Darwinism Intelligent Design language

Note to Darwinists: Language itself is “anti-science”

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Sinking ShipThat is, if we took your claims seriously. Linguist Noel Rude writes to say,


Human language is geared to purpose, to consciousness, to agency. The majority of verbs, as I may have noted before already, have “valence” for the semantic roles of Agent and/or Dative–Agent being defined as “the animate instigator of an event” and Dative (we’re talking semantic roles here–not noun cases) as “a participant whose consciousness is relevant to the proposition”–both of which are illusions to the hard core materialist elite. And so how then is the materialist to talk? What verbs can he use when blabbering about evolution? Aside from be, remain, rust, coagulate, etc., most verbs suggest consciousness and agency.

Let’s consider ambitransitive verbs. Not all languages have them, but English loves them. English “break,” for example, can be either transitive or intransitive:

1) He broke the window.

vs.

2) The window broke.

The same can be said of “sink”:

3) They sank the boat.

vs.

4) The boat sank.

Now note the following:

5) The boat was sunk to collect the insurance.

vs.

6) The boat sank to collect the insurance.

Though the passive (“was sunk”) in 5) suppresses the agent, it is still hovering and eager “to collect the insurance.” Not so with the intransitive “sank” in 6), which implies that the boat–not a boat sinker–had intention and is guilty.

“Evolve” is also ambitransitive.

17 A solution was evolved to solve the problem.

8) A solution evolved to solve the problem.

In 7) “was evolved” is passive and the intention “to solve the problem” is supplied by the suppressed agent. 8) illustrates what Darwinists are up against. When something evolves to serve some function, the normal sense is that that something is intentional.

Should we explain to the Darwinists that human language is anti-science?

We could explain that to Darwinists, Dr. Rude, but remember that Darwinism is now fully committed to the idea that human consciousness is itself an illusion. They would agree with the criticism but it would make no difference as long as they can exercise power. They’ve made that clear enough over the years.

Another friend writes to remind us of Jerry Fodor’s careful distinction in What Darwin Got Wrong (2010) between “selection” (which does not imply purpose) and “selection for” (which does). Much popular Darwinism depends on confusing the distinction.

See also: Yer average planet watch: Earth Resides in an “Oddball” Solar System “Oddball” is a Duckspeak Urban Dictionary term for the fine-tuning of Earth for life.

and

The illusion of consciousness sees through itself.

11 Replies to “Note to Darwinists: Language itself is “anti-science”

  1. 1
    gpuccio says:

    Very interesting concept.

    Consciousness is the first absolute fact in our experience. All other facts are cognized by consciousness.

    One of the basic consequences of the existence of consciousness in us is that we become intuitively aware of the distinction between the subject, the I, and the objects, the things that the I perceives.

    It is absolutely true that language is vastly shaped upon that fundamental intuition.

    I think that reductionists are so keen to deny the objectivity of consciousness and of subjective experiences, the true building blocks of our reality, because they are aware, after all, that they will never be able to explain subjective experiences in terms of objective configurations.

    So, between facing a major component of reality that they cannot explain, and denying it, they choose the second way.

  2. 2
    critical rationalist says:

    It’s times like these that I can’t tell if this is parody or a real attempt to make an argument.

    Given that we are are conscious agents, it’s unclear why human lanaguage wouldn’t have some kind of reference to, about or come from the perspective of conscious agents. What else would you expect?

    That’s like arguing that people designed lawn sprinklers, so rain must be designed.

    Furthermore, in respect to claims that knowelge in genome is some kind of language, I would point out it does not exhibit this tendency. Specifically, it does not make a reference to, about or from the perspective of some conscious agent.

    If we take the OP seriously, does the absence of that tendency mean it’s not a language and not result of an intelligent agent?

    And let’s not forget that words are shortcuts for ideas. So, we should be willing to adopt the terminology of others when having a discussion.

    Knowelge is information that plays a causal role in being retained when embedded in a storage medium. This in includes knowelge in brains, books and even the genome of organisms.

  3. 3
    daveS says:

    In 7) “was evolved” is passive and the intention “to solve the problem” is supplied by the suppressed agent. 8) illustrates what Darwinists are up against. When something evolves to serve some function, the normal sense is that that something is intentional.

    Should we explain to the Darwinists that human language is anti-science?

    Yes, this is rather silly. This linguistic analysis, however interesting, tells us nothing about whether evolution actually is a guided process or not.

  4. 4
  5. 5
    gpuccio says:

    critical rationalist:

    The fundamental properties of language are at the root of our understanding of anything, including science. The existence of a subjective I is the basis for understanding meanings, which is the basis for cognition and science.

    Therefore, the argument is extremely pertinent.

    The genetic code in the genome does not present that level of reference to consciousness because it is an operative code, just like most software, intended to get specific results, not to communicate the experiences of the designer.

    But the information about what a code means, how to set up a code, and how to write meaningful information about proteins by the code itself, requires understanding of meaning and purpose, the experience of an I which desires a result, and the conscious understanding of how to implement that result.

    That’s what links conscious experiences to design, and design to overcoming the probabilistic barriers that prevent non design systems from achieving any form of complex functional information.

    Therefore, the argument is extremely pertinent.

  6. 6
    gpuccio says:

    daveS:

    “Yes, this is rather silly. This linguistic analysis, however interesting, tells us nothing about whether evolution actually is a guided process or not.”

    Please, read my comment #5 in answer to critical rationalist. It also answers your comment.

    The important point is that conscious beings are able to generate new original complex functional information, of which language is one prominent example.

    Human language is specially important, because it expresses freely the nature of conscious experiences, just in its basic structure.

    Again, the existence of a subjective I is the foundation of all our knowledge, including scientific cognition.

    No perception of meaning exists in non conscious systems, and perception of meaning is the basis for all cognition.

    No perception of purpose exists in non conscious systems, and perception of purpose is the basis for meaningful design of objects.

    Why cannot non conscious systems generate any amount of new original complex functional information?

    Very simply, because there is no conscious I in them which can understand and desire, and therefore there is no principle that can overcome the probabilistic barriers implicit in complex functional information.

    Both descriptive (common language) and prescriptive (software, protein genes) language requires a conscious subject to be originated at any non trivial level of complexity.

    So, I would sat that this linguistic analysis tells us a lot about whether evolution actually is a guided process or not.

  7. 7
    daveS says:

    gpuccio,

    A thoughtful response, as always.

    My statement was probably too broad, so please allow me to clarify.

    I don’t think that a neutral investigator can learn much about which of the statements “evolution has been guided by a conscious designer” and “evolution has not been guided by a conscious designer” is true by examining typical patterns of human speech.

    Humans speak as if X is true quite often, without intending to imply that X really is true. Sometimes it’s very difficult or awkward to express a thought precisely without this occurring, and we have to hope others will understand this, and grasp what we “really mean”.

    I suppose this is partly due to the design choices that have historically been made in the development of whatever language we are using. How many times have you heard of expressions in some language that are “untranslatable” to other languages?

    I believe that these are trivial observations (if true); what is really needed to answer the question about guided evolution is empirical evidence, or perhaps divine revelation if one accepts such as reliable.

  8. 8
    critical rationalist says:

    The fundamental properties of language are at the root of our understanding of anything, including science. The existence of a subjective I is the basis for understanding meanings, which is the basis for cognition and science.

    What other means could we use to understand and describe something? it’s unclear how the lack of choice on our part implies anything about whether organisms were designed.

    The genetic code in the genome does not present that level of reference to consciousness because it is an operative code, just like most software, intended to get specific results, not to communicate the experiences of the designer.

    My point is, many ID proponents try to compare communication which references other conscious agents or the “designer” itself, with the genome. As if somehow the “obviousness” of the former is some how equally applicable to the latter. But it’s not, because what makes the latter “obvious” is those references, which are not present in the genome.

    Human designers are good explanations for human designed things, including communication, because of the specific context of our human limitations. For example, if we found a outpost on some planet with vehicles, computers, it’s own life support system, etc. that refers to limitations of the designers of that outpost. They are ether incapable of surviving on the native environment of that planet, or they are only comfortable within a particular range, etc. Their cognitive systems are such that the need augmentation to reach specific goals, etc. All of these things are problems the designer has identified and those designed things represent conjectured ideas about how to solve them.

    To use another example, automobile are good examples of human designed things because they reuse parts and designs, often for several years. Manufactures have customers, so the vehicles they build must be efficient, cost effective, exhibit specific levels of safety, etc. They have research and design budgets, from which they hire design and engineering resources. They must allocate some of that budge to research and development, etc.

    However, ID’s designer is abstract and has no defined limitations, including what it knows, when it knew it, etc. It has no customers, boards of directors, research and design budgets, need for design and engineering staff, competitors, etc.

    No perception of meaning exists in non conscious systems, and perception of meaning is the basis for all cognition.

    Since I don’t think anyone here is suggesting that Neo-Darwniwsm exhibits cognition in the sense implied, it’s unclear how is this a problem?

    No perception of purpose exists in non conscious systems, and perception of purpose is the basis for meaningful design of objects.

    Again, I don’t think that anyone actually thinks that a bacterium perceive problems it faces like we do.

    While both people and Neo-Darwinism can create non-explanatory knowledge, only people can create explanatory knowledge.

    Specifically, only people can conceive of problems and conjecture specific theories about how the world works designed to solve that particular problem, then criticize those theories and discard any error we find. Explanatory knowledge has significant reach.

    Knowledge in the genome is non-explanatory, which represents useful rules of thumb, and the vast majority of it has very limited reach. Given this distinction, there is no conflict here. We make progress in science when theories represent unifications of what were thought to be distinct ideas.

    Why cannot non conscious systems generate any amount of new original complex functional information?

    Are you asking why we haven’t observed non-conscious systems generating new explanatory knowledge? Because non-conscious systems cannot conceive of problems like we can, let alone conjecture explanatory theories about how the world works, to solve them.

    But, again, this doesn’t exclude non-conscious systems from creating non-explanatory knowledge in the form of useful rules of thumb, which has limited reach.

    Very simply, because there is no conscious I in them which can understand and desire, and therefore there is no principle that can overcome the probabilistic barriers implicit in complex functional information.

    First off, I would again point out that the medical community consists of conscious, intelligent agents that desire to prevent, reverse and even eradicate diseases. So, why don’t we have a cure for cancer? Is it because they cannot conceive of medical problems, such as cancer? Is it because they really do not desire to cure cancer and they are just looking to draw a salary? Is it because they don’t intend their actions to cure cancer? I think you would agree the answer to all of these questions is no.

    So what will be the most significant quantity in our ability to cure cancer? The presence of the requisite knowledge of which transformations of matter will kill cancer cells without killing healthy cells. We will have created that knowledge via a process of conjecture and refutation.

    Both descriptive (common language) and prescriptive (software, protein genes) language requires a conscious subject to be originated at any non trivial level of complexity.

    Again, people can only create explanatory knowledge, but the knowledge in the genome is not explanatory. It repress useful rules of thumb. Nor does it reference other conscious agents, etc.

    Variation in Neo-Darwnism isn’t completely random. Rather variation is random to any specific problem to solve because it cannot conceive of problems. Nor can it conceive of a series of more and more specific and refined criticisms of those variations in the context that problem. But this doesn’t make variation and criticism completely random in specific environments in which the knowledge plays a causal role.

    The very fact that organisms go extinct is an example of knowledge falling to play a role in being retained when embedded in a storage medium. And when other knowledge plays that role better, It get’s retained while the other does not.

  9. 9
    critical rationalist says:

    How can language be against something when it doesn’t have any will, intent or options about anything?

    Does that mean that language is against the OP?

  10. 10
    gpuccio says:

    critical rationalist:

    What other means could we use to understand and describe something? it’s unclear how the lack of choice on our part implies anything about whether organisms were designed.

    What I mean is that the existence of a subject is the most certain fact in our cognition of reality. Therefore, we cannot ignore subjective experiences, and the basic features they exhibit, when we try to build a map of reality. Language is on more reminder of that. It is built on the same basic conscious experiences (meaning and purpose, subject and object) on which our more general map of reality is built. Including science.

    My point is, many ID proponents try to compare communication which references other conscious agents or the “designer” itself, with the genome. As if somehow the “obviousness” of the former is some how equally applicable to the latter. But it’s not, because what makes the latter “obvious” is those references, which are not present in the genome.

    I am not sure what you mean here. As I said, the genome is more similar to software than to a poem. It is prescriptive information, aimed at getting specific results, and not descriptive information, aimed at transmitting some particular meaning.

    Both descriptive and prescriptive information are typical of human design.

    There are many feature in the genome that are similar to human software: for example, the use of coded information, regulation networks, checkpoints, and so on.

    And, of course, the functional complexity: the harnessing of huge amounts of specific information sequence to functional results of the highest efficiency.

    However, ID’s designer is abstract and has no defined limitations, including what it knows, when it knew it, etc. It has no customers, boards of directors, research and design budgets, need for design and engineering staff, competitors, etc.

    I don’t know why you say so. ID’s designer, or designers, is not abstract at all: we simply don’t know who he is.

    But it is absolutely not true that it has no defined limitations: it seems to have a lot of limitations, perfectly evident in the features of its design.

    For example, it seems to need time to implement design.

    It seems to need gradual development of function to implement higher functions.

    It has a lot of “competitors”: for example, biological variation that tends to degrade the functionality in its designs.

    It certainly has to act in space and time, and to interact with existing matter to input specific configurations in it. That requires a specific interface, that can certainly be the object of scientific approach.

    It needs to design reusing what already exists, IOWs through designed descent.

    It needs to use modularity in its designs, and it does that continuosly.

    Its general purpose seems to be to develop higher functions through increasing levels of complexity. That definitely has a direction and is not random at all.

    There are often apparent contradictions in the immediate purposes we can try to understand, and that could reasonably point to more than one designer.

    These, of course, are all hypotheses, but they are all hypotheses derived from what we observe. The designer, or designers, is not abstract at all, because all we know about it is derived from observable facts. Of course, we know very little, at present. But that is true also of a lot of other scientific problems.

    Since I don’t think anyone here is suggesting that Neo-Darwniwsm exhibits cognition in the sense implied, it’s unclear how is this a problem?

    The problem is that complex functional information can be created only through understanding of meaning and the feeling of purpose. Even if prescriptive information does not communicate directly what you call “explanatory knowledge” (which, I suppose, should correspond more or less to the concept of descriptive information), it remains true that meaning and purpose are necessary to generate it.

    While both people and Neo-Darwinism can create non-explanatory knowledge, only people can create explanatory knowledge.

    No. It is true that people can create both descriptive information and prescriptive information, but it is not true at all that neo-darwinism can create complex prescriptive information without the intervention of conscious understanding and purpose. This is the whole point.

    Specifically, only people can conceive of problems and conjecture specific theories about how the world works designed to solve that particular problem, then criticize those theories and discard any error we find. Explanatory knowledge has significant reach.

    Yes.

    Knowledge in the genome is non-explanatory, which represents useful rules of thumb, and the vast majority of it has very limited reach. Given this distinction, there is no conflict here. We make progress in science when theories represent unifications of what were thought to be distinct ideas.

    No. Knowledge in the genome is prescriptive information (what you cakk “non explicatory knowledge”), but complex prescriptive information too is the product only of conscious agents, because only understanding of meaning and the feeling of purpose can generate it, against all probabilistic barriers.

    The prescriptive information in the genome has not “very limited reach”, at all! It can do things that we are completely unable to do, with all out understanding and purpose, and often not even to comprehend. Is that what you consider a “limited reach”?

    Are you asking why we haven’t observed non-conscious systems generating new explanatory knowledge?

    Not at all! I am asking why non conscious systems cannot generate any amount of new complex functional information, prescriptive information, not “explicatory knowledge”.

    For example, a symbolic code like the genetic code, or a complex functional protein like Prp8. See here:

    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/the-spliceosome-a-molecular-machine-that-defies-any-non-design-explanation/

    First off, I would again point out that the medical community consists of conscious, intelligent agents that desire to prevent, reverse and even eradicate diseases. So, why don’t we have a cure for cancer? Is it because they cannot conceive of medical problems, such as cancer? Is it because they really do not desire to cure cancer and they are just looking to draw a salary? Is it because they don’t intend their actions to cure cancer? I think you would agree the answer to all of these questions is no.

    So what will be the most significant quantity in our ability to cure cancer? The presence of the requisite knowledge of which transformations of matter will kill cancer cells without killing healthy cells. We will have created that knowledge via a process of conjecture and refutation.

    Yes. And so? Each designer, or system of designers, has its limitations. Including the biological designer, as I have said.

    Some of those limitations can be due to objective difficulties, but limitations of knowledge and understanding are certainly a factor.

    Nobody has ever said that a designer must be omniscient to be a designer.

    Again, people can only create explanatory knowledge, but the knowledge in the genome is not explanatory.

    I have already answered that. I suppose there is a mistake here. People can certainly create also non explanatory knowledge, and they do that all the time. Maybe you meant:

    “only people can create explanatory knowledge”

    Which is certainly true (if we substitute “conscious agents” to people).

    But, as I have said, it is equally true that only conscious agents can create comple non explanatory knowledge (IOWs, complex prescriptive information). So, I disagree with your statement.

    Variation in Neo-Darwnism isn’t completely random. Rather variation is random to any specific problem to solve because it cannot conceive of problems. Nor can it conceive of a series of more and more specific and refined criticisms of those variations in the context that problem. But this doesn’t make variation and criticism completely random in specific environments in which the knowledge plays a causal role.

    I can agree, if I understand well what you say.

    I have recently commented about the randomness of variation in this thread:

    https://uncommondescent.com/evolution/this-parody-of-evo-devo-makes-it-sound-a-lot-like-id/

    at comments #122-123. If you have time, please read them.

    In essence, I believe that variation is random (in the sense I have explained in those comments) and is also unrelated to function (a concept which you seem to share). However, a link between variation and function can exist, but in a non design scenario it can be established only by NS, and nothing else.

    The very fact that organisms go extinct is an example of knowledge falling to play a role in being retained when embedded in a storage medium. And when other knowledge plays that role better, It get’s retained while the other does not.

    Yes, you seem to agree that it is only NS that can establish some link between random variation and function. In a non design system.

    That is true. But it is equally true that both the probabilistic resources of RV in biological systems and the “powers” of NS cannot in any reasonable way explain complex functional information, the huge amount of prescriptive information that we find in proteins and in other, even more complex, biological systems.

    I have argued in detail about that in these two threads:

    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/what-are-the-limits-of-natural-selection-an-interesting-open-discussion-with-gordon-davisson/

    and

    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/what-are-the-limits-of-random-variation-a-simple-evaluation-of-the-probabilistic-resources-of-our-biological-world/

    Because the simple truth is that complex functional information (even if of the prescriptive type, or as you say non explanatory) can only be generated through consciousness, and through its “explanatory” (if you want to call them so) processes of conscious understanding and purpose.

  11. 11
    gpuccio says:

    daveS:

    I did not mean that language in itself can tell us what is designed and what is not. My point is that:

    a) Language reflects our basic intuitions of the fundamental duality between subject and object, a duality which arises in our conscious experiences.

    b) That basic duality is the tool through which we build all our maps of reality, including science.

    c) Processes like understanding of meaning, and the feeling of purpose, are fundamental in ID as the only possible explanation of how conscious agents can design complex functional information. Language is itself complex functional information, but it is also a good repository of the basic conscious intuitions that make efficient cognition possible (subject, object, meaning, feeling, purpose, and so on). Through language, those intuitions are mirrored to us, and become the pillars of all that we know and do.

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