Weasel phrase search program.) Also,

    [e] Complex, algorithmically active, coded information – the complex information used in systems and processes is symbolically coded in ways that are not preset by underlying physical or chemical forces, but by encoding and decoding dynamically inert but algorithmically active information that guides step by step execution sequences, i.e. algorithms. (For instance, in hard disk drives, the stored information in bits is coded based a conventional, symbolic assignment of the N/S poles, forces and fields involved, and is impressed and used algorithmically. The physics of forces and fields does not determine or control the bit-pattern of the information – or, the drive would be useless. Similarly, in DNA, the polymer chaining chemistry is effectively unrelated to the information stored in the sequence and reading frames of the A/ G/ C/ T side-groups. It is the coded genetic information in the successive three-letter D/RNA codons that is used by the cell’s molecular nano- machines in the step by step creation of proteins. Such DNA sets from observed living organisms starts at 100,000 – 500,000 four-state elements [200 k – 1 M bits], abundantly meriting the description: function- specifying, complex information, or FSCI.)

    6 –> So, immediately accessible on each and every page at UD, is a corrective presentation that AIG should at minimum have cited correctly and addressed on its merits, if he thought it in error. That he did not speaks volumes, and not to the good. Sadly.

    7 –> However, let us follow up on the actual design inference for a moment: by studying causal patterns, we soon enough see that causes come in three complementary flavours that affect diverse aspects of phenomena, as the NWE enc article on ID [corrective to Wiki’s ideologised hit-piece disgrace to Encyclopedia-dom] discusses, and as this apsects focussed version of the explanatory filter emphasises:

    . . . different aspects of the same thing can be due to different causes. For example, an abandoned car will rust according to natural laws, though the actual pattern of rust may be due to chance. Yet, the car itself was designed. So regularity, chance, and design, though competing, can also be complementary.

    8 –> Each of these flavours has characteristic signs, which can be used to distinguish them (and as the just linked flowchart on the filter identifies, can then guide onward investigations of the different complementary aspects of cause and synthesis of an overall explanatory picture). As the NWE article observes:

    When inferring design, ruling out regularity is the easiest step. Ruling out chance is more difficult, since mere improbability (i.e., complexity) is not sufficient to infer design. Something that is complex could easily be due to chance. For example, if several dozen letters of the alphabet were randomly lined up, it would not be surprising to find a two-letter word such as “it” somewhere in the lineup. A two-letter word is not improbable enough to rule out chance. So, how complex must something be? Dembski sets a quantitative limit on what chance could conceivably accomplish with his universal probability bound . . . .

    In practice, however, the universal probability bound is not always useful, so Dembski introduces another criterion, specificity, or conformity to an independently given pattern . . . it is our universal human experience that whenever we encounter specified complexity it is a product of an intelligent agent (though the agent need not be supernatural). If specified complexity can be found in nature, then it, too, must be due to intelligent agency. As Dembski put it in The Design Revolution (2004): “The fundamental claim of intelligent design is straightforward and easily intelligible: namely, there are natural systems that cannot be adequately explained in terms of undirected natural forces and that exhibit features which in any other circumstance we would attribute to intelligence.”

    [ . . . ]

  147. 147
    kairosfocus says:

    [oops on an open address link]

    9 –> Now, what has been drawn on so far is that design is an empirically observable causal pattern in the present, one that on characteristic signs may be distinguished from credibly undirected chance and/or mechanical necessity.

    10 –> So, we have an epistemic right to seek to explain the past in light of observed patterns in the present, and let the resulting metaphysical chips lie where they fly. [The precise way that Lyell and Darwin argued 150+ years ago. But, in the information age, the shoe is on the other foot, and it pinches.]

    11 –> Once we do that, the matter is quite straightforward, providing we do not allow a priori Lewontinian style materialism to intimidate us and censor our inferences to best explanation on causal patterns per reliable sign,which would undermine the integrity of such abductive inference.

    12 –> What about the embodiment objection? A simple comparison of ourselves with chimps, who by popular report share 98% genetic similarity, will suffice to show that he responsible source for abstract purposeful, verbal,code- and- algorithm-designing intelligence is not embodiment.

    13 –> Indeed, a comparison of the skilled with the unskilled in the matter among us will show that having 100% human genes and embodiment does not explain the capacity to design and develop dFSCI-rich information systems.

    14 –> Only skill and knowledge in relevant fields does.

    15 –> That is knowledge and skill-empowered intelligence is the better explanation for observed cases of dFSCI, not embodiment.

    16 –> As AIG knows, or should know from his own experience and that of his colleagues.

    17 –> But, notoriously, we have to reckon with the blinding, mind-endarkening, mind-closing power of a reigning ideology backed up by ruthlessly intimidatory tactics.

    18 –> So, we have a strong empirical sign in hand that points to directed contingency as a key causal force at the origin of life. Specifically, digitally coded, algorithmically functional complex specific information in cell-based life that is integrated into both the metabolism and the replication facility.

    19 –> So,the hypothesised RNA world replicating molecules are irrelevant: we need to explain the origin actual observed code based replication using metabolic machines coded for in the same code.

    20 –> Likewise, we cannot independently account for metabolism without addressing the only known way that the relevant protein-based machines originate: coded assembly and coordinated organisation into a functional whole. (No wonder the two main OOL models mutually self-destruct.)

    21 –> This brings us to a point where on evidence, we infer that life originated by design, not by undirected chance plus necessity. We do not yet know the mechanism (more than one way to skin a cat[fish]) nor the identity nor the nature of he designers, but on inference to best explanation, we can safely conclude that ’tweredun.

    22 –> It’s not undirected accident, nor is it just lawlike necessity in action or the two in combination. Only rather specialised and knowledgeable intelligence can explain the functional information rich empirical features of life as have been known for decades now.

    23 –> But, how can we dare suggest an intelligence out there when our only experience is of cell based intelligence and it is based ont eh same cells?

    24 –> Actually, for thousands of years, it is a contention of millions in our civilisation, including leading lights in history and science, that we do not only have experience or observation of ourselves as intelligence. A significant movement of millions actually holds that with 500+ eye witnesses, we have good reason to infer to intelligence with the power to reverse death and transform lives.

    25 –> So the claim that we only have experience and observation of embodied, cell based intelligence may reflect more of a particular ideology than the real balance of experience and thought on the merits in our civilization across time.

    26 –> But then, we do not need to conclude on a separate subject to address this one: all we need to do is to refuse to allow ourselves from being intimidated into censoring out he POSSIBILITY of intelligence at the origin of life.

    27 –> Once such censorship is removed, we have good enough empirical reason and warrant to conclude that life itself was designed, which would also easily explain the huge increments in bio-information to originate body plans, including of course our own.

    28 –> And, that is backed up by a separate line of inference (details and worldview inferences here) that points to design of our observed cosmos, on its evident finetuning for cell based life.

    29 –> So, there is no compelling reason to believe there is no possibility of an intelligence who is a necessary being capable of designing and implementing a cosmos that is contingent and fine tuned in ways that enable onward origin and thriving of cell based life, including intelligent and even technically skilled forms thereof.

    ___________

    So, once we remove a priori blinkers and intimidation, the evidence of signs of design in life and the cosmos as a whole point in some interesting directions.

    GEM of TKI

  148. 148
    tgpeeler says:

    avocationist @ 144 “I have no problem with the existence of spiritual things, souls, mind, God. But I realized some time ago that I don’t buy the concept of nonmaterial reality.”

    This seems incoherent to me. You have no problem with the existence of “spiritual” (that is, non-material) things yet you don’t buy the concept of non-material reality (things). I obviously must not understand. If you’ll clarify I’ll be happy to offer an opinion. If I am getting it, what you said, then my opinion has been offered.

  149. 149
    Upright BiPed says:

    It appears as if Aiguy has elected option number three after all. I wish him well.

  150. 150
    tgpeeler says:

    Yeah, bummer. Me too.

  151. 151
    avocationist says:

    tgpeeler,

    I feel like you didn’t read my post. I’m not sure how to state it better but I’ll try. The term nonmaterial has been around a long time. I don’t know if people have really considered what it might mean. I don’t know what it might mean.

    In what way does your soul exist? What manner is its existence? Has it any energy? How does it interact with and impact matter? How does it exist nonmaterially in a way that is different than nothingness?

  152. 152
    gpuccio says:

    avocationist:

    I like explicit questions, so I would like to try some answers, at least from my point of view:

    1) “The term nonmaterial has been around a long time. I don’t know if people have really considered what it might mean. I don’t know what it might mean.”

    I can agree with you. The term “material” is not one I love too much. It has no clear meaning, or maybe it has too many possible meanings. After “natural”, it is one of the terms more likely to ingenerate confusion.

    So, let’s forget it. Let’s say that there is reality (all that exists). Let’s say that there is a current map of reality, at least at one level, which corresponds to currently accepted physical theories and laws, or at least the most important of them. Let’s say that such a map is certainly incomplete, and probably not necessarily accurate, but has certainly great cognitive value. In this map, there are multiple fundamental entities, more or less well known (some of them, like the possible dark energt, really mysterious).
    Moreover, there are other kinds of maps (phylosophy, religion, theories of the mind, and others) whose relationship with the “scientific” map is unclear and debated. Can we agree on these simple points for a start?

    2) “In what way does your soul exist? What manner is its existence?”

    There are certainly many different definitions, theories and conception of the soul. It is probably another word that we could profitably avoid.

    Anyway, the answer to that specific question appears easy eough: whatever the conception of the sou, I suppose that any serious theory of the soul believes that the soul exists exactly like anything else exists: it is a constituent part of reality.

    If we want to be more specific, we cpould say that any conception of the soul is a theory which is suppose to describe, with all possible errors and limitations, something that really exists.

    3) “Has it any energy?”

    This is more difficult, because it depends on the specific conception of the soul. While I don’t want to go in detail about my specific conception, I will say, just to go on with the discussion, that for me the soul can best be described as the transcendental I, the final subkect of consciousness, and that for me it is not the same thing as the mind. In that sense, energy is probably not completely appropriate as a concept for the soul, while it could be probably used for mental realities. But I would stay flexible on that. And anyway, we are not sure that our present understanding of energy, matter and similar is good enough to describe events which happen at the mental level.

    4) “How does it interact with and impact matter?”

    That’s the number one question. Most models which try to be scientific, and not only philosophical, rely more ore less on quantum level as a suitable interface between consciousness and physical reality. The main reason for that is that QM, with its inherent probabilistic level, allows that possible interaction without necessary violations of the known laws of physics. Eccles has been a pioneer of that approach, but many others have gone that way. For a generic review of some of these subjects, a good read is certainly “The spiritual brain”.

    This point is specially important for ID because, whatever the modality by which human consciousness interacts with the brain, it is possible that something similar takes place between the designer and biological realities.

    5) “How does it exist nonmaterially in a way that is different than nothingness?”

    Again, this is easy: whatever the soul is, it exists. It certainly is not nothingness.

  153. 153
    tgpeeler says:

    avo @ 151 “I feel like you didn’t read my post. I’m not sure how to state it better but I’ll try. The term nonmaterial has been around a long time. I don’t know if people have really considered what it might mean. I don’t know what it might mean.”

    I like the term material because I think it can be described in such a way that is generous when it comes to “scientific” entities and what “science” may further discover yet specific enough to allow for real distinctions in ontology. I agree that this term usually needs to be defined up front else confusion reigns.

    I like to think of “material” like this. If something meets one of the following five criteria then I call it material.
    1. extended or precisely located in space/time
    2. has mass
    3. obeys physical laws
    4. converts to energy
    5. heats or moves matter (is energy)

    So a photon, while not having mass, still meets other criteria and would be considered (in my ontology) material.

    Things that are immaterial, or abstract, do not meet ANY of the criteria above.

    For example, mathematics is not extended in space/time nor specifically located in space/time. Math has no mass. Math doesn’t obey the laws of physics. Math isn’t convertible to energy and Math certainly cannot heat or move matter.

    Yet math is real. It exists. It has ontological status. This example should help you see what I am saying.

    “In what way does your soul exist? What manner is its existence? Has it any energy? How does it interact with and impact matter? How does it exist nonmaterially in a way that is different than nothingness?”

    It exists like mathematics or the laws of physics or logic exist. It’s “real” but abstract. And given that it is abstract, it is also indestructible. That has serious implications.

    Given my description of material/immaterial I would say that the soul does not have energy. If the soul “had energy” it would no longer be abstract to my way of thinking.

    As far as how it interacts with or impacts matter, as GP said, that is the big question. Naturalists (physicalists in philosophy of mind) say that nature is causally closed. That is, even if mind actually exists, it cannot have causal impact in “nature” or the physical world. Yet these philosophers seem to take for granted that the laws of physics (which are immaterial) impact the material world without batting an eye. Therefore, I am not sympathetic to the “we don’t see how it could happen so it doesn’t happen” school of philosophy when there is clear evidence that it does happen all the time. We clearly exercise free will since we do that every time we communicate. I hope this helps. Thanks for the opportunity to clarify.

  154. 154
    avocationist says:

    gpuccio,

    Can we agree on these simple points for a start?

    Absolutely, and with most everything else you wrote as well.

    for me the soul can best be described as the transcendental I

    Yes…what I am wondering is more concrete than that. What is it made of?

    In that sense, energy is probably not completely appropriate as a concept for the soul, while it could be probably used for mental realities.

    Funny, I would say the opposite. As I first said, I can agree that the concept I have of the number four is completely nonmaterial but a soul is a something, a being, possibly one capable of influencing matter.

    That’s the number one question. Most models which try to be scientific, and not only philosophical, rely more ore less on quantum level as a suitable interface between consciousness and physical reality.

    Yes, I think so and my theory is that planck length is the doorway to another, inner dimension.

    The main reason for that is that QM, with its inherent probabilistic level, allows that possible interaction without necessary violations of the known laws of physics.

    Well, that sounds interesting, although I don’t quite understand what exactly that might entail.

    This point is specially important for ID because, whatever the modality by which human consciousness interacts with the brain, it is possible that something similar takes place between the designer and biological realities.

    I think so!

    Again, this is easy: whatever the soul is, it exists. It certainly is not nothingness.

    But no, this is not easy. I did not mean to imply that the soul does not exist, rather I ask what nonmaterial means if not nothingness? When we use that term for spiritual things, do we know what we are talking about? A concept in a mind may be nonmaterial, but a living being? (I use the word living here in the spiritual sense, not as aiguy uses it for biological organisms.)

  155. 155
    avocationist says:

    tg,

    I like the term material because I think it can be described in such a way that is generous when it comes to “scientific” entities and what “science” may further discover yet specific enough to allow for real distinctions in ontology.

    So are you saying it is useful for communicating certain conventions, such as we commonly experience a kind of divide between sensory reality and spiritual reality, but that at bottom we don’t really know what it means?

    I agree that math is nonmaterial. Yet it can only exist in relation to material things or the conceptual possibility of material things.

    But now you say the soul exists like math, being real but abstract. This I cannot see at all. Math is not like a soul. A soul is a being. I do not think math can impact matter. Yet a soul inhabits the body.

    How can a soul be an abstraction? Abstraction of what? Do you think God is abstract?

    By the way, regarding your post to aiguy, are you saying that if your position is true, that a matter-only reality would mean that no real thinking is possible?

    And given that it is abstract, it is also indestructible. That has serious implications.

    What do you see as the serious implications.

    Yet these philosophers seem to take for granted that the laws of physics (which are immaterial) impact the material world without batting an eye.

    But isn’t that backwards? Aren’t the laws of physics descriptions of what actually happens in material reality?

    But I agree that mind influences matter. That’s one reason I think it is more than an abstraction. I think if the ultimate reality – God – is an abstraction then there could be no existence.

  156. 156
    gpuccio says:

    avocationist:

    I have the impressionform what you say that our views are nearer than it seems.

    You see, I like concrete and pragmatic thinking, and I believe you do too.

    The problem is: what is really concrete? What is really pragmatic?

    Materialists are comforted by the conviction that matter is a reliable reality, because we can easily perceive it and because it has some consistency.

    But what we perceive as material reality is constantly changing, and we probably understand its nature only scarcely (QM has already given us some “uncomfortable” cognitive experiences, and what about dark ebergy, if it exists?).

    On the other hand, our consciousness is the fundamental, and most persistent, experience in our life. It is our being conscious, and the properties of our conscious experiences, which gives strength and meaning to our representations of our outer reality.

    So, if I had to bet on one or the other as a fundamental “substance”, you can imagine what I would do.

    But really, I don’t want to cut out of my map of reality anything which really exists. In my map, material things, strange material things (including possibly dark energy), conscious agents, thoughts, abstract representations, dreams, feelings, and so on, all share the same right to be reals, the same cognitive dignity. It is up to us to coordinate our map so that each of the things which are real may find a right place.

    The reason why I give such a great importance to the concept (and to the intuitive experience) of a transcendental I, is because the only simple way we can descrine conscious experiences, IMO, is the following:

    multiple representations referred to a same, unifying perceiver

    The true difference between my representations and yours is that I perceive mine and you perceive yours: for the rest, the representations could well be similar.

    So, the I is more and different form its representations: the representations constantly change, the perceiving I remains the same. I am obviously including the inner states of the mind in the representations, distinct from the perceiver).

    So, I don’t like the word “substance”, but if you really want to use it, to what should we first apply it?

  157. 157
    kairosfocus says:

    GP: Revisiting. I think we should all pause to read this from G K Chesterton, on the wind and the trees. G

  158. 158
    kairosfocus says:

    Avo:

    Regarding mind-brain/body interaction, you might want to look at the possibilities in the Derek Smith cybernetic loop model, especially the informational interaction and influences between the two tiers of controller.

    Multiply that by the issues connected to the implications of the evidence that we inhabit a fine-tuned cosmos fitted out to support the possibility for and actual existence of c-chemistry cell based, intelligent life.

    G

  159. 159
    avocationist says:

    gpuccio,

    You express yourself well. Thank you for your well thought out responses. Again, yes I agree with most all you say.

    I am still not sure whether God or soul is nonmaterial or what that might mean or how that might work. Although the sense of your transcendent I as an unmoved perceiver does feel nonmaterial. Sigh…then again I don’t know if mind and soul are synonymous.

  160. 160
    aiguy says:

    KF,

    I think everybody agrees that we see designs (i.e. complex patterns, form and function) in biology. So we don’t need to “detect” that. Rather, we’d like to figure out where these designs came from.

    Here you are redefining the term design from what it means in the context of our discussion.

    We already have a cluster of terms that describe and specify what we see in biology and int eh technological and literary worlds for that matter: digitally coded, functionally specific, complex information and related organisation.

    Design — directed contingency — is the routinely and reliably observed causal explanation of dFSCI.

    If you would like to refer to what we see in biological systems as FSCI instead of “designs”, that’s fine. I don’t care what words we use as long as we agree on definitions.

    If you would like to refer the cause you propose for FSCI as “directed contingency”, that’s OK, but I don’t know what you mean by that. Do you mean, as Stephen Meyer does, a conscious entity? If so, then we disagree about the warrant for that conclusion. If that is not what you mean, then the term doesn’t mean anything at all to me, but I’m not interested in pursuing it.

  161. 161
    aiguy says:

    StephenB,

    AIGUY: If this were true, then I believe you could have actually answered my specific questions. But you didn’t, so I’ll ask again: In ID’s view, what is it that directs “directed contingency”? What is it that guides nature when nature is not “unguided”? What is it that allows processes to “see” when they arenot “blind.”processes”?
    STEPHENB: What do you mean, “if it is true.” ID doesn’t depend on dualism, period. There is no “if” to it. Methods are methods, and the ID method does not base its methods on dualistic metaphysics. It bases its methods on obervations of facts in evidence.

    Concerning the follow up questions, I gather that many ID theorists would say that a designed program directs the kind of directed contingency that you seem to be alluding to

    First of all, I am not the one alluding to this mysterious something that guides nature, directs contingencies, and enables processes to “see”. These are the words used with great frequency by ID advocates themselves. It is quite right for me to ask what it is ID is proposing as the explanation of complex form and function. Saying that “blind processes” and “unguided nature” can’t produce FSCI is one thing; saying what sort of process is not “blind”, and saying what sort of nature is “guided”, is quite another.

    So you finally provide an answer, which is “designed program”. I have no idea what this is supposed to mean! ID proposes that FSCI in biology is the result of “directed contingency”, and when I ask what is supposed to be directing these contingencies the answer is a “designed program”. What does the “designed program” mean here? Does it have anything to do with conscious thought or not?

  162. 162
    aiguy says:

    All – Sorry, I posted these in the wrong thread 🙁

  163. 163
    tgpeeler says:

    avo @ 155

    “So are you saying it is useful for communicating certain conventions, such as we commonly experience a kind of divide between sensory reality and spiritual reality, but that at bottom we don’t really know what it means?”

    No. I’m saying that there is a difference. The distinction between material and immaterial seems pretty clear to me. I think if you gave me a list of things I could immediately, using that list of questions, tell you whether or not something was immaterial or material. Don’t you think so?

    “I agree that math is nonmaterial. Yet it can only exist in relation to material things or the conceptual possibility of material things.”

    Why do you say that? What does the material world have to do with the existence of math? We manipulate mathematical symbols to understand the material world but I don’t see that what you say is true. The Pythagorean theorem doesn’t depend upon matter for its existence or meaning.

    “But now you say the soul exists like math, being real but abstract. This I cannot see at all. Math is not like a soul. A soul is a being. I do not think math can impact matter. Yet a soul inhabits the body.”

    I’m merely saying the soul, or mind, is abstract. Math is also abstract but I don’t think I tried to imply that math is like the soul. Mathematics is a universal language. It is a tool that is used by our minds to understand and interpret the material world, and other things, of course.

    “How can a soul be an abstraction? Abstraction of what? Do you think God is abstract?”

    I suspect a terminology problem here. I am not referring to “abstract” as in the sense that we abstract qualities from material things. Perhaps abstract is not the right word. It can have that meaning and it was obviously confusing here. Maybe I should stick with immaterial.

    “By the way, regarding your post to aiguy, are you saying that if your position is true, that a matter-only reality would mean that no real thinking is possible?”

    Yes. That is exactly what I am saying. Thinking requires the use of language, or to put it more broadly, the manipulation of symbols according to certain rules, including the first principles of reason, Identity, Non-contradiction, and Excluded Middle. No thought or communication of thought is possible without symbols and rules. Matter in itself cannot possibly account for either the symbols or the rules. The naturalist or materialist account of the world is utter nonsense.

    “And given that it is abstract, it is also indestructible. That has serious implications.
    What do you see as the serious implications.”

    That our minds or souls outlast our bodies. That we have a long, long way to go here.

    “Yet these philosophers seem to take for granted that the laws of physics (which are immaterial) impact the material world without batting an eye.
    But isn’t that backwards? Aren’t the laws of physics descriptions of what actually happens in material reality?”

    If you look at physics as only descriptive and not causal then I can see that you would think it’s backwards. I don’t think physics is merely descriptive. If physics is only descriptive then we still don’t know what “causes” anything. Hell, I guess that could be true but it seems very unlikely to me. Something to think about, maybe.

    “But I agree that mind influences matter. That’s one reason I think it is more than an abstraction. I think if the ultimate reality – God – is an abstraction then there could be no existence.”

    I think God MUST be immaterial. I don’t want to repeat it all here but if you look at any of the “first cause” arguments based on the impossibility of an infinite regress then you come to the necessary conclusion that the first cause is infinite, that is, uncaused, immaterial, and so forth. And I do agree that mind influences matter. Who can explain that? Beats me but the immaterial laws of physics, at worst, describe the force(s) that are behind the scenes telling electrons what to do.

Leave a Reply