Intelligent Design

Gould on Imposing Your Theory on the Data

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Closely related to the definition of evidence that we have been debating lately is the notion that evidence does not “speak” for itself. It is always interpreted within a paradigm. This is not wrong for the simple reason that it is unavoidable. That said, a researcher runs off the rails when he becomes so enamored with the paradigm within which he is working that he literally cannot see evidence smacking him in the face. Gould notes one such case concerning stasis:

Paleontologists therefore came to view stasis as just another failure to document evolution. Stasis existed in overwhelming abundance, as every paleontologist always knew. But this primary signal of the fossil record, defined as an absence of data for evolution, only highlighted our frustration – and certainly did not represent anything worth publishing. Paleontology therefore fell into a literally absurd vicious circle. No one ventured to document or quantify – indeed, hardly anyone even bothered to mention or publish at all – the most common pattern in the fossil record: the stasis of most morpho-species throughout their geological duration. All paleontologists recognized the phenomenon, but few scientists write papers about failure to document a desired result. As a consequence, most nonpaleontologists never learned about the predominance of stasis, and simply assumed that gradualism must prevail, as illustrated by the exceedingly few cases that became textbook “classics”: the coiling of *Gryphae*, the increasing body size of horses, etc. (Interestingly, nearly all these “classics” have since been disproved, thus providing another testimony for the temporary triumph of hope and expectation over evidence – see Gould, 1972.) Thus, when punctuated equilibrium finally granted theoretical space and importance to stasis, and this fundamental phenomenon finally emerged from the closet, nonpaleontologists were often astounded and incredulous.

Stephen Jay Gould, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2002), 761

Gould’s remedy: Try to make yourself bust out of the confining paradigm.

Abrupt appearance may record an absence of information but stasis is data. Eldredge and I became so frustrated by the failure of many colleagues to grasp this evident point . . . that we urged the incorporation of this little phrase as a mantra or motto. Say it ten times before breakfast every day for a week, and the argument will surely seep in by osmosis: ‘stasis is data; stasis is data’

Stephen Jay Gould, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2002), 759.

41 Replies to “Gould on Imposing Your Theory on the Data

  1. 1

    I’ve tried to make this point clear several times with materialistic athiests; evidence is data interpreted according to a theory, hypothesis or paradigm.

    They insist they are “following the evidence where it leads”, as if it is the data itself that tells you how to interpret it. Data must be conceptualized in terms of models that would explain/predict it; those models are dependent upon reality paradigms that allow/promote such perspectives.

    Case in point: natural laws “governing” the regular behavior of matter according to precise, calculable mathematical formulas. It seems pretty obvious now, but outside of a very particular nexus of certain concepts of reality, looking for such kinds of data and organizing it in such a way was a mental blind spot.

    However, today’s materialist atheists have proven themselves blind to their own ideological paradigm over and over. The don’t even think they are interpreting data according to worldview theory any more; they are so immersed in their ideological position that they believe it is the data that is “leading” them, not their worldview a prioris.

  2. 2
    not_querius says:

    You do realize that Gould was a strong proponent of unguided evolution?

    Evidence is always interpreted with a bias. That is just human nature. Gould examined the fossil record and proposed punctuated equilibrium. But he did not believe that it violated the “Darwinian” process, only clarified it. But IDist interpret the exact same evidence as a nail in the coffin of unguided evolution.

    Personally, I will tend to give more credence to the people who have researched this over several decades than to someone who is using the same evidence to advance their own world view.

  3. 3
    Mung says:

    > You do realize that Gould was a strong proponent of unguided evolution?

    So?

    No one knows what “unguided evolution” looks like or how to test it. It isn’t science.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    In science, real time empirical evidence is suppose to have the last word. And although the fossil record is certainly a piece of historical evidence that is, to put it mildly, not parsimonious to Darwinian explanations, Darwinism’s greatest failure, scientifically speaking, occurs in the lab. There simply is no real time empirical evidence from the lab to support Darwinian claims:

    “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain – Michael Behe – December 2010
    Excerpt: In its most recent issue The Quarterly Review of Biology has published a review by myself of laboratory evolution experiments of microbes going back four decades.,,, The gist of the paper is that so far the overwhelming number of adaptive (that is, helpful) mutations seen in laboratory evolution experiments are either loss or modification of function. Of course we had already known that the great majority of mutations that have a visible effect on an organism are deleterious. Now, surprisingly, it seems that even the great majority of helpful mutations degrade the genome to a greater or lesser extent.,,, I dub it “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain.
    http://behe.uncommondescent.co.....evolution/

    Where’s the substantiating evidence for neo-Darwinism?
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1q-PBeQELzT4pkgxB2ZOxGxwv6ynOixfzqzsFlCJ9jrw/edit

    With the real time empirical evidence directly contradicting Darwinian claims, for four decades no less, a person would be well justified in asking ‘why is not Darwinian evolution falsified as other theories of science would be if their hypothesis did not pass empirical muster?’ The answer to that question is that Darwinian evolution has no rigid mathematical criteria for falsification as other theories of science do to test against (In fact I’ve heard it said that Darwin hated math):

    A Philosophical Question…Does Evolution have a Hard Core ?
    Some Concluding Food for Thought
    In my research on the demarcation problem, I have noticed philosophers of science attempting to balance (usually unconsciously) a consistent demarcation criteria against the the disruptive effects that it’s application might have with regard to the academic status quo (and evolution in particular)… Few philosophers of science will even touch such matters, but (perhaps unintentionally) Imre Lakatos does offer us a peek at how one might go about balancing these schizophrenic demands (in Motterlini1999: 24)
    “Let us call the first school militant positivism; you will understand why later on. The problem of this school was to find certain demarcation criteria similar to those I have outlined, but these also had to satisfy certain boundary conditions, as a mathematician would say. I am referring to a definite set of people to which most scientists as well as Popper and Carnap would belong. These people think that there are goodies and baddies among scientific theories, and once you have defined a demarcation criterion, you should divide all your theories between the two groups. You would end up. for example, with a goodies list including Copernicus’s (Theory1), Galileo’s (T2), Kepler’s (T3), Newton’s (T4) … and Einstein’s (T5), along with (but this is just my supposition) Darwin’s (T6). Let me just anticipate that nobody to date has yet found a demarcation criterion according to which Darwin can be described as scientific, but this is exactly what we are looking for.”
    So basically, the demarcation problem is a fun game philosophers enjoy playing, but when they realize the implications regarding the theory of evolution, they quickly back off…
    http://www.samizdat.qc.ca/cosm.....ore_pg.htm

    Leaving the ‘fun games’ that philosophers enjoy playing aside, Here is a very concise, and simple, statement as to what truly constitutes a falsification in ‘hard’ science.

    The Scientific Method – Richard Feynman – video
    Quote: ‘If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It doesn’t make any difference how beautiful your guess is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are who made the guess, or what his name is… If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. That’s all there is to it.”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OL6-x0modwY

    And in that beautifully simple, and concise, statement as to what the ‘key to science’ is all about, Darwinian evolution is shown, by four decades of experiment, to be wrong. i.e. Or more precisely, to be falsified! Or perhaps as Pauli would have said, to be ‘Not even wrong!’

    Supplemental note: I would add that not only is Darwinism not a science, but I would also argue that Darwinism actually qualifies as a pseudo-science along the lines of reading tea leaves.

    Is evolution pseudoscience?
    Excerpt:,,, Thus, of the ten characteristics of pseudoscience listed in the Skeptic’s Dictionary, evolution meets nine. Few other pseudosciences – astrology, astral projection, alien abduction, crystal power, or whatever — would meet so many.
    http://creation.com/is-evolution-pseudoscience

    Darwinism is a Pseudo-Science:
    Excerpt: The primary reasons why Darwinism is a pseudo-science instead of a proper science are as such:
    1. No Rigid Mathematical Basis (Demarcation/Falsification Criteria)
    2. No Demonstrated Empirical Basis
    3. Random Mutation and Natural Selection are both grossly inadequate as ‘creative engines’
    4. Information is not reducible to a material basis, (in fact, in quantum teleportation it is found that material ultimately reduces to a information basis)
    5. Darwinism hinders scientific progress (i.e. falsely predicted Junk DNA, vestigial organs, etc..),
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1oaPcK-KCppBztIJmXUBXTvZTZ5lHV4Qg_pnzmvVL2Qw/edit

    Verse and Music:

    1 Thessalonians 5:21
    but test everything; hold fast what is good.

    Creed – Higher (Video)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J16lInLZRms

    Creed – My Own Prison
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBBqjGd3fHQ

  5. 5
    Mapou says:

    not_querius:

    Personally, I will tend to give more credence to the people who have researched this over several decades than to someone who is using the same evidence to advance their own world view.

    Nobody should be trusted because everybody has a worldview to defend. What is needed is truly extraordinary evidence for the extraordinary claims made by all sides but there is none.

  6. 6
    ronvanwegen says:

    “What is needed is truly extraordinary evidence for the extraordinary claims made by all sides but there is none.”

    Oh Mapou, you’ve done it again!

  7. 7
    Robert Byers says:

    AMEN AMEN AMEN
    Evidence does not speak for itself! AMEN
    It is SO interpreted as said here. Its very raw data.Its strange such confidence is drawn from conclusions about raw data especially in past and gone events and processes as we bump into in origin subjects.

    By the way its crazy dumb this Gould stresses about the stasis thing in the fossil record. Its a damning point and comes up with these living fossils.
    In fact it stresses biology conclusions are based on geology conclusions for the depositions of sediment.fossils that evolutionism must embrace.
    This Gould guy himself misses the point that the fossils story is a geology story first and so the biology story is conditional on the geology story AND SO nullify’s it as biological evidence.
    Fossils are only biological data within a PARADIGM of geological conclusions.
    I say that means fossils are not bio sci evidence at all.
    Gould was stasis himself in this error.

  8. 8

    @not_querius #2

    “strong proponent of unguided evolution?”

    Instead of talking about proponents, please provide evidence in the form of reproducible proof-of-concept demonstrations which strongly support the hypotheses that unguided (random) processes can:
    1-generate complex functional mechanisms, and/or
    2-change existing complex functional mechanisms into other comparably functional ones with substantially different structures and functionality.

  9. 9
    Bob O'H says:

    Thank you, Barry, for pointing out an example of evolutionary biologists breaking out of a paradigm and being willing to follow the evidence where it leads.

  10. 10
    Joe says:

    What are the entailments of unguided evolution? What predictions are borne from unguided evolution?

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks:

    If paradigms, frames of thought and worldviews are always pivotally and foundationally present, that makes it doubly vital to understand that. And, to address it.

    That means, facing the fact of the contingency of our basic frames of thought, and not subsuming that to a myth of progress and telling truth by the clock.

    Today’s consensus, historically, is vulnerable to tomorrow’s facts. Often, the facts that a small despised alternative group or a few individuals have advocated.

    But it is when a critical mass crisis hits, that there is a willingness to finally listen.

    So, ahead of such, wisdom is to seek out reasonable alternatives and compare on strengths and limitations, in light of a liberal dose of the history and philosophy of science. It will help to appreciate that worldviews have core first plausibles that are finitely remote, infinite regress of warrant being impossible.

    So, we need to compare serious candidate alternatives (why are they serious enough to short-list?) and assess factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power . . . neither an ever-growing ad hoc patchwork nor a simplistic cramping frame that locks out facts, concerns, perspectives and issues it should not.

    Otherwise, question-begging ideological captivity to some power agenda or other beckons.

    (Did you ever wonder how business as usual conventional wisdom got to be that way, and how it is sustained? Cf Plato’s parable of the cave for a longstanding counterbalance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2afuTvUzBQ&feature=related )

    And, that is precisely the challenge many of the more politically correct domains of current science and science education face.

    It is time for a re-think.

    In the case of origins, a priori Lewontin-style materialism is patently question-begging. And, we would do well to ponder what functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information tell us about causal roots of the world of life.

    As well as, the mounting evidence of a fine tuned cosmos.

    KF

    PS: Someone above needs to understand the powerful evidential force of a telling admission against interest. With the Gould cite in the OP as a key case in point.

  12. 12
    Seversky says:

    I can’t speak for other a/mats (atheist/materialists) but I am well aware that data only becomes evidence in the context of an explanation like an hypothesis or theory.

    I am also well aware that any useful explanation must be founded on observational data.

    Following evidence where it might lead does not mean that data is self-evident of a theory. It means that a good theory should point to new data and that new data may compel a modification of the theory.

    As for materialism, I can’t rule out the possibility that there is something beyond it but, so far, that assumption has been more productive than any other in science. In fact, I can’t think of any scientific or technological advancements that are not based on such an assumption. Can anyone else?

    The moral or political consequences of a/mat are a different matter and trying to infer any moral lessons from them falls foul of the naturalistic fallacy.

    As for fine-tuning, move beyond the relatively benign environment of this thin film of atmosphere around our little planet and tell me how finely-tuned for us the rest of this Universe is. For the most part, it will freeze-dry, fry or vaporize us in an instant. I don’t call that hospitable let alone fine-tuned for us.

  13. 13
    tjguy says:

    not_querius @2

    You do realize that Gould was a strong proponent of unguided evolution?

    So what? He was stuck within the Materialist paradigm. What do you expect?

    Evidence is always interpreted with a bias. That is just human nature.

    Excellent that you understand this. It shows the problems with historical science. It shows why the evolutionary interpretations of historical science are more interpretation than they are science.

    Gould examined the fossil record and proposed punctuated equilibrium. But he did not believe that it violated the “Darwinian” process, only clarified it.

    What choice did he have but to come up with another hypothesis that fit within the accepted paradigm? He is a Materialist and is not allowed to think outside the box.

    But IDist interpret the exact same evidence as a nail in the coffin of unguided evolution.

    Personally, I will tend to give more credence to the people who have researched this over several decades than to someone who is using the same evidence to advance their own world view.

    It is not a nail in the coffin, but it is another piece of data that fits quite nicely in the ID paradigm. I think it makes better sense and fits better in that paradigm than the evolutionary paradigm. But that is opinion. You obviously believe differently. That is your prerogative.

    In the end, you still choose to “give more credence to those who have researched this over several decades”. Again, that is fine, but you do realize that his ideas of stasis and his hopeful monster theory are very difficult to test, right? As are ID propositions and creationist ideas.

    I’m not belittling the science, but just saying that when the it is not really possible to test our hypotheses in real time, the certainty of our conclusions is lessened.

    I would love to go back in time and watch what happened! That would remove all doubt, but we cannot do that. I choose to rely on the testimony of the One who I believe is responsible for the existence of all things. God was the only eye-witness to creation and apart from revelation from Him, we are left with assumptions, guesses, etc. Even with the revelation that we do have, not all the information is there because the Bible is not a science textbook, but what is there must form the base for how we approach the data. That is the creationist approach to interpreting the data. It is different from the evolutionist’s starting assumptions, but that is our a priori assumption.

  14. 14
    Barry Arrington says:

    Seversky @ 12:

    As for fine-tuning, move beyond the relatively benign environment of this thin film of atmosphere around our little planet and tell me how finely-tuned for us the rest of this Universe is. For the most part, it will freeze-dry, fry or vaporize us in an instant. I don’t call that hospitable let alone fine-tuned for us.

    What an extraordinarily odd thing to say. The fine-tuning argument says that the universe as a whole and this place in particular are fine tuned to support life. No one says everywhere in the universe is fine tuned. Is there any end to the straw men your side will erect before you start addressing the arguments we actually make?

    That your side seems to have a compulsive need to erect straw men instead of addressing our real arguments should give you pause. Sadly, I doubt that it will.

  15. 15
    Barry Arrington says:

    Bob @ 9.

    I don’t think you read the rest of the story. Gould and Eldridge made a valiant effort to break out of the old paradigm. Ultimately, they failed.

  16. 16

    Seversky claims:

    As for materialism, I can’t rule out the possibility that there is something beyond it but, so far, that assumption has been more productive than any other in science.

    No, it hasn’t. Modern science was itself invented under an entirely different assumption, and most of the history and greatest achievements of science were accomplished (and still are) under an entirely different assumption. Methodological naturalism is not the same thing as methodological materialism.

    The Natural Philosophy that directly preceded science assumed an intelligently designed world alongside humans intellectually fit to comprehend it. No such assumption can be tortured out of materialism; replacing the word “naturalism” with “materialism” doesn’t bestow upon materialism the capacity to invent modern science nor gives that ideology credit for any of the achievements generated by theists operating under an ID assumption.

    In fact, I can’t think of any scientific or technological advancements that are not based on such an assumption. Can anyone else?

    Are you kidding? Virtually all of science is predicated upon the assumption of ID and theistic principles and cannot in any way be wrung out of the stone of “materialism”. How are efficiency and elegance materialist concepts? How are natural laws derived from materialist assumption?

    As for fine-tuning, move beyond the relatively benign environment of this thin film of atmosphere around our little planet and tell me how finely-tuned for us the rest of this Universe is. For the most part, it will freeze-dry, fry or vaporize us in an instant. I don’t call that hospitable let alone fine-tuned for us.

    I put this in the same category as those who claim that human beings are a “horrible” design; I mean, really?

    Seversky, can you tell me how to better optimize the universe in order to make more of it hospitable to human life? Which universal constants should be tweaked, and in what way, to produce a universe where more of the universe would be hospitable to human life?

  17. 17

    One more thing, Seversky: the fine tuning argument claims that this is essentially the only kind of physical universe that can exist for there to be any life at all – including the vast, inhospitable areas devoid of life that appear to constitute most of the physical space of the universe. Also including the billions of years when apparently no life existed at all.

  18. 18
    mike1962 says:

    The fine tuning argument obviously is a threat to atheistic materialistic ideology, which is why the evangelical atheist materialists are aggressively trying to market the multiverse to the masses as an “explanation” for it.

  19. 19
    JDH says:

    Seversky said:

    As for materialism, I can’t rule out the possibility that there is something beyond it but, so far, that assumption has been more productive than any other in science. In fact, I can’t think of any scientific or technological advancements that are not based on such an assumption. Can anyone else?

    The moral or political consequences of a/mat are a different matter and trying to infer any moral lessons from them falls foul of the naturalistic fallacy.

    As for fine-tuning, move beyond the relatively benign environment of this thin film of atmosphere around our little planet and tell me how finely-tuned for us the rest of this Universe is. For the most part, it will freeze-dry, fry or vaporize us in an instant. I don’t call that hospitable let alone fine-tuned for us.

    Seversky – You probably don’t even know how wrong what you just said is.

    1. Science and technological advancement comes from the thought that “this world is ordered and that there is cause and effect.” This is not the same as the proposition that, “There is no Creator.” WJM does a good job of clarifying this above.

    But I would like to dare to ponder your motivation for your comments. I think one of your problems is the inability to separate intelligent religion and philosophy from primitive myth. I think you probably for your own comfort intellectually deny the wisdom and nuance of the Judeo-Christian religion and consider it on par with the “Flying Spaghetti Monster”. My own guess is that you probably as a child were in a religion that was full of doctrine without much explanation. Most people I meet who are as antagonistic to God as you have received an “inoculation” to the world of intelligent spiritual thought. You think you know religion because you were forced to participate in ritual as a young child. You wrongly conclude you understand religion because of your introduction to it without proceeding from the ritual to the deeper understanding. Just a guess. I know all generalizations have their exceptions, but most people l meet who are so turned off to God that they make statements like I have read of yours, turn out to be running away from childhood experience rather than stepping toward adult wisdom.

  20. 20
    DillyGill says:

    Mapou @5

    ‘What is needed is truly extraordinary evidence for the extraordinary claims made by all sides but there is none.’

    Have you been doing this to long or do I set my standards to low? The level of complexity in a biological system does seem extraordinary to me! The idea that this can just deep time and chance itself along is as impossible as impossible can be!

  21. 21
    Bob O'H says:

    Barry @ 15 – sorry, which paradigm are you talking about now? Gould & Eldridge did break out of the paradigm that evolution proceeded at a constant rate, because that’s what the evidence pointed to.

  22. 22
    Seversky says:

    Barry Arrington @ 14

    What an extraordinarily odd thing to say. The fine-tuning argument says that the universe as a whole and this place in particular are fine tuned to support life. No one says everywhere in the universe is fine tuned. Is there any end to the straw men your side will erect before you start addressing the arguments we actually make?

    The fine-tuning argument is based on the observation or calculation that this Universe could not exist as it is at all if the values of certain fundamental constants were even marginally different. You can’t have fine-tuning in some places and not others. It’s all or nothing. If it’s fine tuned for life then it’s fine-tuned for the emergence of life anywhere, not just here.

  23. 23
    Seversky says:

    William J Murray @ 17

    One more thing, Seversky: the fine tuning argument claims that this is essentially the only kind of physical universe that can exist for there to be any life at all – including the vast, inhospitable areas devoid of life that appear to constitute most of the physical space of the universe. Also including the billions of years when apparently no life existed at all.

    The fine-tuning argument is fundamentally flawed, in my view. The observation or calculation from physics is, as we have agreed, that if the values of certain fundamental constants varied by even a small amount this Universe could not exist. It is an unwarranted leap of faith from that to the conclusion that the purpose – ie, something conceived in the mind of an intelligent agent – was the emergence of life. And only human hubris would lead us to the presume that it must have been created specifically for us. The whole lifespan of the human species is just an instant in the history of the Universe. We live on a flyspeck of a planet lost in the unimaginable vastness of this overwhelmingly hostile universe. It is sheer arrogance to think it was all created jsut for us.

  24. 24
    Barry Arrington says:

    Seversky @ 22:

    If it’s fine tuned for life then it’s fine-tuned for the emergence of life anywhere, not just here.

    So you think that if someone asserts the universe as a whole is fine-tuned for the existence of life, that entails the universe should be equally amenable to life on earth and in the interstellar vacuum. Well alrighty then. I won’t even respond to that, because it is absurd on its face. I will say the intelligence you people display on these pages never ceases to astound.

  25. 25
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: Michael Denton’s video ‘Privileged Species’ is now online:

    Privileged Species – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoI2ms5UHWg

    Privileged Species with Geneticist Michael Denton Gets Its Online Premiere; See It Now! – March 24, 2015
    Excerpt: George Gilder calls it a “masterpiece” that “expounds what is the most important discovery of 20th-century science.” This is definitely one to let all your friends know about.
    Dr. Denton himself is currently on a national speaking tour to celebrate the release of the film. Casey Luskin traveled with him in California last week and reported for us, here and here. Denton wrapped up the week with a fantastic presentation to the Westminster Conference on Science and Faith in Philadelphia, to an audience of 500+.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....94651.html

    Notes:

    The Place of Life and Man in Nature: Defending the Anthropocentric Thesis – Michael J. Denton – February 25, 2013
    Summary (page 11)
    Many of the properties of the key members of Henderson’s vital ensemble —water, oxygen, CO2, HCO3 —are in several instances fit specifically for warm-blooded, air-breathing organisms such as ourselves. These include the thermal properties of water, its low viscosity, the gaseous nature of oxygen and CO2 at ambient temperatures, the inertness of oxygen at ambient temperatures, and the bicarbonate buffer, with its anomalous pKa value and the elegant means of acid-base regulation it provides for air-breathing organisms. Some of their properties are irrelevant to other classes of organisms or even maladaptive.
    It is very hard to believe there could be a similar suite of fitness for advanced carbon-based life forms. If carbon-based life is all there is, as seems likely, then the design of any active complex terrestrial being would have to closely resemble our own. Indeed the suite of properties of water, oxygen, and CO2 together impose such severe constraints on the design and functioning of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems that their design, even down to the details of capillary and alveolar structure can be inferred from first principles. For complex beings of high metabolic rate, the designs actualized in complex Terran forms are all that can be. There are no alternative physiological designs in the domain of carbon-based life that can achieve the high metabolic activity manifest in man and other higher organisms.
    http://bio-complexity.org/ojs/.....O-C.2013.1

    “Dr. Michael Denton on Evidence of Fine-Tuning in the Universe” (Remarkable balance of various key elements for life) – podcast
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....3_59-07_00

    Michael Denton’s Privileged Species Premieres in Seattle to a Packed House – November 14, 2014
    Excerpt: If life exists elsewhere (in the universe), its home would remind us of Earth and the aliens would reminds us of ourselves. The periodic table, so wonderfully concise, is a recipe for us. Oh, and for our way of life too. While focusing on the unique properties of water, carbon, and oxygen, Denton shows that the chemical elements appear beautifully structured to allow the development of technology, from our use of fire to the rise of computers.
    He emphasizes that this “stunning series of coincidences” is not a matter of scientific controversy, and in fact represents the great scientific discovery of the past century. It’s a matter of fact, not interpretation.
    Denton observed that properties of nature uniquely fit for life continue to be discovered regularly and he offered the prediction that in the upcoming century scientists will uncover more and more.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....91241.html

    Dr. Michael Denton Interview
    Excerpt Question 14: 14. Q: ,,,you also detail that nature isn’t fine-tuned for just any kind of life, but life specifically like human life. Would you expound on this for our readers?
    A: there are certain elements of the fine-tuning which are clearly for advanced being like ourselves.,,,
    http://successfulstudent.org/d.....interview/

  26. 26

    Seversky said:

    The fine-tuning argument is fundamentally flawed, in my view. The observation or calculation from physics is, as we have agreed, that if the values of certain fundamental constants varied by even a small amount this Universe could not exist. It is an unwarranted leap of faith from that to the conclusion that the purpose – ie, something conceived in the mind of an intelligent agent – was the emergence of life.

    No, it is a warranted (valid) conclusion based on a sound interpretation of the facts. Note: that doesn’t mean it is true, or that it is the only warranted conclusion, or the only sound interpretation of the facts.

    First, you have a set of precise conditions that must be met for any physical universe at all, of any significant duration and stability, to exist; that is a tiny subset of all potential values of the universal constants. A tinier subset of that tiny subset are the conditions to be met for any of those stable, long-term universes to be hospitable in any region of its interior whatsoever to life.

    A tinier subset of that tiny subset of a tiny subset are the local conditions necessary in any particular habitable zone to actual develop the specific requirements not just to be habitable for life, but to initiate life and keep it safe for billions of years.

    So yes, given the data, it certainly appears that this universe was finely tuned specifically to allow for and provide such life-habitable zones, especially since such zones appear to require initial big bang settings that produce an enormous universe that is 99.99% inhospitable to life. I say “especially” because if such universes were possible, wouldn’t it be far, far, far more likely that we find ourselves in a universe that is 99.99% life-friendly than one which is 99.99% life-inhospitable?

    And only human hubris would lead us to the presume that it must have been created specifically for us. The whole lifespan of the human species is just an instant in the history of the Universe. We live on a flyspeck of a planet lost in the unimaginable vastness of this overwhelmingly hostile universe. It is sheer arrogance to think it was all created jsut for us.

    I used to make this same argument to rationalize my own atheism. However, as former (and now deceased) world-famous atheist Antony Flew admitted, the fine-tuning evidence clearly indicates theism. As Fred Hoyle said:

    “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.”

    I agree that it would be sheer arrogance and hubris had the facts of the fine-tuning of the universe and further, the facts of the fine-tuning of the life-necessary conditions found on Earth and in our solar system and our position in the galaxy not turned out to be what they were.

    However, given the fine-tuning facts, it would be hubris and arrogant to keep one’s desired, anti-theistic conclusion in spite of the clear evidence that indicates otherwise.

  27. 27
    Joe says:

    Bob OH:

    Gould & Eldridge did break out of the paradigm that evolution proceeded at a constant rate,

    When was that a paradigm?

  28. 28
    Bob O'H says:

    Joe – perhaps I should have written “steady”. Even that would be a simplification (cf GG Simpson’s Tempo & Mode in Evolution).

  29. 29
    Joe says:

    A burst can be steady- extended stasis followed by a steady burst of adaptation = punctuated equilibrium. The words “painfully gradual” would help.

    Punk eek broke out of the constantly and painfully gradual process Darwin envisioned. 😉

  30. 30
    ppolish says:

    Seversky, the fine tuning that Cosmologists and Physicists have discovered applies to the dead matter of the Universe. Star formation is incredibly fine tuned. You’re right, can’t have life on a Star.

    The Evolution of the Universe was fine tuned from the get go. From the first stars to the life that emerged from “star stuff”. Without the observed and measured fine tuning, the first stars let alone the first galaxies could not have formed. Impossibly fine tuned btw – could NOT have happened by chance. Science fact right there.

  31. 31
    Seversky says:

    Barry Arrington @ 24

    So you think that if someone asserts the universe as a whole is fine-tuned for the existence of life, that entails the universe should be equally amenable to life on earth and in the interstellar vacuum. Well alrighty then. I won’t even respond to that, because it is absurd on its face. I will say the intelligence you people display on these pages never ceases to astound.

    Of course it’s absurd. That’s why it’s not what I meeant.

    What are fine-tuned are fundamental physical constants which underpin the whole Universe, moons, planets, stars, galaxies and the void in between. The conditions around a star which can lead to the formation of planets in the “Goldilocks zone” around it on which life as we know it might form are not obviously fine-tuned for us.

    No doubt the dinosaurs, if they had been capable of such thoughts, would have thought the planet and Universe were created just for them. And they were around for a lot longer than we have been.

  32. 32
    Barry Arrington says:

    Sevesky @ 31: “Hell no it’s not fine tuned. It’s in the Goldilocks zone.”

    Barry: “What is this Goldilocks zone of which you speak?”

    Sevesky: “The zone in a stellar system in which conditions are just right for life to exist”

    Barry: “Oh, so your refutation of fine tuning is to admit fine tuning must exist but to call it the Goldilocks Zone instead of the fine tuned place. OK.”

  33. 33
    Keith says:

    “Nobody should be trusted because everybody has a worldview to defend. What is needed is truly extraordinary evidence for the extraordinary claims made by all sides but there is none”
    Mapou! What a great statement.
    I have to thank you and the other contributors on Uncommon Descent. I have learned much from my lurking here.

    My worldview regarding origins is based upon the Bible, which has been confirmed to me (I believe) from my personal experiences with a Creator. But that is my belief and is not proof for anyone other than myself. Millions of others also ascribe to having personal experience with God, but that’s not science either. In fact people like myself are automatically considered Morons because they don’t see proof regarding Darwinism.

    All science starts with a hypothesis; and most if not all operates on a belief in materialism. And in the end finishes on theoretical belief regarding the origin of matter and the universe itself. God is driven out as an explanation, yet speculative beliefs like String theory now dominate science. Although they have no verifiable empirical basis and border on science fiction.
    So if these theories are being freely thrown about why is it unscientific to allow God into the equation?

    Has there been any other hypothesis in history like that of materialistic darwinism, that has received the same amount of study and still has more questions than answers?

  34. 34
    bb says:

    Job 28 (NKJV)

    20 “From where then does wisdom come?
    And where is the place of understanding?
    21 It is hidden from the eyes of all living,
    And concealed from the birds of the air.
    22 Destruction and Death say,
    ‘We have heard a report about it with our ears.’
    23 God understands its way,
    And He knows its place.
    24 For He looks to the ends of the earth,
    And sees under the whole heavens,
    25 To establish a weight for the wind,
    And apportion the waters by measure.
    26 When He made a law for the rain,
    And a path for the thunderbolt,
    27 Then He saw wisdom and declared it;
    He prepared it, indeed, He searched it out.
    28 And to man He said,
    ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
    And to depart from evil is understanding.’”

    Incredibly profound. Especially for a bit written cir. 2100 B.C. Air has weight? The rain system follows law? Lightning follows a path? Not bad for a poetic passage. Its declaration of law for nature has been very productive for science. We stand on the shoulders of giants, who in turn, stood on scripture.

    Job 26:7 “He stretches out the north over empty space;
    He hangs the earth on nothing.”

  35. 35
    Seversky says:

    Barry Arrington @ 32

    Barry: “Oh, so your refutation of fine tuning is to admit fine tuning must exist but to call it the Goldilocks Zone instead of the fine tuned place. OK.”

    I do not reject the observation that the fundamental physical constants are limited to a very narrow range of values, that if they were even slightly different this Universe could not exist.

    The term “fine-tuning”, however, carries a connotation that those values were selected out of the many possible by an intelligent agent for the purpose of creating this Universe. While I can’t rule it out as a possibility, I don’t think it is warranted by what we know at this point.

    The Goldilocks or Circumstellar Habitable Zone (CHZ) is simply the region around a star where water can exist in a liquid state thus making possible life as we know it. There are other regions around a star where life as we don’t yet know it might exist.

    Again, there is no good reason to think this was all set up for us. One recent estimate suggested there could be something like 11 billion Earthlike planets in the Milky Way Galaxy alone. Of course no one knows how many there actually are but it would only take one that was life-bearing to knock man of his perch as the pinnacle of God’s creation.

  36. 36
    Mung says:

    Seversky:

    I do not reject the observation that the fundamental physical constants are limited to a very narrow range of values, that if they were even slightly different this Universe could not exist.

    I’m confused. How can constants be limited to a very narrow range of values? That’s just crazy talk.

  37. 37
    Barry Arrington says:

    S @ 35:

    The Goldilocks or Circumstellar Habitable Zone (CHZ) is simply the region around a star where water can exist in a liquid state thus making possible life as we know it.

    If I hear another materialist say or imply that the ONLY necessary condition to life is liquid water, I shall surely puke. Please spare me the indignity of scrubbing up the vomitus and refrain from repeating that particular chestnut.

  38. 38
    Mung says:

    I bet you won’t puke just liquid water.

  39. 39
    Mung says:

    Perhaps Seversky could share with all of us the universal mechanism for generating earth-like planets.

  40. 40
    kairosfocus says:

    And, life-supporting locally fine tuned cosmi such as ours instead of Boltzmann brain cosmi . . . far more plausible on blind multiverses.

  41. 41
    Mung says:

    I guess not.

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