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# Evolution’s Religion Revealed

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Did you know evolution is a religious theory? If this seems strange then read on. In this post I will explain one way that evolution is contingent on religious reasoning. Such reasoning is a constant thread running through the evolution genre, but it can be subtle. If you are familiar with the evolution literature you may have noticed this underlying theme, but exactly how does it work?

Enter evolutionist and philosopher Elliott Sober. In his new paper, Sober continues his work in analyzing the arguments for evolution. He has done much work which is particularly helpful in showing (i) the premises built into the arguments and (ii) the relative strengths of the different arguments evolutionists use. And strong arguments are needed for evolution, as Sober writes:

William, Certainly. #2 can be generated by a trivial program, and #3 is an English sentence. I have no problem seeing that #3 is typical of sentences that humans produce. But I don't believe that I use Dembski's eliminative logic to infer that it's human-made, nor do I believe that design can be coherently categorized outside of necessity and chance. So I reject Dembski's methods and attendant measures, contrary to his claim the specified complexity is how we all detect design.R0b
June 30, 2009
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R0b: Is there, in your opinion, a definite, substantive difference between 1, 2, and 3 above?William J. Murray
June 30, 2009
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William J. Murray, as far as I can tell, your math is impeccable. Of course, complexity is always relative to a chance hypothesis. Apparently your chance hypothesis for #3 is that it was randomly typed on a standard keyboard, and your chance hypothesis for #2 is that the bits were randomly selected from the set {0,1}. For those chance hypotheses, the complexity is 30 bits for a 30-bit binary string, and 195 bits for #3. If, instead, our chance hypothesis is that the characters were chosen from the Unicode set, the complexity of #3 is much bigger. Or, if we hypothesize that the characters were selected from the set of alphabetical letters and spaces, the complexity is much smaller. Or we could hypothesize that the words were randomly selected from a small dictionary. And why restrict ourselves to sample spaces that consist of 30 characters or 5 words? Maybe the sentence was chosen from the set of all sentences of any length. The complexity of the binary sequence can likewise be arbitrarily increased or decreased. According to Dembski, we must take into account all relevant chance hypotheses. As there is no end to the chance hypotheses we can invent, complexity calculations seem pretty arbitrary. And hey, we also get to choose whether our calculation takes into account specificational resources or not. CSI is a pretty malleable metric.R0b
June 29, 2009
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#215: Because a binary system has two components; 0, and 1. This means that in every position, there are only two possible states; 0, or 1. The only simpler system would be one possible state. With the sentence (or even the random letter and punctuation noise), there are @ 90 (the number of distinct, different symbols my keyboard can produce, including small case and upper case letters, sybmols, numbers, etc). If there are about 30 symbols in a string (including spaces), then the complexity of the string is about 90^30, compared to 2^30 (if we use 30 binary digits). For any string of 30 symbols, the least complex string is 1^30 in terms of potential complexity; that's the lowest complexity available, as far as I know (and I'm not a mathematician. The next simplest would be 2^30. I think its entirely reasonable to call the binary string simple, and the other string complex. Even if we limit the sentence to letters, spaces, and punctuation, it's still incredibly more complex than the binary string. Please correct my math if my math is wrong.William J. Murray
June 29, 2009
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Seversky; I have already provided the evidence that ghosts exist. William Crookes published such evidence in the Journal of Science; a recent NDE published in the Lancet study provided evidence, and reiterated that it should be a part of future research, that a transcendent nature of consciousness (i.e., not dependent on the brain) should be considered. Other evidence of ghosts, or disembodied consciousnesses (as we currently understand the term "embodied"), has been accumulated through other scientfic research carried on by various programs at various institutes, such as the Veritas Research Program, The Sophia Research Program, rigorous scientific reserach carried out by Dr. Julie Bieschel at the Windbridge Institute, the Scole Experiment, and the Afterlife Experiments. Whether or not you personally find this evidence compelling is not the issue; you claimed "In the case of ghosts, we have evidence that the human visual system is prone to malfunctions like hallucinations but none that such things exist outside human imagination." Such evidence does, in fact, exist, and it has, in fact, been published in major journals as well as in non-mainstream journals and books; such research has been carried out for about 150 years by various scientists and accepted by many eminent scientists as convincing evidence. That you personally don't find the evidence "compelling" is besided the point that such evidence exists. YOur claim about visual errors is specious, unless you wish to further claim that cameras and other recording equipment - including audio - present at the time of much of the modern research are similarly prone to errors which match what the individuals claim to be observing (as in the Scole Experiment and the Afterlife Experiments). While I am happy to provide you with the evidence you seek that disproves your claim, because it would "be easier" for me to disprove your claim, than for you to support it, perhaps makes an argument that you should be more careful about your claims of fact. Stating that you are personally unaware of such evidence is one thing; stating that no such evidence exists is another. Stating that you are unconvinced by the evidence is not the same as claiming that such evidence simply doesn't exist.William J. Murray
June 29, 2009
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The claim that evolution is a fact entails more than merely “change over time.” It entails all the species arising from blind, natural processes, a claim that is not motivated by the scientific evidence alone.
Well, at least we have discovered where your confusion lies. Also, it is easy to remedy. Allow me to do so now: Change over time is all evolution requires. If there is any change in a population, and those changes are acted on by natural selection, there is nothing stopping evolution from happening. A more technical way of saying this is by saying: Imperfect replicators competing for resources will evolve. This disconnects the concept from biology into a more mathematical form, which can be implemented in the form of genetic algorithms for example. This has been done, and the concept has been shown to be mathematically sound. We can OBSERVE populations adapting to thier environments. This IS evolution. Nothing more is required. So now that I have explained to you why the process of evolution is observable in nature, can you explain why you think the THEORY of evolution that explains this phenomenon is religios? I ask again, what EXACTLY do you think evolution relies on that is religios in nature? So far you have only replied with the links in 55, which I have adressed, and shown to be irrelevant. Is there anything else you can use to support your position, or is your position unsupported? I am beginning to suspect the latter is true.BVZ
June 29, 2009
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Re #207 and #210 William - your examples illustrate one of the many problems with the concept of CSI. Presumably you rate (3) as specified because it makes a meaningful sentence in the English language. But this is context dependent. For all we know (1) is a cipher for a meaningful sentence or has some other significance we don't appreciate. Dembski tries to get round this by defining "specified" in terms of Kolmogorov complexity - low Kolmogorov complexity means the outcome can be produced with a low number of rules and initial information. Then the "information" in an outcome is the probability of obtaining an outcome with equal of lower Kolmogorov complexity. The problem is that string 2 has a lower Kolmogorov complexity than string 3. So using Dembski's definition the information in string 3 should be based on the probability of obtaining string 3 plus numerous other strings including string 2! So it is less complex than string 2. You say you are not a mathematician. It is worth getting to the grips with the detail of the definition of CSI. You will find it is not as clear a concept as it first appears.Mark Frank
June 28, 2009
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William J. Murray @ 189
That’s not what I asked you to support. I asked you to support the claim that there is no such evidence. You made the assertion; you can either support it, or you cannot.
I have searched for compelling evidence for the existence of ghosts and found none. I have, in effect, provided you with a hostage to fortune in that claim. If you have evidence to the contrary, not only can you prove me wrong before all these "onlookers" but you can enable science to take a massive step forward. Can you do that?
Second, a positive claim of fact based on a lack of evidence to the contrary is a classic argument from ignorance. Lack of evidence of a thing is not evidence the thing doesn’t exist. So, not only have you not supported your assertion that no such evidence exists, even if you could support it, you would be committing a logical fallacy in claiming such a lack of evidence supported your assertion that ghosts do not exist.
My claim was that we have evidence that the human visual system is prone to errors like hallucinations but none for ghosts that exist outside our imagination. If I am right then, by Occam's Razor, we should prefer the simpler explanation that ghosts are a phenomenon that exists only inside our heads not outside.
Third, asking me for evidence that ghosts exist is “shifting the burden”; you are the one making assertions; back them up if you can.
The burden of proof is usually held to rest with the claimant, although that only holds if the claimant is concerned with persuading his or her audience of the merits of the claim. For me to prove the claim that there are no published research papers which find evidence for the existence of ghosts as a phenomenon that exists independent of the human mind is possible. It would however require something like a joint search of all available research databases to verify for you that no such research exists, an exercise which I do not feel inclined to undertake. It would be much easier, if you know of research which has found evidence for the objective existence of ghosts, to lay it before us. It would only require one such paper to demolish my position entirely.Seversky
June 28, 2009
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Echidna-Levy, ------"Then how can you claim that, for example, the origin of life required a supernatural intervention? Or that ghosts are supernatural? Or that souls/spirits exist and are non-material?" By keeping an open mind.Clive Hayden
June 28, 2009
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William, how do you figure that "The spaghetti here is excellent" is complex, but "0101010101010101010101010" is not?R0b
June 28, 2009
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William J. Murray @ 188
Design is the better explanation of the two, because (1) natural law and chance have not provided a sufficient explanation for the development of the eye, and (2) design does, and (3) we have examples of design generating similar such structures (regardless of how “perfect” they are) in human-designed and engineered mechanisms.
Yes, we have evidence of the human capacity for design. But that is all we have. We have no evidence that human beings were involved in the "design" of any of the various eyes found in living creatures on Earth. We have no evidence of extraterrestrial designers at all. Saying something looks designed because it looks like things we design is unadulterated Paleyism. And we do have a better alternative, as I am sure you know, in the form of Nilsson and Pelger's mathematical modeling of how the human eye could have evolved in what is a relatively short period of time by geological standards. It is better, by the way, because it offers an explanation of 'how' not just a claim of 'who'. If someone watches a David Copperfield illusion and asks "How on Earth did he do that?", replying "David Copperfield did it" is not likely to be thought a satisfactory answer.
The theory that utilizes the process known to produce similar features - design - is thus the better explanation.
Design, in this case, does not exist apart from an extraterrestrial designer, the existence of which has yet to be demonstrated.Seversky
June 28, 2009
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William, Have you gone to the link you gave?
Thus far, Dembski's only attempt at calculating the specified complexity of a naturally occurring biological structure is in his book No Free Lunch
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However, Dembski says that the precise calculation of the relevant probability "has yet to be done",
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These methods assume that all of the constituent parts of the flagellum must have been generated completely at random, a scenario that biologists do not seriously consider.
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When Dembski's mathematical claims on specific complexity are interpreted to make them meaningful and conform to minimal standards of mathematical usage, they usually turn out to be false. Dembski often sidesteps these criticisms by responding that he is not "in the business of offering a strict mathematical proof for the inability of material mechanisms to generate specified complexity".
If the good Dr will not offer a strict mathematical proof for the inability of material mechanisms to generate specified complexity, then why is it claimed over and over, mainly by Kariosfocus but by plenty of others too, that this is exactly what has been done? That the onus is on the evolutionists to prove that evolution can create the complexity that stawmen such as the 747 example attempts to blow down? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoyle%27s_fallacy
According to Ian Musgrave in Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, and Probability of Abiogenesis Calculations: These people, including Fred, have committed one or more of the following errors. 1. They calculate the probability of the formation of a "modern" protein, or even a complete bacterium with all "modern" proteins, by random events. This is not the abiogenesis theory at all. 2. They assume that there is a fixed number of proteins, with fixed sequences for each protein, that are required for life. 3. They calculate the probability of sequential trials, rather than simultaneous trials. 4. They misunderstand what is meant by a probability calculation. 5. They seriously underestimate the number of functional enzymes/ribozymes present in a group of random sequences.[1]
June 28, 2009
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William, Thanks for the lesson. Now, I understand that 500 bits of "CSI" or "FSCI" indicates intelligence was involved in the creation of those bits. Could you give me an example (or could anyone) of an object of any type with A) 499 B) 500 C) 501 bits of CSI/FSCI? I'm very interested to see what sort of object is but a bit away from "intelligence required".Echidna-Levy
June 28, 2009
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Rob says: "In my experience, attempts to pin down allegedly rigorous mathematical ID concepts are usually met with vague examples like this. Why not provide a technical account rather than assuming that non-IDers need a hand-holding primer?" I'm sorry, i'm not a mathmetician, so I can't make such rigorous arguments. However, I have noticed that such math models are available easily on the internet; here's one at Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specified_complexityWilliam J. Murray
June 28, 2009
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Rob, My bad, my acronyms got mixed up. 01010101010 is specified, but not complex. j[2-i0ejkqnf03un4[ is complex, but not necressarily specified. The spaghetti here is excellent. = complex, specified information. The binary example lacks CSI because it is not complex, not because it "might" be created by natural forces.William J. Murray
June 28, 2009
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Upright Biped:
Why you rant about Abel is just as clear. Clear as a bell.
I agree. I can't image someone with English's background having a positive opinion of Abel's work.R0b
June 28, 2009
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William J. Murray:
We’ll use a very easy example, the following three lines of text: 1. on[oehrqnd9p02umd&*H)@ohpfpe 2. 0101010101010101010101010 3. The spaghetti here is excellent. The first line is an example of random information. The second is an example of simple repeating information that a natural law might predict. The third is an example of complex, specified information that is generally called by the shorthand FSCI or sometimes just “information”.
Whence the conflation of CSI with FSCI? Dembski has used alternating binary values as an example of high specificity several times. Why would you say that (2) doesn't have CSI just because it might be predicted by natural law(s)? Isn't the same true for biological structures? In my experience, attempts to pin down allegedly rigorous mathematical ID concepts are usually met with vague examples like this. Why not provide a technical account rather than assuming that non-IDers need a hand-holding primer?R0b
June 28, 2009
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Levy: We'll use a very easy example, the following three lines of text: 1. on[oehrqnd9p02umd&*H)@ohpfpe 2. 0101010101010101010101010 3. The spaghetti here is excellent. The first line is an example of random information. The second is an example of simple repeating information that a natural law might predict. The third is an example of complex, specified information that is generally called by the shorthand FSCI or sometimes just "information". This kind of information is independent of medium, meaning it doesn't rely on the medium, or the particular matter, to be understood or transmitted. That sentence can be spoken, written on paper, or carved in rock and it the specified message is the same. The message transcends the material that carries it, as long as the message can be understood by that which is sending it, and that which is decoding it. FSCI is not just a shorthand way of saying "we don't understand how chance or law produced this".William J. Murray
June 28, 2009
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I was wrong: last week's sermon is posted (both text and audio). It's called "Narnia's Aslan, Earth's Darwin, and Heaven's God." I liked it, though I can see why lots of folks will not.David Kellogg
June 28, 2009
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Perhaps this is off-topic: Marsh Chapel at Boston University has a series of sermons this summer on "Darwin and Faith." I heard the first one last Sunday and am listening to the second one now. They are excellent for those of us on the far liberal side of Christianity. Apparently links to the sermons will become available (the first sermon was preached last week but the link is not up yet).David Kellogg
June 28, 2009
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Clive
Nor do you understand the distinction between natural and supernatural, for no one really does.
Then how can you claim that, for example, the origin of life required a supernatural intervention? Or that ghosts are supernatural? Or that souls/spirits exist and are non-material?Echidna-Levy
June 28, 2009
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William
and examining it for complex, specified information.
Can you give me an example of how you would go about this? You can pick the object in question or I can supply an example if you prefer.
because the phenomena may not contain any CSI
Here is a list of variable star types * Cepheid variables * W Virginis variables * Delta Scuti variables * RR Lyrae variables * Mira variables * Semiregular variables * Irregular variables * Beta Cephei variables * Alpha Cygni variables * RV Tauri variables Can you say whuch contain CSI, how much and how did you determine that? For RV Tauri types Wikipedia notes
RV Tauri variables are supergiant variable stars. They exhibit changes in luminosity which are tied to radial pulsations of their surfaces. Their changes in brightness are also correlated with changes in their spectral type. While at their brightest, the stars have spectral types F or G. At their dimmest, their spectral types change to K or M. The formal period of brightness fluctuations is typically around 30 to 150 days, and exhibits alternating primary and secondary minima, which can change relative to each other. Difference between maximum and minimum brightness can be as much as four magnitudes. RV Tauri stars are further subclassified into two types: * RVa variables: these are RV Tauri variables which do not vary in mean brightness * RVb variables: these are RV Tauri variables which show periodic variations in their mean brightness, so that their maxima and minima change on 600 to 1500 day timescales The prototype of these variables, RV Tauri is a RVb type variable which exhibits brightness variations between magnitudes +9.8 and +13.3 with a formal period of 78.7 days. RV Tauri stars may be post-AGB objects. They are thought to be mostly binaries with dust possibly confined to a disc.
Based on that, does that type have A) No CSI B) Some CSI C) Lots of CSI And can you put a number on any of those options?Echidna-Levy
June 28, 2009
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Upright
Against all odds, a portion of the rationale for agency has been published in peer review. A case for agency has become part of the scientific record. And as expected, people were trashed and slandered for allowing it to happen. This was done to send a signal. (Anyone who has seen the private emails knows this to be true). The old “ID never publishes” retort is now a thing of the past - even though it has been made clear to all concerned that it is never to happen again, never to be expanded upon, and never to be cited.
And you agree with that then? If that all happened then don't your people have the courage of your convictions? Are you simply going to give up? Never try again because of a single bad experence? What specific paper are you refering to exactly? Sternberg? Perhaps you are refering to his work in the Baraminology Study Group, a "young Earth" group? Sure, he was critical of them but who would give creationists serious consideration anyway? So, If it's true that "people were trashed and slandered for allowing it to happen" and "this was done to send a signal" then I agree. It should never be tried again. ID should never again try to get taken seriously and be published. Why should you when only trouble awaits? If that's your attitude then no, ID will never be published, will never be taken seriously. If it was me and I had a belief and evidence that it was true and better explained the observed data then the current ideas then I would not rest until my view was taken seriously. And that does not mean I'd write books for the lay person and never attempt to engage the scientific community. Timecube has thousands of words written in support of, well, whatever it's about. But no real scientist will hear about it in via a peer reviewed journal. If the Steinberg situation did not happen you would have had to invent it.
There is nothing in the observational evidence that provides any information whatsoever about the existence of a God, or Gods, or any particular God, if any God at all.
So "the designer" could be an alien then? You disagree? At the start of this thread you said
But…mutations and mutation rates have been observed (see EoE). The problem is that the observations simply don’t fit the way the circus is being sold. If I understand Mr Hunter correctly, closing ones eyes to this fact is the “religious” part.
If "the observations" don't fit then you know what to do right? Write it up, and publish it. Get people to listen via good, solid, fact checked work and do something about it Presumably you can make your case for a better way to understand "the observations" then is currently the case? Presumably you can make that case without invoking a god, or gods? Then what exactly is stopping you doing so? Or do you prefer to make your pronouncements from the safety of a blog when you don't have to hold to any level of rigour and can simply say " the problem is that the observations simply don’t fit" If you can make a scientific argument out of that and get it published in the peer reviewed journal network then you might be onto something. Or would you prefer to publish a book and complain about the fact ID papers have been banned from publication because of a single example (which I don't even accept anyway as if you read the back story it's far far different to what's made out here. Tell me, what were the other papers published in the journal in question about?)
and never to be cited.
Yep, there is a global consipiracy stopping people citing that paper. Sometimes papers don't get cited for other reasons you know!
And I asked you to ask your question another way. And I then tried to answer it as I understood it in any case. Yes, claim victory if you want. Do whatvever you want. It does not matter a whit.
in fairness I tried to get at the core of what you were suggesting – that my characterization of materialism is incorrect (a strawman) because “nobody thinks that chance and material explain everything.”
Very well. If "chance and material" does not explain "everything" then what does? What do you invoke to explain what "chance and material" does not? And remember
There is nothing in the observational evidence that provides any information whatsoever about the existence of a God, or Gods, or any particular God, if any God at all.
So it seems to me you've already ruled out non-material entities in your answer. Therefore the answer must lie in the observable, material realm. And we come to an agreement.Echidna-Levy
June 28, 2009
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#200 Who claims that one should stop the investigation with the discovery of agency? This is an old canard; does science stop because “chance” is used to describe the manner in which certain specific aspects of a phenomena develop? Of course not. I not claiming that you have to stop with generic "agency". I am just saying you haven't started. I look forward to hearing an actual hypothesis. I’m afraid you have it backwards;a finding of “agency” is arrived at by a process of first discounting the natural explanations as sufficient, discounting chance as sufficient, My point is that this process is faulty reasoning. All that is dismissed is a specific chance hypothesis. That is not evidence for any other hypothesis - intelligent or otherwise. and examining the feature to see if agency as we know it (the human variety) is known to produce similar phemonena; and examining it for complex, specified information. But no human has ever created life. All they have ever achieved is creating DNA by copying the process that already exists. YUou will probably claim that humans have created CSI. But CSI is just another phrase for "this outcome is highly unlikely given this specific chance hypothesis". This is after all how Dembski defines it. So you can't "examine" something for CSI. You need to have a hypothesis in mind first. I could similarly claim that “chance” is just a means of “ducking” the ID explanation. And it would be similarly inadequate to put forward "chance" as an explanation. Luckily evolutionary biologists don't do that. They put forward actual hypotheses.Mark Frank
June 28, 2009
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Mark Frank said: "The trouble is that “agency” without any further definition adds nothing to the explanation. It is on par with saying that outcome X has a natural cause and calling that an explanation. " Who claims that one should stop the investigation with the discovery of agency? This is an old canard; does science stop because "chance" is used to describe the manner in which certain specific aspects of a phenomena develop? Of course not. Mark say: "It completely ducks the issue of other natural hypotheses and by defining “agency” in a completely generic way evades any comparable assessment of the probability of hypotheses including agency." I'm afraid you have it backwards;a finding of "agency" is arrived at by a process of first discounting the natural explanations as sufficient, discounting chance as sufficient, and examining the feature to see if agency as we know it (the human variety) is known to produce similar phemonena; and examining it for complex, specified information. I could similarly claim that "chance" is just a means of "ducking" the ID explanation. If we found a very strange phenomena in space that didn't seem to be generated by any known natural law, combination thereof, or chance, the best alternative answer may not be ID, because the phenomena may not contain any CSI, or exhibit any signs of havin been designed. We may not be aware of all of the natural laws or forces that operate in the universe, or of all the kinds of materials and subsequent natural behaviors. All of the known natural laws, and chance, may be entirely insufficient to generate the phenomena (say, a pulsing gas cloud that disappears in one area of space and randomly appears in another, changes color (apparently randomly) and then disappears again. Unless this cloud of gas is issuing a specified message in this pattern, it is probably just in the grip of some as-yet unknown natural process, perhas a quantum fluctuation that affects the macro world more than we are accustomed to obseving, in a random way. ID as a hypothesis, and a finding of ID, is no more a non-starter, or a science stopper, than gravity or chance. IT simply takes one down a different track than insisting that the CSI evidence "must be" the product of nature and chance, even if one has no meaningful idea how it could have been accomplished, other than insistent ideology.William J. Murray
June 28, 2009
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Re #196 The reason agency is regarded differently is because of the religious convictions of those who require that it be removed from the table of consideration I can't speak for the the motives of others but I treat hypotheses that include agency like any other hypotheses. The trouble is that "agency" without any further definition adds nothing to the explanation. It is on par with saying that outcome X has a natural cause and calling that an explanation. Note that CSI is not a result of agency. It is simply another way of expressing the perceived improbability of one particular alternative hypothesis that does not include agency. That is how it is defined. It completely ducks the issue of other natural hypotheses and by defining "agency" in a completely generic way evades any comparable assessment of the probability of hypotheses including agency. I could assess the improbability of the Christian God having created such a cruel living world, take the logarithm to the base 2 which will help obscure its meaning, give that number some pseudo mathematical name (theospecificity?) and then announce that high theospecificity was an effect of natural causes.Mark Frank
June 28, 2009
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Mr English, I do hope you are feeling better. I began reading your chapter with great anticipation, but immediately understood why you left Trevors and Abel out of it. Why you rant about Abel is just as clear. Clear as a bell. It makes me smile. Also, in case you did not catch my drift in our previous exchange, I am not subject to being shaken by your disdain. And, you needn't worry about my identity. If you insist that this is about personalities, then I would just say I'm your worst nightmare, and leave it at that. I look forward to reading your chapter. Perhaps tomorrow or Monday.Upright BiPed
June 28, 2009
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R0b, -----"I don’t understand the distinction between material and immaterial, but I would think that something that emits or reflects photons would be considered material." Nor do you understand the distinction between natural and supernatural, for no one really does.Clive Hayden
June 28, 2009
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TM English: The operation of gravity is also fundamentally miraculous. Where did it come from? What sets it value? The existence of gravity - whatever it is - is fundamentally miraculous; it is what it is. It does what it does. The same with entropy. Time. The strong and weak nuclear forces. Is agency somehow more miraculous, and less scientific when it is revealed by the presence of complex specific information, than when gravity is revealed by the orbit of planets around the sun? The reason agency is regarded differently is because of the religious convictions of those who require that it be removed from the table of consideration.William J. Murray
June 27, 2009
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Upright BiPed, Very late response to you over yonder. Agency, agency, agency. "I think you should be more explicit here in step 2." The operation of agency is fundamentally miraculous. I mean, we're talking about mind creating information out of nothing, right? However real miracles may be, they are of no utility in scientific explanation. Imagine if, in my original discipline of experimental psychology, researchers "explained" behavior with statements like "The subject just up and did it." That is the essence of agency, after all. If agency is a nonstarter in scientific explanation of human behavior, why should it be considered in explanation of biological organization? "Something just up and made it that way." You vastly overrate empirical science and rationalism. To say that something comes out of nothing is patently absurd -- and this is not at all to say that it is patently false. My point is that to believe in our own agency, we must embrace the irrational. My knowledge of creation comes from direct, private experience, and is not something I can prove by logic or support with empirical evidence. One of the reasons I gave up creationism long ago was that it struck me as sacrilegious to make unwarranted declarations about the Creator. Since reading Chapter 1 of Bill Dembski's new book on theodicy, God's appearance to Job (Chaps. 38-41) has been much on my mind. God tells Job in no uncertain terms that he is ignorant of the particulars of creation and the workings of the world. We should be very humble in our claims as to what we can learn by science.T M English
June 27, 2009
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