Intelligent Design

Darwinists Now say “Parsimony Smarsimony.”

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“In science, parsimony is preference for the least complex explanation for an observation. This is generally regarded as good when judging hypotheses. Occam’s razor also states the ‘principle of parsimony.'”  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parsimony

In the post below (“Multiverse of the Gaps”), I point to a recent paper in which a Darwinist attempts to get around the extremely small probability (less than 1 in 10 raised to the negative 1,018) of life emerging by chance by invoking an infinite “multiverse.”

 The question for the class today is which is the most parsimonious hypothesis:  One designer or infinite universes?

39 Replies to “Darwinists Now say “Parsimony Smarsimony.”

  1. 1
    Atom says:

    …or, put another way…

    One unobserved (but potentially observable) entity or an infinite number of unobserved (and forever unobservable) entities?

  2. 2
    BarryA says:

    Good point Atom. Move to the head of the class.

  3. 3
    DLH says:

    Recommend using Einstein’s Razor over Occam’s Razor.

    Einstein’s Razor: a theory should be as simple as possible (but no simpler).

    On Einstein’s Razor: Quinn Tyler Jackson

    Darwinian Evolution with Random Mutation and Natural Selection might be considered to satisfy Occam’s razor as the simplest explanation. However it fail’s Einstein’s razor as being insufficient to explain abiogenesis to self reproducing life, let alone the rest of nature.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    The multi-verse fails in logic for this reason. If it is required for an infinite number of other universes to exist to account for the fine tuning of this universe and to make the materialistic philosophy palatable, Then by default it is also infinitely possible for God to exist. Thus, if it is infinitely possible for God to exist than God certainly must exist no matter how small the probability.

  5. 5
    mattghg says:

    I imagine the Darwinian response would be to say that the multiverse scenario is no less parsimonious that the design inference because the designer him/her/itself would have to be infinitely complex. The fact that this argument blatantly begs the question in favour of materialism hasn’t stopped them yet.

  6. 6
    Atom says:

    the designer him/her/itself would have to be infinitely complex

    I don’t see the logic that makes that a necessary conclusion. Perhaps “sufficiently” complex, but infinitely?

  7. 7
    Apollos says:

    Then by default it is also infinitely possible for God to exist.

    bornagain77,

    This was my thought as well, but the problem I see with this reasoning is that God is necessarily transcendent, just as the multiverse mechanism is necessarily transcendent. This suggests that God could not exist in any of the universes generated by the multiverse mechanism, unless He was determined to be a product of the universe (a theologically untenable proposition) instead of outside it.

    However there seems to be another issue with the multiverse mechanism. Such a device would need to be more complex than any of its generated universes, by orders of magnitude. This device would itself require fine-tuning in order to function. This fine tuning would be even more unlikely than the anthropic principal suggests for our universe, and so would require a higher level multiverse mechanism for it as well.

    And so it goes on and on. An infinite number of multiverses would be required to produce one capable of generating an anthropically tuned universe like ours, but that itself would be even more unlikely, and so be dependent upon a higher multiverse in order to exist. Unless one is willing to inject intelligent purpose at some point in the chain, it looks like it’s multiverses all the way up.

  8. 8
    shaner74 says:

    “a Darwinist attempts to get around the extremely small probability (less than 1 in 10 raised to the negative 1,018) of life emerging by chance by invoking an infinite “multiverse.””

    Honestly, I’m surprised the “multiverse” was ever even brought into the mix. When faced with daunting statistics, why not just do away with math altogether? They’ve already done that with physics. They believe you really can get something for nothing, so what’s stopping them from laughing in the face of numbers too?

  9. 9
    BarryA says:

    shaner74 “what’s stopping them from laughing in the face of the numbers too?”

    People have a basic understanding of probability. Therefore, the Darwinists cannot just wave their hands and make the probabilities go away. They have to deal with them. This is their latest attempt.

  10. 10
    Robo says:

    I call it “science of the gaps”. They say string theory is untestable, thus should it be called science? Can we test for other universes? Seems rather difficult from where I am sitting.

  11. 11

    They deal with irreducible complexity with “Darwin of the Gaps”. They deal with the anthropic principle by resorting to the multiverse hypothesis.

    They just need to be honest. They don’t want to have anything to do with conclusions which go against materialism and will find a way around any evidence against it.

  12. 12
    mike1962 says:

    God must be laughing at all of this.

  13. 13
    StephenB says:

    A summary of modern evolutionary though:

    1) Who needs a creator after Darwin proved that nature possesses its own creative force.

    2) The fossil record doesn’t support Darwinism. Hypothesize punctuated equilibrium.

    3) Punctuated equilibrium doesn’t really constitute a process. Invoke neo-Darwinism with a fresh new look at probability.

    4) Probability estimates prove time, chance, random mutation, and natural selection still cannot produce life. Borrow from cosmologists and physicists and invoke multiple universes.

    5) Probability estimates prove multiple universes may not be enough. Invoke infinite multiple universes.

    6) If #5 fails, multiply infinity by infinity. That may defy reason and the laws of mathematics, but we must not relinquish our irrational paradigm no matter what the cost.

    Welcome to the wonderful world of rigorous science compliments of the neo-Darwinists.
    Even Anaximander would have given up before now.

  14. 14
    lars says:

    This is somewhat off-topic, but for lack of a better place to ask this question…
    What are the implications for cosmological ID of this newly-discovered billions-of-light-years-wide void in the universe?
    http://space.newscientist.com/.....cross.html

    Because the CMB is leftover radiation from the big bang, some cosmologists have said that the cold spot is a problem for the theories of the early universe. But Rudnick says that the void could have been created billions of years after the big bang. “We have taken the problem away from the very early universe and put the problem in the time of structure formation,” he says.

    Computer simulations that recreate the formation of clusters and super-clusters have never seen voids of this size.

    In particular, does this affect the “designed for discovery” argument?
    Thanks…

  15. 15
    Joseph says:

    Can’t resist-

    One designer of infinite universes… 😉

  16. 16
    Kipper says:

    A summary of modern evolutionary though:

    1) Who needs a creator after Darwin proved that nature possesses its own creative force.

    2) The fossil record supports Darwinism. Hypothesize punctuated equilibrium, a process encompassed withing Darwinian evolution, as one form in which evolution could take place.

    3) Punctuated equilibrium, if it plays a role, is though to be minor.

    4) Probability estimates can, of course, PROVE nothing.

    5) Probability estimates used by one man to invoke infinite multiple universe theory, earlier hypothesized by some physicists. As of now, there is no was to test whether this theory is accurate, therefore, it cannot be called a scientific theory.

    Welcome to the wonderful world of rigorous science. You should try joining it sometime.

  17. 17
    BarryA says:

    Kipper, you should try using a dictionary. Maybe someone will take you seriously.

  18. 18
    j says:

    Behe’s words in The Edge of Evolution deserve a showing in all this discussion of the infinite multiverse conjecture:

    [After giving a very good argument against the universe being part of a finite multiverse, Behe continues:] What if a multiverse contained not just a tremendous number of universes, but an infinite number? In that case the situation changes utterly — and becomes very weird indeed. Infinity is not just some ultrabig number; it’s a completely different and strange case. If the number of universes in the multiverse were infinite, and if all the necessary factors such as laws, constants, and so on could vary in the right ways, there would not just be rare, occasional universes like ours — there would be an infinite number identical to it. There would also be an infinite number of universes almost identical to ours, where everything was the same except for some trivial detail; where, say, instead of hesitating for two seconds after the traffic light turned green last Tuesday morning, you (or your double) hesitated for three seconds. And there would be an infinite number where more and more aspects differed. There would also be an infinite number of dead universes, without the necessary or sufficient conditions for life.

    If you think that’s odd, consider this. There would also be an infinite number of universes that did not have what are usually considered the necessary conditions for the gradual development of life, but nevertheless contained it. An infinite number of universes would harbor an infinite number of “freak observers”… In a nutshell: In an infinite multiverse, probabilities don’t matter. Any event that isn’t strictly impossible will occur an infinite number of times…

  19. 19
    StephenB says:

    Kipper, I am prepared to clarify my meaning of proof to mean proof beyond a reasonable doubt, since science accepts or rejects hypotheses based on probability models and not claims of absolute certainty.

    I don’t like to waste words, so I assume that my audience will appreciate brevity, especially when I am making a rhetorical rather than a scientific point. Everyone on this post knows about the scientific method and what its limits are.

    Beyond that I cannot comment. I don’t want to be unkind, but I honestly don’t understand what you are trying to say.

  20. 20
    Apollos says:

    ex-xian wrote:

    “BTW. is there any way to view all the entries that I’ve commented in? I know that I lose track and probably miss some responses.”

    The only way I know is to search google with a string like this:

    ex-xian site:uncommondescent.com

    The results might be delayed by several hours, because it’s dependent on the last time the bot crawled through.

    There’s a comments RSS link at the bottom of the page, but it seems to only show the latest 10 comments.

  21. 21
    Apollos says:

    Actually the search link at the top of the page seems to work just fine for the purpose.

  22. 22
    Kipper says:

    What I am trying to say is this, if you actually look how he got to his number – which, by the way, he states is

    “not supposed to be realistic by any account”

    and calls a “toy model”

    you will realize that his number is an estimation based on estimation based on estimation, etc. Therefore, I think that hardly calls for “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” To quote this number as fact, or even close to it, is dissembling at its most blatant.

  23. 23
    vividblue says:

    “Actually, I think it was Leibniz, a Christian, who make popular the infinite worlds ideas. From God’s omniscience, he viewed all logically possible worlds. From his omni-benevolence he choose the best possible world, and from his omnipotence he actuated this best of all possible worlds.”

    Shrodingers cat? “Nothing is real unless it is observed” The ultimate observer collapsed the “wave function” thus our universe.

    Vivid

  24. 24
    BarryA says:

    Kipper, do you believe your co-religionist (I assume you are a materialist) included his probability estimate for no reason? Do you believe he is wildly wrong? Even if he is wrong by several orders of magnitude his basic premise still stands. There have not been sufficient random events in the history of the universe (the one we live in I mean) to account for the information content of even the simplest cell by random chance.

    Also, don’t just rail against the darkness; light a candle. If you think his numbers are wrong, give us your own estimate and the assumptions you base it on.

  25. 25
    Jordan says:

    From http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/simplicity/: “Before setting aside the definitional question for ontological parsimony, one further distinction should be mentioned. This distinction is between qualitative parsimony (roughly, the number of types (or kinds) of thing postulated) and quantitative parsimony (roughly, the number of individual things postulated).[6] The default reading of Occam’s Razor in the bulk of the philosophical literature is as a principle of qualitative parsimony.”

    Clearly the multiverse hypothesis (whatever its flaws) is more qualitatively parsimonious than the God hypothesis, since it postulates more things of the same kind as opposed to an entirely new kind of thing.

    Also, note that we have very strong evidence that universes can exist, seeing as how we live in one; the same cannot be said of God(s), as far as I can tell. Shouldn’t we prefer hypotheses that 1) Have greater qualitative parsimony, and 2) Only postulate instances of the kinds of things known to have been instantiated at least once?

    I’m not saying I think the multiverse hypothesis is a good one. I just don’t see how the God hypothesis is any better (in fact, it seems a bit worse to me, for the above reasons).

  26. 26
    StephenB says:

    Well Kipper, you need to make up your mind whether to respond to the post directly or my interpretation of it. The context for the each is slightly different. Don’t go with your talking points, respond to what is being said.

    Apparently after all this fuss, you still miss my point, so here it is uncomplicated and dispossesed of its former nuances: Darwinists know their theory doesn’t work so they keep changing the theoretical backgroud to make it work, culminating in the desperate tactic of invoking multiple universes, a concept that stretches credulity a hundred times more than belief in anytranscendant designer.
    Now reread post #13 and respond to the broader point.

  27. 27
    Kipper says:

    BarryA,

    I believe he included it so that he would have a number to make his article look better. It is a sad fact of some modern science that things like this occur. Try reading any of Peter A, Lawrence’s commentary’s if you do not understand what I mean. Big numbers and big ideas mean more press, even if they are not based on anything. You get grants for papers, not good science.
    I can’t say if he is wrong or right, but I do know the numbers he uses are pure speculation and therefore his final number is pure speculation, whether it turns out to be true or not (something we don’t know now, perhaps sometime in the future we may). To use it in a statement as is done above is intellectually dishonest. And again, there is no point in coming up with my own number. That would be speculation also, and I’m not trying to sell a book here so what’s the point. It doesn’t get us anywhere.

    StephenB,

    Even more dissembling, well done. You don’t seem to have an answer to the actual point, (to spell it out for you: the number that you based your post on is complete speculation, therefore #4-6 of your post are meaningless, apart from the outright lies of #2 &#3) so you desperately try to shift the discussion.

    So, we know the theory works quite well, but we are always open to new ideas that have some basis in reality. One man is now “invoking multiple universes”, certainly his prerogative. You can hardly say this is a common place idea that all us “Darwinists” (love that term by the way) have expounded.

    However, at least we have evidence for one universe, it is not a huge leap to say there is more that one. We have no evidence for even one designer, therefore I see that as a bigger leap. By they way, that is a talking point.

  28. 28
    BarryA says:

    Kipper, your ignorance is invincible; please move along.

  29. 29
    StephenB says:

    Kipper, you are answering your own questions and ignoring mine. I didn’t base my post on a number, I based it on an observation.
    Why do you think puntuated equilibrium was offered as an alternative to Darwinism? Hint: inconclusive fossil record made gradual macro-changes seem implausible.

    Why do you think biologists are beginning to borrow from the cosmological paradigm of infinite multiple universes. Hint: only a number as large as infinity will rescue Darwinists from the almost infinitely low probability that random mutation and natural selection will generate life. IF THEY DIDN’T NEED INFINITY, THEY WOULDN’T CALL ON IT TO SAVE THEM.

    Why do you think that some people use the word “Darwinist?” Hint: guided evolution (Theistic Evolution) must be distinquished from unguided evolution (Darwinist). So the term is not meant to be derogatory it is meant to be descriptive.

  30. 30
    Joseph says:

    However, at least we have evidence for one universe, it is not a huge leap to say there is more that one.

    Where would they be?

    We have no evidence for even one designer, therefore I see that as a bigger leap.

    There isn’t any evidence that nature, operating freely, can give rise to living organisms from non-living matter.

    So now what do we do?

  31. 31
    DonaldM says:

    bornagain77 writes:

    The multi-verse fails in logic for this reason. If it is required for an infinite number of other universes to exist to account for the fine tuning of this universe and to make the materialistic philosophy palatable, Then by default it is also infinitely possible for God to exist. Thus, if it is infinitely possible for God to exist than God certainly must exist no matter how small the probability.

    I made a very similar argument myself back in January of 2002 in response to a paper by William Dembski posted at ISCID (see http://www.iscid.org/papers/De.....012002.pdf )

    In the discussion I wrote:

    …Could it not be argued that if all possible possibilities are carried out in an infinite number of alternative worlds, then one of those worlds would contain the possibility that an intelligent designer was necessary to bring about the existence of the cosmos known to that world, and was also necessary to bring life itself into existence, and that we happen to be living in just such a world? Given the unlimited scope of the many world’s hypothesis, how could this possibility be eliminated?

    I realize that these hypotheses were concocted in order to rule out non-naturalistic explanations. However, I can’t help but wonder if the unintended consequence of these sorts of hypotheses is that they make it easier to smuggle an intelligent designer back into the picture…

    To which Dembski responded:

    Unlimited probabilistic resources render chance plausible where otherwise it would be implausible. That’s the fundamental intuition. But we do eliminate chance and infer design in practice. So the problem is to draw a principled distinction between when we attribute chance and when we infer design in the presence of unlimited probabilistic resources. I claim there’s no way to do this, and in particular that presupposing naturalism does not constitute such principled grounds.
    Donald attempts to turn the tables and wants to argue that unlimited probabilistic resources might in fact make room for a designer in some possible worlds. I don’t see this. Most of the proposals for inflating probabilistic resources assume that other possible worlds/bubble universes/alternative histories are bound by the same general laws and constraints as our world/bubble/history. The presence of a designer in one and the designer’s absence in the other would therefore have to follow on other than scientifically arguable grounds. Moreover, metaphysics is hardly likely to help since the metaphysics of inflation is designed precisely to preclude design.

    After I read his response, I agreed Dembski was right regarding this. The paper, by the way, provides a great analysis of the subject of this discussion thread. I recommend it to anyone interested.

  32. 32
    bornagain77 says:

    Donald I would argue that the postulation of an infinite number of other universe’s trying an infinite number of parameters, both known and unknown, is absolutely crushing to the materialistic philosophy for they have opened up the “infinity can of worms”. Since they can by no means say what these parameters are in these other universe’s then it is also infinitely possible for a Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Eternal Being to exist. My point is that if they are forced into making this allusion they default in logic for now it is infinitely possible for God to exist. If it is infinitely possible for God to exist He certainly does exist. If God certainly does exist then infinite blind chance is subject to His will since he is omnipotent!
    To me it seems clear, the logic has failed the materialists in this matter!

  33. 33
    DaveScot says:

    jordan

    “God” (defined as an infinite being where all things are possible) and an infinite multiverse (defined as an infinite space where all things are mandatory) are both non-scientific. Remember the old saw “A theory that explains everything explains nothing”.

    Intelligent agency capable of building complex machines is already instantiated in this universe at least once. One additional intelligent agency in the observable universe is clearly more parsimonius.

    The ID hypothesis stated as follows is perfectly scientific according to Popper’s famous example with swans (all swans are white).

    All complex machines are intelligently designed.

    Just as the observation of one black swan will falsify Popper’s example – one observation of a complex machine designed without intelligent agency will falsify the ID hypothesis.

    Behe’s recent book “Edge of Evolution” is very important as it describes an observation (p. falciparum replicating trillions of times) where the ID hypothesis could have been falsified but instead was a confirmed prediction of ID (no complex machines without intelligent agency). It’s hard to imagine a better test of random mutation’s real-world ability than analyzing genetic change in a eukaryote at the nucleotide level over orders of magnitude more replications than all mammals that ever lived.

  34. 34
    Gareth says:

    “All complex machines are intelligently designed.”

    Which lads to the conclusion that all life, which is all irreducibly complex, has been intelligently designed.

    “Just as the observation of one black swan will falsify Popper’s example – one observation of a complex machine designed without intelligent agency will falsify the ID hypothesis.”

    The corresponding conclusion is that one example of life which can be shown to have been “designed” without an intelligent agency will falsify the ID-hypothesis.

  35. 35
    StephenB says:

    I think the concept of infinity is much more useful for negating than for affirming. I am not a mathematician, but don’t we use infinity to establish limits rather than describe possibilities. In philosophy, don’t we use the term “infinite regress” to explain what is not possible so that we can know what must be. Isn’t it just a dramatic way of proving a hypothesis to be false by proving the opposite to be true.

    Sure, we can think about infinity in the abstract and be awed by it, but I don’t see how we can consider it as the answer to a riddle when it presents a larger riddle itself. To me, Dembski’s comment about infinite universes constituting “inflated explanatory resources” sums it up nicely. Or am I misusing his point here.

  36. 36
    DonaldM says:

    bornagain77

    Donald I would argue that the postulation of an infinite number of other universe’s trying an infinite number of parameters, both known and unknown, is absolutely crushing to the materialistic philosophy for they have opened up the “infinity can of worms”. Since they can by no means say what these parameters are in these other universe’s then it is also infinitely possible for a Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Eternal Being to exist.

    In terms of raw logic, I would agree. However, in terms of what materialists (or naturalists) mean when they talk about infinite resources, no. I think Dembski is right: the only reason multiverses are even considered is because the known probabalistic of this universe are inadequate.
    The key phrase is probabalistic resources. An infinite supernatural entity, such as God, is not a probabalistic resource, but something categorically and quantitatively different. If it were otherwise, then it could be said that God just happens to be one of those entities that occur from time to time — given infinite probabalistic resources. I don’t want to even contemplate the theology of that!!!

  37. 37
    DonaldM says:

    StephenB

    To me, Dembski’s comment about infinite universes constituting “inflated explanatory resources” sums it up nicely. Or am I misusing his point here.

    No, I think you’ve got it right! The whole point is rescue chance from the contraints of limited probabilities. So, let’s just say that available probabalistic resources for chance to work are infinite and voila! chance is rescued!! And how do we do that? Oh easy…Just postulate an infinite number of (and this is the tricky part) unobservable universes! The materialist’s mantra — infinity: works every time its tried!!!

  38. 38

    […] It’s nice to see that some of my thoughts in my previous post have actually been proposed by others, so I wasn’t just making them all up! 🙂 See Darwinists Now say “Parsimony Smarsimony” for example. Of particular interest, one of the comments notes that Behe has written: In a nutshell: In an infinite multiverse, probabilities don’t matter. Any event that isn’t strictly impossible will occur an infinite number of times… […]

  39. 39
    mullerpr says:

    Jordan wrote:
    “Clearly the multiverse hypothesis (whatever its flaws) is more qualitatively parsimonious than the God hypothesis, since it postulates more things of the same kind as opposed to an entirely new kind of thing.”

    I cannot see how you can say that the God hypothesis is an entirely new kind of thing. You need to show that a consciousness of the specific God hypothesis that is placed against the multi-verse hypothesis is NEWer in either a materialist sense or the dualist sense that fits perfectly with the God hypothesis presented. In either case (materialist or dualits) is the God hypothesis certainly not new in relation to the multiverse.

    In the materialist argument God is a material construct of brain chemistry as is the multiverse and both of them is materially unprovable.

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