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Larry Moran commits the genetic fallacy

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Professor Larry Moran’s latest post on Sandwalk criticizes Jonathan McLatchie for claiming that Intelligent Design is a legitimate scientific investigation. On the contrary, declares Moran, Intelligent Design is a movement whose members are motivated by a desire to discredit materialism and defend their belief in a Creator. 99% of ID activities, he claims, are attacks on evolution, rather than attempts to scientifically identify which objects were designed. Moran respects McLatchie for his solid grasp of evolutionary biology, but regards him as having “fallen in to the trap of deceiving himself about his true motives.”

But even if Professor Moran’s characterization of the motives of ID proponents were entirely correct, it would be utterly irrelevant. The reason is that science is a methodology – a point highlighted by McLatchie in a recent video on Uncommon Descent. As McClatchie aptly puts it:

“Well, I think Intelligent Design certainly is a science, because it’s based on the standard principles of scientific methodology, with respect to the past: it’s basically an historical abductive method, which is the methodology employed even by Charles Darwin, in his formulation of the theory of evolution by natural selection. Charles Darwin, of course, was influenced by the work of the famed nineteenth century geologist Charles Lyell, in his Principles of Geology, where Charles Lyell basically insisted that … if you want to explain events in the remote past, one should let one’s present experience of cause and effect guide one’s search for the best explanation. So I would argue Intelligent Design is a science by virtue of the fact that it’s … predicated upon historical standard scientific principles.”

Because science is defined by its methodology, any attempt to discredit a field such as Intelligent Design by casting aspersions on the motives of its leading practitioners completely misses the point. No matter what their motives might be, the only question which is germane in this context is: do Intelligent Design researchers follow a proper scientific methodology, and do ID proponents support their arguments by appealing to that methodology? The answer to this question should be obvious to anyone who has read works such as Darwin’s Black Box, The Edge of Evolution, Signature in the Cell and Darwin’s Doubt. Intelligent Design researchers and advocates commonly appeal to empirical probabilities (which can be measured in the laboratory), mathematical calculations (about what chance and/or necessity can accomplish), and abductive reasoning about historical events (such as the Cambrian explosion) which bear the hallmarks of design.

In his endeavor to smear the reputation of Intelligent Design as a discipline, Professor Moran commits the genetic fallacy, which can be defined as the attempt to “discredit or support a claim or an argument because of its origin (genesis) when such an appeal to origins is irrelevant” (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, article Fallacies). Moran tries to discredit the claims of the ID movement by arguing that these claims have their origin in the religious motivations of their leading proponents. However, the appeal to origins is irrelevant because it is methodology, not motivation, which determines what counts as good or bad science.

When Moran writes that “it’s just a bald-faced lie to claim that Intelligent Design Creationists are motivated by a genuine scientific search for evidence of design,” he is engaging in propaganda, by portraying scientists as dispassionate researchers who are totally devoid of personal motives in their research. This is nonsense. The question of whether life on Earth was designed or not is one which we are all, to some degree, motivated to either accept or reject, on temperamental grounds. Nevertheless, most of us are capable of putting our feelings aside when we have to.

I suspect that many evolutionary biologists are not only skeptical of God’s existence, but actually don’t want there to be a God. In particular, they may feel nauseated by the idea of a Being who produced human beings by a bloody, messy process such as evolution, killing billions and billions of animals in the process. But even if a visceral opposition to the notion of a Deity were the driving force animating their research, it would in no way invalidate that research. The only thing that could undermine these scientists’ work would be poor methodology.

Creationism, on the other hand, makes no attempt to follow a scientific methodology in arriving at its conclusions. In creationism, the conclusions are dictated by the Bible, and what it says trumps any scientific findings which may point to a contrary conclusion. Hence it is highly misleading of Professor Moran to argue that Intelligent Design is no different from creationism, because its main goal is simply “to provide scientific justification for the belief in a creator god.” Intelligent Design, unlike creationism, has no “higher authority” which can dictate the scientific conclusions it reaches.

As for Professor Moran’s claim that Intelligent Design proponents’ focus is primarily aimed at discrediting unguided evolution rather than building a positive case for design, I can only reply that a design inference in ID can only be made after other explanations have been ruled out, so as a matter of necessity, much of what ID researchers do will be negative, and aimed at eliminating conventional explanations, before any positive conclusion can be reached that a given object was designed.

I shall stop here, and throw the discussion open to readers. What do you think?

Comments
RDFish:
No, the reason is because we know that ancient builders were human beings, and because we know that human beings have the capability to learn new skills...
Other animals, however, are really, really dumb and never learn. And the only builders out there are humans. Meanwhile, we can learn elsewhere that life is artifact-making. You won't hear that from RDFish with his human-centric chain of being top of the heap vision. Mung
Hi RDFish, Yes your tripe is a waste of time with me. And yes you should have known better.
No, the reason is because we know that ancient builders were human beings, and because we know that human beings have the capability to learn new skills, have the sort of hand-eye coordination and dexterity needed to operate cars and planes, have the sort of mental abilities required to learn navigation, and so on.
You are projecting the capability of the people of today onto the ancients. But that misses the point entirely. First we determine a structure was designed, then we look for a designer. We do not presume it was homo sapiens as that would bias the investigation. We come to that inference from studying it. To sum up- RDFish doesn’t understand how science operates in that we first have to determine design exists before we ask anything about the designer. Also once we have determined design exists that alone says there was a designer capable of producing it. AND to refute ID all one has to do is step up and demonstrate that nature, operating freely is up to the task at hand and Occam’s razor slices ID right off of the table. If someone told you that the ancients could produce the Antikythera mechanism, without actually having the artifact, you would believe them? Without the pyramids we wouldn’t think the ancients could build them. Without Stonehenge we wouldn’t even consider those humans were capable of building it. Points made and points evaded. I am sure all readers can see that, RDFish. Skål, Virgil Cain Virgil Cain
I should have known it would be a waste of time to engage Virgil. I do like to understand what sorts of things people here believe, but folks like Virgil don't actually have coherent beliefs at all, so there's no use attempting to decipher them. Case in point:
We know humans drive cars and fly planes and jets. According to RDFish “logic” the ancients had cars, planes and jets.
No, ancient human beings did not have cars and planes. How do we know they could have learned to drive and pilot airplanes if there were such things? Certainly not because they were "intelligent agents" - because there is nothing that says all intelligent agents are capable of doing anything in particular at all! No, the reason is because we know that ancient builders were human beings, and because we know that human beings have the capability to learn new skills, have the sort of hand-eye coordination and dexterity needed to operate cars and planes, have the sort of mental abilities required to learn navigation, and so on. I know that few people here make such childlike mistakes, and I know that Virgil is incapable of learning from corrections, but just in case there was some reader who was confused after a quick scan of our discussion, I thought I'd make this last clarification - just to illustrate the depth of confusion that Virgil suffers. Hopefully not too many others here are as addled. I will allow the last word to Virgil, where he will quite certainly spew more of his uncomprehending twaddle. Cheers, RDFish/AIGuy RDFish
Just to show how absurd RDFish is: How do we [anthropologists] know the capabilities of the ancient designers and builders?
The answer, of course, is that we know their capabilities because we know they were human beings, and we know a great deal about human beings.
We know humans drive cars and fly planes and jets. According to RDFish "logic" the ancients had cars, planes and jets. Virgil Cain
If one makes a claim for ID based on "it's designed because it looks/feels designed", that's a circular argument and is invalid in my view. It would only be valid in the case of instigating initial design investigation on the object/s in question. If on the other hand one starts with existing natural processes and mechanisms, evaluates and crosses them off as potential explanatory candidates, one can then infer "design" probabilistically. Design would in this case be defined as "beyond the capabilities of nature operating freely". computerist
Hi RDFish:
Not everyone who advocates for ID makes arguments as wrongheaded and simpleminded as Virgil Cain.
You say that only because you are ignorant.
Here are Virgil’s definitions: Intentional Agents: Things that produce counterflow Counterflow: Things that cannot happen by nature acting freely Nature: Everything except the actions of intelligent agents
The "intelligent agent" part agrees with what I linked to on artifacts. Bit it also truncates my definition, which is bad form. Counterflow and work are aspects used by archaeologists, forensic science, SETI and outdoorsmen. Those attributes are how we distinguish natural from artifact. And "natural" has always referred to either produced by nature or existing in nature. Clearly the context means "produced by nature, operating freely". Del Ratzsch goes over that in the book RDFish refuses to read. And AGAIN, that is how science currently uses those terms. That RDFish can twist what I say is just a sign of its desperation.
Aside from the run-around with these circular definitions, Virgil dredged up the comparisons to anthropology, comically insisting that anthropologists are taught to believe that just because they find a road, or a building, or a piece of pottery, they are not to assume it is from a human being.
Pathetic, even for RDFish. I said they determine what made the artifact by first determining it is an artifact and then studying it. They do not presume their conclusion.
Rather, they must declare the source an “intelligent agent”, and pursue further methods to establish that it was indeed humans responsible.
Only someone completely ignorant of science would disagree with that. How do we [anthropologists] know the capabilities of the ancient designers and builders?
The answer, of course, is that we know their capabilities because we know they were human beings,
So if someone told you that the ancients could produce the Antikythera mechanism without actually having the artifact, you would believe them? Only a fool would, so perhaps you would too. Without the pyramids we wouldn't think the ancients could build them. Without Stonehenge we wouldn't even consider those humans were capable of building it.
And since whatever caused the origin of life was most certainly radically different from any living thing, we are not able to infer anything at all about it.
Sure we can but only by studying the design and all relevant evidence. For example some have inferred that the universe was designed for scientific discovery and they present their case. We can see if a design requires attention to detail and plans or if it was just thrown together willy-nilly. We do this through our knowledge of cause and effect relationships. To sum up- RDFish doesn’t understand how science operates in that we first have to determine design exists before we ask anything about the designer. Also once we have determined design exists that alone says there was a designer capable of producing it. AND to refute ID all one has to do is step up and demonstrate that nature, operating freely is up to the task at hand and Occam’s razor slices ID right off of the table. Skål, Virgil Cain Virgil Cain
Not everyone who advocates for ID makes arguments as wrongheaded and simpleminded as Virgil Cain. On this site, VJTorley has always understood my points and has attempted to address them several times in meaningful ways, although we strongly disagree about the strength of the evidence he cites. Bill Dembski agrees with much of what I believe regarding the difficulty in inferring any specific, particular aspects of intelligent design. In particular, Dembski concedes that the evidence does not allow us to infer that conscious intent or purposeful deliberation was involved in the origin of life. What Dembski and I disagree about is what, if any, meaning remains for the concept of "intelligent design" once you remove these mentalistic and empirically inaccessible attributes like consciousness? Dembski essentially says that what is left is telos, a notion that I find interesting philosophically precisely because it lacks the mentalistic semantic baggage of words like "intelligence", "intentionality", and "design". If "Intelligent Design Theory", then, was renamed "Telic Biology" then I wouldn't have this quarrel with it. What is specious about ID theory is that it implies that a human-like (or super-human-like) mind was involved, without actually saying it, and without having the empirical evidence to support it. Ed Feser, a respected Catholic philosopher, agrees with this assessment completely, and argues forcefully that ID is mistaken to equate divine intelligence with human intelligence, for they are - theologically speaking - not the same sort of thing at all. Virgil tries valiantly to parrot the party line here and sidestep the whole problem with a set of confused, non-empirical, and completely circular definitions for all of the specious terms used in ID. Witness: Here are Virgil's definitions: Intentional Agents: Things that produce counterflow Counterflow: Things that cannot happen by nature acting freely Nature: Everything except the actions of intelligent agents See the problem? No? Just do the substutions: Intentional Agents: Things that produce [things that cannot happen by nature operating freely] Intentional Agents: Things that produce [things that cannot happen by [everything except the actions of intelligent agents] operating freely] Intentional Agents: Things that produce [things that can only happen by the actions of intelligent agents operating freely] So, what Virgil is actually saying is this: Intentional Agents are defined as things that produce things only producable by Intelligent Agents. There is no content in any of these definitions. Nothing whatsover is said about what an intelligent agent is, nor what it can or can't do. It's just a semantic shell game, each definition referring to the others, with none of them ever referencing empirical observation. Aside from the run-around with these circular definitions, Virgil dredged up the comparisons to anthropology, comically insisting that anthropologists are taught to believe that just because they find a road, or a building, or a piece of pottery, they are not to assume it is from a human being. Rather, they must declare the source an "intelligent agent", and pursue further methods to establish that it was indeed humans responsible. His last comment is telling:
How do we [anthropologists] know the capabilities of the ancient designers and builders?
The answer, of course, is that we know their capabilities because we know they were human beings, and we know a great deal about human beings. If somehow we knew it was not human beings, we would imagine something very similar to human beings, and we could make informed guesses about their capabilities based on their similarity to us. The less similar the hypothesized designers and builders were to human beings, the less we would be able to guess about their capabilities. And since whatever caused the origin of life was most certainly radically different from any living thing, we are not able to infer anything at all about it. Nothing. Cheers, RDFish/AIGuy RDFish
How do we know the capabilities of the ancient designers and builders? By studying what they left behind! We know the people of thousands of years ago were capable of producing Stonehenge because they left Stonehenge behind for us to study. We know the ancients were capable of producing the Antikythera mechanism because we found it. Skål, Virgil Cain Virgil Cain
Hi RDFish:
1) I’m not sure what you think the difference is there [between “cause” and “source”], but can we agree that “intentional agency”, in your view, is the best explanation of the complex form and function we observe in living things? (That is the position of the ID proponents I’ve read such as Dembski and Meyer).
Yes
2) If the answer is yes [you’ve determined “design”], then you “conclude design”, which means that some “intentional agency” was necessarily involved, right?
Yes
We’ve gone over this too many times now, and I can see you are not going to take my point, so let’s agree to disagree:
Your point is wrong and invalid.
My position: Anthropologists do indeed look for, find, and study the artifacts of human beings, and have do not utilize any sort of abstract concept like “intelligent agency” or “intentional agency” in their methodology.
First they find evidence for design and then they try to determine if it was humans or some other species.
Your position: When anthropologists decide they’ve found an artifact, they have no knowledge and make no assumption of what sort of “intelligent agent” might have produced it.
That is incorrect. They do not decide it was a human before they determine there is an artifact.
Have you ever been fishing?
Yes, but I don't think that you have.
Yes, that’s right. And while most fishermen are familiar with all of those animals, I’m certain that only a very few of them have ever encountered the term “intentional agency”.
I provided a reference that uses that term, so I don't understand your problem.
Anthropologists study people
No, they study what people left behind. That means they have to be able to differentiate between what humans did and what nature did.
forensic experts study people, and SETI researchers look for civilizations of advanced life forms, and fishermen and hunters look for fish and game.
Wrong on all counts. Forensics studies the effects of intentional agencies and SETI looks for signs of intentional agencies. Hunters and fishermen look for signs of game, signs that mother nature cannot produce.
And I’ve already explained that according to that reference, artifacts are produced by human beings and other complex life forms.
And I have already explained to you that the artifact still exists even if it is from some intentional agency we do not know. If it couldn't have been a known form of intentional agency then we infer it was an unknown form of intentional agency.
I would say that termites are part of nature.
Then so are humans and there aren't any artifacts. Nature didn't produce termites so termites are only part of nature in the same sense we are- we both exist in it.
Rather than arguing about whether or not there is such a definition in this or that book, why not simply provide it?
Again? An intelligent agency is anything that can produce work or counterflow. Something capable of manipulating nature for a purpose.
Rather, I am asking questions about what your theory is supposed to mean, and you are telling me that you don’t want to talk about it.
You are asking questions about the designer when ID is not about the designer. We know the capabilities of designers by what they left behind. We have scientific criteria for making determinations of classes of possible causes.
This is all untrue.
It is all true and I made my case. You ignored it.
We have no idea what the capabilities of some abstract class of “designers” are.
We have entailments for the DESIGN. Once we determine the design exists is says there was a designer with the capability to produce it.
You won’t even answer the simplest questions about what “designers” can do and what they can’t do.
We look for signs of work and/ counterflow. That says there was an intentional agency doing something. Then we try to figure out what.
This article does a fine job regarding what we consider to be artifacts. Throughout the article, the term “agent” and “human” are used interchangeably.
And AGAIN, if we see the same criteria and know it could not have been humans we say it was via some other intentional agency. and if we don't know exactly what intentional agency then intentional agency is a good enough stand-in.
It means nothing whatsoever to day you have found “design” unless you say, in clear and empirically grounded terms, what it means to be a “design”.
We have said exactly what it means to be a "design".
To say a design is created by “counterflow” doesn’t help, since “counterflow” is not a testable attribute.
The design exhibits counterflow and counterflow and work are both testable attributes. Stonehenge has the attribute of counterflow. All artifacts do. To sum up- RDFish doesn't understand how science operates in that we first have to determine design exists before we ask anything about the designer. Also once we have determined design exists that alone says there was a designer capable of producing it. AND to refute ID all one has to do is step up and demonstrate that nature, operating freely is up to the task at hand and Occam's razor slices ID right off of the table. Skål, Virgil Cain Virgil Cain
Hi Virgil Cain, First, you skipped some of my responses: 1) I’m not sure what you think the difference is there [between "cause" and "source"], but can we agree that “intentional agency”, in your view, is the best explanation of the complex form and function we observe in living things? (That is the position of the ID proponents I’ve read such as Dembski and Meyer). 2) If the answer is yes [you've determined "design"], then you “conclude design”, which means that some “intentional agency” was necessarily involved, right? Can you answer these questions so that we don't waste time talking past each other and miscommunicating?
RDF: No, to explain something we see, we try to figure out the cause – we don’t try to categorize the cause before we know what it is, obviously. VC: Of course we categorize the cause first. We don’t know how many artifacts came to be but we know they are artifacts. Stonehenge was deemed an artifact long before we figured out how and that is still sketchy and vague. But we know nature didn’t do it. We know because it has signs of counterflow and work.
We've gone over this too many times now, and I can see you are not going to take my point, so let's agree to disagree: My position: Anthropologists do indeed look for, find, and study the artifacts of human beings, and have do not utilize any sort of abstract concept like "intelligent agency" or "intentional agency" in their methodology. Your position: When anthropologists decide they've found an artifact, they have no knowledge and make no assumption of what sort of "intelligent agent" might have produced it. Only then do they initiate a second phase of the investigation to understand what sort of intelligent agent may have been involved - human or otherwise (perhaps demons, ghosts, gods, extra-terrestrials, undiscovered terrestrial species, or whatever). If you think this is a fair representation of your position, I'll just file it with other surprising beliefs I've encountered on this site. Just one question out of curiosity: Have you ever taken a class in anthropology, or read a book on the subject?
RDF: If a fisherman sees a ripple on the water, he just wants to know if it’s caused by a fish or not – not whether it’s caused by an “intentional agent”. VC: And what do think he does, stick his head under water?
Have you ever been fishing? No, when you fish you don't typically stick your head under the water.
He sees a ripple and he knows that certain types of ripples have specific causes. It could be a fish, snake, turtle, beaver, otter, fish, dolphin…
Yes, that's right. And while most fishermen are familiar with all of those animals, I'm certain that only a very few of them have ever encountered the term "intentional agency". You see? Neither fishermen nor hunters have any interest in abstract philosophical notions like "agency" or "intentionality". Rather, they are interested in finding fish or rabbits or deer or other game animals. They have no concept of nor interest in what generalizations apply to all of these animals and to nothing else; they have no understanding of the inclusion criteria for the category of "intelligent agency". Anthropologists study people, not agents, and forensic experts study people, and SETI researchers look for civilizations of advanced life forms, and fishermen and hunters look for fish and game. None of these people could care less about what an "intentional agent" is.
The link I provided on “artifact” is all you need, RDFish. That is what I said and that is what you should be reading.
And I've already explained that according to that reference, artifacts are produced by human beings and other complex life forms. And I've already explained that only human beings produce artifacts that have the same sort of complex form and function that we see in biological systems, so I hadn't mentioned animals before. Why are we going over this again?
Crows produce artifacts. Termite mounds would not exist were it not for, wait for it, termites. Nature doesn’t just produce termite mounds and the termites move in.
I would say that termites are part of nature. Apparently you disagree. Can you explain why a termite mound is not part of nature? Is it because termite mounds are built by biological organisms, while mountains are built by geological processes?
The link says that crows produce artifacts.
Yes, crows do indeed, and chimps, and bees and wasps and beavers and bower birds too. Would you please say what your point is?
RDF: I have been asking for a concise meaning of that term ["intelligent agency"] and you haven’t been able to provide one. VC: And I know that I have provided one. I know there is one in the article, Del’s book and Dembski also wrote of it. I can’t spoon feed you and digest it for you too.
Rather than arguing about whether or not there is such a definition in this or that book, why not simply provide it? Otherwise it will appear that you are avoiding the question, which is what I believe to be the case.
RDF: A “strawman argument” is where one person argues against some position that their opponent does not hold. VC: And that is what you are doing. ID is about the detection and study of DESIGN in nature and you are asking about the designer.
First, again, that is simply not what a "strawman" argument is. I am not arguing against some position that you do not hold. Rather, I am asking questions about what your theory is supposed to mean, and you are telling me that you don't want to talk about it. That doesn't mean I am building a strawman. You think I ought not ask you any questions about what ID says explains the origin of life - even though ID purports to be a theory that explains the origin of life.
We know the capabilities of designers by what they left behind. We have scientific criteria for making determinations of classes of possible causes.
This is all untrue. We have no idea what the capabilities of some abstract class of "designers" are. You won't even answer the simplest questions about what "designers" can do and what they can't do. And if you refuse to say anything about what "designers" can and can't do, how can you possibly have scientific criteria regarding what they might "leave behind"?
But anyway, this article should be good enough for anyone not a complete denialist: artifact
This article does a fine job regarding what we consider to be artifacts. Throughout the article, the term "agent" and "human" are used interchangeably. For example:
An agent may simply be playing or experimenting with the materials available to him. The resulting object may show 'human workmanship and modification', even if it is not an instance of any previously known artifact type.
Thus, when people talk about "artifacts", they are invariably talking about the things that human beings (or other complex terrestrial life forms), and they are not talking about things made by "intentional agency" that are not even living things. We have no way of knowing what such a thing is, or could or could not produce. The point I'm trying to make here is this: The Intelligent Designer that ID claims can explain living things could not have been human, nor could it even have been itself a living thing. However, the words that ID uses like "designer" and "intelligent agent" are concepts that are very much anthropomorphic, and so people very commonly associate those concepts with various aspects of human mentality (consciousness, conscious intentions, beliefs and desires, learning and general problem solving abilities, etc). However, since we know that whatever created life is something quite radically different from all of the "intelligent agents" in our experience, we have no way of inferring which attributes the Intelligent Designer may have shared with human beings. What that all means is that while ID refuses to say anything specific about the Designer, the words that ID uses makes it seem that much more is being claimed than actually can be supported by the facts. And what do the facts tell us? The facts tell us that nothing that we currently know of can explain the origin of life.
You just refuse to learn. That is what makes this so difficult.
Believe me: I genuinely feel the exact same way about you. I repeat, clarify, and repeat some more, and you seem completely impervious to what I'm saying.
ID doesn’t have anything to say about the designer other than one existed.
This is a perfect example! As I just explained to you in my last post, saying that a "designer" exists means absolutely nothing unless you say something about what the attributes of all "designers" might be! Do you think a gunderplitzen has ever existed, VC? Well, do you? Don't ask me what a gunderplitzen is, or what it can do or can't do - simply answer the question! This is exactly what you are doing - pretending to establish the existence of something without saying anything about what that thing is!
It is very telling that you failed to respond to this part of my post: ID doesn’t say anything about the designer for the simple and scientific reason that you do not ask any questions about the designer until you A) determine that design exists and B) study it and all relevant evidence.
I have read this, and I am answering thusly: It means nothing whatsoever to day you have found "design" unless you say, in clear and empirically grounded terms, what it means to be a "design". To say a design is created by "counterflow" doesn't help, since "counterflow" is not a testable attribute. To say it was not created by "nature operating freely" doesn't help, since all you mean by "nature" is "everything excluding intelligent agents"! To say it was created "on purpose" is meaningful for conscious human beings, but not for something that is radically different; what does it mean for something that has no conscious mind to do something "on purpose"? You refuse to even respond to these questions, and simply return to "it's not about the designer, it's about the design", which simply dodges the issues at hand. Cheers, RDFish/AIGuy RDFish
Hi RDFish:
No, to explain something we see, we try to figure out the cause – we don’t try to categorize the cause before we know what it is, obviously.
Of course we categorize the cause first. We don't know how many artifacts came to be but we know they are artifacts. Stonehenge was deemed an artifact long before we figured out how and that is still sketchy and vague. But we know nature didn't do it. We know because it has signs of counterflow and work.
If a fisherman sees a ripple on the water, he just wants to know if it’s caused by a fish or not – not whether it’s caused by an “intentional agent”.
And what do think he does, stick his head under water? He sees a ripple and he knows that certain types of ripples have specific causes. It could be a fish, snake, turtle, beaver, otter, fish, dolphin...
Here are the first definitions I’ve found, and what most people mean by the term:
The link I provided on "artifact" is all you need, RDFish. That is what I said and that is what you should be reading. Crows produce artifacts. Termite mounds would not exist were it not for, wait for it, termites. Nature doesn't just produce termite mounds and the termites move in.
But as I already said, you can choose any meaning you’d like for the term, as long as you say it what it is, and that your definition is clear.
What do you think this meant: That is incorrect and is contrary to the link provided.? The link says that crows produce artifacts.
I have been asking for a concise meaning of that term and you haven’t been able to provide one.
And I know that I have provided one. I know there is one in the article, Del's book and Dembski also wrote of it. I can't spoon feed you and digest it for you too.
I don’t appreciate your ad hominem remarks
I don't appreciate your strawmen.
A “strawman argument” is where one person argues against some position that their opponent does not hold.
And that is what you are doing. ID is about the detection and study of DESIGN in nature and you are asking about the designer. We know the capabilities of designers by what they left behind. We have scientific criteria for making determinations of classes of possible causes. But anyway, this article should be good enough for anyone not a complete denialist: artifact And the basic definition would be that capable of producing counterflow/ work. Also the definition provided days ago works- the one that led us here due to your will to obfuscate rather than understand.
In summary, you have been unable to provide clear, empirically grounded meanings for the words you are using to describe ID.
All evidence to the contrary, of course.
In particular, you cannot describe how to distinguish an “intentional agent” from everything else
I told you how
Then you say “intentional agents” are those things that “do things on purpose”. But you have also implied that ID cannot conclude that the intelligent designer of life was conscious.
You just refuse to learn. That is what makes this so difficult. ID doesn't have anything to say about the designer other than one existed. WE THE PEOPLE can draw whatever inferences we want based on the evidence. Learn to comprehend what is posted. Your twisting of my words is a sure sign of desperation.
With any other scientific theory, the terms and claims that comprise the explanation are precisely defined, scrutinized, clarified, tested, and debated.
And ID has done that. You just either ignore it or twist it. And one more time- ID is about identifying and studying design in nature. We have scientific criteria and methodology for determining design exists- yes we can determine is nature is/ was operating freely or if some intentional agency involvement was required. Archaeologists did not say how Stonehenge was built and who built it BEFORE they determined it was an artifact and then studied it and all relevant evidence. You have no idea how to conduct an investigation, RDFish. It is very telling that you failed to respond to this part of my post: ID doesn’t say anything about the designer for the simple and scientific reason that you do not ask any questions about the designer until you A) determine that design exists and B) study it and all relevant evidence. That's bad form, RDFish. Very bad form. Skål, Virgil Cain Virgil Cain
Hi Virgil Cain,
RDF: So the cause that ID offers for living things is “intentional agency”. VC: That is the source, not the cause.
I'm not sure what you think the difference is there, but can we agree that "intentional agency", in your view, is the best explanation of the complex form and function we observe in living things? (That is the position of the ID proponents I've read such as Dembski and Meyer).
First there is a determination of design.
If the answer is yes, then you "conclude design", which means that some "intentional agency" was necessarily involved, right?
Then we can try to figure out the how, ie the actual cause.
No, to explain something we see, we try to figure out the cause - we don't try to categorize the cause before we know what it is, obviously. If a fisherman sees a ripple on the water, he just wants to know if it's caused by a fish or not - not whether it's caused by an "intentional agent".
They are one in the same.
Ah, so in your view, "intelligent" and "intentional" mean the same thing. OK.
And yes “done on purpose” fits.
OK, so "intelligent agents" (aka "intentional agents") are those things that do things on purpose. Is that right?
RDF: Yes, when scientists use the word “natural” they mean “not the result of human action”. VC: That is incorrect and is contrary to the link provided.
Here are the first definitions I've found, and what most people mean by the term: oxforddictionaries.com: Existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind mirriam-webster.com: existing in nature and not made or caused by people vocabularty.com: dictionary.com: natural: existing in or formed by nature (opposed to artificial ): artificial: made by human skill; produced by humans (opposed to natural ) natural describes something that comes from nature, rather than being man-made There are many more that say the same thing. But as I already said, you can choose any meaning you'd like for the term, as long as you say it what it is, and that your definition is clear.
I though that you wanted an honest and open discussion?
And so I do - don't you?
RDF: You mean “not the result of intentional agency”, but you refuse to say what you mean by “intentional agency”! VC: I thought that was covered in the article and by Ratzsch and Dembski.
No of course it isn't. I have been asking for a concise meaning of that term and you haven't been able to provide one. Don't you think that the sole explanatory construct of an important scientific theory that purports to explain so many phenomena ought to have a concise definition?
RDF: Now I must ask, what specific attributes can ID say that this “intentional agency” that caused life had? VC: You have some strange obsession with strawman arguments.
I don't appreciate your ad hominem remarks - that is what people do when they feel they are losing a debate. Let's stick to the issues, OK? Now, as far as a "strawman argument": A "strawman argument" is where one person argues against some position that their opponent does not hold. That is not what is happening here. Rather, what is happening here is that I am asking you what you mean by these terms (such as "intentional") and you are not providing any answers.
ID doesn’t say anything about the intentional agency other than at least one existed, based on the evidence and our knowledge of cause and effect relationships.
If ID does not provide the meaning for this term, how can ID possibly say if one existed or not? Do you think that a gunderplitzen has ever existed? You can't answer that question until you know what a "gunderplitzen" is. Likewise, you have to say what defines an "intentional agency" before you can say if one existed.
Again you prove that you are not interested in an honest discussion.
I assure you I am doing my best to do just that. People disagree about these topics - they are controversial - but some people (like me) are able to debate them respectfully and without constantly calling their opponents intelligence, sanity, or honesty into question. I was hoping you were one of those people.
It seems clear to me that if ID is true that living organisms have something else that all non-living things lack and it is something that neither physics, chemistry nor emergence can explain.
Ok, then you are a vitalist. In summary, you have been unable to provide clear, empirically grounded meanings for the words you are using to describe ID. In particular, you cannot describe how to distinguish an "intentional agent" from everything else, and when you try, you simply run around in a circle: According to you, "intentional agents" are defined by their ability to do things that "nature" cannot do, and "nature" is defined as everything except "intentional agents"! Then you say "intentional agents" are those things that "do things on purpose". But you have also implied that ID cannot conclude that the intelligent designer of life was conscious. Now, I appreciate that - in that you agree both me and with Dembski (but not with Meyer). But when I ask you how something can do something on purpose without being conscious, you fail to answer. With any other scientific theory, the terms and claims that comprise the explanation are precisely defined, scrutinized, clarified, tested, and debated. In ID, however, the explanation is vague, ambiguous, different for different people, and ID folks try anything not to actually talk about what the explanation is actually suppoed to be! Cheers, RDFish/AIGuy RDFish
Howdy RDFish:
So the cause that ID offers for living things is “intentional agency”.
That is the source, not the cause. First there is a determination of design. Then we can try to figure out the how, ie the actual cause.
That’s a little different from what I usually hear, which is “intelligent agency”, but that’s fine.
They are one in the same. Anyone who has actually read what the ID literature says knows this. And yes "done on purpose" fits. We can say that because of the evidence. ID doesn't say it, the evidence does.
Yes, when scientists use the word “natural” they mean “not the result of human action”.
That is incorrect and is contrary to the link provided. I though that you wanted an honest and open discussion?
You mean “not the result of intentional agency”, but you refuse to say what you mean by “intentional agency”!
I thought that was covered in the article and by Ratzsch and Dembski.
Now I must ask, what specific attributes can ID say that this “intentional agency” that caused life had?
You have some strange obsession with strawman arguments. ID doesn't say anything about the intentional agency other than at least one existed, based on the evidence and our knowledge of cause and effect relationships. What we can infer about the designer comes from studying the design and all relevant evidence. That is beyond ID, which is only about the detection and study of design in nature. And that is plenty.
The question is what is ID saying about the designer. If the answer is “nothing at all” then ID is saying nothing about what caused living things, and so it is not a scientific theory of origins at all.
Again you prove that you are not interested in an honest discussion. ID doesn't say anything about the designer for the simple and scientific reason that you do not ask any questions about the designer until you A) determine that design exists and B) study it and all relevant evidence. ID says the cause of living living organisms was via intentional agency interaction with nature. Now it is up to science to help fill in the gaps.
Yes, and there they were talking about the actions of human beings and other complex animals like crows and chimpanzees.
Right, we have knowledge of what intentional agencies can do with nature and what nature does if left alone.
I am unable to find any anthropology text that discusses detecting any sort of “intelligent agency” that is not presumed to be a human being.
Umm science doesn't presume what it is trying to demonstrate. And again it is irrelevant for the reason provided.
Please provide one single bit of evidence that backs up this assertion of yours.
Science 101- you do not assume your conclusion. You have to follow the evidence, not lead it. You're not serious here. I call Poe.
Everyone agrees with that of course, since we cannot explain every single thing about living organisms!
And when we can we will know what I said is true with 100% certainty.
But that is very different from what a vitalist believes, which is that living things have elan vital which is not part of the physical world.
Information is neither matter nor energy, but it is clear there is something more than information.
Again, you are not clear about what you believe.
It seems clear to me that if ID is true that living organisms have something else that all non-living things lack and it is something that neither physics, chemistry nor emergence can explain. Skål, Virgil Cain Virgil Cain
Hi Virgil Cain,
ID is about the design and an intentional agency is what is offered.
So the cause that ID offers for living things is "intentional agency". That's a little different from what I usually hear, which is "intelligent agency", but that's fine. I would just like some clarification regarding what "intentional" means in this context. There is a technical sense of the word used by philosophers of mind, where it means "representing", as in a symbol that represents something else. There is a more common meaning, where it means "done on purpose", which is how I believe you are using the word here. However, when we "do something on purpose" that means we consciously think about it before we act. Otherwise, if we did something without consciously thinking about it, it would not be intentional. So, when you say ID offers "intentional agency" as its explanation, do you mean something that consciously thinks about what it is going to do? And if that is not what you mean, then what do you mean?
Science explains what is meant by natural.
Yes, when scientists use the word "natural" they mean "not the result of human action". That isn't what you mean, however. You mean "not the result of intentional agency", but you refuse to say what you mean by "intentional agency"!
RDF: So, in ID, does “intentional” imply that something has conscious intentions? If not, what is an “intention” if it is not conscious? VC: Those are possibilities.
Ok, so you appear to be saying that "intentional agency" does not necessarily imply conscious thought. Great, that's progress. Now I must ask, what specific attributes can ID say that this "intentional agency" that caused life had? How about the ability to learn new skills? To solve novel problems in math or formal logic? To explain its intentions in some general purpose language? Or any other ability - anything at all that human beings have?
There appears to have been a plan as we are not some haphazard result. But this is a result of investigation and not what ID is saying about the designer.
The question is what is ID saying about the designer. If the answer is "nothing at all" then ID is saying nothing about what caused living things, and so it is not a scientific theory of origins at all.
I just linked to such an article that referred to “intentional agency”.
Yes, and there they were talking about the actions of human beings and other complex animals like crows and chimpanzees.
RDF: Rather, they distinguish the actions of specific, concrete sorts of things (humans, animals, technologically advanced civilizations of extra-terrestrial life forms, and so on). VC: That is incorrect. First they determine design exists without any consideration of the designer except the basics- that it can do what nature alone cannot.
We disagree about this. I am unable to find any anthropology text that discusses detecting any sort of "intelligent agency" that is not presumed to be a human being. I don't think you can either. Likewise, hunters look for animals rather than "intentional agents", and fisherman look for fish rather than "intentional agents".
RDF: They detect human activity, period. VC: Except they don’t know if it was humans until they investigate it further.
Please provide one single bit of evidence that backs up this assertion of yours. And you forgot this: If anthropologists detect "intentional agents" rather than "humans", why do they call the discipline "anthropology"? It's because "anthropology" is defined as "The study of humans, past and present". Here, see for yourself: http://www.americananthro.org/
RDF: Ah, apparently you really do mean that you are a vitalist or animist. All right then. VC: I accept the fact that there is more to living organisms than what physics, chemistry and emergence can explain.
Everyone agrees with that of course, since we cannot explain every single thing about living organisms! But that is very different from what a vitalist believes, which is that living things have elan vital which is not part of the physical world. Again, you are not clear about what you believe. Cheers, RDFish/AIGuy RDFish
To be clear- Archaeologists look for signs of work, ie what Del Ratzsch calls counterflow:
p5 "counterflow refers to things running contrary to what, in the relevant sense, would (or might) have resulted or occurred had nature operated freely." p6 "an artifact is anything embodying counterflow." Nature, Design and Science
The same goes for forensic science, SETI and hunters. They find signs of work/ counterflow and they investigate it further to see what intentional agency did it. The genetic code embodies counterflow. From there we say the genetic code is an artifact and we know artifacts require artists. Skål, Virgil Cain Virgil Cain
Hi RDFish:
Are you talking about the origin of organisms, or are you saying that living things themselves are not reducible to physics the way inanimate objects are?
Both.
Ah, apparently you really do mean that you are a vitalist or animist. All right then.
I accept the fact that there is more to living organisms than what physics, chemistry and emergence can explain. cheers, Virgil Cain Virgil Cain
RDFish:
If ID fails to say something – anything at all – about what it is offering as an explanation of biological complexity, then obviously it is a vacuous theory that just sounds meaningful (in other words, it is specious).
ID is about the design and an intentional agency is what is offered.
And what does “natural” mean? ID won’t explain that either!
Science explains what is meant by natural.
Even though you insist that ID doesn’t say anything about the designer, you are saying something about it right here – that it is “intentional”.
That was in the article that you said you read. I quoted that part, too.
So, in ID, does “intentional” imply that something has conscious intentions? If not, what is an “intention” if it is not conscious?
Those are possibilities. There appears to have been a plan as we are not some haphazard result. But this is a result of investigation and not what ID is saying about the designer.
Sure – then simply acknowledge it has nothing to do with science...
Seeing it has everything to do with our knowledge of cause and effect relationships, knowledge gained through scientific investigation, it clearly has everything to do with science.
Again, you can read as many textbooks and papers in archaeology as you’d like, and you will never see mention of this abstract concept of “intelligent agency”
I just linked to such an article that referred to "intentional agency".
Rather, they distinguish the actions of specific, concrete sorts of things (humans, animals, technologically advanced civilizations of extra-terrestrial life forms, and so on).
That is incorrect. First they determine design exists without any consideration of the designer except the basics- that it can do what nature alone cannot.
I’ve explained this many times but you do not acknowledge what I’ve said – you simply repeat this mistake where you think archeology has defined some category called “intelligent agency” and has some method for detecting them.
Your mistake is trying to tell an investigator how to investigate and what he assumes. Archaeology has such a category and has some methodology for detecting their actions.
They detect human activity, period.
Except they don't know if it was humans until they investigate it further. OK gotta go- You are wrong about just about everything you have posted. cheers, Virgil Cain Virgil Cain
Hi Virgil Cain,
RDF: Does ID claim that the “Intelligent Designer” responsible for the origin of life is something capable of conscious thought, or does it not? VC: Again, ID doesn’t say anything about the designing intelligence.
If ID fails to say something - anything at all - about what it is offering as an explanation of biological complexity, then obviously it is a vacuous theory that just sounds meaningful (in other words, it is specious). ID says that living things are designed, but refuses to say what that means, except that it means it is not the result of any "natural" process. And what does "natural" mean? ID won't explain that either!
And again, when it could not have been a human we infer it was some other intentional agency.
Even though you insist that ID doesn't say anything about the designer, you are saying something about it right here - that it is "intentional". In a scientific context, of course, we need to be clear how these attributes can be empirically identified and detected, so we need to be clear on what these terms refer to. So, in ID, does "intentional" imply that something has conscious intentions? If not, what is an "intention" if it is not conscious?
RDF: This anthropomorphic use of metaphor, “Mother Nature”, is likewise not a scientific concept, because there is no empirical method to distinguish what is part of “Mother Nature” and what is not. VC: And yet we do so all of the time.
Sure - then simply acknowledge it has nothing to do with science, and we'll have no argument.
Archaeology relies on it as does fire investigations, forensics and SETI. Hunters rely on it also.
Again, you can read as many textbooks and papers in archaeology as you'd like, and you will never see mention of this abstract concept of "intelligent agency", because these disciplines do not distinguish "intelligent agency" in the abstract from the rest of the world the way ID attempts to. Rather, they distinguish the actions of specific, concrete sorts of things (humans, animals, technologically advanced civilizations of extra-terrestrial life forms, and so on). I've explained this many times but you do not acknowledge what I've said - you simply repeat this mistake where you think archeology has defined some category called "intelligent agency" and has some method for detecting them. They do no such thing. They detect human activity, period. Same with forensics. Hunters detect activity of other sorts of animals. SETI looks for civilizations of advanced life forms. Only ID pretends that there is some sort of empirically identifiable category called "intelligent agency" with specific characteristics (although you won't say what those characteristics are!!).
3- That biology is not reducible to physiochemical reactions and what emerges from them,
Are you talking about the origin of organisms, or are you saying that living things themselves are not reducible to physics the way inanimate objects are?
4- A research program to find this elan vital,
Ah, apparently you really do mean that you are a vitalist or animist. All right then. Cheers, RDFish/AIGuy RDFish
So, what does it mean to say "what is designed came from the activity of an intentional agency"? 1- For one it tells us we are here on purpose- our existence was intentional, which leads to 2- That we have a purpose other than the mundane 3- That biology is not reducible to physiochemical reactions and what emerges from them, which leads to 4- A research program to find this elan vital, along with 5- Research programs to identify all aspects of the design- the who, what, why, when and hows It changes everything to do with how we investigate biology. Virgil Cain
Hi RDFish:
Does ID claim that the “Intelligent Designer” responsible for the origin of life is something capable of conscious thought, or does it not?
Again, ID doesn't say anything about the designing intelligence.
So, in our experience, all complex form and function is produced by human beings and other complex living organisms.
And again, when it could not have been a human we infer it was some other intentional agency.
This anthropomorphic use of metaphor, “Mother Nature”, is likewise not a scientific concept, because there is no empirical method to distinguish what is part of “Mother Nature” and what is not.
And yet we do so all of the time. Archaeology relies on it as does fire investigations, forensics and SETI. Hunters rely on it also.
1) What does ID mean by the word “nature” in statements like “nature cannot produce codes”?
Anything in nature that does not include intentional agencies- geological processes, chemical reactions, laws of physics- nature, operating freely as discussed in Del's book that I referenced. It's all there.
2) Does saying something was “designed” in the context of ID imply that it was produced by something capable of conscious thought?
It says what is designed came from the activity of an intentional agency. Virgil Cain
Hi Virgil Cain,
I see that you are not interested in an honest and open discussion.
Actually I am, which is why I am trying to discuss these issues with you without accusations, insults, or sarcasm. I suggest you try to do the same.
The quote mine exists because it did not reflect the paper’s intent
The quotes I cited simply reflect the dictionary meaning of the words "natural" and "artificial", which normally refer to the distinction between man-made artifacts and all other things. Since ID uses the term to mean something other than "man-made", I am very seriously and politely asking for what meaning ID assigns these words. You have provided some definitions, such as that "design" refers to things that could not be produced by "nature operating freely", and I have pointed out that since "natural" normally means "not artificial", which means "not man-made", your clarification doesn't help. I wait for a response to this point.
The genetic code is evidence for ID for the simple reason that every time we have observed a code and knew its source it was always via some intelligent agency, namely us.
Again, the genetic code (and all other complex, functional systems in biology) are what we are attempting to explain. We would like to know what caused these intricate mechanisms to exist. Evolutionists claim that random variation and natural selection account for biological complexity; both you and I reject this explanation. IDists claim that "intelligent agency" accounts for what we observe, but in my view this claim is unscientific because the concept of "intelligent agency" is vague, anthropomorphic, and lacks an empirically grounded meaning in the context of ID.
Mother nature is not capable of producing codes.
This anthropomorphic use of metaphor, "Mother Nature", is likewise not a scientific concept, because there is no empirical method to distinguish what is part of "Mother Nature" and what is not. Again, the term "natural" is usually meant to distinguish human activity from all other causes, but that is not how the word in ID. I am asking (over and over again) for you to explain what the word is supposed to mean in the context of ID.
We know this via our current knowledge of cause and effect relationships. No one would even know where to start to try to demonstrate mother nature producing codes. There is a 3.1 million dollar award for anyone who can demonstrate such a thing.
My position is that nobody knows how biological complexity came to exist. Saying that "mother nature" cannot do it is meaningless unless you say what "mother nature" actually refers to and excludes. Likewise saying that "intelligent agency" does it is meaningless until you say what sort of thing besides human beings are included in this category.
RDF: When human beings apply knowledge, they consciously refect on their beliefs, and consciously picture and describe their intentions and plan their actions. VC: That isn’t an argument. It may not even be true.
What I'm asking for, over and over again, is some specific description of what "intelligent agency" is supposed to entail. You have steadfastly refused to answer my simple and clear question: Does ID claim that the "Intelligent Designer" responsible for the origin of life is something capable of conscious thought, or does it not?
The following is from the article on “artifact” that you didn’t read:
Intentional agency is not limited to human beings.
I did read this of course - did you? If so, you know that the article is referring to other sorts of animals, such as New Caledonian crows and chimpanzees. Neither of these species are capable of producing the sort of highly complex mechanisms we observe in human artifacts, or in biological systems, and so I have not mentioned that other terrestrial animals besides human beings are capable of producing artifacts, though it is obviously the case. So, in our experience, all complex form and function is produced by human beings and other complex living organisms. And thus the term "natural" would mean "not produced by any living organism" rather than "not produced by humankind". I don't see how this helps your position. Again, if you would like to attempt to debate this point, simply answer these questions: 1) What does ID mean by the word "nature" in statements like "nature cannot produce codes"? 2) Does saying something was "designed" in the context of ID imply that it was produced by something capable of conscious thought? Cheers, RDFish/AIGuy RDFish
Hi RDFish- The following is from the article on "artifact" that you didn't read:
Intentional agency is not limited to human beings.
Whoopsie... Virgil Cain
Hi RDFish, I see that you are not interested in an honest and open discussion. ID has said what it means by "designer". ID has said what it means by "intelligence". The quote mine exists because it did not reflect the paper's intent The genetic code is evidence for ID for the simple reason that every time we have observed a code and knew its source it was always via some intelligent agency, namely us. Mother nature is not capable of producing codes. We know this via our current knowledge of cause and effect relationships. No one would even know where to start to try to demonstrate mother nature producing codes. There is a 3.1 million dollar award for anyone who can demonstrate such a thing. Read Del Ratzsch's "Nature, Design and Science", or keep flailing away like you are trying to wave down a plane.
When human beings apply knowledge, they consciously refect on their beliefs, and consciously picture and describe their intentions and plan their actions.
That isn't an argument. It may not even be true. cheers, Virgil cain Virgil Cain
Hi Virgil Cain,
RDF: Further, the meaning of “natural” in this context is: existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind. (emphasis added) VC: Nice quote mine- see I knew you wouldn’t respond in good faith. Thank you.
It's not a quote mine - it is a quote (or two) from the citation that you provided. These really are the common meanings for these words. "Natural" is contrasted with "artificial", which means "made by human skill; produced by humans". Clearly, the word "natural" in the context of ID cannot mean what the dictionary says it means ("not made or caused by humankind"), because then by definition the cause of the first living organisms would necessarily be called "natural". These are the dictionary definitions; of course ID can choose to provide technical definitions that differ. I'm simply asking, in the context of ID, what exact meaning these terms (like "designer" or "intelligent agent") are supposed to have.
RDF: Anthropology and forensics are often mentioned by IDers as examples of detecting “design”, when in fact they are detecting human activity. VC: They don’t know if it was human or not until after they have studied it and all relevant evidence. Bit that is moot- they are detecting signs of intelligent agency activity, ie signs of work.
No, they are not detecting "intelligent agency" - they are detecting "human beings". That is why "anthropology" is called "anthropology" - the prefix "anthro" refers to humans. These disciplines do not use the term "intelligent agency"; they study only the activity of human beings as contrasted with all other ("natural") causes.
We have been over and over this many times:
Yes, so let's both please pay attention to each other is saying and perhaps we can move forward.
1- ID doesn’t say anything about the designer
I'm not asking for details about the "identity" of the designer ID says was involved, so you needn't repeat this. Rather, I am asking what ID means by the term itself. Most of these debates founder on miscommunication regarding terms, and the way to mitigate that is to provide clear explanations of what these terms are supposed to mean. You refer to "design" and "designers", but you fail to explain how those words are being used in ID theory. Can a "designer" be a physical process? Must a "designer" be capable of conscious thought? Simply explain what the term is supposed to mean - after all, it is the sole explanatory construct of a theory that purports to scientifically explain a great number of varied phenomena, so it seems reasonable to ask what the word means.
Exactly as we have been saying for decades- namely something that nature, operating freely...
And here you simply shuffle the cards by using this word "nature", which usually means "that which is not made by humans". If that is what you mean, then you are saying this: "Design is something that cannot be made by that which is not made by humans operating freely". Obviously that doesn't make sense, so you must mean something else by "nature" in that sentence. What do you mean?
And I have told you what that entails, many, many times- intelligence is just the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate nature for a purpose.
When human beings apply knowledge, they consciously refect on their beliefs, and consciously picture and describe their intentions and plan their actions. Are you saying that ID claims that whatever caused the origin of life did this as well?
William Dembski says it all in Intelligent Design is NOT Optimal Design:
Neither of us are talking about issues regarding "optimal design", so this is not relevant.
Within biology, intelligent design holds that a designing intelligence is indispensable for explaining the specified complexity of living systems. Nevertheless, taken strictly as a scientific theory, intelligent design refuses to speculate about the nature of this designing intelligence.
I am not asking ID to speculate about anything - I'm asking what exactly is supposed to be entailed by "intelligence" in this context. You can start by simply clarifying whether or not "intelligence" entails conscious thought - the most fundamental aspect of our human mental experience.
Whereas optimal design...
Again, this has nothing to do with our discussion.
The genetic code is such evidence.
The genetic code is not evidence of any particular theory; it is in fact the thing that any theory of life origins must explain. Cheers, RDFish/AIGuy RDFish
You were also provided a species type, Carl Linnaeus.
Linnaean taxonomy represents a Common Design based on shared foundational characteristics. Virgil Cain
asauber: You provided groups. You were also provided a species type, Carl Linnaeus. ETA: As Linnaeus was buried long ago, if you want a physical type specimen, you could refer to the remains of Edward Drinker Cope. Then again, there are a few extant members of the species you could consider. Did you need a list? Zachriel
Zachriel:
And each subgroup inherits the distinguishing properties of its containing group.
Evolution allows for the loss of distinguishing properties. You lose, again. Virgil Cain
asauber: You provided groups. That's right. And each subgroup inherits the distinguishing properties of its containing group. So humans are a type of deuterostome. That means they are the type of bilateria where the first opening becomes the anus, not to be confused with a protostome where it becomes the mouth. Did you need more detail? If so, check a biological encyclopedia for the characteristics of each group. For instance, humans are a type of craniate, meaning they are 'hard-headed'. (Perhaps you have observed this characteristic in humans.) Zachriel
Hi RDFish:
In the (likely vain) hope you will respond in good faith, I’ll address your comment.
I am sure that you won't respond in good faith.
From your own link, then: Further, the meaning of “natural” in this context is: existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind. (emphasis added)
Nice quote mine- see I knew you wouldn't respond in good faith. Thank you.
Anthropology and forensics are often mentioned by IDers as examples of detecting “design”, when in fact they are detecting human activity.
They don't know if it was human or not until after they have studied it and all relevant evidence. Bit that is moot- they are detecting signs of intelligent agency activity, ie signs of work.
Obviously, when ID talks about detecting “design” they are using the word differently – they don’t mean “human workmanship”.
We have been over and over this many times: 1- ID doesn't say anything about the designer 2- ID is about the design which entails signs of work.
The question I am always asking here is very specific: What exactly do you mean when you say “design” in the context of ID?
Exactly as we have been saying for decades- namely something that nature, operating freely could not produce AND matches the design criteria, namely "Our ability to be confident of the design of the cilium or intracellular transport rests on the same principles to be confident of the design of anything: the ordering of separate components to achieve an identifiable function that depends sharply on the components.” (Behe 1996) That is the positive case. That is also signs of work.
If you mean something like “produced by an intelligent agent”, then obviously you need to explain just what that entails.
And I have told you what that entails, many, many times- intelligence is just the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate nature for a purpose. William Dembski says it all in Intelligent Design is NOT Optimal Design:
But why then place the adjective "intelligent" in front of the noun "design"? Doesn't design already include the idea of intelligent agency, so that juxtaposing the two becomes an exercise in redundancy? Not at all. Intelligent design needs to be distinguished from apparent design on the one hand and optimal design on the other. Apparent design looks designed but really isn't. Optimal design is perfect design and hence cannot exist except in an idealized realm (sometimes called a "Platonic heaven"). Apparent and optimal design empty design of all practical significance. 
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Within biology, intelligent design holds that a designing intelligence is indispensable for explaining the specified complexity of living systems. Nevertheless, taken strictly as a scientific theory, intelligent design refuses to speculate about the nature of this designing intelligence. Whereas optimal design demands a perfectionistic, anal-retentive designer who has to get everything just right, intelligent design fits our ordinary experience of design, which is always conditioned by the needs of a situation and therefore always falls short of some idealized global optimum.  
Obviously, in that context, design would mean: (scroll down to design noun- full definition of design)
5 a :  an underlying scheme that governs functioning, developing, or unfolding :  patternmotif design
6 :  the arrangement of elements or details in a product or work of art
And taken together Intelligent Design would relate to all the definitions of design that are telic in nature. The genetic code is such evidence. Virgil Cain
Hi Virgil, In the (likely vain) hope you will respond in good faith, I'll address your comment.
The genetic code is evidence that life on earth was designed. We say that with the same confidence we can say Stonehenge was designed- both exhibit signs of work.
From your own link, then:
According to Webster's Third New International Dictionary, an artifact is “a usually simple object (as a tool or an ornament) showing human workmanship and modification as distinguished from a natural object.” The Oxford English Dictionary defines an artifact (artefact) as “anything made by human art and workmanship; an artificial product.” (emphasis added)
Further, the meaning of "natural" in this context is: existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind. (emphasis added) Anthropology and forensics are often mentioned by IDers as examples of detecting "design", when in fact they are detecting human activity. Obviously, when ID talks about detecting "design" they are using the word differently - they don't mean "human workmanship". The question I am always asking here is very specific: What exactly do you mean when you say "design" in the context of ID? If you mean something like "produced by an intelligent agent", then obviously you need to explain just what that entails. Do you mean, for example, something that is conscious? Cheers, RDFish/AIGuy RDFish
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