Intelligent Design

RDFish Cannot Count to Three

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In a prior post RDFish starts off with a promisingly cogent observation:

We’re not arguing about “evolutionary adaptation”, but rather about the highly intricate, multi-component mechanisms we observe in organisms. Of course large populations and crossovers can help a bit with local optima, but saying these things will “tend to avoid” them is wishful thinking – there is just so much that can be assembled that way, which is why GAs come up with optimizations and not novel mechanisms. The important point, though, is not to argue about this in the abstract, because there is no way to demonstrate (yet) whether or not the combinatorial resources were sufficient or not.

Leading Mapou to respond:

Wow. RDFish is moving dangerously close to accepting the designer hypothesis (i.e., life requires consciousness)

To which RDFish responds indignantly:

HUH? Why in the world would you say that – I haven’t moved one iota in that direction, of course, because there isn’t a shred of evidence for it. I deny that evolutionary theory accounts for biological complexity, but that doesn’t lend any credence whatsoever to the notion that some conscious being thought up designs for all us creatures and built us somehow!

I am always amazed when one of our opponents reveals that the metaphysical blinders they are wearing restrict their vision to such a degree that they cannot see the blatantly obvious implications of their own conclusions.

Let’s lay it out step by step.

  1. Given our current understanding of causation, there are three and only three possibilities regarding the provenance of “highly intricate, multi-component mechanisms we observe in organisms.” The first two possibilities, which in combination are often referred to as “natural causes,” are law and chance, including a combination of the two.  The third possibility, Aristotle’s tertium quid, is the act of an intelligent agent.*

 

  1. The project of modern evolutionary theory is to demonstrate that the highly intricate, multi-component mechanisms we observe in organisms can be reduced to purely natural causes.

 

  1. The project of intelligent design is to demonstrate that intelligent agency is a better explanation for the highly intricate, multi-component mechanisms we observe in organisms.

 

  1. Modern evolutionary theory and ID are playing a zero sum game. If modern evolutionary theory is correct about the sufficiency of natural causes to account for the observations, ID would be falsified.  If ID is correct about the insufficiency of natural causes to account for the observations, that aspect of modern evolutionary theory would be falsified.

 

  1. In the comment above, RDFish denies that evolutionary theory currently accounts for biological complexity.

 

  1. Other things being equal, RDFish’s observation – to the extent it is true – undermines the standing of modern evolutionary theory.

 

  1. Since we are playing a zero sum game, it follows that Mapou is generally correct; RDFish’s observation supports a design approach to the extent it undermines a non-design approach to origins, even if RDFish himself does not understand it.

RDfish again:  “I deny that evolutionary theory accounts for biological complexity, but that doesn’t lend any credence whatsoever to the notion that some conscious being thought up designs for all us creatures and built us somehow!”

Uh, Fish, since it is one or the other, denying that one can explain the observations does tend to lend credence to the other (which is not to say that it establishes it, but it does tend in that direction).

 

__________

*There may, of course, be an unknown quartium quid (a fourth causal force in addition to law, chance and agency) that has escaped detection from the time of Aristotle to this moment.  That is why I qualify with “given our current understanding of causation.”  We do not know what we do not know, but if we must choose based on what we do know, there are only three choices.

158 Replies to “RDFish Cannot Count to Three

  1. 1
    RDFish says:

    Hi Barry Arrington,

    Let’s lay it out step by step.
    Given our current understanding of causation, there are three and only three possibilities regarding the provenance of “highly intricate, multi-component mechanisms we observe in organisms.” The first two possibilities, which in combination are often referred to as “natural causes,” are law and chance, including a combination of the two. The third possibility, Aristotle’s tertium quid, is the act of an intelligent agent.*

    My comments are directed at the claim that “Intelligent Design Theory” is a scientific theory, rather than some set of metaphysical beliefs. You obviously believe that “intelligent agents” are ontologically distinct entities, but you don’t seem to realize that we cannot scientifically evaluate that belief, any more than we can scientifically evaluate the belief that human minds are reducible to physical cause without remainder, or any other metaphysical position. Since your argument is based upon the untestable metaphysical assumption that mental cause is ontologically distinct from physical (or “natural”) cause, there is no scientific case for ID.

    The project of modern evolutionary theory is to demonstrate that the highly intricate, multi-component mechanisms we observe in organisms can be reduced to purely natural causes.

    Not exactly, no. The project of evolutionary biology is to provide actual explanations for biological systems, not just assert that all causes involved were “purely natural”. It is far from clear what that would even mean.

    The project of intelligent design is to demonstrate that intelligent agency is a better explanation for the highly intricate, multi-component mechanisms we observe in organisms.

    Yet you provide no objective, empirically-based description of what “intelligent agency” entails, which renders your conclusion scientifically meaningless.

    Modern evolutionary theory and ID are playing a zero sum game. If modern evolutionary theory is correct about the sufficiency of natural causes to account for the observations, ID would be falsified. If ID is correct about the insufficiency of natural causes to account for the observations, that aspect of modern evolutionary theory would be falsified.

    Nope, that’s a false dichotomy. Both modern evolutionary theory and ID can be wrong of course (to the extent that ID is even meaningful enough to be judged right or wrong at all).

    Since we are playing a zero sum game, it follows that Mapou is generally correct; RDFish’s observation supports a design approach to the extent it undermines a non-design approach to origins, even if RDFish himself does not understand it.

    It’s your confusion, I’m afraid. It’s not a zero sum game, quite obviously. Mapou insists that the “design alternative” necessarily involves consciousness. That is a strong claim – not even Dembski argues that. It is obviously possible, just as Dembski points out, for ID to be true in some sense (that is, for some definition of “intelligence”) without implying a conscious entity.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  2. 2
    tjguy says:

    RD Fish says:

    My comments are directed at the claim that “Intelligent Design Theory” is a scientific theory, rather than some set of metaphysical beliefs. You obviously believe that “intelligent agents” are ontologically distinct entities, but you don’t seem to realize that we cannot scientifically evaluate that belief, any more than we can scientifically evaluate the belief that human minds are reducible to physical cause without remainder, or any other metaphysical position. Since your argument is based upon the untestable metaphysical assumption that mental cause is ontologically distinct from physical (or “natural”) cause, there is no scientific case for ID.

    Well, RD, you have just figured out the problem with historical science. In the end, all we can do is look at the data and interpret it, but we cannot really test our interpretations. That means that there is no such thing as a scientific theory of origins because nothing can really be tested.

    ID is a scientific theory insofar as it points to an intelligent cause, but even IDers will tell you that ID theory cannot identify the Designer. That part is beyond science, like you said. Science can show us that as far as we know, law and chance do not/cannot account for what we see – which you seem to agree with. Barry says that that leaves Intelligence or Agency as the only rational sufficient cause to explain what we see. I agree. At least I think that everyone could agree that the existence of such a Designer WOULD be a sufficient and rational answer to the problem. Intelligence/Causation/Agency – we know from experience that these things can easily account for design, complexity, efficiency, beauty, purpose, etc. Of course, that in and of itself does not/cannot prove that such a Designer does in fact exist, but the existence of these things fits best with that hypothesis in my view. I interpret their existence as strong evidence so support that hypothesis. Others will interpret these things differently, but again, I think the existence of these things fits best with the Design Hypothesis.

    You can choose to wait for some as of yet unknown law, cause, or natural process to be discovered that could perhaps explain it all, but that is looking less and less likely the more we learn about life and the universe. Still, we cannot ever prove a negative. We can never show that such a thing does not exist – in the same way one cannot prove that a Designer does not exist so if someone chooses to place his faith in such an unknown physical process, that’s his/her choice. I choose the latter.

    But if you are looking for a scientific theory that can be fully tested, I think you are out of luck. Your personal rules for being able to test something basically rule out every “scientific” theory that exists concerning origins.

    Let me ask you a question.

    Is it theoretically possible that the answer to the origin of life lies outside of science? Or do you, by your metaphysical beliefs, only permit an answer that fits your definition of “scientific”?

  3. 3
    RDFish says:

    Hi tjguy,

    Historical sciences can be supported by empirical evidence; obvious examples are cosmological and geological theories. But there is no evidence that RM&NS can produce intricate mechanisms, and no evidence that something “intelligent” was responsible for life. (I put “intelligent” in scare quotes because there is no empirically accessible set of characteristics associated with the word in the context of ID, which renders it scientifically meaningless).

    ID is a scientific theory insofar as it points to an intelligent cause, but even IDers will tell you that ID theory cannot identify the Designer.

    Simply assuming that the cause of living things was something with an “identity” (what, something with a name? an address? identifying marks?) is assuming far beyond the evidence.

    Science can show us that as far as we know, law and chance do not/cannot account for what we see – which you seem to agree with.

    No. As far as we know, law and chance are all that there is. I made this point in my response above. Moreover, you can’t rule out “law + chance”; you can only rule out that we have figured it out yet.

    At the turn of the century, phenomena such as black body radiation, the photoelectric effect, and the transmission of light could not be explained by any combination of law and chance. Explanations were found, however, by introducing new laws, new types of entities, and new concepts that had not been previously imagined.

    You choose to posit some unknown sort of intelligent (conscious, rational) being as the explanation of life; one could be equally speculative and suggest some unknown sort of informational/organizational aspect is involved. Dembski allows that it may be some type of “impersonal telic force” for example.

    You can choose to wait for some as of yet unknown law, cause, or natural process to be discovered that could perhaps explain it all, but that is looking less and less likely the more we learn about life and the universe.

    No it isn’t – it’s just about the same, actually. There’s a very long history of ascribing various mysteries to an “intelligent agent” when no other explanation can be found.

    Anyway, I happen to believe that there are aspects of the universe (such as conscious awareness) that are not understandable at all. Who says that human beings can understand everything? A mouse couldn’t understand quantum physics no matter how hard it tried.

    Let me ask you a question.

    Is it theoretically possible that the answer to the origin of life lies outside of science?

    Yes of course – again, our mental abilities may be insufficient to comprehend certain things (I think it’s likely).

    Or do you, by your metaphysical beliefs, only permit an answer that fits your definition of “scientific”?

    My definition of “scientific” has nothing to do with a prior metaphysical beliefs. I am neither a materialist/physicalist nor a dualist. As for “scientific”, I use the same guide as Stephen Meyer and Darwin – results need to be based on our uniform and shared experience.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  4. 4
    Barry Arrington says:

    RDFish:

    You obviously believe that “intelligent agents” are ontologically distinct entities . . .

    Are you an intelligent agent Fish?

    If you answer “yes,” then you share my true warranted belief that intelligent agents are ontologically distinct entities.

    If you answer “no,” you are staggeringly stupid.

  5. 5
    Barry Arrington says:

    BKA: The project of modern evolutionary theory is to demonstrate that the highly intricate, multi-component mechanisms we observe in organisms can be reduced to purely natural causes.

    Fish: Not exactly, no.

    Yes, exactly. From Origin of Species to this present moment the entire raison d’être of evolutionary theory has been to explain the apparent design of living things without resorting to a designer. This is so basic I can’t believe anyone on either side of the debate would deny it.

  6. 6
    Barry Arrington says:

    Fish:

    Yet you provide no objective, empirically-based description of what “intelligent agency” entails, which renders your conclusion scientifically meaningless.

    Consider the sentence you just wrote: “Yet you provide no objective, empirically-based description of what “intelligent agency” entails, which renders your conclusion scientifically meaningless”

    That sentence is the product of intelligent agency. A random letter generator operating at one letter per second would not be expected to put that sequence of words and spaces together in the 13.7-billion-year history of the universe. No known physical law can account for that sequences of letters and spaces.

    It follows that the best objective, empirically-based description of the causal provenance of the sequence is “act of intelligent agent.” And it follows from that, that your assertion is demonstrably false.

  7. 7
    Barry Arrington says:

    Barry: Modern evolutionary theory and ID are playing a zero sum game. If modern evolutionary theory is correct about the sufficiency of natural causes to account for the observations, ID would be falsified. If ID is correct about the insufficiency of natural causes to account for the observations, that aspect of modern evolutionary theory would be falsified.

    Fish: Nope, that’s a false dichotomy. Both modern evolutionary theory and ID can be wrong of course (to the extent that ID is even meaningful enough to be judged right or wrong at all).

    Apparently, my qualification (see the footnote in the OP) went sailing right over your head. Of course there might be a quartium quid (a fourth causal force in addition to law, chance and agency) or there might be a theory employing natural causes that looks nothing like modern evolutionary theory (though both of those things seem unlikely). We don’t know what we don’t know. But based on the only two games in town, to the extent one is proven to be true, the other will be proved to be false. This is obvious.

  8. 8
    Barry Arrington says:

    Barry: Since we are playing a zero sum game, it follows that Mapou is generally correct; RDFish’s observation supports a design approach to the extent it undermines a non-design approach to origins, even if RDFish himself does not understand it.

    Fish: It’s your confusion, I’m afraid. It’s not a zero sum game, quite obviously. Mapou insists that the “design alternative” necessarily involves consciousness. That is a strong claim – not even Dembski argues that. It is obviously possible, just as Dembski points out, for ID to be true in some sense (that is, for some definition of “intelligence”) without implying a conscious entity.

    No, Fish, it is you who are confused about design theory. Either a fundamental teleology underlies the provenance of the “highly intricate, multi-component mechanisms we observe in organisms” or it does not. Modern evolutionary theory says it does not, that everything in biology is the product of blind, directionless forces. ID says it does. Dembski, qua ID theorist, is and has always been agnostic about the nature of that teleology. That does not change the fundamental equation; to the extent ID is true key aspects of modern evolutionary theory are false. And vice versa.

  9. 9
    Barry Arrington says:

    Fish:

    No. As far as we know, law and chance are all that there is.

    Said an intelligent agent who, by the very act of writing that sentence, proved otherwise.

  10. 10
    Barry Arrington says:

    Fish:

    You choose to posit some unknown sort of intelligent (conscious, rational) being as the explanation of life.

    Again, ID is agnostic about the nature of the obvious teleology underlying all living things. In this regard, to some degree we are sympathetic with atheist Thomas Nagel, who recognizes the poverty of all previous naturalist attempts to account for that teleology. As I have pointed out before, Nagel believes there must be an as yet unknown quartium quid to account for the teleology. Perhaps he is right. Where ID theorists can agree with him is in his assertion that “the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False.” He is on the right track.

    Is the teleology explained by a conscious, rational being? I believe it is, but that belief is a metaphysical belief. ID does not require it.

  11. 11
    Barry Arrington says:

    Fish:

    one could be equally speculative and suggest some unknown sort of informational/organizational aspect is involved. Dembski allows that it may be some type of “impersonal telic force”

    Yes, as I have been explaining, that is correct. Dembdki is saying Nagel might be right.

  12. 12
    Barry Arrington says:

    Fish

    There’s a very long history of ascribing various mysteries to an “intelligent agent” when no other explanation can be found.

    Now you are reverting to a “naturalism of the gaps.” Tjguy is asserting that such a naturalism of the gaps is growing increasingly unpersuasive as we find out just how highly intricate the multi-component mechanisms we observe in organisms really are. Just so stories can be multiplied only so much until the whole “just so” edifice crumbles. We are privileged to see that happening within our lives.

  13. 13
    Barry Arrington says:

    Fish:

    As for “scientific”, I use the same guide as Stephen Meyer and Darwin – results need to be based on our uniform and shared experience.

    And our uniform and shared experience is that when the provenance of highly intricate, multi-component mechanisms is actually known, it is always, without exception, the result of intelligent agency and never the result of blind, unguided natural forces.

    ID proponents take that datum and run with it. Our opponents resist it.

  14. 14
    RDFish says:

    Hi Barry Arrington,

    RDF: You obviously believe that “intelligent agents” are ontologically distinct entities . . .
    BA: Are you an intelligent agent Fish?
    If you answer “yes,” then you share my true warranted belief that intelligent agents are ontologically distinct entities.
    If you answer “no,” you are staggeringly stupid.

    If this is your idea of a clever response to my points, then I am manifestly more intelligent than you 🙂

    Anyone who has ever actually studied cognitive function – psychologists, neurologists, AI researchers, and so on – knows better than to try and argue about “intelligence” without providing a concrete definition of what is being claimed. You fail to do so.

    You’re a lawyer, right? Imagine legislature passing a law that said “No person shall ever engage in shenanigans”. Well, everybody knows what shenanigans are, right? I imagine you would realize that this law is ambiguous, and while everyone has intuitive, subjective notions about what constitutes “shenanigans”, the law requires much more objective and precise descriptions.

    Well, it turns out that science also needs objective and precise descriptions, even if people have intuitive notions about things. That is the reason that ID is a scientifically vacuous theory.

    Yes, exactly. From Origin of Species to this present moment the entire raison d’être of evolutionary theory has been to explain the apparent design of living things without resorting to a designer. This is so basic I can’t believe anyone on either side of the debate would deny it.

    You are confusing the science – which seeks concrete explanations that can be tested against evidence – with scientist’s personal motivations, which of course may well include the desire to prove or disprove religious claims.

    RDF: Yet you provide no objective, empirically-based description of what “intelligent agency” entails, which renders your conclusion scientifically meaningless.
    BA: Consider the sentence you just wrote: “Yet you provide no objective, empirically-based description of what “intelligent agency” entails, which renders your conclusion scientifically meaningless”

    That sentence is the product of intelligent agency.

    Examples are not definitions. Simply explain what are the necessary and sufficient conditions of intelligent agency, in a concrete, empirically accessible way! Until you do, we are like the judge trying to decide if a kid on a skateboard is engaging in shenanigans without a legal definition thereof.

    We don’t know what we don’t know.

    It’s nice to see that even between diametrically opposed positions like ours, there is common ground 🙂

    But based on the only two games in town, to the extent one is proven to be true, the other will be proved to be false. This is obvious.

    No, this is a ridiculous error that you insist on making. You can make up as many bad theories as you’d like – there is no rule that says we have to pick one and pretend it is scientifically justified as being true. You just keep ignoring this!

    Not only do you create a false dichotomy, but you just plug your ears and refuse to acknowledge the main point I make here: The word “design” does not constitute an explanation of anything at all unless you make implicit assumptions about what a “designer” is. Thomas Nagel, for example, disbelieves (like I do) that evolutionary processes account for biological systems, and suggests a “natural teleology” is involved. Does that qualify as an “intelligent agency”? Why or why not? [Aha… see below]

    Either a fundamental teleology underlies the provenance of the “highly intricate, multi-component mechanisms we observe in organisms” or it does not.

    Ok, now you’re calling it a “fundamental teleology”, rather than “intelligence”. Simply provide a clear, empirical description of what a “fundamental teleology”, and we can go about trying to decide if such a thing was responsible for living things or not.

    If you don’t want to provide scientifically workable definitions, that’s fine! You can still believe whatever you’d like, but please don’t call it science.

    RDF: As far as we know, law and chance are all that there is.
    BA: Said an intelligent agent who, by the very act of writing that sentence, proved otherwise.

    Honestly, this single statement of yours would merit you an “F” in a freshman class in philosophy. Wow.

    Again, ID is agnostic about the nature of the obvious teleology underlying all living things. In this regard, to some degree we are sympathetic with atheist Thomas Nagel, who recognizes the poverty of all previous naturalist attempts to account for that teleology. As I have pointed out before, Nagel believes there must be an as yet unknown quartium quid to account for the teleology. Perhaps he is right. Where ID theorists can agree with him is in his assertion that “the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False.” He is on the right track.

    AHA! See, more common ground! I hadn’t read ahead in your posts when I mentioned Nagel above, and here you are citing him too….

    Is the teleology explained by a conscious, rational being? I believe it is, but that belief is a metaphysical belief. ID does not require it.

    Wait a minute!!! Huh???? What, exactly then, are we arguing about? It appears that you already understand that the commonsense, intuitive notion of “intelligence” that we have – that includes conscious awareness – cannot be scientifically justified as the cause of living things!

    The only thing we have left to work out is why you think it’s OK for ID to use words like “intelligence” and “design” without specific definitions, making it appear that there is science behind the assertion that the cause of life was in fact a conscious, rational being!

    Dembdki is saying Nagel might be right.

    YES! And that means that I am right in my argument that commonsense notions of intelligence cannot be scientifically ascribed to the cause of living things, and that we have no scientifically useful description (yet) of what “natural teleology” might be. (Nagel writes philosophy, not science).

    Now you are reverting to a “naturalism of the gaps.”

    NO! I am not. Rather, I am arguing that it is not a question of what is “natural”; instead, it is a question of what explanations we can come up with that can be scientifically evaluated, period. If we don’t know the answer, then the answer is “we do not know”.

    And our uniform and shared experience is that when the provenance of highly intricate, multi-component mechanisms is actually known, it is always, without exception, the result of intelligent agency and never the result of blind, unguided natural forces.

    False dichotomy. You are setting up a false opposition of two ill-defined concepts, instead of seeking an actual answer. What defines an intelligent agency? If you say it transcends law+chance, you are merely spouting metaphysical assumptions that cannot be tested.

    And what defines “blind, unguided natural forces”? This metaphorical description isn’t a well-defined class at all. Blind? Unguided? A light beam is unguided, right? But it travels in well-defined paths, because… it is in fact guided by spacetime. What do you think guides things that are guided? Consciousness? You’ve already ceded that one. Teleology? Fine – just get to work trying to craft a scientifically useful description of what that might be, and we’ll be on the very same page!

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  15. 15
    Mung says:

    RDFish:

    My comments are directed at the claim that “Intelligent Design Theory” is a scientific theory, rather than some set of metaphysical beliefs.

    So what? This objection can be directed at any theory, including modern evolutionary theory.

    The inference that the posts of RDFish have an intelligent cause is not a set of metaphysical beliefs.

  16. 16
    Mung says:

    Barry, Once again I find myself in complete disagreement with you.

    RDFish can count to three. It’s when he tries to get to three by adding one and two that he has problems.

  17. 17
    Mung says:

    RDFsih: As far as we know, law and chance are all that there is.

    This is a metaphysical claim.

  18. 18
    Barry Arrington says:

    Fish: You obviously believe that “intelligent agents” are ontologically distinct entities . . .

    Barry: Are you an intelligent agent Fish?

    If you answer “yes,” then you share my true warranted belief that intelligent agents are ontologically distinct entities.

    If you answer “no,” you are staggeringly stupid.

    Fish: Well, it turns out that science also needs objective and precise descriptions, even if people have intuitive notions about things. That is the reason that ID is a scientifically vacuous theory.

    And that, dear readers, is what we call a “dodge.” The fact that Fish felt he had to evade the question is answer enough.

    Fish: You are confusing the science – which seeks concrete explanations that can be tested against evidence – with scientist’s personal motivations, which of course may well include the desire to prove or disprove religious claims.

    You act as if the two can be separated. The goal of the Manhattan Project was to build a fission bomb. The nuclear science employed in the project was in service to that goal. The historical science of Darwinism is in service of the goal of explaining why things that look designed for a purpose are not. Every honest Darwinist will tell you that. “Natural selection is the blind watchmaker, blind because it does not see ahead, does not plan consequences, has no purpose in view. Yet the living results of natural selection overwhelmingly impress us with the illusion of design and planning.” Richard Dawkins

    Barry: That sentence is the product of intelligent agency.

    Fish: Examples are not definitions.

    No, but they are demonstrations. And I will not waste further time on giving you definitions of that which was demonstrated. You admit that intelligent agency exists. How could you not. You’ve been given perfectly workable definitions many times, and you insist on rejecting them all. That says more about you than about the workability of the definitions.

    RDF: As far as we know, law and chance are all that there is.

    BA: Said an intelligent agent who, by the very act of writing that sentence, proved otherwise.

    Fish: Honestly, this single statement of yours would merit you an “F” in a freshman class in philosophy. Wow.

    This freshman philosophy class of yours must be really tough if Aristotle himself would get an “F.” Or maybe “the Philosopher” is correct and you are wrong. I’m gonna go with that.

    Fish: it is a question of what explanations we can come up with that can be scientifically evaluated, period.

    And one of the questions that can be evaluated is whether the best explanation for a particular phenomenon is “goal directed teleology” or “natural causes.” Whole fields of inquiry (forensics, etc.) are based on the distinction that you insist on denying.

  19. 19
    StephenB says:

    RDFish:

    As far as we know, law and chance are all that there is.

    It seems to me that your radical hyper-skepticism is a little selective. If you are going to abandon reason and common sense, that is, if you are going to question the existence of intelligent agency, then why don’t you question the existence of law/chance as well?

    How do you, in fact, “know” (your word) that law/chance exists? To be more precise, how do you know that the law-like regularity that we observe comes from nature at all? Are you absolutely certain that angels are not moving planets around in their orbits with law-like precision? Are you absolutely certain that we are not measuring the direct movements and actions of intelligent agents?

    The one response you cannot make is, “Oh come on, let’s use a little common sense.” That ship has already left the port. So, how do you answer?

  20. 20
    Virgil Cain says:

    Hi RDFish:

    But there is no evidence that RM&NS can produce intricate mechanisms, and no evidence that something “intelligent” was responsible for life.

    And yet that evidence for ID has been presented. Strange, isn’t it?

    (I put “intelligent” in scare quotes because there is no empirically accessible set of characteristics associated with the word in the context of ID, which renders it scientifically meaningless).

    Your willful ignorance is not an argument.

    As far as we know, law and chance are all that there is.

    Except law and chance cannot produce Stonehenges nor any artifacts. Yet artifacts exist. So we know there is something more than law and chance.

    As for “scientific”, I use the same guide as Stephen Meyer and Darwin – results need to be based on our uniform and shared experience.

    Great- you should enjoy this:

    “Thus, Behe concludes on the basis of our knowledge of present cause-and-effect relationships (in accord with the standard uniformitarian method employed in the historical sciences) that the molecular machines and complex systems we observe in cells can be best explained as the result of an intelligent cause.

    In brief, molecular motors appear designed because they were designed”– Pg. 72 of Darwinism, Design and Public Education

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  21. 21
    computerist says:

    question for RDFish.

    If chance/law is well defined (and if it’s not, could you please explain why?), and if “ID” simply meant “x as the result of NOT chance/law”, would that be unreasonable in your mind?

    Thanks

  22. 22
    Mung says:

    Neither Law, nor Chance, are causes. Neither are their conjunction.

  23. 23
    computerist says:

    As far as we know, law and chance are all that there is.

    Oops, guess RDFish already answered that. So whatever happens it’s the result of law and chance. I see…

  24. 24
    RDFish says:

    Hi Barry Arrington:

    Fish: You obviously believe that “intelligent agents” are ontologically distinct entities . . .
    Barry: Are you an intelligent agent Fish?
    If you answer “yes,” then you share my true warranted belief that intelligent agents are ontologically distinct entities.
    If you answer “no,” you are staggeringly stupid.
    Fish: Well, it turns out that science also needs objective and precise descriptions, even if people have intuitive notions about things. That is the reason that ID is a scientifically vacuous theory.
    Barry: And that, dear readers, is what we call a “dodge.” The fact that Fish felt he had to evade the question is answer enough.

    It is you who dodged the question of what, exactly, you mean by “intelligent agency”. Your response was to ask me if I am an intelligent agent, which obviously is no response at all. You dodged, then pretended it was me. That’s called “projection”, and you do it a lot.

    Fish: You are confusing the science – which seeks concrete explanations that can be tested against evidence – with scientist’s personal motivations, which of course may well include the desire to prove or disprove religious claims.
    BA: You act as if the two can be separated.

    Uh, you act as if they can’t.

    I’m talking here about the science, not the motivation. The science seeks, as always, to provide empirical answers to empirically accessible questions. We cannot scientifically ask questions regarding the purpose of the universe, or the purpose of human beings, because we cannot state those questions in ways we can empirically investigate. We can, however, scientifically investigate how living things came to exist. So far, the answer is: Nobody knows.

    And I will not waste further time on giving you definitions of that which was demonstrated.

    Your demonstration is of something called a “human being”. You aren’t talking about human beings, though – you are talking about some abstract class of things, called intelligent agents, that include human beings. Your problem, though, is that you cannot provide an objective, empirical inclusion criterion for this class of things.

    If there are other intelligent agents aside from human beings, what characteristics must they share with humans, and what characteristics might they not share with humans?

    Again: What empirically accessible attributes do all intelligent agents have in common?

    You admit that intelligent agency exists. How could you not. You’ve been given perfectly workable definitions many times, and you insist on rejecting them all. That says more about you than about the workability of the definitions.

    The definitions fall into various types; what I’ve shown is that none of them serve the purpose required by ID.

    There are those which include attributes that cannot be scientifically investigated. For example, “the compliment of law + chance” or “neither random nor determined”, which incorporate metaphysical assumptions.

    Then there are those which include empirically accessible attributes, but there is no empirically-based reason to believe that those attributes were possessed by whatever was responsible for the origin of life. Examples include use of general purpose language, or ability to solve novel mathematical problems.

    Other definitions include words that require clarification in the context of hypothetical non-human (even non-living) things. For example, one might suggest that intelligence requires foresight. The question in this context arises: If something is not conscious, can it be said to have foresight?

    What is your definition, Barry?

    RDF: As far as we know, law and chance are all that there is.
    BA: Said an intelligent agent who, by the very act of writing that sentence, proved otherwise.
    Fish: Honestly, this single statement of yours would merit you an “F” in a freshman class in philosophy. Wow.
    BA: This freshman philosophy class of yours must be really tough if Aristotle himself would get an “F.” Or maybe “the Philosopher” is correct and you are wrong. I’m gonna go with that.

    Aristotle was wrong about a lot of things, of course!

    Now, you believe you can dismiss the ancient and unsolved problems regarding ontology and determinism with this killer argument of yours? Your argument is: The fact that you write a sentence proves that you transcend physical cause. Now, people on all sides of this debate continue to write papers and books on the topic – you should tell them all to desist because you’ve solved the problem! Good grief.

    And one of the questions that can be evaluated is whether the best explanation for a particular phenomenon is “goal directed teleology” or “natural causes.” Whole fields of inquiry (forensics, etc.) are based on the distinction that you insist on denying.

    Still with the forensics analogy? Please. Forensic scientists find evidence of human activity (or perhaps in a stretch some other animal with opposable thumbs). If you asked a forensic scientist what an “intelligent agent” was, they would have no more notion of what that meant than you apparently do!!

    Don’t dodge, Barry, just answer: What traits do all intelligent agents share?

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  25. 25
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    RDF: As far as we know, law and chance are all that there is.
    SB: If you are going to abandon reason and common sense, that is, if you are going to question the existence of intelligent agency, then why don’t you question the existence of law/chance as well?

    Humans (and other animals) act in ways we call “intelligent”. The question relevant to ID is, does human intelligence transcend physical cause? Nobody knows the answer to that question. We know that lawlike regularities exist – science has found many that we all agree on. Nobody argues that there are random events either. But as far as something that is neither random nor determined? There is no way to empirically show that anything – including human intelligence – belongs in that category.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  26. 26
    StephenB says:

    Hi RD,

    You did not address my question:

    How do you “know” (your word) that the law-like regularities that we observe in nature are the effects of law/chance (as a category of causes)? How do you know, for example, that the solar system is not regulated by angels acting with law-like precision? How do you know that law/chance is real?

  27. 27
    Andre says:

    RDFish

    What is an intelligent agent?

    http://www.mind.ilstu.edu/curr.....agents.php

  28. 28
    Andre says:

    RDFish

    The question relevant to ID is, does human intelligence transcend physical cause? Nobody knows the answer to that question. We know that lawlike regularities exist – science has found many that we all agree on. Nobody argues that there are random events either. But as far as something that is neither random nor determined? There is no way to empirically show that anything – including human intelligence – belongs in that category.

    Ask yourself this? Do chemical reactions concern themselves with truth or do they obey the laws of nature? You’ll find the answer to this when you ponder the question……

  29. 29
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    You did not address my question:

    Yes, I did – science demonstrates lawlike regularities and chance events, but not anything that transcends them. If you’d like to question science itself, and all of epistemology, perhaps you can find someone else to discuss that with.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  30. 30
    RDFish says:

    Hi Andre,

    Your link discusses purely deterministic algorithms. Is this really how ID defines agency?

    Ask yourself this? Do chemical reactions concern themselves with truth or do they obey the laws of nature?

    🙂 This is called the fallacy of decomposition.
    … and also false dichotomy. Extraordinary that you could fit two fallacies into a single statement!
    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  31. 31
    Andre says:

    RDFish

    You’ve been harping on the issue of there not being any definition about what intelligent agents are, I just gave you one it does not mean I agree or disagree with it, just that it does exist. What do I consider to be an intelligent agent? Here goes;

    An intelligent agent can both encode and decode its environment.

    Secondly to claim that my question is a fallacy of decomposition and a false dichotomy you just have to demonstrate it as false, please do so I’m extremely eager for you to prove I’m wrong. If you can find any inanimate matter that defy the laws I’ll gladly concede so lets have it show me what stuff rocks dream about.

  32. 32
    Virgil Cain says:

    Hi RDFish:

    What traits do all intelligent agents share?

    The ability to manipulate nature for a purpose.

    Barry, feel free to use that answer and then watch RDFish choke on it as he has every other time.

    cheers,
    Virgil cain

  33. 33
    Virgil Cain says:

    Hi RDFish:

    It is you who dodged the question of what, exactly, you mean by “intelligent agency”.

    That has already been answered. The fact that all you can do is be an infant proves that you don’t have an argument.

    You must be the most willfully ignorant person, ever- well perhaps second to Zachriel.

    cheers.
    Virgil Cain

  34. 34
    Virgil Cain says:

    Hi RDFish:

    The question relevant to ID is, does human intelligence transcend physical cause?

    There isn’t any evidence that laws and chance can produce it and there isn’t even any way to test the claim.

    That you are too stupid to understand the implications of that proves that you do not belong in this discussion

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  35. 35
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    Yes, I did [answer my question]

    No, you didn’t.

    – science demonstrates lawlike regularities and chance events, but not anything that transcends them.

    We have already established that law-like regularities exist. That is obvious.

    I am asking how you know (or can know) that intelligent agents such as angels are not responsible for those regularities. I am asking how you (or scientists) can know that nature is responsible for the law-like regularities that are observed.

    If you’d like to question science itself, and all of epistemology, perhaps you can find someone else to discuss that with.

    Epistemology is on the table because all your objections against ID are epistemological. Accordingly, I would like for you to simply acknowledge that you have no way of knowing, given your hyperskepticism, what you claimed to know, namely that law/chance exists.

    Our confidence in the existence of physical causality is based on a common sense interpretation of what we observe that cannot be confirmed by science. Right? In like manner, the existence of intelligent agents is a common sense interpretation of what we observe that cannot be confirmed by science. Right?

  36. 36
    Mung says:

    RDFish:

    We know that lawlike regularities exist – science has found many that we all agree on. Nobody argues that there are random events either.

    Laws are not causes Mr. Fish. And chance is no cause either.

    If that’s the sum total of your physical causes then you are in sad shape indeed.

  37. 37
    RDFish says:

    Hi Andre,

    You’ve been harping on the issue of there not being any definition about what intelligent agents are, I just gave you one it does not mean I agree or disagree with it, just that it does exist.

    Of course there are endless different definitions of “intelligence” – that is the problem. I categorized the various problems that these definitions pose for ID @24, above.

    An intelligent agent can both encode and decode its environment.

    In that case, intelligent agency has nothing to do with consciousness, and you would consider a modem to be an intelligent agent. Is that what you intended to say?

    Secondly to claim that my question is a fallacy of decomposition and a false dichotomy you just have to demonstrate it as false, please do so I’m extremely eager for you to prove I’m wrong.

    The first is not an empirical question, it’s simply a matter of logical fallacy (i.e. that since chemical reactions can’t concern themselves with truth, then a human being – if he consists only of chemical reactions – cannot concern himself with truth). The second – the false (or really, empirically unsupported) dichotomy – derives from your assumption that concern for truth is incompatible with (forms a dichotomy with) obeying the laws of nature.

    If you can find any inanimate matter that defy the laws I’ll gladly concede so lets have it show me what stuff rocks dream about.

    Huh?

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  38. 38
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    We have already established that law-like regularities exist. That is obvious.

    Good – it’s great when we agree about something!

    I am asking how you know (or can know) that intelligent agents such as angels are not responsible for those regularities. I am asking how you (or scientists) can know that nature is responsible for the law-like regularities that are observed.

    Again, I’m not interested in debating the whether scientific laws are the result of angels’ activities. If you would like to discuss such things, perhaps another forum would be more appropriate.

    Epistemology is on the table because all your objections against ID are epistemological.

    No, my arguments are empirical. I accept realism and the scientific method, and point out that we have no empirical evidence that anything transcends physical cause. This means that any theory (such as ID) that assumes mental causation transcends physical cause cannot be empirically supported.

    Our confidence in the existence of physical causality is based on a common sense interpretation of what we observe that cannot be confirmed by science. Right?

    No, common sense is not the source of scientific results. Instead, we rely on observations that are within our uniform and shared experience.

    In like manner, the existence of intelligent agents is a common sense interpretation of what we observe that cannot be confirmed by science. Right?

    Again, common sense conclusions are often found to be wrong, and corrected by science. Common sense leads to – and derives from! – many fallacies and cognitive illusions. Pervasive examples include confirmation biases, the gamblers’ fallacy, inferences to external agency as the result of ideomotor effects (cf. Ouija boards), and so on.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  39. 39
    RDFish says:

    Hi Barry Arrington,

    So, once again you post an OP trying to take on my arguments, then you dodge, run, and hide when you find yourself in a corner. Why not answer the question at the end of @24? Because you have no answer, that’s why.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  40. 40
    Virgil Cain says:

    Hi RDFish:

    No, my arguments are empirical. I accept realism and the scientific method, and point out that we have no empirical evidence that anything transcends physical cause.

    “Information is information, neither matter nor energy”- Norbert Wiener. Information exists without any known physical cause. Codes transcend physical cause.

    This means that any theory (such as ID) that assumes mental causation transcends physical cause cannot be empirically supported.

    Only in the minds of the narrow-minded who, we shall note, cannot support their own position- like you.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  41. 41
    Virgil Cain says:

    Hi RDFish:

    Of course there are endless different definitions of “intelligence” – that is the problem. I categorized the various problems that these definitions pose for ID @24, above.

    You and I have been down that road and you lost, miserably. Perhaps you should just leave well-enough alone as you are obviously unable and unwilling to learn.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  42. 42
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    Again, I’m not interested in debating the whether scientific laws are the result of angels’ activities. If you would like to discuss such things, perhaps another forum would be more appropriate.

    We are not really debating anything at this point. I am simply asking you if, as you claim, you really “know” that law/chance exists and, if so, how you know it.

    No, my arguments are empirical. I accept realism and the scientific method, and point out that we have no empirical evidence that anything transcends physical cause.

    But that cannot be the case. As I already explained, there is no empirical evidence that physical causation exists at all. Science cannot prove physical causation; science assumes physical causation. It searches for causes already assumed to be there. That is why I asked you the question about angels and the prospect that they might be regulating the universe with law/like precision. I don’t think that is the case, but I can provide good philosophical arguments to support my contention, just as I can provide good philosophical arguments to support the existence of intelligent agency.

    In fact, science cannot prove the existence of law/chance, just as it cannot prove the existence of intelligent agency. These facts are arrived at through philosophical reasoning. So your conclusion that law/chance exists is not based on the scientific method as you claim. It is solely a philosophical argument, which by the way, I agree with. I am just asking you to recognize it as such. Accordingly, if you reject intelligent agency, you must also reject law/chance since neither category can be established through the scientific method.

    This means that any theory (such as ID) that assumes mental causation transcends physical cause cannot be empirically supported.

    If that is true, then It also means that the existence of law/chance cannot be empirically supported. If you reject the common sense observation that agency exists on the grounds that it cannot be proven through scientific methods, as you clearly do, then you must also reject the observation law/chance exists on those same grounds.

    …common sense is not the source of scientific results. Instead, we rely on observations that are within our uniform and shared experience.

    We are not discussing scientific results. We are discussing the proposition that you can know that law/chance exists. How do you know this since it cannot be proven by science?

    Again, common sense conclusions are often found to be wrong, and corrected by science.

    Which brings me back to my question, which you will not answer. How do you know that the common sense observation that law/chance exists is correct? Since you reject intelligent agency on the grounds that science cannot prove its existence, why do you not also reject law/chance on those same grounds?

  43. 43
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,
    I do not reject “intelligent agency” of course; so many different people mean so many different things by that term that one cannot say whether or not it exists until the meaning is clarified.

    What I rejected here is not “intelligent agency”, but the claim that intelligent agency is ontologically distinct from physical cause. There is no scientific support for that claim.

    Instead of talking about that, however, you choose to question whether “law/chance exists”. But you already agreed that lawlike regularities exist. And as far as “chance” goes, the concept is actually pretty thorny, but I don’t see the relevance of randomness to this discussion.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  44. 44
    OldArmy94 says:

    Regarding these “laws” that are being spoken of by RDFish:

    Can the laws exist due to purely natural causes? Why does gravity exist? Why is the area of a circle always equal pi*r^2? It seems to me that this begs an explanation. Why SOMETHING rather than NOTHING? And laws aren’t nothing.

  45. 45
    RDFish says:

    Hi OldArmy94,

    Regarding these “laws” that are being spoken of by RDFish…

    It’s not me who is trying to talk about “laws”. I am responding to the OP here. StephenB knows that he can’t counter my arguments regarding the meaning of “intelligent agency” in ID, so he tries to change the subject. Here, he’s trying to drag us into questions like “how is knowledge possible”, “how do we know what is real”, and so forth. It’s annoying.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  46. 46
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    I do not reject “intelligent agency” of course; so many different people mean so many different things by that term that one cannot say whether or not it exists until the meaning is clarified.

    Intelligent agency is defined as an intelligent causal agent, which is a different kind of cause than a natural cause. That is what the phrase “intelligent agent” means. You reject intelligent agency as a distinct kind of cause, which means that you reject intelligent agency, which also means that you reject the proposition that you are an intelligent agent. I assume that is why you did not answer Barry’s question about whether or not you are an intelligent agent.

    By contrast, reason tells us that agent causes and natural causes both exist. Science cannot prove it either way. Since science cannot prove that that law/chance exists, how do you “know” that it does?

    There is no scientific support for that claim

    Forensic science, among many other paradigms, does support the idea of intelligent agency. If it didn’t, no one would ever be found guilty or even charged for deliberately committing a crime.

    On matters of life and death, for example, a murderer is a different kind of cause than an accidental death. On matters of created disorder, a violent tornado is a different kind of cause than a ransacking burglar. You reject these self-evident truths. Why?

    However, that is not what we are discussing. The issue is not whether science can support claims about intelligent agencies or natural causes. The issue is whether or not science can prove law/chance on the basis of empirical evidence. You say that it can. I am asking you to defend that claim.

    Instead of talking about that, however, you choose to question whether “law/chance exists”.

    No, I don’t question it at all. However, unlike you, I don’t claim that science can prove it.

    But you already agreed that lawlike regularities exist.

    Of course. Lawlike regularity is obvious. However, we are discussing the source of lawlike regularity–not the fact of law-like regularity. According to your report, you know that nature is its source. How do you know that?

    And as far as “chance” goes, the concept is actually pretty thorny, but I don’t see the relevance of randomness to this discussion.

    I agree. Chance is not relevant. We can limit the discussion to intelligent agency vs physical laws.

  47. 47
    Axel says:

    “Natural selection is the blind watchmaker, blind because it does not see ahead, does not plan consequences, has no purpose in view. Yet the living results of natural selection overwhelmingly impress us with the illusion of design and planning.” Richard Dawkins

    Barry: “That sentence is the product of intelligent agency.”

    If only, Barry…. ‘intelligent’ only in the most limited sense. Such as, perhaps, a bird trying to master the modest intricacies of an obstacle on a man-made obstacle course, in order to reach a bag of nuts or other birdie ‘treats’… but failing to do so.

    Dawkins, thus, seems very low on the evolutionary ladder. And imagine ! You let him get away with such laughable ‘tosh’, as a ‘blind watchmaker’. Boys and girls, he should have been laughed and pilloried out of academia.

    It’s on a par with the reportedly overheard comment about Isaac Newton. Newton was passed on the street by a student who is said to have remarked, “There goes the man that writ a book that neither he nor anybody else understands.”

  48. 48
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    Intelligent agency is defined as an intelligent causal agent, which is a different kind of cause than a natural cause.

    Since nobody knows if intelligence is ontologically distinct, you can’t say if this particular definition actually matches anything in existence.

    That is what the phrase “intelligent agent” means. You reject intelligent agency as a distinct kind of cause, which means that you reject intelligent agency,…

    You need go no further to recognize your error.

    This analogy shows exactly how ridiculous your argument is:

    1) I define “living thing” as “that which is inhabited by the spirit of Vodula the Spider God“.
    2) You say that according to my definition, nobody can show that any living things exist.
    3) I then complain that “StephenB rejects living things! Isn’t that stupid!”

    Forensic science, among many other paradigms, does support the idea of intelligent agency.

    I am so tired of this incredibly stupid canard. I’ve even answered it in this very thread @24: Forensic scientists find evidence of human activity (or perhaps in a stretch some other animal with opposable thumbs). If you asked a forensic scientist what an “intelligent agent” was, they would have no more notion of what that meant than you apparently do!!

    If it didn’t, no one would ever be found guilty or even charged for deliberately committing a crime.

    Please stop with this nonsense. Our criminal justice system does not have a concept of “intelligent agency”, for it holds only “human beings” culpable – nothing else.

    There is no class of things called “intelligent agency” defined in law, or science. If there was, you could tell me what observable traits all intelligent agents share – but you can’t.

    On matters of life and death, for example, a murderer is a different kind of cause than an accidental death.

    Yes, and this has nothing to do with a class of things called “intelligent agents”. Only human beings can be murderers.

    On matters of created disorder, a violent tornado is a different kind of cause than a ransacking burglar.

    Yes, and this has nothing to do with a class of things called “intelligent agents”. Only human beings can be burglars.

    You reject these self-evident truths. Why?

    Huh?

    The issue is whether or not science can prove law/chance on the basis of empirical evidence. You say that it can. I am asking you to defend that claim.

    I have no idea what you’re talking about. What does it mean to “prove law/chance”? Where did I say anything of the sort?

    AGIAN, HERE IS WHAT I AM SAYING: You cannot prove that human intelligence or anything else transcends physical cause, and I’m saying that there is no definition of “intelligent agency” that is both empirically meaningful and supports ID’s claims.

    However, we are discussing the source of lawlike regularity–not the fact of law-like regularity. According to your report, you know that nature is its source. How do you know that?

    Perhaps you are responding to somebody else’s posts? I’ve never discussed the origin of natural laws on this forum, and I have no idea at all what it would mean to say that “nature is its source”.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  49. 49
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    I’ve even answered it in this very thread @24: Forensic scientists find evidence of human activity (or perhaps in a stretch some other animal with opposable thumbs). If you asked a forensic scientist what an “intelligent agent” was, they would have no more notion of what that meant than you apparently do!!

    We are discussing a specific kind of analysis that forensic scientists do, which is to make the distinction between a purposefully committed murder, which is the product of an intelligent agent, and an accidental death, which is the product of natural causes.

    in this case, they rule out natural causes and make a design inference to the activity of an intelligent agent. So your claim that you can never rule out natural causes is ridiculous.

    Similarly, if you notice a disordered living room and you are asked whether or not it is the product of a tornado (natural cause) or a burglar (intelligent agent), you consider the evidence and make an inference to the best explanation, which in this case indicates that anintelligent agent was responsible and a natural cause was not responsible–that is, it was ruled out

    If you notice that the dresser drawers are open and the jewelry is gone, you conclude that an intelligent agent is responsible. It’s called a design inference. By your ridiculous standard we can “never rule out” natural causes, which means that you are reduced to saying that the tornado may have ran off with the jewelry.

    Please stop with this nonsense. Our criminal justice system does not have a concept of “intelligent agency”, for it holds only “human beings” culpable – nothing else.

    The nonsense is all yours. The criminal justice system holds human beings accountable for their crimes precisely because they are intelligent agents, which can do things that natural causes cannot do.

    SB: On matters of life and death, for example, a murderer is a different kind of cause than an accidental death.

    Yes, and this has nothing to do with a class of things called “intelligent agents”. Only human beings can be murderers.

    So you agree that a murderer is a different kind of cause than accidental death. Excellent. Intelligent agents can produce effects that nature cannot. That is what makes them intelligent agents. TSB: On matters of created disorder, a violent tornado is a different kind of cause than a ransacking burglar.

    Yes, and this has nothing to do with a class of things called “intelligent agents”. Only human beings can be burglars.

    Bad logic. A burglar can make intelligent choices; a tornado cannot. Human beings are burglars because they are intelligent agents, not simply because they are human beings. On the strength of their intelligence–they can do things that nature cannot do, thus, they are causes that transcend nature.

    SB: The issue is whether or not science can prove law/chance on the basis of empirical evidence. You say that it can. I am asking you to defend that claim.

    I have no idea what you’re talking about. What does it mean to “prove law/chance”? Where did I say anything of the sort?

    So, are you saying that science cannot prove the existence of law/chance? Excellent! Tell me then how you “know” that law/chance exists since you now agree with me that science cannot prove it.

    AGIAN, HERE IS WHAT I AM SAYING: You cannot prove that human intelligence or anything else transcends physical cause and I’m saying that there is no definition of “intelligent agency” that is both empirically meaningful and supports ID’s claims.

    Do you agree that the murderer is a different kind of cause than accidental death or do you not? Do you agree that the natural cause (accidental death) can be ruled out when the victim has twenty seven stab wounds in his back or do you not?

    Do you agree that a tornado is a different kind of cause than a burglar or do you not? Earlier, you said yes. Are you now going to change your position? Do you agree that a tornado (natural cause) can be ruled out when a burglar runs off with the jewelry or do you not?

  50. 50
    Mung says:

    I assume that is why you did not answer Barry’s question about whether or not you are an intelligent agent.

    And then whines when Barry decides not to waste his time trying to reason with someone who won’t affirm that they are an intelligent agent.

    Go figure.

  51. 51
    Mung says:

    RDFish:

    You cannot prove that human intelligence or anything else transcends physical cause, and I’m saying that there is no definition of “intelligent agency” that is both empirically meaningful and supports ID’s claims.

    Another vacuous bluff.

    Still waiting for you to define “physical cause” and provide a scientific means to distinguish physical causes from non-physical causes.

  52. 52
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    We are discussing a specific kind of analysis that forensic scientists do, which is to make the distinction between a purposefully committed murder, which is the product of an intelligent agent, and an accidental death, which is the product of natural causes.

    You say that forensic scientists look for evidence of a broad class of entities that they call “intelligent agents”, and I say you’re wrong, and that forensic scientsts instead look specifically for evidence of human beings and only human beings. (I have allowed for the improbable, but possible exception of other animals such as chimps to have been identified at some point by some forensic team).

    You say that murderers and burglars may be any sort of thing at all that belong to some broad, abstract class of entities called “intelligent agents”. I disagree, and say that according to the law, murder and burglary are crimes that only “human beings” – and nothing else – can commit.

    I would say at this point I’m happy to agree to disagree, and let the fair reader decide who is correct.

    RDF: I have no idea what you’re talking about. What does it mean to “prove law/chance”? Where did I say anything of the sort?
    SB: So, are you saying that science cannot prove the existence of law/chance?

    This is truly pathetic. Why do you pretend I say things that I don’t say? Because you lose every argument we have, and your only option is to make things up, that’s why. Don’t you realize all of our words remain on this page so anyone interested can actually see you lying about what I say?

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  53. 53
    Andre says:

    It’s clear that RDFISH does not live in Africa over here burglaries are often committed by animals aka intelligent agents. Sure by the monkey’s standard it’s not stealing but humans think otherwise.

  54. 54
    RDFish says:

    It’s clear that Andre cannot read much better than his non-human primate burglars, for here is what I just said:

    (I have allowed for the improbable, but possible exception of other animals such as chimps to have been identified at some point by some forensic team).

  55. 55
    Virgil Cain says:

    RDFish:

    You say that forensic scientists look for evidence of a broad class of entities that they call “intelligent agents”, and I say you’re wrong, and that forensic scientsts instead look specifically for evidence of human beings and only human beings. (I have allowed for the improbable, but possible exception of other animals such as chimps to have been identified at some point by some forensic team).

    No, RDFish, they do not assume what they are trying to demonstrate.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  56. 56
    Virgil Cain says:

    Hi RDFish:

    You cannot prove that human intelligence or anything else transcends physical cause,…

    Science isn’t about proof, but science can, for the sake of making and/ or advancing an argument, make the assumption one way or another.

    … and I’m saying that there is no definition of “intelligent agency” that is both empirically meaningful and supports ID’s claims.

    And you have been proven to be wrong on that claim. Just because you can ignore all refutations of your claims doesn’t mean they don’t exist. It does prove tat you are one willfully ignorant crybaby when exposed to reality, though.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  57. 57
    vividbleau says:

    RE 52

    Hi RDF

    StephenB is asking a question not pretending to say things you don’t say at least that seems to me a fair reading.

    Have you answered Stephens question? Maybe that’s part of the confusion?

    Can science prove the existence of law and chance?

    Maybe you have if so where? Very interested on your take on this. Thanks

    Vivid

  58. 58
    RDFish says:

    Hi vividbleau,

    Nice to hear from you.

    StephenB is asking a question not pretending to say things you don’t say at least that seems to me a fair reading.

    Uh, nope: Read it again in context:

    SB: The issue is whether or not science can prove law/chance on the basis of empirical evidence. You say that it can. I am asking you to defend that claim.

    Here, he pretends that I have said that “science can prove law/chance”. But I have never said any such thing, and I do not know what that means, and I tell him so:

    RDF: I have no idea what you’re talking about. What does it mean to “prove law/chance”? Where did I say anything of the sort?

    Instead of apologizing and responding to that, he says this:

    SB: So, are you saying that science cannot prove the existence of law/chance? Excellent! Tell me then how you “know” that law/chance exists since you now agree with me that science cannot prove it.

    Not only does he falsely state that I claimed science can “prove law/chance” (whatever that means!), he goes on to pretend I somehow changed my mind about something and now agree with him that it can’t be proven. It’s all just crazy nonsense from him – he’ll do anything to keep from admitting he can’t counter my arguments.

    Have you answered Stephens question? Maybe that’s part of the confusion?

    I’ve answered him endlessly.

    Can science prove the existence of law and chance?

    Here is what I’ve answered:

    Instead of talking about that, however, you choose to question whether “law/chance exists”. But you already agreed that lawlike regularities exist.[he again confirmed this!]. And as far as “chance” goes, the concept is actually pretty thorny, but I don’t see the relevance of randomness to this discussion.[he agreed with this too!]

    Again, my points here are:

    1) There is no way to empirically test the conjecture that human intelligence (or anything else) is ontologically distinct from all other forms of causation.
    2) There is no definition of “intelligence” that (a) is similar to what we refer to as intelligent behavior in human beings, and (b) can be empirically evaluated in the context of ID.

    To clarify:
    1) DUALISM IS A METAPHYSICAL CLAIM, NOT A SCIENTIFIC FACT.
    Every type of cause is different – polar bears are different from termites which are different from lightning bolts, humans, rivers, tornados, beavers, soap film, and dogs. Electro-magnetism is different from the strong nuclear force which is different from gravity.

    Dualists such as StephenB (and all other ID proponents that I have discussed this with) hold that mental causes are ontologically different from all other types of causes – everything else is the same ontological type of cause, while intelligence is held to be some entirely other type of cause.

    I point out this is merely a metaphysical conjecture, not something that can be scientifically tested and confirmed. ID assumes, then, that intelligent causes are ontologically distinct from all other causes, which makes ID a metaphysical position rather than a scientific theory.

    2) “INTELLIGENCE” MUST BE EMPIRICALLY DEFINED TO HAVE SCIENTIFIC MEANING
    Saying something is “intelligent” is scientifically meaningless unless one provides some particular meaning for the term. Various definitions of intelligence talk about various basic mental abilities, such as learning, short- and long-term memory, reading and writing in natural (general-purpose) languages, solving novel (not previously seen by the subject) problems in math and logic, and so on.

    These abilities do not necessarily occur together; there is no scientific reason to assume that just because something has one of these abilities, it is likely to have the others.

    In human beings we find these abilities often (but not always) co-occur, and also that they co-occur with conscious awareness. But in something radically different from human beings – like whatever it was that caused living things to exist! – we have no way to evaluate what – if any – mental abilities would be involved.

    Nor can we say if conscious awareness is the (or one) causal factor involved in mental tasks, or if it is merely perceptual. Many mental abilities proceed without conscious awareness; we have no reason to assume that the cause of living things possessed conscious awareness. And if there was no conscious awareness, terms such as “foresight” become ambiguous – what does it mean to have “foresight” if one is not conscious?

    All we can say is that whatever caused living systems to occur obviously had the ability to produce what we observe in living systems – which of course is not a helpful statement at all.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  59. 59
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    You say that forensic scientists look for evidence of a broad class of entities that they call “intelligent agents”, and I say you’re wrong, and that forensic scientsts instead look specifically for evidence of human beings and only human beings. (I have allowed for the improbable, but possible exception of other animals such as chimps to have been identified at some point by some forensic team).

    No, they are looking for evidence of someone who committed a criminal act with intent and purpose. The mere presence of another “human being” does not settle the question about murder or accidental death. That other person could have simply witnessed an accident.

    The issue is the process by which an accident is ruled out as one kind of cause and murder is affirmed as the better of two possible explanations. It is understood that nature cannot act with intent and purpose. That is why natural causes can be ruled out.

    At this point in the investigation, the attributes of the killer are not necessarily relevant. It also doesn’t matter whether the killer is characterized as an intelligent cause, an intelligent agent, a murderer, an incorrigible miscreant, or a human being. The only thing that counts is this: Was the act intentional and purposeful.

    You say that murderers and burglars may be any sort of thing at all that belong to some broad, abstract class of entities called “intelligent agents”. I disagree, and say that according to the law, murder and burglary are crimes that only “human beings” – and nothing else – can commit.

    Try to step back and think–really think– about this. To say that the murderer is a “human being” is to say nothing at all. The forensic scientists are not looking for evidence of his humanity. They are looking for evidence of his guilt, as expressed by his intent and purpose.

    SB: So, are you saying that science cannot prove the existence of law/chance?

    This is truly pathetic. Why do you pretend I say things that I don’t say? Because you lose every argument we have, and your only option is to make things up, that’s why. Don’t you realize all of our words remain on this page so anyone interested can actually see you lying about what I say?

    I am simply speculating about what answers you might provide if you would only do me the courtesy of answering my questions–at least once in a while. My last statement, the one you find so offensive, was a question, not a claim.

    So, back to substance. You have stated that we (and by implication, you) “know” that law/chance exists. Do you think science proves it? Or, is this knowledge something you arrived at through common sense. The latter seems unlikely since you carry on endlessly about how scientific knowledge often trumps common sense and how ID shouldn’t justify the existence of intelligent agents as a category of causes by appealing to that same common sense.

    So, if you don’t think common sense is a reliable way of knowing that intelligent causes or natural causes exist, I can only conclude that you think science can prove them. However, I cannot know for sure until you tell me. I didn’t create all this confusion. It stems from your unwillingness to face up to your double standard of setting the bar ridiculously low for yourself and ridiculously high for ID.

    Meanwhile, you have quietly abandoned your claim that we can never “rule out” natural causes. I refuted that claim, but you have been silent on the matter ever since.

    So, what is your answer: On the matter of detecting the cause of a disordered living room, can we rule out natural causes or not? If the dresser drawers are empty and the jewelry is gone, can we rule out the tornado and affirm the presence of a burglar.

    Or, are you open to the possibility that the tornado may have run off with the jewelry and sold it at a pawn shop? What is your answer?

  60. 60
    Virgil Cain says:

    Hi RDFish:

    1) There is no way to empirically test the conjecture that human intelligence (or anything else) is ontologically distinct from all other forms of causation.

    And yet we have entire scientific fields dedicated to doing that very thing, ie showing tHat human causation, and other intentional agency causation, is ontologically distinct from all other causes

    2) There is no definition of “intelligence” that (a) is similar to what we refer to as intelligent behavior in human beings, and (b) can be empirically evaluated in the context of ID.

    And yet you have been provided with such a definition. Then you whined, blew a gasket, ran away and now you are back spewing the same ole refuted nonsense.

    1) DUALISM IS A METAPHYSICAL CLAIM, NOT A SCIENTIFIC FACT.

    DUALISM IS A STARTING POINT, IE AN ASSUMPTION IN AN ARGUMENT. IT CAN BE POTENTIALLY FALSIFIED THEREBY DESTROYING ANY AND ALL ARGUMENTS BASED ON IT. IT ALSO HAS THE POTENTIAL OF BEING CONFIRMED. SCIENCE IS A RISKY BUSINESS. WE TAKE RISKS TO ADVANCE ARGUMENTS AND TEASE OUT THE PARTICULARS OF WHATEVER WE ARE INVESTIGATING/ TRYING TO EXPLAIN.

    2) “INTELLIGENCE” MUST BE EMPIRICALLY DEFINED TO HAVE SCIENTIFIC MEANING

    AND IT IS. THANKS FOR PLAYING.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  61. 61
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    No, they are looking for evidence of someone who committed a criminal act with intent and purpose.

    No, wrong again: It is up to the court, not the forensic investigators, to establish intent and purpose.

    You are claiming that forensic experts learn all about “intelligent agents”, and I say all they learn about is how to find evidence regarding what exactly happened and who or what was responsible. Maybe it was a person, maybe an animal, maybe a robot, maybe a tornado, maybe a bomb, maybe an exploding boiler. They try figure it out, and it has nothing with some abstract class of beings called “intelligent agents”.

    Again, let’s just agree to disagree about this. You can pretend that forensic science talks about “intelligent agency”, and we can move on.

    Try to step back and think–really think– about this. To say that the murderer is a “human being” is to say nothing at all. The forensic scientists are not looking for evidence of his humanity. They are looking for evidence of his guilt, as expressed by his intent and purpose.

    Wow, you really are so confused about the legal system. Here’s two things you need to understand: First, guilt, intent, and purpose are all things that are never decided by forensic investigators or by policemen. Rather, they always decided in a court of law. And second, there is only one type of entity that can ever be accused of a crime, and that is a human being. If investigators find that anything else was responsible – a chimpanzee, a snake, a tornado, a swarm of wasps – then there is no crime to prosecute.

    RDF: This is truly pathetic. Why do you pretend I say things that I don’t say?
    SB: I am simply speculating about what answers you might provide

    Well that’s stupid and irritating – how about if you stop doing that?

    … if you would only do me the courtesy of answering my questions–at least once in a while. My last statement, the one you find so offensive, was a question, not a claim.

    Really? Here was your “question”:

    So, are you saying that science cannot prove the existence of law/chance? Excellent! Tell me then how you “know” that law/chance exists since you now agree with me that science cannot prove it.

    That’s not a question, SB. It’s obvious that you put words into my mouth and build these stupid strawmen because you can’t actually respond to what I argue here.

    You have stated that we (and by implication, you) “know” that law/chance exists.

    You really want to take this diversion so you don’t have to address my argument. Well, fine – I always answer your questions, even though you have been dodging my questions about what scientific meaning “intelligent agency” might have for years.

    And so I shall answer you yet again:

    I take “law” to mean the same thing as “law-like regularities”. You have said “We have already established that law-like regularities exist. That is obvious.” So this doesn’t seem to be in doubt.

    I have said that “chance” is a thorny issue, and don’t really see the need to start discussing the nature of randomness. You agreed, and said “I agree. Chance is not relevant.”

    Now you want to start asking how we know that law-like regularities exist. You’ve already said they do, and that it is obvious that they do. So why do you want to question them? I’ll tell you why: Because you have no response to my argument, so you will do anything to sidetrack the discussion.

    Meanwhile, you have quietly abandoned your claim that we can never “rule out” natural causes. I refuted that claim, but you have been silent on the matter ever since.

    HUH? You are so funny when you pretend that I am dodging some question or changing my mind about something. I have never done either of these things debating with you, but you hope against hope that I will.

    Anyway, if by “natural causes” you mean “anything aside from human action” (which is the common definition of the term), then obviously you can rule out “natural causes” for something by showing that a human being was responsible.

    So, what is your answer: On the matter of detecting the cause of a disordered living room, can we rule out natural causes or not?

    I just answered this. If you have evidence that a human being did it, then “natural causes” would not, by definition, be the cause. Otherwise, yes.

    If the dresser drawers are empty and the jewelry is gone, can we rule out the tornado and affirm the presence of a burglar.

    Yes, that’s likely to be true.

    Or, are you open to the possibility that the tornado may have run off with the jewelry and sold it at a pawn shop?

    No, tornados do not do this – only human beings do.

    What is your answer?

    I have just answered every mind-numbingly stupid question you have asked.

    Now, please answer mine:

    What objectively observable characteristics do all “intelligent agents” have in common?

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  62. 62
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    Wow, you really are so confused about the legal system.

    No, I was simply correcting your misguided notions about forensic scientists and your uninformed claim that they are looking only for the existence of “human beings,” rather than something much more important, namely the purpose and intent behind their actions.

    First, guilt, intent, and purpose are all things that are never decided by forensic investigators or by policemen.

    You are profoundly confused. Forensic scientists look for evidence of these things. The court makes the final decision. If there was no evidence of purpose, intent, and guilt, then there would be no charges and the court would not be involved.

    I always answer your questions, even though you have been dodging my questions about what scientific meaning “intelligent agency” might have for years.

    Everyone knows that you have been dodging my questions. Meanwhile, I have defined an intelligent agent (many times) as one who has the ability to “arrange matter for a purpose.” Why do you pretend not to know this?

    I take “law” to mean the same thing as “law-like regularities”. You have said “We have already established that law-like regularities exist. That is obvious.” So this doesn’t seem to be in doubt.

    Even when you promise not to dodge, you dodge. I am not asking about my position, I am asking about your position. For my part, I understand that both intelligent agency and law/chance exist because their existence is self-evidently true. I also have stated that science cannot prove it. So, I am asking how YOU know that law/chance exists. Is it self evidently true, or does science prove it? Or, do you know it some other way.

    SB: Meanwhile, you have quietly abandoned your claim that we can never “rule out” natural causes. I refuted that claim, but you have been silent on the matter ever since.

    HUH? You are so funny when you pretend that I am dodging some question or changing my mind about something. I have never done either of these things debating with you, but you hope against hope that I will.

    You dodge with regularity

    Anyway, if by “natural causes” you mean “anything aside from human action” (which is the common definition of the term), then obviously you can rule out “natural causes” for something by showing that a human being was responsible.

    Hilarious. Yet another dodge. The design inference does not determine that human agency is responsible and then rule out natural causes; it rules out natural causes and then determines that human agency is responsible. You have claimed that we cannot reasonably rule out natural causes and cannot, therefore. make a design inference. Your rationale has something to do with the alleged possibility that there might be some other kind of natural cause that we don’t know about. My question to you—again—is this: Have you abandoned that position or do you still hold to it?

    Now, please answer mine:

    With pleasure.

    What objectively observable characteristics do all “intelligent agents” have in common?

    They arrange matter for a purpose.

  63. 63
    Virgil Cain says:

    Hi RDFish:

    It is up to the court, not the forensic investigators, to establish intent and purpose.

    Reference please.

    This is the heart of the problem. RDFish thinks its ignorant spewage is actual evidence and means something. If only RDFish could support what it posts

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  64. 64
    Zachriel says:

    StephenB: No, I was simply correcting your misguided notions about forensic scientists and your uninformed claim that they are looking only for the existence of “human beings,” rather than something much more important, namely the purpose and intent behind their actions.

    Forensic investigators do look for evidence of intent and volition (depending on the jurisdiction).
    http://www.pathologyoutlines.c.....auses.html

    Intent and volition, however, are specific to knowledge of human behavior and psychology, and this area has become more specialized over time.
    http://www.apa.org/ed/graduate.....ensic.aspx

  65. 65
    aqeels says:

    RDFish,

    Please respond to SB’s question in relation to the ontological reality of chance/ law and it’s underlying basis.

    SB and a few others have repeatedly asked you, but you refuse to engage. A child could appreciate the question, but you have completely ignored it as being either incoherent, or irrelevant. I can assure you that anyone following the argument and who is not completely biased will see that it’s of central importance, not only to the ID position, but also to vindicate your own position in relation to your refusal to accept the reality of intelligent agency.

    We are not trying to catch you out – rather we are trying to understand your position.

    If you say that we have no certain way of being sure about the underlying basis of chance/ law other than the fact that we routinely observe it, then we are fully entitled to ask why you will not accept the obvious observations of what intelligent agency can produce and how it differs from the very thing that you believe exists as a distinct ontological category, namely chance/ law?

    Thanks,
    aqeels.

  66. 66
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    Intent and volition, however, are specific to knowledge of human behavior and psychology,

    Other animals exhibit it also. And yes, the design inference is based on our knowledge of cause and effect relationships.

  67. 67
    RDFish says:

    Hi aqeels,

    Please respond to SB’s question in relation to the ontological reality of chance/ law and it’s underlying basis.

    I did: Empirical science demonstrates laws, and even SB acknowledges that. As far as the “underlying basis” for lawlike regularities, I have no idea why there are lawlike regularities, and neither does anyone else (it was Einstein’s favorite question).

    …vindicate your own position in relation to your refusal to accept the reality of intelligent agency.

    I have said over and over again, I am not denying the reality of “intelligent agency”. I am saying two things about “intelligent agency”: (1) It lacks an empirically useful definition in the context of ID, and (2) There is no way to demonstrate that intelligent agency involves causation that is ontologically distinct from all other cause.

    We are not trying to catch you out – rather we are trying to understand your position.

    Great!

    If you say that we have no certain way of being sure about the underlying basis of chance/ law other than the fact that we routinely observe it,

    Yes I would say that is true.

    … then we are fully entitled to ask why you will not accept the obvious observations of what intelligent agency can produce and how it differs from the very thing that you believe exists as a distinct ontological category, namely chance/ law?

    With regard to an empirical definition of “intelligent agency”: Simply explain what you mean by “intelligent agency” and we can then see if there is an objective way to distinguish all intelligent agents from the rest of reality. SB says that intelligent agency is distinguished by the fact that all intelligent agents, and nothing else, “arranges matter for a purpose”. Would you agree with this description? Anything to add?

    With regard to the truth of the claim that intelligent behaviors require an ontologically distinct cause, this is simply the metaphysical claim of dualism, which cannot be put to empirical test.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  68. 68
    StephenB says:

    RDFish responding to aqueels

    Empirical science demonstrates laws, and even SB acknowledges that. As far as the “underlying basis” for lawlike regularities, I have no idea why there are lawlike regularities, and neither does anyone else (it was Einstein’s favorite question).

    Are you saying that science can demonstrate the existence of natural causes (as we both define them?) That is the main issue, you know.

    There is no way to demonstrate that intelligent agency involves causation that is ontologically distinct from all other cause.

    But the question is, as I have been insisting all along, whether or not science can demonstrate the existence of ANY kind of cause, including a natural cause.

    With regard to the truth of the claim that intelligent behaviors require an ontologically distinct cause, this is simply the metaphysical claim of dualism, which cannot be put to empirical test.

    The claim is not that agent causes require a different kind of cause. The claim is that agent causes are a different kind of cause.

    So, once again, I present the questions:

    Is a murderer (agent cause) a categorically different kind of cause than an accidental death (natural cause) or is it not? Is a burglar (agent cause) a categorically different kind of cause than a tornado (natural cause) or is it not?

  69. 69
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    Somehow my last response to you didn’t post…

    Briefly:

    Meanwhile, you have quietly abandoned your claim that we can never “rule out” natural causes. I refuted that claim, but you have been silent on the matter ever since.

    And again: “Natural” means “not by human action”. Anything done by human beings are, by definition, not natural causes, and everything else, by definition, is.

    Your rationale has something to do with the alleged possibility that there might be some other kind of natural cause that we don’t know about. My question to you—again—is this: Have you abandoned that position or do you still hold to it?

    Of course there are natural causes we do not yet know about, and we don’t fully understand many sorts of causes that we describe mathematically in physics.

    Now, here is the most important point, as always: You define “intelligent agency” as “that which arranges matter for a purpose”. But you ignored that I emphasized objectively observable in my question.

    If someone said that light travels at 100mph, we could all make objective observations and perform experiments and clearly agree that we have empirical observations that the person was wrong.

    If someone said that rainclouds dump water on cornfields for the purpose of irrigating the corn, or that the sun shines on Earth for the purpose of warming our planet and providing energy, we could not make any objective observations or perform any experiments in order to show they were right or wrong.

    Try again.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  70. 70
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    Is a murderer (agent cause) a categorically different kind of cause than an accidental death (natural cause) or is it not? Is a burglar (agent cause) a categorically different kind of cause than a tornado (natural cause) or is it not?

    Every kind of cause is different. Snakes are different from bees which are different from tornados which are different from humans which are different from beavers which are different from lightning bolts.

    There is no scientific evidence that human beings operate according to anything but the same sorts of lawlike regularities observed in every other type of cause.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  71. 71
    Andre says:

    RDFISH

    You don’t operate different than a rock? We can tell.

  72. 72
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    Every kind of cause is different.

    Excellent! So we are just about finished. Our discussion will soon come to an end.

    Snakes are different from bees which are different from tornados which are different from humans which are different from beavers which are different from lightning bolts.

    A. OK. You are saying that a lighting bold is a different kind of cause than a tornado. Right? That means, of course, that there would be no such thing as a unifying category of natural causes to describe tornadoes, lightning bolts, or any other act of nature.

    To call them natural causes, after all, is to say that they are the same kind of cause. So, if they are all different kinds of causes, they cannot also be natural causes. Right?

    B. And then, we have this other question, which you continue to dodge:

    Can science demonstrate the existence of ANY kind of cause, such as a natural cause? If so, how is that possible? If not, then why would you expect science to demonstrate intelligent agency as a cause?

  73. 73
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    You define “intelligent agency” as “that which arranges matter for a purpose”. But you ignored that I emphasized objectively observable in my question.

    I didn’t ignore it. Purposefully arranged matter is an objective criterion. It often manifests itself as a detectable pattern. Observable patterns are objective.

    If someone said that light travels at 100mph, we could all make objective observations and perform experiments and clearly agree that we have empirical observations that the person was wrong.

    So what? What does that have to do with objectively observable patterns?

    If someone said that rainclouds dump water on cornfields for the purpose of irrigating the corn, or that the sun shines on Earth for the purpose of warming our planet and providing energy, we could not make any objective observations or perform any experiments in order to show they were right or wrong.

    So what? What does that have to do with objectively observable patterns?

  74. 74
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    You are saying that a lighting bold is a different kind of cause than a tornado. Right? That means, of course, that there would be no such thing as a unifying category of natural causes to describe tornadoes, lightning bolts, or any other act of nature.

    People can categorize causes all sorts of ways, StephenB. “All causes that involve water”, or “all causes that involve reptiles”, or “all causes that involve electricity”, and so on. What’s your point?

    To call them natural causes, after all, is to say that they are the same kind of cause.

    The category of “natural causes”, as I’ve repeated many times here, is defined as “not involving human action”. This is not mysterious.

    So, if they are all different kinds of causes, they cannot also be natural causes. Right?

    Wrong, obviously. Rain coming from a cloud does not (usually) involve human action. That would mean it is both (1) a natural cause, and (2) different from a tornado or a snake, etc.

    Can science demonstrate the existence of ANY kind of cause, such as a natural cause?

    I have already explained that while we can scientifically ascertain many things (the speed of light in my example), we cannot scientifically ascertain that human intelligence somehow uses anything but the same lawlike regularities we observe to underlie all other phenomena.

    I have also explained that if you would like to call into question the possibility of knowledge, the empirical method and science itself, or causality, then just say so and we don’t have to continue.

    I didn’t ignore it. Purposefully arranged matter is an objective criterion. It often manifests itself as a detectable pattern. Observable patterns are objective.

    Simply saying that it is objective doesn’t make it so. You have to explain how we can objectively ascertain “purposefully arranged matter”.

    RDF: If someone said that light travels at 100mph, we could all make objective observations and perform experiments and clearly agree that we have empirical observations that the person was wrong.

    SB: So what? What does that have to do with objectively observable patterns?

    This is an example of something that we can objectively ascertain, so that independent researchers can all agree about something. Science is filled with innummerable examples – the existence of starfish, the mass of the moon, the behavior of electrons in a magnetic field, and so on.

    RDF: If someone said that rainclouds dump water on cornfields for the purpose of irrigating the corn, or that the sun shines on Earth for the purpose of warming our planet and providing energy, we could not make any objective observations or perform any experiments in order to show they were right or wrong.
    SB: So what? What does that have to do with objectively observable patterns?

    This shows that what you are providing as an objective criterion is not objective, because different people would have different answers to these questions, and there are no observations nor experiments that could resolve the issue.

    Please don’t drag this out: Either EXPLAIN HOW IT IS POSSIBLE TO OBJECTIVELY DETERMINE PURPOSEFULLY ARRANGED MATTER or admit we can’t.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  75. 75
    Mung says:

    RDFish: With regard to the truth of the claim that intelligent behaviors require an ontologically distinct cause, this is simply the metaphysical claim of dualism, which cannot be put to empirical test.

    Ontologically distinct from what?

  76. 76
    Mung says:

    RDFish: The category of “natural causes”, as I’ve repeated many times here, is defined as “not involving human action”. This is not mysterious.

    So when a fish eats, it’s due to natural causes, but when a Mr. RDFish eats, that’s not due to natural causes.

  77. 77
    StephenB says:

    SB: You are saying that a lighting bolt is a different kind of cause than a tornado. Right? That means, of course, that there would be no such thing as a unifying category of natural causes to describe tornadoes, lightning bolts, or any other act of nature.

    People can categorize causes all sorts of ways, StephenB.

    Non-responsive. Question not answered.

    To call these events natural causes is to say that they are the same kind of cause, having the same thing in common–they come from nature, and are not the product of intellectual causation. So, which is it? Are these acts of nature the same kind of cause or are they all different kinds of causes? Which is it?

    The category of “natural causes”, as I’ve repeated many times here, is defined as “not involving human action”. This is not mysterious.

    That would include lightning bolts, tornadoes, earthquakes, and other acts of nature–all these acts as the same kind of cause, a natural cause. Yet, you have also said that these acts are all different kinds of causes. So are they all the same kind of cause–a natural cause, or are they all different kinds of causes?

    SB: Can science demonstrate the existence of ANY kind of cause, such as a natural cause?

    I have already explained that while we can scientifically ascertain many things (the speed of light in my example), we cannot scientifically ascertain that human intelligence somehow uses anything but the same lawlike regularities we observe to underlie all other phenomena.

    .

    Non-responsive. Question not answered. Please reread the question.

    SB: Purposefully arranged matter is an objective criterion. It often manifests itself as a detectable pattern. Observable patterns are objective.

    Simply saying that it is objective doesn’t make it so. You have to explain how we can objectively ascertain “purposefully arranged matter”.

    When I observe the purposefully arranged matter in a written paragraph or in a sand castle, I am detecting purposefully arranged matter. It is objective. I apprehend it as something that exists outside of my mind; I do not subjectively make it up as if it existed as a pattern.

    SB: So what? What does (light traveling at 100mph) that have to do with objectively observable patterns?

    blockquote This is an example of something that we can objectively ascertain, so that independent researchers can all agree about something.

    What pattern do you think you ascertain in a light beam? Describe the pattern as if you were relating it to someone is doing research. (Hint: There is no discernable pattern of matter arranged for a purpose in a light beam).

    Science is filled with innummerable examples – the existence of starfish, the mass of the moon, the behavior of electrons in a magnetic field, and so on.

    Same question. What are the material patterns that you think you observed. Describe them.

    If someone said that rainclouds dump water on cornfields for the purpose of irrigating the corn, or that the sun shines on Earth for the purpose of warming our planet and providing energy, we could not make any objective observations or perform any experiments in order to show they were right or wrong.

    SB: What does (dumping water on cornfields) have to do with objectively observable patterns?

    This shows that what you are providing as an objective criterion is not objective, because different people would have different answers to these questions, and there are no observations nor experiments that could resolve the issue.

    Non-responsive. Question not answered. You are twisting yourself into a pretzel. I asked you to tell me what dumping water on cornfields has to do with objectively observable patters.

    Please don’t drag this out: Either EXPLAIN HOW IT IS POSSIBLE TO OBJECTIVELY DETERMINE PURPOSEFULLY ARRANGED MATTER or admit we can’t

    .

    Why do you carry on as if this is some kind of challenge. I just discerned purposefully arranged matter in the paragraph that you wrote. So it is with the arranged matter in Mount Rushmore. So it is with the arranged matter in an ancient hunter’s spear. Those are all objectively observed patterns of matter arranged for a purpose.

  78. 78
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    To call these events natural causes is to say that they are the same kind of cause, having the same thing in common–they come from nature, and are not the product of intellectual causation.

    I have repeatedly explained exactly what definition I was using for the word “natural”. The dictionary defintion I have been using is this:
    Natural: “not artificial; not the result of human action”. This definition is the normal meaning of the word, and it is perfectly clear.

    So, which is it? Are these acts of nature the same kind of cause or are they all different kinds of causes? Which is it?

    Both a tornado and a rainstorm are natural causes, but they differ in many ways. The first is a funnel-shaped pattern of wind, while the second is water precipitating from clouds.

    That would include lightning bolts, tornadoes, earthquakes, and other acts of nature–all these acts as the same kind of cause, a natural cause.

    Yes, all natural causes.

    Yet, you have also said that these acts are all different kinds of causes.

    Yes of course. A lightning bolt is an arc of electricity, which differs greatly from a tornado, which as I’ve mentioned is a funnel-shaped pattern of wind.

    So are they all the same kind of cause–a natural cause, or are they all different kinds of causes?

    Hmmm, you seem to have a hard time grasping this. Lightning bolts, tornados, and earthquakes are all natural causes because none are the product of human action. But there are differences among them. I really don’t know how to make that any more clear.

    SB: Can science demonstrate the existence of ANY kind of cause, such as a natural cause?
    RDF: I have already explained that while we can scientifically ascertain many things (the speed of light in my example), we cannot scientifically ascertain that human intelligence somehow uses anything but the same lawlike regularities we observe to underlie all other phenomena.
    SB: Non-responsive. Question not answered. Please reread the question.

    That is because you simply skipped over my response, not because I didn’t respond. Here it is again for you:

    RDF: I have also explained that if you would like to call into question the possibility of knowledge, the empirical method and science itself, or causality, then just say so and we don’t have to continue.

    Again, then: If you would like to question whether science is capable of determining that cigarettes cause lung cancer, or that molecular scattering of short wavelength light causes the sky to be blue, or that germs cause disease, or any other sort of causal relation that scientific research has demonstrated, then simply say so and we needn’t continue the conversation. Don’t ask me again.

    I apprehend it as something that exists outside of my mind; I do not subjectively make it up as if it existed as a pattern.

    Could it be you are talking about something like complex specified information? I think that is probably what you are talking about. If so, I will agree with you, arguendo, that complex specified information is a pattern of matter that is objectively detectable. If you mean something different than complex specified information, please explain the difference.

    Assuming there is no difference, let’s see where we are:

    SB: ID holds that the complex specified information we observe in biological systems is best explained by “intelligent agency”.
    RDF: Really? What does “intelligent agency” mean?
    SB: It means “something able to produce complex specified information”.

    I trust you see why that explanation isn’t helpful.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  79. 79
    Virgil Cain says:

    Hi RDFish:

    Natural: “not artificial; not the result of human action”. This definition is the normal meaning of the word, and it is perfectly clear.

    Artificial doesn’t necessarily mean “made by humans”. “Natural” in the context of ID and science means “exists in nature” or “produced by nature”.

    In other words once again you prove to be a deceptive little twerp.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  80. 80
    Virgil Cain says:

    Hi RDFish:

    Either EXPLAIN HOW IT IS POSSIBLE TO OBJECTIVELY DETERMINE PURPOSEFULLY ARRANGED MATTER or admit we can’t.

    We do that all of the time- daily even. We look for signs of work and/ or counterflow. If we see a system of several different components that together have a function that is separate from those components we infer it was via some plan, ie it is a purposeful arrangement of matter.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  81. 81
    Virgil Cain says:

    Really? What does “intelligent agency” mean?

    It means something that transcends purely materialistic processes, ie something that can manipulate nature for a purpose.

    This has been pointed out to you many times and each time you ignore it. Do you think any onlookers ignore it also? Do you think that your willful ignorance is winning any points in their minds?

    Doesn’t it tell you something that the ONLY person convinced by your arguments is you?

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  82. 82
    Barry Arrington says:

    RDFish’s desperation is revealed by the fact that he simply refuses to accept SB’s definition of intelligence and in bad faith substitutes his own (falsely attributing it to SB) in an attempt to give the false impression that SB’s argument is circular.

  83. 83
    RDFish says:

    Hi Barry Arrington,

    RDFish’s desperation is revealed by the fact that he simply refuses to accept SB’s definition of intelligence and in bad faith substitutes his own (falsely attributing it to SB) in an attempt to give the false impression that SB’s argument is circular.

    Sorry Barry, but you still don’t understand the discussion.

    SB gave me a definition of intelligence that was different from everyone else’s here: that which can arrange matter for a purpose.

    If that is the definition that SB would like to use, that’s just fine with me. I simply point out that if he chooses to use that definition, there can be no emprically-based inference to intelligence in the context of ID.

    Now, I think what SB means by “matter arranged for a purpose” is actually Complex Specified Information. Now, that’s fine too, because I agree arguendo that CSI is objectively detectable.

    But then I point out that if he chooses to use that definition, the conclusion of ID is completely vacuous:

    ID holds that the complex specified information we observe in biological systems is best explained by something able to produce complex specified information.

    I’ll accept anyone’s definitions for “intelligence” of course! I simply point out that no matter what definition you choose, the central claim of ID is not a scientifically supportable claim. It only sort of sounds science-y when you leave the meaning of the term “intelligent agent” completely ambiguous, so people think it means whatever they want, and you don’t ask yourself why any particular mental attributes could be inferred.

    By the way, you never did answer my question:
    What objectively observable characteristics or abilities do all intelligent agents have in common?

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  84. 84
    StephenB says:

    SB: So, which is it? Are these acts of nature the same kind of cause or are they all different kinds of causes? Which is it?

    Hmmm, you seem to have a hard time grasping this. Lightning bolts, tornados, and earthquakes are all natural causes because none are the product of human action.

    So, they are same kind of cause—a natural cause?

    But there are differences among them. I really don’t know how to make that any more clear.

    So, they are different kinds of causes?

    You just said above that they are all natural causes, which would make them the same kind of cause. If they are all natural, then they are of the same kind.

    So, I ask you once again: Are earthquakes, tornadoes, rainstorms, chemical reactions, physical actions all different kinds of causes, or are they all the same kind of cause—a natural cause?

    You seem to be having problems with this, so let me try to help you out by using a parallel example with ID. A beaver building a dam, like a human designing a building, is the same kind of cause–an intelligent cause. Naturally, there are differences within this single category. For one thing, the beaver is not really conscious of his purpose, whereas the human is. Nevertheless, they are the same kind of cause–an intelligent cause. They arrange matter for a purpose. I am asking you, once again, to provide a similarly coherent answer to my question about natural causes. It is not coherent to say that they that these events are the same kind of cause and are also of a different kind.

    SB: Can science demonstrate the existence of ANY kind of cause, such as a natural cause?

    I have already explained that while we can scientifically ascertain many things (the speed of light in my example), we cannot scientifically ascertain that human intelligence somehow uses anything but the same lawlike regularities we observe to underlie all other phenomena.

    Non-responsive. Question not answered. Please reread the question. Better yet, I will repeat it. Can science demonstrate the existence of ANY kind of cause, such as a natural cause?

    That is because you simply skipped over my response, not because I didn’t respond. Here it is again for you:

    No, I didn’t skip over it. You did not answer. Can science demonstrate the existence of any kind of cause, such as a natural cause?

    Could it be you are talking about something like complex specified information? I think that is probably what you are talking about. If so, I will agree with you, arguendo, that complex specified information is a pattern of matter that is objectively detectable. If you mean something different than complex specified information, please explain the difference.

    It would be broader than CSI, but CSI would clearly be a subset.

    ID holds that the complex specified information we observe in biological systems is best explained by “intelligent agency”.

    RDF: Really? What does “intelligent agency” mean?

    SB: It means “something able to produce complex specified information”.

    I trust you see why that explanation isn’t helpful.

    Well, let’s experiment with it a little bit:

    Proposition I: The CSI we observe in a written paragraph is best explained by someone who already has the causal power to produce the intended result

    Proposition II: The CSI we observe in a written paragraph is best explained by a chance process whose causal power is unknown and which produces an unintended result by accident.

    Proposition I seems more reasonable to me.

    Let’s try it another way:

    Proposition I The design in your dream house is best explained by the capacity of someone who knows how to design and build a house.

    Proposition II The design in your dream house is best explained by the capacities of wind, air, sand, erosion, and time.

    I like proposition I

    Or, let’s try it yet another way.

    Proposition I Arranged matter needs an arranger.

    Proposition II Arranged matter does not need an arranger.

    I like proposition I

  85. 85
    Anonymous Apologist says:

    What objectively observable characteristics or abilities do all intelligent agents have in common?

    Here are some answers after a short period of thought. Note that these answers make no appeal to mental events and are empirically detectable.

    1) All intelligent agents, through their own power, can manipulate things (matter) into precise and/or complex abstractions.

    Example 1: If you see one stick on the ground, then one meter to the left of that there are two sticks together (only one centimeter apart each), then one meter to the left of that there are three sticks together (only one centimeter apart each), then five sticks, and seven, and so on and so forth for the next dozen prime numbers. This is displaying an abstraction (prime numbers) into matter and is a sure sign of an intelligent agent and could be done by humans, aliens, or gods.

    Example 2: Arranging rocks to form a paragraph in English (abstraction: language). Sure sign of an intelligent agent.

    2) All intelligent agents can violate the laws of nature of a particular world, where a law of nature is defined in the Humean sense of a regularity of nature that would not be changed without such intervention.

    Example: If, somehow, a whole ton of scrabble letters were transported back in time and left on the ground before any humans came on the scene, it would be a law of nature (in the Humean sense) that wind and natural forces would never form those letters into an English paragraph. But if they suddenly did form into an English paragraph, and thus violated the law of nature, that is the sign of an intelligent agent.

    3) Last one: If you see precise and complex, but unnecessary, symmetry, that is the sign of an intelligent agent.

    Example: If you had a thousand trees in a straight line all of which were exactly one meter apart, that is the type of unnecessary but complex symmetry that is the sign of an intelligent agent. And note that if a thousand stars arranged themselves into a straight line in the sky with exact distances apart (from our view), we would know that was the sign of an intelligent agent.

  86. 86
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    SB: So, they are same kind of cause—a natural cause?
    RDF: But there are differences among them. I really don’t know how to make that any more clear.
    SB: So, they are different kinds of causes?

    I have a feeling you’re just pretending not to understand, but I’m always willing to respond no matter how stupid your questions. Here you go:

    Imagine a Ford, a Chevy, and a Buick. They are all the same kind of vehicles – they are all passenger cars. But they are different kinds of vehicles too – they are different kinds of passenger cars.

    Imagine an ant, a bee, and a flea. They are all the same kind of animals – they are all insects. But they are different kinds of animals too – they are different sorts of insects.

    Imagine a tornado, an earthquake, and a rainstorm. They are all the same kind of causes – they are all natural causes. But they are different kinds of causes too – they are different sorts of natural causes.

    Are you beginning to get the idea?

    You just said above that they are all natural causes, which would make them the same kind of cause.

    They would all be natural causes, yes. But they are different kinds of natural causes.

    If they are all natural, then they are of the same kind.

    Well, they are all natural causes, yes. But they are different kinds of natural causes.

    So, I ask you once again: Are earthquakes, tornadoes, rainstorms, chemical reactions, physical actions all different kinds of causes, or are they all the same kind of cause—a natural cause?

    They are all natural causes, by virtue of the fact that none are (normally) the result of human action. But they are still all different kinds of causes, for obvious reasons.

    You seem to be having problems with this, so let me try to help you out by using a parallel example with ID. A beaver building a dam, like a human designing a building, is the same kind of cause–an intelligent cause.

    And what, exactly, makes them the same? Can you please tell me, instead of giving examples? That’s all I’m asking for, but no matter how much I ask, you can never answer.

    Naturally, there are differences within this single category. For one thing, the beaver is not really conscious of his purpose, whereas the human is.

    Yes, that’s probably true (but assessing the nature and extent of animal consciousness is difficult of course, because they can’t talk).

    Nevertheless, they are the same kind of cause–an intelligent cause. They arrange matter for a purpose.

    How do you know what the beaver’s purpose is if the beaver doesn’t? I don’t think you can say what the purpose of something is unless somebody who has consciously thought about it does something for a purpose. Otherwise, who can say there is a purpose involved? The beaver builds its dam, and the cloud drops its rain. You decide the beaver has a purpose but not the cloud, but you can’t say why.

    I am asking you, once again, to provide a similarly coherent answer to my question about natural causes. It is not coherent to say that they that these events are the same kind of cause and are also of a different kind.

    Yes of course it is perfectly coherent! Anything not the result of human action is natural. But obviously that is a very broad category of things, and among that class are inummerable differences. I think you’re making this a lot more complicated than it is.

    Can science demonstrate the existence of ANY kind of cause, such as a natural cause?

    I’ve answered this too many times. I say yes; if you disagree, then you are simply denying the possibility of scientific knowledge – which you have already conceded you believe in, and call “obvious”.

    RDF: Could it be you are talking about something like complex specified information? I think that is probably what you are talking about. If so, I will agree with you, arguendo, that complex specified information is a pattern of matter that is objectively detectable. If you mean something different than complex specified information, please explain the difference.
    SB: It would be broader than CSI, but CSI would clearly be a subset.

    Please answer the question. Is there some reason you refuse to explain what the exact relation between “matter arranged for a purpose” and CSI? Is it because you are making all this up as you go along?

    Well, let’s experiment with it a little bit:

    Yes, apparently you are making this up as you go along.

    Proposition I: The CSI we observe in a written paragraph is best explained by someone who already has the causal power to produce the intended result

    The only information here is that you say “someone” rather than “something”. (Saying “one” typically refers to a human being). Otherwise, all this says is “CSI is produced by that which can produce CSI”, which says nothing at all.

    I like proposition I

    Yes, that makes perfect sense: Proposition I is a perfectly vacuous statement – just like ID.
    The CSI in biology is best explained by that which can create CSI”.
    Brilliant.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  87. 87
    Barry Arrington says:

    RDFish

    Sorry Barry, but you still don’t understand the discussion.

    RDFish uses his favorite Darwinian Debating Device, which is No. 18, the “You’re Too Stupid to Understand Why I’m Smarter than You” Dismissal.

    Poor guy. In this thread he has been made to look alternatively foolish and dishonest (he is in fact both). And he lashes out with taunts. It’s OK Fish. We are here for you. You are, in fact, one of our most valuable resources at UD. Thanks for making our side look so reasonable in juxtaposition with your rants.

    For those of you who are keeping score in the SB v. Fish debate, I will put it this way. It reminds me of the 1940 NFL championship game in which the Chicago Bears beat the Washington Redskins 73-0. SB by a mile.

  88. 88
    StephenB says:

    Hi RD,

    I am afraid that your position is hopelessly incoherent. We cannot make any progress as long as you categorize lightning bolts, earthquakes, tornadoes, chemical reactions, and physical laws as different kinds of causes and also as the same kind of cause (natural).

    They cannot be both the same kind of thing and also a different kind of thing. They can be different variations of the same kind, but they cannot be both of the same kind and of a different kind. This is basic logic. I can’t imagine why you would think you can sell that idea to anyone.

    And what, exactly, makes them (intelligent causes) the same? Can you please tell me, instead of giving examples?

    They are of the same kind by virtue of the definition, of course. An intelligent agent is one that arranges matter for a purpose. Accordingly, a human who designs a building and a beaver who designs a dam are the same kind of cause. That is why I explained that a beaver does not need to understand the purpose of his efforts. Thus, the beaver and the human are different variations of the same kind of cause. If I were to say that they are both the same kind of cause and a different kind of cause, my position would be as incoherent as yours.

    Meanwhile, I am still hoping that you will defend your dubious notion that science can demonstrate the existence of natural causes. Your entire argument depends on that claim, and yet you are reticent to address it.

    Also, you have not yet informed us about which patterns of arranged matter you can detect in a light beam.

    Also, you have not yet answered…..well, let’s leave it there for now. If I posted a list of all my unanswered challenges, I wouldn’t have time to do anything else.

  89. 89
    Virgil Cain says:

    Shut up RDFish:

    If that is the definition that SB would like to use, that’s just fine with me. I simply point out that if he chooses to use that definition, there can be no emprically-based inference to intelligence in the context of ID.

    That isn’t an argument. We can and do empirically test for purpose. We do so by the amount of work and/ or counterflow present.

    Anything not the result of human action is natural.

    That is incorrect and demonstrates ignorance over what is and isn’t an artifact. Crows use tools so crows can create artifacts. Beaver dams and lodges are also artifacts. Termite mounds and bee hives are also artifacts.

    I simply point out that no matter what definition you choose, the central claim of ID is not a scientifically supportable claim.

    And we will continue to simply point out that your ignorance and scientific illiteracy are not arguments.

    Cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  90. 90
    Zachriel says:

    StephenB: They cannot be both the same kind of thing and also a different kind of thing.

    Of course they can. That’s because kind refers to categorization.

    kind, a group of people or things having similar characteristics.

    We can often group the same objects many different ways. More particularly, we might have groups within groups. Natural, per the usual definition, means not made or caused by humankind. But within the group of natural causes, we can have causes such as gravity, electricity, or mechanical force.

    What causes the Earth to revolve around the sun? Gravity, a kind of natural causation.

  91. 91
    StephenB says:

    Barry

    RDFish’s desperation is revealed by the fact that he simply refuses to accept SB’s definition of intelligence and in bad faith substitutes his own (falsely attributing it to SB) in an attempt to give the false impression that SB’s argument is circular.

    Barry, thanks for bringing that up. Yes, this is RD’s perennial objection, and yes, he did rewrite my definition in order to make it appear circular (the same definition he says that no one ever offers).

    Even at that, he should know better on general principles. An argument based on circular definitions cannot be falsified. Yet ID, using my definition, is obviously falsifiable.

    And yes, I knew where he was going. We have been there before.

  92. 92
    Mung says:

    RDFish: Natural: “not artificial; not the result of human action”. This definition is the normal meaning of the word, and it is perfectly clear.

    Humans eating is not natural. Got it. Humans are not natural. Anything produced by humans is not natural. Every product of every other organism on the planet is natural except the products of human organisms.

    Aren’t humans special.

  93. 93
    Mung says:

    RDFish: I have a feeling you’re just pretending not to understand

    Good one Mr. Fish!

  94. 94
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    Natural, per the usual definition, means not made or caused by humankind.

    That is incorrect. Natural, per the usual definition means “existing in or produced by nature”. Buy a dictionary

    Cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  95. 95
    Mung says:

    Mr. Fish, what objectively observable characteristics or abilities do all natural causes have in common?

  96. 96
    RDFish says:

    Hi Barry Arrington,

    RDFish uses his favorite Darwinian Debating Device, which is No. 18, the “You’re Too Stupid to Understand Why I’m Smarter than You” Dismissal.

    I’m not sure that you’re too stupid to understand that I’m smarter than you. In fact, it appears that you do realize that you don’t stand a chance debating me on these issues; that would explain why, instead of engaging my arguments, you just post these childish insults.

    You have never even attempted to answer the one simple question I have asked of you over and over again:

    What objectively observable characteristics or abilities do all intelligent agents have in common?

    You’re good at bluster and bullying, but not so much at debate. Actually, you really aren’t that good at bluster either.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  97. 97
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    I am afraid that your position is hopelessly incoherent. We cannot make any progress as long as you categorize lightning bolts, earthquakes, tornadoes, chemical reactions, and physical laws as different kinds of causes and also as the same kind of cause (natural).

    I am very happy to leave this to the fair reader. You ignored my examples of categorization that explain your confusion, just as Zachriel has. But since you know you can’t actually address my arguments, you (as always) find some distraction to hide behind rather than engage the debate.

    An intelligent agent is one that arranges matter for a purpose.

    And since there is no objective method for detecting “purpose” (rather than, say, “complex specified information”), this particular attempt to provide a usable definition of “intelligence” in the context of ID fails. But don’t feel bad – everybody else’s attempts fail too.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  98. 98
    RDFish says:

    Hi Anonymous Apologist,

    RDF: What objectively observable characteristics or abilities do all intelligent agents have in common?

    Thank you for your response!

    NOTE: Whereas Barry and StephenB are incapable of engaging the debate, you have stepped forward in good faith! Barry and StephenB: Take note! This is how an ID proponent ought to respond. AA here is not dodging, not tossing out insults – just trying to reason through the issues.

    Now then:

    1) All intelligent agents, through their own power, can manipulate things (matter) into precise and/or complex abstractions.

    OK then. This would eliminate all non-human animals (like beavers, for example) as intelligent agents, contrary to what most folks (like StephenB) say.

    2) All intelligent agents can violate the laws of nature of a particular world, where a law of nature is defined in the Humean sense of a regularity of nature that would not be changed without such intervention.

    I don’t understand what laws of nature – in any sense – you believe are supposed to be violated by all intelligent agents. But similar to #1, you’re saying that intelligent agents produce results that are not seen via anything else, right?

    3) Last one: If you see precise and complex, but unnecessary, symmetry, that is the sign of an intelligent agent.

    So all intelligent agents can produce precise and complex and unnecessary symmetry, ok.

    If these are all of the observable characteristics and traits that all intelligent agents share, then clearly ID cannot attribute most of the charcteristics commonly associated with “intelligence” to the cause of living things. For example, you don’t seem to think that all intelligent agents are conscious, have free will, can learn new skills, can solve novel problems in math and logic, can use natural language to express arbitrary ideas, and so on.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  99. 99
    RDFish says:

    Hi All –

    ID is supposed to be a scientific theory that explains life on Earth, and it proposes just one single word that is supposed to explain everything: “intelligence”. Incredibly, ID refuses to provide a technical definition for this, its sole explanatory term. When pressed, different ID proponents come up with all sorts of different definitions, and none of them are (1) empirically verifiable in the context of ID and (2) encompass what we normally associate with “intelligence” in humans.

    Thanks for the discussion!

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  100. 100
    Virgil Cain says:

    Hi RDFish:

    ID is supposed to be a scientific theory that explains life on Earth, and it proposes just one single word that is supposed to explain everything

    ID does NOT say it explains everything. ID does not try to explain everything.

    Incredibly, ID refuses to provide a technical definition for this, its sole explanatory term.

    That is incorrect and demonstrates willful ignorance.

    When pressed, different ID proponents come up with all sorts of different definitions,…

    Yes, most words have several meanings.

    and none of them are (1) empirically verifiable in the context of ID and (2) encompass what we normally associate with “intelligence” in humans.

    That is just a blatant lie.

    Cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  101. 101
    Virgil Cain says:

    Beavers manipulate nature for a purpose. Ants manipulate nature for a purpose. Bees manipulate nature for a purpose. Termites manipulate nature for a purpose.

    Beaver’s can fall a tree with the precision that rivals our most skilled lumberjacks. They know what they are doing and by all appearances plan their actions.

    Cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  102. 102
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    You ignored my examples of categorization…

    you don’t understand what category means.

    Imagine a Ford, a Chevy, and a Buick. They are all the same kind of vehicles – they are all passenger cars. But they are different kinds of vehicles too – they are different kinds of passenger cars.

    Begin by defining what you mean by “kind,” and you will discover your error. Define category A and differentiate it from category B. I can’t define your terms for you.

    Imagine a tornado, an earthquake, and a rainstorm. They are all the same kind of causes – they are all natural causes.

    Yep.

    But they are different kinds of causes too – they are different sorts of natural causes.

    Nope. They are all variations of the same category of cause.

    But since you know you can’t actually address my arguments, you (as always) find some distraction to hide behind rather than engage the debate.

    I destroyed all you arguments with a single question: Can science establish the existence of any kind of cause, including a natural cause? As we discovered, you are afraid to respond. I don’t blame you.

  103. 103
    Barry Arrington says:

    RDFish

    You have never even attempted to answer the one simple question I have asked of you over and over again:

    What objectively observable characteristics or abilities do all intelligent agents have in common?

    Because it has been answered dozens of times. An intelligent agent is one that arranges matter for a purpose.

    I am truly mystified that you believe you are winning your debate with SB. It has been a pleasure watching him take you to pieces.

    My participation at UD has been minimal lately because I came down with a vicious flu bug on Sunday.

  104. 104
    Virgil Cain says:

    Got the flu? Take zinc, emergen-C and Cell Power. Zinc 50 mg/ day. Emergen-C 2 packs, 2-3 times a day. Cell Power- 15-20 drops three times a day in pure water, not tap.

    I don’t even get the flu following that regimen.

  105. 105
    Mung says:

    Mr. Fish, what objectively observable characteristics or abilities do all natural causes have in common?

    Thank your for demonstrating that you cannot answer that one simple question!

  106. 106
    RDFish says:

    Hi Barry Arrington,

    Because it has been answered dozens of times. An intelligent agent is one that arranges matter for a purpose.

    And I have pointed out, dozens of times, that this particular definition cannot be empirically verified in the context of ID. Let’s see if you can understand this.

    “Complex Specified Information” is Dembski’s attempt to allow an objective identification of the sorts of things that we’re trying to explain in biology – the things he tries to prove cannot be produced by evolutionary means. Most scientists dismiss the notion of CSI (they complain it is unquantifiable, or that “specification” is subjective), but I do not dismiss it. I accept Dembski’s notion of CSI arguendo, because I believe the complex form and function we observe in biology cannot be produced by evolutionary mechanisms, and they cry out for explanation.

    Although many people here have defined “intelligence” as “the ability to produce CSI”, I have pointed out that this definition renders ID a vacuous tautology (“The CSI in biology is produced by that which can produce CSI”).

    So now you and StephenB have adopted a different definition, which is “that which can arrange matter for a purpose”. But StephenB refused to (could not) explain exactly how “matter arranged for a purpose” differs from CSI, and also could not suggest what objective method we might use to distinguish matter arranged for a purpose from matter that has not been arranged for a purpose.

    Again, while I accept CSI as an objectively identifiable feature, the only way I can imagine one might determine purpose is to somehow know that it was produced by someone who consciously intended to produce it. Since you already acknowledged that ID cannot support an inference to conscious intent, it appears this definition of intelligence cannot be objectively supported in the context of ID either.

    I am truly mystified that you believe you are winning your debate with SB. It has been a pleasure watching him take you to pieces.

    You are indeed mystified, but if you keep an open mind, perhaps some things may become clear to you in the future.

    Stephen’s only diversion here has been to call into question all of empirical science – sort of like a corporate poison-pill: “If you won’t let me say ID is scientific, then I will destroy the very notion of science itself! BWAAAAHAHAHA!”. It’s a very, very silly ploy, intended only to save him from having to try and explain what objective method we can use to distinguish which things are “for a purpose” and which are not.

    My participation at UD has been minimal lately because I came down with a vicious flu bug on Sunday.

    Sorry to hear about your illness. I too will be unavailable for the next 24 hours or so.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  107. 107
    Virgil Cain says:

    Hi RDFish:

    And I have pointed out, dozens of times, that this particular definition cannot be empirically verified in the context of ID.

    And we have pointed out, dozens more times, that particular definition is easily empirically verified in the context of ID.

    “Complex Specified Information” is Dembski’s attempt to allow an objective identification of the sorts of things that we’re trying to explain in biology – the things he tries to prove cannot be produced by evolutionary means.

    Materialistic means.

    Again, while I accept CSI as an objectively identifiable feature, the only way I can imagine one might determine purpose is to somehow know that it was produced by someone who consciously intended to produce it.

    Yes, producing CSI requires a plan, ie a purpose. And that means an intelligent agency produced it as only intelligent agencies produce things for a purpose.

    We know Stonehenge was put there on purpose. We know the pyramids were put there on purpose. Forensic science and archaeology both depend on being able to tell if something was done on purpose. Insurance investigations, fire investigations, SETI (oh no someone just mindlessly assembled a RF transmitter and started broadcasting)- all depend on determining intent.

    This is all common knowledge folks. It isn’t voodoo. Science is all about the understanding of cause and effect relationships. We can tell by the amount of work that goes into producing something whether or not there was a purpose. We can tell by the number of parts a system requires and how they fit together whether or not it was built on purpose.

    AGAIN, thankfully RDFish is not an investigator.

    Cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  108. 108
    Alicia Cartelli says:

    “I don’t even get the flu following that regimen.”

    Because you’re one of the idiots that doesn’t get the vaccine, and just benefits from herd immunity.

  109. 109
    vividbleau says:

    StephenB RE 102

    “Can science establish the existence of any kind of cause, including a natural cause? As we discovered, you are afraid to respond. ”

    Stephen in post 86 RDF did respond with a yes.

    Vivid

  110. 110
    StephenB says:

    I, too, need to leave the thread for a while. Thanks to vivid for catching RD’s response @86. I would like to follow up, but that’s it for now.

  111. 111
    Zachriel says:

    kind, a group of people or things that belong together or have some shared quality : a particular type or variety of person or thing
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kind

    natural, existing in nature and not made or caused by people : coming from nature.
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/natural

  112. 112
    Virgil Cain says:

    Earth to Alicia Cartelli,

    Thank you for your kind words, but your ignorance is boundless. Vaccinated people are still carriers, meaning the herd can easily infect the weak and unprotected. I am neither weak nor unprotected. You are weak so you seek the (false) protection of the herd. If a different strain of influenza strikes- different from the vaccine- the herd is in deep doo and I will still be fine.

    Class dismissed.

    Cheers,
    Virgil Cain 😛

  113. 113
    Daniel King says:

    Mr. Fish, what objectively observable characteristics or abilities do all natural causes have in common?

    Thank your for demonstrating that you cannot answer that one simple question!

    What’s your view on that vital issue, Mr Mung?

  114. 114
    Mung says:

    DK: What’s your view on that vital issue, Mr Mung?

    My view is that Mr. Fish won’t answer because it would reveal the false dichotomy that his “argument” depends upon.

    Mr. Fish:

    What objectively observable characteristics or abilities do all intelligent agents have in common?

    Mr. Mung:

    What objectively observable characteristics or abilities do all natural causes have in common?

    Mr. Fish lost his guts.

  115. 115
    Alicia Cartelli says:

    No, Virgy, the flu shot consists of destroyed virus.
    You get the flu shot and you are only a “carrier” of immunological memory specific to the flu strains of that vaccine.
    The herd cannot infect the weak, otherwise “herd immunity” wouldn’t exist.
    You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.
    Your stupidity knows no bounds.

  116. 116
    Virgil Cain says:

    Alicia, you have serious issues:

    No, Virgy, the flu shot consists of destroyed virus.

    All I said was it is of a SPECIFIC STRAIN. And it is. You are clueless and flailing.

    You get the flu shot and you are only a “carrier” of immunological memory specific to the flu strains of that vaccine.

    If a person with the shot comes in contact with an infected person, the person with the shot may not get sick but can infect the next person contacted. They become a carrier.

    The herd cannot infect the weak, otherwise “herd immunity” wouldn’t exist.

    If the herd gets infected by another strain and the weak are unprotected, then the herd can infect the weak. Your weak mind is also narrow of view and thought.

    You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

    Obviously you don’t have any idea what I am talking about.

    As I said, your ignorance is boundless.

    Cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  117. 117
    Alicia Cartelli says:

    It covers multiple strains, Virgy.
    And the idea is that the majority of people get the vaccine in order to protect the immunocompromised from the most likely virus strains for that season. If you are “neither weak nor unprotected,” then you should be getting the vaccine. If you don’t get it, then you are relying on herd immunity to avoid infection.
    End of story.

  118. 118
    Kenneth Hughs says:

    All I can say is that I am glad that Joe… oops… Frankie… oops…Virgil is a toaster repair man and not any community’s medical officer of health. Or dog catcher, for that matter.

  119. 119
    aqeels says:

    RDFish,

    I am a little confused. So try to help me out.

    According to your definition (and the generally recognised one), a natural cause is defined as any cause outside of human involvement?

    If so, then your only point of contention is if we substitute “human” with “intelligent agency” or
    “Intelligence”.

    If someone asked you the following, how would you respond?

    I agree on the definition of what natural causes are, but can you explain what it is that humans do that is different from natural causes?

    I know how I would answer; namely that humans can do things with foresight and planning; IOW they routinely apply intelligence.

    What would your answer be?

    Thanks,
    aqeels.

  120. 120
    Mung says:

    What would your answer be?

    I’m sure that he doesn’t even need to think about it.

  121. 121
    Virgil Cain says:

    LoL! @ Alicia Cartelli- It may cover 3 strains and it is very possible that none of the strains will be in the outbreak. And if everyone followed my lead then we wouldn’t need flu shots.

    And way to ignore what I posted- people with the vaccine can become carriers. My family all got shots and they are sick right now. Guess who isn’t sick?

    I rely on no one but myself, moroness

    Cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  122. 122
    Virgil Cain says:

    Earth to Kenneth Cupcake- I have never repaired a toaster. However, unlike you, I am sure that I could. Also every community would be better off if they followed my lead.

    But obviously you are too dim to understand that.

    Cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  123. 123
    Alicia Cartelli says:

    Whatever you say Virgy.
    It’s quite clear to everyone here that you are either a complete idiot or posing as an idiot, in which case you are still an idiot.

    Enjoy fixing those toasters.

  124. 124
    Virgil Cain says:

    LoL! @ Alicia! Why wasn’t Barry protected by the herd, Alicia? Why do people still get the flu if the herd protects them, Alicia? Why am I taking care of my wife and son when they got the shot and I did not?

    Call me whatever you like. You are a proven imbecile and you can’t even address what you try to ridicule. And yes, everyone here sees that.

    Enjoy living in blissful ignorance.

    Cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  125. 125
    aqeels says:

    Mung @120 – you are probably right.

    I can hope though.

  126. 126
    RDFish says:

    Hi aqeels,

    I am a little confused. So try to help me out.

    Well, we’ve gotten to the portion of the show where the people who lose simply stop responding, then come back a few months later as though they’ve won. Anyway, I’ll be glad to help you understand.

    According to your definition (and the generally recognised one), a natural cause is defined as any cause outside of human involvement?

    Yes that’s the definition I’ve been using here.

    If so, then your only point of contention is if we substitute “human” with “intelligent agency” or “Intelligence”.

    I have several objections regarding ID. One is that they explain a wide range of phenomena (biological systems, the values of the physical constants, and so on) with just this single term “intelligence”, without providing any sort of scientific definition for this (notoriously vague and scientifically controversial) term.

    Next is that when somebody finally does make up some definition for “intelligence” in the context of ID, it fails to enable ID to infer anything specific about the cause of living things. Either:
    1) It has nothing to do with our general intuitive notions that we usually associate with “intelligence” (learning, solving novel problems, general purpose language, and so on)
    2) It cannot be empirically established in the context of ID (we can’t tell if the cause of protein synthesis mechanisms could use a generally expressive language, for example)
    3) It is scientifically meaningless – it refers to something too vague to enable objective identification (for example, “something done for a purpose” is a subjective criterion – one for which there is no objective test).

    If someone asked you the following, how would you respond?
    I agree on the definition of what natural causes are, but can you explain what it is that humans do that is different from natural causes?

    The difference depends on what you are comparing it to. For example, the differences between humans and chimpanzees are different than the differences between a human and a tornado, or a human and a bacterium.

    I know how I would answer; namely that humans can do things with foresight and planning; IOW they routinely apply intelligence.

    Of course we’ve gone over this one many times here. The problem with this definition derives from how we ascertain that something has foresight and planning skills.

    The word “foresight” means “the ability to predict or the action of predicting what will happen or be needed in the future”. For people, this means we consciously apprehend our predictions; we visualize the result or picture it in our mind’s eye. We use the dorsolateral part of the frontal lobes of our brains to do planning; damage to this area of the brain interferes with our ability to plan.

    Now, if we observed some humanoid alien (like in SciFi movies) who was able to produce CSI of some sort, we would certainly infer that this creature has a brain similar to ours, had conscious mental experiences like ours, and shared the rest of our mental abilities more or less. If we observed some extra-terrestrial life form that was really different from us (like in more imaginative SciFi movies), we might have some doubts about what we shared. Would it have a brain like ours? Consciousness like we have? A language with recursive grammar like ours? Ability to learn new skills? We’d have to interact with the non-humanoid alien in order to ascertain these things, and it wouldn’t be easy.

    But in the context of ID, we can’t interact with the entity at all. Maybe it’s not an “entity” or a “being” but rather a “process” or a “principle” (as Debmski himself says, the Designer may be a conscious agent, or it may be an “impersonal telic process….)”.

    Something so radically different from human beings cannot simply be assumed to use the same sort of process to produce CSI. There needs to be evidence that whatever produced the CSI in biology is the same thing (that you call “foresight”) that enables humans to produce CSI. We use foresight to solve Steiner Tree problems, yet slime mold finds the same minimum tree configurations – presumably without “foresight”.

    What would your answer be?

    There are all sorts of things that humans do that nothing else we know of does. There are many aspects of human languages that are unique for example (although other animals do use grammatical language).

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  127. 127
    Virgil Cain says:

    The following gets to the root of the problem:

    According to your definition (and the generally recognised one), a natural cause is defined as any cause outside of human involvement?

    Yes that’s the definition I’ve been using here.

    And yet it is a given that other animals make artifacts. I even linked to an article that RDFish said he read that demonstrates artifacts are not just a human thing.

    The next is pure willful ignorance:

    One is that they explain a wide range of phenomena (biological systems, the values of the physical constants, and so on) with just this single term “intelligence”, without providing any sort of scientific definition for this (notoriously vague and scientifically controversial) term.

    Or a pathological liar.

    The problem with this definition derives from how we ascertain that something has foresight and planning skills.

    We do so via our knowledge of cause and effect relationships, ie science.

    If we listen to RDFish it’s a wonder that we can do any science at all.

    Cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  128. 128
    Mung says:

    Mr Fish,

    What objectively observable characteristics or abilities do all natural causes have in common?

    Surely you have an answer.

  129. 129
    Daniel King says:

    Mung:

    Mr Fish,

    What objectively observable characteristics or abilities do all natural causes have in common?

    Surely you have an answer.

    I asked Mr Mung @113 for his own view on this question, and he bunted. As usual.

    Please, Mr Mung, give us your answer to your own question. (Since it seems so critical to you.)

  130. 130
    RDFish says:

    Hi Barry Arrington,

    RDF: ID has no scientific basis upon which to infer that the cause of life had conscious awareness.
    BA: Is the teleology explained by a conscious, rational being? I believe it is, but that belief is a metaphysical belief. ID does not require it.
    RDF: [Barry] admits ID can’t support an inference to a conscious mind.
    BA: Of course I never said this or admitted anything of the sort. RDFish, the quickest way to be shown the exit from this blog is to tell lies about me. Stop it. Last warning. (emphasis added)
    BA: So, in sum, ID does not require a conscious designer, but it certainly does not exclude one.

    Ok then!

    What’s important here is that there is, in fact, no way to scientifically support an inference to conscious awareness as a property of whatever caused living things to exist (more on this below). The next step is to realize that once you subtract consciousness from the meaning of “intelligence”, there is nothing in the way of meaningful, empirically accessible attributes that can be inferred – without making some other assumptions about (or interactions with) the cause itself.

    Now let me respond to your arguments. I do thank you for outlining them clearly.

    1. The semiotic code in DNA is best explained by the act of an intelligent agent, because for all such codes where the provenance of the code has actually been observed, invariably and without exception the code was caused by an intelligent agent, namely a human being.

    Human beings can’t be the cause of DNA, so the fact that humans are the only known source of such codes doesn’t enable us to infer a known cause for the DNA code.

    So instead of offering a known cause for the CSI in biology, ID offers something that is unknown and hypothetical. Something that is sort of like a human being, in that it can produce CSI, but not a human being. The way ID expresses this is to say it is an intelligent agent.

    Now, “intelligence” is a difficult, controversial, and famously ambiguous concept in the sciences, so papers about it traditionally begin by stating a particular definition that will be used in the context at hand. In contrast, ID blithely offers “intelligence” as though this single word is sufficient to explain the origin of life, of the species, of the values of the physical constants in the universe, and so on – without any technical definition or qualification at all.

    That’s not science, it’s just good old anthropomorphizing. Intelligent agents were said to drive the planets across the sky, and direct the tides and the seasons and everything else we couldn’t figure out because… well why not? There is nothing that an “intelligent agent” can’t do in theory. Create complex machinery in the cell? Sure. Set the physical constants of the universe? Of course. Intelligent agency can do it all, whatever it is.

    For this reason, “intelligent agency” can never be falsified by finding some phenomenon that could not possibly have been produced by it. There are all sorts of ways to falsify Darwinian theory – plenty of things that cannot be produced by evolutionary processes. A complex new body plan arising in a short amount of time? Irreducibly complex systems? Voila – Darwinian evolution falsified. But the only way to “falsify” ID is to prove that some other theory is true! That’s like saying that until you prove ID we must accept Darwin! That’s not reasonable at all.

    All this means ID needs to (1) specify what it is that is being offered as an explanation, and (2) provide evidence such a thing actually exists, or existed, and produced living things.

    As a corollary to this proposition, we see no law/chance cause currently in operation that has the capacity to cause a semiotic code.

    First, by saying “intelligence” can create codes but “law/chance” cannot, you imply that human intelligence somehow operates in ways that violate or transcend “law/chance” (aka physical cause). In other words, you declare that you have solved the mind/body problem in favor of dualism. I point out that the mind/body problem has not yet been solved, and just because you want to say that “intelligence” does not reduce to – or supervene upon – physical cause, that doesn’t make it a scientific fact.

    Now, once you concede that dualism is a metaphysical position and not a scientific fact, the whole concept of distinguishing “law/chance” vs “intelligent causes” falls apart, scientifically speaking.

    AGAIN: ID contrasts “law/chance” vs. “intelligent cause”. This can only be meaningfully interpreted if you already have assumed that dualism is true. To see why, simply assume arguendo that physicalism is true and see if ID’s arguments make sense. If physicalism is true, then “intelligence” is a description of the operation of physical (law/chance) processes. It then becomes illogical to say that intelligence can do something that law/chance can’t – like saying poodles can bark but dogs can’t.

    ID’s only option, then, to retain this specious “law/chance” vs. “intelligent agency” argument is to claim that yes, it has indeed solved the mind/body problem, and dualism is true! If that is what you are arguing, that’s fine – but obviously it should be made clear.

    Therefore, we make an abductive inference. The best explanation for the cause of the semiotic code is “act of intelligent agent.”

    You have no evidence upon which to choose “unknown agent” over any other ill-defined, unobserved thing. Abductions still require evidence – it isn’t just “best guess out of a bunch of completely unsupported guesses”.

    2. Was the intelligent agent who created the semiotic code conscious? It is not necessary to answer this question to make the inference made in paragraph 1. Intelligence in this case is not defined as “conscious.”

    What I believe this means is that ID presents no scientific warrant to conclude conscious awareness on the part of whatever caused living things – right?

    It is defined as “the capacity to arrange matter for a purpose.”

    As I’ve said many times now, without apparent effect, the concept of “purpose” can only be objectively established by figuring out what somebody consciously intended. The irrigation system in a corn field is clearly for the purpose of watering the crops so they will grow (you can ask the farmer). But while the raincloud above also irrigates the corn, how is it we could go about telling of it reflects a purpose or not?

    In our experience, conscious agents like human beings produce semiotic codes routinely, and humans’ consciousness is obviously connected to their ability to create semiotic codes.

    This is not even obviously true in humans, since much of our mental ability proceeds without conscious awareness. People routinely solve difficult problems while not consciously thinking them; mathematicians and inventors in particular report solutions to difficult problems “coming to them” without conscious reflection.

    But even if we could establish a causal role for conscious awareness in human engineering, that says nothing at all about a very different, non-human, even non-living thing (entity? process? demiurge?) experiencing conscious awareness while producing CSI. There is simply no science at all behind the inference of consciousness to something we can’t observe.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  131. 131
    mike1962 says:

    RDFish: no way to scientifically support an inference to conscious awareness

    Scientific inquiry can’t tell me if anyone else besides myself is conscious, let alone whether or not a putative creator is conscious. So your statement is a fair one. Scientific inquiry has its limits.

    There is simply no science at all behind the inference of consciousness to something we can’t observe.

    How would you go about inferring consciousness from something that you can observe? You only have, and can only have, a single data point of consciousness, which is your own.

  132. 132
    Mung says:

    Daniel King: I asked Mr Mung @113 for his own view on this question, and he bunted. As usual.

    Meanwhile I am on base and you are still scratching your head wondering what happened.

    What objectively observable characteristics or abilities do all natural causes have in common?

    RDFish can’t answer that, so he won’t answer it. That was my view when I first asked it and it’s still my view now.

    It exposes the farce of his own question lodged at ID.

  133. 133
    Barry Arrington says:

    RDFish: What’s important here is that there is, in fact, no way to scientifically support an inference to conscious awareness as a property of whatever caused living things to exist (more on this below).

    False, as I have in fact demonstrated in the other thread.

    RDFish: Human beings can’t be the cause of DNA, so the fact that humans are the only known source of such codes doesn’t enable us to infer a known cause for the DNA code.

    Typical RDFish distortion. I did not say that human beings are the only known source of semiotic codes. I said that intelligent agents are the only known source of such codes. A critical difference that Fish distorts.

    RDFish: So instead of offering a known cause for the CSI in biology, ID offers something that is unknown and hypothetical.

    False. Intelligent agents are known to exist as a class. They are neither unknown nor hypothetical.

    RDFish: Now, “intelligence” is a difficult, controversial, and famously ambiguous concept in the sciences, so papers about it traditionally begin by stating a particular definition that will be used in the context at hand. In contrast, ID blithely offers “intelligence” as though this single word is sufficient to explain the origin of life, of the species, of the values of the physical constants in the universe, and so on – without any technical definition or qualification at all.

    You have repeated this error often and vigorously. Another iteration does not make it true. Intellience for purposes of ID: the ability to arrange matter for a purpose.

    RDFish: All this means ID needs to (1) specify what it is that is being offered as an explanation, and (2) provide evidence such a thing actually exists, or existed, and produced living things.

    (1) we have.
    (2) we have

    RDFish: First, by saying “intelligence” can create codes but “law/chance” cannot, you imply that human intelligence somehow operates in ways that violate or transcend “law/chance” (aka physical cause). In other words, you declare that you have solved the mind/body problem in favor of dualism. I point out that the mind/body problem has not yet been solved, and just because you want to say that “intelligence” does not reduce to – or supervene upon – physical cause, that doesn’t make it a scientific fact.

    False. I am saying that intelligent agents leave objectively identifiable markers of their activities that are distinguishable from law/chance. One does not have to solve the mind-body problem to know this is true. How do I know this? Let’s take an example. Mount Rushmore is beyond the capacity of purposeless natural forces. Therefore, even if I had no idea about the history of the mountain or who carved it, I would say the best explanation for its existence is “intelligent agent.” Is my design inference valid and sound? Yes. Have I provided a final scientific solution to the mind-body problem? No. Conclusion: Fish is wrong again.

    RDFish: Now, once you concede that dualism is a metaphysical position and not a scientific fact, the whole concept of distinguishing “law/chance” vs “intelligent causes” falls apart, scientifically speaking.

    False. Dualism is not a metaphysical positon. It is an incontrovertible fact. Yes, I know you deny that fact. That is what makes you so incorrigible – you deny facts you know with an absolute certainty are true.

    RDFish: AGAIN: ID contrasts “law/chance” vs. “intelligent cause”. This can only be meaningfully interpreted if you already have assumed that dualism is true. Go ahead; try to deny dualism. Wait, does oxygen have the capacity to deny a truth claim? Carbon? Any of the other chemicals in the human body? What if you mix all the chemicals up? Do those chemicals then have the capacity to deny truth claims?

    False. As has been explained to you, ID does not require dualism. It requires the ability to arrange matter for a purpose.

    RDFish: To see why, simply assume arguendo that physicalism is true and see if ID’s arguments make sense. If physicalism is true, then “intelligence” is a description of the operation of physical (law/chance) processes. It then becomes illogical to say that intelligence can do something that law/chance can’t – like saying poodles can bark but dogs can’t.

    False. Forensics is based on the incontrovertible fact that it is possible to distinguish between the purposeful acts of an agent and purposeless natural forces. Forensic techniques work for theists and atheists alike.

    RDFish ID’s only option, then, to retain this specious “law/chance” vs. “intelligent agency” argument is to claim that yes, it has indeed solved the mind/body problem, and dualism is true! If that is what you are arguing, that’s fine – but obviously it should be made clear.

    False (this is getting monotonous). As I have demonstrated, it is not necessary to resolve the mind/body problem for design inferences to be valid. ID depends on the ability to arrange matter for a purpose. It is compatible with (but not dependent upon) dualism.

    RDFish: As I’ve said many times now, without apparent effect, the concept of “purpose” can only be objectively established by figuring out what somebody consciously intended.

    It is correct that your error has not had its intended effect, which I assume is to get other people to adopt it. Purpose, in this context, means acting for an effect in the future, i.e. goal-directedness. Certainly, conscious agents can be purposeful in this sense. As I have explained before, ID is agnostic about whether non-conscious teleology (Nagel’s quartium quid, or a “telic force”) is possible Certainly it does not deny it.

    RDFish: The irrigation system in a corn field is clearly for the purpose of watering the crops so they will grow (you can ask the farmer). But while the raincloud above also irrigates the corn, how is it we could go about telling of it reflects a purpose or not?

    This argument is so muddle-headed it is difficult to respond to. No, clouds to not have purpose. Nor do irrigation systems. How you think either example casts any light on the discussion is a mystery.

    Barry: In our experience, conscious agents like human beings produce semiotic codes routinely, and humans’ consciousness is obviously connected to their ability to create semiotic codes.

    RDFish: This is not even obviously true in humans,

    When you make idiotic statements like this I wonder why I even bother with you.

    RDFish: There is simply no science at all behind the inference of consciousness

    Good thing that, as has been explained to you several times, ID does not infer to consciousness as a core part of its program.

  134. 134
    RDFish says:

    Hi Barry Arrington,

    RDFish: What’s important here is that there is, in fact, no way to scientifically support an inference to conscious awareness as a property of whatever caused living things to exist (more on this below).
    BA: False, as I have in fact demonstrated in the other thread.

    False? Really? Ok, so you’re saying that ID is able to marshall scientific evidence that whatever was responsible for the origin of life had conscious awareness, the way human beings are consciously aware. In that case, I do not understand what you meant when you said this:

    BA: Is the teleology explained by a conscious, rational being? I believe it is, but that belief is a metaphysical belief.

    It seems there you are saying the opposite, that inferring a conscious being is a metaphysical belief, not a scientific result. Help me understand what it is you think about this please.

    RDFish: Human beings can’t be the cause of DNA, so the fact that humans are the only known source of such codes doesn’t enable us to infer a known cause for the DNA code.
    BA: Typical RDFish distortion. I did not say that human beings are the only known source of semiotic codes. I said that intelligent agents are the only known source of such codes. A critical difference that Fish distorts.

    I’m not distorting what you have said, so stop accusing me of distortion. I’m not talking about what you have said. Rather, I am talking about what is the obvious truth: The only known sources of such codes are human beings. If you know of something else we can observe that produces codes like that – some other sort of “intelligent agent” – please tell me what it is. Otherwise, admit that the class of known “intelligent agents” that can create such codes is 100% co-referential with the term “human beings”.

    RDFish: So instead of offering a known cause for the CSI in biology, ID offers something that is unknown and hypothetical.
    BA: False. Intelligent agents are known to exist as a class. They are neither unknown nor hypothetical.

    Again, there is exactly one known member of that class that can create such codes – homo sapiens. Other primates, cetaceans, birds and other animals may also qualify as “intelligent agents” depending on how you define the term. But surely all known members of the class of “intelligent agents” are human beings and possibly other animals, and thus could not have been involved in the creation of the first living things.

    Note that you skipped the argument regarding theories that can only be falsified by proving some other theory true. Again, while we all falsify Darwinism with concepts like irreducible complexity, there is nothing that an “intelligent agent” can’t do in theory, which means while evolutionary theory is eminently falsifiable, ID is not.

    I am saying that intelligent agents leave objectively identifiable markers of their activities that are distinguishable from law/chance. One does not have to solve the mind-body problem to know this is true.

    Saying that something is distinguishable from law/chance must mean that what is being distinguished is NOT law/chance. ID is thus assuming that “intelligent causation” (aka “mind”) is fundamentally different from physical cause (aka “law/chance”). That is the very definition of dualism.

    Therefore, even if I had no idea about the history of the mountain or who carved it, I would say the best explanation for its existence is “intelligent agent.”

    Most people would say it was made by human beings. Could a chimpanzee create Mount Rushmore? A parrot or a beaver? No, none of these intelligent agents could do it – only human beings. Do we know of any other “intelligent agent” in the entire universe that could do it? No, we know of no other sort of intelligent agent at all. So the best explanation is surely “human being”, not “intelligent agent”.

    RDFish: Now, once you concede that dualism is a metaphysical position and not a scientific fact, the whole concept of distinguishing “law/chance” vs “intelligent causes” falls apart, scientifically speaking.
    BA: False. Dualism is not a metaphysical positon. It is an incontrovertible fact. Yes, I know you deny that fact. That is what makes you so incorrigible – you deny facts you know with an absolute certainty are true.

    You just got through saying ID does not have to take a position on the mind/body problem, right? Now you appear to be saying dualism is true, but apparently this makes no difference to ID, right?

    Either ID claims “intelligent agency” (which you define as something that acts “for a purpose”) is compatible with law/chance, or it doesn’t. If ID holds that intelligence is compatible with law/chance, then ID can’t claim that law/chance cannot produce CSI. If it doesn’t, then ID depends upon the claim that dualism is true. Which is it?

    False. As has been explained to you, ID does not require dualism. It requires the ability to arrange matter for a purpose.

    OK, this seems clear – ID does not depend on dualism, got it. But if ID does not require dualism, how can law/chance be deemed incapable of producing CSI? Unless dualism is true, then even human action is due purely to law/chance. Unless ID requires dualism, its core arguments become incoherent.

    RDFish: To see why, simply assume arguendo that physicalism is true and see if ID’s arguments make sense. If physicalism is true, then “intelligence” is a description of the operation of physical (law/chance) processes. It then becomes illogical to say that intelligence can do something that law/chance can’t – like saying poodles can bark but dogs can’t.
    BA: False.

    Do you disagree that physicalism is contrary to dualism? Do you disagree that physicalism holds that intelligence proceeds according to law/chance? Do you disagree that if physicalism is true, it is illogical to say that intelligence can do something that law/chance can’t? Unless you disagree with one of these statements, you haven’t shown why what I said was false.

    Forensics is based on the incontrovertible fact that it is possible to distinguish between the purposeful acts of an agent and purposeless natural forces. Forensic techniques work for theists and atheists alike.

    For that 100000th time – forensic science has never identified anything that has ever committed a crime except human beings. There is no such thing as a non-human intelligent agent that can be identified by forensics. Forensic science has no reference to “intelligent agency”. They learn how to investigate the activity of “human beings”, not “intelligent agency”.

    As I have demonstrated, it is not necessary to resolve the mind/body problem for design inferences to be valid.

    And as I have demonstrated, unless ID assumes dualism, the statement “law/chance cannot produce CSI but intelligence can” is incoherent.

    RDFish: As I’ve said many times now, without apparent effect, the concept of “purpose” can only be objectively established by figuring out what somebody consciously intended.
    BA: Purpose, in this context, means acting for an effect in the future, i.e. goal-directedness.

    But you can’t detect “goal directedness” without observing something seeking a goal. Unless you already what made something, there is no way of knowing if there was any purpose involved. Moreover, if you don’t know that the source was conscious, then it’s not clear what “seeking a goal” means.

    I will say that in cybernetics, the term “goal directedness” would be interpreted as “incorporating negative feedback to seek a goal” – a completely mechanical, algorithmically describable process. But something tells me that meaning of the term wouldn’t suit your purpose 😉

    Certainly, conscious agents can be purposeful in this sense. As I have explained before, ID is agnostic about whether non-conscious teleology (Nagel’s quartium quid, or a “telic force”) is possible Certainly it does not deny it.

    So you’re saying that ID does not provide scientific evidence regarding whether the cause of life was conscious. Got it. If it was not conscious, then, what other aspects of mentality would it still share with human beings?

    RDFish: The irrigation system in a corn field is clearly for the purpose of watering the crops so they will grow (you can ask the farmer). But while the raincloud above also irrigates the corn, how is it we could go about telling of it reflects a purpose or not?
    BA: This argument is so muddle-headed it is difficult to respond to.

    No, the reason you’re having trouble responding to the is because there really is no way to infer purpose without knowing the cause. Rather than actually try and say how we’re supposed to do that, you just toss out examples of how we know about human engineering and human purpose. But when I toss out a counterexample – where the same result derives from either conscious or non-conscious action – you are befuddled.

    No, clouds to not have purpose. Nor do irrigation systems. How you think either example casts any light on the discussion is a mystery.

    WHAT? Irrigation systems do not have any purpose? Are you joking? Well, that shows that there’s no way to objectively detect purpose, because I would say that the purpose of an irrigation system is to water crops!

    Barry: In our experience, conscious agents like human beings produce semiotic codes routinely, and humans’ consciousness is obviously connected to their ability to create semiotic codes.
    RDFish: This is not even obviously true in humans,
    BA: When you make idiotic statements like this I wonder why I even bother with you.

    You have no knowledge of cognitive psychology and philosophy of mind. I do. Yours was the idiotic statement. You even skipped the reasons I gave you instead of considering them:

    RDF: …since much of our mental ability proceeds without conscious awareness. People routinely solve difficult problems while not consciously thinking them; mathematicians and inventors in particular report solutions to difficult problems “coming to them” without conscious reflection.

    You might want to peruse a short summary of cognitive psychology before spouting off about consciousness and intelligence.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  135. 135
    Mung says:

    Hi RDFish!

    What objectively observable characteristics or abilities do all natural causes have in common?

  136. 136
    StephenB says:

    RDFish (to Barry)

    I’m not distorting what you have said, so stop accusing me of distortion. I’m not talking about what you have said. Rather, I am talking about what is the obvious truth: The only known sources of such codes are human beings. If you know of something else we can observe that produces codes like that – some other sort of “intelligent agent” – please tell me what it is. Otherwise, admit that the class of known “intelligent agents” that can create such codes is 100% co-referential with the term “human beings”.

    Distortion 1: It isn’t the human being’s “humanity” that is known to produce codes; it is the human being’s capacity for arranging matter. Human beings are not the only known intelligent agents, so being human is irrelevant to the paradigm.

    Distortion 2: Intelligence is defined as the capacity for arranging matter, not as the capacity for producing a semiotic code. The former is a broader concept than the latter. That is why the science of design detection involves other sciences, including forensic science, which has nothing at all to do with semiotic codes.

    Either ID claims “intelligent agency” (which you define as something that acts “for a purpose”) is compatible with law/chance, or it doesn’t. If ID holds that intelligence is compatible with law/chance, then ID can’t claim that law/chance cannot produce CSI. If it doesn’t, then ID depends upon the claim that dualism is true. Which is it?

    You are confusing the logical requirements for sound philosophy with the provisional findings of scientific methodology. From the standpoint of sound philosophy, ID cannot be true unless dualism is true. However, ID does not presume to make that calculation. ID simply follows empirical evidence wherever it may lead. Thus, neither ID science nor its methods depend on dualism for the simple reason that ID is obliged to withhold judgment on the matter until the evidence speaks. You can’t withhold judgment about A and assume that A is true at the same time. Try to grasp the point. Even if metaphysical dualism must be true in order for ID’s conclusions to be true, it doesn’t follow that ID’s design detection process depends on, or must assume, dualism. Do you understand the difference? Try– really try–to get it.

    OK, this seems clear – ID does not depend on dualism, got it. But if ID does not require dualism, how can law/chance be deemed incapable of producing CSI? Unless dualism is true, then even human action is due purely to law/chance. Unless ID requires dualism, its core arguments become incoherent.

    Again, you are confusing philosophy with science. ID science begins by withholding judgment about the truth of dualism until the evidence speaks. Once that happens, any reasonable person would conclude that dualism is much more plausible than monism. Indeed, you must have arrived at that same conclusion when I asked you about the categorical difference between the tornado/burglar and accidental death/ murder. However, you were afraid to admit it, so you simply dodged the question.

    For that 100000th time – forensic science has never identified anything that has ever committed a crime except human beings. There is no such thing as a non-human intelligent agent that can be identified by forensics. Forensic science has no reference to “intelligent agency”. They learn how to investigate the activity of “human beings”, not “intelligent agency”

    You keep making this claim and I keep correcting it. Forensic scientists are not searching for evidence of the murderer’s “humanity.” There are searching for evidence of his guilt, so that a court will convict him of crime. Please make a note of it, since I don’t appreciate issuing the same correctives time after time.

    RDFish: As I’ve said many times now, without apparent effect, the concept of “purpose” can only be objectively established by figuring out what somebody consciously intended.

    Which is often a very easy to do. That is why there is such a thing as evidence for attempted murder, which easily qualifies as objective purpose.

    RDFish: The irrigation system in a corn field is clearly for the purpose of watering the crops so they will grow (you can ask the farmer). But while the raincloud above also irrigates the corn, how is it we could go about telling of it reflects a purpose or not?

    Barry is right. This argument is muddle-headed–incredibly so.

    No, the reason you’re having trouble responding to the is because there really is no way to infer purpose without knowing the cause. Rather than actually try and say how we’re supposed to do that, you just toss out examples of how we know about human engineering and human purpose. But when I toss out a counterexample – where the same result derives from either conscious or non-conscious action – you are befuddled.

    No one is befuddled except in the sense of marveling that you would think your examples prove something. I don’t understand how you can keep from being embarrassed.

    RDF: WHAT? Irrigation systems do not have any purpose? Are you joking? Well, that shows that there’s no way to objectively detect purpose, because I would say that the purpose of an irrigation system is to water crops!

    Don’t just react by putting one word in front of the other. Try to think. I mean–seriously–gird of the loins of your mind. ID detects purpose by observing patterns in arranged matter. You can’t detect purpose by simply observing wet ground, or a wet crop, or a rain cloud, or a light beam because there are no detectable pattern of arranged matter to observe. Please tell me that you finally understand. It’s just insane to keep raising mindless objections about principles that you don’t yet understand. If you would have answered my earlier questions, you would not keep making the same mistakes.

  137. 137
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    RDFish (to Barry)

    Ah, it’s a tag team! 🙂

    (You skipped the part where Barry says you can scientifically infer a conscious designer, then he says you can’t. That was pretty funny, right?)

    Distortion 1: It isn’t the human being’s “humanity” that is known to produce codes; it is the human being’s capacity for arranging matter.

    Obviously it is a human being’s “capacity for producing codes” that is responsible for producing codes, yes. Brilliant! And I didn’t say it was “humanity” – you just made that up.

    Human beings are not the only known intelligent agents, so being human is irrelevant to the paradigm.

    What other known type of intelligent agent produces semiotic codes, StephenB? Seems like you would actually mention what you’re talking about if this were true 🙂

    Distortion 2: Intelligence is defined as the capacity for arranging matter, not as the capacity for producing a semiotic code.

    Um, here is what Barry said that I responded to: “I said that intelligent agents are the only known source of such codes.” So it’s really stupid of you to call my comments “distortions”.

    Note that you skipped the argument regarding theories that can only be falsified by proving some other theory true. Again, while we all falsify Darwinism with concepts like irreducible complexity, there is nothing that an “intelligent agent” can’t do in theory, which means while evolutionary theory is eminently falsifiable, ID is not.

    RDF: Either ID claims “intelligent agency” (which you define as something that acts “for a purpose”) is compatible with law/chance, or it doesn’t. If ID holds that intelligence is compatible with law/chance, then ID can’t claim that law/chance cannot produce CSI. If it doesn’t, then ID depends upon the claim that dualism is true. Which is it?
    SB: You are confusing the logical requirements for sound philosophy with the provisional findings of scientific methodology.

    No I’m not. I don’t care what you argue about philosophy; I’m only interested when you claim to be doing science.

    From the standpoint of sound philosophy, ID cannot be true unless dualism is true.

    Don’t bring philosophy into this. From the standpoint of what your arguments for ID actually say, ID is incoherent unless you assume dualism. I’ve explained this over and over again, and it won’t go away just because you ignore it: ID says that “intelligence” can produce CSI but “law/chance” cannot. ID is thus assuming that “intelligent causation” (aka “mind”) is fundamentally different from physical cause (aka “law/chance”). That is the very definition of dualism.

    Thus, neither ID science nor its methods depend on dualism for the simple reason that ID is obliged to withhold judgment on the matter until the evidence speaks.

    If intelligence is nothing but the outcome of physical processes in human brains and bodies (that is, if dualism is false and law/chance is all there is), then how can you argue that law/chance cannot produce CSI? You can’t, of course. ID assumes dualism at the outset.

    Even if metaphysical dualism must be true in order for ID’s conclusions to be true, it doesn’t follow that ID’s design detection process depends on, or must assume, dualism. Do you understand the difference? Try– really try–to get it.

    It would help me to understand if you would answer the questions that I always ask. Here, just answer this: If intelligence is nothing but the outcome of physical processes in human brains and bodies (that is, if dualism is false and law/chance is all there is), then how can ID say that its scientific detection methodology (e.g. the “explanatory filter”) assumes that law/chance can be shown to be incapable of producing, while intelligence is capable of it? If dualism is false, that is like saying poodles can bark, but dogs can’t. It’s logically incoherent.

    ID science begins by withholding judgment about the truth of dualism until the evidence speaks. Once that happens, any reasonable person would conclude that dualism is much more plausible than monism.

    It seems like what you are trying to say (but for some reason are afraid to say it outright) is that by employing the ID methodology, ID manages to show that dualism is true. Is that what you are saying, that ID has provided evidence that dualism is true?

    Here is what you are arguing ID’s methodology accomplishes:
    1) Is the phenomenon explicable by any combination of law+chance?
    2) If yes, then that’s the best explanation.
    3) If there is no explanation based on law+chance, then we must conclude that the explanation must be something besides law/chance, and that means it is “intelligence”

    Is that a fair representation? I think so. But as you can see, in step (3), ID assumes (without demonstrating) that “intelligence” is not law/chance. That is an assumption of dualism.

    Indeed, you must have arrived at that same conclusion when I asked you about the categorical difference between the tornado/burglar and accidental death/ murder. However, you were afraid to admit it, so you simply dodged the question.

    Afraid to admit what? I’ve explained your confusion endlessly regarding burglars and tornados. They are very different sorts of things, but this has nothing to do with metaphysics at all – nothing to do with what lawlike regularities are, or random processes, or mental abilities. Nope, they are just obviously very different sorts of things that have very different effects, and no sane person would confuse them.

    Forensic scientists are not searching for evidence of the murderer’s “humanity.”

    They are looking for human beings. You have failed to provide a single reference from any forensics text that explains anything about “intelligent agency”. Until you do, it’s futile to pretend that forensics scientists learn about “intelligent agency” instead of what they actually study, which is how to collect evidence about human activities.

    There are searching for evidence of his guilt, so that a court will convict him of crime. Please make a note of it, since I don’t appreciate issuing the same correctives time after time.

    I know you talk like this – this pedantic, supersilious nonsense about “issuing correctives” – because it makes you feel like you’re smart. But you’re wrong about everything you say here, so it ends up just making you look even stupider.

    Anyway, you dodged this part that explains in yet another way why forensic scientists would never attribute something to “intelligent agency” rather than “human activity”:

    Most people would say it was made by human beings [rather than intelligent agency]. Could a chimpanzee create Mount Rushmore? A parrot or a beaver? No, none of these intelligent agents could do it – only human beings. Do we know of any other “intelligent agent” in the entire universe that could do it? No, we know of no other sort of intelligent agent at all. So the best explanation is surely “human being”, not “intelligent agent”.

    Stop dodging the stuff you can’t think of an answer for! It’s futile.

    RDFish: As I’ve said many times now, without apparent effect, the concept of “purpose” can only be objectively established by figuring out what somebody consciously intended.
    SB: Which is often a very easy to do. That is why there is such a thing as evidence for attempted murder, which easily qualifies as objective purpose.

    WHAT???? How many times must I explain to you that while all of your examples have to do with human beings and ONLY human beings, that has nothing to do with ID? Human beings didn’t create life, StephenB. We know all sorts of things about human beings, but we know nothing about the cause of life. We can talk to human beings, but we can’t talk to the cause of life. We know that when a human being does something they may well have a conscious intention to do it, but we have no way of knowing that regarding the cause of life.

    If you had read this instead of dodging it you may have understood that already:

    RDF: Unless you already know what made something, there is no way of knowing if there was any purpose involved. Moreover, if you don’t know that the source was conscious, then it’s not clear what “seeking a goal” means.

    RDFish: The irrigation system in a corn field is clearly for the purpose of watering the crops so they will grow (you can ask the farmer). But while the raincloud above also irrigates the corn, how is it we could go about telling of it reflects a purpose or not?

    Barry is right. This argument is muddle-headed–incredibly so.

    Hahahahahahahahahahaha. Whenever you are completely trounced by my arguments the only dodge you have left is to say “sorry but you’re muddled so I won’t answer”. Guess what? That isn’t actually a counter-argument. But it is really, really funny that you think you can get away with it.

    ID detects purpose by observing patterns in arranged matter. You can’t detect purpose by simply observing wet ground, or a wet crop, or a rain cloud, or a light beam because there are no detectable pattern of arranged matter to observe. Please tell me that you finally understand.

    Here is what is obvious: What you are actually referring to as “pattern of arranged matter” is otherwise known as “CSI”, even though you won’t admit it. Why won’t you admit it? Because you want to say that you can actually observe purpose in matter, and not just specified complexity. But you are completely, hopelessly, and comically wrong – you can’t observe “purpose” in anything – you can only observe specified complexity.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  138. 138
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    What other known type of intelligent agent produces semiotic codes, StephenB? Seems like you would actually mention what you’re talking about if this were true 🙂

    SB: It isn’t the “type” of intelligent agent the produces the codes; it is the capacity of the intelligent agent.

    (RD rants on about points already refuted and provides endless repetitions of the same attempts to make a point)

    I don’t care what you argue about philosophy; I’m only interested when you claim to be doing science.

    Then address the scientific arguments and stop talking about philosophy, especially the philosophy of dualism. If you do insist about injecting that subject matter into the discussion, then expect to get refuted on those terms as well.

    SB: From the standpoint of sound philosophy, ID cannot be true unless dualism is true.

    Don’t bring philosophy into this.

    Are you cuckoo? I didn’t bring philosophy into it. You did. I was simply correcting the error embedded in your philosophical intrusion.

    SB: Thus, neither ID science nor its methods depend on dualism for the simple reason that ID is obliged to withhold judgment on the matter until the evidence speaks.

    If intelligence is nothing but the outcome of physical processes in human brains and bodies (that is, if dualism is false and law/chance is all there is), then how can you argue that law/chance cannot produce CSI? You can’t, of course. ID assumes dualism at the outset.

    ID does not assume the truth of dualism. (Notice how RD says we should stop talking about philosophy, even though he can’t stop obsessing about dualism). ID assumes the possibility of dualism, not the truth of dualism. Please make a note of it.

    SB: Even if metaphysical dualism must be true in order for ID’s conclusions to be true, it doesn’t follow that ID’s design detection process depends on, or must assume, dualism. Do you understand the difference? Try– really try–to get it.

    It would help me to understand if you would answer the questions that I always ask. Here, just answer this: If intelligence is nothing but the outcome of physical processes in human brains and bodies (that is, if dualism is false and law/chance is all there is), then how can ID say that its scientific detection methodology (e.g. the “explanatory filter”) assumes that law/chance can be shown to be incapable of producing, while intelligence is capable of it? If dualism is false, that is like saying poodles can bark, but dogs can’t. It’s logically incoherent.

    You are twisting yourself into a pretzel again. If dualism is false, then ID cannot prove that it is true. (More philosophical distractions from the one who says he doesn’t want to discuss philosophy, even when I do so only to correct his errors).

    SB: ID science begins by withholding judgment about the truth of dualism until the evidence speaks. Once that happens, any reasonable person would conclude that dualism is much more plausible than monism.

    It seems like what you are trying to say (but for some reason are afraid to say it outright) is that by employing the ID methodology, ID manages to show that dualism is true. Is that what you are saying, that ID has provided evidence that dualism is true?

    ID provides evidence that dualism, which was assumed to be possible (not assumed to be true) is, in fact, true.

    Here is what you are arguing ID’s methodology accomplishes:
    1) Is the phenomenon explicable by any combination of law+chance?
    2) If yes, then that’s the best explanation.
    3) If there is no explanation based on law+chance, then we must conclude that the explanation must be something besides law/chance, and that means it is “intelligence”

    Is that a fair representation? I think so.

    But as you can see, in step (3), ID assumes (without demonstrating) that “intelligence” is not law/chance. That is an assumption of dualism.

    Reread your own comment. You used the word “conclude” is step 3). Last time I checked, assume doesn’t mean conclude.

    There is no assumption of the truth of dualism. There is only the assumption of the possibility of dualism. At the same time, that which is assumed to be possible, must also be defined. However, to define what you mean by A is not to assume that A is true. Basic logic. Please try to comprehend this fact.

    Forensic scientists are not looking for “human activity in the context of differentiating accidental death from murder.” They already have that. They are, in fact, looking for the very thing that has been defined and described: Purposefully arranged matter as opposed to naturally moving matter. That you cannot accept the facts are your problem, not mine.

    Most people would say it was made by human beings [rather than intelligent agency].

    No, they wouldn’t. When asked to choose between law/chance and design, they would say design. They would not say “human being.” That is your distraction.

    As I’ve said many times now, without apparent effect, the concept of “purpose” can only be objectively established by figuring out what somebody consciously intended.

    SB: Which is often a very easy to do. That is why there is such a thing as evidence for attempted murder, which easily qualifies as objective purpose.

    WHAT???? How many times must I explain to you that while all of your examples have to do with human beings and ONLY human beings, that has nothing to do with ID? Human beings didn’t create life, StephenB.

    You don’t handle refutations very well, do you? Use your head and return to the question on the table. It is often very easy to demonstrate objective purpose from the way matter is arranged. When you get excited, you lose your train of thought.

    The irrigation system in a corn field is clearly for the purpose of watering the crops so they will grow (you can ask the farmer). But while the raincloud above also irrigates the corn, how is it we could go about telling of it reflects a purpose or not?

    Barry is right. This argument is muddle-headed–incredibly so.

    Hahahahahahahahahahaha.

    So is that one.

    Whenever you are completely trounced by my arguments the only dodge you have left is to say “sorry but you’re muddled so I won’t answer”. Guess what? That isn’t actually a counter-argument. But it is really, really funny that you think you can get away with it.

    Obviously, you are the one who is struggling. As I made clear, you really look foolish when you try to claim that light beams, rain clouds, and buckets of water contain purposefully arranged matter that can be discerned. If you want to revisit that thesis again, bring it on. At this point, I must say that you are a glutton for punishment.

    SB: ID detects purpose by observing patterns in arranged matter. You can’t detect purpose by simply observing wet ground, or a wet crop, or a rain cloud, or a light beam because there are no detectable pattern of arranged matter to observe. Please tell me that you finally understand.

    Here is what is obvious: What you are actually referring to as “pattern of arranged matter” is otherwise known as “CSI”, even though you won’t admit it. Why won’t you admit it?

    Notice how you completely ignore what is written and try to change the subject. Why should I admit something that isn’t true. Just because you don’t understand the difference between the broader concept of matter arranged for a purpose and the narrower concept of CSI doesn’t mean that I should cater to your ignorance, especially when I have already explained the difference.

    Because you want to say that you can actually observe purpose in matter, and not just specified complexity. But you are completely, hopelessly, and comically wrong – you can’t observe “purpose” in anything – you can only observe specified complexity.

    I have already refuted that one as well. Indeed, I don’t have to refute it because any rational person you will encounter can destroy your claim. Everyone can discern purpose in a beaver’s dam. Everyone can discern purpose in a murderous act. Everyone can discern purpose in burglar’s action. Everyone can discern purpose in a spider’s web. Everyone can discern purpose in an ancient hunter’s spear. You are the only one I know who cannot.

  139. 139
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    RDF: What other known type of intelligent agent produces semiotic codes, StephenB? Seems like you would actually mention what you’re talking about if this were true 🙂
    SB: It isn’t the “type” of intelligent agent the produces the codes; it is the capacity of the intelligent agent.

    Do you or don’t you agree that every known intelligent agent is either a human or other animal, and that human beings are the only known things that can produce semiotic codes?

    (RD rants on about points already refuted and provides endless repetitions of the same attempts to make a point)

    No, you never refuted the fact that while evolutionary theory is falsifiable on its own, ID theory can only be falsified by proving some other theory true – another reason ID is unscientific.

    Then address the scientific arguments and stop talking about philosophy, especially the philosophy of dualism.

    The point about dualism is that ID’s aruments assume it is true, rendering ID a metaphysical conjecture rather than a scientific theory.

    If you do insist about injecting that subject matter into the discussion, then expect to get refuted on those terms as well.

    If you could have refuted this point (or any other point I made) then you would have. But you haven’t, because you can’t.

    RDF: If intelligence is nothing but the outcome of physical processes in human brains and bodies (that is, if dualism is false and law/chance is all there is), then how can you argue that law/chance cannot produce CSI?
    SB: SILENCE

    Why no answer?

    RDF: You can’t, of course. ID assumes dualism at the outset.
    SB: ID does not assume the truth of dualism.

    You simply deny it but you don’t try to counter my argument. Ridiculous.

    (Notice how RD says we should stop talking about philosophy, even though he can’t stop obsessing about dualism).

    The point about dualism is that ID’s arguments assume it is true, rendering ID a metaphysical conjecture rather than a scientific theory.

    ID assumes the possibility of dualism, not the truth of dualism. Please make a note of it.

    If intelligence is nothing but the outcome of physical processes in human brains and bodies (that is, if dualism is false and law/chance is all there is), then how can you argue that law/chance cannot produce CSI?

    If dualism is false, then ID cannot prove that it is true.

    Is dualism is a scientific fact, or a metaphysical belief?
    Are ID’s arguments coherent if dualism is false?
    I ask you these questions because I know you’ll dodge them. How do I know that? Because if you answered them you’d lose the argument. So I’ll check your response and keep asking these questions until you answer them.

    ID provides evidence that dualism, which was assumed to be possible (not assumed to be true) is, in fact, true.

    Nobody suggested that anyone assume dualism is impossible, so the first part is irrelevant. As to the second part, you are saying that ID does not assume dualism, but it provides scientific evidence that dualism is true. Is that right?

    There is no assumption of the truth of dualism. There is only the assumption of the possibility of dualism.

    Again, that is completely irrelevant, because the possibility of dualism is not a relevant issue.

    At the same time, that which is assumed to be possible, must also be defined. However, to define what you mean by A is not to assume that A is true. Basic logic. Please try to comprehend this fact.

    Again you’re going on about the “possibility” of dualism when that has never been in question – you are so confused. Then you add a deprecating little jibe to make it look like I’m the one confused – very clever!

    RDF: Most people would say it was made by human beings [rather than intelligent agency].
    SB: No, they wouldn’t.

    Why not try it – ask what sort of thing created Mount Rushmore to anyone outside of an ID forum, and see what they say. I’d bet they say something like “What, are you stupid? People made it of course – a bunch of guys back in the 1930s. What do you think made it – aliens from outer space? Hahahahaha”.

    RDF: Could a chimpanzee create Mount Rushmore? A parrot or a beaver? No, none of these intelligent agents could do it – only human beings. Do we know of any other “intelligent agent” in the entire universe that could do it? No, we know of no other sort of intelligent agent at all. So the best explanation is surely “human being”, not “intelligent agent”.
    SB: SILENCE

    RDF: As I’ve said many times now, without apparent effect, the concept of “purpose” can only be objectively established by figuring out what somebody consciously intended.
    SB: Which is often a very easy to do. That is why there is such a thing as evidence for attempted murder, which easily qualifies as objective purpose.

    GREAT – we agree that in order to determine purpose, we need to establish a conscious intent of the cause. This definitely helps clarify things.

    Why should I admit something that isn’t true. Just because you don’t understand the difference between the broader concept of matter arranged for a purpose and the narrower concept of CSI doesn’t mean that I should cater to your ignorance, especially when I have already explained the difference.

    All you said was that “matter for a purpose” was a broader category that included CSI. That doesn’t help objectively identify anything.

    RDF: Because you want to say that you can actually observe purpose in matter, and not just specified complexity. But you are completely, hopelessly, and comically wrong – you can’t observe “purpose” in anything – you can only observe specified complexity.
    SB: I have already refuted that one as well.

    No, you haven’t even tried.

    Indeed, I don’t have to refute it because any rational person you will encounter can destroy your claim.

    If you could refute it, you would. If you could provide some METHOD to ascertain purpose, you would. But you can’t! All you can do is list EXAMPLES and expect somebody else to induce what criterion you are using! It’s completely ridiculous!

    Watch – you’ll just pull the same old stupid trick where you start giving examples of HUMANS (or perhaps certain other animals) doing things, and claim that we know they had conscious intent just by looking at the artifact, when in fact it’s because we know what built it! Let’s see…

    Everyone can discern purpose in a beaver’s dam.

    TOLD YOU! It’s because we know an animal built it! (and apparently you believe beavers have conscious intent – which I supposed I’ll agree with arguendo)

    Everyone can discern purpose in a murderous act.

    TOLD YOU! Same stupid trick. It’s because we know that a HUMAN did it.

    Everyone can discern purpose in burglar’s action.

    TOLD YOU! Same stupid trick – a HUMAN BEING did it.

    Everyone can discern purpose in a spider’s web.

    You really think spiders have a conscious intent to build webs in order to catch flies? Again, examples don’t help – you really need to provide a METHOD for determining purpose. But you can’t.

    Everyone can discern purpose in an ancient hunter’s spear.

    TOLD YOU! Same stupid trick – ancient hunters were all HUMAN BEINGS.

    You are the only one I know who cannot.

    I’ll let the fair reader decide what a pathetic shot this one is 🙂

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  140. 140
    EugeneS says:

    RDB,

    I am sorry but that is really pathetic. A spider’s web does not have anything to do with humans. Biological organisms, apart from humans, are also agents. Agency is irreducible to law and chance. The key notion you seem to be trying to avoid is ‘pragmatic utility’ (‘purpose’ is too vague in my opinion).

    Whatever you call it, dualism or not, I don’t really care. I can observe for myself that irreducibility is a real issue in many disciplines.

    Naturalism is fine in many areas but it is not a panacea. Reality does not have to be reducible to law and chance. When you deal with how nature came to be, naturalism is not an option.

  141. 141
    Virgil Cain says:

    RDFish:

    Do you or don’t you agree that every known intelligent agent is either a human or other animal, and that human beings are the only known things that can produce semiotic codes?

    So when we observe a semiotic code and it could not have been a human we infer it was via some other, unknown, intentional/ intelligent agency.

    Science 101

    No, you never refuted the fact that while evolutionary theory is falsifiable on its own, ID theory can only be falsified by proving some other theory true –

    So what? Newtons’s four rules of scientific investigation mandate that

    …another reason ID is unscientific.

    Only a scientifically illiterate ass would say that, and here you are, RDFish. What is wrong with you? In what way does that make ID unscientific? Please TRY to make a case- I dare you.

    The point about dualism is that ID’s arguments assume it is true,..

    We infer it is true, based on the scientific evidence.

    If you could provide some METHOD to ascertain purpose, you would.

    We have and you ignored it as if your willful ignorance is an argument.

    It’s because we know that a HUMAN did it.

    What a dick. If we can ascertain purpose when a human did it, guess what? We can ascertain purpose you little infant.

    The fair reader knows that RDFish is a scientifically illiterate coward. I am OK with that.

    Cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  142. 142
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    The point about dualism is that ID’s aruments assume it is true, rendering ID a metaphysical conjecture rather than a scientific theory.
    ID doesn’t assume dualism.

    If you could have refuted this point (or any other point I made) then you would have. But you haven’t, because you can’t.

    I have refuted it many times. You don’t understand the refutation because you don’t know the chronology of the ID process, which is definitive and precise and contains no assumptions of dualism. I have asked you several times to reproduce the process from start to finish and you cannot do it. Since you don’t know the process, you can’t possibly know what is or is not in it. Since I do know the process, I can tell you that the assumption of dualism is neither explicitly or impicitly present in the process.

    RDF: If intelligence is nothing but the outcome of physical processes in human brains and bodies (that is, if dualism is false and law/chance is all there is), then how can you argue that law/chance cannot produce CSI?

    Why no answer?

    It’s a meaningless question. You are saying that if intelligence is something different than the way ID defines it, then ID is wrong. Well, no kidding. It’s a trivial observation. If ID is wrong about intelligence, then ID is wrong about intelligence. Thank you for that profound observation.
    .

    SB: ID assumes the possibility of dualism, not the truth of dualism. Please make a note of it.

    If intelligence is nothing but the outcome of physical processes in human brains and bodies (that is, if dualism is false and law/chance is all there is), then how can you argue that law/chance cannot produce CSI?

    Notice how you completely ignore what is written and promptly revert back to your talking points.

    Is dualism is a scientific fact, or a metaphysical belief?

    Dualism is a metaphysical position.

    Are ID’s arguments coherent if dualism is false?
    I ask you these questions because I know you’ll dodge them. How do I know that? Because if you answered them you’d lose the argument. So I’ll check your response and keep asking these questions until you answer them.

    I don’t dodge intelligible questions. If dualism if false, that is, if there is no intelligent agency as ID understands I, then ID is obviously false by definition. If there is no such thing as intelligent agency, then there is no such thing as an argument. If there is no such thing as an argument, then there is no such thing as an incoherent argument.

    SB” ID provides evidence that dualism, which was assumed to be possible (not assumed to be true) is, in fact, true.

    Nobody suggested that anyone assume dualism is impossible, so the first part is irrelevant. As to the second part, you are saying that ID does not assume dualism, but it provides scientific evidence that dualism is true. Is that right?

    What in the name of sense are you talking about? Try to rephrase that question so that it corresponds to the comment that prompted it.

    SB: There is no assumption of the truth of dualism. There is only the assumption of the possibility of dualism.

    Again, that is completely irrelevant, because the possibility of dualism is not a relevant issue.

    It is the ONLY issue and you clearly are a mile away from understanding it. If ID does not assume that intelligent agency (or dualism, for that matter) is possible, it cannot posit it as a scientific hypothesis. That is no the same thing as assuming that dualism is true—as I have explained countless times.

    Again you’re going on about the “possibility” of dualism when that has never been in question – you are so confused. Then you add a deprecating little jibe to make it look like I’m the one confused – very clever!

    I am simply correcting your claim that ID assumes the truth of dualism. For some reason, you cannot grasp the difference between asserting that dualism is true and assuming that it as possible. As far as deprecating jibes are concerned, I have been very gentle with you.

    Could a chimpanzee create Mount Rushmore? A parrot or a beaver? No, none of these intelligent agents could do it – only human beings

    So what? So what? So what?.

    So the best explanation is surely “human being”, not “intelligent agent”.

    No, it isn’t. ID’s paradigm does not juxtapose law/chance vs “Human being.” ID’s paradigm juxtaposes law/chance vs intelligent agency. Human being is not interchangeable with intelligent agent. You can’t just go around tweaking others’ paradigms and expect to make a logical argument on that basis. It isn’t rational. In order to have a reasonable analysis, you must use carefully crafted categories that accurately reflect the differences between competing paradigms.

    As I’ve said many times now, without apparent effect, the concept of “purpose” can only be objectively established by figuring out what somebody consciously intended.

    Obviously, I refuted that notion with the example of the spider’s web. A spider is not conscious of the purpose of its web. Nevertheless, the web is a designed artifact with an obvious purpose. Even a child who knows nothing about entomology would perceive design, purpose, and function in the web.

    SB: hat is why there is such a thing as evidence for attempted murder, which easily qualifies as objective purpose.

    GREAT – we agree that in order to determine purpose, we need to establish a conscious intent of the cause. This definitely helps clarify things

    NO!. We can often determine purpose by the perceivable and purposeful function inherent in the artifact. If you visited the planet Mars and observed a machine with an obvious function, you would infer design.

    SB: Why should I admit something that isn’t true. Just because you don’t understand the difference between the broader concept of matter arranged for a purpose and the narrower concept of CSI doesn’t mean that I should cater to your ignorance, especially when I have already explained the difference.

    All you said was that “matter for a purpose” was a broader category that included CSI. That doesn’t help objectively identify anything.

    There you go again, moving the target in a futile attempt to escape refutation. You claimed that those terms were synonymous. They are not. I was correcting your error. Acknowledge the error and move on.

    Meanwhile, I have challenged you to tell me where you find matter arranged for a purpose in all the examples that you offered, and you dodged the question. What arranged patterns of matter did you observe in a light beam, or a watered crop, or a rain cloud. Please answer.

    Of course, you cannot answer. You cannot detect matter arranged for a purpose in your examples. Admit it and let’s move on.

    If you could refute it, you would. If you could provide some METHOD to ascertain purpose, you would. But you can’t! All you can do is list EXAMPLES and expect somebody else to induce what criterion you are using! It’s completely ridiculous!

    Again, your ideology leads you to still more confusion. I said nothing about methods. I said that, in many cases, purpose can be detected in arranged matter—period. You deny it and I keep correcting you with examples. Your response is to change the subject to methodology in a futile attempt to escape refutation.

    SB: Everyone can discern purpose in a beaver’s dam.

    TOLD YOU! It’s because we know an animal built it! (and apparently you believe beavers have conscious intent – which I supposed I’ll agree with arguendo)

    Nonsense. Purpose can be detected in arranged matter without any knowledge of intentions. We can, in some cases, infer intentions from the function that is inherent in the object.

    SB: Everyone can discern purpose in a murderous act.

    TOLD YOU! Same stupid trick. It’s because we know that a HUMAN did it.

    Same stupid answer. We know that a human did it because he left clues—not because he is a human.being.

    SB: Everyone can discern purpose in burglar’s action.

    TOLD YOU! Same stupid trick – a HUMAN BEING did it.

    A monumentally stupid answer. We know he did it because he left the dresser drawers upon and stole the jewelry—not because he is a human being. His status as a human is irrelevant.

    SB: Everyone can discern purpose in a spider’s web.

    You really think spiders have a conscious intent to build webs in order to catch flies? Again, examples don’t help – you really need to provide a METHOD for determining purpose. But you can’t.

    Of course a spider does not have conscious intent. That is why I brought it up—to show you that the intelligent designer (as ID defines it) does not necessarily need to be aware of the purpose of its design. We are arriving at conclusions based on empirical evidence–not metaphysical assumptions and speculations. A spider’s web contains an objective purpose and function.

    That is one more reason why design cannot be synonymous with“human beings.” The paradigm, as I keep explaining, is law/chance vs design—and that’s all it is. You can’t substitute human for design or CSI for arranged matter. You may not know what these words mean, but I do, and I will not permit you to use them interchangeably in order to muddy the wate

  143. 143
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    RDF: Is dualism is a scientific fact, or a metaphysical belief?
    SB: Dualism is a metaphysical position.

    Excellent, thank you for that answer.

    RDF: Are ID’s arguments coherent if dualism is false?
    SB: If dualism if false, that is, if there is no intelligent agency as ID understands I, then ID is obviously false by definition.

    Thank you for that answer. ID’s definition of “intelligence” as “the compliment of law/chance” is tantamount to the claim of mind/body dualism. If dualism is false, then ID false.

    If there is no such thing as intelligent agency, then there is no such thing as an argument. If there is no such thing as an argument, then there is no such thing as an incoherent argument.

    If dualism is false, that does not mean “there is no such thing as intelligent agency”. Rather, it means that intelligent agency does not transcend law/chance.

    And to say that if dualism is false then “there is no such thing as an argument” is truly a ridiculous and bizarre thing to say. The fact that we are arguing does not prove that dualism is true, and the claim that dualism is false does not prevent us from arguing about it of course. Good grief.

    In any case, we agree that dualism is a metaphysical position, and we agree that if dualism is false then ID is false. That is real progress, thank you.

    SB: ID provides evidence that dualism, which was assumed to be possible (not assumed to be true) is, in fact, true.
    RDF: Nobody suggested that anyone assume dualism is impossible, so the first part is irrelevant.
    SB: What in the name of sense are you talking about? Try to rephrase that question so that it corresponds to the comment that prompted it.

    You say that ID assumes dualism is possible. I point out that the question of whether dualism is possible or not has never been at issue. Nobody is arguing that dualism is not possible. Rather, I am pointing out that dualism cannot be empirically supported. You have agreed with this by saying that dualism is a metaphysical position rather than a scientific result.

    SB: There is no assumption of the truth of dualism. There is only the assumption of the possibility of dualism.
    RDF: Again, that is completely irrelevant, because the possibility of dualism is not a relevant issue.
    SB: It is the ONLY issue and you clearly are a mile away from understanding it.

    No, the issue is not the possibility of dualism – we both agree that dualism is possible. You believe it is true, and I don’t, but neither of us is saying that it is impossible that it is true. It is a metaphysical belief that can’t be tested empirically.

    If ID does not assume that intelligent agency (or dualism, for that matter) is possible, it cannot posit it as a scientific hypothesis.

    Dualism is an hypothesis, but it cannot be posited as a scientific hypothesis. This is not because it is impossible, but rather because nobody can imagine any way to empirically test the hypothesis.

    That is no the same thing as assuming that dualism is true—as I have explained countless times.

    And of course we have agreed about this all along, so you needn’t have even mentioned it.

    I am simply correcting your claim that ID assumes the truth of dualism.

    But you are still wrong about this. You have said that if dualism is false, then ID is false. This is precisely what I meant by saying ID assumes dualism. You can say that ID requires dualism, or that it entails dualism, or that it depends upon dualism. No matter how you say it, we are in agreement: If dualism is false then ID is false by definition. We have now established agreement on this point, which is great.

    The next step is this: We’ve agreed that if dualism is false, then ID is false by definition. But since there is no empirical method available to test the truth of dualism, then the truth of ID cannot be established scientifically. This is not the case with any scientific theory. No definition used in evolutionary theory – or any other scientific theory – relies on some particular solution to the mind/body problem. This is one reason ID is not a scientific theory.

    RDF: As I’ve said many times now, without apparent effect, the concept of “purpose” can only be objectively established by figuring out what somebody consciously intended.
    SB: Obviously, I refuted that notion with the example of the spider’s web.

    Huh? Here is what we said:

    RDFish: As I’ve said many times now, without apparent effect, the concept of “purpose” can only be objectively established by figuring out what somebody consciously intended.
    SB: Which is often a very easy to do. That is why there is such a thing as evidence for attempted murder, which easily qualifies as objective purpose.

    Is seemed as though you were agreeing here, by saying it is often easy to figure out conscious intent. Now you seem to be saying that it is not necessary to establish conscious intent in order to identify “purpose” in an arrangement of matter. OK.

    A spider is not conscious of the purpose of its web.

    Yes, we agree about this. And to compare with an example of some phenomenon outside of biology, a cloud is likewise not conscious of the purpose of the rain it produces.

    Nevertheless, the web is a designed artifact…

    Let’s be clear on why you are calling the web “designed”. Is it because it has CSI, or is there some other criterion that you applied to determine if the web was designed or not?

    …with an obvious purpose. Even a child who knows nothing about entomology would perceive design, purpose, and function in the web.

    Agreed, the obvious purpose of the web is catch food for the spider. To return to our example from outside of biology, the obvious purpose of the rain is to allow things to grow. In fact, I just asked my 9-year-old neighbor, Brian, what the purpose of rain is, and he replied “to grow flowers”.

    So Brian thinks it’s obvious that the purpose of rain is grow flowers. He also reports that the purpose of gravity is to keep us from floating off into space, the purpose of the sun is to provide light and heat to the Earth, and the purpose of the flowers is to keep us happy because they are beautiful and smell nice. Finally, I asked him a very hard question: If spiders make webs for a purpose, and birds make nests for a purpose, what do dogs make for a purpose? Brian answered immediately that dogs make poop. I asked what the purpose of poop was and he answered “so they don’t explode”!

    Now it’s nice to think that nine-year-olds can do science, but I’m afraid that what this shows is that attributing “purpose” to things we find in nature is a purely subjective and rather fanciful excercise. You agree with Brian about the purpose of the spider web, but I believe you disagree with him regarding the purpose of gravity, the sun, and flowers, and the dog poop. How would you instruct Brian to understand what things have purpose and what things don’t?

    You have no such instructions, of course. All you have are examples. From your examples, it appears that most things produced by living organisms appear to be deemed for a purpose, and everything not produced by a living organism appears to be not for a purpose. But some things produced by living organisms (like dog poop) may not be for a purpose.

    Why do I have to try and induce the principles you are applying to these examples? Why don’t you simply tell me how you judge what things are made for a purpose? Because you have no method to objectively identify matter arranged for a purpose!!!!!

    We can often determine purpose by the perceivable and purposeful function inherent in the artifact. If you visited the planet Mars and observed a machine with an obvious function, you would infer design.

    A spider web floating around in outer space would appear, to someone with no knowledge of small animals like spiders and flies, to have no obvious purpose. So obviously the “purpose” cannot be inherent in the arranged matter per se. Rather, it must be subjectively evaluated in some particular context.

    What arranged patterns of matter did you observe in a light beam, or a watered crop, or a rain cloud. Please answer.

    When water is arranged into raindrops and dropped onto plants below, it seems reasonable to say that the purpose of the rain is to water the plants. Brian, my nine-year-old neighbor, found this answer unquestionably true. But it’s clear that it is nothing but a subjective view – both for Brian and for you.

    I said nothing about methods. I said that, in many cases, purpose can be detected in arranged matter—period.

    So here you are admitting that there is no objective method for determining what matter has been arranged for a purpose, and what matter has not been arranged for a purpose. EXCELLENT!

    Purpose can be detected in arranged matter without any knowledge of intentions. We can, in some cases, infer intentions from the function that is inherent in the object.

    If there is no objective method for detecting purpose in arranged matter, why do you say you are “detecting” it? It’s all just purely subjective opinion. You claimed that even children could detect purpose… but then you disagree with Brian’s conclusions about what has been arranged for a purpose! And you can’t even tell Brian why you think he’s wrong, since you have no objective method for determining the truth about what has purpose and what doesn’t. It’s just his opinion against yours.

    We know that a human did it because he left clues—not because he is a human.being.

    He left clues that led you to believe he was a human being! We recognized those clues because we know about what human beings do!

    We know he did it because he left the dresser drawers upon and stole the jewelry—not because he is a human being. His status as a human is irrelevant.

    What else besides a human being (or perhaps some other animal) would steal the jewelry?

    Of course a spider does not have conscious intent. That is why I brought it up—to show you that the intelligent designer (as ID defines it) does not necessarily need to be aware of the purpose of its design. We are arriving at conclusions based on empirical evidence–not metaphysical assumptions and speculations. A spider’s web contains an objective purpose and function.

    Ok, now you’re saying that the purpose in something tells us nothing whatsoever about any sort of conscious intention or mental attributes of what produced it. Instead, the purpose is inherent in the object. A spider web floating around in space would have obvious inherent purpose, but it would tell us nothing whatsoever about what produced it. That’s what you’re saying, right?

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  144. 144
    Mung says:

    Actually, modern science is based upon the Cartesian duality. So it’s a scientific fact.

  145. 145
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    You have said that if dualism is false, then ID is false.

    Correct. That is my philosophical assessment. In my opinion, there can be no human intelligence unless immaterial rational souls exist. That is dualism.

    However, ID, as science, makes no philosophical commitments. It cannot for the simple reason that it is a disinterested process that follows evidence where it leads. Assuming or even contemplating dualism (as something that is true as opposed to something that is possible) is not part of that process. If that was the case, it would be leading the evidence, not following.

    This is precisely what I meant by saying ID assumes dualism.

    ID is a process. It does not assume or pay tribute to dualism in any way.

    Let me explain it another way. There are two ways of understanding our relationship to reality. We can, from a metaphysical standpoint, analyze or speculate on how the world impacts us, from the outside in, or we can, from an epistemological standpoint, analyze how we apprehend the word, from the inside out. Metaphysically, reality reaches down to to make contact with us. Epistemologically, we reach up to make contact with reality.

    My philosophical assessment was made from the outside in. ID operates from the inside out and is impervious to my philosophical assessment because it was designed to be free of any such intrusions.

    We have now established agreement on this point, which is great.

    I don’t think so. You still labor under the illusion that ID assumes dualism.

    Let’s be clear on why you are calling the web “designed”. Is it because it has CSI, or is there some other criterion that you applied to determine if the web was designed or not?

    No, it is because a spider’s web is matter arranged for a purpose.

    Because you have no method to objectively identify matter arranged for a purpose!!!!!

    I don’t have a scientific method insofar as I don’t use measurements, but I do have a method. It is called informal design inference. I can, quite often, identify matter arranged for a purpose and so can everyone else, including you. It is a simple matter of knowing that nature does not have the causal power to produce it. A bird’s nest is obviously designed. It is not necessary to know anything about the history of birds or to measure CSI in order to know that nature was not the source of the nest.

    Of course, ID also has a scientific method for detecting the presence of intelligence, but I am not discussing that at the moment. I am talking about the kinds of informal design inferences people make every day.

    When water is arranged into raindrops and dropped onto plants below, it seems reasonable to say that the purpose of the rain is to water the plants.

    There is no discernable pattern of arranged matter in that example.

    If there is no objective method for detecting purpose in arranged matter, why do you say you are “detecting” it?

    A design inference reveals truths about objective reality.

    SB: We know that a human did it because he left clues—not because he is a human.being.

    He left clues that led you to believe he was a human being! We recognized those clues because we know about what human beings do.

    He left clues about many things, including his humanity and his intentions to commit burglary. However, the latter piece of evidence is more important because it explains why the dresser drawers were open and the jewelry is gone. His humanity does not explain that; his intentions do.

    So it is with the difference between murder and accidental death. We recognize the difference not because human beings are involved–humans commit murder and also have accidents– but because malicious intent and purpose is evident in the 27 knife wounds.

    It is purpose and intent that distinguish design from law/chance, not humanity.

    SB: We know he did it because he left the dresser drawers upon and stole the jewelry—not because he is a human being. His status as a human is irrelevant.

    What else besides a human being (or perhaps some other animal) would steal the jewelry?

    You appear to be forgetting the point about injecting irrelevant terms into the paradigm. The presence of humanity, however interesting, is not relevant to ID’s paradigm, which juxtaposes intelligence, intent, and purpose with law/chance. There is no way to juxtapose humanity with law/chance.

    Of course a spider does not have conscious intent. That is why I brought it up—to show you that the intelligent designer (as ID defines it) does not necessarily need to be aware of the purpose of its design. We are arriving at conclusions based on empirical evidence–not metaphysical assumptions and speculations. A spider’s web contains an objective purpose and function.

    Ok, now you’re saying that the purpose in something tells us nothing whatsoever about any sort of conscious intention or mental attributes of what produced it.

    No. No. I am saying that it doesn’t necessarily tell us about conscious intention or purpose. Stab wounds in the back tell us a great deal about the murderer’s sense of purpose. The spider’s web, on the other hand, tells us nothing about its sense of purpose. Even so, objective purpose and function is present in both cases.

  146. 146
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    RDF: You have said that if dualism is false, then ID is false.
    SB: Correct.

    Great, you’re sticking with that. I’ve been trying to get you to admit that for years.

    In my opinion, there can be no human intelligence unless immaterial rational souls exist. That is dualism.

    Dualism per se is more minimal than your view; it merely holds that there are two distinct ontological types – the mental (“intelligence” in ID parlance) and the physical (“law+chance” in ID parlance).

    However, ID, as science, makes no philosophical commitments.

    ID depends upon the truth of a metaphysical position (dualism). I would call that a “philosophical commitment”

    It cannot for the simple reason that it is a disinterested process that follows evidence where it leads. Assuming or even contemplating dualism (as something that is true as opposed to something that is possible) is not part of that process.

    Again consider ID’s core argument:
    1) Is the phenomenon explicable by law+chance?
    2) If NO, then the phenomenon is best explained by intelligence.

    This makes sense only under the assumption of dualism. Under physicalism, law+chance is all there is – it is everything – and intelligence is nothing more than law+chance. Therefore, if dualism was true, ID’s argument means the following:
    1) Is the phenomenon explicable by anything?
    2) If NO, then the phenomenon is best explained by law+chance.

    Obviously this makes no sense, so ID is clearly dependent upon the assumption of dualism.

    There are two ways of understanding our relationship to reality.

    I’m only interested in talking about scientific understanding, where we base our conclusions upon our shared and repeated experience.

    You still labor under the illusion that ID assumes dualism.

    I knew you’d take it back sooner or later. 🙂 But it won’t work.

    You’re just waving your hands now, trying to somehow take back what you said by talking about understanding inside-out or outside-in, about your metaphysics and epistemology and how reality metaphysically reaches down to make contact with us(?!). The fact of the matter remains:

    1) ID claims to be a scientific theory, not a religious belief or a philosophical belief.
    2) The core supposedly scientific argument in favor of ID is incoherent if dualism is false.
    3) Since dualism is not a scientific fact but rather a metaphysical position, ID’s core argument rests on a metaphysical assumption.

    I don’t have a scientific method insofar as I don’t use measurements, but I do have a method.

    I’m only interested in scientific methods here, and you don’t have any for identifying matter arranged for a purpose. It is not relevant in the least that we can sometimes recognize human artifacts or tell-tale signs of animal activity. Since you define “intelligence” as “the ability to arrange matter for a purpose”, and you admit there is no scientific method for detecting purpose, you have now confirmed the second major objection I have to ID: It has no definition for “intelligence” that can be empirically evaluated in the context of ID.

    Of course, ID also has a scientific method for detecting the presence of intelligence, but I am not discussing that at the moment.

    I only am interested in scientific matters, as you know. It is hilarious that you would allude to but fail to identify some “scientific method for detecting the presence of intelligence” while instead describing some subjective, non-scientific method. I have no interest in your non-scientific methods, and you have already confirmed that there is no scientific method.

    RDF: When water is arranged into raindrops and dropped onto plants below, it seems reasonable to say that the purpose of the rain is to water the plants.
    SB: There is no discernable pattern of arranged matter in that example.

    Again: You claimed that even children could detect purpose… but then you disagree with Brian’s conclusions about what has been arranged for a purpose! And you can’t even tell Brian why you think he’s wrong, since you have no objective method for determining the truth about what has purpose and what doesn’t. It’s just his opinion against yours.

    A spider’s web contains an objective purpose and function.

    Again: A spider web floating around in outer space would appear, to someone with no knowledge of small animals like spiders and flies, to have no obvious purpose. So obviously the “purpose” cannot be inherent in the arranged matter per se. Rather, it must be subjectively evaluated in some particular context.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  147. 147
    Tiger131 says:

    Dear StephenB

    Please help me understand your view.

    You say if dualism is false then ID is false.
    But the truth/falsity of dualism cannot now be established by empirical science.
    It follows that the truth/falsity of ID cannot now be established by empirical science.

    In other words, you’re saying ID cannot be science unless and until dualism can be scientifically established.

    Or am I missing something?

    Thanks

  148. 148
    RDFish says:

    Hi Tiger131,

    You say if dualism is false then ID is false.

    Yes, StephenB said this.

    But the truth/falsity of dualism cannot now be established by empirical science.

    Yes, StephenB and I agree that dualism is a metaphysical belief rather than a scientific fact.

    It follows that the truth/falsity of ID cannot now be established by empirical science.

    That is precisely correct, Tiger131.

    In other words, you’re saying ID cannot be science unless and until dualism can be scientifically established.

    Well sure, but don’t hold your breath for that. What ID needs to do is to actually start researching intelligence as it exists and trying to figure out how it relates to evolution. Pretty funny that “Intelligent Design Theory” folks never actually study intelligence!

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  149. 149
    Tiger131 says:

    Dear RDFish

    I’m not trying to ask a trick question. It’s an honest question.

    I suspect StephenB will not agree with what I said. But I am unable to follow the explanations earlier in this thread so I’m hoping he will clarify.

    Thanks

  150. 150
    Zachriel says:

    RDFish: When water is arranged into raindrops and dropped onto plants below, it seems reasonable to say that the purpose of the rain is to water the plants.

    StephenB: There is no discernable pattern of arranged matter in that example.

    Huh? Of course there is. The Earth’s rotation and tilted revolution, the Sun’s uneven heating of the Earth’s surface, the arrangement of land masses and oceans, cause the formation of high and low pressure areas, as well as ocean currents. This, in turn, leads to the formation of clouds, winds, and, of course, raindrops. It’s a complex water pump.

  151. 151
    Barry Arrington says:

    RDFish

    Again consider ID’s core argument:
    1) Is the phenomenon explicable by law+chance?
    2) If NO, then the phenomenon is best explained by intelligence.

    This makes sense only under the assumption of dualism.

    No, it makes sense if matter is arranged for a purpose, even if the agent arranging the matter is not conscious.

  152. 152
    Virgil Cain says:

    RDFis is ignorant of ID:

    Again consider ID’s core argument:
    1) Is the phenomenon explicable by law+chance?
    2) If NO, then the phenomenon is best explained by intelligence.

    That is incorrect. Not only do we have to eliminate necessity and chance but there also has to be some specification, ie a pattern that is at least mind correlative.

    2) The core supposedly scientific argument in favor of ID is incoherent if dualism is false.

    Which means ID is falsifiable, an attribute of a scientific concept.

    I’m only interested in scientific methods here, and you don’t have any for identifying matter arranged for a purpose.

    Of course we do and we have told you what is is:

    The criteria for inferring purpose in biology is, as Michael J. Behe, Professor of Biochemistry at Leheigh University, puts it in his book Darwin ‘ s Black Box: “Our ability to be confident of the design of the cilium or intracellular transport rests on the same principles to be confident of the design of anything: the ordering of separate components to achieve an identifiable function that depends sharply on the components.”

    If we can ascertain purpose when a human did it, guess what? We can ascertain purpose you little infant.

    The fair reader knows that RDFish is a scientifically illiterate coward. I am OK with that.

    Cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  153. 153
    Virgil Cain says:

    Tiger131:

    But the truth/falsity of dualism cannot now be established by empirical science.

    That isn’t an argument. And science takes risks like that.

  154. 154
    Zachriel says:

    Barry Arrington: No, it makes sense if matter is arranged for a purpose, even if the agent arranging the matter is not conscious.

    The argument only works if “law+chance” is strictly dichotomous with “intelligence”. If not, then the argument fails.

  155. 155
    Virgil Cain says:

    The Earth’s rotation and tilted revolution, the Sun’s uneven heating of the Earth’s surface, the arrangement of land masses and oceans, cause the formation of high and low pressure areas, as well as ocean currents. This, in turn, leads to the formation of clouds, winds, and, of course, raindrops. It’s a complex water pump.

    And all of that was by design.

  156. 156
    StephenB says:

    Tiger

    In other words, you’re saying ID cannot be science unless and until dualism can be scientifically established.

    Or am I missing something?

    Yes, you are missing something. ID is science because it its methods. Dualism cannot be scientifically established.

  157. 157
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    I knew you’d take it back sooner or later.

    There is nothing to take back. You don’t understand my argument. My philosophical position is that nature cannot contain a telic principle in the absence of a transcendent designer. If nature does contain such a principle, I hold that someone must have put it there. Hence, dualism

    However, ID, as understood by its proponents, does allow for that possibility of a telic principle in nature– even in the absence of a transcendent designer. Thus, ID does not depend on dualism. Hence, they accept the logical possibility of monism. ID does not agree with my PHILOSOPHICAL position that a transcendent Creator must be responsible for any telic principle.

    ID is a scientific process. It has a beginning and an end and every step is made explicit. There is no step that includes the assumption of dualism. It’s as simple as that.

    ID does not assume dualism–or depend on dualism.

  158. 158
    Tiger131 says:

    Dear StephenB

    It seems to me the method of eliminating law/chance to identify the remainder (if specified) as design cannot work if dualism is false. So that particular method relies upon the truth of dualism, and thus appears to be a metaphysical argument, not a scientific one.

    I agree we can identify when matter is arranged for a purpose but I doubt we have an empirical/scientific method for doing so.

    By the way, Mr Arrington has started a new thread on this exact subject.

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