Christian Darwinism Intelligent Design News

Karl Giberson? But at this point who cares what Darwin’s Christian huffs at Huffpo?

Spread the love

Darwin's Doubt

Recently, Karl Giberson, author of Saving Darwin and former BioLogian, claimed the following in the Huffington Post, about the Seattle-based Discovery Institute:

In their minds the possibility that the earth is 10,000 years old is an open question, even though geologists settled that one in the 18th century. They still think that Adam and Eve were real people and Noah may have rescued all the animals in the ark — claims settled in the 19th century. But most of their energy is spent promoting the idea that Darwin’s theory of evolution is implausible nonsense or, at best, a controversial theory with widespread scientific dissent.

Why on earth would anyone write such obvious nonsense? As John West observes at Evolution News & Views,

Notably, Giberson doesn’t provide any documentation for these claims. That’s because they are absolutely false. As in, made up. As in, completely untrue. I’ve been involved with Discovery Institute before the Institute even had its program on intelligent design, and we’ve never advocated teaching the things he says in science class.

Yes, but our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth, right? Sometimes truth is adaptive, sometimes it isn’t. Why should Giberson be expected to stick to truth if he thinks God is a Darwinist? (I don’t care, I am just wondering.)

West again:

To be perfectly clear, we don’t even favor teaching about intelligent design in K-12 classes. Still less do we support banning the teaching of evolution, despite Giberson’s additional false claim that our “real agenda” is “to get evolution out of the public schools.”

On the contrary, we think science students should learn more about evolutionary theory, not less. That includes the best evidence for modern evolutionary theory, but it also includes scientific disputes over key evolutionary claims already being aired in mainstream peer-reviewed science journals. These include disputes over the creative power of the mutation-selection mechanism: How much can natural selection acting on random mutations actually accomplish?

I don’t know how that stuff can possibly be handled in schools whose biggest need seems to be armed security guards, and whose most notable product is precious little asshats, raising hell against profs and adminbots later at the U.

If Giberson disagrees with the criticisms of Darwinian theory raised by scientists in the intelligent design community, he should take the time to respond to those criticisms rather than spread falsehoods.

Are you sure, John West? Isn’t Giberson the guy who was fronting the babies born with tails hoax? (Also here.)

We all rate a better informed class of critic. Especially now:

— about 3:15 pm EST —

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Follow UD News at Twitter!

29 Replies to “Karl Giberson? But at this point who cares what Darwin’s Christian huffs at Huffpo?

  1. 1
    REC says:

    Karl Giberson: “In their minds the possibility that the earth is 10,000 years old is an open question,

    West: “We’ve never advocated teaching the things he says in science class.”

    Always be wary when the reply doesn’t match the query.

    Note he doesn’t say, that’s ridiculous, here’s the DI policy on the age of the earth.

    Anyone have a link to that policy statement?

  2. 2
    News says:

    REC, you outdo yourself. Giberson was talking about science classes. As DI has never advocated teaching YEC, they don’t have a policy on it.

    I can’t imagine DI having a “policy” on the age of Earth generally. Why?

    What if NASA comes along and recalibrates everything?

    When I write for them, I use NASA’s conventional dating, as do others, but am in no better a position than they are to vouch for its accuracy, apart from the reputation of NASA.

    This is another of Giberson’s tails (oops, tales). It’s not going to come to life.

  3. 3
    REC says:

    Post Dover, the DI has no policy on teaching anything, do they?

    But an advocacy group should advocate something…no?’

    It is astonishing that ‘news’ has such little knowledge of the lines of evidence supporting an old earth that it thinks NASA is the final arbiter of that, or that the age of the earth might be suddenly “re-calibrated” this century.

    What is this website’s stance on the age of the earth?

    Lemme guess…”big tent” and say nothing in case one’s allies’ employers suggests 6000 years and a literal flood… (and sadly cause those who don’t agree to suffer…..)

  4. 4
    bornagain says:

    REC, I can’t speak for others but I’m personally not a YEC. Never have been. And I certainly see no conflict between the bible and my Old Earth views. Apparently neither do Penzias, Wilson, Smoot, or Jastrow, see a irreconcilable conflict between an old universe and the bible

    The best data we have [concerning the Big Bang] are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the bible as a whole.
    Dr. Arno Penzias, Nobel Laureate in Physics – co-discoverer of the Cosmic Background Radiation – as stated to the New York Times on March 12, 1978

    “Certainly there was something that set it all off,,, I can’t think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match Genesis”
    Robert Wilson – Nobel laureate – co-discover Cosmic Background Radiation

    “There is no doubt that a parallel exists between the big bang as an event and the Christian notion of creation from nothing.”
    George Smoot – Nobel laureate in 2006 for his work on COBE

    “Now we see how the astronomical evidence supports the biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.”
    Robert Jastrow – Founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute – Pg.15 ‘God and the Astronomers’

    Jastrow also humorously stated

    “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance, he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”
    – Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers

    Thus, it seems REC that you, sadly, are merely trying to play political mud-slinging with YECs whilst ignoring the elephant in the living room for atheists. That elephant in the living room being that all time, space, matter, energy, came into existence at a definite moment in the past just as was predicted by Theism all along.

    Moreover REC, it is not as if the creation of the entire universe at a definite moment in the past is your only problem as far as the science is concerned. Far from it being your only problem.

    You see REC, not only did God in His infinite power create this universe, but God also in His infinite power sustains this universe in its continual being. This is, to put it mildly, not a minor problem for those who would prefer to believe there is nothing beyond space, time, matter, and energy:

    Lecture 11: Decoherence and Hidden Variables – Scott Aaronson – MIT associate Professor
    Excerpt: “Look, we all have fun ridiculing the creationists who think the world sprang into existence on October 23, 4004 BC at 9AM (presumably Babylonian time), with the fossils already in the ground, light from distant stars heading toward us, etc. But if we accept the usual picture of quantum mechanics, then in a certain sense the situation is far worse: the world (as you experience it) might as well not have existed 10^-43 seconds ago!”
    http://www.scottaaronson.com/democritus/lec11.html

    Reality doesn’t exist until we measure it, (Delayed Choice) quantum experiment confirms –
    Mind = blown. – FIONA MACDONALD – 1 JUN 2015
    Excerpt: “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” lead researcher and physicist Andrew Truscott said in a press release.
    http://www.sciencealert.com/re.....t-confirms

    New Mind-blowing Experiment Confirms That Reality Doesn’t Exist If You Are Not Looking at It – June 3, 2015
    Excerpt: The results of the Australian scientists’ experiment, which were published in the journal Nature Physics, show that this choice is determined by the way the object is measured, which is in accordance with what quantum theory predicts.
    “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” said lead researcher Dr. Andrew Truscott in a press release.,,,
    “The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of the journey that their wave-like or particle-like behavior was brought into existence,” he said.
    Thus, this experiment adds to the validity of the quantum theory and provides new evidence to the idea that reality doesn’t exist without an observer.
    http://themindunleashed.org/20.....at-it.html

    That you focus on the relatively minor problems of YEC, compared to these shattering falsifications dealt to your own naturalistic worldview, reveals that you are not really concerned with the truth of the matter, but are instead, for whatever severely misguided reason, bent on denying God.

    This is sad.

    I don’t know what turned you against God in your life, but I know from my own personal experience of God being there for me at a desperate moment in my life that God is really real.

    I may not know all the answers to all the questions about how God operates, IMHO nobody does, but I do know for 100% certainty that God is really real!

    You may find this following video helpful REC. I enjoyed watching it very much last night.
    It is about a former hard core atheist who had a NDE and went to that ‘other place’ that nobody wants to talk about, and how his heart was changed when he personally encountered God:

    Imagine Heaven – What About Hell? – John Burke – video
    https://vimeo.com/143542740

  5. 5
    REC says:

    “You see REC, not only did God in His infinite power create this universe, but God also in His infinite power sustains this universe in its continual being.

    I may not know all the answers to all the questions about how God operates, IMHO nobody does, but I do know that fact for 100% certainty. God is really real!

    You may find this following video helpful REC. I enjoyed watching it very much last night.

    It is about a former hard core atheist who had a NDE and went to that ‘other place’ that nobody wants to talk about, and how his heart was changed when he personally encountered God:”

    So you advocate that the policy statement of this site and the DI should be evangelical theism?

    Should near death experiences be taught in schools?

  6. 6
    bornagain says:

    REC, I advocate a ‘policy statement’ that REC should first and foremost be honest with his own motives, and examine what they really are, before he tries to judge what the motives of others may or may not be.

    As to ‘official’ policy statement on public schools. ENV, which I am not a part of, advocates teaching more evolution in school. i.e. Teaching both the strengths and weaknesses of it. And, as far as I know, opposes teaching ID in school.

    I’m certainly a small voice of only one man, but I disagree a little bit with them and I personally would not mind having ID taught in schools as an elective if students so chose to take it as an elective.

  7. 7
    REC says:

    “I’m certainly a small voice of only one man, but I disagree a little bit with them and I personally would not mind having ID taught in schools as an elective if students so chose to take it as an elective.”

    No…go on. Lay out 10-12 key concepts for a semester course.

  8. 8
    bornagain says:

    Big Bang

    Fine tuning

    Privileged Planet

    Early Appearance Of Life

    Complexity of simplest life and necessity of information to explain life’s origin

    Cambrian Explosion

    Fossil Record – sudden appearance and stasis

    consciousness and Uniqueness of human intelligence among life on earth

    Fallacy of junk DNA

    Fallacy of beneficial mutations

    Objective morality vs subjective morality

    Non-Local Quantum Information in DNA and proteins and the implication that presents for a ‘soul’

  9. 9
    News says:

    REC at 3, it has nothing to do with how many lines of evidence NASA offers. There is no point in having a “policy” on the age of Earth, apart from what acknowledged authorities say.

    One uses a dating system that makes certain assumptions. Either it works well or it doesn’t. I’ve had no problems with that one.

    NASA may never change it, but when it comes to their trade, they’re the horse, the rest of us are the cart. It’s better for the cart not to have a policy except to follow the horse, for convenience.

    We’re really more interested in design in nature, but maybe we haven’t made that clear enough for everyone.

  10. 10
    Robert Byers says:

    Was anything settled in the 18th and 19th century actually settling anything? Who says they did? is it settled those who say theu did were the ones to say so?
    Nothing is sttled until it is.
    Its not settled about how old the earth is.
    The bible says death has only been here and chaos in geology only been here for 6000 years. There would be no evidence for a older earth then geology and biology.
    YEC etc creationists take them on this claims.
    Prove the earth is old! Were they there?
    if it was settled way back then prove it with just what proved it back in the 18th century.
    Bet they can’t!

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    REC, I think it necessary to at least state to you for record that you distort or invite distorting history by inserting a “post Dover” assertion above. Likewise, those who present ID as an invention by nefarious (and typically Young Earth) Creationists to get around 1987 or thereabout rulings of the US SC. FTR, the first technical ID book by Thaxton et al is 1984 and Denton’s critique is 1985. Both are written in the context of the conventional timeline of cosmological and earth origins. Next, DI (which took up supporting ID c 1996) has long had a policy that inter alia discouraged the compulsory teaching of ID in schools . . . which led them to counsel the Dover Board against what they tried to do. As an outsider to the hyped up, toxically polarised US education and political/ideological scene, the statement produced by the Board was innocuous and only became controversial because of a toxic education culture dominated by an anti-theistic radically secularist faction. Likewise, when I looked at the back-forth over Kansas it is clear that there was a radical and historically, philosophically ill-informed materialist ideology loaded redefinition of science that twists science into in effect applied atheism that was being imposed with complicity of NAS and NSTA c 2000 and that the hounded out attempt to restore a better balanced definition c 2005 reveals just how domineering and ruthlessly manipulative that agenda is. The underlying attitude that those who reject or question evolutionary materialist scientism are enemies of science fighting a theocratic right wing Christo-fascist war against science and progress, and are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked fundy followers of an imaginary bronze age sky god and moral monster (where a religious upbringing under ethical theistic traditions has been equated to child abuse) is so glaring a piece of ill informed smear laced hostility that it is high time that it was soberly reassessed and abandoned, with apologies for harm done. KF

    PS: Definitions of science and its method from high quality dictionaries in the generation before the imposition of a tendentious radically secularist redefinition:

    science: a branch of knowledge conducted on objective principles involving the systematized observation of and experiment with phenomena, esp. concerned with the material and functions of the physical universe. [Concise Oxford, 1990 — and yes, they used the “z”]

    scientific method: principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge [”the body of truth, information and principles acquired by mankind”] involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses. [Webster’s 7th Collegiate, 1965]

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: It is worth the time to point out that evolutionary materialist scientism is inherently, inescapably self referential and incoherent by way of undermining that responsible rational freedom that underlies the possibility of even reasoned discussion. For variety and HT the too often underestimated BA77, here is Cothran at ENV (echoing C S Lewis and J B S Haldane etc) responding to Harris:

    The materialist, said Chesterton, “is not allowed to admit into his spotless machine the slightest speck of spiritualism or miracle.” Materialists like Harris keep asking why we make the decisions we do, and what explanation there could be other than the physiological. The answer, of course, is the psychological, the philosophical, the whimsical, and about a thousand others.

    But these violate the central tenets of his narrow dogma, and so are automatically rejected.

    There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state — including their position on this issue — is the effect of a physical, not logical cause.

    By their own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.

    And this is not only a mortal consequence for Harris as the one trying to prove his point, it is also problematic from the reader’s perspective: If we are convinced by Harris’s logic, we would have to consider this conviction as something determined not by the rational strength of his logic, but by the entirely irrational arrangement of the chemicals in our brains. They might, as Harris would have to say, coincide, but their relation would be completely arbitrary. If prior physical states are all that determine our beliefs, any one physical state is no more rational than any other. It isn’t rational or irrational, it just is.

    If what Harris says is true, then our assent to what we view as the rational strength of his position may appear to us to involve our choice to assent or not to assent to his ostensibly rational argument, but (again, if it is true) in truth it cannot be any such thing, since we do not have that choice — or any other.

    Indeed, it is hard to see how, if free will is an illusion, we could ever know it.

    Evolutionary materialistic scientism is necessarily self referentially incoherent and self falsifying by way of absurdity of undermining reason itself. Insofar as its fellow travellers seek to fit in with it and go with the flow, they too become absurd.

    Where, estimates of the age of the earth, sol system, galaxy, observed cosmos and world of life have nothing to do with this. We are therefore free to look at evidence as to the age of such things on whatever arguments and evidence, without anything to fear from such.

    As well as, to examine the very significant question as to whether the world of life and the cosmos as a whole bear in them traces from the past of origins that per inductive investigation can be deemed strong signs of design. Where, functionally specific complex organisation and associated information and the evident fine tuning of the cosmos from big bang singularity forward that places the world at a locally deeply isolated operating point that enables C-chemistry cell based aqueous medium life are key focal cases.

    As to the existence of God, the mere fact of responsible rational freedom on our part in a world such as we contemplate is sufficient to point to a necessary being root of the cosmos, and to demand a ground of reality that is sufficient to also found moral government by the force of ought.

    There is but one serious candidate for such an IS that also grounds OUGHT: the inherently good Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable responsible service of doing the good in accord with our nature.

    And, again, that is independent of the age of the cosmos.

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    BA77, an interesting topic list. I would suggest a science of origins in education, media and society unit/topic. I would cluster origin of man, mind/consciousness, conscience and morality. Philosophy, worldviews, science, its methods and significance in light of key historical cases also. In that context, the design inference can be assessed and key cases considered per your list etc. Then also, Origins, Science, citizenship, issues and outlook. Other topics could perhaps be refocussed or rearranged too. A reasonable semester length 6th form level course can be done. A read, view/listen and discuss workshop and term paper/report format would look reasonable. And this can be done by web based distance education. Indeed that is the context of my own IOSE proposal. KF

  14. 14
    bornagain says:

    Very nice kf. I’m sure, given your background in education, you have thought this issue through most carefully. And probably have a work up on the course already laid out. 🙂

    Of related interest, As shocking as it may be for some people to learn, Darwinian evolution, (since it has no rigid mathematical basis and/or falsification criteria so as to demarcate it as a proper science that can be potentially falsified), is more properly defined as a religion rather than as a science.
    And as a religion, Darwinian evolution, in fact, violates the establishment clause of the constitution.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-569673

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    BA77:

    Cf the IOSE:

    http://iose-gen.blogspot.com/2.....rview.html

    http://iose-gen.blogspot.com/2.....uence.html

    http://iose-gen.blogspot.com/2.....mmary.html

    That is what I have referred to these 5 – 6 years or so.

    Note, the intent of this is to be independent of school systems on a community/concerned citizen basis.

    I believe DI has a summer seminar programme.

    KF

  16. 16
    daveS says:

    KF,

    If I may ask, what sorts of information concerning the origin of man would be included? For example, do you have in mind an approximate date and place, along with supporting physical evidence?

    Edit: I was slow in posting, so I’m just seeing your links now.

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, Here is a first rough draft: http://iose-gen.blogspot.com/2.....s-etc.html cf 12 above on the primary issues, dates and proposed lineages are of far lesser moment than whether we at all can respond reasonably and freely to logic and warrant. To the point of being a distraction. KF

  18. 18
    Bob O'H says:

    Should near death experiences be taught in schools?

    Dunno about anyone else, but as a childhood wimp I learned about that on the rugby field.

  19. 19
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Thanks for the link. I do find it strange that matters of dates (and places, presumably), would be considered a “distraction” in the context of an investigation of origins, “from hydrogen to humans”.

    We certainly see a lot of discussion of the suddenness of the Cambrian explosion here at UD. In fact, in this document of yours, you quote Dan Peterson:

    Then, approximately 570 million years ago, the first multi-cellular organisms, such as sponges, began to appear in the fossil record. About 40 million years later, an astonishing explosion of life took place. Within a narrow window of about 5 million years , “at least nineteen and perhaps as many as 35 phyla (of 40 total phyla) made their first appearance on Earth….

    These new, fundamental body plans appeared all at once, and without the expected Darwinian intermediate forms.

    Apparently dates are very relevant in discussions of the origin of body plans.

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, please re read 11 and 12, esp 12. When dates and timeline models stuff (in absence of an empirically confirmed blind watchmaker means to get to required FSCO/I) is serving as what to talk about when self-falsification by self referential absurdity is on the table, yes such is a distraction. Blitzkrieg worked by engaging the target with distracting breaking/holding action while the heavy blow went in elsewhere. And, it works. KF

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Given the need to find 10 – 100+ mn base prs each for new body plans, the conventional dates on the Cambrian fossils are interesting but not actually decisive. Just 500 – 1,000 bits of info outstrips the blind watchmaker search capacity and/or search for a golden search capacity of the observed cosmos, 10^80 atoms, 10^17 s, per the plausibility bound calculus. And again, the issue that first you need a coherent base for rational, responsible freedom is prior to all such discussions. Evolutionary materialism fatally stumbles in the starting gates.

  22. 22
    daveS says:

    KF,

    What I have in mind is not defending evolutionary materialism. Rather, since it has allegedly been refuted already, how is ID working as a standalone science?

    Here’s a specific issue: There are many examples of “humanlike” fossils, but it seems there is very little agreement about exactly which fossils are human. Hugh Ross will tell you one thing while Casey Luskin will tell you something else.

    If we knew when and where the origin of humans occurred, it could be helpful in identifying which of these fossils actually are human, thus advancing our knowledge.

  23. 23
    kairosfocus says:

    DS,

    You will recognise that addressing a major ideological imposition on science that warps it in its image but proves to be self falsifying is a major matter, one calling for reform in its own right. Until that happens, the governance of science, science education and wider governance in the community are harmed leading to loss of due balance and objectivity.

    The rot needs to be stopped.

    Secondly, it is not so much design theory substituting for evolutionary materialism dominated current ones (including on human origins) but to reform the way historical or origins science goes about its business.

    For instance, at OOL, reproduction itself needs explanation, and on actually observed adequate cause of FSCO/I involved, without ideological censorship. That will transform the way we look at the whole picture.

    But until it is done, what we know is that we are dealing with ideologically tainted institutions and establishments, so we know to be cautious in dealing with claims.

    The future state of thought onOOL, origin of body plans, human origins, origin of mind etc will depend on a reformation just beginning.

    So, I suggest orange flagging is more sensible than trying to do quick fix patches on a flawed system.

    So, while individuals may have preliminary views, the truth is, everything is under at minimum an orange flag.

    The ideology, under a red flag.

    The reform is only just beginning.

    KF

  24. 24
    daveS says:

    KF,

    So, I suggest orange flagging is more sensible than trying to do quick fix patches on a flawed system.

    So, while individuals may have preliminary views, the truth is, everything is under at minimum an orange flag.

    (My bolding) That would tend to undermine … a lot then, wouldn’t it? For example, the document of yours which I linked to, which is chock-full of references to (suspect) mainstream science. I assume the work of ID proponents likewise is not exempt from the orange flag. Can I also invoke this principle at will without anyone complaining?

  25. 25
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, major reform — the orange flag issue — is needed and I believe has begun in small part. The breakthrough point is when there will be a critical mass that understands the ideological and self-falsifying nature of evolutionary materialist scientism. At that tipping point, there will be a snowballing effect as a metastable business as usual situation sustained by a dominant but flawed ideology collapses and a new more inherently stable configuration begins to emerge . . . full bore paradigm shift driven by the fact that we are in an information age and the intuitive understanding of information will render what seemed sensible in a pre information era utterly untenable as it will be patently absurd for FSCO/I to write itself out of blind watchmaker chance plus necessity needle in haystack searches in a direct beyond astronomical config space or in higher order search for golden search spaces. In the meanwhile, all of us would do well to appreciate the inherently provisional nature of scientific knowledge claims and particularly of theorising. Multiplied by the prior necessity that we recognise ourselves as responsibly and significantly free and having capability to reason and hold rational views. As that reformation progresses it will have big impacts on both science and society. Where, prudent reform rooted in sound principles and due caution is not undermining but restoration to sound health. KF

    PS cf http://iose-gen.blogspot.com/2.....earch.html

  26. 26
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Paley’s ghost rides again, based on Ch 2, not the strawman caricature of his argument in ch 1:

    Suppose, in the next place, that the person who found the watch [in a field and stumbled on the stone in Ch 1 just past, where this is 50 years before Darwin in Ch 2 of a work Darwin full well knew about] should after some time discover that, in addition to

    [–> here cf encapsulated, gated, metabolising automaton, and note, “stickiness” of molecules raises a major issue of interfering cross reactions thus very carefully controlled organised reactions are at work in life . . . ]

    all the properties [= specific, organised, information-rich functionality] which he had hitherto observed in it, it possessed the unexpected property of producing in the course of its movement another watch like itself [–> i.e. self replication, cf here the code using von Neumann kinematic self replicator that is relevant to first cell based life] — the thing is conceivable [= this is a gedankenexperiment, a thought exercise to focus relevant principles and issues]; that it contained within it a mechanism, a system of parts — a mold, for instance, or a complex adjustment of lathes, baffles, and other tools — evidently and separately calculated for this purpose [–> it exhibits functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information; where, in mid-late C19, cell based life was typically thought to be a simple jelly-like affair, something molecular biology has long since taken off the table but few have bothered to pay attention to Paley since Darwin] . . . .

    The first effect would be to increase his admiration of the contrivance, and his conviction of the consummate skill of the contriver. Whether he regarded the object of the contrivance, the distinct apparatus, the intricate, yet in many parts intelligible mechanism by which it was carried on, he would perceive in this new observation nothing but an additional reason for doing what he had already done — for referring the construction of the watch to design and to supreme art

    [–> directly echoes Plato in The Laws Bk X on the ART-ificial (as opposed to the strawman tactic “supernatural”) vs the natural in the sense of blind chance and/or mechanical necessity as serious alternative causal explanatory candidates; where also the only actually observed cause of FSCO/I is intelligently configured configuration, i.e. contrivance or design]

    . . . . He would reflect, that though the watch before him were, in some sense, the maker of the watch, which, was fabricated in the course of its movements, yet it was in a very different sense from that in which a carpenter, for instance, is the maker of a chair — the author of its contrivance, the cause of the relation of its parts to their use [–> i.e. design].

    . . . . We might possibly say, but with great latitude of expression, that a stream of water ground corn ; but no latitude of expression would allow us to say, no stretch
    cf conjecture could lead us to think, that the stream of water built the mill, though it were too ancient for us to know who the builder was.
    What the stream of water does in the affair is neither more nor less than this: by the application of an unintelligent impulse to a mechanism previously arranged, arranged independently of it and arranged by intelligence, an effect is produced, namely, the corn is ground. But the effect results from the arrangement. [–> points to intelligently directed configuration as the observed and reasonably inferred source of FSCO/I] The force of the stream cannot be said to be the cause or the author of the effect, still less of the arrangement. Understanding and plan in the formation of the mill were not the less necessary for any share which the water has in grinding the corn; yet is this share the same as that which the watch would have contributed to the production of the new watch . . . .

    Though it be now no longer probable that the individual watch which our observer had found was made immediately by the hand of an artificer, yet doth not this alteration in anywise affect the inference, that an artificer had been originally employed and concerned in the production. The argument from design remains as it was.

    Marks of design and contrivance are no more accounted for now than they were before. In the same thing, we may ask for the cause of different properties. We may ask for the cause of the color of a body, of its hardness, of its heat ; and these causes may be all different. We are now asking for the cause of that subserviency to a use, that relation to an end, which we have remarked in the watch before us. No answer is given to this question, by telling us that a preceding watch produced it. There cannot be design without a designer; contrivance, without a contriver; order [–> better, functionally specific organisation], without choice; arrangement, without any thing capable of arranging; subserviency and relation to a purpose, without that which could intend a purpose; means suitable to an end, and executing their office in accomplishing that end, without the end ever having been contemplated, or the means accommodated to it. Arrangement, disposition of parts, subserviency of means to an end, relation of instruments to a use, imply the presence of intelligence and mind. No one, therefore, can rationally believe that the insensible, inanimate watch, from which the watch before us issued, was the proper cause of the mechanism we so much admire m it — could be truly said to have constructed the instrument, disposed its parts, assigned their office, determined their order, action, and mutual dependency, combined their several motions into one result, and that also a result connected with the utilities of other beings. All these properties, therefore, are as much unaccounted for as they were before.

    Nor is any thing gained by running the difficulty farther back, that is, by supposing the watch before us to have been produced from another watch, that from a former, and so on indefinitely. Our going back ever so far brings us no nearer to the least degree of satisfaction upon the subject. Contrivance is still unaccounted for. We still want a contriver. A designing mind is neither supplied by this supposition nor dispensed with. If the difficulty were diminished the farther we went back, by going back indefinitely we might exhaust it. And this is the only case to which this sort of reasoning applies. “Where there is a tendency, or, as we increase the number of terms, a continual approach towards a limit, there, by supposing the number of terms to be what is called infinite, we may conceive the limit to be attained; but where there is no such tendency or approach, nothing is effected by lengthening the series . . . ,

    And the question which irresistibly presses upon our thoughts is. Whence this contrivance and design ? The thing required is the intending mind, the adapted hand, the intelligence by which that hand was directed. This question, this demand, is not shaken off by increasing a number or succession of substances destitute of these properties; nor the more, by increasing that number to infinity. If it be said, that upon the supposition of one watch being produced from another in the course of that other’s movements, and by means of the mechanism within it, we have a cause for the watch in my hand, namely, the watch from which it proceeded — I deny, that for the design, the contrivance, the suitableness of means to an end, the adaptation of instruments to a use, all of which we discover in the watch, we have any cause whatever. It is in vain, therefore, to assign a series of such causes, or to allege that a series may be carried back to infinity; for I do not admit that we have yet any cause at all for the phenomena, still less any series of causes either finite or infinite. Here is contrivance, but no contriver; proofs of design, but no designer. [Paley, Nat Theol, Ch 2]

  27. 27
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Hm. You didn’t answer “no” to either of my questions. Nevertheless, I don’t really believe you are saying I have permission to drag my heels and refuse to accept scientific claims which have been exhaustively tested.

    Yet, when you say that everything has an orange flag attached, it sure sounds that way.

  28. 28
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, we are dealing with a situation of ideological dominance starting with institutions. I suggest you reflect on the course of economics thought over the past 100 years (including the repeated undue certainties on so-called assured results); especially given that economics both addresses core unobservables and for good or ill has been enormously influential on policy. In that sort of setting, with a reform barely beginning, orange flags are indeed called for on the old red amber green risk management scale. KF

    PS: If you want to know, the set of data I have best respect for is the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram of stellar magnitude vs temperature/colour and the linked physics of large H-rich balls of gas/plasma. In this light the pattern of HR diagrams for star clusters showing breakaways headed to the giants bands and linked data on evident cosmological expansion point to a 10 – 20 BY cosmological age and an expansion process that makes a big bang type model of some type plausible. Mix in fine tuning and see where that points. The old joke about First Church of Christ, Big Bang (with St Fred Hoyle as a guest speaker) has a bite.

    PPS: You would be well advised to study inference to best explanation, the gap between observation and explanation and provisionality as an inherent characteristic of science.

  29. 29
    daveS says:

    KF,

    I’m fine with the inherent provisionality of scientific theories. Maybe someone will discover new problems with classical mechanics which centuries of testing have failed to reveal up to now. That’s possible, but it would be unreasonable for me to refuse to accept a claim simply because it was derived from (orange-flagged) Newton’s laws. I read you as saying just the opposite.

Leave a Reply