Intelligent Design

Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence

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Which claims in the ID versus Darwinism/materialism debate are extraordinary?

ID asserts that the fine tuning of the universe for life (thoroughly documented by astrophysicists in increasingly excruciating detail), the origin of living systems from non-living matter, and the evolution of a single cell into humans capable of inventing science, technology, art and philosophy, are best explained by design. Design is a straightforward conclusion that screams at most people from all quarters, which is why only a small percentage of the American populace accepts blind-watchmaker evolutionary theory.

ID is an ordinary claim, and evidence for it is mounting rapidly, on scales from the astronomically huge to the submicroscopically small.

Materialistic philosophy asserts that the fine tuning of the universe for life is an accident. (Perhaps our life-tuned universe is the result of an infinitude of in-principle undetectable random universes produced by an in-principle undetectable random-universe-generating machine?) Materialistic philosophy asserts that inanimate matter spontaneously generated life. (No one has the faintest idea how this happened, or even how it could have happened. Origin-of-life hypotheses are hopelessly lost in a web of mutually contradictory speculations that are impotent in the face of the origin of biological information.) And blind-watchmaker Darwinism asserts that random errors (with failed experiments thrown out by natural selection) turned an unexplained cell into human civilization and all that it entails.

Darwinism/materialism is an extraordinary claim — a fantastic claim — and evidence for it is increasingly being shown to be not much more than wishful speculation.

77 Replies to “Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence

  1. 1
    jpark320 says:

    So true so true…

    I think what Dr. Dembski and Co. is (unfortunately) true that this is a battle for the next generation. I mean if the “old regime” keeps fitting every new discovery whether it be soft tissue from a Trex (even if you don’t believe it there are some NDE that accept that it is soft tissue and don’t change their mind), DNA, immunology, microtubules (these babies are crazy), nothing will…

  2. 2
    JGuy says:

    The fine tuning argument, I think, can go MUCH deeper in it’s tuning argument. For example:
    Not only are the various existing universal parameters fine tuned…but the universal set {..of all existing parameters..} avaialable are seemingly all required. Any more or different parameteres would probabilistically have just added chaos or insufficiency for life. Any less would have been too simple for even a snowflake or salt crystal to form. 🙂

  3. 3
    MikeFNQ says:

    ID asserts that the fine tuning of the universe for life… etc

    Well, there goes any pretense that ID isn’t saying that the designer is God. Thanks Bill!

  4. 4
    MikeFNQ says:

    Oops… Not Bill, Gil

  5. 5
    jwrennie says:

    “Well, there goes any pretense that ID isn’t saying that the designer is God”

    I don’t think you really understand the distinction that is made if you say something like that. I am sure there are many ID people that have no problem with suggesting that the designer is a god of some sort, certianly something like that must be true for the fine tuning of the universe, but the identity of the designer is a seperate question from the question of whether or not a designer exists. One is a theological question the other is a scientific question.

  6. 6
    Chris Hyland says:

    Im not sure scientists claim that evolution is an ‘ordinary claim’, and whether or not the evidence is mounting I cant see how you can claim ID is and ‘ordinary claim’. That’s not saying it isn’t true, its just saying that it requires just as much evidence as evolution. That it “screams at most people from all quarters” doesn’t count as it certainly doesn’t scream at a lot of people myself included.

    I don’t know too much about astrophysics so could someone give me a link to an article that explains how the probabilities are calculated for the constants. Thanks.

  7. 7
    MikeFNQ says:

    Douglas Adams, RIP, once uttered the following brilliance:

    . . . imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!’ This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for. * As quoted in Richard Dawkins’ Eulogy for Douglas Adams

    How do we calculate the probabilities of Universal constants? Badly.

  8. 8
    Ekstasis says:

    The litmus test of “ordinary claim” vs “extraordinary claim” seems not to be primarily a matter of what people generally perceive or that one theory requires more evidence than another, but rather gets back to Occam’s Razor. In other words, shall we take what exhibits mountains of apparent design, and throw the theory based on design out, to be replaced by alternate theories that certainly are to a large degree convoluted, contrived, and unprovable.

  9. 9
    kvwells says:

    It would be hard to imagine a more philosophically destitute category mistake than d. adams’ puddle analogy above. This is the very argument that is being discussed here. Darwinists are continually declaring that some future discovery will give the lie to a rational person’s assesment that life and people are intrinsically complex and of a different sort of ‘stuff’ (qualitatively) than rocks and stars and puddles. The Darwinist drastic recursive oversimplification seems to go like this:

    1. We have to account for simple matter arranged to produce incomprehensible levels of complexity without the influence of intellingence at any stage in the process.

    2. constituent matter within this ‘apparent’ complexity is simple.

    3. Therefore the complexity itself is an illusion which will yield to the eventual TOE.

    I wonder if the Darwinist would consider the phrase “a sense of wonder” as applied to our sense of place in the Universe, a sunset, etc. an oxymoron : “If we had any sense, we wouldn’t wonder at all.” (Equivocation was for free)

  10. 10
    Mats says:

    Ekstasis,

    In other words, shall we take what exhibits mountains of apparent design, and throw the theory based on design out, to be replaced by alternate theories that certainly are to a large degree convoluted, contrived, and unprovable.

    Don’t forget -> self-contradictory, unscientific, refuted, “hoaxed”, and mythological.

    It’s rather funny how Darwinists “forget” Occam’s Razor when it suits their needs.

    If biological life forms apear to be designed, that’s probably because, they were designed. The reason why people deny the design hypothesis, is not for scientific reasons, but for philosophical reason, IMO.

  11. 11
    Chris Hyland says:

    “In other words, shall we take what exhibits mountains of apparent design, and throw the theory based on design out, to be replaced by alternate theories that certainly are to a large degree convoluted, contrived, and unprovable.”

    I’m curious to know how design is provable and evolution* isn’t.

    “We have to account for simple matter arranged to produce incomprehensible levels of complexity without the influence of intellingence at any stage in the process.”

    If so then we also need to account for simple matter arranged to produce life with the influence of intelligence at specific stages in the process.

    “It’s rather funny how Darwinists “forget” Occam’s Razor when it suits their needs.”

    Some might say invoking an incredibly powerful unknown designing force violates Occam’s Razor.

    “The reason why people deny the design hypothesis, is not for scientific reasons, but for philosophical reason, IMO.”

    I could just as easily say the reason why people accept the design inference if for philosophical reasons.

  12. 12
    Scott says:

    Gil, note the nitpicking and hairsplitting that ensues when these issues and blatant observations which scream design are laid out on the table. Lately I find myself employing the phrase: “Any port in a storm” ad nauseum, but it SO applies.

  13. 13
    Scott says:

    Well, there goes any pretense that ID isn’t saying that the designer is God. Thanks Bill!

    Why God? Why not admit that there may be some kind of intelligence which is just way beyond our little brains\’ capacity to understand? And such a statement indicates that we should limit our observations because we are uncomfortable with the implications of what we may discover. Look, if the evidence points to an incredibly powerful intelligence beyond our comprehension, so be it. Even if we don\’t like it.

  14. 14
    tribune7 says:

    . . . imagine a puddle waking up one morning

    It’s easy if you try.

    Actually, it’s not.

    But it can be said via cold, hard, objective reason that those who resort to anthropomorphisizing bodies of left-over rainwater to make points in a debate, have lost the debate.

  15. 15
    Joseph says:

    Gil:
    ID asserts that the fine tuning of the universe for life… etc

    MikeFNQ:
    Well, there goes any pretense that ID isn’t saying that the designer is God.

    What you say doesn’t foolow what Gil stated. Just because a designer designed the universe does NOT mean there is eternal salvation.

    When considering the materialistic alternative to ID is “sheer-dumb-luck”. And when puddles can “wake up” Adams will have a point. Until then there is an abundance of data in “The Privileged Planet” that demonstrates Adams is sorely mistaken.

    Here is your chance- tell us how to test or falsify the premise that the bacterial flagellum “evolved” via some blind watchmaker-type process in a population in which not one bacterium had such a structure.

    Max Planck- during his Nobel prize acceptance speech (knowledge gathered from many years of scientific research):

    “All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this minute solar system of the atom together . . . . We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind.”

  16. 16
    Carlos says:

    I think that even most neo-Darwinists would agree with Aristotle’s sentiment, “all philosophy begins with wonder.”

    The divide seems to be between those who are willing to simply accept that the universe, and humanity, are a sort of glorious, wonderful accident, and those who insist on explanation.

    Among some mystics (apophatic or negative mysticism) the demand for explanation is seen as interfering with the encounter with the divine, since the divine (on some traditions) transcends all conceptualizations of a finite intellect.

    The philosopher Wittgenstein remarked, “It is not how the world is, but that the world is, that is the mystical.”

    This is not the first time I’ve noticed a peculiar dual-identity to intelligent design theory, one which is the source of both its appeal and its difficulties. It wants to be both science and theology — an empirical theology, if you will. I’m not surprised that it’s been criticized from both scientific and theological directions.

    Incidentally, all the problems with empirical theology were already detected by the philosopher Hume in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. Forget about Darwin; Hume is the real problem. I’m serious. Read it, and you’ll see why.

  17. 17
    Carlos says:

    If anyone here wants to read Hume’s Dialogues but finds his late 18th-century English a bit difficult, there’s a modernized version available here.

  18. 18
    tinabrewer says:

    Chris Hyland: you ask how design is provable and evolution is not. Realistically, we have to confess the limits of what can be “proven”, and we have to carefully define “proof”. The central tenet of the modern Darwinian evolutionary thesis which is being challenged by ID is not the watery notion that “evolution happened”, but the far more specific and highly speculative claim that it happened as a result of small, incremental changes under the ‘direction’ of a blind, purposeless mechanism. This is a challenge to the (arguably) inappropriately philosophical aspects of Darwinian evolution. It has often been said, and I think everyone agrees, that design cannot be “proven” in the hardest sense, but is a question of greatest probability. It is an inference based on our current state of knowledge in mathematics and information theory which competes with “blind watchmaker” mechanisms for the status of “best explanation”. This standard is reasonable, and it would be generous to concede that the establishment science even meets this standard with its “just-so” stories.

  19. 19
    David Heddle says:

    MikeFNQ,

    The “probability” of the physical constants is irrelevant. If they are not constrained by an unknown physical law, then the design is thought to be in the selection of the constants. If they are found, in the future, to be predicted from a fundamental law, then the design is in the law.

    Fine-tuning is totally unrelated to the probability of the constants. It is entirely related to the fact that life—any kind of life, not just human life—is sensitive to their values. This is no less an intriguing should we be able to derive the values of the constants.

  20. 20
    Ryan says:

    Carlos,

    “Incidentally, all the problems with empirical theology were already detected by the philosopher Hume in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. Forget about Darwin; Hume is the real problem. I’m serious. Read it, and you’ll see why.”

    Dembski has an entire chapter (ch.32) in his book, The Design Revolution, on Hume’s argument against design detection in the natural world. Basically, Hume’s fallacy was assuming that one could only detect design if one had the experience of it being designed. However, in reality, we infer design from things (in which we had no prior knowledge of being designed) all the time. Dembski uses the example of the SETI program who would infer design if they detected a radio sequence of all the prime numbers from 1 to 101. In other words, we detect design by recognizing its effects, not necessarily by having experienced it in the past. The Humean Inductive tradition is too rigid, and it doesn’t measure up with reality.

  21. 21
    Charlie says:

    David Heddle,
    Good to see you over here.
    When this topic came up I went over to your blog to see if I could get some info.
    I became sidetracked on my way back.

  22. 22
    Scott says:

    Ryan: My favorite chapter in that book.

    And once again I can’t help but think of how many comments on this blog could be prevented and time saved on the part of the commentor, if they would read Dembski’s papers & books. From what I’ve seen, 98% of the issues raised by Darwinists on this blog have been thoroughly treated already.

  23. 23
    GilDodgen says:

    Check out David Heddle’s PowerPoint presentation on cosmological ID:

    http://fbyg.org/helives/Cosmo_.....006_v2.ppt

    David, Have you thought about making a video of this lecture, including the PowerPoint slides? It’s a great resource.

  24. 24
    David Heddle says:

    No, my wife says I look funny in videos.

  25. 25
    Carlos says:

    Hume’s fallacy was assuming that one could only detect design if one had the experience of it being designed. However, in reality, we infer design from things (in which we had no prior knowledge of being designed) all the time. . . . we detect design by recognizing its effects, not necessarily by having experienced it in the past.

    Ooh, this is interesting!

    I can accept that the letter of Hume’s argument is somewhat narrow. But I think that the point can be generalized.

    We are able to recognize a detected radio signal as the effect of intelligence because of an antecedent familiarity with the effects of a certain kind of intelligence — namely, ours — and one of those effects includes the creation of information-rich radio signals.

    Similarly, a paleoanthropologist who discovers a stone with a sharp edge is able to tell, on the basis of her experience with erosion patterns, etc., whether or not the edge was made intentionally or not. She doesn’t need to have seen the tool being made in order to recognize it as a tool, but she does need to have some general experience with stones in order to do so. Novice paleoanthropologists are unable to tell the difference between stone tools and stones that have been chipped through ordinary geological activity, and they’re unable to do so because they lack the background knowledge. (They don’t know how to determine the prior probabilities.)

    In short, I don’t think that recognition of the effects of intelligence can be separated from experience with the effects of intelligence — at least not in the case of SETI or paleoanthropology. So if Dembski thinks that “the design inference” is along the same lines as these other inferences, I guess I want to hear more about what I’m not understanding about SETI or archeology/paleoanthropology.

  26. 26
    Ryan says:

    Scott,

    “And once again I can’t help but think of how many comments on this blog could be prevented and time saved on the part of the commentor, if they would read Dembski’s papers & books.”

    I agree. Though, I think it goes beyond that. It seems that the major players in the Darwinist camp (i.e. Miller, Pennock, etc.) show no sign that they’ve actually read ID works. It’s as if they get their knowledge from second or third hand sources.

  27. 27
    John A. Davison says:

    Whether or not the designer exists is of no consequence either. All that seems inescapable is that one or more designers once existed. That is all that is required by the Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis so it is all I feel compelled to postulate.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  28. 28
    Joseph says:

    Carlos:
    In short, I don’t think that recognition of the effects of intelligence can be separated from experience with the effects of intelligence — at least not in the case of SETI or paleoanthropology.

    That is why the design inference is based on our experience with designing agencies coupled with our experience with what nature, operating freely, is capable of. We also know that nature,operating freely, can not account for the origin of nature. Science tells us nature, ie the universe, had a beginning and therefore requires a cause. A cause outside of the universe, regardless of what position you take- ID or anti-ID.

    Whether or not the designer exists is of no consequence either. All that seems inescapable is that one or more designers once existed. That is all that is required by the Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis so it is all I feel compelled to postulate.

    And there you have it…. (Thanks Dr. D)

  29. 29
    SCheesman says:

    Carlos: “In short, I don’t think that recognition of the effects of intelligence can be separated from experience with the effects of intelligence — at least not in the case of SETI or paleoanthropology. So if Dembski thinks that “the design inference” is along the same lines as these other inferences, I guess I want to hear more about what I’m not understanding about SETI or archeology/paleoanthropology.”

    I think you have a valid point, to some extent, as far as SETI and paleoanthropology are concerned. Much of Dembski’s work, however, is concerned with the existence of information-rich sequences such as is found in language (such as this message) or DNA. In such a case, I believe, the “design filter” can be made much more rigorous. In our experience, physical processes are able to produce an extraordinary range of physical phenomena, and our experience is essential in accurate delineating the “undesigned” from the “designed”. Physical phenomena, however, have not yet been shown capable of creating complex coded information matching any pre-existing, complex pattern. I’m of the opinion that some phenomenon are much more amenable to a design argument than others, at least in the current state-of-the-art.

    But, do you think that Mt. Rushmore (as one of the favourite ID examples), would be mistaken for a “natural” artifact, even by a completely alien culture? I think the results of wind and water erosion produce, in general, a sort of “minimum curvature” pattern, subject to the native cleavage of a rock. The patterns found on Mt. Rushmore depart so far from the regularly encountered sorts of natural surfaces, in so many places, that the odds against it occurring by chance exceeds a sort of geological improbablity bound, if such a thing could be devised, and that such a deviation is an objective fact, as opposed to a subjective one, and hence recognizable by an alien race.

  30. 30
    Carlos says:

    . . . the design inference is based on our experience with designing agencies coupled with our experience with what nature, operating freely, is capable of.

    But here we run into a serious problem: our experience with nature is itself constantly changing (as we run more experiments, make new discoveries and observations, create more sophisticated models, etc.). There’s no way to draw a line and say “nature, by itself, can’t do this” — because we don’t have a way of saying what “nature, by itself” is. As our science changes, so too does our understanding of what nature is.

    We also know that nature, operating freely, can not account for the origin of nature. Science tells us nature, ie the universe, had a beginning and therefore requires a cause.

    I’m not so sure about this move here, my friend, even though I’ve only inbibed a thimbleful of cosmology. If the universe includes the space-time continuum, then there’s no clear sense in which the universe has a beginning. A beginning in what? In time? But there was no time before the universe. One can perhaps speak of “the beginning of time” in a metaphorical way, but that still seems sloppy to me.

    A similar argument pertains to causation. We’re very familiar with causation in ordinary experience, but what licenses the inference that the universe as a whole must also have had a cause? That inference only gets going if one treat the entire universe as a sort of object, and I’m not sure if that even makes any sense.

  31. 31
    Patrick says:

    2 articles on the subject at hand:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/.....3/5788/750

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/.....3/5788/752

    Amazing how science in practice is affected by human emotion.

  32. 32
    kvwells says:

    good points, carlos

    Perhaps NDE and ID are at epistemological loggerheads in part because of this basic dichotomy:

    NDE: intelligence is a product of the genetic code which is a product of movements and interactions of chemicals and forces.

    ID: the genetic code and biological complexity is most likely the result of intelligence.

    These views are irreconcilable at almost every level of meaning, and this is why, IMO, each side is seen by the other to require an impossible burden of proof.

    I believe that the point of many thoughtful people on this blog is that NDE has enjoyed a much greater level of social acceptance AWA dejure/defacto “belief enforcement” than the evidence put forward by its advocates warrants.

  33. 33
    mike1962 says:

    #20 Ryan: “Dembski uses the example of the SETI program who would infer design if they detected a radio sequence of all the prime numbers from 1 to 101.”

    It’s a valid point. And if we discovered some kind of obvious signature in a genome, like prime numbers, or “Yahweh made this”, I think that would tilt the scale in favor of design. Do the sequences we find in the sequenced genomes have any such signature? None discovered so far. I think ID friendly scientists, professional and amateur, should be spending vast resources looking for such a signature.

    The mechanisms created, such as the flagellum, are interesting, but I (as an agnostic) am not firmly *scientifically* convinced (yet) by such evidence. (Although intuitively it sure does *look* designed, and nothing Richard Dawkins and his ilk has written or said reduces my intuition one damn bit.) If there was a designer, I would expect to see him/her/it/they take credit for it. But of course, that’s not a scientific position, just an intuitive one.

    Please, you ID advocates, find the signature in the DNA, if it exists. SETI spends millions a year looking for an artificial signature in space. Maybe we should start doing that right here at home.

  34. 34
    GilDodgen says:

    mike1962: “Please, you ID advocates, find the signature in the DNA, if it exists. SETI spends millions a year looking for an artificial signature in space. Maybe we should start doing that right here at home.”

    The signature has been found. The signature in DNA is an indescribably complex and sophisticated code for making the machinery of life and a whole lot more. This dwarfs the signature of a series of small prime numbers, presented by Carl Sagan as irrefutable evidence of intelligent design.

    Is this not obvious?

  35. 35
    Carlos says:

    (34) Is this not obvious?

    Well, no. But not out of obstinacy. Something will count as “obvious” (or not) depending on one’s background assumptions, intuitions, experience, skill, etc. Some of these factors are cultural, and others are individual. All of them affect what will count as “obvious” — what’s obvious to one person will not be so to another.

    In the case of NDE vs. ID, I agree with kvwells (aove) — that we’re dealing with drastically different sets of assumptions. NDE finds it “obvious” that an intelligent mind could emerge from complex chemical interactions. ID finds it “obvious” that complex chemical interactions could only be set in motion by some pre-existing intelligent mind. Consequently, each side is vulnerable to objections from the other.

  36. 36
    j says:

    Ryan @20: “Dembski has an entire chapter (ch.32) in his book, The Design Revolution, on Hume’s argument against design detection in the natural world.”

    It’s available online: http://www.designinference.com.....d_Reid.pdf

  37. 37
    ofro says:

    # 34 GilDodgen:
    “The signature has been found. The signature in DNA is an indescribably complex and sophisticated code for making the machinery of life and a whole lot more.”

    I wouldn’t go quite so far with these claims. There may be very complex and sophisticated code in the genome, and we probably know only a part of it, but I strongly suspect (as I pointed out in a different thread) that the greater portion of a mammalian genome is “just there” without any specific information or function. At least this is the best explanation at this point to explain the amazing differences in genome size among species (5-fold among mammals, from the bent-winged bat-smallest to the red visacha rat-largest genome and much higher, over thousand-fold, with other species) see http://www.genomesize.com/statistics.php.

    So, given that quite similar animals have greatly different genome sizes, there is a very strong possibility that the signature you are referring to is diluted many-many-fold and tucked away somewhere, piecemeal, in a sea of nucleotide noise. I don’t see how any ID-related, sequence- or text-analyzing filter could tell you where the goodies are, you could find repeats and satellites, but these are not the genetic essence of a being. There is no way to find any specified information in this mess of A, T, G and C without the experimental work by much-maligned molecular biologists and genetic scientist.

  38. 38
    GilDodgen says:

    Dear Carlos,

    I was once a committed Darwinist and materialist. But I was underinformed; indeed, I was misinformed. I was sheltered from the evidence that contradicted my beliefs. When a sufficient amount of knowledge is acquired, some things do become obvious, if one is willing to deny one’s pride, admit that one’s preconceptions may be faulty, and follow the evidence where it leads.

    Keep this in mind: Either mind precedes matter, or matter precedes mind. One is false, and one is true. It’s not a matter of opinion. If matter precedes mind, nothing ultimately matters — have a good time and don’t worry about it. If mind precedes matter, everything you do has ultimate meaning, and you should worry.

    Think about it.

  39. 39
    Carlos says:

    (36) Thanks!

    (38) If matter precedes mind, nothing ultimately matters — have a good time and don’t worry about it. If mind precedes matter, everything you do has ultimate meaning, and you should worry.

    At this point I feel myself becoming very frustrated. It’s not because of what anyone here is doing. But I feel that there’s a fundamental miscommunication and misunderstanding going on here, or at least threatening to go on, even though we seem to be speaking the same language, and using similar words.

    The inference “if matter is metaphysically basic, then nothing is really important, so enjoy yourself” strikes GilDodgen as obvious — so obvious, in fact, that if I merely “think about it,” as he(?) recommends, I’ll come around to seeing it.

    But in fact the inference strikes me as coming out of far left field. Is it inconsistent to think that “ultimate meaning” is compatible with “matter first”? Why? I don’t get it, and I get frustrated when I don’t understand someone else’s position. I’m hitting my head on the limits on my hermeneutic sensitivity.

    Would it help if I laid some more of my own cards on the table? Or would that further obstruct mutual understanding?

  40. 40
    Charlie says:

    Hi Carlos,
    This may or may not help, but I agree with Gil and will break it down in a way that I hope means something and doesn’t look too childish. If I am not touching on what you mean by “ultimate meaning” then please forgive this attempt and the additional frustration.
    Let’s say matter comes first and that it precedes mind. Start with electrons. What do electrons mean? Is it moral for an electron to spin? When atoms come together as molecules, does that have meaning? There is nothing good or bad about that. Molecules can’t be about anything.
    A chemical reaction between the molecules has no purpose and neither can it be said to have any ultimate meaning – like scientific observations, like evolution, it just is.
    Stones, volcanoes, waves, gravity, polarities, frogs, trees – none can mean anything – they are just atoms moving as atoms move.
    How can there ever be, at any level of complexity, “meaning” imparted to or arising from the motions of these atoms?
    When they have gathered to form a brain, and react to send electrical signals, when those signals affect the motions of other atoms, none of this can have any more meaning than the first atom had. They are just atoms moving as atoms move. They don’t convey any more meaning than a bolt of lightning and can’t be “about” anything any more than a landslide can. When a brain ceases to function the electrons continue doing what electrons do, just as they do when a radioactive isotope decays. C14 can’t be better or more meaningful than C12.

    If matter precedes mind, and mind is nothing but the working out of matter, then what is wrong with the following statement?

    Scientistic Materialism accepts only one reality: the physical universe, composed as it is of matter and energy.  Everything that is not physical, measurable, or deducible from scientific observations, is considered unreal. Life is explained in purely mechanical terms, and phenomena such as Mind and Consciousness are considered nothing but epiphenomena – curious by-products, of certain complex physical processes (such as brain metabolism)

    Scientistic Materialism asserts that all the claims of the religious and spiritual traditions of humanity throughout the ages are false.  There is no God, no survival of physical death, no non-physical realities, and no ultimate meaning or purpose to life

    http://66.102.7.104/search?q=c.....ent=safari

    As Francis Crick said in The Astonishing Hypothesis:

    “The Astonishing Hypothesis is that you — your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules…”

    That doesn’t sound capable of preceding any ultimate meaning to me.
    But neither does it make ID any more or less true.

    (This seems very basic and obvious to me so I hope it doesn’t come across as condescending if it does to you as well and has nothing to do with the concern you’ve raised.)

  41. 41
    Ryan says:

    mike1962,

    “NDE finds it “obvious” that an intelligent mind could emerge from complex chemical interactions. ID finds it “obvious” that complex chemical interactions could only be set in motion by some pre-existing intelligent mind. Consequently, each side is vulnerable to objections from the other.”

    Yes, but only one side is right. Aristotle found it “obvious” that objects of different masses fall at different rates, but he was *proven* wrong. DNA, due to its functionality (specificity) and complexity (improbability that exceeds the universal probability bound), qualifies as CSI. The blind forces of nature simply cannot account for it. NDE is a theory which can only ‘happen’ in the imagination. Does this help?

    [Note to the ID science-guys: if I got any of that wrong, please correct me.]

  42. 42
    jonabbey says:

    The signature has been found. The signature in DNA is an indescribably complex and sophisticated code for making the machinery of life and a whole lot more. This dwarfs the signature of a series of small prime numbers, presented by Carl Sagan as irrefutable evidence of intelligent design.

    Is this not obvious?

    The problem with the ‘signature’ in DNA is that it is compatible with an evolutionary mechanism of development. That’s not to say that we have eliminated the design hypothesis from possibility, or yet demonstrated a fully fleshed out and testable scenario for abiogenesis, but to say that it is in the reproductive fitness ‘interest’ of the organisms containing the DNA for that DNA to work very well indeed, and to gain in complexity as necessary to function in the arms race of life.

    The cellular systems that operate on and with DNA that we see today are astonishingly complex, certainly, but with a _billion_ years (or more) of development at the cellular level before multicellular life arose.. well, that’s a _lot_ of time for cellular complexity to accrete through reproduction with mutation and selection, unless it can be demonstrated that such accretions just aren’t possible for some reason.

    Something like a hundred thousand base-pair representation of Pi in the DNA (or a sequence of primes) would be significant because it would be gratuitous, relative to the theorized mechanisms of evolution.

  43. 43
    John A. Davison says:

    “Upon reading books on philosophy, I learned that i stood there like a blind man in front of a painting. I can only grasp the inductive method…the works of speculative philosophy are beyond my reach.”
    Albert Einstein.

    So with me Albert, which is why I can’t contribute to this thread.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  44. 44
    Joseph says:

    . . . the design inference is based on our experience with designing agencies coupled with our experience with what nature, operating freely, is capable of.

    Carlos:
    But here we run into a serious problem: our experience with nature is itself constantly changing (as we run more experiments, make new discoveries and observations, create more sophisticated models, etc.). There’s no way to draw a line and say “nature, by itself, can’t do this” — because we don’t have a way of saying what “nature, by itself” is. As our science changes, so too does our understanding of what nature is.

    That is why science is tentative and also why it is called a design INFERENCE. As with any inference it can either be refuted or confirmed with future data.

    We also know that nature, operating freely, can not account for the origin of nature. Science tells us nature, ie the universe, had a beginning and therefore requires a cause.

    Carlos:
    I’m not so sure about this move here, my friend, even though I’ve only inbibed a thimbleful of cosmology.

    I am very sure of it.

    Carlos:
    If the universe includes the space-time continuum, then there’s no clear sense in which the universe has a beginning. A beginning in what? In time? But there was no time before the universe. One can perhaps speak of “the beginning of time” in a metaphorical way, but that still seems sloppy to me.

    If pigs could fly would they need wings? Science tells us that the universe had a beginning. Period. If some future discovery yields a space-time continuum we will deal with it then.

    Carlos:
    A similar argument pertains to causation. We’re very familiar with causation in ordinary experience, but what licenses the inference that the universe as a whole must also have had a cause? That inference only gets going if one treat the entire universe as a sort of object, and I’m not sure if that even makes any sense.

    Again science demonstrates that which has a beginning has a cause. Until we find out differently we have to go with what we know.

  45. 45
    tribune7 says:

    Carlos — NDE finds it “obvious” that an intelligent mind could emerge from complex chemical interactions.

    But that is not science. There is absolutely not a shred of measurable evidence to back up that claim.

    ID is different. It provides empirical objective models showing biological entities meeting the same criteria as objects of known design.

    It also provides two crushing rebuttals to RM/NS, again using measurable evidence, namely that random events cannot reasonably have caused life to occur and that incrementalism is impossible to obtain certain biological functions.

  46. 46
    tribune7 says:

    John A. Davison – which is why I can’t contribute to this thread.

    Ahhh but you did John. Maybe we can work your post into some sort of Zen exercise 🙂

  47. 47
    Carlos says:

    {40} offers up some powerful intuitions about intentionality and meaning — ones with which I agree. But I want, nevertheless, to present a counter-proposal, one that I’m still considering carefully myself.

    A single electron by itself cannot photosynthesize. Nor can a single magnesium atom, by itself. A chlorophyll molecule, taken in isolation, cannot photosynthesize. But does it follow that there is no photosynthesis? Clearly not. Photosynthesis is just a name we give to a complex chemical reaction in which photons irradiate magnesium atoms embedded in the chlorophyll molecules of a plant or alga.

    In other words, we can treat photosynthesis as an emergent property that arises in specific chemcial configurations. And that much seems unobjectionable.

    What seems objectionable, rather, is the thought that we can or should regard intentionality or cognition as along the same lines as we regard photosynthesis.

    I’m not yet sure if I want to do that — there are very compelling philosophical arguments against such an approach.

    But this comparison does show that it won’t do to say, “no single x property y, therefore no amount of xs could have property y.”

    The same point holds for ant colonies and bee hives, which display behaviors which are irreducible to the behavior of any single ant or bee.

    For some reason, I’m not really disturbed at the thought that my brain is like an ant colony, and that my soul will not survive my physical death. Perhaps it’s because I wasn’t raised with a belief in “life after death”?

  48. 48
    Carlos says:

    (43) Science tells us that the universe had a beginning. Period. If some future discovery yields a space-time continuum we will deal with it then.

    My physicist friends tell me that the universe is “finite and unbounded.” I’ll confess ignorance: I don’t know what that really means, and I don’t know whether something “finite and unbounded” could have a beginning in any sense other than metaphorical — since the beginning of time could not have been a beginning in time.

  49. 49
    Carlos says:

    (45) Here everything depends on what’s permitted to count as “evidence,” and which intuitions are driving the engine of theory selection. In any event, it’s not yet clear to me how much water, if any, Dembski’s arguments hold. My own proclivities lean me towards “complexity theory” (e.g. Kauffman, Goodwin), and I don’t feel the right kind of theological pressure that would incline me to prefer intelligent design over complexity theory.

    (That is to say, I do feel theological pressure — I’m not an atheist, in the ordinary sense of the term — but it’s not the kind of theological pressure that would motivate me to prefer intelligent design over complexity theory.)

  50. 50
    Charlie says:

    Hi Carlos,
    Emergent theory doesn’t do much for me- I mean, talk about science by analogy!
    But I won’t deny its appeal to some, and I am sure this is not the thread for me to start an argument against it.
    Perhaps I’ll leave it at this: granting that you’ve studied and grasped the ideas behind emergence and self-organization, is there any way you would say “that was obvious”?
    Even if you were granted that things like consciousness or intent could emerge from complexity does that make it in any way obvious that ultimate purpose can self-organize or emerge from matter?
    These ideas require far more mental gymnastic and intellectual grappling (and imagination, in my opinion) than Gil’s point, that if matter is all there is there can be no ultimate purpose. However you work these theories, isn’t your frustration that people would see it as obvious that mind precedes matter not self-imposed?

  51. 51
    P. Phillips says:

    Regarding materialism, and the attack on religious faith, are readers aware of Sheldrake’s brilliant review of Dennett’s BREAKING THE SPELL?

    You can find it here:

    http://www.sheldrake.org/artic.....right.html

    I particulary like these observations of Sheldrake:

    ########################################################################################################################################################

    These theories are evidence-free and wildly speculative. By several criteria, they are pseudoscience. Or they are intellectual games. In any case, Dennett goes on to speculate further. For example, in shamanic cultures, there might have been natural selection for a “hypnotizability gene” that affected brain chemistry, making people more prone to suggestion by shamans, and hence more likely to survive ill health because of a greater placebo response.

    In reading this book, I appreciated Dennett’s intelligence and ingenuity. But he is pompous when he tries to persuade, even bully, religious believers to go on reading his book, and patronizing toward those who have not achieved the intellectual superiority to which atheists lay claim…

    I ought to have been an ideal reader: I am a Christian, an Anglican, not a bright. I am a strong believer in the value of scientific enquiry. I used to be an atheist myself. But I didn’t find myself being reconverted by reading Breaking the Spell, and I was put off by Dennett’s one-sidedness and dogmatic certainty. His commitment to atheism makes him dismiss out of hand the significance of religious experiences. For example, many people have experienced a sense of the presence of God, or overwhelming love, or a feeling of unity with nature, or visions, or transformative near-death experiences. In the 1970s, the Oxford biologist Sir Alister Hardy initiated a scientific enquiry into religious experiences in Britain, and found that that they were far more common than most atheists — and even most believers — had imagined…

    Both Dennett and I admire William James, one of the pioneers of psychology, and author of the classic book The Varieties of Religious Experience. James made a serious study of people’s accounts of religious experiences, as did Hardy. But Dennett rules all such evidence out of court. Powerful personal experiences “can’t be used as contributions to the communal discussion that we are now conducting.” He assumes that religious experiences are generated inside the brain, and that they are illusory.

    How can Dennett be so sure? In the end, it all comes down to his own beliefs. Bright memes have infected him and taken over his brain. Those memes are now trying to leap from his brain into yours through the medium of Breaking the Spell.

  52. 52
    P. Phillips says:

    Oh, a final comment on post on the optimism inherent in the Electric Universe perspective:

    http://www.holoscience.com/synopsis.php?page=12

    # # # # # # # # #

    Biological enzymes are capable of utilizing resonant nuclear catalysis to transmute elements. Biological systems show evidence of communicating via resonant chemical systems, which may lend a physical explanation to the work of Rupert Sheldrake. DNA does not hold the key to life but is more like a blueprint for a set of components and tools in a factory. We may never be able to read the human genome and tell whether it represents a creature with two legs or six because the information that controls the assembly line is external to the DNA. There is more to life than chemistry.

    We are not hopelessly isolated in time and space on a tiny rock, orbiting an insignificant star in an insignificant galaxy. We are hopefully connected with the power and intelligence of the universe.

  53. 53
    tribune7 says:

    OK, Carlos.

    Keep an open mind.

  54. 54
    GilDodgen says:

    Dear Carlos,

    You misquoted me. I didn’t say, “If matter is metaphysically basic, then nothing is really important, so enjoy yourself.” I said, “If matter precedes mind, nothing ultimately matters — have a good time and don’t worry about it.”

    The word “ultimately” is ultimately important.

    One day our sun will become a red giant. Its corona will expand beyond the orbit of the earth. The earth’s atmosphere will be stripped away, the sands will fuse into glass, and the oceans will boil away. There will be no record of anything any human has ever done. What can be the ultimate significance of influencing anyone or any of the events of history in such a scenario?

    If you are nothing more than matter in motion, your life has no ultimate meaning or purpose.

    We all have a passionate desire that our lives would have meaning and purpose, ultimately. It was programmed into us.

  55. 55
    Carlos says:

    GilDodgen,

    You are correct; I did misquote you, and I apologize. Although the sentence I put in quotation-marks was not intended as a direct quotation, but as the sort of thing that I thought someone like you might say. Nevertheless, you caught onto something very interesting, and that’s the notion of “ultimate purpose” or “ultimate meaning.”

    I want to say two different things here. The first is that I don’t have a firm grasp on what “ultimate meaning” or “ultimate purpose” is supposed to mean. That is, I don’t understand what “ultimate” does here — what’s the difference between “meaning or purpose” and “ultimate meaning or purpose”? The addition of “ultimate” here does nothing for me, and so I wonder what it does for you.

    The scenario of the Earth’s eventual destruction in several billion years doesn’t move me at all. That the Earth will eventually be utterly annihilated doesn’t threaten my acts with meaninglessness, and I so don’t understand why it seems to do so for you.

    The second thing is that, when you say “have a good time and don’t worry about it,” that strikes me as implying that hedonism — a lifestyle of mere self-indulgence — follows if one denies ultimate meaning and/or ultimate purpose. And I don’t see how this follows at all.

  56. 56
    Carlos says:

    It’s already becoming clear to everyone here that I’m not really an “IDist” — although I am sincerely interested in better understanding the ID movement.

    That said, I don’t want to create unnecessary friction. If it’s felt that I’m causing trouble or otherwise not contributing to the conversation, I’m willing to bow out. It’s not my style to be where I’m not wanted.

  57. 57
    GilDodgen says:

    Dear Carlos,

    You are not creating unnecessary friction, and are certainly not causing trouble or otherwise not contributing to the conversation. I’ve enjoyed your thoughtful and well-articulated challenges.

    Here’s my response to your recent and perfectly reasonable challenge:

    “The second thing is that, when you say ‘have a good time and don’t worry about it,’ that strikes me as implying that hedonism — a lifestyle of mere self-indulgence — follows if one denies ultimate meaning and/or ultimate purpose. And I don’t see how this follows at all.”

    This doesn’t follow for you Carlos, because it is obvious to me that you are a thoughtful and kind soul. But look at many aspects of our contemporary culture since materialism and the denial of ultimate meaning and purpose became a popular worldview: an obvious decline in common civility, out-of-control lawsuit filings, drug abuse, a skyrocketing divorce rate with an unprecedented number of children growing up fatherless, teenage suicide and the sense of many young people that their lives are ultimately absurd.

    Worst of all is a general cultural and personal denial of responsibility, and a focus on self and one’s personal needs and desires. We have become profoundly narcissistic as a culture. Contemporary wisdom says “I’m okay and you’re okay,” when in fact none of us is okay. We once had magazines like Life, then came Us, and now we have Self.

    I suggest that all of this, to one degree or another, is the result of a basically materialistic worldview that denies ultimate meaning and purpose.

  58. 58
    GilDodgen says:

    Carlos,

    “My physicist friends tell me that the universe is ‘finite and unbounded.’ I’ll confess ignorance: I don’t know what that really means…”

    As an analogy, imagine a balloon that is being blown up. At any given point the two-dimensional surface of the balloon is finite in area, but has no bounds (there is no starting point or ending point on the surface). It is expanding into a third dimension of space. The universe is a four-dimensional hypersphere: At any given point it is finite in volume but boundless, like the surface of the expanding balloon, but the three spatial dimensions of the universe are expanding into the fourth dimension of time.

    As for the beginning of time, the word “beginning” has no meaning outside of the time line (i.e., there is no “before” time, or “before” the beginning of the universe, at which point time came into existence). In my view, all of this suggests that the four dimensions of space and time in the physical universe are a subset of more dimensions from which the universe came, and anything that might exist in those “higher” dimensions would be omnipresent and omnitemporal vis-a-vis the physical universe.

  59. 59
    Carlos says:

    Thanks, GilDodgen. I appreciate it.

    an obvious decline in common civility, out-of-control lawsuit filings, drug abuse, a skyrocketing divorce rate with an unprecedented number of children growing up fatherless, teenage suicide and the sense of many young people that their lives are ultimately absurd.

    Not to mention increasing wars, riots, “border disputes,” ethnic cleansings, and widespread environmental deterioration. It’s not a pretty picture, and even I, a secular non-Christian, find it hard to resist the allure of apocalypticism.

    I don’t deny any of this — I see it, too, and I’m very alarmed by it. There’s been a general increase in narcissism over the past thirty-odd years, minimum. But I don’t regard “materialism” as the cause of it.

    A few days ago I remarked to a friend, “the opposite of spirituality is narcissism.” And it may also seem to you — indeed, to many people! — that scientific materialism is also opposed to spirituality. But there’s a confusion lurking about here.

    The confusion is between spirituality as metaphysical theory and spirituality as life-attitude. (The Germans, ever happy to smash words together, have the word Lebensgefuehl, “life-feeling,” for this.) The opposite of spirituality as a life-attitude is narcissism. The opposite of spirituality as a metaphysical theory is materialism.

    Now, the $64,000 question is: do spirituality as life-attitude and spirituality as metaphysical theory require one another? I think that they do only within the context of a specific faith tradition, namely Christianity — and even then, only within certain versions of Christianity.

    Apart from that specific version of Christianity, spirituality as life-attitude is compatible with alternative metaphysical theories — and Christianity, as a metaphysical theory, is compatible with various different life-attitudes. There are some devout Christians who are narcisstic jerks (although I personally don’t know any).

    (Lurking around the edges of my presentation here is the problem of a post-metaphysical theology — if that’s possible, and if so, what form it could take.)

    I attribute the decline of spirituality as metaphysical theory to the rise of modern naturalism — though not so much any specific doctrine as a way of thinking about rational inquiry.

    However, I think that the decline of spirituality as life-attitude, and the corresponding increase in narcissism, is caused by social disruption associated with industrialization, globalization, invasion of the social world by instrumental rationality (bureaucracy, advertising, marketting), and deterioration of immediate social relations (i.e. not mediated by commodity-exchange).

    In short, I think that naturalism or materialism gets treated as a scapegoat; the real culprit is capitalism.

  60. 60
    John A. Davison says:

    Richard P. Feynman once compared scientific discovery to a religious experience. Having made a few myself I can certainly agree. Imagine the elation experienced by Archimedes as he immersed himself in the bath and shouted Eureka. “I have found it” is all that science has ever been all about. Everything was always there just waiting to be discovered. It was all “prescribed” don’t you know.

    You don’t have to be a Christian to have religious experiences.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable”
    John A. Davison

  61. 61
    tribune7 says:

    In short, I think that naturalism or materialism gets treated as a scapegoat; the real culprit is capitalism.

    Carlos!!!!??????

    What is capitalism?

  62. 62
    tinabrewer says:

    Carlos: there doesn’t have to be one “real” culprit. If you are a philosophical materialist, you might be strongly inclined to find SOME way to define the problems so that guilt can be assigned to one particular avenue which you then feel comfortable criticizing and rejecting, in this case capitalism. However, you will find that some pretty profound thinkers, starting about 150 years ago, began correctly to predict the steep slide into moral chaos which we are now experiencing, and they placed the blame squarely in the lap of materialism.

  63. 63
    Carlos says:

    you will find that some pretty profound thinkers, starting about 150 years ago, began correctly to predict the steep slide into moral chaos which we are now experiencing, and they placed the blame squarely in the lap of materialism.

    I’m curious as to which thinkers you have in mind here.

    Have I come across to the rest of you as a materialist?

    I don’t regard myself as a materialist — for somewhat tricky philosophical reasons — and I don’t really understand how the term “materialism” gets used in these discussions.

    I certainly can’t rule out the possibility that I’m coming across to the rest of you as a materialist, although I don’t see myself as one!

    What is capitalism?

    I would provisionally define capitalism as a social system in which commodity production and distribution take precedence over all other social needs.

  64. 64
    tribune7 says:

    Carlos –I would provisionally define capitalism as a social system in which commodity production and distribution take precedence over all other social needs.

    And you would be wrong. This freedictionary.com definition is as good as any namely cap·i·tal·ism– An economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned and development is proportionate to the accumulation and reinvestment of profits gained in a free market.

    I’d agree with you that a social sytem in which commodity production/distribution takes precedence over everything is a vile one but that is not capitalism. If you think about it, that better describes Soviet communism.

    Capitalism basically means an individual being allowed to enter the marketplace without a state official’s permission.

  65. 65
    GilDodgen says:

    Carlos,

    The essential problem is humankind’s fallen nature. At bottom, we are all inherently selfish, like all children.

    Don’t waste time. Go out and make a personal sacrifice to help someone who is less fortunate than you. This is the only way you can realistically do anything of any ultimate consequence.

  66. 66
    Carlos says:

    Since dictionaries are nothing other than the collective opinions of lexicographers, I’ll stand by my “definition,” on the grounds that it captures important aspects of capitalist production.

    In any event — and this is a more general philosophical point — definitions of complex phenomena cannot be separated from the theory about that phenomenon; there are no theory-neutral definitions. If one’s theory about capitalism is Smithian, then one will emphasize private ownership and lack of overt state control. If one’s theory about capitalism is Marxist, then one will emphasize the dynamics of production and distribution, and place less emphasis on ownership.

    I’d agree with you that a social sytem in which commodity production/distribution takes precedence over everything is a vile one but that is not capitalism. If you think about it, that better describes Soviet communism.

    The Soviet system was capitalist in every respect but name. The difference between the Soviet system and the Western had to do with how the system was managed. In the West, the system is managed by a loose network of agents. In the Soviet Union, the system was managed by a rigid hierarchy. This made the Soviet system slower to respond to change, and also made it more inefficient. The demise of the Soviet system was predictable from the beginning.

    In any event, I don’t see any reason not to think that the American system is also subordinated to the requirements of commodity production and distribution. I agree that is vile, but it also all we’ve got.

  67. 67
    GilDodgen says:

    This thread has gone too far off topic. I admit guilt in contributing to this process. Please address any further comments to the subject of ID versus Darwinism/materialism claims and evidence for them.

  68. 68
    tribune7 says:

    Since dictionaries are nothing other than the collective opinions of lexicographers,

    How can something be discussed if upon which common definitions can’t be agreed?

    In any event, I don’t see any reason not to think that the American system is also subordinated to the requirements of commodity production and distribution.

    So why do we spend at least a trillion dollars on public education in this country — not counting colleges. Why do we spend billions on private schools? Why do we have a million-plus and growing home-schoolers? Why do we give $100 billion a year (at least) in charity (with the most capitalistic Red States being the most generious)? Capitalism for most entrepreneurs is far less about acquiring material goods than it is about freedom, creating something and being your own boss.

  69. 69
    tribune7 says:

    Sorry Gil, posted before seeing your comment. Feel free to delete.

  70. 70
    Carlos says:

    Aw, and we were just getting to the good stuff!

  71. 71
    John A. Davison says:

    P. Phillips post 52

    I agree that the control of the assembly line is external to the DNA. It is in the cytoplasm but it is not external to the organism. Nothing about life is external to the organism. Life IS the organism.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  72. 72
    Carlos says:

    Please address any further comments to the subject of ID versus Darwinism/materialism claims and evidence for them.

    I’d like to ask about this phase, “Darwinism/materialism.”

    First, I want to ask — perhaps with a hint of false naivete — what “Darwinism” and “materialism” are supposed to mean. (I know what I think they mean, but I’m not 100% on what others think they mean).

    Second — what justifies conflating the two? Are they identical? Does one imply the other? Could someone accept Darwinism without thereby being rationally committed to materialism — or vice-versa?

    (A quick note on “rational commitment” — clearly we can imagine someone who says, “I’m a Darwinist but not a materialist!” Does that person have an irrational set of beliefs?)

  73. 73
    John A. Davison says:

    Darwinism is in no way related to materialism. Everything in the universe is material or it wouldn’t be there. Darwinism doesn’t exist except in the minds of its adherents. It has no substance.

    It is a myth, an invention of the human imagination, conceived independently by a couple of Victorian naturalists, one of whom, Alfred Russel Wallace, had the good sense to completely abandon it in later life, something the Darwinians completely forget, just as they forget Julian Huxley’s claim that evolution is finished and Theodosius Dobzhansky’s demonstration that selection is impotent as an evolutionary device. How is that for a long sentence? How does that grab the Darwinian mystics? Don’t be shy. Respond!

    “I am an old campaigner and I love a good fight.”
    Franklin Delano Roosevelt

    Me too Franklin.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undeniable.”
    John A. Davison

  74. 74
    Carlos says:

    Darwinism doesn’t exist except in the minds of its adherents.

    Well, that’s something of a red herring, John, since (arguably) all theories, whether true or false, only exist in the minds of those who believe them. (The menu is not the meal.)

    But I can accept your basic point: that materialism is true and Darwinism is false.

    Your references to Berg and other orthogeneticists lead me to infer that your criticism of Darwinism is that Darwinism assumes that variation is not directed. Is that part of your criticism? If so, just what’s the problem with undirected variation?

    Of course space, time, and energy must also be granted some existence, since they are not nothing, and some philosophers prefer “physicalism” over “materialism” for this reason. “Physicalism” is the claim that everything that exists can be explained in terms of the basic concepts employed in contemporary physics.

  75. 75
    Carlos says:

    By the way, by “accept” in (74) (“I can accept your basic point”), I meant that I can accept that this is something that you believe — not that I accept this belief myself.

  76. 76
    John A. Davison says:

    I do not believe that the origin or origins and subsequent evolution of living things is instrinsic in the the nature of matter. Both required some sort of supernatural agency or agencies to initiate the processes. I further believe that was all that was required. I see no evidence of a supernatural at present and the entire thrust of the Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis is that it is not necessary anyway. In a word the history of life on this planet was entirely “prescribed.” I believe this is in harmony with Einstein’s view of the universe as well and you all know how I feel about Einstein. I am confident that like Einstein, I too will go to the dissection laboratory* a convinced determinist.

    *I intend for my carcass to be committed to Medical Anatomy class.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  77. 77
    GilDodgen says:

    “Everything in the universe is material or it wouldn’t be there.”

    Information is not material. It has no mass, no length, width or height, and can exist in multiple places at the same time.

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