23 Replies to “Science and Torah: Conflict or Complement?

  1. 1
    jaredl says:

    Dang it.

    Hey, Dr. D.

    I have a new question.

    ID has the following form:

    P1. Natural causes are insufficient to generate CSI.

    P2. Intelligence is known to generate CSI.

    C. Instances of CSI are therefore best explained by intelligence (known cause) as opposed to natural causes (unknown cause).

    But what about the following argument?

    P1. Whenever a phenomena has exhibited CSI where the causal chain can be followed to its source, the CSI has been input by embodied intelligences.

    P2. Biology exhibits CSI.

    C. Therefore, the best explanation for CSI in biology is embodied intelligences (known cause) as opposed to an unembodied intelligences (unknown cause).

    I think if the one argument is valid then so is the other, absent compelling reason to believe there exists an unembodied intelligence which can impose order on matter via unknown processes. How do you arrive at your conclusion that if there exists an intelligence with sufficient causal power to both plan and implement biological structures, such an intelligence must be unembodied? Does that not exceed the warrant of ID?

  2. 2

    jaredl: Consider the following variant of your argument:

    P1. Whenever a phenomena has exhibited CSI where the causal chain can be followed to its source, the CSI has been input by a carbon-based intelligence.

    P2. Biology exhibits CSI.

    C. Therefore, the best explanation for CSI in biology is a carbon-based intelligence (known cause) as opposed to an non-carbon-based intelligence (unknown cause).

    But if this argument works, what do you make of SETI and the possibility of silicon-based computer intelligence?

  3. 3
    Gumpngreen says:

    What days is this conference being held?

  4. 4
  5. 5
    DaveScot says:

    jaredl

    I like it! I believe that since humanity is the only intelligence that has so far demonstrated the ability to tinker with genetic information for fun and profit it should be assumed that an intelligence of the same kind did the deed. If you’re into revelation this reconciles nicely with God making man in His own image.

  6. 6
    mentok says:

    jaredl you wrote:

    “P1. Whenever a phenomena has exhibited CSI where the causal chain can be followed to its source, the CSI has been input by embodied intelligences.

    P2. Biology exhibits CSI.

    C. Therefore, the best explanation for CSI in biology is embodied intelligences (known cause) as opposed to an unembodied intelligences (unknown cause).”

    That theory doesn’t work because the causal chain doesn’t lead to embodied intelligence. Since all bodies so far encountered exhibit CSI therefore CSI can only come from an unembodied cause. You can’t have the source creating itself. What caused the CSI in the body of the embodied intelligence? That’s why the alien theory put forth by Hoyle is unacceptable. He believed that life cannot possible arise out of the forces of nature due it’s complexity, so he theorized that aliens seeded earth. Of course that just leaves us back at the starting block i.e Where did the aliens bodies come from? The only way he could answer that is if he believed the aliens to be unembodied intelligence.

  7. 7
    MarkMcLT says:

    Mentok:

    I think you have slightly misconstrued jaredl’s argument. You may argue that the causal chain does not lead to embodied intelligence because any embodied intelligence itself must come from some other (unembodied) source of intelligence. However I think jaredl’s point was that we cannot actually _by observation_ follow that causal chain all the way to its source – equivalent to saying that even if ID can identify design it cannot go as far as identifying the designer. So we are left with an embodied agent as the last cause in the chain that we can actually _observe_. And so _if_ we limit ourselves just to considering things we have actually seen before, we would be inclined to think that an embodied intelligence is the most likely explanation for CSI.

    Of course there are limitations to this argument…

    jaredl:

    My experience in formal logic is a little limited, but for what it’s worth, here’s my take…

    I think your argument is partly self-defeating. The first argument you cite concludes that CSI is the result of intelligence. I think that’s fine. However the second argument leads to a more specific claim – that of embodied intelligence. But notice that P1 of that argument says: “Whenever a phenomena has exhibited CSI where the causal chain can be followed to its source, the CSI has been input by embodied intelligences.”

    However, if we are really going to be faithful to our observation, we would have to _also_ acknowledge that in _all_ of the instances we know that satisfy that description, the CSI has been generated not by any old arbitrary embodied intelligence, but specifically by a _biological_ embodiment (maybe there’s a better descriptive term, but hopefully you know what I mean) – one that contains the very same kind of CSI we are trying to find an explanation for. Once we recognise this, it’s clear that the argument becomes circular, and therefore explains nothing.

    My conclusion is not that the intelligence _cannot_ be embodied, but rather that this line of reasoning does not itself allow us to make the more specific claim.

    Similarly, it follows that _if_ an embodied intelligence were responsible for the biological CSI we observe, it would itself have to be non-biological, i.e. either –
    (i) it would exhibit CSI (and so if the ID hypothesis is correct would not itself be a first cause), but _not_ in the form that we observe in terrestrial life , or …
    (ii) it would not exhibit CSI – in which case the ID hypothesis would not require that it be the product of some other intelligent agency. Of course this requires that embodied intelligence could arise without design, and I’m not arguing for that proposition – just pointing out that you would need a different argument to eliminate that possibility.

  8. 8
    DaveScot says:

    “Where did the aliens bodies come from? The only way he could answer that is if he believed the aliens to be unembodied intelligence.”

    No. That does not logically follow. All we can say is that some structures of life we know of cannot reasonably be assembled without intelligent agency of some sort. This does not speak to life we do not know of.

  9. 9
    jaredl says:

    Dear Dr. D:

    Absent some kind of direct evidence that silicon intelligence does, in fact, exist, it rests in the same boat as the unembodied intelligence. So, I accept your absurdum. If SETI does discover CSI in some EM signal, we would assume the source was embodied, carbon based intelligences, and not embodied silicon based intelligences, neither unembodied intelligences. It is logically possible that silicon based intelligences exist, but we as yet have no valid basis for asserting that such have influenced any phenomena that we’re aware of. Likewise for the unembodied intelligence.

  10. 10
    jaredl says:

    PS – I make these comments as one who has read TDI, owns NFL, TDR, and ID:TBBSAT, and has read all of what’s up at http://www.designinference.com . While I cannot claim to understand fully the technical mathematical argument, I do appreciate the force and implications of ID as you’ve formulated it.

  11. 11
    jaredl says:

    DaveScot: Something like your first post is what I in fact do believe.

    MarkMcLT: My whole point is that inductively, we need to be reaching for an embodied intelligence, as that’s the only kind we have direct experience of. There is no logical impossibility involved in asserting that there is no such thing as a final cause, that was itself uncaused – perhaps there exists an infinite chain of embodied intelligences?

  12. 12
    steve_h says:

    How about:

    In all known cases of design, the designer can be shown using the explanatory filter to be him/her/itself
    designed. The ability to intelligently design things is every bit as specifiedly-irreducibly-complex as any blood clotting system, flaggelum, light sensitivity or eye.

    So was there a first designer? Was he/she/it a result of a natural law? Could he/she/it have
    been produced by chance? Is design the only possible explanation for the/an intelligent designer?
    Is there loophole that one could invoke in order to avoid an infinite series?

    Steve (too intellectually lightweight for banning) H.

  13. 13
    MarkMcLT says:

    If you accept a finite age for the universe, then I think you have to conclude that an ability to design either (i) exists outside the universe or (ii) could have arisen entirely by undirected natural processes within the universe.

  14. 14
    mentok says:

    steve you wrote:

    “Is there loophole that one could invoke in order to avoid an infinite series?”

    Yes there is. The same question can be put to the origin of anything. Ultimately many people regress usually to the Big Bang and then the regress stops there. Then the question remains-where did the stuff in the Big Bang come from? So some scientists have tried to come up with an answer and they say essentially it came from nothing. Of course that violates logic because something cannot arise from nothing. So since there is something in existence the only logical conclusion is that ultimately there was an original something or somethings instead of their originally being nothing. Nothing can come from nothing, so if there is something in existence it either came from something else or it was always here in some form or another.

    That brings us to the idea that you mentioned of what designed the designer and the infinite regress. I put it to you that the designer is not designed, rather he/she/it is the product of or is the original substance of reality within the space time continuum. The buck stops there, or thereabouts. If the designer is the original or product of the intermingling of the original substance or substances then it can be theorized that the designer is non material e.g not comprised of 3 dimensional matter/energy but may exist in a dimension or dimensions we cannot perceive e.g the dimension of the sub quantum potential or the dimension which includes the same dimension as our mind and awareness.

    If that dimension where the designer exists as an infinite unified field of sub quantum energy/consciousness/mind then that being could have designed everything comprised of 3 dimensional matter/energy, and the matter/energy itself. How could it do this? By transforming it’s own being/unified field of sub quantum energy/mind/consciousness into quantum 3 dimensional existence and then utilizing it’s mind and intellect and inherent abilities to manipulate that matter into everything we can perceive with out 3 dimensional biological or mechanical technology.

    As your lawyer I advise you to accept the plea 🙂

  15. 15
    DaveScot says:

    jaredl

    I sense you’re the type that will follow the evidence wherever it leads.

    The evidence in this case is that intelligent agency exists on earth and as far as we know only on earth. There is evidence of design in cellular machinery that, as far as we know, can only be created by intelligent agency that is somewhat beyond our current biological engineering capabilities (but perhaps only a matter of decades beyond). So we know that intelligent agency capable of genetic engineering exists in the universe. The problem arises from the known intelligent agency being an engineered product of a preceding agency. This creates a chicken/egg paradox of which came first, the designer or the design.

    At this point I think the trail goes cold and there’s not enough evidence to lead anywhere. Therefore instead of positing baseless explanation after baseless explanation we should just call it a mystery and continue seeking more evidence. Some people seem incapable of accepting the unknown and insist in filling in the blanks with just-so stories thus we have God-of-the-Gaps and Darwin-of-the-Gaps. Personally, I don’t have a problem with a gap remaining a gap.

  16. 16
    steve_h says:

    Mentok,

    The problem with terminating the infinite sequence with a designer who was himself not designed is that
    you have presented us with a case where the explanatory filter apparently gives a false positive. TTBOMK,
    Prof Dembski is adamant that this _never_ happens – we only get the false negatives of things we assumed were not designed were in fact designed (eg to look undesigned). If he tags on an extra “out” along the lines of “unless the original designer is some sort of uncreated deity” then that does not sit well with the claim that I.D is not ultimately religious in nature.

    The following can be taken with a pinch of salt – it’s one non-scientist’s understanding of what scientist are saying:

    I’m not sure I believe scientists say everything came from nothing. Maybe some do but not all.
    AIUI the big bang was a singularity – a point where all of the rules break down. There’s nothing to say there’s nothing ‘on the other side’ of the singularity – there could have been something but we don’t have a way to observe it. Also there’s also no reason to assume there was ever a state of ‘pure nothingness. There could always have been something – there’s no reason why it has to have been an intelligent something.

    AI(also)UI, there may be ways in which the universe might be said to contain a some total of nothing
    even now. Some models allow for gravitional potential to act as a kind of negative mass/energy which exactly matches the other positives (I’m aware this may contradict what I said in the previous paragraph). There are also various multiverse hypotheses which although AIUI
    are entirely unprovable do offer ways out of any apparent specialness.

    However, none of the is taught in science class and no one is pressuring school boards to direct pupils to these sorts of ideas.

    I believe these to be only models and guesses at the moment and that most scientists will admit that they
    don’t really know. As far as I am concerned any problem with getting an atom out of nothing or some previous unknowable state is trivial compared to how a super duper know-it-all designer could have just been there all along.

    I sort of agree with DaveScott’s final sentence in 15. I not particularly happy with the gaps but I think we are stuck with them for the time being and should accept them: There’s no point in plugging a gap with something that just opens up an even bigger gap. I disagree with the chicken egg paradox though because I don’t think the universe is a product of design. I disagree with everything else he says. Darwin’s theory explains a lot of what we see in nature, it explains the non-gap parts, not the gaps.

    AFAIC there’s a very large gap in our knowledge of what simple chemistry and the laws of nature can achieve. In many fields in the biological sciences we have only recently begun to understand what is going on. How can we claim to be able to rule out natural causes when we know so little about them (apart from that they, unlike man, have never been observed to produce watches or automobiles 🙂

  17. 17
    mentok says:

    steve;

    Your points are well taken but I simply disagree with about all of them. ID is about biological design and some to some people the concept of ID can be applied with the anthropic principle and be all about the design inference within the 3 dimensional non biological world. Either way the idea of a designer not being designed is not necessarily theistic or as you put it “religious”. Our universe could be existing as some kind of simulation or pet farm run by an alien being who is himself far larger then our universe. When considering infinity, size is relative. There could be many of these aliens who have such projects to keep themselves busy. Or everything could be the product of a single designer alien who encompasses infinity. Religion is how some or most people perceive the designer, but that doesn’t automatically mean that the designer is properly understood by religions. Anyways when dealing with biological or other 3 dimensional natural phenomena the inference of a designer has been catalogued by a large body of scientists with data to spare. That doesn’t mean though that the designer has to fit into our little box of understanding of what is possible throughout the varied possible dimensions within the infinite space time continuum. All life which we have seen exists within biological forms which appear to have been designed, but that doesn’t neccesarily lead to the philosophical neccesity of claiming that the designer is in fact an embodied biological entity nor even comprised of 3 dimensional matter/energy. Nor does there arise a philosophical need to justify the nature of the designer in order to appreciate the design inference.

    You use of the common “outs” for evolutionists. When confronted with the sad state of affairs concerning the actual amount and type of “proof” for evolutionary theory ( i.e none and next to none) then it is a common defense mechanism to suggest that the theory is true but that we cannot appreciate it do to our lack of technological ability or research. This is known as begging the question or circular reasoning. Why have faith ina theory in the first place if it has no scientific legs so to speak? Why? Because for most evolutionists they are not willing to accept defeat because they reject the only alternative. Therefore the evolutionist position ultimately is either to deny the serious problems with evolutionary theory as it stands today, or they take a religious approach and believe that it has to be true regardless of the lack of empirical evidence because a God or Gods don’t exist. Essentially it’s an argument for materialism, not an argument for evolution which is the ultimate driving force for honest evolutionists. They take the irrational road because they believe that anything beyond or behind this 3 dimensional world which could influence this world is an irrational belief simply because they cannot see it.

    They themselves are intelligent designers capable of creating the technological world around us, but they find it irrational for the belief in the possibility of another intelligent designer who can possibly exist in some other dimension. Ironic innit?

  18. 18
    steve_h says:

    You haven’t really dealt with anything I said.

    Let’s say we were designed by aliens. These aliens are even more intelligent than us, right? Where did those aliens come from? Are they a simple product of a natural law? Are they the result of chance? Maybe I’m wrong about their complexity – are they less complex than us, and a flaggelum, or a watch, or a mousetrap? How does something with less specified complexity than a mousetrap plan to make a human being capable of love, music and atom bombs and then calculate in precise detail how to rig the laws of universe in which that human will live, and how to string together the atoms of strands of DNA in order to ensure that the planned humans result from it? If those aliens can be simple, could their also be some sort of natural (relatively) simple natural precursor to life on earth? When you done that, by all means repeat your accusation of begging the question.

    Secondly evolution is does not say that Gods don’t exist. I am not going to explain why because it would bore Prof Dembski. There are mountains of evidence for evolution (Ditto). I will be willing to try and explain if you specifically ask me though. If you ask and I get banned before I have a change to respond, I will start a “mountains of evidence” thread on talk.origins.

    Steve

  19. 19
    steve_h says:

    Oops! there were many ‘typos’ in my previous post. I hope you had no serious problems parsing it.

  20. 20
    mentok says:

    steve you asked:

    “Let’s say we were designed by aliens. These aliens are even more intelligent than us, right? Where did those aliens come from? Are they a simple product of a natural law? Are they the result of chance?”

    If we are going to accept that there is an intelligence behind seeming design present in the 3 dimensional natural world and if you want to speculate about that intelligence’s origin then we are going to have to come to the conclusion that the ultimate source of that intelligence will have to be undesigned by intelligence simply because there has to be a beginning if there is an intelligence. Intelligence is only acquired it is not inherent. If you have intelligence then you gained that intelligence, nothing is inherently intelligent because intelligence is the product of experience. So in order for there to be intelligence first there has to be ignorance and then a process of acquiring experience creating intelligence.

    So if there was in fact an original intelligence then that intelligent entity could have only begun as an ignorant entity. You can’t say it had to be designed by intelligence because then it wouldn’t be the original intelligence, it’s designer would be. Which in turn leaves us with the same conclusion i.e the original intelligence by necessity being ignorant and then acquiring intelligence through experience.

    Then you wrote:

    “Maybe I’m wrong about their complexity – are they less complex than us, and a flaggelum, or a watch, or a mousetrap? How does something with less specified complexity than a mousetrap plan to make a human being capable of love, music etc”

    When we are talking about the original intelligence we are talking about a mind. So the real question you are asking is can a mind come into existence without an intelligent design? According to evolutionists the answer is a resounding YES!!!

    And I would have to agree with them. The original mind and intelligence had to come into existence without an intelligent design because it was the first intelligence. You can claim that to be unbelievable, yet at the same time you accept that our minds and intelligence came into existence without intelligent design through purely natural causes.

    I take that Darwinian theory and apply it to the source of the intelligent designer. It evolved intelligence from natural causes. There could have been no other way for it to have gained intelligence as already mentioned because knowledge is acquired not inherent, and it is knowledge which forms intelligence. First there was a mind, then there was experience, then intelligence, then design, then you, me, and Bobby McGee.

  21. 21
    Josh Bozeman says:

    I’m gonna have to say that the original designer surely had to have been intelligent. The original designer would have had to create the laws of nature and the universe itself to exist within (even if we say he exists outside of the universe as we know it, he existed in some space and time that he, himself, created alone, and let’s assume that’s no small feat. Not to mention- you can hardly aquire intelligence if you’re alone in the universe and all that exists came directly from you. How could you gain intelligence from natural processes if you created the natural processes to begin with? Even if we posit different original processes of nature that are completely rudimentary to our present processes and laws- the laws that allowed the designer to exist and work and create and design could not have been simple to begin with.

    The original designer had to have been of great intelligence. No ignorant designer could have aquired intelligence when only the designer and nothing but laws and matter existed- and those laws and matter came directly from the designer and not from outside. Knowledge is something outside of yourself that you come upon and take in and build upon it- the original designer would have had to create the universe itself, which means there couldn’t possibly be knowledge outside of his own realm since all things came from him to begin with. Any designer with the power to create matter itself, the laws of nature, etc. could not possibly be an ignorant intelligence at any point, because all that exists came from him and nothing exists outside of his own knowledge.

    Then again, we’re talking about issues science could never possibly touch. You can posit a million just-so stories of this and that and how matter came about, how the laws of nature came about- all of that stuff…but there couldn’t possibly be an iota of evidence in the scientific sense to verify any of it. You can’t use natural processes to study what happened before there were even natural processes in existence. And speaking of the designer- we have to look to worldviews, philosophy, religion, etc. If the designer didn’t reveal himself to man (in a theistic sense), then it’s useless trying to posit anything about the designer him/itself, for no evidence is going to shine light on his work.

  22. 22
    mentok says:

    Josh you made a few errors in your logic.

    You said:

    “he existed in some space and time that he, himself, created alone”

    You can’t have an entity which creates the original reality it exists within. It’s a contradiction. It may have transformed it’s reality which it originally existed in but it cannot create it’s own origin or itself.

    Then you said:

    “you can hardly aquire intelligence if you’re alone in the universe and all that exists came directly from you. How could you gain intelligence from natural processes if you created the natural processes to begin with?”

    How does anyone learn anything? Through experience. There is no other way to gain knowledge other then through experience. Therefore there had to be a point in time where there was an experience which led to knowledge. Therefore there had to be a time before the experience which led to knowledge. You cannot be intelligent without a mind. A mind cannot be intelligent without experience which leads to knowledge. So the original entity was without knowledge and intelligence, it was a mind without experience. Where that mind came from no one knows, and that mind itself may not know as well.

    So you asked “How could you gain intelligence from natural processes if you created the natural processes to begin with?” I put it to you that it created the natural processes within our 3 dimensional universe after it developed knowledge and intelligence, and that there is another dimension or dimensions within the infinite space time continuum which it did not create and from whence it came and where it exists right now. It’s not somewhere other then where we are, it’s in a different dimension or dimensions as well as in our 3 dimensional world. I put it to you that it’s existence is all that we experience, and to a limited degree. It comprises a certain number or possibly unlimited number of dimensions within the infinite space time contimuum of which we experience only a portion of i.e 3 dimensional matter/energy, mind and intelligence and consciousness.

    Then you wrote:

    “Even if we posit different original processes of nature that are completely rudimentary to our present processes and laws- the laws that allowed the designer to exist and work and create and design could not have been simple to begin with”

    They could have been simple or complex, there is no way of knowing. The end result was a multi dimensional cosmic mind which developed intelligence and knowledge through experience. Simple processes can create massively powerful forces of nature space plasmas, stars, etc. What was needed was some unknown process which somehow created or developed into a mind. I put it to you that it is a unified field of unknown susbtance which exists in multiple dimensions throughout the space time continuum. It came into existence through some kind of process which is inconceivable to us because we do not have access to all of the dimensions which exist within space time. We can only conceive of concepts which have as their basis some analogous experience of ours in our 3 dimensional reality. Just like an ant has no frame of reference which can enable it to conceive of the human experience.

  23. 23
    steve_h says:

    You both seem to be working with a different version of “intelligence” than I. Intelligence is the ability to learn or aquire knowledge and the ability to manipulate that knowledge. It’s not the opposite of ignorance. I think you confuse “intelligence” with “knowledge”. So let me ask the question again. Does a mouse trap have more specified complexity than say a ignorant being which is capable of near infinite learning and problem solving ability. How does the number of dimensions involved affect the result? Who does being made up of unknown fieldy matter affect the result?

    You are right about one thing. I do believe intelligence evolved. There is plenty of evidence that we are apes and our distant cousins, the chimps (which are also quite intelligent), share a common ancestor with us. Our intelligence didn’t just happen overnight, it took millions of years of selection to happen. If it did just happen overnight it would be on a par with the “just happened to be there and already capable of aquiring knowledge and putting it to use”-being that you seem to favor and I would have a problem with it.

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