Complex Specified Information Intelligent Design

Permissible errors in asserting design using the Explanatory Filter(s)

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Masters of stealth intent on concealing their actions may successfully evade the explanatory filter. But masters of self-promotion intent on making sure their intellectual property gets properly attributed find in the explanatory filter a ready friend.

Bill Dembski
Mere Creation

The Explanatory filter classifies systems or artifacts into 3 categories.

1. produced by law
2. produced by chance
3. produced neither by chance nor law (designed by definition)

Suppose we started out with the correct probability distributions. We can interpret the above statement by Bill to mean we might mistake a system as produced by chance or law when in fact it was produced by an intelligence. For example, if you had uniquely numbered fair coins, and they were arranged for you in the following way (with 1= heads, 0=tails), what would you say?

1101110010111011110001001101010111100110111101111……

Using ID procedures, in the absence of recognizing a design specification you would label the system as the product of chance, but if you recognized it as the digits of the Champernowne sequence, you’d say it is “produced neither by chance nor law and thus by definition is designed.”

Mistaking a design as the result of chance is perfectly within the framework of ID, such errors in using the Explantory Filter are acceptable (as evidenced by the quote above). For the sake of brevity, we don’t say:

produced by chance or produced by design that we mistake as chance

We merely say “chance”, with the provision that it is short hand for:

produced by chance or produced by design that we mistake as chance

The same holds true for making mistakes where we mistakenly attribute design to law.

The reliability of the filter rests on classifying things as “not chance and not law” based on an assumed probability distribution. The assumed distribution could of course be wrong, and thus the assertion of design could be wrong, but the inference relative to the assumptions is correct for “produced neither by chance nor law”. “Produced neither by chance nor law” means practically speaking “produced neither by chance nor law” according to the assumed distribution.

It does not mean the assumed distribution is correct, but it does mean the inference relative to the assumptions follows the correct deduction from the premises. This also means a design claim can be falsifiable if the assumptions are falsifiable.

So if someone says, “how do you know it is designed, you don’t have all the facts?” The correct response is, “in the ultimate sense, that may not be demonstrable, but relative to the assumptions I’m working from (which may be false assumptions), the inference of design is correct. Further, all things being equal, if I assert design on a reasonable distribution, the claim of design is always more likely to be true in the ultimate sense than the claim of mindless evolution.”

I gave an example of the design inference here:
Relevance of coin analogies to homochirality and symbolic organization in biology. The inference is correct with respect to the underlying assumptions. The underlying assumptions could be incorrect, but the deduction from the premises should be above reproach, and that’s what is meant by design inference.

NOTES

1. This discussion came up in part because Lizzie argues chance is the null (default) hypothesis for ID. I countered by saying the EF uses no null hypothesis. Any ID proponent is welcome to weigh in, but I don’t think Lizzie’s characterization is correct based on ID literature. It is true we assume chance by default if law and design are ruled out, but that’s different than saying chance is the null hypothesis.

2. Some design inferences in history were later falsified, like the craters of the moon. They looked so perfectly circular that some thought they had to be designed. That was one of the few rare cases where the product of law was mistaken for design. A meteor or rock hits the moon, it makes a circular crater. Also consider the effect of law in the Chlandi plate demonstration:
Response to Harry McCall (Chlandi plates)

3. Some will complain, “What if the design inference is wrong”, to which I respond, “Then we don’t lose much, but what if the non-design inference is wrong? What side of Pascal’s wager do you want to be on? What do you have to gain if non-design is true?”

See: If Darwinism were true, what is there to gain?

4. If you want to be an evolutionary formalist, you should say “I don’t know” in the face of uncertain probability distributions and stop trying to promote mindless evolution as “fact, fact, fact” when it is “speculation, speculation, speculation” and quit persecuting scientists and denying diplomas to students until you really know mindless evolution is true.

5. I used filter(s) in the title, various methods of rejecting the chance hypothesis may fail while others succeed. Someone with the Champernowne sequence in their EF filter library will recognize design, while others without the Champernowne sequence in the EF filter library won’t.

6. Bill Dembksi’s book The Design Inference makes clear it the inference is correct in principle based on the distributions assumed, he didn’t ever say we’ll necessarily have the correct distributions to work with. That is a Darwinist straw man, and like lots of strawman, it’s erected to make the appearance of an easy knockdown of a reasonable claim.

7. Summarizing the permissible errors of asserting design:

A. the assumptions are false (but that is true of every idea, not just ID), but all things being equal, if design is asserted, uncertainty favors the design case over the non-design case.

B. the assumptions are true, but we fail to recognize design. One example of that is the product of “Masters of Stealth” and another is the Champernowne sequence.

8. I’ve suggested (not insisted) a workable definition of “chance” is a process that maximizes uncertainty relative to the degrees of freedom of the symbols. To illustrate, maximum uncertainty implies a 50% proportion of heads in the case of coins and a 50% proportion of L-amino acids in the case of amino acids, and even less-than-50% proportions for alpha-peptide bonds in proteins/proteinoids and 3′-5′ in DNA chains.

72 Replies to “Permissible errors in asserting design using the Explanatory Filter(s)

  1. 1
    RDFish says:

    Hi Sal,

    Here’s my usual (and never answered) criticism of ID:

    You write that the third category of the EF is:

    3) produced neither by chance nor law (designed by definition)

    So you are attempting to provide a definition of the word “design” in the context of ID, which I applaud. Unfortunately, this is merely a definition of what “design” is not, and not what it is.

    The inconvenient fact remains that nobody has ever demonstrated that anything at all – including human thought or behavior – transcends physical law (and chance, if you’d like to consider that a separate category). For all anyone knows, our design abilities proceed according to law+chance just like everything else, in a way that nobody understands.

    So simply defining “design” as “neither law nor chance”, and then offering this negative definition as an explanation of something (like flagella or the physical constants or the results of an IQ test) is an exercise in speciousness. Until ID folks actually dare to say what they think design is instead of what they insist it is not, ID can never explain anything at all.

    A bit of honesty would help so much: ID ought to lay it’s cards on the table, admit that what “design” is supposed to mean is “libertarian free will operating in a dualistic metaphysics”, and concede that ID relies on metaphysical conjectures rather than any sort of reasoning from scientific evidence. Nothing wrong with that!

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  2. 2
    scordova says:

    RDFish,

    [By the way, I like that handle].

    Long time no see.

    There is Design in the methaphysical sense. And there are Designs in the EF sense. The two are not the same, now that you mention it. I think there is some unfortunate equivocations in the ID community as a result.

    Let me designate them:

    1. Design-Met (design in the metaphysical sense)
    2. Design-EF (design in the purely statistical sense)

    Bill clearly indicates some Design-Met will not be identified as Design-EF, i.e. that crafted by Masters of Stealth.

    But clearly, I provided in the 500 fair coins heads, an empirical example of Design-EF. Whether it has metaphysical implications, let me say, I have my opinions, but I don’t think what I offered is in the 500 fair coins is wrong on statistical grounds. 500 fair coins heads evidences Design-EF, where I defined chance to be a process that maximizes symbolic uncertainty.

    Whether Design-EF has significance to Design-Met is a separate issue, but I think it is quite undeniable that certain systems arguably evidence Design-EF.

    You of all people I hoped would side with me in arguing that machine intelligence is capable of making systems that evidence Design-EF.

    “design” is supposed to mean is “libertarian free will operating in a dualistic metaphysics”,

    I’m sure for some, that’s what Design-Met means, but that is separate (but not completely unrelated) to Design-EF.

    The inconvenient fact remains that nobody has ever demonstrated that anything at all – including human thought or behavior – transcends physical law (and chance, if you’d like to consider that a separate category). For all anyone knows, our design abilities proceed according to law+chance just like everything else, in a way that nobody understands.

    True, and our assumed distributions could be wrong. But look at the fair coins example. Using accepted operational scientific practice, I assert 100% of 500 fair coins will not be heads after a random process. That fact is undeniable experimentally and theoretically. I have not used some contorted metaphysical theological flyingspaghetti monster theory, I just used standard accepted scientific practice.

    It’s philosophically possible the standard operational practice of science is wrong since it tells me 500 fair coins heads is not the result of a maximizing-uncertainty chance process and not a law-like determinism that forces heads under all boundary conditions. Standard operational scientific practice is good enough for me — I’m a pragmatist, not a philosopher.

    I don’t think I’m putting too much of a metaphysical twist to say 500 fair coins all heads evidences Design-EF. As you could hopefully see in this debate, those trying to argue that somehow this is an illusion of perception are the ones looking kooky, not the ID proponents.

    Whatever you make of it in methaphysical terms, I respect. I’m only telling you, I think you’re asking too much of ordinary people who look at symbolic organization like 500 fair coins heads or homochirality in biology — I think you’re asking too much of them when you suggest they not associate it with Design-Met.

    From a scientific standpoint we can argue for Design-EF. I’ve proven reasonable cases in human affairs (500 fair coins all heads), and we can’t run away form the fact it looks like we have that case in biology (homochirality, uniform bonding standards, grammars, etc.)

    I’m with you as far as saying Design-Met is hard to define scientifically, but I can’t agree the Design-EF is an illusion and that systems conforming to Design-EF don’t exist (they do, at least in human affairs, 500 fair coins heads is an example).

  3. 3
    littlejohn says:

    RDfish,

    What sort of scientific evidence would you accept, that demonstrates physical law has been transcended?

    Does not bird flight, by overcoming gravity, etc., transcend physical law, and does not many other life processes transcend physical law, or am I misunderstanding your point?

  4. 4
    RDFish says:

    Hi Sal,

    I assert 100% of 500 fair coins will not be heads after a random process. That fact is undeniable experimentally and theoretically. I have not used some contorted metaphysical theological flyingspaghetti monster theory, I just used standard accepted scientific practice.

    Of course that is right: When faced with 500 heads, it is safe to conclude that it was not the result of a fair toss. But it is not safe to conclude any other thing! When asked “How did these 500 heads come to be?”, the only correct answer is “Nobody knows”. To say “By design” is incorrect (unless you have taken the word “design” to mean something that has nothing whatsoever to do with any common usage of the word).

    By the way, Merry Christmas to you!

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  5. 5
    RDFish says:

    Hi littlejohn,

    What sort of scientific evidence would you accept, that demonstrates physical law has been transcended?

    There are any number of demonstrations that would violate known physics of course. Any observation that can be reliably verified by independent researchers that violates physical law would do it. What is relevant here, though, is a demonstration that human thought violates (or transcends) physical law, and no, I cannot think of a way that can be demonstrated. To me, it is an open question, and conscious phenomenology is deeply mysterious.

    Does not bird flight, by overcoming gravity, etc., transcend physical law, and does not many other life processes transcend physical law, or am I misunderstanding your point?

    You misunderstand – flight (of birds, or airplanes, or hot air balloons) are perfectly in accord with gravity and all other known physical laws.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  6. 6
    scordova says:

    unless you have taken the word “design” to mean something that has nothing whatsoever to do with any common usage of the word).

    That’s a good point.

    I agree with you the conflation and equivocations of the notions of design are deeply unfortunate.

    For at least the span of this thread, I’ll use the term design-EF.

    Reminds me of the endless shouting matches over the definition of information and entropy. At least
    with design-EF, it is clear I’m talking about something not chance and not law.

    The term used to be CSI, but as you can see, almost no one at UD can agree on what CSI scores should be for even simple cases.

    I retain the word “design” because it is the philosophical belief in the ID community that design-EF is a subset of design-Met even though I suppose that can never be demonstrated formally.

    By the way, Merry Christmas to you!

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

    Oh my goodness, so nice to hear it coming from you!

    Merry Christmas to you!

    Sal

  7. 7
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    Hey Aiguy/rdfish,

    Talk about providence. I check back to see what is up and low and behold my favorite critic is still posting and still concerned that ID is trying to sneak libertarian free will and dualism in through the back door.

    Good to know you are still kicking.

    What will it take to finally assuage your fears?

    You’ve heard Sal’s response clarifying the term in this discussion and you already know that libertarian free will is an anathema to Calvinist IDsts like me. Heck some of us are even agnostic about dualism.

    So there you go. Are you willing to play along or are you still afraid that somehow someway we sneaky fundies will trick you into swearing allegiance to the Cosmic funsucker in the sky if you give even an inch?

    Peace

  8. 8
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    Sal said,

    Whatever you make of it in methaphysical terms, I respect. I’m only telling you, I think you’re asking too much of ordinary people who look at symbolic organization like 500 fair coins heads or homochirality in biology — I think you’re asking too much of them when you suggest they not associate it with Design-Met.

    I say,

    Amen and Amen. This sums up the entire rub.

    Ordinary people will always infer design when they see things like this and no amount of protestation from the brights will change that for us.

    In a world ruled by reason everyone would accept that “symbolic organization” requires an explanation and design deniers would get to the hard work of trying to come up with a convincing one base on law and/or chance.

    Instead it’s the folks who simply accept their hardwired common sense inference who are treated as reality denying dreamers and required to prove their case infallibly before it’s validity is recognized.

    It’s a bizarro world.

    peace

  9. 9
    littlejohn says:

    RDfish,

    I think in one sense you are correct, flight is subject to the laws of nature, however, at the same time, flight requires anti-gravity measures to overcome it’s forces. Anti-gravity is a violation of the laws of gravity, is it not?

    Can you provide some examples of violating the laws of physics that meet your qualifications? Honestly, I am confused.

  10. 10
    scordova says:

    littlejohn,

    Transcendance of information and symbols is best illustrated by computer technology. We have hardware and we have software. The software transcends the physical characteristics of the physical computer. A “hello world” program will run on computer made of hafnium or silicon. There is a sense that symbolic concepts are somewhat decoupled form the physical substrate.

    You don’t need a violation of physical law to demonstrate transcendence. The moment a physical object takes on symbolic meaning it begins to transcend pure physics in the way we understand it.

    We don’t understand software in terms of the hardware it runs on, we think of it as something non-physical. You can describe physical things in terms of mass, energy, position, etc. Symbols and information are not described that way.

    Wings, birds, life, cars are made of matter but makes them wing, birds, life, cars is the symbolic organization, just like what makes software is the symbolic organization. Physics doesn’t really have a way of saying something is functionally or meaningfully organized. The notion of software is a bit foreign to most physics.

  11. 11
    Optimus says:

    I think in one sense you are correct, flight is subject to the laws of nature, however, at the same time, flight requires anti-gravity measures to overcome it’s forces. Anti-gravity is a violation of the laws of gravity, is it not?

    No – flight is a manifestation of how other principles of physics (e.g. Newton’s Laws) interact to allow something (i.e. heavier than air flight) that may at first seem counterintuitive. Here’s a link that you might find helpful (albeit with a grain of salt as it is Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lift_(force)

  12. 12
    Optimus says:

    So you are attempting to provide a definition of the word “design” in the context of ID, which I applaud. Unfortunately, this is merely a definition of what “design” is not, and not what it is.

    The inconvenient fact remains that nobody has ever demonstrated that anything at all – including human thought or behavior – transcends physical law (and chance, if you’d like to consider that a separate category). For all anyone knows, our design abilities proceed according to law+chance just like everything else, in a way that nobody understands.

    IMO it is misguided to criticize ID over the definition of ‘design.’ From most of what I’ve read by ID proponents, ‘design’ is used in a fairly colloquial manner to indicate the application of planning and forethought to generate something (typically some functional arrangement of matter and energy). It doesn’t follow that a failure to elucidate the intracacies and mysteries of consciousness somehow invalidates our firsthand, empirical knowledge that conscious activity is capable of generating arrangements of matter and energy that are inaccessible to lawlike forces. And I should note that when I say “inaccessible,” I DO NOT mean that said arrangements violate physical laws, merely that physical laws are necessary but insufficient to serve as an adequate explanation for said arrangements.

  13. 13
    RDFish says:

    Hi Sal,

    I agree with you the conflation and equivocations of the notions of design are deeply unfortunate.
    For at least the span of this thread, I’ll use the term design-EF…At least with design-EF, it is clear I’m talking about something not chance and not law.

    Well, the problem remains: Using the word “design” to mean “neither lawlike nor random” is highly misleading, since “design” has so many other mentalistic connotations.

    And beyond that, as I’ve said, there is no evidence – and no way anyone can think of to gain evidence – that anything ever proceeds in a manner that is “neither random nor lawlike”. Perhaps everything in the universe, including intelligent minds, operate in a law-like manner, and perhaps not – nobody knows.

    The term used to be CSI, but as you can see, almost no one at UD can agree on what CSI scores should be for even simple cases.

    Now you’ve lost me. CSI is an attempt to formalize the concept of a design – a recognizable pattern of complex form and function. It was never meant to describe the means by which the CSI came to exist. I have no trouble using the term “CSI” (although I usually just say “complex form and function” or something) – I think it is clear that some mechanisms (brains, eyeballs, flagella, and so on) are fabulously complex and demand an explanation.

    So CSI is just fine – the problem as I see it is using the word “design” to mean something that doesn’t actually have anything to do with a conscious mind, even though that is what everyone who hears the term thinks that is what it means.

    Merry Christmas to you!

    Well, I’m an ignostic, so Christmas isn’t my thing, but I always feel good when people say that anyway. It’s such a happy holiday!

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  14. 14
    RDFish says:

    Hi littlejohn,

    I think in one sense you are correct, flight is subject to the laws of nature, however, at the same time, flight requires anti-gravity measures to overcome it’s forces. Anti-gravity is a violation of the laws of gravity, is it not?

    Nothing that birds or planes or hot-air baloons or anything else we know of uses any form of technology that changes or undermines the force of gravity. Because of Earth’s gravity, every object in Earth’s vicinity (birds, airplanes, the moon, and so on) undergoes an acceleration directly toward the center of the Earth all the time. However, other forces act on these objects as well (such as the lift generated by beating wings against the air), and to compute the movement of an object, all of the force vectors need to be combined.

    Can you provide some examples of violating the laws of physics that meet your qualifications? Honestly, I am confused.

    An experiment that conclusively showed a mass accelerating toward the Earth at 64 ft/sec**2 (rather than 32 ft/sec**2) without the effects of any other forces besides Earth’s gravity, it would violate the laws of physics.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  15. 15
    Optimus says:

    A bit of honesty would help so much: ID ought to lay it’s cards on the table, admit that what “design” is supposed to mean is “libertarian free will operating in a dualistic metaphysics”, and concede that ID relies on metaphysical conjectures rather than any sort of reasoning from scientific evidence. Nothing wrong with that!

    I am not a dualist. The observation that conscious activity is real and sometimes (though not always) discernible after the fact has no necessary connection to dualistic metaphysics.

  16. 16
    RDFish says:

    Hi Optimus,

    From most of what I’ve read by ID proponents, ‘design’ is used in a fairly colloquial manner to indicate the application of planning and forethought to generate something (typically some functional arrangement of matter and energy).

    In that case, two things are true: First, Sal’s definition needs to be changed, since “planning and forethought” has no obvious relation to “lawlike or random” (or the complement thereof). And second, ID would need to actually provide at least one tiny bit of evidence that something capable of planning was involved in generating biological CSI. To date, nobody has ever tried to do that.

    As for “forethought”, if this concept entails consciousness (and most people would interpret the word that way), then ID is even more conjectural and in need of evidence that it doesn’t even acknowledge a need for.

    It doesn’t follow that a failure to elucidate the intracacies and mysteries of consciousness somehow invalidates our firsthand, empirical knowledge that conscious activity is capable of generating arrangements of matter and energy that are inaccessible to lawlike forces.

    Nobody knows if consciousness is causal (as opposed to being perceptual), but there are certaintly empircal reasons to raise the question, despite what our intuitive feelings might be (cf. Libet, Wegner, Koch, and so on).

    And I should note that when I say “inaccessible,” I DO NOT mean that said arrangements violate physical laws, merely that physical laws are necessary but insufficient to serve as an adequate explanation for said arrangements.

    You are positing that something aside from the physical exists; in other words you are positing an expanded ontology (such as some sort of dualism).

    I am not a dualist. The observation that conscious activity is real and sometimes (though not always) discernible after the fact has no necessary connection to dualistic metaphysics.

    If dualism is false, then the Explanatory Filter is incoherent, because if dualism is false then nothing happens which is not the result of fixed law and/or chance.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  17. 17
    Jul3s says:

    Information isn’t physical but it is real. Your position requires you to prove that law and chance are capable of making everything including(what is in everyday speech is referred to as) design.

    Not only is this absurd because it contradicts all observation and countless valid inferences that are made all the time, it assumes what it tries to prove. Claiming that design is just a result of law and chance because that is what our brains result from merely begs the question.

  18. 18

    Isn’t the “null hypothesis” that materials and forces interacting according to physical law, acting through known, relevant mechanisms, can generate whatever “X” is being examined, taking into account whatever probabilistic distributions of outcomes are plausible along the way?

    Colloquially known as “the chance hypothesis”? (Probably would be better termed “the necessity & chance hypothesis”.)

    And, isn’t the alternate hypothesis that “X” is better explained as the result of deliberate, teleological manipulations of those materials and forces along the way?

    Colloquially known as “the design hypothesis”?

  19. 19
    scordova says:

    Well, the problem remains: Using the word “design” to mean “neither lawlike nor random” is highly misleading, since “design” has so many other mentalistic connotations.

    It is however good to point out design-EF does not encompass the process of making designs, it is the process of identifying designs. Why it seems to work, I don’t have much to say, and I almost don’t care. The 500-fair-coins heads is extensible to enough designs in biology, that I feel the ID side has a good case in saying biology resembles man-made designs. Whether biology is designed by some intelligence in the metaphysical sense, I don’t think is formally demonstrable, only circumstantially believable, and that is good enough for me, personally speaking.

    Design is detected in a system by observing it is neither the product of law and chance. Bill said he formulated the EF to reflect ordinary practice of how humans detect designs of other humans.

    The formalized EF, when it has good inputs and infers design, as far as I can tell, will be good enough to detect human or human like designs as far as ordinary practice goes.

    I think design-EF is a subset of all designs made by intelligent agencies. There is no need to retract the connection.

    As far as science goes, like the 500-fair-coins illustration, the empirical properties of systems displaying design-EF is a serious challenge to evolutionary theories. That’s fair game for IDists to challenge on purely scientific (not methaphysical) grounds.

    I’ve already said, I’m ambivalent to saying whether ID scientifically proves the action of intelligence. I don’t care about that. If people don’t want to believe in that sort of thing, that’s up to them, but that doesn’t excuse them from saying something is scientific (like OOL and various evolutionary theories) are scientific facts when they are not.

  20. 20
    scordova says:

    If dualism is false, then the Explanatory Filter is incoherent, because if dualism is false then nothing happens which is not the result of fixed law and/or chance.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

    No. A deterministic robot can make objects that will pass the EF. The EF tests the simplest law and chance path, not every possible complex law and chance path.

    Example. A coin ordering robot is deterministic. It can be argued it is a law-like deterministic machine.

    The EF however looks for the negation of the simplest law and chance path, not all paths.

    That’s actually an important point that has escaped most. It might worth making a separate discussion of the topic.

  21. 21
    NetResearchGuy says:

    RDFish: Your position is that any appearance of design in nature can be traced back to the action of law and chance. Does that mean you believe that anything not explainable by chance or known physical laws (such as biological CSI) is due to the action of unknown laws science has not yet discovered?

    If so, then there are actually three possible causes for anything in your worldview: chance, law, and unknown law. But unknown law is not an explanation for anything, it is a philosophical belief based on faith.

    You say nothing has been observed that violates known laws of physics, and clearly that is false. The existence of the universe itself violates the laws of conservation of mass and energy. Your position based on your faith in materialism is that unknown physical laws existed at one point that counteracted these known laws, much in the way that lift from a bird’s wings locally counteracts gravity.

    I believe there are certain phenomena that science can’t devise an experiment to test, even in a theoretical sense, such as the origin of the universe, or the perceived mind body duality that we call consciousness. You may argue that we only perceive our minds as separate from our body, and it’s not reality, but I consider that an irrelevant form of circular logic, equivalent to arguing that it’s merely a perception that we have perception!

    Your position is that because ID doesn’t attempt to reduce design inferences to specific underlying mechanisms, it isn’t valid, but your materialistic worldview is equivalent in that it also doesn’t attempt to define underlying mechanisms for phenomena contradictory to known laws, which science can never make any progress towards solving. It instead accepts that if something is “not law and not chance” then it is “unknown law”. If your argument for materialism is dependent on the same argument for unknown and observable forces behind Design-Met then it can’t be a valid criticism — it’s self refuting.

    NetResearchMan/Guy

  22. 22
    StephenB says:

    Sal

    No. A deterministic robot can make objects that will pass the EF. The EF tests the simplest law and chance path, not every possible complex law and chance path.

    You are quite correct about this and your point also applies to the bigger picture. ID’s paradigms are simply not equipped to probe the ultimate nature of reality nor do they presume to do so. Accordingly, the scientist’s inference to design involves no presuppositions about multiple realms of existence.

    From a philosophical perspective, a designed organism does, indeed, require dualism, but that conclusion can be arrived at only by using a different set of analytical tools. Of course, ID science is consistent with dualism, but that is not the same thing as saying that it requires or presupposes dualism.

    It is also important to point out that physical laws cannot design anything because they have no creative potential. They can only do what they do over and over again. Law-like regularities cannot suddenly change their nature and perform a novel or creative act.

  23. 23
    scordova says:

    All,

    An unusual number posts are getting held up in the spam or mod queue for reasons unknown to me.

    Thanks all for your patience.

    Merry Christmas to all.

    Sal

  24. 24
    RDFish says:

    Hi Jul3s,

    Information isn’t physical but it is real.

    Information is an abstraction, and not physical – that’s correct. However, information is invariably instantiated in physical states.

    Your position requires you to prove that law and chance are capable of making everything including(what is in everyday speech is referred to as) design.

    No, my position requires no such thing, as a less careless reading of my posts would reveal. You would do better to quote what I actually say and respond to it, rather than to make up my argument for me and debate a straw man instead.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  25. 25
    RDFish says:

    Hi William J Murray,

    Isn’t the “null hypothesis” that materials and forces interacting according to physical law, acting through known, relevant mechanisms, can generate whatever “X” is being examined, taking into account whatever probabilistic distributions of outcomes are plausible along the way?

    The term “null hypothesis” is inappropriate here (the term refers to what would be expected if there was no correlation between two phenomena).

    It is terribly wrong to imagine that there are two hypotheses, one called “chance” and one called “design”, and that one must be correct and the other incorrect. This mistake causes no end of confusion.

    Here is what the case is: There are phenomena we wish to explain, such as the existence of the complex living things we observe on Earth. The word “chance” does not constitute any sort of explanation for that (nor for anything else), and neither does the word “design”. If we wish to provide an actual explanation, we must say what it is we believe is responsible. Darwinists do this, specifying the particular processes they believe result in living systems. Because Darwinists actually do tell us what they think is responsible, it is possible to evaluate whether or not their claims are true. I believe (along with you) that Darwinists’ explanations are not able to account for what they purport to explain. ID, however, does not say what they believe is responsible, and so there is no way to assess the truth of ID’s claims.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  26. 26
    RDFish says:

    Hi Sal,

    It is however good to point out design-EF does not encompass the process of making designs, it is the process of identifying designs.

    Here you’ve simply moved the ambiguity from design (verb) to design (noun). My point is that the word “design” carries various connotations (mainly conscious awareness) that ID doesn’t even attempt to support empirically.

    Design is detected in a system by observing it is neither the product of law and chance. Bill said he formulated the EF to reflect ordinary practice of how humans detect designs of other humans.

    It works for humans because we know what humans are and the sorts of things we do. So, in the real world, “design detection” means “detection of human activity”. In ID, “design detection” doesn’t mean anything at all, except “we found something we can’t explain”.

    The formalized EF, when it has good inputs and infers design, as far as I can tell, will be good enough to detect human or human like designs as far as ordinary practice goes.

    I think design-EF is a subset of all designs made by intelligent agencies. There is no need to retract the connection.

    If you want to say that an “intelligent agency” is “human-like”, then that’s fine – you’ve finally and actually said what you’re talking about. In that case, ID is the same as SETI, and has so far come up empty-handed.

    A coin ordering robot is deterministic. It can be argued it is a law-like deterministic machine…That’s actually an important point that has escaped most. It might worth making a separate discussion of the topic.

    Yes indeed, Sal!

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  27. 27
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    netresearchguy says,

    You may argue that we only perceive our minds as separate from our body, and it’s not reality, but I consider that an irrelevant form of circular logic,equivalent to arguing that it’s merely a perception that we have perception!

    I say,

    Exactly,

    Science has proven that we are hard wired to perceive that minds and brains are not equivalent just like it has demonstrated that we are hardwired to infer design in certain instances.

    The burden of proof is always on those who would deny such common sense perceptions.

    quote:

    “If there are certain principles, as I think there are, which the constitution of our nature leads us to believe, and which we are under a necessity to take for granted in the common concerns of life, without being able to give a reason for them — these are what we call the principles of common sense; and what is manifestly contrary to them, is what we call absurd.”

    end quote:

    Thomas Reid,……

    The “absurd” is never the default position. To argue that we must abandon our common sense perceptions until their accuracy is demonstrated is simply selective hyperskepticism.

    It’s nothing but the “brain in the vat” position of Descartes.

    It’s possible that our perceptions are completely untrustworthy but if so science is impossible because it begins with the assumption that our perceptions are correct unless a flaw is demonstrated.

    peace

  28. 28
    scordova says:

    A coin ordering robot is deterministic. It can be argued it is a law-like deterministic machine…That’s actually an important point that has escaped most. It might worth making a separate discussion of the topic.

    Yes indeed, Sal!

    Cheers,
    RDFish

    Well, ho,ho,ho. We agree on something!

    See you after Christmas! Have a good one!

    Sal

  29. 29
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    If we took the approach that our perceptions are to be doubted until we demonstrate their validity hundreds of years of philosophy have demonstrated we will never get past “I think therefore I am”.

    It looks cool on a tee-shirt but won’t pull much weight in the real world.

    I say let’s stick with common sense!!!

    peace

  30. 30
    RDFish says:

    Hi NetResearchGuy,

    RDFish: Your position is that any appearance of design in nature can be traced back to the action of law and chance.

    A less careless reading of my posts will reveal that is not my position at all. You would do well to actually quote what I say and respond to it, rather than debate a straw man.

    Does that mean you believe that anything not explainable by chance or known physical laws (such as biological CSI) is due to the action of unknown laws science has not yet discovered?

    That would depend on what you mean by “laws”. What I really mean is that anything not explainable by what we currently know is not yet explained, and saying that it is “designed” does not constitute any sort of explanation. It only appears to be an explanation because of all of the hidden connotations that the term “design” carries (such as “human-like” or “conscious thought”).

    If so, then there are actually three possible causes for anything in your worldview: chance, law, and unknown law. But unknown law is not an explanation for anything, it is a philosophical belief based on faith.

    You are correct to say that “unknown law” is not an explanation for anything. Neither is “chance”, and neither is “design”. None of these terms characterize something in such a way that we can tell if it is true or not; none of these terms add anything to our understanding of anything. “Darwinian evolutionary mechanisms” is an explanation, and so we are able to assess whether we have reason to believe it is true or not that Darwinian account for biological systems. (I agree with you that it doesn’t).

    You say nothing has been observed that violates known laws of physics, and clearly that is false. The existence of the universe itself violates the laws of conservation of mass and energy.

    Clearly that is false? I must have missed the announcement than anyone has figured out how the universe came to exist! Hahaha.

    Your position based on your faith in materialism…

    I’m not a materialist, so again your argument is completely misguided. If you’d like to debate the issues that would be great, but if you want to pretend to debate me while making up both sides of the debate, I’m not interested.

    I believe there are certain phenomena that science can’t devise an experiment to test, even in a theoretical sense, such as the origin of the universe, or the perceived mind body duality…

    I agree with this with regard to our current state of knowledge, but I do not believe that we have theoretical grounds that demonstrate these phenomena will be, in principle, forever inaccessible to empirical investigation (that’s just a detail, really).

    …that we call consciousness.

    I do not agree that consciousness is a “perceived mind/body duality”, but again that’s a technical point – I do know what you mean.

    You may argue that we only perceive our minds as separate from our body, and it’s not reality, but I consider that an irrelevant form of circular logic, equivalent to arguing that it’s merely a perception that we have perception!

    Conscious awareness is an undeniable fact that each of us experience. What I argue is that we have no idea what the necessary and sufficient conditions for consciousness are, nor whether or not conscious awareness is causal (rather than perceptual). Perhaps you’re aware of investigations into these matters (by folks like Libet, Wegner, and so on)?

    Your position is that because ID doesn’t attempt to reduce design inferences to specific underlying mechanisms it isn’t valid…

    No, you’re wrong again about my position. My position is that ID does not say what it offers as an explanation of anything in any way that can be assessed to see if it is true or not. Not only does it not say what is responsible, or where it came from, or how it works – it doesn’t say what it can do, or (even more importantly) what it can’t do. In the context of ID, the term “intelligent agent” is fully synonymous with “something that can do anything”, which explains nothing at all.

    …but your materialistic worldview is equivalent in that it also doesn’t attempt to define underlying mechanisms for phenomena contradictory to known laws, which science can never make any progress towards solving.

    Wrong again: I’m not a materialist. Yawn.

    It instead accepts that if something is “not law and not chance” then it is “unknown law”. If your argument for materialism is dependent on the same argument for unknown and observable forces behind Design-Met then it can’t be a valid criticism — it’s self refuting.

    You seem like a smart guy – let’s debate this. But if you continue to pretend that I’m saying things I’m not saying, it’s just not worth it.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  31. 31
    RDFish says:

    (apologies for unclosed italics above, oops)

  32. 32
    RDFish says:

    Hi FMM,

    I say let’s stick with common sense!!!

    So the earth is flat, stationary, and the center of the universe? Tides are controlled daily by some god? Heavier objects are accelerated faster by gravity than lighter ones? The longer you play a slot machine without winning, the more likely it will pay off on the next pull? An electron exists at one location at one moment? Time passes at the same rate for all observers?

    Ah yes, FMM – let’s just use our common sense and dispense with all of this hard science stuff. School would be so much easier!

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  33. 33
    Piltdown2 says:

    RDFish @ 25:

    Here is what the case is:

    I think this is a pretty accurate summary of where things currently stand in the debate. But, at least in my case, ID research (i.e. Edge of Evoution) and books (esp. Dr. Meyer’s) have been extremely helpful in refuting the Darwinian creation story. Standard line at this point is that to go any further would get into metaphysics or theology, but I would like to see it tried. Is our reality only a reflection of another dimension, etc.? Quantum physics or some undiscovered phenomena may point the way.

  34. 34
    Optimus says:

    Greetings, RDFish (Apologies for the delay)
    To be honest, I was rather confused upon reading your #16. If you don’t mind, I’ve a few questions to clarify your position:
    1. Do you feel that consciousness is a meaningful concept?
    2. Do you think that all events in the universe are ultimately reducible lawlike forces?
    3. How do you feel about Quastler’s association of information production with conscious activity?
    4. In your opinion, is it possible to draw any meaningful distinction between observed events caused by human activity and events that are not caused by such activity?

  35. 35
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    RDFish says,

    So the earth is flat, stationary, and the center of the universe?…….

    I say,

    unsurprisingly You completely misunderstand my position. Tentatively accepting our common sense perceptions is only the starting point.

    We assume we can more or less trust our faculties this allows us to begin the process of discovery. In that process we find that sometimes our perceptions are incorrect.

    Trust but verify. It is a pretty simple concept but the entire scientific enterprise rests on it.

    If we were instead to doubt our eyes and ears from the get go we couldn’t even get to the point of discovering that there is an universe out side our head. Let alone it’s characteristics.

    As with most folks your Hyperskepticism is highly selective you trust your eyes only when you like what you see. When you are presented with a perception you don’t like you close your eyes tightly and refuse to believe what you see until you are guaranteed complete infallibility.

    That approach, not commonsense is the ultimate science stopper.

    peace

  36. 36
    RDFish says:

    Hi Optimus,

    1. Do you feel that consciousness is a meaningful concept?

    Of course. Consciousness is that which we lose when we fall into a dreamless sleep, and regain when we awaken. We are conscious of only some of our mental activity; most of our thinking is accomplished without conscious awareness. We know that human beings can design complex artifacts, and we know that we are usually conscious of doing so (although we often solve problems when we are not consciously thinking about them), but we do not know that our consciousness is what causes those designs.

    2. Do you think that all events in the universe are ultimately reducible lawlike forces?

    I think we already know of events that cannot be explained by “lawlike forces”, such as those involving quantum entanglement. I believe that there are fundamental aspects of reality of which we have no understanding; whether these aspects are “lawlike” could depend on what that term means.

    3. How do you feel about Quastler’s association of information production with conscious activity?

    I’m interested in all sorts of ideas about consciousness, but it’s clear that nobody really knows if any of these ideas have any truth to them at this point.

    4. In your opinion, is it possible to draw any meaningful distinction between observed events caused by human activity and events that are not caused by such activity?

    Yes, of course. The problem with ID is that it makes a specious generalization from “human activity” to “intelligent agent activity”. Since we know of no other intelligent agents, we have no basis for making this generalization. ID does not even attempt to provide an operational definition of “intelligent agent”, and so the concept is scientifically vacuous. In the context of ID, the term “intelligent agent” is simply synonymous with “something that can do anything at all”, which cannot constitute an explanation of anything.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  37. 37
    kairosfocus says:

    RDF: Please remember that in the middle ages educated people long since understood the earth to be a sphere. It casts a circular shadow on the moon in eclipses, and it is a solid object, so that alone is decisive . . . as the now often derided Aristotle had observed. And there are illuminated manuscripts that show that, beyond all doubt, my favourire has blue and brown cloak in a cartoon walking, starting from back to back, round the earth and meeting face to face on the opposite side. In 300 or so BC, its circumference was already calculated to a reasonable value. KF

  38. 38
    Jul3s says:

    To RDFish,

    Be more clear in future. Multiple people independently misinterpreted you in the exact same way, so it is not our fault. I attacked an argument that you mentioned. If it wasn’t something that you actually believe, then you should have said so.

    “My position is that ID does not say what it offers as an explanation of anything in any way that can be assessed to see if it is true or not. Not only does it not say what is responsible, or where it came from, or how it works – it doesn’t say what it can do, or (even more importantly) what it can’t do. In the context of ID, the term “intelligent agent” is fully synonymous with “something that can do anything”, which explains nothing at all.”

    This is completely false. If it were true, then it would be impossible to investigate design outside of everyday life. SETI and archaeology wouldn’t exist.

    Design makes predictions as to what would be seen and it makes predictions regarding what wouldn’t be seen. So much has been said on both of these topics that even a passing familiarity with this site should give one a clue as to what they are. Design is in no way synonymous with “something that can do anything” because it is only appealed to as an explanation regarding things that show certain specific features. If other explanations work, the design hypothesis is useless. But design does not rely on the failure of other explanations. CSI/O is a positive case for it.

  39. 39
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: RDF, after this thread, we know already that you and many other objectors to design thought are likely to be constrained by ideological a prioris to not see agency as a real entity. But you yourself are a self-aware, conscious and intelligent agent capable of designing blog posts, and so we only need to point to an empirical reality and then point onwards to anything else capable of the like behaviour beyond the calculable limits of blind chance and mechanical necessity on the gamut of the solar system or the observed cosmos. Finding a necessary and sufficient summary definition is secondary to simply recognising from concrete examples that such things exist, and denial of that is a species of self referential absurdity. BTW, life is not capable of such a definition so far, for various reasons, does that make it vacuous scientifically? If so, why then do we have a science called biology, the scientific study of life? It is high time to move beyond definitionitis rhetorical gamesmanship, why not make that a new year resolution. And let us go off and have a happy Christmas. KF

  40. 40
    kairosfocus says:

    RDF@36:

    Some corrections on points:

    >> The problem with ID is that it makes a specious generalization from “human activity” to “intelligent agent activity”.>>

    1 –> There is no good reason to equate intelligence or agency with being embodied as a human being or the like.

    2 –> Long since, in this blog, and brought repeatedly to your attention, is the case of beavers and their dams. Just to begin with.

    >> Since we know of no other intelligent agents,>>

    3 –> an assertion contrary to facts long since repeatedly brought to your attention.

    4 –> it is, further plain that if any entity were to act in ways sufficiently similar to humans, we would deem them intelligent.

    >> we have no basis for making this generalization.>>

    5 –> Patently false and a bare assertion.

    >> ID does not even attempt to provide an operational definition of “intelligent agent”,>>

    6 –> Logical positivism, which in effect asserted that only things that were analytic or which could be defined in terms of observations and operations were meaningful, has long since collapsed due to self referential incoherence of the verification principle.

    7 –> In effect, this approach is unable to satisfy its own criteria for meaning. As in, inter alia, apply this same criterion to itself in a regress and it will soon collapse into absurdity.

    8 –> I know for a fact that this was repeatedly drawn to your attention, just willfully ignored.

    9 –> And, after lying low for a time you are resurfacing to recirculate the same tired, worn out and cogently answered objections, trying them out on new people. For this, you should be deeply ashamed.

    >> and so the concept is scientifically vacuous. >>

    10 –> Rubbish. You know or full well should know that intelligence and agency are reasonable, and observable. There is — after thousands of years of relevant discussion in our civilisation and serious candidates that do not meet the strawman caricature you propose [e.g. do you really wish to beg the question that God could be intelligent or an agent?] — no good reason to confine them to entities embodied as humans.

    ___________

    Cho, man, do betta dan dat!

    KF

  41. 41
    Box says:

    KF#40. Very well put.

    RDFish doesn’t accept intelligence and agency because he is certain of one thing ‘we think with our brain’. IOW intelligence and agency are reducible to matter. This thread by KF addresses this metaphysical bias.

    Do we have exact definitions for consciousness, agency and intelligence? Probably not, but they are fundamental to our reality. Denying them is self-referential incoherent. Besides no one knows what matter or energy is either.
    Fifthmonarchyman rightly points out RDFish’s selective hyperskepticism which doesn’t extend to naturalistic philosophy of mind inspired by neurophysiology.

  42. 42

    Concept Block: When an anti-ID advocate denies the scientific validity or usefulness of a concept, like “consciousness”, “intelligence”, “agency”, “chance”, “semiotic”, “code”, “information”, “intention”, “teleological”, “complex specified information”, etc., in order to ignore and/or deny good arguments against their position.

    No concept or principle is too fundamental or necessary for the anti-ID advocate to summarily dismiss in service of their ideology, including the concept of the universality of 2+3=5 or the law of non-contradiction.

    You cannot have a rational debate with those willing to abandon reason in service of their ideology.

  43. 43

    Typical debate with an anti-ID advocate:

    ID advocate: There are certain things that exist that are best explained by intelligent designed.

    Anti-ID advocate: Whoa! Hold up there, fella. “Explained”, in science, means “caused by”. Intelligent design doesn’t by itself “cause” anything.

    ID advocate: What I meant is that teleology is required to generate certain things, like a functioning battleship. It can’t come about by chance.

    Anti-ID advocate: What do you mean “by chance”? “By” means to cause. Are you claiming that chance causes things to happen?

    ID advocate: Of course not. Chance, design and necessity are the three fundamental categories of causation used to characterize the outcomes of various processes and mechanisms. You’re taking objection with colloquialisms that are commonly used in mainstream science and debate. Here are some examples of peer-reviewed, published papers that use these same colloquialisms.

    Anti-ID advocate: Those aren’t real scientists!

    ID advocate: Those are scientists you yourself have quoted in the past – they are mainstream Darwinists.

    Anti-ID advocate: Oh. Quote mining! You’re quote mining!

    ID advocate: I’m using the quotes the same way the authors used them.

    Anti-ID advocate: Can you prove it?

    ID Advocate: It’s not my job to prove my own innocence, but whatever. Look, it has been accepted for thousands of years that there are only three categories of causation – necessity, or law, chance and artifice, or design. Each category is distinct.

    Anti ID advocate: I have no reason to accept that design is a distinct category.

    ID advocate: So, you’re saying that battleship or a computer can be generated by a combination of necessity (physical laws) and chance?

    Anti-ID advocate: Can you prove otherwise? Are you saying it’s impossible?

    ID advocate: No, I’m saying that chance and necessity are not plausible explanations.

    Anti-ID advocate: “Explanation” means to “cause” a thing. Chance and necessity don’t “cause” anything.

    ID advocate: We’ve already been over this. Those are shorthand ways of talking about processes and mechanisms that produce effects categorized as lawful or chance.

    Anti-ID advocate: Shorthand isn’t good enough – we must have specific uses of terms using explicitly laid-out definitions or else debate cannot go forward.

    ID advocate: (insert several pages lay out specifics and definitions with citations and historical references).

    ID advocate: In summary, this demonstrates that mainstream scientists have long accepted that there are qualitative difference between CSI, or organized, complimentary complexity/functionaliity, and what can in principle be generated via the causal categories of chance and necessity. Only intelligent or intentional agency is known to be in principle capable of generating such phenomena.

    Anti-ID advocate: OMG, you can’t really expect me to read and understand all of that! I don’t understand the way you word things. Is English your first language? It makes my head hurt.

  44. 44
    Box says:

    WJM #43, excellent summary. May I ask how you handle the following reply?

    ID advocate: So, you’re saying that battleship or a computer can be generated by a combination of necessity (physical laws) and chance?

    Anti-ID advocate: Yes, because neurophysiology has proven that brains design battleships and computers.

  45. 45

    Box @44:

    That a brain causes things is entirely irrelevant to the question of if the things in question are, in principle, the plausible outcomes of chance/necessity systems, processes and mechanisms.

    The only way to determine if the brain is, or is not, a system limited (as far as we know) to producing chance/necessity outcomes is to actually look at the outcomes. Since the brain produces outcomes that are not plausibly categorized as within the scope of the chance/necessity category of causations, the brain cannot plausibly or accurately be characterized as a chance/necessity system.

    Anti-ID advocates generally just assume that if a thing physically exists, it is by default a chance/necessity object/system. When they say “brain causes battleship to exist”, they have made a de facto categorical claim about the nature of the brain and what it produces.

    Look at these two categorical assertions in Darwinism: random or chance mutation and natural selection. How and when did Darwinists ever validate the relevant mutations as “random” or “chance”, or the selection process as “natural”, as opposed to artificial (intelligently guided)? Did they do it by examining the results and comparing them to the “null” – that they were intelligently orchestrated?

    No, they just ideologically assumed the mutations were properly characterized as “random”, and that the selection was “natural”. Just as your hypothetical anti-ID advocate assumes that if there is a physical brain causing something to happen, it must be explicable via chance and necessity.

  46. 46

    So, my question is, what “null” hypothesis do/did darwinists use in order to reach their “scientific” conclusion that categorizes mutations as “random” or “chance” and selection as “natural”?

  47. 47
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    WJM says,

    they just ideologically assumed the mutations were properly characterized as “random”, and that the selection was “natural”.

    I say,

    It’s much worse than that they also unilaterally decreed that their absurd (aka Reid)assumption is the only one that is allowed and ruled our universal commonsense perceptions to be anti-science and out of bounds.

    Then they proceed to mock and belittle anyone who would dare disagree as flatearthers and fundamentalists.

    It truly is a bazzario world.

    peace

  48. 48
    Box says:

    WJM #45: The only way to determine if the brain is, or is not, a system limited (as far as we know) to producing chance/necessity outcomes is to actually look at the outcomes. Since the brain produces outcomes that are not plausibly categorized as within the scope of the chance/necessity category of causations, the brain cannot plausibly or accurately be characterized as a chance/necessity system.

    How do we define the scope of the chance/necessity category of causations? If there was such a category of causations – on which all parties could agree – then the debate would be over. Writing a book like Hamlet didn’t convince any naturalist.
    The naturalist assumes that 1. the brain is purely physical and 2. the brain is causing all ‘mental’ phenomena. He will never agree that creating the book Hamlet is an outcome that is not plausibly categorized as within the scope of the chance/necessity category of causations.

  49. 49
    JWTruthInLove says:

    If human beings were nothing more than sophisticated intelligently designed machines run by chance and necessity, would the products (Windows, etc.) of humans still be called design?

  50. 50

    How do we define the scope of the chance/necessity category of causations?

    By looking at what the applicable physical laws can be expected to produce concerning the interacting materials involved, including any acceptable chance deviations from predicted outcomes. The scientific plausibility of any outcome (as being within standard deviations from expected outcomes of the underlying chemical interactions) would be determined, IMO, by something like David Abel’s Universal Plausibility Metric – most of us use this intuitively, I think, to make casual determinations of whether or not something falls under the design or chance/necessity category.

    It doesn’t take a formal methodology to determine that there is no physical law or chance mechanism that will put all coins – 500 of them – heads up on a table. That takes a design process/mechanism. Brains can cause this. Therefore, brains are not properly classified as chance/necessity systems.

    If there was such a category of causations – on which all parties could agree – then the debate would be over. Writing a book like Hamlet didn’t convince any naturalist.

    You cannot debate with those that deny the obvious, and cannot reason with those willing to abandon reason in service of their ideology. There is no physical law or chance mechanism that will necessarily or by chance put those 500 coins heads up; therefore there is another category of causes. Materialists don’t like this because of where it necessarily leads.

    The naturalist assumes that 1. the brain is purely physical and 2. the brain is causing all ‘mental’ phenomena. He will never agree that creating the book Hamlet is an outcome that is not plausibly categorized as within the scope of the chance/necessity category of causations.

    Whether or not one assumes the brain is purely physical, the brain produces that which cannot be described in terms of chance/necessity. The “physicality” of the brain is an irrelevant consideration.

  51. 51
    StephenB says:

    Box

    *”Anti-ID advocate: Yes, because neurophysiology has proven that brains design battleships and computers.”

    *”RDFish doesn’t accept intelligence and agency because he is certain of one thing ‘we think with our brain’. IOW intelligence and agency are reducible to matter.”

    Your individual observations are excellent and, while related, each has slightly different texture. Let’s take them one at a time:

    Anti-ID advocate: Yes, because neurophysiology has proven that brains design battleships and computers.

    As you seem to suspect, neurophysiology has not proven that the brain designs battleships and computers. Science shows only that the brain is affected by or involved in the process. To be affected by or involved with a process is not necessarily to be the cause of that process. A computer is affected by and involved with its programs. That doesn’t mean a computer causes its programs. In both cases, a better candidate for the cause would be–(hide the kids!)—a mind.

    RDFish doesn’t accept intelligence and agency because he is certain of one thing ‘we think with our brain’. IOW intelligence and agency are reducible to matter.

    It would be much more realistic to say that we think with our minds. When we conceptualize a tree, we do not crowd a physical tree inside our brain. Even if it were possible, our head would explode in the process. On the contrary, we passively receive a non-material representation (idea) of a tree and our non-material mind then actively forms the concept of what a tree is.

    Put another way, only a non-material faculty (mind) can house a non-material entity (concept). It is with these same non-material concepts that we understand the meaning of a contradiction (a tree is a tree and cannot also be a river) and reason in the abstract (all trees spring up from the ground, ‘a’ is a tree, therefore, ‘a’ sprang up from the ground). The mind leads; the brain follows.

    In any case, the issue of physical formations is not really on the table. ID is not about playing the music; ID is about writing the score. Or, again, intelligence is not about arranging physical matter into a designed form; intelligence is about conceptualizing the designed form that is to be arranged. ID detects only the conceptualization and knows nothing about how that concept was realized.

  52. 52
    Box says:

    WJM #50: Whether or not one assumes the brain is purely physical, the brain produces that which cannot be described in terms of chance/necessity.
    The “physicality” of the brain is an irrelevant consideration.

    Two questions:

    1. What is it exactly about those outcomes that they cannot be described in terms of chance/necessity?
    2. The naturalist position as I see it: The naturalist assumes that the brain is purely physical and produces all so called ‘mental’ processes. From these it follows that by definition all (so called) mental processes are caused by chance/necessity. IOW – since they are produced by the brain – all (so called) mental processes are by definition within the scope of the chance/necessity category of causations. Here is where I have a problem with “the brain produces outcomes that are not plausibly categorized as within the scope of the chance/necessity category of causations”. Do you not agree that this category is unacceptable for the naturalist based on his metaphysical assumptions?

  53. 53
    Box says:

    StephenB #51

    Anti-ID advocate: Yes, because neurophysiology has proven that brains design battleships and computers.

    SB #51: As you seem to suspect, neurophysiology has not proven that the brain designs battleships and computers. Science shows only that the brain is affected by or involved in the process. To be affected by or involved with a process is not necessarily to be the cause of that process. A computer is affected by and involved with its programs. That doesn’t mean a computer causes its programs. In both cases, a better candidate for the cause would be–(hide the kids!)—a mind.

    I fully agree. Allow me to repeat your statement once more, because it is important:
    “neurophysiology has not proven that the brain designs battleships and computers”.

  54. 54

    1. What is it exactly about those outcomes that they cannot be described in terms of chance/necessity?

    The degree of their specified, functional configuration. I should say that it can be described, but it is not a plausible description.

    2. The naturalist position as I see it: The naturalist assumes that the brain is purely physical and produces all so called ‘mental’ processes. From these it follows that by definition all (so called) mental processes are caused by chance/necessity.

    That’s flawed logic, because physicality doesn’t necessarily imply chance/necessity in and of itself.

    IOW – since they are produced by the brain – all (so called) mental processes are by definition within the scope of the chance/necessity category of causations.

    Only if one invents a convenient definition of “physical” that isolates their particular metaphysical commitments.

    Here is where I have a problem with “the brain produces outcomes that are not plausibly categorized as within the scope of the chance/necessity category of causations”. Do you not agree that this category is unacceptable for the naturalist based on his metaphysical assumptions?

    Of course it is. Lots of things – including the obvious, the self evident, and the necessary – are unacceptable for the naturalist. So?

  55. 55
    Box says:

    Box: The naturalist assumes that the brain is purely physical and produces all so called ‘mental’ processes. From these it follows that by definition all (so called) mental processes are caused by chance/necessity.

    WJM: That’s flawed logic, because physicality doesn’t necessarily imply chance/necessity in and of itself.

    William, you are trying to tell me something which I’m not able to grasp. I hope you can help me.
    Maybe I’ve got the context wrong. A purely physical brain obeys the laws of nature and is bound by causal closure (physical effects have only physical causes), so all it produces should be categorized as within the scope of the chance/necessity category of causations, right?

  56. 56

    Box,

    The idea that “physical” necessarily means “chance/necessity” is a metaphysical commitment not entailed by either the definition of “physical” or “chance/necessity”.

    “Necessity” is a characteristic description of physical processes/mechanisms and/or outcomes. So is “chance”. So is “design”. Whether something is physical or not is entirely irrelevant to the question of if it produces output best characterized as designed.

  57. 57
    Box says:

    WJM #56: The idea that “physical” necessarily means “chance/necessity” is a metaphysical commitment not entailed by either the definition of “physical” or “chance/necessity”.
    “Necessity” is a characteristic description of physical processes/mechanisms and/or outcomes. So is “chance”. So is “design”. Whether something is physical or not is entirely irrelevant to the question of if it produces output best characterized as designed.

    If we know all elements involved in producing an outcome – from the first bubbles of the multiverse to the present day – and each and every one of those elements are purely physical, doesn’t that necessarily mean that the outcome must be within the scope of the chance/necessity category of causations?
    IOW in order to produce a designed outcome there has to be a non-physical element involved in producing that outcome.

  58. 58
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM: You have 24 hours to promote your comment in 43 above as an original post or I will. I have already appended it to my own IDF 21 here. KF

  59. 59

    If we know all elements involved in producing an outcome – from the first bubbles of the multiverse to the present day – and each and every one of those elements are purely physical, doesn’t that necessarily mean that the outcome must be within the scope of the chance/necessity category of causations?

    That’s determinism, which not an necessary aspect of what “physical” means.

    IOW in order to produce a designed outcome there has to be a non-physical element involved in producing that outcome.

    Nope. I mean, I believe there is, but the term “physical” doesn’t inherently imply “determined”. That would be a separate metaphysical attachment. Physical things exist; physical things – whether there is any non-physical help or not – produce design outcomes.

    Whether there is anything non-physical involved is really irrelevant to the point that the brain cannot be a chance/necessity system. That may be because something non-physical is involved (like, say, information or mind), or it may not, but IMO that’s a whole different argument than the one that reaches the conclusion that the brain (as shorthand for “what generates a battleship”) cannot be a chance/necessity system.

  60. 60
  61. 61

    Box,

    I’m just saying it’s a separate argument as to whether or not non-physical is necessary to produce design outcomes. IMO, the typical post here produces complex, specified information that is well beyond the grasp of the computing power of the entire physical universe to acquire.

    After all, wat is meant by the term “physical”? Does it include the quantum substrate? If the quantum substrate is a field of potentials until observation collapses that potential into actualities, I’m not sure what the term “physical” even means. Is gravity physical as a thing in and of itself?

    Even if one insists the brain is what causes battleships, and insists that the brain is purely physical, that doesn’t change the fact that “the brain” cannot be a chance/necessity system (or, rather, that it is implausible that it is).

    You asked how I would respond to a naturalist who claimed that brains caused battleships, and brains were physical systems, and as such battleships were the result of chance/necessity. That would be how I answer them – their reasoning is so flawed it must be tossed back into the mine it was chipped out of.

    Unless they are assuming their conclusion by definitional fiat – meaning, they define physical as necessarily chance/necessity systems, and so because the brain IS physical, and because it causes battleships the battleship must be the product of chance/necessity – there is no reason to insist that “physical” necessarily means “chance/necessity”.

  62. 62
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    Box said

    IOW in order to produce a designed outcome there has to be a non-physical element involved in producing that outcome.

    I say,

    I’m sure that RDfish would say that what we perceive as a designed outcome “emerges” from a purely physical cause. The problem with that conclusion is that it is based entirely on faith. He has absolutely no evidence that the nonmaterial can come from the material.

    He would probably point to things like snowflakes and say “see look at how pretty intricate patterns emerge from a few simple rules”. Not realizing that it’s exactly things like snowflakes that the filter is designed to filter out.

    This is another example of his selective hyperskepticism when he does not like what he sees he closes his eyes tightly and demands infallibility before he will proceed an inch but if likes an idea he jumps blindly into the abyss with no positive evidence at all.

    peace

  63. 63
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    Hey WJM,

    Ive come to the conclusion that you are my smarter more articulate doppelganger so instead of commenting repeatedly here I’m going to project a silent telepathic dito in your direction after every post you make. It will serve as my own private data compression device and save tons of bandwidth.

    😉

    peace

  64. 64
    seventrees says:

    Greetings everyone.

    Sal, I applaud you for distinguishing between the two forms of design, considering RDFish’s discussions with you. To me, it is too clear for even a person who is not acquainted with academic discussions. I crave to do such. Keep on.

    Something I noticed while reading some of the few posts above. I do not think it is out of topic for this as it was started by RDFish.

    NetResearchGuy @ 21

    You say nothing has been observed that violates known laws of physics, and clearly that is false. The existence of the universe itself violates the laws of conservation of mass and energy.

    RDFish @ 30

    Clearly that is false? I must have missed the announcement than anyone has figured out how the universe came to exist!

    From Wikipedia:

    1st Law of Thermodynamics: The law of conservation of energy states that the total energy of an isolated system is constant; energy can be transformed from one form to another, but cannot be created or destroyed.

    RDFish, the universe coming to existence is the problem. His claim will only be false if matter/energy in itself has always existed (in other words, eternal).

  65. 65
    scordova says:

    Typical debate with an anti-ID advocate:

    ID advocate: There are certain things that exist that are best explained by intelligent designed.

    Anti-ID advocate: Whoa! Hold up there, fella. “Explained”, in science, means “caused by”. Intelligent design doesn’t by itself “cause” anything.

    ID advocate: What I meant is that teleology is required to generate certain things, like a functioning battleship. It can’t come about by chance.

    Anti-ID advocate: What do you mean “by chance”? “By” means to cause. Are you claiming that chance causes things to happen?

    ID advocate: Of course not. Chance, design and necessity are the three fundamental categories of causation used to characterize the outcomes of various processes and mechanisms. You’re taking objection with colloquialisms that are commonly used in mainstream science and debate. Here are some examples of peer-reviewed, published papers that use these same colloquialisms.

    Anti-ID advocate: Those aren’t real scientists!
    ….

    That’s why I don’t defend ID by talking about ID, I defend ID by talking about design-EF.

    The principal advantage of characterizing design as the complement of regularity and chance is that it avoids committing itself to a doctrine of intelligent agency…Nevertheless, it is useful to separate design from theories of intelligence and intelligent agency.

    Bill Dembski

    Bill was wise to see, by separating D from ID, the heart of the matter is focused on.

    Recall Barry and I did not ask Nick Matzke if 500 fair coins heads configuration is designed, we only asked if he believed chance could be an explanation. We shut Nick down within about 20 comments among the 3 of us. Otherwise, the debate evolves as WJM outlines above, and it will never end, exactly what the Darwinists would prefer.

    Regarding RDFish, he, like me is a stickler for rigor. I don’t take offense in his criticisms of ID. In fact, Matzke’s meltdown over the 500 fair coins was due to the simplicity of the question we posed to Nick, and the simplicity of the question was influenced by RDFish’s insistence on rigor in how ID proponents state their case.

    RDFish and I used to be on quite hostile terms until we began to communicate more over time. I don’t lump him in with our typical detractors like KeithS or Thornton at TSZ.

    It was probably alarming to my ID colleagues that I took RDFish’s side on some topics. He, like me, has been interested in Artificial Intelligence, so its no coincidence I understand some of his concerns. Artificial Intelligence is a highly materialistic view of Intelligence, so I can understand his revulsion at the insistence ID implies a conscious intelligence. You could see that in this exchange:

    A coin ordering robot is deterministic. It can be argued it is a law-like deterministic machine…That’s actually an important point that has escaped most. It might worth making a separate discussion of the topic.

    Yes indeed, Sal!

    Cheers,
    RDFish

    I suggested, given that, we let AI be a form of Intelligence, but that didn’t go over well here at UD. 🙂

    No wonder Bill suggested separating Design from doctrines of Intelligence!

    I’m a D-proponent, not just an ID-proponent.

  66. 66
    StephenB says:

    Box @57, I am intrigued by your discussion with WJM. For what it’s worth, here is my take:

    First, I think definitions are in order. In order to keep things as simple as possible, I will restrict my discussion to the realm of human activity. The mind is a non-material and rational faculty of soul. The brain is a physical bodily organ (albeit the noblest of all bodily organs and the most magnificent design in the universe). If anyone else defines those terms differently, then I would have to follow their arguments from their definitions in order to evaluate them.

    Since, by my definition, the brain exists as physical organ made solely of matter, and since matter cannot get outside of itself, the brain cannot be responsible for or its own arrangement (design) nor can it be responsible for or design anything else. Being composed of matter, the brain is a slave of two masters: The mind leads it from one side by originating whatever thoughts and concepts that it processes, and the laws of nature direct it from the other side as with any other bodily organ.

    I would offer this metaphor: The mind is the driver of an automobile, the control system (steering, brakes, and accelerator) is the brain, and the remaining parts are the body. With this analysis, we can clearly understand how each element places limitations on the other, but we can also understand that only the driver (which is the immaterial person) can direct the vehicle to a specified destination (design anything).

    Again, using my definitions, (withholding judgment about how others might define their terms), and with the understanding that this is a philosophical analysis (ID science does not presume to make this claim) I would agree with your conclusion:

    IOW in order to produce a designed outcome there has to be a non-physical element involved in producing that outcome.

  67. 67
    scordova says:

    seventrees,

    Thank you for the kind words. I don’t believe we’ve met before at UD. Welcome to Uncommon Descent.

  68. 68
    scordova says:

    The line of argument I was going for regardin AI was this.

    Suppose for the sake of argument:

    1. a pre-biotic soup is an AI system
    2. Darwinian selection is an AI system
    3. a prokaryotic cell is an AI system
    4. a coin ordering robot is an AI system

    AI systems are constraint propagators. Unless they connect to an outside information source and download some software to extend their capabilities, the extent of what they can construct is limited. An AI coin ordering robot, unless it is also programmed to construct space shuttles, won’t build space shuttles.

    Darwinian evolution, unless it is programmed to evolve a prokaryote to a eukaryotic multicellular complex human won’t evolve a eukaryotic multicellular complex human.

    One can even grant for the sake of argument that AI is form of Intelligence, it doesn’t negate the problem of evolving the kind of complexity we see in life, and it doesn’t negate the OOL problem.

    Thus, I think a source of information outside the known universe was the source of the “download” of information to life. This suggests to me, “God did it”. But that is my personal view, and the OP was meant to identify permissible errors in the Explanatory Filter.

  69. 69
    scordova says:

    Here is an example where Design-Met will be rejected by the Explanatory Filter as a non-design-EF.

    Suppose we started out with 500 fair coins heads on a table as part of the design of human designer.

    The human designer starts cleaning up the table in a careful way an putting the coins in coin wrappers to preserve their ordering.

    He’s just about done, and he gets interrupted and he leave 1 coin on the table. It is heads. Let us suppose we also have video tape evidence (on the home surveillance camera) the human designer had to flip that coin from tails to heads to make his original 500 fair coin design.

    Now, if we looked at that single remaining coin on the table, we would say, according to the explanatory filter, the orientation of that coin is not-designed, when in fact, if the orientation of the coin was in the metaphysical sense designed.

    ID proponents believe design-EF is a proper subset of design-met. I think that is generally correct, and any pathological possible counterexamples are not of importance to me personally. It’s good enough, as far as biology goes, to make me believe God made life.

    In the world of investment and professional gambling, there is what is known as certainty equivalent which defines situations where it is better to take the risk of sometimes being wrong than retreating to the safety of always being right.

    http://www.investopedia.com/te.....valent.asp

    I view the claims related to the EF, to ID, in terms of Pascal’s wager and certainty equivalence. I’ve criticized the Darwinists for the irrationality of their wagering and certainty equivalence models.

    It’s not that I cavalierly dismiss permissible errors in the EF, but I’ve come to believe wherever we’ve made a wrong inference, the cost of doing so is zero in terms of the effect on human affairs, but the benefit of being right, even if by coincidence, is possibly far greater than the cost being wrong. Thus on a benefit-to-cost ratio, ID is a superior theory to mindless origin.

  70. 70
    StephenB says:

    seventrees recalls an earlier discussion:

    NetResearchGuy @ 21

    You say nothing has been observed that violates known laws of physics, and clearly that is false. The existence of the universe itself violates the laws of conservation of mass and energy.

    RDFish @ 30

    Clearly that is false? I must have missed the announcement than anyone has figured out how the universe came to exist!

    RD tried that one on me as well. He tried to evade the discussion about the fact that the universe came into existence by displacing it with the irrelevant question about how of the universe came into existence.

    Some might call it “rigor.” I call it sophistry.

  71. 71

    Fifthmonarchyman,

    Thanks for telepathically prompting me. Otherwise, I’d just write whatever chance ung neuidces87y wepfjefe [f eo!

  72. 72
    seventrees says:

    scordova @ 67

    seventrees,

    Thank you for the kind words. I don’t believe we’ve met before at UD. Welcome to Uncommon Descent.

    Thanks. Though this is the second time I’m making a comment on your posts. I understand that you’re dealing with many comments, improving the chances (or the probability) that mine does not get seen. (People are arguing over the meaning of the word “chance” now. But at least, I trust that you get it).

    StephenB @ 70

    RD tried that one on me as well. He tried to evade the discussion about the fact that the universe came into existence by displacing it with the irrelevant question about how of the universe came into existence.

    I have the impression this is going to strike a long discussion again.

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