Intelligent Design

My faith is falsifiable, Professor Coyne. Is yours?

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In a recent article in USA Today, Professor Jerry Coyne made the following claim:

I’ve never met a Christian, for instance, who has been able to tell me what observations about the universe would make him abandon his beliefs in God and Jesus. (I would have thought that the Holocaust could do it, but apparently not.) There is no horror, no amount of evil in the world, that a true believer can’t rationalize as consistent with a loving God.

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Vincent Torley, and I’m a Christian whose faith in God, Jesus Christ and Intelligent Design is falsifiable. I have the greatest respect for your acknowledged expertise in the field of biology, and I don’t wish to question it for a moment. My Ph.D. is in philosophy, not science. For the record, I accept that the universe is approximately 14 billion years old, and that all living things spring from a common ancestor that lived approximately 4 billion years ago. However, I do not believe that non-foresighted processes (random mutations plus natural selection, in popular parlance) are adequate to account for the complexity we observe in organisms today, or that natural processes suffice to explain the origin of life. Here is a list of observations that would cause me to abandon belief in God, belief in Christianity and belief in Intelligent Design.

Observations that would cause me to abandon belief in God

1. The discovery of a naked singularity – a point in space which could literally spew forth anything “out of the blue” – chairs, pizzas, computers, works of literature, or whatever.

2. The discovery that it was possible for intelligent agents (such as human beings) to go back in time and alter the past.

3. The invention of a machine that could read the propositional content of my thoughts – or those of any other human being who is currently capable of exercising their faculty of reason.

4. A scientific demonstration that our thoughts, words and actions are completely determined by external circumstances beyond our control (heredity plus environment).

5. The invention of a machine that could control the propositional content of my thoughts, and make me believe anything that the machine’s programmer wanted me to believe – or do the same to any other human being who is currently capable of exercising their faculty of reason.

6. The invention of a machine that could control my actions, without impairing my ability to reason and without impairing the link between my beliefs/thoughts/judgments and my actions – or do the same to any other human being who is currently capable of exercising their faculty of reason. Which brings me to…

7. The invention of a machine that could turn me into a person who would willingly perpetrate atrocities like those those committed by the Nazis, without impairing my ability to reason and without impairing the link between my beliefs/thoughts/judgments and my actions – or do the same to any other human being who is currently capable of exercising their faculty of reason. In answer to your question about the Holocaust, Jerry: Nazis wouldn’t destroy my faith in God, but a machine that could turn me (or anyone else) into a willing Nazi, would.

Observations that would cause me to abandon belief in Christianity

1. The discovery of Jesus’ dead body in Palestine.

2. The discovery of archaeological proof that any of the following individuals never existed: Abraham, Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Jonah, Ezra and Nehemiah – e.g. a letter by a scribe, confessing to having made them up as a work of fiction. (I haven’t included Noah on this list because I suspect that the Biblical Noah is a “telescoping” of two individuals – one of whom lived two million years ago and another who lived 5,000 years ago. I’ve included Daniel and Jonah, because Jesus Christ referred to them as historical individuals.)

3. A human being coming back to life, with an indestructible body. (This human being would also have to contradict one or more of the claims of Christianity.)

4. Documentary evidence of 3., which was at least as strong as the documentary evidence for the resurrection of Jesus.

5. Observations confirming that the universe is infinitely old, or is infinite in size.

6. Scientific proof that human beings did not spring from a common stock, and that the human race had a polyphyletic origin.

7. Scientific proof that the following distinctively human abilities arose at different times in the past: the ability to create a language with rules of discourse and a structured grammar; the ability to engage in logical argument (and not just means-end reasoning); the ability to entertain abstract concepts such as “truth,” “goodness” and “beauty”; the ability to entertain a concept of God who is worthy of worship and who punishes wrongdoing; and the ability to believe in a personal after-life. (As a Christian, I believe that all of these human abilities emerged literally overnight, although some of these abilities may not have manifested themselves in the fossil record until long after they appeared.)

8. The discovery of a non-human animal (e.g. a dolphin) possessing one or more of the abilities listed above.

9. The discovery of a race or tribe of human beings who are currently capable of exercising their faculty of reason, but who are utterly incapable of even comprehending – let alone accepting – the Gospel message.

10. The creation of a machine that was capable of conversing at length about any topic – including its own mental states and life story – in such a way that it could fool an audience of intelligent people into thinking that it was human.

Observations that would cause me to abandon belief in Intelligent Design

1. An empirical or mathematical demonstration that the probability of the emergence of life on Earth during the past four billion years as a result of purely natural processes, without any intelligent guidance and starting from a random assortment of organic chemicals, is greater than 10^-120.

2. An empirical or mathematical demonstration that the probability of the emergence of any of the irreducibly complex structures listed on this page, as a result of non-foresighted processes (“random mutations plus natural selection”) is greater than 10^-120.

Observations that would cause me to abandon belief in Christianity and/or Intelligent Design

1. A scientific demonstration that the human brain was sub-optimally designed for a human primate – in other words, that it would have been possible for an Intelligent Designer to have manipulated our ancestors’ genes in such a way as to generate human beings which looked just like us, but whose neural architecture was much more efficiently wired.

I could go on, but I think that’s about enough for one day. Suffice it to say that my faith is falsifiable. What about your atheism?

117 Replies to “My faith is falsifiable, Professor Coyne. Is yours?

  1. 1
    nullasalus says:

    Frankly, I’m so tired of these sorts of exchanges. The question on the hand is “What would cause you to abandon your belief (in God / atheism)?” and the reply is usually to give a list of arbitrary examples. While I think some of the list of what would falsify Christianity is more on target, the entire “God” list is ridiculous. Not a single thing on it would falsify the existence of God – and if the reply is “yes, but it would make me personally doubt God’s existence”, that would be admitting that this isn’t about falsification at all. If I decide that if sun ever looks blue at high noon in Dallas then God doesn’t exist, have I provided a falsifiable test for God’s existence?

    But if someone is interested in playing Coyne’s game, then this quote is worth noting:

    The nature of this god is always vague and undefined and most annoyingly, plastic — suggest a test and it is always redefined safely away from the risk. Furthermore, any evidence of a deity will be natural, repeatable, measurable, and even observable…properties which god is exempted from by the believers’ own definitions, so there can be no evidence for it. And any being who did suddenly manifest in some way — a 900 foot tall Jesus, for instance — would not fit any existing theology, so such a creature would not fit the claims of any religion, but the existence of any phenomenon that science cannot explain would not discomfit science at all, since we know there is much we don’t understand already, and adding one more mystery to the multitude will not faze us in the slightest.

    So yes, I agree. There is no valid god hypothesis, so there can be no god evidence, so let’s stop pretending the believers have a shot at persuading us.

    That would be PZ Myers.

    So, we have two atheists here. One is insisting that a belief is not respectable unless it’s open to being abandoned due to evidence. The other is saying that no evidence could ever suffice to change his belief about God (And he also suggests that other atheists should follow after him) because any “evidence” could always be explained away.

    And incidentally, Coyne already wrote up a post where he talked about what would get him to believe God exists (or at least so he implied):

    There are so many phenomena that would raise the specter of God or other supernatural forces: faith healers could restore lost vision, the cancers of only good people could go into remission, the dead could return to life, we could find meaningful DNA sequences that could have been placed in our genome only by an intelligent agent, angels could appear in the sky.

    All the things that PZ Myers says could be open to explanation, even potential explanation, by scientists, and thus would not constitute any reason to believe in God whatsoever. Because no such evidence is possible.

    I humbly suggest that both of these approaches are deeply wrong, and that the response given to Coyne here is wrong as well.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Dr. Torley, I think that is a fair list of falsifiable items you have presented. Many of which are of the ‘elephant in the living room variety’. It will be interesting to see if atheists will be as fair in their criteria for falsifiability:

    of related note:

    A new TV interview on Premier TV:

    Alistair McGrath – From aggressive atheist scientist to Professor of Theology. He tells his story to Justin Brierley on Premier TV.
    http://www.premier.tv/

  3. 3
    zeroseven says:

    I agree with Nullasulus. Why, for example, would number 2 under the God list falsify your belief in God?

  4. 4
    nullasalus says:

    I’d also tack on that Coyne states the existence of God is entirely compatible with science. Just he stipulates that this God would have to be uber-Deistic, and utterly hands-off with creation in just about any sense you could imagine.

    I’ll leave it to others to ferret out the problems with that sort of claim.

  5. 5
    Petrushka says:

    The creation of a machine that was capable of conversing at length about any topic – including its own mental states and life story – in such a way that it could fool an audience of intelligent people into thinking that it was human.

    Sounds like the Turing test. One problem with the test as you have presented it is that a truthful machine could not talk about its history without failing to convince you it is human.

    A more reasonable test would be one that required the machine to discuss topics in a way that demonstrated understanding of novel ideas, or novel expression of ideas. Somewhat along these lines:

    The invention of a machine that could read the propositional content of my thoughts – or those of any other human being who is currently capable of exercising their faculty of reason.

    Of course humans differ widely in this respect. I see no reason why one should hold a computer to a higher standard.

  6. 6
    markf says:

    An empirical or mathematical demonstration that the probability of the emergence of life on Earth during the past four billion years as a result of purely natural processes, without any intelligent guidance and starting from a random assortment of organic chemicals, is greater than 10^-120.

    Why would this cause you to abandon your belief in ID? Say I demonstrated the probality was a mere 10^-10. A designer of unlmited powers and motives can produce life on earth with a probability of 1. So surely the designer hypothesis is far better supported?

  7. 7
    markf says:

    1. A scientific demonstration that the human brain was sub-optimally designed for a human primate – in other words, that it would have been possible for an Intelligent Designer to have manipulated our ancestors’ genes in such a way as to generate human beings which looked just like us, but whose neural architecture was much more efficiently wired

    Obviously our brain is suboptimal in the sense that we forget things, make miscalculations etc. Why do you limit this to what can be achieved through the manipulation of genes? Are epigenetic routes out of bounds to the designer?

  8. 8
    Kyrilluk says:

    I agree with 1,2.
    Number 2,3,4 shouldn’t be included into falsifying God because these are linked to an interpretation of “free will” which is linked to a belief held by a certain version of a Christian God.
    I don’t believe that free will has anything to do with our ability to take decision completely independtly from material causes. It’s more to do with the fact that God treat us according to what we are doing now and not what we are going to do in the future.

  9. 9
    Alex73 says:

    The problem is that my conversion from atheism to Christianity and the maintenance of this faith for 20 years is best described as meeting with a real but yet invisible person I did not know before and starting a life together with Him.

    This is very personal, but my decisions based logically on the validity of this encounter resulted in a vast transformation of my personality with innumerable positive changes as testified by my acquaintances.

    I have also found that the world around me is consistent with what the Bible says about God and His creation.

    In my case you have to prove that I went insane, but at the same time became healthier, fixed my family, made new friends, had a successful academic carreer and although I do not have a problem free life I feel quite happy in general.

    You can start with pointing to articles in mental health journals that describe this syndrome and show that after a cure the patients invariably became even happier with life, more successful in social relationships etc.

  10. 10
    gpuccio says:

    Mark (#4):

    This is a common misunderstanding of ID. ID theory states that design is the best explanation for biological information, because any explanation based on chance and necessity is not empirically credible.

    If there is an empirically credible non design explanation for biological information, then ID is falsified. You are right that biological information could still in principle be designed, but there would be no scientific evidence for that. ID would definitely be falsified as a scientific theory.

  11. 11
    tjguy says:

    Torley said: “The discovery of archaeological proof that any of the following individuals never existed: ….(I haven’t included Noah on this list because I suspect that the Biblical Noah is a “telescoping” of two individuals – one of whom lived two million years ago and another who lived 5,000 years ago. I’ve included Daniel and Jonah, because Jesus Christ referred to them as historical individuals.)”

    Sir, I don’t know what principles you base your biblical interpretation on, but Jesus also referred to Noah as a historical individual and the flood as an historical event. This is a problem for IDers who try and ride both sides of the fence and include molecules to man evolution in the Bible.

    Here are the relevant passages:
    Jesus Christ our Creator, who is the Truth and would never tell us a lie, said that during the “days of Noah” (Matthew 24:37; Luke 17:26–27) “Noah entered the Ark” and “the Flood came and took them all away” (Matthew 24:38–39). He spoke of these events as real, literal history, describing a global Flood that destroyed all land life not on the Ark.

    Therefore, sir, I hope you will rethink your position on Noah. If you include Daniel and Jonah because Jesus referred to them as real people, if you are going to take that kind of approach, then you are in trouble, because you would also be forced by that same logic to accept Noah AND the flood as real historical people/events.

    This is of course the right position to take. Any other position does irreparable harm to the validity of the Bible. We can’t pick and choose what we will and won’t accept in the Bible. It is all God’s Word, from the very first page to the last page.

    It is important that we believe what Christ told us(this would include the whole Bible because it is His Word), rather than accept the ideas of fallible scientists who base their ideas on unbiblical assumptions and who weren’t there to see what happened in the earth’s past.

    Your ideas about two Noah’s are indeed strange. The Bible says nothing about two Noahs. Jesus speaks of one Noah and it would indeed be strange if His reference to Noah in Matthew is to the Noah who lived 2 million years ago. Strange because the Bible doesn’t even mention this Noah so how would anyone know what in the world He is talking about. The clear understanding of Jesus’ reference to Noah is to the one who lived during the time of the flood. Any other meaning would make Scripture hopelessly difficult to interpret.

    Besides Jesus said that that He made Adam and Eve at the beginning of creation. That doesn’t fit with a Noah created before them 2 million years ago.

  12. 12
    markf says:

    #8 Gpuccio

    I have discussed this with you before. I think I understand ID theory quite well. What I am trying to illustrate is one of its conceptual weaknesses. If the only way to falsify ID is to show that an alternative is just about possible then there is something odd about it. However, there does not appear to be any other way unless ID theoru is prepared to commit itself to some statement about the methods and/or intentions of the designer – which can then be inspected. I seem to remember on the previous occasion that eventually you conceded that ID was not falsifiable unless we made some assumptions about the designer’s intentions – but that was many months ago and I couldn’t possibly find the thread. I wonder if you remember this?

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    but markf though this post deals with a basic outline of falsifying Theism in general and Christianity in particular, the main question of the post, which you have completely failed to address, is this, “exactly what criteria is falsifiable with atheistic materialism?” i.e. what evidence, on top of the overwhelming evidence against atheism already brought forth, would make you finally acknowledge the futility of your philosophical precept?

    note:

    Michael Behe on Falsifying Intelligent Design
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8jXXJN4o_A

  14. 14
    markf says:

    bf77 #11

    the main question of the post, which you have completely failed to address, is this, “exactly what criteria is falsifiable with atheistic materialism?”

    I didn’t address this question because it will only lead to a sterile discussion. Atheism is a negative statement – I believe there is no God. It is falsified by demonstrating that there is a God. But this leads to a discussion as to what counts as a God – far too big a thing to discuss here.

    I am well aware of Behe’s position on falsifying ID, as repeated in the video clip. It repeats the point that Gpuccio made in #8 in the form of an example. I don’t think that putting it in video form makes the argument any sounder!

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    markf, and yet the shallowness of your excuses escapes you?

    Atheism is actually a positive argument in one sense since it postulates a purely materialistic type cause for everything,,,

    How about you play fair with the main question of the post and say something to the effect,

    Well if materialism were shown to be false then I would consider my atheism severely to be compromised???

    But then again I guess you already know that that is actually how the science now sits, so I guess we will be waiting a long time to receive such honesty from you.

    Off topic:

    I found this AWESOME new Christian song yesterday:

    Heather Williams – Hallelujah – Lyrics
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OX2uM0L3Y1A

  16. 16
    gpuccio says:

    Mark:

    I remember that we arrived at a point of friendly disagreement, but not well the details.

    Anyway, I don’t agree that “ID is not falsifiable unless we make some assumptions about the designer’s intentions”. That’s not my idea at all.

    Maybe I can be more clear by splitting the concept of ID in two parts:

    1) ID theory rests on the concept of CSI. CSI, in one of its forms (in my case, as you know, I do prefer dFSCI) is used as an empirical condition which allows the design inference. So, the theory assumes that where CSI is found (with satisfaction of all the conditions of the explanatory filter), design can be safely inferred.

    This part of the theory has nothing to do with biological inforamtion, least of all with assumptions about the designer. It is as simple as that: CSI is present, design is inferred. The assumption is that such a method empirically works, and that it has no false positives, if an appropriate complexity threshold is used.

    This part of the theory can be easily be falsified: it wouyld be enough to show a single case of true CSI which is certanly noy genereated by design. That has never been done and, IMO, never will be, because the concept is sound and works always.

    2) The second part of ID theory is its application to biological information, for instance to the observed proteome. Here the question is: does biological information satisfy the conditions to affirm CSI? If the answer is yes, we assume design for it. Otherwise we don’t.

    ID answers yes. Biological information, in most of its examples, clearly exhibits the properties of dFSCI. If that is true, the only way to falsify the design inference for it would be to falsify point 1), which has never been made.

    But there is another possibility. Darwinian theory poses itself indeed as a chance – necessity based mechanism which, in the opinion of darwinists, can explain biological information. If that were true, biological information could no more be considered CSI, although functionally specified and complex, because we would know a necessity mechanism which can explain it, provided that its random procedures did not reach individually the complexity level of CSI.

    We in ID do believe that such an explanatory mechanism (darwinian theory) is false, inconsistent and unacceptable. Therefore, the design inference for biological information remains valid. It could, anyway, be falsified if darwinists (or anybody else) could show that a credible necessity, or chance necessity, mechanism to explain that information in absence of design can really be shown.

    That’s the real point. Darwinists are continuosly trying to falsify ID psrt 2), by showing that their theory makes sense. And they regularly fail 🙂

    For instance, a way to falsify part 2) would be to show a credible way through which all, or most, of the information in protein domains can be deconstructed into selectable steps, and each transition from one step to the following one shown in the range of a credible random search.

    Up to now, that has never been made, not even for a single case. And we have thousands of them.

    So, to sum up, you can falsify ID in two different ways:

    a) You can show a single case of true CSI which was not designed.

    b) You can show that biological information is not CSI, because a credible necessity or chance necessity mechanism can explain it.

    Neither a) nor b) has ever been done, to my knowledge, but both a) and b) could be done, in principle.

    So, ID is perfectly falsifiable, but not falsified.

    Moreover, neither point 1) nor point 2) require any assumption on the designer. Although, as I have said many times, assumtions about the designer can certainly be made, after design is inferred.

  17. 17
    vjtorley says:

    Markf

    Thank you for your emails. In response to your queries:

    1. You asked me why I specified a cutoff probability of 10^-120 for the evolution of life and not 10^-10. You also argued that since an intelligent designer can produce life with a probability of 1, a designer would be a more reasonable hypothesis. Not so fast. What if there were a 90% chance that non-foresighted natural processes (i.e. chance plus necessity) could produce life over a four-billion year period? 90% is still less than 1, so by your logic, the designer hypothesis would still be preferable.

    The reason why I picked such a low number was to forestall the atheist objection that although the emergence of life on our Earth might be fantastically improbable, there are lots of other Earthlike planets out there, so one of them had to get lucky, and it just happened to be ours. To rule out that line of argument, I made use of Professor William Dembski’s universal probability bound. I quoted the 10^-120 from memory, actually; to get a more accurate figure, you might like to read Dembski’s article Specification: The Pattern That Signifies Intelligence .

    I have to admit, though, that if someone could prove to me that the probability of life emerging on Earth by unintelligent natural processes was 10^-10, I’d be very much inclined to favor intelligent design as an explanatory hypothesis. I’ve never been terribly impressed with arguments from “sheer, dumb luck,” and it sounds lame to say that we just happen to be living on a lucky planet.

    2. Regarding the brain: it is true that we forget things and perform mis-calculations at times, but that doesn’t prove that the brain is sub-optimally designed. To establish that, you’d have to show that some alternative design for a human primate brain would improve our mental performance. Maybe; but maybe not. Maybe every alternative design for the human brain would make it perform worse. In response to your query about epigenetics: I have to say that I know very little about the subject, as I’m not a biologist, but I suppose it would be an acceptable mechanism for a Designer to use, in addition to genetic manipulation.

  18. 18
    vjtorley says:

    tjguy

    Thank you for your comments. Let me say at the outset that I am not a theologian, but a philosopher. I have explained my views on the Flood at length at the following Web site: here . I am quite aware that Jesus Christ spoke about the Flood; that’s why I affirm that it was an historical event. But if you want an event that wiped out the whole human race (except for a family of eight people) then the only time it could have happened is two million years ago, when the human race was still confined to a small region of the globe: East Africa. (Note – I’m assuming that geological and archaeological dating techniques are substantially correct. The explanations I’ve seen in books and on the Web sound pretty convincing.) That would account for the Scriptural teaching of an anthropologically universal Flood, but not the story of Noah’s ark. People two million years ago couldn’t build boats, and the Biblical account implies that Noah knew how to make one (“Go and build yourself a boat.”)

    However, there is some archaeological evidence (albeit highly controversial) of a worldwide catastrophe about 5,000 years ago in which mega-tsunamis wiped out most (but not all) of the human race – about 50 to 75%. For a popular summary, see Did a comet cause the Great Flood?. For a scholarly article, see The Archaeology and Anthropology of Quaternary Period Cosmic Impact by W. Bruce Masse (N.B. scroll down to page 46). Tales of this terrible event would have been passed down by the few survivors. It is quite possible that one of these (Noah) was warned by God to build a boat of some sort, to protect himself and his animals. That would account for the ark tradition.

    You will doubtless tell me that this goes against the plain meaning of Holy Scripture. But I don’t believe that Scripture is ever “plain” – especially when we’re dealing with accounts written 3,000 years ago, in a foreign tongue (ancient Hebrew), by a Divinely inspired author who may have been drawing upon oral traditions as well. Scripture has many layers of meaning. Jesus Christ told his disciples that there was a flood, and the New Testament authors mention a family of eight. They also mention an ark. I am supposing that two historical events have been telescoped, for the sake of convenience, by the author of Genesis. I should add that telescoping of events was a recognized biographical technique in the ancient world, as the Christian apologist Glenn Miller has demonstrated here in a very different context.

    I know that there are Christians who prefer to maintain that scientific dating techniques are all wrong and that the “plain reading” of Genesis is the correct one. Personally, I think it is far more likely that the “plain reading” of Genesis is not always the correct one, than that several dozen independently validated dating techniques are all mistaken. That’s my opinion; I respect your right to hold a different one.

  19. 19
    markf says:

    #13 BF77

    markf, and yet the shallowness of your excuses escapes you?

    I am afraid it does.

    Atheism is actually a positive argument in one sense since it postulates a purely materialistic type cause for everything

    Well no. As it happens I am also a materialist. But it is quite consistent to believe there are no Gods and also believe there are things that are immaterial – human minds for example. Of course, it depends a bit how you want to define “God” – but that was my point.

  20. 20
    jurassicmac says:

    bornagain77 @ 13:

    Atheism is actually a positive argument in one sense since it postulates a purely materialistic type cause for everything

    ba77, perhaps you can elaborate on this a bit more, I must admit I’ve never understood the logic in statements like this. An atheist says “I do not believe there is a god.” How is this different than saying “I do not believe there is a flying spaghetti monster?” How is saying that you don’t believe in something making a positive claim? Calling atheism a ‘belief’ is like calling ‘not collecting stamps’ a hobby.

    Even postulating materialism isn’t making a positive claim. It’s just saying that one doesn’t believe in the supernatural.

    Now, materialism could be demonstrably wrong, and yet still not a positive claim. A few decades ago, one could have said: “I don’t have any reason to believe that extrasolar planets exist.” Like atheism, this is not a positive claim. It is only expressing lack of belief in something. The belief that there are no extrasolar planets also happens to be incorrect; it is refuted by the recent discovery of several of them. In that same way, Atheism would be refuted by proof of the existence of God. Neither atheism nor a-extrasolarplanetism are positive claims.

  21. 21
    vjtorley says:

    bornagain77:

    Thank you very much for the video link to Justin Brierley’s interview with Dr. Alistair McGrath.

    Dr. Alistair McGrath’s life was completely transformed by his encounter with the person of Christ. Alex73’s life has been transformed in a similar way (thanks for the testimony, Alex73).

    I also wanted to thank you for the NDE video links you posted in an earlier thread, bornagain77.

  22. 22
    markf says:

    #14 Gpuccio

    In #10 I wrote:

    If the only way to falsify ID is to show that an alternative is just about possible then there is something odd about it.

    You offer two ways of falsifying ID:

    a) You can show a single case of true CSI which was not designed.

    b) You can show that biological information is not CSI, because a credible necessity or chance necessity mechanism can explain it.

    (b) clearly requires showing an alternative is probable.

    (a) is more interesting. Remember that if there is an outcome for which I find an explanation based on necessity or plausible chance then it no longer counts as CSI – by definition. So you are saying ID could be refuted by an example of something for which there is no plausible explanation based on necessity or chance and which is not designed. As these three are meant to exhaust all possible explanations this means – find an outcome for which there is no plausible explanation.

    A little Googling reveals several phenomena for which there is no known plausible explanation e.g.Cryogenic electron emission . Something tells me you are not going to accept that as evidence against ID!

  23. 23
    bornagain77 says:

    markf, I have almost no clue what you are saying here:

    ‘Well no. As it happens I am also a materialist. But it is quite consistent to believe there are no Gods and also believe there are things that are immaterial – human minds for example. Of course, it depends a bit how you want to define “God” – but that was my point.’

    Does everything come from a material basis, as materialism is classically defined, or does it not come from a materialistic basis? i.e. If human minds do not have a material basis, but are in fact thoroughly immaterial in their independent basis as many studies indicate, how does your own brain not explode on your inconsistency of logic for saying your are a materialist and yet believe in the immaterial human mind???

  24. 24
    bornagain77 says:

    JM you ask:

    ‘How is saying that you don’t believe in something making a positive claim?’

    Though you claim you are merely stating that you don’t believe in Almighty God, that is merely dressing on the cake for a argument from Theodicy that you are really basing your logic on for you atheistic presupposition!!!. But to ignore the blatant Theodicy of your presuppositons it is by denying the Theistic basis of reality that you are in fact affirming the materialistic basis of reality. Yes you affirming it in the most positive sense possible since you have denied the only other rational positive affirmation possible i.e. Theism,,, You do this in spite of the patent absurdities of materialistic claims once the classical definition of materialism has been falsified. And you does this however loosely materialism must be defined, as is now vogue with atheists, so that you may have false cover for the argument from Theodicy that you are really trying to make. The whole thing is shallow and repugnant to sound logic that would be displayed in you if you were really concerned in finding the truth for how reality is actually constructed!!!

    etc.. etc.. etc..

  25. 25
    markf says:

    vjtorley #15 (1)

    I will split the two subjects into separate comments.

    1. You asked me why I specified a cutoff probability of 10^-120 for the evolution of life and not 10^-10.

    I apologise – I was being a bit too cryptic in my earlier comments. I wasn’t really interested in why you adopted the specific probability of 10^-120. I am familiar with the arguments about the universal probability bound. My slightly indirect point is that actually there is nothing special about 10^-120, 10^-10 or even 0.9. They are all lower than the probability of the event arising through an omnipotent designer. So logically ID should not be falsifiable through any alternative explanation other than perhaps necessity.

    I have read the Dembski article many times thanks – as Gpuccio will know because he disagrees with some of it (the definition of CSI in there conflicts with Gpuccio’s definition of dFSCI).

  26. 26
    gpuccio says:

    Mark:

    So you are saying ID could be refuted by an example of something for which there is no plausible explanation based on necessity or chance and which is not designed.

    No. Something which is not designed (because we know it was generated in a system where no designer intervened) and which exhibits CSI. I think you remember that “no plausible explanation based on necessity or chance” is only a colateral requirements to affirm CSI. The main requirements are (functional) specification and complexity.

    So, the emergence of a pseudo random string of values in a system where no design is implied, which carries information for a functional protein (or for a meaningful drama, or for a working software), and whose sequence is not the product of a specific necessity mechanism, would falsify a).

    I don’t believe that your example of cryogenic electron emission has anything to do with functional specification, unless I have missed something.

    Just to be more clear:

    Show me a system of this kind:

    A coin is flipped 500 times or more.

    The results are recorded.

    Reading the results as a sequence of binary numbers, we obtain a software (let’s say at least 500 bits long) which, when compiled, can order numbers in input in a computer (or any other objectively definable function for which at least 500 bits are necessary).

    That would falsify a).

    As you can see. it is not necessary that we have no idea of how the system works according to physical laws. We do know which physical laws determine the flipping of a coin. The important thing is that no necessity mechanism, in that system, can explain the specific emergence of a sequence which has that functional information.

    So, as you can see, a), which is an empirical statement, can absolutely be empirically falsified.

    But that will never happen. Because a) is empirically true.

  27. 27
    markf says:

    vjtorley #15 (1)

    With regard to the brain. Suppose someone discovers a gene which if it had a certain simple mutation would allow people to have much longer memories and no other side effects. This sounds like a design improvement and one that could well arise in the foreseeable future. Will you then accept this as falsifying the existence of God?

  28. 28
    jurassicmac says:

    bornagain 77 @ 22

    Though you claim you are merely stating that you don’t believe in Almighty God, that is merely dressing on the cake for a argument from Theodicy that you are really basing your logic on for you atheistic presupposition!!!

    What?

    I repeat:

    What!?

    Did you even read my post? First of all, I’m not an atheist myself. Second, I didn’t say the first thing about theodicity. How you jumped straight there without addressing anything else I said is just bizarre. Since I’ve informed you that I’m a Christian on several occasions, the charge that I’m basing my ‘logic’ on a ‘atheistic presupposition’ is just absurd.

    The only thing I’m pointing out is that your statement from 13 that ‘atheism is a positive claim,’ is nonsense. Saying that one doesn’t accept the existence of God is no more a positive claim than saying that one doesn’t accept the existence of leprechauns. I’m not arguing that atheism or materialism are true, just that they’re not positive claims. (I would think this would be self-evident, and not have to be pointed out to even the most anti-intellectual of believers)

    Even Dawkins admits that when he is speaking carefully, would never say that he is 100% sure that God does not exist.

    And you does this however loosely materialism must be defined, as is now vogue with atheists, so that you may have false cover for the argument from Theodicy that you are really trying to make.

    Please brush up on your reading comprehension. My comment didn’t have the slightest thing to do with theodicity. You’re just bizarrely putting words in my mouth and making uniformed assumptions about my beliefs.

  29. 29
    Bravoman says:

    “9. The discovery of a race or tribe of human beings who are currently capable of exercising their faculty of reason, but who are utterly incapable of even comprehending – let alone accepting – the Gospel message.”

    There is a tribe in the amazon that wont believe anything but ‘eye witness accounts’. They are fully capable of the faculty of reason, and with their reason they decide that they cant believe anything they’ve not seen for themselves.

    I read an account of a mission worker trying to spread the gospel, but when they asked him if he knew anybody that had personally met this Jesus that he was referring too, they basically lost interest in what he had to say at that point, and eventually he de-converted from christianity.

    Unfortunately i can’t provide my source for this info.

  30. 30
    markf says:

    #24

    Gpuccio

    I think you remember that “no plausible explanation based on necessity or chance” is only a colateral requirements to affirm CSI. The main requirements are (functional) specification and complexity

    I thought you were talking about CSI in general – not FSCI – but never mind we will go with functional. What is the definition of complex: probability of arising through chance is less than < the universal probability bound. To say something is complex is to say there is no plausible explanation based on chance. I cannot understand how you always manage to wriggle out of this!

    Anyhow, moving to you example, what you seem to be asking for is something (other than life)which

    (a)is functional (has some use)
    (b)it is incredibly improbable to have happened through chance
    (c)was not designed

    The ID literature is stuffed full of examples which purport to satisfy (a) and (b). The probability of our planet having all those characteristics required for life. Of course, you will then say that just proves it was designed! If the coin tosses had indeed happened then the ID folk would have used it as proof of God!

  31. 31
    bornagain77 says:

    JM, remind me again how invoking the flying spaghetti monster in a responce to me is not in fact a core atheistic argument from theodicy??? And please remind me again how ‘not atheist’ you are when you continually seem to argue from that position to me! I’m sorry if I have misconstrued you several times before but I can only address the words you write down on a thread and not the innermost beliefs you may or may not harbor! And I will address such as I see written down accordingly! You may claim that by denying Theism one is not forced to a materialistic position but that is logically incoherent, for in fact one is forced to either one or the other position no matter how convoluted the path may be for the person to realize that truth!

    And I can state with as much certainty as is possible for a man to make that reality is Theistic in its origination and in the sustaining of its existence:

    Let There Be Light
    http://lettherebelight-77.blog.....is_19.html

  32. 32
    markf says:

    #21 BA77

    Are you smoking something over there? I just read your debate with jurassicmac and agree with him that your comments seem to bear no relation to what he wrote. Then I read your comment #21:

    Does everything come from a material basis, as materialism is classically defined, or does it not come from a materialistic basis? i.e. If human minds do not have a material basis, but are in fact thoroughly immaterial in their independent basis as many studies indicate, how does your own brain not explode on your inconsistency of logic for saying your are a materialist and yet believe in the immaterial human mind???

    I didn’t claim I believed in an immaterial mind. I wrote that there is nothing inconsistent with being an atheist and believing in an immaterial mind. As it happens I am both an atheist and materialist.

  33. 33
    vjtorley says:

    nullasalus

    Thank you for your posts. As regards Professor Coyne’s remarks about what would get him to believe in God: you’ll notice that in the quote you provided, he didn’t say “God,” but “God or other supernatural forces.” That gives him quite a bit of leeway. He could still say that some higher intelligence (or intelligences) was behind the supernatural signs he enumerated (e.g. blind people being healed, or angels appearing in the sky), without it necessarily being God. But what I want to know is: what would persuade Professor Coyne to give up atheism and acknowledge the existence of God?

    If, as you say, the only kind of God that Professor Coyne is willing to consider is one that has absolutely nothing to do with the cosmos, then I’d have to rule out that kind of Deity by Occam’s razor. What I’d like to know is: what would persuade Coyne that the cosmos was originally created by God ex nihilo and is conserved in existence by Him?

    Finally, I’m a bit shocked by your statement that none of the seven basic observations I listed would destroy your faith in God. Think of it this way. Theists are always citing order in the cosmos as powerful evidence for the existence of God – and rightly so. But it’s not really fair of them to cite that as evidence, unless they’re also willing to answer the question: “How much disorder would the universe have to contain, for belief in God to become unreasonable?” Some theists might respond: “If the universe were totally lawless, then it would be reasonable to believe in a godless world – but of course, if it were lawless, we wouldn’t be here anyway.” My response is that the discovery of even one corner of the cosmos where chaos reigned supreme would be disastrous, as it would allow uncaused events to disrupt the order of the cosmos. Hence every accessible nook and cranny of the cosmos has to be regulated by laws, for belief in God to be reasonable. (I said accessible, because I don’t care about black holes.) That explains my “naked singularity” claim; if there were one, it would wreak havoc in the surrounding cosmos, because of its causality violations. Likewise, time travel is ruled out, because of the “grandmother” paradox (again, a violation of causality). Claims 3 to 7 hinge on the underlying assumption that libertarian free will is required for genuine human agency. Kyrilluk doubts this assumption; but if it is false, then I am responsible for anything that a machine can make me do, willingly – even if the machine makes me give up my old beliefs and espouse ones which I previously considered diabolical. I don’t know any theist who would say that.

  34. 34
    vjtorley says:

    markf (#25)

    Thanks for your interesting question about the brain. With regards to your “gene discovery” scenario, I’d say: no, that would not falsify the existence of God. A single gene is a very minor modification. The first human beings may have originally had the gene and then lost it, as a consequence of the Fall.

    However I take it that the Fall did not fundamentally rewire our brains, and I don’t know of any Christian who has argued that it did. What I’m envisaging in my example is a radical change in our neural architecture which results in a significant improvement in mental function, without requiring any fundamental morphological changes. In other words, we’d still be human primates, anatomically speaking.

    That’s important, because the fact that some other kind of animal might have a brain that works better than ours is neither here nor there. Rather, the theological question we need to answer is: did God do a proper job when He made human beings – or more specifically, did God do a proper job when He made the human brain?

  35. 35
    bornagain77 says:

    markf, you would agree with Hitler himself if need be just so to reaffirm your atheism so I don’t really consider your endorsement of what he wrote to be that helpful to his position! 🙂

    You also clarified this markf:

    “I wrote that there is nothing inconsistent with being an atheist and believing in an immaterial mind.”

    I still have no clue how you can logically maintain this! The absurdities of possible answers you may supply are everywhere. But just for entertainment please do elaborate what you feel is a possible solution that does not end in absurdity.

  36. 36
    markf says:

    #32

    An atheist might belief that every person has an immaterial mind which arises as a consequence of material causes. After all mental events are undoubtably affected by external physical causes. So if you believe mental events are immaterial you must already accept that material causes can have immaterial effects.

  37. 37
    gpuccio says:

    Mark:

    cosmological or planet related arguments are interesting, but they are very difficult to treat, Rigurous computations of target space or search space are difficult and very subjective. That’s why I stick to biological arguments and dFSCI. You should appreciate that I try to remain in a field where there are no such ambiguities.

    You say:

    “If the coin tosses had indeed happened then the ID folk would have used it as proof of God!”

    No, again that would be an empirical falsification of the concepts at the basis of ID.

    So again, please offer an example, just one, of a digital string emerged in a random system, without any contribution of designers, which has the following properties:

    (a)is functional (has some use)
    (b)it is incredibly improbable to have happened through chance
    (c)was not designed

    If you agree that such a string will never come out of a non design system, then you have simply accepted the obvious: that the ID concept of dFSCI as an absolutely reliable marker of design is true.

    The simple truth is that such a concept is so self-evident that, if really a sequence of coin tossing gave a working software, I suppose that anyone, including you, would really look for some possible design explanation (intelligent tampering with the system, or similar).

  38. 38
    markf says:

    #31

    vjtorley

    I won’t pursue the example any further. I am more interested in what you write about the fall. You write that

    “I accept that the universe is approximately 14 billion years old, and that all living things spring from a common ancestor that lived approximately 4 billion years ago”

    So how do see the fall panning out in biological terms? Did it happen to just one common ancestor of all humans or to multiple ancestors simultaneously or what?

  39. 39
    bornagain77 says:

    markf, you just redefined the answer to suit what you believe in what you wrote!?! And did not address what you had stated! I was hoping you would invoke some reincarnation mumbo jumbo which I could address with infinite regress but alas you did not stray to far from home,, None-the-less your ‘hard materialist’ position is absurd!

    notes:

    This following video is very good, and easy to understand, for pointing out some of the unanswerable dilemmas that quantum mechanics presents to the atheistic philosophy of materialism as materialism is popularly understood:

    Dr. Quantum – Double Slit Experiment & Entanglement – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4096579/

    This following experiment extended Wheeler’s delayed choice double slit experiment, which I referenced earlier, to highlight the centrality of ‘information’ in the Double Slit Experiment and refutes any ‘detector centered’ arguments for why the wave collapses:

    (Double Slit) A Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser – updated 2007
    Excerpt: Upon accessing the information gathered by the Coincidence Circuit, we the observer are shocked to learn that the pattern shown by the positions registered at D0 (Detector Zero) at Time 2 depends entirely on the information gathered later at Time 4 and available to us at the conclusion of the experiment. (i.e. This experiment clearly shows that the detector is secondary in the experiment and that a conscious observer, being able to know the information of which path a photon takes with local certainty, is primary to the wave collapsing to a particle in the experiment. The act of a detector detecting a photon at an earlier time in the experiment does not determine if the wave will be collapsed at the end of the experiment. Only the availability of the information to the observer is what matters for the wave to collapse. That is what he meant by ‘we the observer are shocked to learn’)
    http://www.bottomlayer.com/bot.....ly-web.htm

    It is interesting to note that some materialists seem to have a very hard time grasping the simple point of the double slit experiments, but to try to put it more clearly; To explain an event which defies time and space, as the quantum erasure experiment clearly does, you cannot appeal to any material entity in the experiment like the detector, or any other 3D physical part of the experiment, which is itself constrained by the limits of time and space. To give an adequate explanation for defying time and space one is forced to appeal to a transcendent entity which is itself not confined by time or space. But then again I guess I can see why forcing someone who claims to be a atheistic materialist to appeal to a non-material transcendent entity, to give an adequate explanation, would invoke such utter confusion on their part. Yet to try to put it in even more ‘shocking’ terms, the ‘shocking’ conclusion of the experiment is that a transcendent Mind, with a capital M, must precede the collapse of quantum waves to 3-Dimensional particles. Moreover, it is impossible for a human mind to ever ’emerge’ from any 3-D material particle which is itself semi-dependent on our ‘observation’ for its own collapse to a 3D reality in the first place. This is more than a slight problem for the atheistic-evolutionary materialist who insists that our minds ’emerged’, or evolved, from 3D matter. In the following article Professor Henry puts it more clearly than I can:

    The Mental Universe – Richard Conn Henry – Professor of Physics John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: The only reality is mind and observations, but observations are not of things. To see the Universe as it really is, we must abandon our tendency to conceptualize observations as things.,,, Physicists shy away from the truth because the truth is so alien to everyday physics. A common way to evade the mental universe is to invoke “decoherence” – the notion that “the physical environment” is sufficient to create reality, independent of the human mind. Yet the idea that any irreversible act of amplification is necessary to collapse the wave function is known to be wrong: in “Renninger-type” experiments, the wave function is collapsed simply by your human mind seeing nothing. The universe is entirely mental,,,, The Universe is immaterial — mental and spiritual. Live, and enjoy.
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/The.mental.universe.pdf

    Astrophysicist John Gribbin comments on the Renninger experiment here:

    Solving the quantum mysteries – John Gribbin
    Excerpt: From a 50:50 probability of the flash occurring either on the hemisphere or on the outer sphere, the quantum wave function has collapsed into a 100 per cent certainty that the flash will occur on the outer sphere. But this has happened without the observer actually “observing” anything at all! It is purely a result of a change in the observer’s knowledge about what is going on in the experiment.
    http://www.lifesci.sussex.ac.u.....tm#Solving

    i.e. The detector is completely removed as to being the primary cause of quantum wave collapse in the experiment. As Richard Conn Henry clearly implied previously, in the experiment it is found that ‘The physical environment’ IS NOT sufficient within itself to ‘create reality’, i.e. ‘The physical environment’ IS NOT sufficient to explain quantum wave collapse to a ‘uncertain’ 3D particle.

    Why, who makes much of a miracle? As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles, Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan, Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,,,
    Walt Whitman – Miracles

    etc.. etc.. etc..

  40. 40
    jurassicmac says:

    ba77 @ 28:

    JM, remind me again how invoking the flying spaghetti monster in a responce to me is not in fact a core atheistic argument from theodicy???

    Ba77, your statement here makes me inclined to think that you don’t know what theodicy means. How does anything I’ve said relate to theodicy in any way? It’s like you’re a broken record, stuck on that particular term for some reason. Theodicy deals with the explanation for suffering in pain. Not to belabor the point, what I was pointing out was that it makes no sense to call atheism a positive argument, to which you have not responded. I’ve said nothing about evil, or suffering, or pain, or anything of that sort. My personal belief is that although atheists do have some good arguments, an argument against the existence of God from theodicy is not one of them. Pain and suffering are more than adequately explained by Christian theology. Just wanted to get that out of the way.

    And please remind me again how ‘not atheist’ you are when you continually seem to argue from that position to me!

    I have never once argued from the atheistic position, to you or to anyone else, because, as I have explained before, I am not an atheist. Christians sometimes make ridiculous arguments. (such as you did in 13) Attempting to prevent a fellow believer from continuing to make claims that are embarrassing to the faith does not make one an atheist any more than one chemist correcting another makes the first an alchemist.

    There are good arguments for theism. There are terrible arguments for theism. Parroting them both interchangeably, without discretion, dilutes the good ones.

    You may claim that by denying Theism one is not forced to a materialistic position

    Again with the reading comprehension. I said no such thing. I said nothing even resembling that. What I said was: “Even postulating materialism isn’t making a positive claim. It’s just saying that one doesn’t believe in the supernatural.” This has nothing to do with the relationship between atheism and materialism. Now, I didn’t say that “Denying theism, one isn’t forced to a materialistic position,” but for the most part, I tentatively agree with that statement, for one reason: there are hundreds of millions of atheists who aren’t materialists: Buddhists. So, obviously a person can be an atheist while at the same time not be a materialist. There are at least 350 million instances of this.

    If your goal was to spurt unrelated buzzwords to distract from my original statement, you’ve succeeded.

    I’ll phrase it as a question for clarity: Do you still think that saying “I’m not convinced that there is a god,” is making a positive claim?

  41. 41
    bornagain77 says:

    JM to clarify what I had stated about the ‘flying spaghetti monster’ being a core atheist argument from theodicy,

    The arguments I use to have with nakashima would often go like this:

    He would argue that such and such was not designed by God because God would not possibly design something that way,,, and failing that, as many times he was as he would be embarrassed by ‘optimal design’, he would resort to trying to define God in such a way that God was inconsistent with reality, hence the ‘flying spaghetti monster’ refrain he would often invoke.

    Yet both such arguments are theological in their basis in trying to find an inconsistency with God and reality.

    1. show God would not have done it that way

    2. show the concept of God to be inconsistent with reality

    Yet the kicker is that nakashima somehow mysteriously and “naturally’ knew how God should be properly understood in order to be able to make the countervailing arguments in the first place. 🙂 i.e. He understood God to be transcendent and all powerful.

    JM I hope that cleared up a little bit where I come from on the whole ‘flying spaghetti monster thing. 🙂

  42. 42
    bornagain77 says:

    JM, It is not my fault that 350 million Buddhist are inconsistent in their logic. You either believe in God or you do not. If you do not believe in God you are forced to take any one of a multitude of absurd materialistic positions. You can argue they are not materialists but please ‘enlighten me’ (pun intended) as to why their particular form of atheism should not be considered materialistic in its basis since they in fact deny the ‘Universal Consciousness” (to get ‘eastern’ on you) that is God???

  43. 43
    bornagain77 says:

    JM you ask,

    ‘Do you still think that saying “I’m not convinced that there is a god,” is making a positive claim?’

    JM that question reflects a reasonable position, and I am fairly sure you are well aware that most of the atheists that visit UD are not nearly that reasonable but, as markf just did a few posts ago, are of the type that make a dogmatic and positive claim for materialism. (however whatever that material basis is they usually do not say 🙂 ) Thus I have an example on this very thread that atheists do in fact make positive claims:

    markf post 29

    ‘As it happens I am both an atheist and materialist.’

    Perhaps you say it is all semantics or whatever JM but the undeniable point is IF you deny God, (not if you are uncertain about God) you by default make a positive claim for materialism, for whatever form of materialism you may choose from the wide variety they have.

  44. 44
    vjtorley says:

    markf (#35)

    In answer to your question about the Fall, I see it as happening to one common ancestor of all human beings – or at the very most, a tribe from which we all sprang. Before the Fall, the human genome would have been Divinely protected from deterioration, in ways in which it is not now. Since the Fall, I would expect a considerable number of deleterious traits to have accumulated in the human genome.

  45. 45
    jurassicmac says:

    bornagain77:

    Perhaps you say it is all semantics or whatever JM but the undeniable point is IF you deny God, (not if you are uncertain about God) you by default make a positive claim for materialism, for whatever form of materialism you may choose from the wide variety they have.

    But materialism isn’t a positive claim either! A materialist sees no compelling reason to believe in the supernatural, just as an atheist sees no compelling reason to believe in god. Again, even the most strident materialist would never say, if they were speaking carefully, that they are 100% sure that nothing supernatural exists; just that there is no compelling reason to believe that it does.

    Your statement is like saying: “If you say that you do not believe in leprechauns, you are making the positive claim that magic doesn’t exist.” (that would be a negative claim.)

    No one goes “I believe in materialism, therefore I reject the idea of God,” but rather: “I know of no convincing evidence for the supernatural, therefore I do not believe in it.”

    I’m not sure why it has to be explained that if someone makes the claim that something exists, (either God or the supernatural realm) without presenting compelling evidence, It is not making a positive claim for someone else to reject such assertions.

    Again, If I were to say that I don’t believe that unicorns exist, it is neither making a positive claim, nor would I be making the negative claim that they don’t exist.

    I’m not sure why this is so hard to understand.

  46. 46
    bornagain77 says:

    JM you state:

    ‘I’m not sure why this is so hard to understand.’

    My sentiments exactly! 🙂

    JM whatever we may presuppose about the ‘certainty’ of our ability to ascertain reality, the fact is that there are only two options on the table for reality. It is either materialistic or it is Theistic. I was very careful to state that IF you denied the existence of God then you by default make the positive claim for materialism. I was also very careful to explain that many atheists are of that dogmatic type who visit UD. In fact Day after Day UD readers deal with hard core atheists who are very adamant in their positive claims that material processes, and ONLY material processes, created everything around us including ourselves. And with great delight many UD readers excel in the ability of pointing out the fact that these hard core atheists have not one shred of empirical evidence for those claims! But you sit here and act as if I have not personally witnessed this going on for several years now?!? JM you cannot mix, what is in essence, a ‘agnostic’ position of uncertainty, to what we are dealing with here!.

    i.e. We are not in some frat house discussing God over beers where such things can be presented without direct recourse to evidence but we are in fact on UD dealing firsthand with the evidence, denials, and countervailing evidence:

  47. 47
    bornagain77 says:

    Dr Torley and others, this is a little off topic but may be of great interest to you:

    There is a new book coming out:

    God and Evolution

    with chapters by:

    William Dembski, Stephen Meyer, Denyse O’Leary, David Klinghoffer, Jonathan Wells, John West, Jonathan Witt, Casey Luskin, Logan Paul Gage,

    The trailer is very well done:

    http://www.faithandevolution.o.....evolution/

    there is also a small treasure trove of video clips here:

    http://www.faithandevolution.o.....-clips.php

  48. 48
    markf says:

    #34 Gpuccio

    You may prefer to avoid cosmological examples but the fact is many of your colleagues assert that they are examples of incredibly improbable outcomes with a function. They then conclude design. You want to add the condition that the outcome should be a digital string and put it in a biological context, but the argument is essentially the same – and it becomes a/the way of falsifying design! Is their argument invalid?

  49. 49
    nullasalus says:

    vjtorley,

    My response is that the discovery of even one corner of the cosmos where chaos reigned supreme would be disastrous, as it would allow uncaused events to disrupt the order of the cosmos.

    And it doesn’t bother you in the slightest that your example requires us to be able to observe uncaused events?

    Or that you’re postulating the possibility of the order of the cosmos itself being disrupted, but you can’t be sure it’s happening until we go find a naked singularity? Shouldn’t disruption in the order of the cosmos be rather obvious?

    This just seems deeply wrong. Principally, wrong that it could be something you could observe, right out of the gates.

    Claims 3 to 7 hinge on the underlying assumption that libertarian free will is required for genuine human agency. Kyrilluk doubts this assumption; but if it is false, then I am responsible for anything that a machine can make me do, willingly – even if the machine makes me give up my old beliefs and espouse ones which I previously considered diabolical. I don’t know any theist who would say that.

    I don’t see where one would be “responsible for anything that a machine can make you do”. Indeed, that seems like a good argument against responsibility. But this is beside the point.

    This just leads me back to saying: This doesn’t, and wouldn’t, falsify the existence of God. Now, perhaps it would cause you to cease believing in God – but that’s not a falsification. Just as the “blue sun in Dallas” scenario may cause someone to cease believing in God, but it isn’t a falsification.

    I really enjoy reading your posts and comments here, so pardon my spirited objections in this case. But I can’t help but get the feeling that you’re using the word ‘falsification’ here to make a metaphysical, theological, and philosophical claim sound as if it were a mundane scientific question. Or worse, falling into the mindset where every belief must not only be capable of having evidence weigh against it, but must be falsifiable in some ‘scientific’ sense of the word.

  50. 50
    gpuccio says:

    Mark:

    No, their argument is not invalid, but quantitatively less defined.

    The problem is that we know too little of cosmology.

    The fine tuning argument for the whole universe, while very powerful, especially in the form given by Penrose and others, has the problem that we are dealing with the origin of all that we know (the universe, indeed), and so the argument, while partly scientific, has certainly a philosophical “edge”.

    The arguments about planetary probabilities are fine, but how do we really compute planetary probabilities? Astrophysics is IMO still too vague to allow final quantitative considerations of that kind. We can reason, but we have to wonder if the way we understand cosmology and planetary events is really accurate. I will problebly wait for a better model of dark energy 🙂

    Biology is very different. The chronological context is defined in a better way, and has many different “windows”, some of them very large (4 billion years for the whole ndevelopment and evolution of life), others much more restricted (the Cambrian explosion, the evolution of humans). That allows us to observe similar phenomena (the emergence of new proteins) in different time frames.

    Moreover, we have a quite good understanding of many aspects of molecular biology, and a rapidly growing set of data (genomes, proteomes, transcriptomes). And many aspects can be dealtg with also in the lab.

    For all those reasons, and many others, I do believe that the argument of biological design is the strongest and the most interesting.

    And there is also the impodtant consideration that, while astrophysics is a vague but varied field of knowledge, with many different theories competing in serene, although not always detailed, creativity, biological evolution has become a field entirely and aggressively monopolized by a single, ugly and false theory. And that is, indeed, a big difference.

  51. 51
    Collin says:

    Materialism IS a positive claim. If it were not a positive claim, there wouldn’t be philosophers writing papers arguing for materialism. It says, “there is NOTHING else.” That is a positive claim.

    Atheism can be a positive claim, depending on how it is viewed.
    It could be viewed like this, “I don’t believe in God.” this is NOT a positive claim. But if the statement is “There is no God” or “The likelihood of God is really low” etc., that is a positive claim; an expression of belief (not just a lack thereof).

  52. 52
    Collin says:

    gpuccio,

    I agree with your statement about planetary probabilities. We are getting a lot more details these days, but there is so much that we do not know.

    What I would like to know, is this: Is there anything in the Universe as weird, beautiful, complex and amazing as life, but totally different?

  53. 53
    jurassicmac says:

    Collin @ 51:

    Materialism IS a positive claim. If it were not a positive claim, there wouldn’t be philosophers writing papers arguing for materialism.

    A-santaclause-ism IS a positive claim. If it were not a positive claim, there wouldn’t be adults explaining to their older children the non-existence of Santa.

    Collin, let me ask you a question. If I say “Sir Issac Newton is alive and well and living in my attic,” and you say “That’s unlikely at best, and very probably not true,” to with which one of us does the burden of proof fall?

  54. 54
    bornagain77 says:

    JM,

    to make this perfectly clear:

    Do not the vast majority of atheists claim that purely material processes created everything, especially all life on earth, through purely material processes? (I can think of no exception) If not Can you please show me the list of the vast majority of atheists that are not 100% sure about this ‘positive’ claim for materialism?

  55. 55
  56. 56
    bornagain77 says:

    JM,

    The ironic thing in all this is that ‘material’ as has been classically defined for centuries, is a fantasy. There simply is no solid ‘material’ particle at the base of reality somewhere! So in reality the whole point of reasoning you are using should be turned around. i.e. The comparisons to Santa Clause, Unicorns, flying spaghetti monsters etc.. etc.. should be laid at materialists feet when they speak of some material process creating this or that!!
    Agree?

  57. 57
    Aleta says:

    ba writes, “If not Can you please show me the list of the vast majority of atheists that are not 100% sure about this ‘positive’ claim for materialism?.”

    I haven’t been following this thread, so I don’t know what remark this was in response to, but I can give you a list of one of people who are atheists but “not 100% sure about materialism”: me

    There are many ways that one can believe that there is more to the universe than the material world without believing in a divine being. Although I am strongly agnostic about our being able to actually know, I lean more toward believing that the material world is part of, in some way, some larger type of reality than I do towards believing in pure materialism.

  58. 58
    Aleta says:

    A simple way to put it:

    All materialists are atheists.

    All atheists are not materialists.

  59. 59
    bornagain77 says:

    Aleta,

    Reality is Theistic in its basis, of this I am 100% sure! Will you ever admit to this truth though presented with solid evidence. I am 99.474% sure that you will not! Why will you do this? I really have no clue.

  60. 60
    markf says:

    #50 Gpuccio

    No, their argument is not invalid, but quantitatively less defined.

    OK. Let’s assume that we can estimate that quantity, or at least estimate the probability is extremely low, and concentrate on the logic of the argument.

    In the Privileged Planet case we have:

    Probability of this arising through chance is extremely low therefore we suspect design.

    In the case of the 500 coin flips you argue. The probability of this arising through chance is extremely low therefore we have an example which falsifies ID.

    What is the relevant difference? That one is digital and the other is not?

  61. 61
    Timaeus says:

    bornagain:

    I appreciate your zeal both for ID and for Christian faith, but sometimes it causes you to oversimplify things.

    In your current argument, you seem to be pushing for an exhaustive dichotomy of two positions: theism and materialism. In your view, a person must adhere to either one or the other, and any third position is just plain confused.

    You are overlooking the possibility that there might be a non-material component of reality, what might be called a “spiritual” component, which is not accurately captured in the notion of “God” that is found in the theistic religions (e.g., Judaism, Christianity and Islam).

    Aristotle’s “god”, for example, is not the God of theistic religion; he does not love the world, or even, in the normal sense of the word, “create” it. The Hindu god cannot be characterized in any single way, because “Hinduism” is not really a single entity, but a congeries of religious traditions and insights; but in many formulations of Hinduism, the ultimate reality is not God as Western religion conceives it. And in Buddhism the state achieved in nirvana points to a reality that is non-material, but that reality does not seem to be a personal being of the theistic type.

    I am told by students of African religion that in some parts of Africa the ultimate God is not personal; only the lesser gods are.

    Still others may conceive of the non-material part of reality as some sort of Mind that thinks the thoughts of higher mathematics.

    Etc.

    Your approach tends to force every religion, philosophy and world view into one of two camps, and often the fit is very awkward.

    It also doesn’t help when you suggest that 350 million Buddhists are “illogical”. The Buddhist scholars developed the science of logic to a high degree, and wrote erudite technical treatises on it, not less difficult than the treatises of scholastic logic in the West. It is not inability to think straight which has enabled Buddhism to continue in existence for 2500 years.

    I’m not saying Buddhism is superior to Christianity; I’m saying it is counter-productive to mischaracterize it.

    As for whether the position of your materialist and/or atheist conversation partners here is internally incoherent, I take no side and have no time to enter into that debate; but if you mis-frame the debate by insisting that there are only two possible positions, when there may be three or more, it will produce more heat than light.

    T.

  62. 62
    Timaeus says:

    vjtorley:

    I continue to admire your postings on Aquinas. I haven’t made up my mind yet about the approach you take in this current post. However, I do have a question about a response you made above.

    You said:

    “My response is that the discovery of even one corner of the cosmos where chaos reigned supreme would be disastrous, as it would allow uncaused events to disrupt the order of the cosmos.”

    If some people’s account of “quantum indeterminism” is correct, chaos reigns all through the universe — at the level of the very small. Events are probabilistic, rather than law-guided. I understand this to mean (though both the physicists and the philosophers who discuss it write so unclearly than I am not sure I know what they are talking about) that certain subatomic events occur without sufficient cause, i.e., are “random” in an absolute sense. That is, if there are, say, 20 possible discrete values for the energy level of an electron in the outer shell of a carbon atom, the value actually realized is not governed by any “law of nature” but is a result of “luck of the draw.” Or, when a radioactive nucleus gives off a particle, if there are *n* possibilities for the timing of that emission, no law determines when the emission will take place, and any given time of emission has a probability of 1/n, and that’s all that science can say, not just due to lack of current knowledge, but in principle. No future science will ever enable us to predict the timing of a nuclear emission, because there is no sufficient cause for the timing. That’s how I understand the theory.

    Do you accept that there are events like this in the universe? If not, why not? And if so, why does it not count against the existence of God that such uncaused events happen?

    I’m not being merely contentious here; I don’t particularly like this formuation of quantum theory, and have no desire to defend it. Nonetheless, it does seem to be the reigning theory of what nature is really like, so surely you have to respond to it in some way. Hence my question.

    T.

  63. 63
    gpuccio says:

    Mark:

    There is no relevant difference. The ID argument is the same in both cases. The difficulties in detailing it quantitavely are different.

    My choice to stick to digital strings is motivated exclusively by the better “tractability” of those cases, and by the lucky corcumstance that biological information is in effect digital. Being specially interested to the biological case, it is therefore perfectly natural for me to restrict the discussion to digital strings.

    But analogic information, if correctly quantifiable, can be very well treated in the same way.

    So, let’s go back to the privileged planet issue.

    If we can show that the characteristics of our planet are absolutely functional for, let’s say, allowing the development of life.

    If we can quantify the informational content of those minimal characteristics necessary to allow life.

    If we can detail the necessity laws which determine the formation of planets with sufficient understanding.

    If we can calculate the search space (the natural variability of planet formation according to those necessity laws).

    If we can compute the probabilistic resources available to the known universe since its beginnings for planet formation.

    If we can be sure that no specific known necessity law can explain the particular configuration of conditions which allows life.

    And finally, if the whole probability of the formation of a palent allowing life is in the end so law as to vastly exceed an appropriate threshold.

    Then the case for design in the formation of life allowing planets would be very similar to the case of design for life.

    There would remain a difference, at least for now. We have at present evidence of only one planet allowing life, that is earth. While we have evidence of designed biological information in thousands, maybe millions, of biological structures.

    That is a difference. One observed case of CSI is always one case, even if our threshold should be enough to exclude the non design origin even of a single instance (there should be no false positives). But one case is one. The old objection that one lucky “extraction” is in principle possible, even if empirically impossible, could always apply.

    But not to thousands or millions of cases. That is the final, overwhelming strngth of the design argument in biology.

    But, if we can have evidence of thousands, maybe millions, of life allowing planets in our universe, remaining valid all the “ifs” I have listed above, then the case for planet design would be as tight as the case for biological design.

    But please, don’t ask me to prove all those “ifs”. I can’t, for planet design. That’s why I don’t assume a position on that.

    But I definitely can, for biological design.

  64. 64
    gpuccio says:

    Timaeus:

    I really appreciate your posts. I agree with you on many things. I would probably see the many forms of spiritual concepts you allude to as many different facets of a fundamentally similar concept, but you are right that there are anyway formal differences in the different formulations of that concept, and it is correct to ackowledge them.

  65. 65
    gpuccio says:

    Timaeus:

    About what you write of QM, I think that the description of what you define as the “reigning theory of what nature is really like” is correct. Personally, I consider that kind of interpretation of QM as “intrinsically probabilistic” as the most credible, and it is certainly the most widely accepted.

    It is important, however, to rememeber three things:

    a) The probabilistic part is limited to measurements which cause the “collapse of the wave function”, or whatever it is. The deepest aspect of QM, the wave function itself, is entrirely deterministic.

    b) The true meaning of this double aspect of reality remains a mystery.

    c) Consciousness is not yet a part of that scenario in a satisfying way. While some QM models seem to rely on consciousness to explain the “collapse”, that is not universally accepted. Indeed, consciousness is not yet an explicit component of any physical theory of reality.

    But it will, some day.

  66. 66
    markf says:

    #63 Gpuccio

    Now I am seriously confused. In the case of the privileged planet the argument is evidence for design. In the case of coin tosses the argument falsifies design. And there is no relevant difference!!!

  67. 67
    bornagain77 says:

    Timeaus,

    But there ARE only two ultimate forms the argument on origins can take!!! If you want to differentiate particulars of each of the two positions, as you were beginning to draw out, then of course it is readily apparent that the positions will be three or vastly more that you, or anyone else can choose from. I did not deny the vast subsets of each position and I thought I made that point somewhat clear yesterday. That I would try to focus the argument on the ‘simple’ of only two primary competing points was precisely the aim of my goal!

    as for this statement of your to Dr. Torley,

    ‘Do you accept that there are events like this in the universe? If not, why not? And if so, why does it not count against the existence of God that such uncaused events happen?’

    I hope you are aware that you just stated that a effect had no cause!!!

    Do you really want to stick by this statement as your primary argument against God?

  68. 68
    gpuccio says:

    Mark:

    It seems that I have the power to confoubd you often 🙂

    But there is really no reason here.

    The coin tossing example would falsify ID theory becasue it is (at least in my intentions) a system we can directly control and observe, probably a system we have set up ourselves, and in which we can reasonably exclude an intellugent intervention which drives the results. So, it is a model system to test if dFSCI can, even rearely, come out in absence of design.

    In the case of planets, I would say that the situation is different. Here the problem is that we don’t know if some intelligence (maybe a god) guides the formation of life allowing planets beyond what general necessity laws or randomness would explain. So we can use ID theory to decide if CSI is evident in the observed distribution of life allowing planets in the universe. IOW, here we are using the ID theory, not testing it. We are in scenario b), and not in scenario a).

    I hope I have solved your confusion (but something tells me that new confusions will probably arise…)

  69. 69
    Aleta says:

    To Timmaeus at 61: Thanks for those comments. I agree.

  70. 70
    markf says:

    #68 Gpuccio

    Well I think you have identified a relevant difference. The difference is the assumptions we make about the ability/desire of a designer to influence the outcome.

    If make zero assumptions about the designer then there is just as much reason to suppose they are influencing the 500 coin tosses as the formation of planets (On the whole I would have thought influencing the laws of the universe was the greater challenge. But who are we to decide?).

    The distinction between using and testing seems vacuous. In both cases there is an observation and we draw a conclusion. In one case you conclude design. In the other case you conclude evidence against the design inference. The only relevant difference you have identified so far is background assumptions about the likelihood of a designer getting involved.

    Just to remind you of my case.

    “You cannot falsify the statement that design is associated with CSI without making assumptions about the motives/powers of the designer.”

    I think you have illustrated this rather well. If you disagree I challenge you to produce a counter-example, something that would falsify the statement that design is associated with CSI and makes no assumptions about the designer. The example of the coin tosses assumes there was no designer with the intention and ability to influence the outcome.

  71. 71
    bornagain77 says:

    Aleta, and exactly which subset do you choose from? i.e. Which subset of being created or being an accident do you choose from?

  72. 72
    bornagain77 says:

    Timaeus,

    You used an example of radioactive decay to say that some events of this universe are uncaused and are thus, in your eyes, evidence against God. In fact you stated:

    “why does it not count against the existence of God that such uncaused events happen?’”

    As I hope you are well aware decay is a fundamental property of entropy. and entropy is one of strongest arguments FOR God!, and though we may be vastly imprecise of saying when a exact moment of decay will occur, this ‘uncertainty’ of when a certain decay will occur is a vastly different thing from saying that the decay has no cause at all!

    notes:

    Although 1 part in 10^120 and 1 part in 10^60 far exceeds, by many orders of magnitude, the highest tolerance ever achieved in any man-made machine, which is 1 part in 10^22 for a gravity wave detector, according to esteemed British mathematical physicist Roger Penrose (1931-present), the odds of one particular individual constant, the ‘original phase-space volume’ of the universe, required such precision that the “Creator’s aim must have been to an accuracy of 1 part in 10^10^123”. This number is gargantuan. If this number were written out in its entirety, 1 with 10^123 zeros to the right, it could not be written on a piece of paper the size of the entire visible universe, even if a number were written down on each sub-atomic particle in the entire universe, since the universe only has 10^80 sub-atomic particles in it.

    Roger Penrose discusses initial entropy of the universe. – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhGdVMBk6Zo

    The Physics of the Small and Large: What is the Bridge Between Them? Roger Penrose
    Excerpt: “The time-asymmetry is fundamentally connected to with the Second Law of Thermodynamics: indeed, the extraordinarily special nature (to a greater precision than about 1 in 10^10^123, in terms of phase-space volume) can be identified as the “source” of the Second Law (Entropy).”
    http://www.pul.it/irafs/CD%20I.....enrose.pdf

    How special was the big bang? – Roger Penrose
    Excerpt: This now tells us how precise the Creator’s aim must have been: namely to an accuracy of one part in 10^10^123. (from the Emperor’s New Mind, Penrose, pp 339-345 – 1989)
    http://www.ws5.com/Penrose/

    As well, contrary to speculation of ‘budding universes’ arising from Black Holes, Black Hole singularities are completely opposite the singularity of the Big Bang in terms of the ordered physics of entropic thermodynamics. In other words, Black Holes are singularities of destruction and disorder rather than singularities of creation and order.

    Roger Penrose – How Special Was The Big Bang?
    “But why was the big bang so precisely organized, whereas the big crunch (or the singularities in black holes) would be expected to be totally chaotic? It would appear that this question can be phrased in terms of the behaviour of the WEYL part of the space-time curvature at space-time singularities. What we appear to find is that there is a constraint WEYL = 0 (or something very like this) at initial space-time singularities-but not at final singularities-and this seems to be what confines the Creator’s choice to this very tiny region of phase space.”

    Entropy of the Universe – Hugh Ross – May 2010
    Excerpt: Egan and Lineweaver found that supermassive black holes are the largest contributor to the observable universe’s entropy. They showed that these supermassive black holes contribute about 30 times more entropy than what the previous research teams estimated.

    Evolution is a Fact, Just Like Gravity is a Fact! UhOh!
    Excerpt: The results of this paper suggest gravity arises as an entropic force, once space and time themselves have emerged.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....fact-uhoh/

    This 1 in 10^10^123 number, for the time-asymmetry of the initial state of the ‘ordered entropy’ for the universe, also lends strong support for ‘highly specified infinite information’ creating the universe since;

    “Gain in entropy always means loss of information, and nothing more.”
    Gilbert Newton Lewis

    A ‘flat universe’, which is actually another surprising very finely-tuned ‘coincidence’ of the universe, means this universe, left to its own present course of accelerating expansion due to Dark Energy, will continue to expand forever, thus fulfilling the thermodynamic equilibrium of the second law to its fullest extent (entropic ‘Heat Death’ of the universe).

    The Future of the Universe
    Excerpt: After all the black holes have evaporated, (and after all the ordinary matter made of protons has disintegrated, if protons are unstable), the universe will be nearly empty. Photons, neutrinos, electrons and positrons will fly from place to place, hardly ever encountering each other. It will be cold, and dark, and there is no known process which will ever change things. — Not a happy ending.
    http://spiff.rit.edu/classes/p.....uture.html

    Psalm 102:25-27
    Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; Yes, they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will change them, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will have no end.

    Big Rip
    Excerpt: The Big Rip is a cosmological hypothesis first published in 2003, about the ultimate fate of the universe, in which the matter of universe, from stars and galaxies to atoms and subatomic particles, are progressively torn apart by the expansion of the universe at a certain time in the future. Theoretically, the scale factor of the universe becomes infinite at a finite time in the future.

    Thermodynamic Argument Against Evolution – Thomas Kindell – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4168488

    Does God Exist? The End Of Christianity – Finding a Good God in an Evil World – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4007708

    Romans 8:18-21
    I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

    General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy, and The Shroud Of Turin – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5070355

  73. 73
    bornagain77 says:

    Timeaus, Here is a little more detail on the Penrose number at the first part of this video:

    Dr. Bruce Gordon – The Absurdity Of The Multiverse & Materialism – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5318486/

  74. 74
    Timaeus says:

    bornagain (67):

    I did not think you were talking narrowly about views of origins, but about views of reality generally. And I took it that you were saying that the two views “theistic” and “materialistic” exhausted all possibilities. My point was that they do not. Theism is only *one type* of non-materialistic view.

    Even if we talk narrowly about origins, they don’t exhaust all possibilities. The account of origins in some Hindu texts is not what one would normally call “theistic.” And there are Buddhist myths of origins which do not involve any reference to a supreme being, but which presuppose the existence of something other than matter.

    Regarding my point to Dr. Torley, I didn’t say that I *agreed* with the theory I was describing; in fact, if you read it again you will see that I indicated I didn’t. In any case, even if I did agree with it, I wouldn’t be guilty of affirming an effect without a cause, since the term “effect” is already prejudicial, implying a cause. Rather, I would be affirming an *event* without a cause. As I understand it, this is what the “Copenhagen interpretation” of quantum theory affirms. But it has been years since I did physics, and I may have it wrong. Anyhow, popular science accounts represent it this way: there is no sufficient reason why the wave function takes on value k rather than value p at any given moment. You and I may find that silly and irrational (I think Einstein did, too), but that, as I understand it, is what the physicists say.

    I was merely asking Dr. Torley if he accepts this sort of randomness, and if so, how it is not the sort of “chaos” that he says would disprove God. And I have no idea what Dr. Torley’s answer will be. My question was asked not aggressively, but merely as a means of clarifying what exactly he was asserting about chaos and the existence of God.

    T.

  75. 75
    bornagain77 says:

    Timaeus, as you can see, I am trying my best, which is far from adequate sometimes, to provide a two point limit between the dominant materialistic view of us being an accident and the other dominant Theistic view of us being intended. I can think of no other option for the two primary sets from which all other these subsets you mention flow. You may say I am not being open enough to some of the subtle nuances, but regardless of ‘stepping on philosophical toes’, the reality is that we were either purposely created or we were not created all the rest is just stamp collecting as Rutherford said,,,

  76. 76
    jurassicmac says:

    bornagain77 @ 54

    Do not the vast majority of atheists claim that purely material processes created everything, especially all life on earth, through purely material processes?

    I don’t know that they do. Like I said, there are hundreds of millions of atheists who aren’t materialists. Now, I happen to agree with you that atheism and materialism are perfectly compatible. But you’ve just made a claim about what atheists believe, not what follows logically. I’m hesitant to say that the majority of atheists claim that material processes created everything, since there are many atheistic religions. I think it would be safe to say that most western atheists agree with that statement, but I myself believe that the origin of stars, planets, and life are explainable in purely naturalistic terms, as the result of material processes. This alone certainly doesn’t make me a materialist!

    If not Can you please show me the list of the vast majority of atheists that are not 100% sure about this ‘positive’ claim for materialism?

    I don’t have the resources to track down and poll every atheist, but from the atheists I do know, I would feel quite confident that almost none of them would say that they are “100% sure that materialism is true.” (I’ve ignored the fact that ‘materialism’ isn’t a thing, but a lack of a thing; ‘materialist’ just means one who doesn’t believe in the supernatural.)

  77. 77
    bornagain77 says:

    Timaeus,

    As well to try to bring the topic back in line with the main question of the post that Dr. Torley has asked, What would you consider a reasonable falsification for atheism????

    Though some on this thread have offered small critiques to Dr. Torley of his list for falsifiability of his belief for God, Christianity, and ID, these critiques, IMHO, have all failed the mark by a wide margin. But not one of these ‘critics’ of Dr. Torley, as far as I know, has even offered a minimal benchmark as to what a reasonable falsification for Atheism would be. Does it not seem odd to you that these critics would be so ‘uncritical’ of the atheistic position?

  78. 78
    bornagain77 says:

    JM, apparently the atheists I’ve dealt with and the atheists you have dealt with are completely different in their commitment to materialism! 🙂

  79. 79
    jurassicmac says:

    ba77 @ 56:

    The ironic thing in all this is that ‘material’ as has been classically defined for centuries, is a fantasy. There simply is no solid ‘material’ particle at the base of reality somewhere! So in reality the whole point of reasoning you are using should be turned around. i.e. The comparisons to Santa Clause, Unicorns, flying spaghetti monsters etc.. etc.. should be laid at materialists feet when they speak of some material process creating this or that!!
    Agree?

    Of course I don’t agree with that nonsense. You seem to be saying that the existence of Santa Claus and unicorns are on equal footing with Mt. Rushmore and iPods because ‘solid material is a fantasy’. Are you really suggesting that because there is no one ‘solid’ particle, that nothing ‘solid’ exists? Thats absolutely ludicrous. ‘Solidness’ is an emergent property of protons, neutrons, quarks, leptons, and whatever else we discover about subatomic particles, just as ‘saltiness’ is a property of sodium chloride, even though neither sodium, nor chlorine are ‘salty’ in and of themselves.

    As I’ve said before, I admire your zeal in defending what you believe to be true. But I pity the intellectual pickle you’re in. Centuries ago, the theology of many Christians was dependent upon a stationary earth that was the center of creation. When Galileo and Copernicus offered compelling arguments that this wasn’t the case, many fought against them vehemently, because it threatened their framework for understanding reality. Even some prominent theologians like Luther and Calvin thought that heliocentricity invalidated the core gospel message.

    You’re in the same position. The theology you’ve built up doesn’t allow for God to have created life indirectly, through natural processes. In your mind, the following is true: If the origin and diversity of life can be explained in naturalistic terms, then God doesn’t exist. That is a complete non sequitur.

    Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and now people look back and say “Well, there’s no real question that the earth does move around the sun, so obviously they got their theology wrong.” But it wasn’t ‘obvious’ at the time by any means. In that same way, it’s very likely that future generations of Christians will look back on you and others and say “Well, there’s no real question that life did evolve by a (more or less) Darwinian process, so obviously those christians who rejected it got their theology wrong.”

    The primary question is though: Will Creationism permanently scar the reputation of the church as badly as geocentrism did, or will it be even worse?

  80. 80
    jurassicmac says:

    ba77 @ 77:

    JM, apparently the atheists I’ve dealt with and the atheists you have dealt with are completely different in their commitment to materialism!

    Most of the atheists I know are materialists. But none of them would say that they are 100% certain of it.

    I would say without hesitation that I believe that the flying spaghetti monster doesn’t exist. But If I’m speaking precisely, I can’t say I’m 100% certain of it, although my degree of certainty probably rounds up to 100.

    There is one, and only one thing, that a human being can be 100% certain of: That they exist. Everything else is on a sliding scale of certainty. Now, things like the existence of the external world are assigned such a high probability (for me anyways) that they essentially round up to 100% certainty. I might be 99.99999999% sure that New York exists, and 99.99999998% sure that Chicago exists. (I’ve been to the former and not to the latter.) So in approximate terms, I may say that I’m sure that my house exists, for the sake of having conversations with others. I’m 99.9999 percent sure that Mars exists, while I’m 99.9999 percent sure that Krypton doesn’t. (I can’t prove that it doesn’t, of course) Similarly, I would imagine that most materialists, when being precise, would say their same thing about the supernatural: That they are 99.9999 percent sure that ghosts, fairies, magic, and angels don’t exist.

    If I say that I’m 99.9999 percent sure that Krypton doesn’t exist, and you say that you’re 99.9999 percent sure that it does, who bears the burden of proof?

  81. 81
    Timaeus says:

    bornagain:

    Yes, if we assume that the world was created, then “purposely created or not purposely created” is indeed an exhaustive dualism: A or not-A. But of course some would argue that the world is uncreated and eternal. This is generally taken to be Aristotle’s position, for example.

    In any case, even if the world is created, my point was that those two possibilities (purposefully and not purposefully) don’t map neatly onto theism and materialism. There may be non-theistic ways of understanding “purpose”, as there are non-theistic ways of understanding “spirit” and “truth” and many other things.

    (Of course, one can always boil any number of ultimate metaphysical positions down to two, by simply nailing down one as the reference point and classing all the other as “not that.” But that is like dividing all the music in the world into “classical” and “not classical”, and treating rock, jazz, country, folk, etc. as essentially the same. It’s very artificial. So if we take materialism as our reference point, then on the other side (non-materialism) we have Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Manicheanism, Platonism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and other things. It’s wrong to call all of these “theism.”

    As for your other question, I never criticized Dr. Torley’s thesis here. I said I hadn’t made up my mind. And I have plenty of criticisms of Coyne and other atheists, but I didn’t enter this thread to discuss those, but (among other things) to ask Dr. Torley a question about his thesis. So I am trying to deal with the topic of the thread. I await his reply with interest.

    T.

  82. 82
    bornagain77 says:

    JM,

    I take reality outside of myself as a 100% certainty. Thus I disagree with your statement that the only thing we can be certain of is our own existence. Frankly I find it philosophical mumbo jumbo, pardon the toes, to state otherwise. As for proof, the novel ‘transcendent’ information I receive from outside myself verifies reality (transcendent information which also happens to be foundational to physical reality itself). Though we may question various interpretations of the information we receive from outside ourselves, the fact that we now possess information that we not possess before confirms with as much certainty as possible (100%) that reality outside of us exist.

    note:

    In the following article, Physics Professor Richard Conn Henry is quite blunt as to what quantum mechanics reveals to us about the ‘primary cause’ of our 3D reality:

    Alain Aspect and Anton Zeilinger by Richard Conn Henry – Physics Professor – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality, then ultimately (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the “illusion” of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism (solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist). (Dr. Henry’s referenced experiment and paper – “An experimental test of non-local realism” by S. Gröblacher et. al., Nature 446, 871, April 2007 – “To be or not to be local” by Alain Aspect, Nature 446, 866, April 2007 (personally I feel the word “illusion” was a bit too strong from Dr. Henry to describe material reality and would myself have opted for his saying something a little more subtle like; “material reality is a “secondary reality” that is dependent on the primary reality of God’s mind” to exist. Then again I’m not a professor of physics at a major university as Dr. Henry is.)
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/aspect.html

  83. 83
    bornagain77 says:

    Timaeus,

    While you are waiting for Dr. Torley’s response, I really would appreciate if you would just give a few quick examples of what you feel would be a reasonable falsification of Atheism in General and neo-Darwinian evolution in particular. Since this is in fact part of the main topic of the post I do feel it is completely proper.

  84. 84
    gpuccio says:

    Mark:

    OK, in that you are right. In the case of the coin tossing I was assuming that no designer was probably involved in an experiment devised and set up by us. But you are right, in principle that could be true.

    I suggest two possible scenarios:

    a) A God who is an unknown ally of darwinists, and badly wants to falsify ID where nobody aspects that.

    b) A convinced darwinist focused on falsifying ID and endowed of remarkable psychic powers (James Randi?).

    I prefer b), but a) is intriguing too 🙂

    Well, I suppose qe are always assuming something, whatever we do. That there is a reality, that our interlocutor will be reasonable, that science has at least some vague meanings… We intelligent conscious designers weem to work on unconscious assumtions of all kinds.

    So, thank you for having revealed to my consciousness the unjustified assumptions I was making. Now I will state, more humbly, that, unless God wants to play tricks against ID and help darwinists, or James Randi is able to influence my coin tossing, ID can be falsified in a model such as mine.

    And design about planetary generation can be inferred in a model such as God’s (the universe).

    I pre

  85. 85
    gpuccio says:

    Mark:

    Oh, and after all ID, although falsifiable, has not been falsified by my coins. So we could postpone our assumptions to when that will happen (which could be an infinite time), an occasion where we will certainly be helped by the content of the intelligent information channeled by our random system.

    I suppose science can always put us in difficult cognitive situations. What if the message form the coins were:

    “Well, I am God, and I have chosen this strange method to reveal myself to you all, because I think Matk had really a great idea”.

    What would you assume, or infer, then?

  86. 86
    Barry Arrington says:

    Way back in [37] gpuccio submitted the following challenge to markf:

    So again, please offer an example, just one, of a digital string emerged in a random system, without any contribution of designers, which has the following properties:
    (a)is functional (has some use)
    (b)it is incredibly improbable to have happened through chance
    (c)was not designed

    Markf responded with fanciful red herrings and other attempts to change the subject. Obvious conclusion: Markf is unable to meet gpuccio’s challenge but lacks sufficient good faith as an interlocutor to admit it.

    Gpuccio wins this debate by default.

  87. 87
    markf says:

    Gpuccio #84 and #85

    Thanks for recognising that you have to make assumptions about the designer to falsify ID. It is rare for anyone to concede anything in these debates.

    The coins have not happened, but the privileged planet has (well I am not sure it has – but most ID people believe it has). In the case of the coins you assumed there was no designer who could and wanted to influence the coins. I am going to assume there is no designer that could or wanted to influence the universe to support life (after all it is a very tall order). Under this assumption the privileged planet appears to be a case of CSI which is not designed and refutes ID! The higher the number that BA quotes – the stronger the evidence against ID.

    What would you assume, or infer, then?

    I would evaluate possible explanations and plan how to explore them further. Top of my list would be a human who has found a way of influencing the outcome. One option might be a “God” of some kind and hopefully there would be an opportunity to ask it a lot of questions.

    Cheers

  88. 88
    markf says:

    Barry #38

    I wonder if you have been following the exchange of comments between myself and Gpuccio. The “red herrings” resulted in us agreeing that in order to falsify ID you have to make assumptions about the designer. One of the few occasions where there has actually been progress on this forum.

    I didn’t respond directly to the challenge because there were many threads to our conversation and one cannot pursue them all. Also my response is rather long. But here goes.

    It is not possible to know for certain if something is not designed. There may always be a designer of unknown powers and motives. So we can never know (c) unless we place limitations on the designer. The best we can do is “no reason to suppose has been designed other than (a) and (b)”.

    So we are looking for:
    an example of a digital string emerged in a random system which has the following properties:

    (a)is functional (has some use)
    (b)it is incredibly improbable to have happened through chance
    (c)there is no reason to suppose it was designed other than (a) and (b)

    I confess it is hard to find a digital string that meets these criteria. The reasons for this are not to do with design (I will explain why in a separate comment).

    As I discussed with Gpuccio, it is easy to find a non-digital outcome that meets these criteria – at least one that you should accept – the privileged planet. You presumably hold that it is incredibly improbable that there should be a planet capable of supporting people and supporting people is a function. But our only reason for supposing this arose through design is that it is incredibly improbable and functional.

    Meanwhile a little challenge to you. Describe any possible outcome that falsifies ID without making any assumptions about the designer.

    Cheres

  89. 89
    Barry Arrington says:

    Markf writes:

    So we are looking for:
    an example of a digital string emerged in a random system which has the following properties:
    (a)is functional (has some use)
    (b)it is incredibly improbable to have happened through chance
    (c)there is no reason to suppose it was designed other than (a) and (b)
    I confess it is hard to find a digital string that meets these criteria.

    So, it is “hard to find” a functional incredibly improbable random digital string. Well, it is “hard to find” good barbeque in Denver, but after a long search I finally did. Therefore, I conclude one of two things are possible:

    1. You believe that it is actually possible to find a functional incredibly improbable random digital string, but it would be really really really hard and you just don’t have time to find an example for us; or

    2. You refuse to admit the obviously true answer (i.e., that it is impossible to find a functional incredible improbable random digital string), because you know that just as soon as you do so you will have given away the materialist store, and therefore you give us a reply couched in weasel words.

    I do not think you are stupid (evasive, yes, but stupid, no), so I believe the second possibility is by far the most probably true. Either way, however, Gpuccio still wins by default.

    Markf then writes: “Meanwhile a little challenge to you. Describe any possible outcome that falsifies ID without making any assumptions about the designer.”

    No Mark. You have no right to issue challenges when you refuse to respond fairly to challenges issued to you. As soon as you give an unambiguous reply to Gpuccio’s challenge, I will respond to yours.

  90. 90
    gpuccio says:

    Mark:

    OK, I would do more or less the same 🙂

    I could try to convince BA to reduce his quotes about the privileged planet, so that ID may not be falsified in your eyes, given your assumptions, but I am not sure I would succeed…

    And anyway, we had not really computed all those ifs 🙂

  91. 91
    gpuccio says:

    Mark:

    just a brief, more serious comment. I am surprised of the really transcendental conceptions of a designer that you, and many other darwinists, seem to have.

    I mean, I had never thought of a God who is so strangely omnipotent as to influence my coins, just to make ID unfalsifiable (or falsified, according to the interpretations), or to make the point that I have to make assumptions about Him.

    Compared to you materialists, I am probably a bleak empirical thinker without any faith. When I think of a random system of coin tossing, I think of it exactly in those terms: a random system of coin tossing. I don’t consider really the possibility that God will intentionally tamper with my experiment, exactly as I don’t expect Him to alter my result if I experiment with chemical reactions.

    Even with the greatest respect for you, I would not say that your assumption:

    “I am going to assume there is no designer that could or wanted to influence the universe to support life (after all it is a very tall order).”

    is on the same plane. After all, most people in the past, and many people today, believe exactly that. And I don’t see why that kind of belief should be considered so absurd as to justify your “assumption”.

    While I would bet you will not find many people who really believe that God habitually tampers with coin tossing…

    IOWs, there are reasonable assumptions, and very unreasonable ones.

  92. 92
    bornagain77 says:

    Since markf is screaming for some Privileged Planet resources 🙂 I would like to point out that one fact that is being overlooked from the Privileged Planet principle as developed by Gonzalez and Richards, is that probability is just one side of the coin. One the other side of the coin is the fact the universe seems to be designed for us to make discoveries into the universe as well. i.e. Not only do we find that all the conditions for a life support body are extremely rare, but we also find that those conditions that allow for life in the universe also allow the most ‘privileged’ position in the universe for making foundational discoveries. And as I believe Gonzalez said that ‘coincidence between livability and observability is what we find ‘strange”. (paraphrase)

    note:

    Privileged Planet, which holds that any life supporting planet in the universe will also be ‘privileged’ for observation of the universe, has now been made into a excellent video.

    The Privileged Planet – video
    http://video.google.com/videop.....ed+planet#

  93. 93
    bornagain77 says:

    This following video is better at drawing the preceding ‘privileged principle’ out:

    Lecture On The Privileged Planet Principle – Gonzalez And Richards
    http://www.tangle.com/view_vid.....777fc2d67a

  94. 94
    Timaeus says:

    bornagain:

    I am not an atheist. VJ Torley’s challenge was to atheists, and primarily to Jerry Coyne. It is up to Jerry Coyne to answer the challenge, not me.

    I wouldn’t speak of “falsification” in any case. I would speak of more or less probable explanations of phenomena. It seems to me that both the accidental chemical origin of life and Darwinian evolution are wildly improbable explanations. Thus, probability theory counts against both materialism in general and Darwinism in particular. It doesn’t disprove them, but it makes them unlikely. And a rational person will not adopt unlikely hypotheses, merely because he finds the alternate explanation (God) personally distasteful. The New Atheists find the idea of God personally distasteful, and this is what drives their argumentation — not the evidence.

    So no, I have no single “falsifier” that would disprove atheism or materialism. I just think they are improbable and based on wishful thinking.

    Part of the problem in these debates is that the case for God is tied to the specifics of Christian religion, or even of conservative Protestant evangelical religion, or of a literal reading of the Bible. That is a mistake. It means that every time Ken Ham or Pastor Hagee says something stupid, the cause of ID is set back; it means that ID people have to waste time arguing about the age of the earth, which has nothing to do with ID; it means that ID has to defend all the indefensible cruelties, tortures, wars, etc. which Christians are historically guilty of, which again have nothing to do with ID; it means that ID has to justify the existence of pain and evil if God is omnipotent, omnibenevolent, etc., which again has nothing to do with ID, since ID only claims that the designer is intelligent, not that he is all-good, all-powerful, etc.

    ID is not about proving the truth of the Christian religion. Unfortunately, many Christians, a few here and many elsewhere, write as if it is, and this allows Coyne and others to conflate arguments for ID with arguments for Christianity, and to claim that they have “refuted” ID when in fact they have refuted only arguments for certain forms of Christianity (if even that).

    To my mind, Plato and Aristotle and Cicero disposed of materialistic arguments long ago, without any help from the Bible or Christian theology. My advice to ID proponents is to follow that lead — stick to empirical science and philosophy and leave the Bible and theology out of it. Coyne, Dawkins, etc. cannot win on the plane of either science or philosophy. They want the battle to be waged on the plane of Christian apologetics, because they can count on the ineptness of most Christian apologists to give them openings for attack. ID must steadfastly refuse to engage them on that plane, first, because a theological victory over theological incompetents like Coyne and Dawkins and Hitchens is nothing to brag about, and second, because it allows the New Atheists to make the issue the moral or theological problems with Christianity, rather than the philosophical and scientific problems of atheism and materialism and Darwinism. We can’t let them succeed in that diversion.

    T.

  95. 95
    gpuccio says:

    Timaeus:

    My advice to ID proponents is to follow that lead — stick to empirical science and philosophy and leave the Bible and theology out of it.

    Absolutely correct.

    Obviously, there is nothing wrong in “widening” the discussion here and there on this blog, but you are right that strictly religious arguments are probably made too often, and that can certainly help the cause of our (not always) friendly “enemies”.

    So, while I appreciate some philosophical or religious discussion here, I would like that we remained a little bit more focused on science, or on very universal philosophical principles, especially about philosophy of science.

  96. 96
    Upright BiPed says:

    Timaeus #94

    !!

  97. 97
    bornagain77 says:

    Timaeus,

    Well actually as a Christian, and the absolute truth claims of Christianity placed on me. Claims that I find to be valid. Valid in so far as the best scientific evidence I can find will let me tell,,, I would be very remiss in my duties as a Christian to divorce my science from my theology. Indeed I would be blind as to integrating a tightly integrated and coherent worldview from the evidence I find in science. A coherent worldview that only started falling into place for me once I realized Theism is correct on a personal level,, i.e. once I realized that God is really real and that Jesus really did rise from the dead!

    Of course, you don’t have to take my word for the fact that ‘true’ science and theology are tightly integrated, and indeed I would not expect you to:

    “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent Being. … This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called “Lord God” ??????????? [pantokratòr], or “Universal Ruler”… The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect.”
    Sir Isaac Newton – Quoted from what many consider the greatest science masterpiece of all time, “Principia”

    ‘Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.’
    Albert Einstein, “Science, Philosophy and Religion: a Symposium”, 1941

    “I’ve just developed a new theory of eternity.”
    Albert Einstein
    http://www.rd.com/your-america.....176-2.html

    Einstein and The Belgian Priest, George Lemaitre – The “Father” Of The Big Bang Theory – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4279662

    “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”
    Max Planck – The Father Of Quantum Mechanics – (Of Note: Max Planck was a devout Christian, which is not surprising when you realize practically every, if not every, founder of each major branch of modern science also ‘just so happened’ to have a deep Christian connection.)

    Little known by most people is the fact that almost every, if not every, major branch of modern science has been founded by a scientist who believed in Christ:

    Christianity and The Birth of Science – Michael Bumbulis, Ph.D
    Excerpt: Furthermore, many of these founders of science lived at a time when others publicly expressed views quite contrary to Christianity – Hume, Hobbes, Darwin, etc. When Boyle argues against Hobbe’s materialism or Kelvin argues against Darwin’s assumptions, you don’t have a case of “closet atheists.”
    http://ldolphin.org/bumbulis/

    Christianity Gave Birth To Each Scientific Discipline – Dr. Henry Fritz Schaefer – video
    http://www.tangle.com/view_vid.....e044148a1b

    A Short List Of The Christian Founders Of Modern Science
    http://www.creationsafaris.com/wgcs_toc.htm

    The Origin of Science
    Excerpt: Modern science is not only compatible with Christianity, it in fact finds its origins in Christianity.
    http://www.columbia.edu/cu/aug.....rigin.html

    General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy and The Shroud Of Turin – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5070355

    Let There Be Light
    http://lettherebelight-77.blog.....is_19.html

    Summary of paper – Theism compared to Materialism in the scientific method:
    http://docs.google.com/Doc?doc....._5fwz42dg9

  98. 98
    Timaeus says:

    bornagain:

    Different people come to accept a religion by different paths. For you, a personal revelation was chronologically first, and the adjustment of philosophical and scientific thinking came second; for others, it has been the reverse — the scientific and philosophical critique of the received materialism has moved them from atheism to agnosticism or to Deism or perhaps to some form of pantheism, thus creating a non-materialist conceptual framework in their minds that religious experience can “hook up” with. Thinkers such as C. S. Lewis and (it appears from an interview I recently heard) Alister McGrath underwent this sort of “intellectual conversion” before having any “religious experience” or adopting any particular beliefs about Jesus.

    I’m certainly not suggesting that Christians should divorce science from theology, in the sense of not caring how they relate. Of course they should strive to relate them. But one doesn’t have to prove that the days of creation were 24 hours long, or that the earth is only 10,000 years old, or that the fall of Adam and Eve produced an inherited sin, or that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation, or that the morality of Christians is superior to the morality of other religionists, or that Christians are better scientists than atheists, or that Western Christian civilization is better than any other, or that only getting back to “Christian values” can save America from collapse, or that Hitler did evil deeds because he read Darwin instead of the Bible, in order to demonstrate that Darwinian evolution is wildly improbable, or in order to argue that the best explanation for the origin of life includes a role for intelligent design.

    In fact, bringing in apologetic arguments will turn off many agnostics who aren’t persuaded by either atheism or Christianity, but *could* be moved in a Christian direction if they were shown that even secular science and philosophy, when done rationally and with empirical honesty, point in the direction of an intelligent designer.

    As for your points about the history of science, there is no doubt in my mind that modern science owes something to Christian theology for its origins, so we have no dispute.

    However, note that the quotations you give above from Planck and Newton appear to argue to an intelligent creator from nature rather than from Scripture. And this is what ID must do if it is to make headway among the religiously uncommitted. It’s also what gives ID a huge advantage over TEs. TEs, by refusing to even consider the possibility of design inferences, have basically restricted their mission field to people who are already Christians (i.e., YECs and OECs). Nothing they have to say resonates with thoughtful secular humanists who have (as yet) no interest in Jesus, churches, etc. ID can resonate with thoughtful secular humanists, those with a healthy skepticism concerning received wisdom and hearts that are open. It therefore has a huge potential for growth that TE does not have.

    So by all means, if Coyne or Hitchens takes cheap shots at Christianity, fire back; and I don’t even mind seeing some of that discussion here, provided it’s tied somehow to ID concerns. But the focus should be on showing how bad these guys’ scientific arguments are, not on how wicked their theology (or anti-theology) is.

    T.

  99. 99
    markf says:

    #89 Barry – why did you omit the rest of my comment?

    I wrote

    I confess it is hard to find a digital string that meets these criteria. The reasons for this are not to do with design (I will explain why in a separate comment) .

    You omitted the second sentence and then went on to make assumptions about why I didn’t answer the question (I did supply a non-digital example).

    The short answer is that I think it is most unlikely that there exists a digital string which is functional and complex and we have no reason to suppose it is designed – other than in living things. But this is nothing to do with ID or materialism. The reasons are quite complex which is why I saved it for a second comment.

    There are all sorts of issues to do with “functional” and “complex” but I don’t want to write an essay so I will concentrate on the digital side.

    At the scale with which we are familiar nothing is really digital. It is a continuous world out there, not a discrete one. E.g. letters are continuous marks on a screen or piece of paper which vary continuously. It is human strategies and devices which allocate them to discrete categories. Some shapes we designate letter A, others the letter N, others are ambiguous. So of course I cannot produce a digital string at this scale of anything unrelated to human design.

    At the molecular and smaller scale some things are truly digital. An atom cannot be divided under normal conditions. However, as far as I can see, at this scale digital strings with any kind of apparent Kolmogorov complexity are only found in living systems (or were until very recently when humans began to able to work at this level). I suspect this is because of the laws of chemistry and I am happy to discuss why – but it needs a true scientist to discuss this (I would also add that I do not believe such strings are complex – but that it is another debate).

    So, with a very few exceptions, we have no examples of digital complex strings designed or otherwise outside of life.

    Now I have made a real effort to meet your challenge. Are you prepared to make any effort to meet mine ?

  100. 100
    markf says:

    #91

    Gpuccio

    Interesting comment. My main point is that ID does rest on assumptions about the motives and powers of the designer – even if they are at the level that the designer does not frivolously intervene with coin tossing (or make biological outcomes look as if they were not designed). I am glad that this is established.

    As to the relative merits of different assumptions. I don’t think we can evaluate them by popular vote. Many people assume that there is a creator, many people assume that astrology is true, some people believe in luck as divine force capable of influencing things such as the draw of cards and tosses of coins.

    I personally believe it is far less plausible that there is some intelligence designing the universe than there is some intelligence influencing the toss of a coin. I cannot conceive of a mechanism for doing the former. I can conceive several mechanisms for the latter. But I guess we all adjust our assumptions to suit personal taste.

  101. 101
    gpuccio says:

    Mark:

    just to imitate you: now I am seriously confused.

    The point is not if atoms are digital and molecules or coins are not. The point is if the information we read in some physical support can have any meaning or function if read with a digital code.

    Let’s take the model, now dear to my heart, of out coin tossing system. There is nothing digital in the coins themselves, not probably in the system which tosses them.

    What is digital is the series of results, when they are recorded as bunary: a series of 0s and 1s.

    In that sense, a lot of potential data in nature can be read as digital series. You could read the sequence in time of retrograde movements of a planet respect to the earth, and a binary value to direct and retrograde movements. Or you can derive series of numbers from many different natural systems, including non living biochemical molecules.

    The only problem is that those strings, however read, will be always either truly random strings, or simple compressible strings, or a mixture of the two. They will never be functional. But, if long enpough, and truly random, they will certainly be complex.

    The strings in protein coding genes are strings which are interpreted according to a quaternary code. They are digital, complex and functional. The code is not my invention or yours, it is regularly decoded by the translation system in the cells, and we have simply learned it from the cells themselves.

    It is the code which allows us to read the meaning in protein coding genes. Nucleotides in themselves are not digital. They are justy of four different types. It is the speific sequence they have in the gene, which in no way depends on biochemical laws, which, correctly translated, reveals their function.

  102. 102
    gpuccio says:

    Mark:

    just read your other post.

    The problem is that an assumption in a discussion is not the same thing as a personal belief. You usually assume something if that something can be reasonably shared by your interlocutor, even provisionally.

    That’s why I have made that point. I did not mean that we elect our belief by popular vote. I love mionorities, do you remember?

    What I meant is that I was assuming something most people (including probably you) would agree with (that God usually does not spend time tampering with coin tosses), while you were assuming something (that it is impossible that a god designed the universe to allow life) which is certainly your personal belief, to which you are entitled, but is in sharp contradiction with what a lot of people (including me) do believe and consider credible.

    That’s all.

  103. 103
    markf says:

    #102 Gpuccio

    I suggest leaving this one. My assumptions are not just personal beliefs. I think they are justified. But I also think it would be fruitless to embark on that debate right now.

    Response to #101 coming up!

  104. 104
    markf says:

    Gpuccio #101

    You are right and I realise I haven’t analysed this correctly. The real key is around the word “function”.

    Just to step back a moment. First I want to summarise what I think we agree on.

    Many things can be interpreted as digital sequences. Some are man-made (and therefore known to be designed); some are found in living things; others are not in either category (for future brevity I will call this the non-living category). Some sequences have low Kologomorov complexity. Others appear to have high Kologomorov complexity (as you know, we can never be sure of this but from now on I will just refer to them as having high KC). Consider the class of such sequences which have high KC. Again many are man-made, many are are found in living things, many are found in non-living things. Now consider the subset of these sequences which are “functional”. Now we find that many of these sequences are man-made; many are found in living things; but I am not aware of any that are non-living.

    So far I expect we agree.

    The interesting question is why?

    Consider what it is for anything to have a function. There are two elements. One is it has to have an effect – it has to do something. A second is that effect has to serve some purpose. This is key and I suspect you may challenge it so I will spend a bit of time trying to prove it with a few examples. A spanner turns a nut which is helpful to the wielder of the spanner. On a badly fitted wheel the motion of the car may also turn a wheel nut so as to loosen it (as I learned to my cost). This is far from useful unless you intend to kill the driver. Same effect – but no purpose and therefore not a function. The configuration of geography in a river valley could be interpreted as digital sequence – categorise it into blocks of high and low for example. And as a result the river takes a particular route. But we don’t think of the sequence as serving the function of directing the river that way because it does not have a purpose (if it happened to direct the river so that it was accessible for drinking when otherwise it would not have been – then we might say the configuration of rocks had a function).

    In the case of man-made things the purpose is related to the manufacturer’s purpose. But what of living things? Here we assign a purpose which more or less coincides with organism’s desires (although clearly the organism did not make its own DNA) to live as long as possible and reproduce. This is a useful way of analysing the parts of living organisms even though there isn’t anything that actually designed the parts with that purpose. You could consider it an analogy. But what of the non-living world? There are many high KC sequences with effects – from the river delta to the chemical structure of CFCs which causes them to interact with the ozone layer (a reasonably complex chain) . But because these outcomes are not associated with any thing’s desires it sounds ridiculous to talk of the function of CFCs being to reduce the ozone layer. Interestingly we do talk of the function of the ozone layer being to reduce UV radiation – because that is associated with the desires of living things.

    So in summary. We do not find high KC sequences with function in the non-living world because the very concept of function is tied to living things.

    I am sure accusations of red herrings will come emerge as a result of this!

  105. 105
    gpuccio says:

    Mark:

    No, I find your last post very reasonable. Indeed I agree with it. With some precisations.

    If you remember, I define function as something which can be recognised by a conscious observer as having a purpose (not only an effect), a purpose which can be objectively defined and measured, after having been recognized.

    So, my idea is that function is tied to conscious designers and observers, rather than to “living things”. Indeed, non living things (machines) can effect the function deviced by their designers, and that function can often be recognized by other intelligent observers, even without any “contact” with the original designer.

    I find a little confusing your statement that:

    “But what of living things? Here we assign a purpose which more or less coincides with organism’s desires (although clearly the organism did not make its own DNA) to live as long as possible and reproduce.”

    That is not very clear. Again,let’s consider my favourite example: a protein with a specific enzymatic function.

    The important point is that such a protein is, indeed, a powerful molecular machine, even if it is not used to sustain life.

    Indeed, we can use enzymes for many chemical uses which are not related to the life of the original being. The basic biochemical function of an enzyme, which is easily recognized by any biochemist, is to incredibly accelerate a biochemical reaction. It is true that, in the general context of the cell, that basic fucntion does support life, but that depends on how the various components interact at many higher levels: IOW, that is a higher function of the system, rather than a basic function of the protein.

    Moreover, the living bacterium has probably no idea of the basic biochemical problems solved by its enzyme: as you say, it was not the bacterium who designed it.

    So, the only “desire” we can reasonably connect to the basic biochemical function of the enzyme is the “desire” of its designer to solve a specific problem which will be useful in a greater, higher level context.

    QED.

  106. 106
    markf says:

    #105 Gpuccio

    I was not very clear about living things. Basically I am saying that when we assign a purpose to a mechanism to in a living thing it is an analogy not really a purpose.

    I wonder what happened to Barry? He gives me a hard time about not responding to your challenge. So I go to considerable effort to answer it and he totally ignores my challenge to him!

  107. 107
    gpuccio says:

    Mark:

    But the, in the same way, we could assign “purposes” even in non living, non designed things, always in form of analogy. Indeed, we often do that.

    What we cannot do, however, is to find, in non living, non designed things, complex information which is necessary to effect our “analogy” of purpose. We find it in abundance in designed things, we find it in abundance in living things, and nowhere else (OK, we will live life allowing planets alone, for the moment, as an unsolved instance).

  108. 108
    Mats says:

    Dr T.
    The Lord Jesus spoke of Noah as an historical person, the same way He spoke of Daniel.

  109. 109
    markf says:

    #107 Gpuccio

    If you stretch “purpose” to things like the purpose of the system that maintains the ozone layer is to prevent UV light reaching the earth while permitting other radiation through – then you find there are indeed some complex (in many meanings of “complex”) things which are neither designed nor living.

    Most of these systems are not obviously digital – but as you point out we can always assign them digital values.

    I don’t want to get silly about this. There are aspects of the “function” of DNA and proteins which are similar to some man-made products and which, as far as I know, not found elsewhere. Although they are quite hard to define. It is to do with the way that a very small difference in the protein configuration can have a large effect a long way down the causal chain. Of course this is also true of chaotic systems – but in this case the effect is hard to predict. With proteins the small difference can have a large but predictable effect. You might call this is the “codedness” of DNA and proteins.

    But after all is said and done we end up with aspects of life that are found in human products and nowhere else. What do we deduce? That humans made life?

    Here is another way of looking at it. You are probably familiar with Dawkins concept of the extended phenotype. The beavers’ dam or the bees’ nest are a product of the animal’s genes just as much as the immediate body. Our extended phenotype is vast. It includes cities and roads and computers. So what we have observed is that living systems, including their extended phenotype, have certain unique characteristics.

    What DNA and computer code have in common is not design. It is life!

  110. 110
    Timaeus says:

    markf, you wrote:

    “But after all is said and done we end up with aspects of life that are found in human products and nowhere else. What do we deduce? That humans made life?”

    No, we deduce that an intelligent agent *designed* life.

    T.

  111. 111
    gpuccio says:

    Mark:

    Juhst a few considerations, and then if you want we can leave it at that. I must say that you have agreed with many important points, even if giving them a different meaning, and I appreciate that. This discussion has been particularly constructive, IMO. I suppose that we could not get nearer, given our basic convictions about reality. But it is beautiful that we can at least share some concepts.

    So, just to clarify further my position on some details, and not to convince you, here are some further thoughts about your last comment:

    a) In the ozone layer and similar examples, I am convinced that you can find any kind of complexity, but that such complexity will never be related to any function you analogically define, even if it is not digital. IOWs, if you define a function, and then compute in some way a complexity, the result will be that the complexity will be random if evaluated for the function, not necessary in any way to express the function. The ozone layer can be complex in terms of the disposition of its particles, but that complexity is not specific for ots filtering properties. The state which allows it to filter in a specific way is fundamentally simple, and is certainly one of many possible states which can realistically occur. If you want ro argue that the whole system which maintains an ozone layer is complex, that is probably true, bugt we are again in the situation of the planet allowing life: we don’t know really how much of that is a consequence of necessity (the development of internal characteristics of a palnet is not, IMO, much better understood than the formation of a planet), and we cannot really have a realistic idea of the random component and of the probabilistic resources of a very complex system (that is true also in biology). That’s why I try to discuss single objects (proteins) and not systems (the flagellum). The discussion can remain much more quantitative.

    b) You say:

    “There are aspects of the “function” of DNA and proteins which are similar to some man-made products and which, as far as I know, not found elsewhere. Although they are quite hard to define.”

    I appreciate this statement. I can agree that they are “hard to define”, but I would maintain that they are often easy to detect. My definition of dFSCI, for example, detects them very well in most cases.

    Regarding understanding what they are, for me it is simple: they are the product of a process involving consciousness and purpose which we call “design” when we observe it in humans. I know you refute that, and that’s fine for me, but you should maybe see that your refusal is mainly motivated by the necessity to deny that a designer could be the origin of biological information. Starting from that position, you must necessarily find faults with the argument.

    If you were really neutral in regard to that hypothesis, you would easily see how strong the argument is.

    c) You say:

    “But after all is said and done we end up with aspects of life that are found in human products and nowhere else. What do we deduce? That humans made life?”

    Ouchs! That’s obviously the difficult point…

    No, not that humans made life, but that a conscious purposeful process of design, similar to what we observe in human design, made life.

    d) You say:

    “You are probably familiar with Dawkins concept of the extended phenotype. The beavers’ dam or the bees’ nest are a product of the animal’s genes just as much as the immediate body.”

    I have a special appreciation for Dawkin’s silly concepts. They are the best arguments for design. If you take out Dawkin’s blind faith in the blind watchmaker, what you have left is a lot of animal intelligently organized behaviour whose origin is a complete mystery. But which looks very much designed. And not by the animal itself.

    In the case of humans, the situation is very different: our designed behaviours and products are consciously and intelligently designed by us: they are not the product of instinct. If Dawkins is unable to see the difference, and conflates the two things in the silly concept of “extended phenotype”, that is just another sign of his special talent in philosophical shallowness.

    e) Finally, you say:

    “What DNA and computer code have in common is not design. It is life!”

    I would just respectfully mention that “life” is much more difficulot to define than “design”. Design requires life to be originated (in the designer), but again, computer code is not alive. Living beings are alive, but they don’t necessarily design things (humans do).

    So, I am sorry, but what computer code and DNA have in common is not life, but design.

  112. 112
    kairosfocus says:

    MF (or more realistically the onlookers):

    DNA stores 4-state digital data, which functions in the cell based on algorithmic processes. A hard drive stores two-state digital data which functions in my PC based on algorithmic processes.

    The only known, ACTUALLY observed source of symbolic codes, algorithms and complex functional codes and data structures — and we can take 1,000 bits of storage capacity as a reasonable threshold for “complexity” on configuration space grounds — is intelligence.

    In the case of the PCs that intelligence is indeed human, but we have no good grounds to imagine, assert or assume that such humans exhaust the possible set of intelligences.

    We DO have good empirically anchored grounds for concluding that dFSCI as just described is a signature of that intelligent action we term design: purposefully directed, often functionally organised contingency.

    So, what is empirically well warranted is to infer form observed cases of dFSCI to the explanation, design, thence intelligent cause of that design.

    So, in fact the observation of how dFSCI occurs in the cell and is a key part of its self-replicating capacity, grounds the conclusion that the cell was designed. By an intelligence that obviously pre-existed humans.

    The mental gymnastics taken to avoid that conclusion simply underscore just how much we are seeing a priori evolutionary materialism as an ideology imposed on science, and how it repeatedly leads to absurdity.

    And, finally, to falsify the chain of inference is simple in principle: provide a credible, repeatably observed case of dFSCI in excess of say 1,000 bits unquestionably caused by chance plus mechanical necessity. No smuggled in intelligence.

    That such cases are simply not forthcoming — strained attempts such as the complexity of a snowflake or a random string of 1,000 coins, and smuggled in designs such as genetic algorithms do not count — is telling on the force of the point. And, sadly, on the intensity of the determination not to see it.

    GEM of TKI

  113. 113
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: For those needing a tutorial on why snowflakes and trays of coins tossed at random do not count, they store no functional codes. GA’s fail because they are examples of intelligent designs that use constrained random searches — a 1,000 bit search space would be beyond the reach of the whole cosmos we observe, converted into a computer carrying out a search for a function; the problem being not to improve performance within an island of existing function, but to reach such an island while sampling at most 1 in 10^150 of the config space of 1,000 bits, the upper limit of the search resources of our observed cosmos.

  114. 114
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Back on topic for the thread, I suggest a look here to see a simple 101 on the warrant issues relating to the core Christian faith, and this is a matter that was put on the table by 50 – 55 AD by the Apostle Paul, in Acts 17 and 1 Cor 15, when most of the eyewitnesses to the pivotal event were still very much alive. And the record is clearly authentic, on every reasonable canon of textual criticism. Not to mention, 2,000 years and millions of cases of very live people who have undergone miraculous life-transformation through living encounter with God in the face of the living risen Christ.

    As to the possibility of empirically refuting the inference to design on dFSCI, that has already been discussed, endless times in this blog — which just happens to be probably the leading Intelligent Design discussion forum in the world. So, the good professor knows, or should know better — at least, if he is expected to speak based on evidence.

    Mr Coyne, sorry to say, is therefore being arrogantly dismissive and closed minded through falling into the trap of selective hyperskepticism and associated ideologically indoctrinated closed mindedness.

  115. 115
    kairosfocus says:

    PPPS: As to the inference Mr Coyne makes to the force of he problem of evil — a typical atheistical rhetorical tactic — he apparently has not seriously thought about the worldview level import of the reality of evil. (Not to mention, his evident lack of familiarity with the force of Plantinga’s work on the Free Will Defense. 101 summary here.)

    It is worth the while to excerpt Koukl:

    ___________________

    >> Evil is real . . . That’s why people object to it. Therefore, objective moral standards must exist as well [i.e. as that which evil offends and violates] . . . . The first thing we observe about [such] moral rules is that, though they exist, they are not physical because they don’t seem to have physical properties. We won’t bump into them in the dark. They don’t extend into space. They have no weight. They have no chemical characteristics. Instead, they are immaterial things we discover through the process of thought, introspection, and reflection without the aid of our five senses . . . .

    We have, with a high degree of certainty, stumbled upon something real. Yet it’s something that can’t be proven empirically or described in terms of natural laws. This teaches us there’s more to the world than just the physical universe. If non-physical things–like moral rules–truly exist, then materialism as a world view is false.

    There seem to be many other things that populate the world, things like propositions, numbers, and the laws of logic. Values like happiness, friendship, and faithfulness are there, too, along with meanings and language. There may even be persons–souls, angels, and other divine beings.

    Our discovery also tells us some things really exist that science has no access to, even in principle. Some things are not governed by natural laws. Science, therefore, is not the only discipline giving us true information about the world. It follows, then, that naturalism as a world view is also false.

    Our discovery of moral rules forces us to expand our understanding of the nature of reality and open our minds to the possibility of a host of new things that populate the world in the invisible realm. >>
    ___________________

  116. 116
    above says:

    It’s really amusing seeing the likes of coyne and pz pretend to do theology and metaphysics. Intellectual midgets such as these are what philosophers of science have scoffed at in the 20th century for their abuse of science, knowledge and philosophy. Feyeraband was explicit in fact in lamenting the intellectual ineptitude of modern scientists on matters outside their specific fields (which are very limited) and these two charlatans (pz and coyne) are prime examples.

    God is not a hypothesis nor is He falsifiable. Theism – as in our understanding of reality from a specific vantage point – could be argued against, as atheists have tried to do over the millennia and failed. But even if they were successful that would not mean that we find ourselves in an atheistic reality.

    Many atheists are not honest enough to admit this but every once in a while someone comes along that does. Atheist Kai Nielsen says it best:

    “All proofs of God’s existence may fail, but it may still be the case that God exists”

    So what we are talking here is not ontology but epistemic validity in a belief. So now that we have framed the issue correctly, what evidence can pz or coyne or any other atheist give us to support their faith in atheism? I have as of yet not seen a single evidence in support of such a belief system and have not even seen a coherent epistemology through which such claims will be substantiated. In other words materialism/atheist does not even provide the necessary tools for such inquiry let alone to try and demonstrate its claims.

    What is ironic, especially in the nonsense spouted by pz is that it is atheism/materialism that has been trying to reinvent itself every time it gets refuted. Starting from the falsity of the clockwork/deterministic view of materialism by QM, to the insurmountable problems facing physicalism to the extend that it now presents itself as ‘dualism lite’.

    The irony here is endless!

  117. 117
    bornagain77 says:

    Dr. Torley, It seems that a few objected to your exception for Noah in your falsification criteria:

    Well it seems that you may be able to fairly confidently strike that exception for Noah from your list:

    Startling Evidence That Noah’s Flood Really Happened
    http://video.google.com/videop.....519871387#

    references:

    Worldwide ‘planation’ also points to a global disaster from water:

    Planation surfaces
    …Excerpt: planation surface, any low-relief plain cutting across varied rocks and structures. Among the most common landscapes on Earth, planation surfaces include pediments, pediplains, etchplains, and peneplains. There has been much scientific controversy over the origins of such surfaces.
    http://www.britannica.com/EBch.....on-surface

    It’s plain to see – Flat land surfaces are strong evidence for the Genesis Flood
    Excerpt: A planation surface is a large, level, or nearly level, land surface that has been ‘planed’ flat by running water. Scientists believe that running water cut these surfaces because they are covered by rounded rocks. Water is the only agent we know that can produce rounded rocks, by tumbling them against each other as it transports them along.,,, Planation surfaces sometimes cut across tilted sedimentary rocks. They are especially easy to recognize. The layered sedimentary rocks are often a combination of hard and soft rocks. Only a gigantic, fast-running water flow could have cut both the hard and soft rocks evenly.,,, Geomorphologist Lester King has documented that planation surfaces are abundant on all continents and found at different elevations. He noted about 60% of Africa is a series of planation surfaces. Some planation surfaces are located on the top of mountains.
    http://creation.com/its-plain-to-see

    Ancient Earth Smackdown at Santa Fe Tells Global Story – August 2010
    Excerpt: “Geologist John Wesley Powell called this major gap in the geologic record, which is also seen in other parts of the world, the Great Unconformity.” Clicking on the link elaborates further: “The Great Unconformity is a geologic feature that exists across the world at a relatively consistent rock strata (or depth relative to sea-level).” Any unconformity worldwide in its extent would seem to require to a global catastrophe.
    http://www.creationsafaris.com.....#20100810a

    This ‘global anomaly’ of a ‘unconformity’, and planation, is exactly what we would expect to see from a global flood perspective, yet the dating of the global catastrophe(s) from water, as far as I know, is not yet known to accurate detail. Indeed I know of no secular reference of any known ‘mass extinction’ that mentions any ancient global disaster for water covering the face earth, to form this worldwide ‘unconformity’ and planation. And yet, there the worldwide anomaly sits. An anomaly that certainly requires a global deluge to explain!:

    The following video is very interesting for it shows a geological formation that is now known to have been formed by a catastrophic flood, yet Charles Darwin himself had ‘predicted’ the geological formation was formed ‘gradually’:

    Where Darwin Went Wrong – geology video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3darzVqzV2o

    As well, there is actually very strong archaeological evidence tracing all human races to the three sons of Noah:

    Tracing Your Ancestors Through History – Noah’s Descendants – video
    http://edinburghcreationgroup.org/ancestors.xml

    TABLE OF NATIONS (GENEALOGY OF MANKIND) by Tim Osterholm
    Excerpt: The fact is, that wherever its statements can be sufficiently tested, Genesis 10 of the Bible has been found completely accurate; resulting partly from linguistic studies, partly from archaeology, and, more recently still, from the findings of physical anthropologists, who are, to this day, recovering important clues to lines of migration in ancient historic times. As implied in verse 32 of Genesis 10, this Table includes everybody; meaning that so-called fossil man, primitive peoples (ancient and modern) and modern man are all derived from Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
    http://www.soundchristian.com/man/

    This following video, and article, are very interesting for they talk about the scientific evidence for a ‘genetic Adam’ and a ‘genetic Eve’, and how the evidence relates to Noah’s flood:

    Does human genetic evidence support Noah’s flood? – Fazale Rana – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4116168

    Book Review; Who Was Adam?: A Creation Model Approach to the Origin of Man:
    Excerpt: The Bible claims that there was a genetic bottleneck at the Genesis flood. Whereas all females can trace their ancestry back to Eve (through the three wives of Noah’s sons), all males trace their Y-chromosomes through Noah (through his three sons). This predicted discrepancy for molecular dates of mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome data is actually seen in the scientific literature.
    http://www.godandscience.org/n.....05-09.html

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