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Sociologist Steve Fuller on the significance of the Dover Trial

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Dover cleared the decks for critical discussion of Darwinism and design by getting school board micro-politics out of it.

Fuller studies ID as a social movement in science. We hear some colleagues don’t like his views much.

See also: Dover all over

White cliffs. Dover: Creationism invades Europe

The Dover case, John West, and intelligent design

Steve Fuller: Humans will merge with AI

and

Steve Fuller’s Dissent over Descent

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41 Replies to “Sociologist Steve Fuller on the significance of the Dover Trial

  1. 1
    rvb8 says:

    Is this code for, ‘a sufficiently large amount of time has gone under the bridge, let’s see if we can call black/white, and make up mean down’?

    One word, ‘talkorigins’.

  2. 2

    Ya know rvb8 it seems almost pointless to try communicating with you, but I and others hold out hope, and who knows. Perhaps someone on the edge of this might be a bit more open minded than you. So let me give it a shot.

    Have you never thought about the very functional design and engineering just within your own arm — the pivoting shoulder, the levers of the bicep and forearm, the hand and its fingers capable of multitudes of functions such as; cradling a new born baby, pitching a baseball, catching a football like Julian Edelman, writing the great American novel, playing a beautiful piano concerto, picking your nose … writing a blog response such as this.

    Reach up to your face rvb8, to your eyes, and remove those debilitating blinders. They’re there my friend, and if you remove them (only you can do that) you might just discover wonders you never imagined.

    Let us know if you are capable of doing that. We are indeed interested.

    Best regards,
    don

  3. 3
    rvb8 says:

    I’m endlessly fascinated by the complexity of nature, the human body, and all of the detail of this marvellous creation.

    However I refuse to be moved by arguments from incredulity. I once watched the BBC documentary, “Life of Birds”, with a creationist but he spoiled the viewing fest by an inordinate need to vacantly smile, and trot out classics like, ‘isn’t the Creator benevelent’, ‘God cares for the tiniest of His creatures’, ‘Christ’s love is seen in this nature’,…etc ad infinitum.

    This, I can only call it a ‘need’, to be abject was depressing. He was so gob smacked by the beauty he often missed the points the Narrator (Attenborough), was making.

    No! I refuse to look with slack jawed amazement at my arm, or eye, and cry pointlessly, ‘whence such beauty?!’ I do however never tire of the endless new discoveries science is making as to our understanding of the emergence of said arm, eye, immune system etc.

  4. 4
    Marfin says:

    rvb8- This evidence you never tire of I would love to see it , so please show us this latest evidence on the emergence of the immune system and the eye , once again if said evidence is not forthcoming I will assume it does not exist and that your great FAITH in the pronouncements of certain scientist is more amazing than my faith in God.

  5. 5

    Marfin @ 4: I have to give rvb8 credit. He obviously has a tremendous amount of faith in his atheistic philosophical worldview. Misguided as it may be, it is still commendable for its exuberance and tireless devotion.

    Rvb8 actually inspires me in my own personal faith.

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8 et al: I draw your attention to the first level summary (dating to 2006) outlined here in a current thread: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-626039 KF

  7. 7

    Thanks KF … good stuff.

  8. 8
    Eric Anderson says:

    rvb8 @3:

    However I refuse to be moved by arguments from incredulity.

    Clearly.

    Maybe you would do well to be a little more skeptical.

    You are so credulous you appear willing to believe almost anything, no matter how preposterous, as long as it serves the materialist storyline you have adopted.

  9. 9
    rvb8 says:

    Marfin,

    It’s called the Internet, and you use your index finger on a mouse.

    Sadly, I can do nought else.

  10. 10

    rvb8 — and while you are manipulating that mouse and keyboard, marvel at the engineered design of those eyes, arms, hands and fingers of yours and imagine them mindlessly flapping around with no idea of what they are doing … who knows, they might wind up writing that great American novel.

  11. 11
    Marfin says:

    rvb8- Thats the problem I have checked the internet, read books, watched debates and I have yet to see or hear the marvellous and amazing evidence you speak of.I was an atheist and like most atheists I believed scientist`s had the answers, I had heard terms like, the fossil record, RM/NS,genetic drift,selfish gene, and so on and believed these were rock solid in their refutation of a God and were overwhelming evidence in support of evolution.Oh how wrong I was , for when I actually took the time to put the work in myself I found that these were not the great support for evolution they claimed to be but were so weak I could not believe I had been so gullible for so many years.Now I suggest you do what I and many others have done , do some looking into this so called evidence yourself , if you are honest you will find what most find , the emperor has no clothes.I became a Christian not because I wanted to but because I could no longer deny the evidence staring me in the face I hope you can do the same.So rvb8 do the work.

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8, start with the UD weak argument correctives, so you are not tilting at convenient strawmen of your own making — your enthusiasm for Dover as recently seen shows that you have this problem. Concentrate on how we get to functionally specific complex organisation and information by observed blind chance and mechanical necessity, then how origin of life by such means is grounded. Reality: OOL is a mess on evo mat premises; this leads to the point that the best explanation of OOL is design. Next, go on to origin of major body plans, involving copious FSCO/I — credibly 10 – 100+ million new bases per body plan, across dozens of plans . . . cf the tree of life. It will again turn out that once there is no ideological imposition, there is no viable evolutionary materialistic pathway to novel body plans. In fact, a mechanism capable of addressing SOME minor adaptation — mostly by loss of genetic information in observed cases — is being pressed into gross extrapolation in an attempt to make plausible what is in reality imposed through ideology. The sign of that ideology is methodological naturalism, so called. On trillions of cases in point, the only credible, empirically grounded explanation of such FSCO/I is design. And in case you want to indulge an ad hom, this is a simple abbreviation of a common phenomenon seen in organisation reducible to or expressed in descriptive text, such as DNA or the code of an Autocad drawing, etc. KF

    PS: There was a UD challenge essay on the table for a full year some years ago, to provide a 6,000 or so word summary on evidences for the evo mat picture [feel free to link details, the issue is to provide the case in a summary backed by empirical evidence], starting with OOL and going on to OO Body plans. No serious answer covering the ground as outlined was ever received. If RVB8 or another would offer an essay, we would entertain it still.

    PPS: Here is my own overview of the key issues: http://iose-gen.blogspot.com/2.....mmary.html

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    PPPS: Let me clip Meyer from the just linked:

    The central problem facing origin-of-life researchers is neither the synthesis of pre-biotic building blocks (which Sutherland’s work addresses) or even the synthesis of a self-replicating RNA molecule (the plausibility of which Joyce and Tracey’s work seeks to establish, albeit unsuccessfully . . . [[Meyer gives details in the linked page]). Instead, the fundamental problem is getting the chemical building blocks to arrange themselves into the large information-bearing molecules (whether DNA or RNA) . . . .

    For nearly sixty years origin-of-life researchers have attempted to use pre-biotic simulation experiments to find a plausible pathway by which life might have arisen from simpler non-living chemicals, thereby providing support for chemical evolutionary theory. While these experiments have occasionally yielded interesting insights about the conditions under which certain reactions will or won’t produce the various small molecule constituents of larger bio-macromolecules, they have shed no light on how the information in these larger macromolecules (particularly in DNA and RNA) could have arisen. Nor should this be surprising in light of what we have long known about the chemical structure of DNA and RNA. As I show in Signature in the Cell, the chemical structures of DNA and RNA allow them to store information precisely because chemical affinities between their smaller molecular subunits do not determine the specific arrangements of the bases in the DNA and RNA molecules. Instead, the same type of chemical bond (an N-glycosidic bond) forms between the backbone and each one of the four bases, allowing any one of the bases to attach at any site along the backbone, in turn allowing an innumerable variety of different sequences. This chemical indeterminacy is precisely what permits DNA and RNA to function as information carriers. It also dooms attempts to account for the origin of the information—the precise sequencing of the bases—in these molecules as the result of deterministic chemical interactions . . . .

    [[W]e now have a wealth of experience showing that what I call specified or functional information (especially if encoded in digital form) does not arise from purely physical or chemical antecedents [[–> i.e. by blind, undirected forces of chance and necessity]. Indeed, the ribozyme engineering and pre-biotic simulation experiments that Professor Falk commends to my attention actually lend additional inductive support to this generalization. On the other hand, we do know of a cause—a type of cause—that has demonstrated the power to produce functionally-specified information. That cause is intelligence or conscious rational deliberation. As the pioneering information theorist Henry Quastler once observed, “the creation of information is habitually associated with conscious activity.” And, of course, he was right. Whenever we find information—whether embedded in a radio signal, carved in a stone monument, written in a book or etched on a magnetic disc—and we trace it back to its source, invariably we come to mind, not merely a material process. Thus, the discovery of functionally specified, digitally encoded information along the spine of DNA, provides compelling positive evidence of the activity of a prior designing intelligence. This conclusion is not based upon what we don’t know. It is based upon what we do know from our uniform experience about the cause and effect structure of the world—specifically, what we know about what does, and does not, have the power to produce large amounts of specified information . . . .

    [[In conclusion,] it needs to be noted that the [[now commonly asserted and imposed limiting rule on scientific knowledge, the] principle of methodological naturalism [[ that scientific explanations may only infer to “natural[[istic] causes”] is an arbitrary philosophical assumption, not a principle that can be established or justified by scientific observation itself. Others of us, having long ago seen the pattern in pre-biotic simulation experiments, to say nothing of the clear testimony of thousands of years of human experience, have decided to move on. We see in the information-rich structure of life a clear indicator of intelligent activity and have begun to investigate living systems accordingly. If, by Professor Falk’s definition, that makes us philosophers rather than scientists, then so be it. But I suspect that the shoe is now, instead, firmly on the other foot. [[Meyer, Stephen C: Response to Darrel Falk’s Review of Signature in the Cell, SITC web site, 2009. (Emphases and parentheses added.)]

  14. 14
    Eric Anderson says:

    KF @13:

    Meyer is quite right that the big issue is getting information into the system.

    And, yet, those simple self-replicating molecules that are supposed to kick off the whole evolutionary process remain curiously absent — still obstinately refusing to appear and assist in the great evolutionary work . . .

    Will they ever be found? 🙂

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    Lucky noise, lucky noise, lucky noise, where are you . . .

  16. 16
    rvb8 says:

    Yes Marfin,

    you became a Christian because of the evidence.

    This would be miracles, visions, personal testimony, and witnessing?

    Sorry, non-varifiable hearsay.

    Alan Fox at theskepticalzone, has reviewed an excellent knew book bringing together the latest (in the last ten years or so) research on origins, and development.

    But you rest that index finger, and be persuaded by testimony, and the inspired witnessing of your co-religonists.

    I know many former Christians who are now atheists, because of the ‘evidence’. Atheists who become Christian? Now they are a rarity, or more correctly, were never really atheist.

    Try wikipedia and put in ‘Pale Blue Dot’. It is an eye opener for human importance and exceptionalism. Don’t worry I’m not pushing euthenasia or abortion, or genocide, just a healthy scepticism about your God ordained human centrality.

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8, evidence, long since on longstanding public record and backed up by 500 eyewitnesses who could not be moved by dungeon, fire, sword or worse. of course, you will dismiss, something that will not look so good on That Day. KF

    PS: Speaking of here-now miracles, I should have been in my grave 46+ years since, apart from a miracle of guidance in answer to my mother’s prayer. Mock on, as you will.

    PPS: I forgot, talkorigins is a sick joke. Long since exposed, try here for starters: https://www.trueorigin.org/ And, the evidence for FSCO/I by blind chance and mechanical necessity is: ________ . The evidence on OOL by such is: _______ , and that for OO body plans is: _______ . (I confidently affirm that you cannot soundly fill in those blanks.)

  18. 18
    Querius says:

    kairosfocus,

    Another question that RVB8 cannot answer is

    “It is immoral to keep starving people alive by providing them with a free and abundant source of a certain type of animal fetus protein because _________________________.

    -Q

  19. 19
    Marfin says:

    rvb8- So once again the evidence is always somewhere else on some other site in someone else`s book, if you cannot reasonably discuss the evidence why on earth do you believe it , your faith in other atheists astounds me as you are leaving the biggest decision of anyone’s life in the hands of others oh my what great faith and trust you have in man.
    I was an atheist and I am willing to be convinced once again to come back to the fold so please just present 3 just 3 of the strongest evidences you , yes you, know in support of an un-directed origin for the universe, life, and mankind,
    somehow I don`t see you replying as your great faith is in man not in evidence.

  20. 20
    Vy says:

    Now they are a rarity, or more correctly, were never really atheist

    Sure, sure. And ex-alcoholics were never alcoholics right?

  21. 21

    RVB8 @ 16: “Atheists who become Christian? Now they are a rarity, or more correctly, were never really atheist.”

    That’s just stupid. Hate to be so blunt, but you should know better than to make such a stupid statement.

  22. 22
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: It is worth the pause to put the arguable self-referential absurdity of evolutionary materialistic scientism [thus its irrationality] on the table:

    First, some materialists actually suggest that mind is more or less a delusion, which is instantly self-referentially absurd. For instance, Sir Francis Crick is on record, in his 1994 The Astonishing Hypothesis:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.

    Philip Johnson has replied that Sir Francis should have therefore been willing to preface his works thusly: “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” Johnson then acidly commented: “[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.” [Reason in the Balance, 1995.]

    In short, it is at least arguable that self-referential absurdity is the dagger pointing to the heart of evolutionary materialistic models of mind and its origin. For, there is a very good reason we are cautioned about how easily self-referential statements can become self-refuting, like a snake attacking and swallowing itself tail-first. Any human scheme of thought that undermines responsible [thus, morally governed] rational freedom undermines itself fatally. We thus see inadvertent, inherent self-falsification of evolutionary materialism. But, “inadvertent” counts: it can be hard to recognise and acknowledge the logically fatal nature of the result. Of course, that subjective challenge does not change the objective result: self-referential incoherence and irretrievable self-falsification. (An audio clip, here, by William Lane Craig that summarises Plantinga’s argument on this in a nutshell, is useful as a quick reference.)

    This issue can be discussed at a much higher level, but it can also be drawn out a bit in a fairly simple way for blog level discussion:

    a: Evolutionary materialism argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature; from hydrogen to humans by undirected chance and necessity.

    b: Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws of chance and/or mechanical necessity acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of happenstance initial circumstances.

    (This is physicalism. This view covers both the forms where (a) the mind and the brain are seen as one and the same thing, and those where (b) somehow mind emerges from and/or “supervenes” on brain, perhaps as a result of sophisticated and complex software looping. The key point, though is as already noted: physical causal closure — the phenomena that play out across time, without residue, are in principle deducible or at least explainable up to various random statistical distributions and/or mechanical laws, from prior physical states. Such physical causal closure, clearly, implicitly discounts or even dismisses the causal effect of concept formation and reasoning then responsibly deciding, in favour of specifically physical interactions in the brain-body control loop; indeed, some mock the idea of — in their view — an “obviously” imaginary “ghost” in the meat-machine. [There is also some evidence from simulation exercises, that accuracy of even sensory perceptions may lose out to utilitarian but inaccurate ones in an evolutionary competition. “It works” does not warrant the inference to “it is true.”] )

    c: But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this meat-machine picture. So, we rapidly arrive at Crick’s claim in his The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994): what we subjectively experience as “thoughts,” “reasoning” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as the unintended by-products of the blind natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains that (as the Smith Model illustrates) serve as cybernetic controllers for our bodies.

    d: These underlying driving forces are viewed as being ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance shaped by forces of selection [“nature”] and psycho-social conditioning [“nurture”], within the framework of human culture [i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism]. And, remember, the focal issue to such minds — notice, this is a conceptual analysis made and believed by the materialists! — is the physical causal chains in a control loop, not the internalised “mouth-noises” that may somehow sit on them and come along for the ride.

    (Save, insofar as such “mouth noises” somehow associate with or become embedded as physically instantiated signals or maybe codes in such a loop. [How signals, languages and codes originate and function in systems in our observation of such origin — i.e by design — tends to be pushed to the back-burner and conveniently forgotten. So does the point that a signal or code takes its significance precisely from being an intelligently focused on, observed or chosen and significant alternative from a range of possibilities that then can guide decisive action.])

    e: For instance, Marxists commonly derided opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismissed qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? Should we not ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is little more than yet another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze? And — as we saw above — would the writings of a Crick be any more than the firing of neurons in networks in his own brain?

    f: For further instance, we may take the favourite whipping-boy of materialists: religion. Notoriously, they often hold that belief in God is not merely cognitive, conceptual error, but delusion. Borderline lunacy, in short. But, if such a patent “delusion” is so utterly widespread, even among the highly educated, then it “must” — by the principles of evolution — somehow be adaptive to survival, whether in nature or in society. And so, this would be a major illustration of the unreliability of our conceptual reasoning ability, on the assumption of evolutionary materialism.

    g: Turning the materialist dismissal of theism around, evolutionary materialism itself would be in the same leaky boat. For, the sauce for the goose is notoriously just as good a sauce for the gander, too.

    h: That is, on its own premises [and following Dawkins in A Devil’s Chaplain, 2004, p. 46], the cause of the belief system of evolutionary materialism, “must” also be reducible to forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity that are sufficiently adaptive to spread this “meme” in populations of jumped- up apes from the savannahs of East Africa scrambling for survival in a Malthusian world of struggle for existence. Reppert brings the underlying point sharply home, in commenting on the “internalised mouth-noise signals riding on the physical cause-effect chain in a cybernetic loop” view:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

    i: The famous geneticist and evolutionary biologist (as well as Socialist) J. B. S. Haldane made much the same point in a famous 1932 remark:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (NB: DI Fellow, Nancy Pearcey brings this right up to date (HT: ENV) in a current book, Finding Truth.)]

    j: Therefore, though materialists will often try to pointedly ignore or angrily brush aside the issue, we may freely argue: if such evolutionary materialism is true, then (i) our consciousness, (ii) the “thoughts” we have, (iii) the conceptualised beliefs we hold, (iv) the reasonings we attempt based on such and (v) the “conclusions” and “choices” (a.k.a. “decisions”) we reach — without residue — must be produced and controlled by blind forces of chance happenstance and mechanical necessity that are irrelevant to “mere” ill-defined abstractions such as: purpose or truth, or even logical validity.

    (NB: The conclusions of such “arguments” may still happen to be true, by astonishingly lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” or “warranted” them. It seems that rationality itself has thus been undermined fatally on evolutionary materialistic premises. Including that of Crick et al. Through, self-reference leading to incoherence and utter inability to provide a cogent explanation of our commonplace, first-person experience of reasoning and rational warrant for beliefs, conclusions and chosen paths of action. Reduction to absurdity and explanatory failure in short.)

    k: And, if materialists then object: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must immediately note that — as the fate of Newtonian Dynamics between 1880 and 1930 shows — empirical support is not equivalent to establishing the truth of a scientific theory. For, at any time, one newly discovered countering fact can in principle overturn the hitherto most reliable of theories. (And as well, we must not lose sight of this: in science, one is relying on the legitimacy of the reasoning process to make the case that scientific evidence provides reasonable albeit provisional warrant for one’s beliefs etc. Scientific reasoning is not independent of reasoning.)

    l: Worse, in the case of origins science theories, we simply were not there to directly observe the facts of the remote past, so origins sciences are even more strongly controlled by assumptions and inferences than are operational scientific theories. So, we contrast the way that direct observations of falling apples and orbiting planets allow us to test our theories of gravity.

    m: Moreover, as Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin reminds us all in his infamous January 29, 1997 New York Review of Books article, “Billions and billions of demons,” it is now notorious that:

    . . . It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel [[materialistic scientists] to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [And if you have been led to imagine that the immediately following words justify the above, kindly cf. the more complete clip and notes here.]

    n: Such a priori assumptions of materialism are patently question-begging, mind-closing and fallacious.

    o: More important, to demonstrate that empirical tests provide empirical support to the materialists’ theories would require the use of the very process of reasoning and inference which they have discredited.

    p: Thus, evolutionary materialism arguably reduces reason itself to the status of illusion. But, as we have seen: immediately, that must include “Materialism.”

    q: In the end, it is thus quite hard to escape the conclusion that materialism is based on self-defeating, question-begging logic.

    r: So, while materialists — just like the rest of us — in practice routinely rely on the credibility of reasoning and despite all the confidence they may project, they at best struggle to warrant such a tacitly accepted credibility of mind and of concepts and reasoned out conclusions relative to the core claims of their worldview. (And, sadly: too often, they tend to pointedly ignore or rhetorically brush aside the issue.)

  23. 23
    Eric Anderson says:

    rvb8 @16:

    Your gullibility and willingness to believe whatever the materialist party line slings at the wall is remarkable.

    Never mind the biased talkorigins website, Alan Fox or anyone else. What do you think are the best pieces of evidence for a materialistic origin of life? I don’t expect a treatise or an essay. Just one or two paragraphs — in your own words — about this tremendous evidence you think exists.

    —–

    Also, your continued references to the Pale Blue Dot are telling. Why are you so enamored with that photo? We are quite familiar with it. Both because some of us know a great deal more about space exploration and astronomy than you, and also because Sagan’s role in promoting the Pale Blue Dot as some kind of claim for a materialistic origin and humanity’s insignificance has been well known and adequately refuted.

    One might just as well look at the Pale Blue Dot and recognize — correctly so — that it stands in remarkable contrast to the space around it. Yes, it is small in the vastness of space. So what? One might just as well conclude that it represents a singular island of meaning and purpose — a special and unique object carefully positioned and prepared for life as we know it.

    Simply looking at a photo of a planet isn’t going to get you anywhere. Your fascination with this photo and failed imaginations that this photo somehow supports a materialistic origins narrative and refutes a traditional theistic framework reflect nothing more than your own philosophical and religious bias.

    It is time to step out of your bias for a moment and start sharing some of that evidence you keep blathering on about.

  24. 24
    asauber says:

    small in the vastness of space

    This means Atheism is based on a (very) small sample size.

    Great science anyway, though.

    Andrew

  25. 25

    A @ 24: Smile. Well done!

  26. 26
    Querius says:

    It always amuses me when some people assume that importance is determined by size and centrality.

    By those measures, the pituitary gland must be insignificant due to its small size, and the belly button must be crucial due to its centrality! 😉

    And not to mention how a series of zeros elevates some people to ecstasy! 000000000000000000 . . . oh wow, oh wow!!!

    -Q

  27. 27
    rvb8 says:

    ‘Q’,

    one of the pillars of ID is the ‘improbability’ argument, you know, chances of atoms creating life, 10*10 to the Nth power. Lots of zeroes certainly impressed Mr Dembski, he raves on about those zeroes non-stop.

    ‘EA’,

    the Pale Blue Dot is not being used by me to refute religion, it is merely a photo showing how small we are in the vastness of space. If this doesn’t raise questions concerning Intelligent Design, I suppose little else will.

    As an atheist this instills in me the very well described (by Sagan) rational feeling of joy. That is, in all creation I breathe. You put this down to supernatural intervention. Fine, you go with that. It doesn’t change the fact that we are mightily tiny, and a god who ‘designed’ that, is not playing with a logical deck.

  28. 28
    rvb8 says:

    ‘Kairos’,

    I linked to your evidence and got the Nicene Creed, and a Christian writer explaining the historical fact of Christ, His death, and His resurrection.

    I’m willing to accept the first two, it’s the third that never happened. And producing Christian apologists, on a Cristian websites, explaining the ‘facts’ of Christian doctrine is not actually convincing to atheists, and all the other religions that aren’t Christian.

    Talkorigins is a website which has a very good reputation among scientists and interested lay people, such as myself. I visit conservative websites, and I visit here, why don’t you peruse there; also ‘onezoom’ is spectacular.

    This post was about Dembski and Dover. I have been to the archives here many times, and the archives at Pandas many times. Dembski in his own words after that trial, and in reportings of his antics post trial at Pandas, does not paint himself as anything but an ignored, tantrum throwing, child.

  29. 29
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8, you were sent to a draft course unit I wrote some years ago. The start of that section is a one hour video by Lee Stroebel, a legally trained investigative Journalist with the Chicago Tribune, who reconstructs his journey from hostile skepticism to Christian faith through investigating the evidence. Onward, the discussion goes into the evidence recorded from 55 AD and pointing back to 35 – 38 AD, involving the joint, official testimony of the 500, which they stood by unflinchingly in the face of dungeon, fire, sword, false accusation of treasonous arson by Nero, and worse. Your rejection of the resurrection and its testimony multiplied by life transforming miracle working power down to today [including how I am alive to be interacting with you — miraculous answer to prayer in the name of the risen Christ 46 years ago] multiplied by your mischaracterisation of what was put there right in front of you simply go to show that your root problem is not with evidence, it is that you are exerting selectively hyperskeptical dismissal rooted in the closed, indoctrinated, hostile mind. I suggest to you that you need to first realise that selective hyperskepticism is utterly indefensible. Next, you need to realise that evolutionary materialism — your known worldview — is self-refuting and irretrievably irrational . . . notice how you have oh so cleverly dodged 22 above. From that, you need to work your way through worldview foundations 101, and see why ethical theism is the best worldview answer to reality. In that context, you need to reconsider the gospel and its evidential basis. KF

  30. 30

    KF @ 29: Excellent work! Thank you for providing the links.

  31. 31
    Eric Anderson says:

    rvb8 @27:

    . . . it is merely a photo showing how small we are in the vastness of space. If this doesn’t raise questions concerning Intelligent Design, I suppose little else will.

    It doesn’t raise any question concerning intelligent design, and the fact that you think so demonstrates you don’t have any idea what intelligent design is or what you are talking about.

    It doesn’t change the fact that we are mightily tiny, and a god who ‘designed’ that, is not playing with a logical deck.

    Ah, yes. Now we see the real issue. You are approaching this from your personal philosophical/religious viewpoint, based on your expectations of what a God would or would not do, rather than a scientific standpoint.

    Unfortunate. But all too common.

  32. 32
    Eric Anderson says:

    rvb8:

    Some of us have spent quite a bit of time at talkorigins and have found it incredibly biased and lacking in actual details. Oh, lots of stories and speculation, sure. But actual details about how this materialistic creation mechanism is supposed to work? No.

    But — again we plead — please feel free to lay out a couple of specific points of evidence you think support your materialist creation story. Not vague assertions that the details are to be found out there somewhere on the internet or on talkorigins. Just provide one or two paragraphs, in your own words, about this evidence you think exists. If you write something substantive, I’d even be happy to elevate it to a head post for discussion.

    Or perhaps you haven’t really delved into the evidence enough to be able to articulate it on your own? Maybe you just go to talkorigins and the like to reassure yourself that someone seems to have good soundbites that make it appear they have answers. Maybe it isn’t really about the evidence at all. Maybe it is just about maintaining the materialistic narrative, regardless of the evidence (or lack thereof).

  33. 33
    Origenes says:

    rvb8: As an atheist this instills in me the very well described (by Sagan) rational feeling of joy.

    Sagan:
    Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. … There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.

    It would be helpful if Sagan explains the ground for what he tacitly assumes: importance can be measured by size. As it stands, why would anyone be impressed by his display of primal emotion? Only a total idiot holds that a boulder is more important than his child. Only a barbarian holds that firework explosions trump Schumann’s piano sonatas.

  34. 34
    Phinehas says:

    rv:

    If this doesn’t raise questions concerning Intelligent Design, I suppose little else will.

    The only question this raises for me is whether you understand what a non sequitur is.

  35. 35
    Querius says:

    The image of “a pale blue dot” is visible at a relatively tiny subset of distances (measured in millimeters, of course). For the vast majority of locations in this universe, the earth is invisible, which I suppose means that we’re so insignificant that we don’t even exist.

    You get the same effect simply by closing your eyes, which is a far more common rejection of moral responsibility.

    -Q

  36. 36
    rvb8 says:

    Origenes,

    a little more of Sagan to balance your quotes;

    To Sagan and to me, and hopefully to Christians,(current facts and history and evidence not withstanding);

    ‘To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.’
    Bit wishful I know, but they are my beliefs too, excepting of course BA’s charge that I am a, ‘meat sandwich’. Heh:)

    Of course this is the accepted position of every atheist I know, and the famous ones I don’t know.

    Many of the religious however seem hell bent on ripping out every natural resource and dollar we can from the planet, which has been given to human custodianship (bad move, bad design!) by God.

    Eric says he’s spent ‘quite a bit of time’, at Talkorigins, I some how suspect this is playing fast and loose with his actual time spent there.

    Talkorigins is massive. I spend a fair amount of time here, waiting one day for a scientist with an experiment, or any evidence that God made something, with only the hubrous of various posters, to show for it.

    The page at ‘Talk’ called, ‘Evidence For Evolution: An Eclectic Survey’, would take hours on its own to survey in depth; I’m ploughung through.

    On the other hand, for ID or Creationism, I can get the information direct from the creators of the terminology. Dembski for Specified Complexity, Kairos for his invention of FSCO/I, and Behe for Irreducible Complexity.

    Talkorigins is a resource many university students use because of its rigour and trust worthiness. Not many of these students use ‘Of Pandas’, Evonews, or here. Why? Because they are ‘gullible’ like me, as Eric A suggests? Or because they and I are ‘idiots’ as Origenes suggests?

    That is a possibility I suppose. There is the third option. That it is an engaging, simple, well presented, factual source of some of the most up todate research on the massive subject of evolution.

  37. 37
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8,

    Unfortunately, your choice of speaking in terms of “invention” of FSCO/I speaks volumes on your now regrettably habitual refusal to acknowledge phenomena that are right in front of you. As in, a descriptive label acknowledges a phenomenon, it does not invent it.

    Doubtless, you think that is a clever way to dismiss something you don’t wish to consider.

    This pattern makes your rhetoric into a case in point of the sociological, ideological reaction to the design inference on tested sign. So, I now respond, by way of addressing a case of a problem of sustained unresponsiveness to evidence.

    However, it only reveals that you are being selectively hyperskeptical and dismissive through the fallacy of the closed, ideologised, indoctrinated, hostile mind.

    I suggest you need to think again.

    As a start, look at your own comment, which is text. To wit, a s-t-r-i-n-g of 1943 ASCII characters, at 7 bits per character, indicating a config space of 2^[7 * 1943) possibilities. That is, a space with 2.037*10^4094 cells.

    The atomic and temporal resources of our whole observed cosmos, running at 1 search per each of 10^80 atoms, at 10^12 – 10^14 searches per s [a fast chem reaction rate] for 10^17 s [time since big bang, approx.] could not search more than 10^111 cells, a negligibly small fraction. That is, the config space search challenge is real, there is not enough resource to search more than a negligibly small fraction of the haystack blindly. (and the notion sometimes put, of somehow having a golden search runs into the fact that searches are subsets, so search for a golden search comes from the power set of the direct config space, of order here 2^[10^4094]. That is, it is exponentially harder.)

    How then did your text string come to be? By a much more powerful means: you as an intelligent and knowledgeable agent exerted intelligently directed configuration to compose a text in English.

    That is why, routinely, when you see or I see text of significant size in English, we confidently and rightly infer to design.

    As a simple extension, a 3-d object such as an Abu 6500 C3 fishing reel is describable, in terms of bit strings in a description language, so functional organisation is reducible to an informational equivalent. Discussion on strings is WLOG.

    In terms of the living cell, we can simply point to the copious algorithmic TEXT in DNA, which directly fits with the textual search challenge issue. There is no empirically warranted blind chance and mechanical necessity mechanism that can plausibly account for it. We have every epistemic and inductive reasoning right to see that the FSCO/I in the cell is best explained as a result of design.

    That twerdun, which comes before whodunit.

    As for, oh it’s some readily scorned IDiot on a blog, I suggest you would do better to ponder this from Stephen Meyer:

    The central argument of my book [= Signature in the Cell] is that intelligent design—the activity of a conscious and rational deliberative agent—best explains the origin of the information necessary to produce the first living cell. I argue this because of two things that we know from our uniform and repeated experience, which following Charles Darwin I take to be the basis of all scientific reasoning about the past. First, intelligent agents have demonstrated the capacity to produce large amounts of functionally specified information (especially in a digital form). Second, no undirected chemical process has demonstrated this power. Hence, intelligent design provides the best—most causally adequate—explanation for the origin of the information necessary to produce the first life from simpler non-living chemicals. In other words, intelligent design is the only explanation that cites a cause known to have the capacity to produce the key effect in question . . . . In order to [[scientifically refute this inductive conclusion] Falk would need to show that some undirected material cause has [[empirically] demonstrated the power to produce functional biological information apart from the guidance or activity a designing mind. Neither Falk, nor anyone working in origin-of-life biology, has succeeded in doing this . . . .

    The central problem facing origin-of-life researchers is neither the synthesis of pre-biotic building blocks (which Sutherland’s work addresses) or even the synthesis of a self-replicating RNA molecule (the plausibility of which Joyce and Tracey’s work seeks to establish, albeit unsuccessfully . . . [[Meyer gives details in the linked page]). Instead, the fundamental problem is getting the chemical building blocks to arrange themselves into the large information-bearing molecules (whether DNA or RNA) . . . .

    For nearly sixty years origin-of-life researchers have attempted to use pre-biotic simulation experiments to find a plausible pathway by which life might have arisen from simpler non-living chemicals, thereby providing support for chemical evolutionary theory. While these experiments have occasionally yielded interesting insights about the conditions under which certain reactions will or won’t produce the various small molecule constituents of larger bio-macromolecules, they have shed no light on how the information in these larger macromolecules (particularly in DNA and RNA) could have arisen. Nor should this be surprising in light of what we have long known about the chemical structure of DNA and RNA. As I show in Signature in the Cell, the chemical structures of DNA and RNA allow them to store information precisely because chemical affinities between their smaller molecular subunits do not determine the specific arrangements of the bases in the DNA and RNA molecules. Instead, the same type of chemical bond (an N-glycosidic bond) forms between the backbone and each one of the four bases, allowing any one of the bases to attach at any site along the backbone, in turn allowing an innumerable variety of different sequences. This chemical indeterminacy is precisely what permits DNA and RNA to function as information carriers. It also dooms attempts to account for the origin of the information—the precise sequencing of the bases—in these molecules as the result of deterministic chemical interactions . . . .

    [[W]e now have a wealth of experience showing that what I call specified or functional information (especially if encoded in digital form) does not arise from purely physical or chemical antecedents [[–> i.e. by blind, undirected forces of chance and necessity]. Indeed, the ribozyme engineering and pre-biotic simulation experiments that Professor Falk commends to my attention actually lend additional inductive support to this generalization. On the other hand, we do know of a cause—a type of cause—that has demonstrated the power to produce functionally-specified information. That cause is intelligence or conscious rational deliberation. As the pioneering information theorist Henry Quastler once observed, “the creation of information is habitually associated with conscious activity.” And, of course, he was right. Whenever we find information—whether embedded in a radio signal, carved in a stone monument, written in a book or etched on a magnetic disc—and we trace it back to its source, invariably we come to mind, not merely a material process. Thus, the discovery of functionally specified, digitally encoded information along the spine of DNA, provides compelling positive evidence of the activity of a prior designing intelligence. This conclusion is not based upon what we don’t know. It is based upon what we do know from our uniform experience about the cause and effect structure of the world—specifically, what we know about what does, and does not, have the power to produce large amounts of specified information . . . .

    [[In conclusion,] it needs to be noted that the [[now commonly asserted and imposed limiting rule on scientific knowledge, the] principle of methodological naturalism [[ that scientific explanations may only infer to “natural[[istic] causes”] is an arbitrary philosophical assumption, not a principle that can be established or justified by scientific observation itself. Others of us, having long ago seen the pattern in pre-biotic simulation experiments, to say nothing of the clear testimony of thousands of years of human experience, have decided to move on. We see in the information-rich structure of life a clear indicator of intelligent activity and have begun to investigate living systems accordingly. If, by Professor Falk’s definition, that makes us philosophers rather than scientists, then so be it. But I suspect that the shoe is now, instead, firmly on the other foot. [[Meyer, Stephen C: Response to Darrel Falk’s Review of Signature in the Cell, SITC web site, 2009. (Emphases and parentheses added.)]

    Let me focus attention on the highlighted:

    First, intelligent agents have demonstrated the capacity to produce large amounts of functionally specified information (especially in a digital form). Second, no undirected chemical process has demonstrated this power. Hence, intelligent design provides the best—most causally adequate—explanation for the origin of the information necessary to produce the first life from simpler non-living chemicals.

    The only difference between this and what I have highlighted through the acronym FSCO/I, is that functionally specific organisation is similarly reducible to an informational string and is in this sense equivalent to it. Where, that is hardly news, AutoCAD has reigned supreme as an engineers design tool for decades now. Going back to 1973, Orgel in his early work on specified complexity, wrote:

    . . . In brief, living organisms are distinguished by their specified complexity. Crystals are usually taken as the prototypes of simple well-specified structures, because they consist of a very large number of identical molecules packed together in a uniform way. Lumps of granite or random mixtures of polymers are examples of structures that are complex but not specified. The crystals fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; the mixtures of polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity . . . .

    [HT, Mung, fr. p. 190 & 196:] These vague idea can be made more precise by introducing the idea of information. Roughly speaking, the information content of a structure is the minimum number of instructions needed to specify the structure. [–> this is of course equivalent to the string of yes/no questions required to specify the relevant “wiring diagram” for the set of functional states, T, in the much larger space of possible clumped or scattered configurations, W, as Dembski would go on to define in NFL in 2002, also cf here, here and here (with here on self-moved agents as designing causes).] One can see intuitively that many instructions are needed to specify a complex structure. [–> so if the q’s to be answered are Y/N, the chain length is an information measure that indicates complexity in bits . . . ] On the other hand a simple repeating structure can be specified in rather few instructions. [–> do once and repeat over and over in a loop . . . ] Complex but random structures, by definition, need hardly be specified at all . . . . Paley was right to emphasize the need for special explanations of the existence of objects with high information content, for they cannot be formed in nonevolutionary, inorganic processes. [The Origins of Life (John Wiley, 1973), p. 189, p. 190, p. 196.]

    So, the concept of reducing functional organisation to a description on a string of y/n structured questions — a bit string in some description language — is hardly news, nor is it something I came up with. Where obviously Orgel is speaking to FUNCTIONAL specificity, so that is not new either.

    Likewise, search spaces or config spaces is a simple reflection of the phase space concept of statistical thermodynamics.

    Dembski’s remarks are also significant, here from NFL:

    p. 148:“The great myth of contemporary evolutionary biology is that the information needed to explain complex biological structures can be purchased without intelligence. My aim throughout this book is to dispel that myth . . . . Eigen and his colleagues must have something else in mind besides information simpliciter when they describe the origin of information as the central problem of biology.

    I submit that what they have in mind is specified complexity, or what equivalently we have been calling in this Chapter Complex Specified information or CSI . . . .

    Biological specification always refers to function. An organism is a functional system comprising many functional subsystems. . . . In virtue of their function [[a living organism’s subsystems] embody patterns that are objectively given and can be identified independently of the systems that embody them. Hence these systems are specified in the sense required by the complexity-specificity criterion . . . the specification can be cashed out in any number of ways [[through observing the requisites of functional organisation within the cell, or in organs and tissues or at the level of the organism as a whole. Dembski cites:

    Wouters, p. 148: “globally in terms of the viability of whole organisms,”

    Behe, p. 148: “minimal function of biochemical systems,”

    Dawkins, pp. 148 – 9: “Complicated things have some quality, specifiable in advance, that is highly unlikely to have been acquired by ran-| dom chance alone. In the case of living things, the quality that is specified in advance is . . . the ability to propagate genes in reproduction.”

    On p. 149, he roughly cites Orgel’s famous remark from 1973, which exactly cited reads:

    In brief, living organisms are distinguished by their specified complexity. Crystals are usually taken as the prototypes of simple well-specified structures, because they consist of a very large number of identical molecules packed together in a uniform way. Lumps of granite or random mixtures of polymers are examples of structures that are complex but not specified. The crystals fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; the mixtures of polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity . . .

    And, p. 149, he highlights Paul Davis in The Fifth Miracle: “Living organisms are mysterious not for their complexity per se, but for their tightly specified complexity.”] . . .”

    p. 144: [[Specified complexity can be more formally defined:] “. . . since a universal probability bound of 1 [[chance] in 10^150 corresponds to a universal complexity bound of 500 bits of information, [[the cluster] (T, E) constitutes CSI because T [[ effectively the target hot zone in the field of possibilities] subsumes E [[ effectively the observed event from that field], T is detachable from E, and and T measures at least 500 bits of information . . . ”

    So, the problem of refusal to attend to readily available, evidence or even evidence put in front of objectors to design theory is significant and clear.

    What it in the end reflects as a case of clinging to fallacies and myths in the teeth of correction for years on end, is the weakness of the case being made against design by its persistent objectors.

    Which is itself highly significant.

    KF

  38. 38
  39. 39
    Origenes says:

    rvb8: Origenes,

    a little more of Sagan to balance your quotes; …

    Sagan: ‘To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.’

    So first Sagan points out how totally irrelevant the earth is, because … you know … small equals unimportance. And then he turns and goes all soft and mushy because we and the earth are so … fragile or something?
    This is great stuff rvb8. Thank you for pointing this out. I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes.

  40. 40

    rvb8 quotes Sagan:

    ‘To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

    Then performs his virtue-signalling and celebrity-associating:

    … they are my beliefs too…

    and attempts to include atheists in his virtue signalling:

    Of course this is the accepted position of every atheist I know, and the famous ones I don’t know.

    Many of the religious however seem hell bent on ripping out every natural resource and dollar we can from the planet…

    … as if ripping out every natural resource and dollar should be recognized as a “bad” thing, when under rvb8’s view (naturalism), humans just do whatever physics and chemistry dictates, and consider good or bad whatever those forces dictate. rvb8’s condemnation of certain humans doing whatever it is they do is the equivalent of one kind of tree leaf condemning another tree leaf for sucking more CO2 out of the air than the first leaf. So? That’s just nature doing its thing in both cases. Rvb8 seems to think there is something wrong with natural life forms consuming natural resources at whatever rate nature has programmed into them to do.

    That is a possibility I suppose. There is the third option. That it is an engaging, simple, well presented, factual source of some of the most up todate research on the massive subject of evolution.

    Well, no, that’s not a possibility as to why different people look to different sites for their information, under rvb8’s worldview ideology; they go to their respective sites for exactly the same reason: biology, chemistry and physics compels them to do so. The idea that we do so for “rational” or “logical” reasons is, under rvb8’s worldview, a delusional proposition. Logic and rationality do not guide the interactions and outcomes of chemistry and physics.

    Additionally, under the logical consequences of rvb8’s worldview, whether or not we experience a site as “well-presented”, or “factual”, or “well-informed” has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not those sites have those actual commodities; it only matters if our particular chemistries dictate that reaction.

    Under rvb8’s worldview, some of us have been programmed by nature to be evolutionists, and others have been programmed to be IDists. There’s nothing more to it than that, and there is nothing “right” or “wrong” about either condition. That’s just what nature has happened to produce.

    rvb8 arguing that a certain natural condition (IDism or creationism) is “wrong” is the equivalent (under his ideology) of arguing that maple tree leaves have the “wrong” shape because they are not shaped like pecan tree leaves. It’s a moronic argument.

    The problem is, for rvb8 and his ilk, is that if they truly believed, thought and acted as if their worldview was true, they’d have nothing to argue about, because they would know that everything is just the expression of nature, neither right or wrong, neither good or bad.

  41. 41
    Eric Anderson says:

    rvb8:

    And yet . . . we wait . . . for your description of the evidence you are so impressed with. Lots of feelings and special sentiments. But still no facts about how this materialistic creation story is supposed to work.

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