Intelligent Design

They Won’t Dance; They Won’t Mourn

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“We played your a melody, but you would not dance, a dirge but you would not mourn.”

When we are discussing philosophy as it relates to ID, some A-Mat will invariably jump into the combox and howl “I thought this was a science blog; let’s get back to the science.”

Well, a few weeks ago GP put up an extraordinary brilliant science-heavy post. The Ubiquitin System: Functional Complexity and Semiosis joined together.  As of today, there were 414 comments.  I scrolled through the combox and noted there were ZERO comments from A-Mats.

Keep that in mind next time the A-Mats howl.  We put up science posts, and they ignore them.  We put up philosophy posts and the criticize them for not being science posts.  Proving once again that coherence is not the A-Mats’ strong suit.

139 Replies to “They Won’t Dance; They Won’t Mourn

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    They consistently ignore the science and focus on religion demonstrating that for them it is in fact a religious battle.

    It seems coherent to me. 🙂

  2. 2
    Querius says:

    Bingo!

    -Q

  3. 3
    jdk says:

    That Ubiquitin post is way too technical for the average poster here, irrespective of their philosophical position. It looks like about four people have actually contributed to it. Perhaps the author should write it up for publication.

  4. 4
    LocalMinimum says:

    The Ubiquitin post is outstanding. I don’t even know how much I’d have to invest to be able to actually contribute. But it’s a fun ride.

  5. 5
    tribune7 says:

    I’ve noticed that too.

  6. 6

    “Keep that in mind next time the A-Mats howl.”

    I will. Thanks for the post.

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks, that pattern also holds for other OP’s that focus on technical issues, thermodynamics, cosmology, AI etc. The conclusion is, this is a worldviews and worldview linked cultural agenda debate in material part, but at core it is about scientific issues. That makes for some very strange bedfellows. KF

  8. 8

    That Ubiquitin post is way too technical for the average poster here

    Yes, we hear that all the time. Some 19 year old with a part time job at a pizza hut will read that tenured biochemist Michael Behe introduced the concept of IC in molecular systems, and in humility they’ll demur from speaking on the technical aspects of the issues and just call him a Jesus freak who is trying to establish a theocracy in science and state.

    You should be proud, since you are on the team that helped intimate that acting in such a way is acceptable when it comes to ID.

  9. 9
    cobracai says:

    Most topics in biology are too technical for most, so why are so many, on this blog for instance, so adamant that their position is right? That does not just include A-mats. I think we should recognize our limitations of understanding on some of these issues.

  10. 10
    jdk says:

    A bit strong there, UB: and you’re way wrong in suggesting that I would support the conclusion that Behe is “a Jesus freak who is trying to establish a theocracy in science and state.” I know I’m not responsible for your hyperbolic stereotypes, but you’re certainly wrong about me.

  11. 11

    Oh geez, jdk, I apologize. I didn’t know you had publicly urged balance and professional respect in addressing the design inference. I’d sure like to read that. I might even forward it to the departments at Lehigh University and urge them to take down that disgusting attack page on Behe.

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    Cobra, the design inference on functionally specific complex organisation and associated information may apply to biological systems but it is not a biological issue. Biologists, unless the also have experience in engineering and information, are not particularly expert. It so happens that from the cell on up, since the 1940’s we have more and more realised that life forms are chock full of such FSCO/I. The known source of such, on a trillion member observation base and linked blind needle in haystack search challenge, is intelligently directed configuration. That FSCO/I includes the von Neumann self replicator put on the table in the 1940’s so it needs to be accounted for prior to the origin of cell based life. We have very strong grounds to infer on tested reliable sign that the best explanation of FSCO/I and the only actually observed one is design. Remember, we are dealing with TEXT, alphanumerical coded digital information that functions algorithmically in the heart of the living cell. We have every epistemic right to make a strong inference to design as cause. If you doubt this, simply put up an actually observed case of FSCO/I coming about by blind chance and or mechanical necessity of at least 500 – 1,000 bits of information: _______ I confidently predict that you cannot, nor can any other objector. Just the text of posts in this thread stands as further examples of the source of such FSCO/I, design. KF

  13. 13
    jdk says:

    Hi UB. Your typical sarcasm and disdain is showing: what kind of an unrealistic black-and-white world do you live in to see “publicly urging balance and professional respect in addressing the design inference” and seeing Behe as “a Jesus freak who is trying to establish a theocracy in science and state” as the only two alternatives.

  14. 14

    You are right about one thing Jack, I do have a general disdain for all of you who sent the unspoken message to John Q Public that the trash talk you see from those with a organization, or a keyboard, or a microphone is perfectly okay when it comes to responding to ID proponents. And those words I wrote — they have been seen on this forum ( and print, and radio, and TV) in one form or another thousands upon thousands of times. I never see even one of you anti-ID leaders lift a finger to cool the rhetoric. The heat pumped into this debate was done by design, that includes loud mouthed professors, pompous intellectuals, and mild mannered school teachers. The issues “being too technical” was never a concern in slowing down the thrashing of ID proponents, so spare us your opportunistic rhetorical concerns about it now.

  15. 15
    cobracai says:

    KF
    I certainly agree design can be detected, so I wouldn’t consider myself an objector. My comment was vague but I was mostly responding to JDK about how many here do no understand the technical posts discussed here. That’s why I find it ironic that many A-mats are so sure evolution as commonly taught is right, no questioning needed. Though I also feel creationists and design advocates too should exercise caution on certain issues. Plenty of questions may never be answered such as how and when the design occurred, how much variation can occur through selection and mutation, etc.

  16. 16
    gpuccio says:

    Barry Arrington:

    Thank you for the mention. I understand my OPs are rather technical, but I hope that the general meaning can be followed even by those who do not have a specific biological training.

    I would definitely like to see more discussion there, especially from the other field, not just because they are my OPs, but because I think that some of the issues debated there can be really interesting, for all those who are involved in the ID discussion. So, thank you again! 🙂

  17. 17
    OldAndrew says:

    I noticed exactly what you described. When the post was science-heavy there was no debate. IMO the overwhelming number of complex mechanisms working in concert demonstrated how absurd it would be to even attempt a darwinist “explanation.”

    I don’t see how that’s a bad thing. Posts like that have the potential to influence minds. Quasi-religious, philosophical reasoning does the opposite. It preaches to some of the choir, splits those who support ID according to their religious beliefs, and portrays ID as religiously motivated.

    Heated religious debates among religious people don’t lead people to change religions. How much less likely are heated religious debates with atheists to persuade them about either religion or science? If establishing common ground is a useful tactic, that’s the exact opposite.

    Another angle: if the goal is to change minds and influence people then your success may be harder to see because lots of people read and don’t comment. You can’t measure success by how many argumentative people argue.

  18. 18
    gpuccio says:

    jdk:

    “That Ubiquitin post is way too technical for the average poster here, irrespective of their philosophical position. It looks like about four people have actually contributed to it. Perhaps the author should write it up for publication.”

    You mat be right. They are technical, sure. But in the end, they are about the essential points in ID. If ID wants to be science (and it is) it must be technical.

    Moreover, the discussion there could be difficult for “the average poster here”, but no poster at all from the field of ID critics is really surprising.

    If those details are too difficult, how is it that most ID critics who come here are so self-assured that ID has no scientific validity? How can they be so ready to attck everyone here, in soem cases, and still not understand enough of the related biological stuff to follow specific posts where I have done my best to be clear and explicit?

    How many here feel no fear to give bold judgements about complex philosophical, even scientific issues, like free will, morality, theology, quantum mechanics, the second law, cosmology, and so on? And then they become shy as soon as biology is concerned?

    But after all biology is the main theme of ID (at least in its biological aspect), and certainly of neo-darwinism.

    Are you suggesting that all those who defend neo-darwinism here with their whole soul and mind do not understand biology enough to comment about what I write?

    That would be strange indeed! 🙂

    After all, I am not a biologist, myself.

    Regarding publication, I have answered that other times. My choice of writing here is exactly that. an intentional choice. I have my reasons for that, and I have no real motives to change that choice.

    It is true that “about four people have actually contributed to” the discussion about ubiquitin. But it has been great fun, and still is! 🙂

  19. 19
    gpuccio says:

    OldAndrew:

    Thank you for your thoughts. I agree that sticking to science is certainly an useful strategy. For me, indeed, it’s the only natural choice. But I speak only for me, and as I have said many times I also appreciate different approaches.

    However, I am happy that you seem to agree with my personal approach. Thank you. 🙂

  20. 20
    gpuccio says:

    Mung:

    Hi my friend, how are you? 🙂

  21. 21
    gpuccio says:

    cobracai:

    “Plenty of questions may never be answered such as how and when the design occurred, how much variation can occur through selection and mutation, etc.”

    Well, how the design occurred is a very big issue, you are right about that. But I am confident that science will at least give us some partial answers, in time.

    When it occurred is easier. Just one example:

    The design involved in the transition to vertebrates occurred in a time window of about 30 million years, at most, in particular between 440 and 410 million years ago. More or less. As I have argued here:

    The amazing level of engineering in the transition to the vertebrate proteome: a global analysis

    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/the-amazing-level-of-engineering-in-the-transition-to-the-vertebrate-proteome-a-global-analysis/

    and in the following discussion.

    How much variation can occur through selection and mutation is definitely a treatable problem. I have given my views about those two point, in some detail, in the following two OPs:

    What are the limits of Natural Selection? An interesting open discussion with Gordon Davisson

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

    and:

    What are the limits of Random Variation? A simple evaluation of the probabilistic resources of our biological world

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

    and in the related discussions.

    Everyone is invited to comment on those points. OK, they are a little bit technical too, but whatever! 🙂

  22. 22
    cobracai says:

    Gpuccio
    Yes your posts are technical and that’s exactly what UD needs more of. It is quite ironic how those who think ID isn’t science turn silent to posts like yours. Sure ID involves philosophy and even religion, as does evolution. To deny that is just dishonest. Many opponents here claim to be about the science when it’s really their worldview they want to defend. That’s fine, but don’t pretend it’s otherwise. Silent observers such as myself clearly see this.
    Keep up those posts, we need more of them!

  23. 23
    gpuccio says:

    cobracai:

    “Keep up those posts, we need more of them!”

    Thank you, I will! 🙂

  24. 24
    vividbleau says:

    gp,UB,KF

    Gp I too was very surprised that not one ID critic responded to your OP, pretty stunning really when you consider the recent criticism about the lack of technical posts. I for one much appreciate your always stimulating comments.

    UB you are spot on!

    KF I agree the problem ultimately boils down to worldview issues. Years ago I struggled with the evidence for Darwinian evolution, I just did not see the evidence for it but accepted it since every scientist assured me that it was there. I just took the stance that all these scientists knew better than I and I just accepted it until I read “Darwin on Trial” and my eyes were opened. I realized that it wasn’t about science rather it was about metaphysics and everything made sense.

    Vivid

  25. 25

    UB @ 14: “…I do have a general disdain for all of you who sent the unspoken message to John Q Public that the trash talk you see from those with an organization, or a keyboard, or a microphone is perfectly okay when it comes to responding to ID proponents.”

    I completely understand (and share) your disdain. So proud to be on the ID side of the debate.

  26. 26
    gpuccio says:

    LocalMinimum:

    “The Ubiquitin post is outstanding.”

    Thank you! 🙂

  27. 27
    gpuccio says:

    Truth Will Set You Free:

    “So proud to be on the ID side of the debate.”

    So am I. 🙂

  28. 28
    gpuccio says:

    Upright BiPed at #11:

    Thank you for mentioning that. I would say that “disgusting” is an euphemism. It’s a shame for scientific thought and for academic dignity.

    This is the prominent link that we can find at the home page of the Biological Sciences Department of the Leigh University site:

    Read the department’s position on evolution and “intelligent design”

    And the link leads to this page:

    Department position on evolution and “intelligent design”

    The faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences is committed to the highest standards of scientific integrity and academic function. This commitment carries with it unwavering support for academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas. It also demands the utmost respect for the scientific method, integrity in the conduct of research, and recognition that the validity of any scientific model comes only as a result of rational hypothesis testing, sound experimentation, and findings that can be replicated by others.

    The department faculty, then, are unequivocal in their support of evolutionary theory, which has its roots in the seminal work of Charles Darwin and has been supported by findings accumulated over 140 years. The sole dissenter from this position, Prof. Michael Behe, is a well-known proponent of “intelligent design.” While we respect Prof. Behe’s right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific.

    So much for scientific integrity! Labeling a professor of their own university and his scientific ideas as heretic seems to be their main interest, so much so that they chose to give the highest visibility to the matter. What a shame!

  29. 29
    kairosfocus says:

    GP, I think on fair comment that we could call a medical practitioner an applied biologist, albeit with primary emphasis on one certain species. KF

  30. 30
    kairosfocus says:

    Vivid, yes. And it is also about intelligence and consciousness, hence my current series on memristors as the current great hope for neuromorphic computing and presumably “emergence” of consciousness via AI. Mind you I have to go fairly slowly on the series as there are all sorts of factors and frankly I am not the same since July 18 last year. KF

  31. 31
    Mung says:

    gpuccio:

    Hi my friend, how are you?

    I am well, thank you.

    Perhaps I will drop in to your Ubiquitin thread and show why you are all wrong, since no one else seems up to the task.

    🙂

  32. 32
    gpuccio says:

    KF:

    “And it is also about intelligence and consciousness, hence my current series on memristors as the current great hope for neuromorphic computing and presumably “emergence” of consciousness via AI.”

    You are absolutely right! You know how central the problem of consciousness is for me too. 🙂

    I have always thought that neo-darwinism and strong AI theories (the presumable “emergence” of consciousness via AI) are strictly connected: the two big scientific lies of our times.

    “GP, I think on fair comment that we could call a medical practitioner an applied biologist, albeit with primary emphasis on one certain species.”

    Yes, that can be fair. There are no doubts that my education and experience in medicine has helped a lot. But it is also true that most of what I know of modern biology is mainly the result of my long militancy in ID. 🙂

  33. 33
    gpuccio says:

    Mung:

    You really know how to scare me! 🙂

  34. 34
    JVL says:

    Upright BiPed

    ou are right about one thing Jack, I do have a general disdain for all of you who sent the unspoken message to John Q Public that the trash talk you see from those with a organization, or a keyboard, or a microphone is perfectly okay when it comes to responding to ID proponents.

    I, for one have never encouraged or participated in trash-talk or anything of the sort. Yet, when I participate on this site in good faith, I am frequently derided and even called names. Assumptions about my views are liberally made. I do try to be fair and balanced but, to be honest, many of the ID supporters here don’t match that standard themselves.

    And those words I wrote — they have been seen on this forum ( and print, and radio, and TV) in one form or another thousands upon thousands of times. I never see even one of you anti-ID leaders lift a finger to cool the rhetoric.

    You expect us to police thousands/millions of others, some of whom we have little in common with?

    For my own part I do not participate in any “A/MAT” forums and so am in a poor position to influence them. Nor do I think it’s my responsibility.

    The heat pumped into this debate was done by design, that includes loud mouthed professors, pompous intellectuals, and mild mannered school teachers.

    Perhaps. Maybe we should all just get back to addressing the scientific issues?

    The issues “being too technical” was never a concern in slowing down the thrashing of ID proponents, so spare us your opportunistic rhetorical concerns about it now.

    I think what he meant was that it would take a specialist to understand and comment on the mentioned post. Personally I am in no position to criticise or praise it.

  35. 35
    gpuccio says:

    JVL:

    I appreciate your thoughts, even if not addressed to me.

    You say:

    “I think what he meant was that it would take a specialist to understand and comment on the mentioned post. Personally I am in no position to criticise or praise it.”

    OK, I understand that position. But still, I have tried in all ways to be as clear as possible in the OP, even if the following discussion is sometimes more specific and technical.

    Of course, some understanding of the basics of biology is needed. But then I wonder: how can anyone have a personal position about ID and neo-darwinisms, without some basic understanding of biology?

    So, while I don’t expect that anyone is obliged to deal with biological details, I would expect some good will and curiosity from those who come here to debate exactly those issues.

    Moreover, to take part in a discussion does not necessarily mean that one has to “criticise or praise”. It is possible to discuss in order to understand, to clarify. It is possible to ask questions about what is not completely clear.

    The ubiquitin post, after all, is about a rather simple concept: there is an ubiquitous system in the cell which determines the outcome of a lot of proteins, and regulates almost all important cell processes. That system uses specific tags, symbolic tags, realized by one protein, ubiquitin. Moreover, that system uses tons of specific functional information in the form of hundreds of unique proteins that confer specificity to the process.

    You see, it’s as simple as that. I think it’s possible to discuss those concepts, even if one is not “a specialist”.

  36. 36
    JVL says:

    jpuccio

    The ubiquitin post, after all, is about a rather simple concept: there is an ubiquitous system in the cell which determines the outcome of a lot of proteins, and regulates almost all important cell processes. That system uses specific tags, symbolic tags, realized by one protein, ubiquitin. Moreover, that system uses tons of specific functional information in the form of hundreds of unique proteins that confer specificity to the process.

    I certainly got ‘the gist’ of your post but I feel that in order to discuss your detailed and technical argument requires a level of specialisation that I do no possess.

    I come from a mathematical background and I know full well that people will offer opinions of mathematical issues without really understanding the complexities involved. And I am not going to do that with things I don’t fully understand.

    So, I choose not to weigh in one way or another.

    I think that is fair and hones.

    I’m happy to have another look at your post to see if I can parse it better than after my first attempt. But I will not be drawn on things I don’t understand well.

    As far as having an opinion regarding ID and/or un-guided evolution . . . well, you’d have to discuss that with whoever you were having a discussion. I think it’s safe to say that many people, on both sides, have already made up their minds without really understanding the scientific arguments.

    But, that is just my opinion.

  37. 37
    gpuccio says:

    JVL:

    OK, thank you for your feedback.

    But I would say that a mathematical background is not bad at all, for understanding ID, The basci Id arguments are mathematical, even if it is nathematics applied to biology.

    Maybe you could give a look at this other OP of mine, which could be more in your field.

    If you want, of course. 🙂

    What are the limits of Random Variation? A simple evaluation of the probabilistic resources of our biological world

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

  38. 38
    ET says:

    Maybe we should all just get back to addressing the scientific issues?

    Our opponents don’t appear to have any science to support their position and they don’t seem to understand the science and evidence that supports ID. If the people who accept unguided evolution had the science that would be different. Yet the fact remains that they don’t even have a methodology to test their claims. Even the talk origins article on macroevolution is absent a mechanism. Whish is strange because it discusses patterns and patterns require the mechanism.

  39. 39
    asauber says:

    My 2 cents…

    Invariably, the a/mat appeal is to the Pop Science Community, rather than to a scientific process.

    Their minds have been shaped such that they confuse the two, and actually don’t know how to discern the difference in a lot of cases.

    It’s all about appearing to be Real Smart.

    Oh well.

    Andrew

  40. 40
    john_a_designer says:

    I have my own personal standard when it comes to interacting with our regular interlocutors. I usually only engage under two conditions:

    First, our interlocutor must be willing to ask and answer honest questions.

    Second, they need make a logically valid argument, which can be stated using succinct fact based premises. Being argumentative is not the same as arguing. Neither is pretension and posturing, obstruction or obfuscation. Reasonable people know how to make reasonable arguments.

    Here is an honest question:

    Is self-replication alone sufficient for a simple cell to evolve into something more complex?

    You can respond to it here:

    https://uncommondescent.com/origin-of-life/jad-on-self-replicating-machines-and-ool/

    PS Notice that this is a science question.

  41. 41

    JVL at 34,

    I, for one have never encouraged or participated in trash-talk or anything of the sort.

    Great.

    I think what he meant was that it would take a specialist to understand and comment on the mentioned post.

    Frankly, I don’t know why you are responding to my comments to jdk about his comments on GP’s post. You are not jdk. To put it another way (hopefully plainly enough to understand), the comments I made to jdk have a history that is particular to jdk, and I would not have written them to you.

  42. 42
    jdk says:

    Hmmm. I don’t trash talk either, I don’t think, to any large extent (although I’m sure you could find a few instances of my being less than civil). I’m pretty sure I’ve been a constant advocate for civil discussion, both online and in my public comments (back a decade or so ago when I was publicly involved in these matters.) I know that there are people that have made some of the claims that UB mentions, but I seriously doubt that I have supported them.

    Anyway, I will stand on the principle that we should try to have civil and constructive discussions with people with whom we disagree, even when we have to make it clear that we do strongly disagree.

  43. 43

    Having a “constructive discussion” with jdk includes listening to him pontificate openly on ID subject matter, right up until someone says something that puts his whole shtick into perspective, only to have him pack up and walk away under the flimsy reasoning that he and he alone gets to choose what topics he will and will not talk about — never mind that he was already talking.

    In other words, if zero tolerance is your deal, I suppose walking away from scrutiny could be sold as the “civil” thing to do.

  44. 44
    jdk says:

    I haven’t discussed your pet subject, semiotics, because I don’t have enough knowledge about the biological details.

    Also, all of us have the right to discuss subjects of interest with people of our choice, and to not talk about subjects, or with people, that we don’t. Time is limited, and we have to make judgments about what is a constructive and reasonable use of our time.

    There are some aspects of ID that interest me and that I think I’m qualified to discuss, and many that are not.

    Just trying to put UB’s complaints into perspective.

  45. 45

    Just trying to put UB’s complaints into perspective.

    Perspective? You mean you’d to like to offer a cool-handed positioning statement, in the hopes that the scene of you clearly protecting your position from public scrutiny isn’t viewed in posterity in such vivid terms as it was to anyone following along at the time.

    There are some aspects of ID that interest me and that I think I’m qualified to discuss, and many that are not.

    Utter horse-pooey. The entire planet of ID critics knows that codons represent amino acids in the translation of the genetic code, and that there is no chemo-physical link between bases and their referents. These things are not a secret to anyone with a pulse. This is further evidenced by the fact that it has been a topic of discussion for decades on end – acknowledged by both sides of the line.

    all of us have the right to discuss subjects of interest with people of our choice, and to not talk about subjects, or with people, that we don’t.

    You mean you’d like to pontificate on the history of what Michael Behe meant by the term “irreducible complexity”, but you don’t want anyone to affront you with any details about its validity. That sounds like a very cushy position for you, but its just a wee bit unreasonable. Perhaps, being that this is a ID blog, it would be better for you to just shut up about subjects you don’t want to talk about.

    I haven’t discussed your pet subject, semiotics, because I don’t have enough knowledge about the biological details.

    You haven’t discussed it because you know its a brick wall. Period.

  46. 46
    gpuccio says:

    jdk:

    “There are some aspects of ID that interest me and that I think I’m qualified to discuss, and many that are not.”

    I am curious. What are the aspects of ID that interest you and that you think you are qualified to discuss?

    I would like to discuss them. Of course, if I can be considered among the “people of your choice”. 🙂

  47. 47
    jdk says:

    Hi gpuccio.

    I am interested in various philosophical issues about the nature of the universe, and about the difference between science, and its limitations, and broader metaphysical beliefs.

    I am also interested in the nature of human nature, again differentiating, perhaps, between both a scientific and an experiential perspective from various metaphysical positions.

  48. 48

    Jack, did you ever tell the press that you were uncomfortable characterizing ID as religion because there were “aspects of ID that didn’t interest” you and you “were unqualified to talk about it” ?

  49. 49
    jdk says:

    gpuccio, re 46 and 47: I am also interested in the nature and role of religion, and worldviews in general, as an aspect of culture. (This was in fact my main interest as an anthropology major many years ago.)

  50. 50
    jdk says:

    UB, you are referring to events that happened 12-15 years ago. My life and some of my interests have changed.

    You write,

    Jack, did you ever tell the press that you were uncomfortable characterizing ID as religion because there were “aspects of ID that didn’t interest” you and you “were unqualified to talk about it” ?

    No, I doubt that I said that because in fact those are aspects that I am interested in and am qualified to talk about, as I have said in my reply to gpuccio.

  51. 51
    jdk says:

    Adding to the list, I am interested in probability and its application to the real world, and as a long-time math teacher, I believe I am qualified to talk about certain aspects of that topic,

  52. 52

    As I said, it appears to be a rather comfortable position you seek. You can say whatever you want about ID subject matter and not be bothered by any physical evidence or reason to the contrary. Given that the preponderance of evidence supporting intelligence only grows in quantity and quality over time, giving up on that evidence may turn out to be a strategic winner for you. Anything can be sterilized with a quick dose of disinterest at the ready, right? And by the way, the exchange I am referring to is certainly not 15 years old, it’s not even two years old.

    I’ll step aside.

  53. 53
    jdk says:

    Good.

    And I don’t recall talking to the press for many years: certainly not within the last two years. Can you provide a source?

  54. 54
    gpuccio says:

    jdk:

    “Adding to the list, I am interested in probability and its application to the real world, and as a long-time math teacher, I believe I am qualified to talk about certain aspects of that topic”

    So have you considered my OP about the probabilistic resources of biological systems?

    What are the limits of Random Variation? A simple evaluation of the probabilistic resources of our biological world

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

    Have you any comments about that?

  55. 55
    gpuccio says:

    jdk:

    “I am interested in various philosophical issues about the nature of the universe, and about the difference between science, and its limitations, and broader metaphysical beliefs.

    I am also interested in the nature of human nature, again differentiating, perhaps, between both a scientific and an experiential perspective from various metaphysical positions.”

    Interesting. But in brief, what would be your main comment about ID as a scientific approach, in the light of your interests?

  56. 56
    jdk says:

    in brief, what would be your main comment about ID as a scientific approach, in the light of your interests?

    A beginning comment I can make is that your question combines two separate issues:

    1) whether some type of intelligence informs the universe, in its creation or possibly its functioning, such that interesting things happen, such as all the physics and resulting chemistry and biology that result in such things as atoms, molecules, elements, stars, life, etc.

    2) whether somehow we can determine that some things happen in a way that could not happen by natural processes alone: i.e., by some direct application of intelligence in a way that is usually not present in most natural processes. That is, somehow what we call science can determine that this intelligence exists and acts occasionally in the world.

    I am open, although strongly agnostic, about the first issue. (By strongly agnostic, I mean I don’t think there is any way for us to know anything about the nature of such an intelligence, or in general for us to answer the question “why is the universe as it is?”)”

    I am quite skeptical about the second issue, partially because my inclination about the first question is that if this intelligence does exist, it is continually and pervasively present in all aspects of the world, including all the experiences we can ever have about what we consider natural processes.

  57. 57
    gpuccio says:

    jdk:

    Thank you for your answer.

    As you probably know, I am more interested in the second aspect, as related to biological objects.

    There is nothing wrong in being skeptical, but I would like to understand: do you reject the principle of design detection in itself?

    IOWs, don’t you believe that we can detect design for some manuscript about which we have no direct information?

    Or for some complex machine?

    As you have a mathematical backgorund, I would like to offer here again a mental experiment that I have proposed other times.

    Let’s say that some future astronauts arrive to a distant planet. There are no traces of life on it, and no evidence of past civilizations. And the astronauts know nothing at all about the history of the planet.

    However, they find a big stone wall with strange inscriptions on it.

    The inscriptions in themselves are compatible with some natural origin: they could have been made by natural events, weather, and so on.

    But looking at them, the astronauts realize that they are, in some way, in a linear sequence.

    Moreover, they realize that the scratches can be categorized into two basic forms, and that if read as binary symbols with an appropriate code the sequence corresponds exactly to the first 10^6 decimal figures of pi.

    Now, a simple question: would you infer design for the origin of those inscriptions?

    And, if your answer is yes, a second simple question. If you realized that exactly the same situation can be observed in some biological object, what would you infer?

    Finally, I would like a clarification about your statement:

    “I am quite skeptical about the second issue, partially because my inclination about the first question is that if this intelligence does exist, it is continually and pervasively present in all aspects of the world, including all the experiences we can ever have about what we consider natural processes.”

    What do you mean exactly? That we cannot infer design for a watch, because some basic intelligence, if it does exist, is continually and pervasively present in all aspects of the world? Am I missing something?

    Thank you in advance for your attention.

  58. 58
    jdk says:

    Nice response, gpuccio

    No, I don’t reject the idea that we can detect design. A watch is designed. However, in that case we know something about the existence and capabilities of beings who could have both designed and built the watch.

    Similar, I would find the presence of pi to some large number of digits a sign of design. I accept the argument, for instance, that finding such a sequence in a message from outer space would indicate the presence of intelligent aliens.

    And I suppose that if such a sequence were found embedded somehow in a biological object, I would infer design, although I find it hard to imagine what we would even find to establish that.

    Finally, I would like a clarification about your statement:

    “I am quite skeptical about the second issue, partially because my inclination about the first question is that if this intelligence does exist, it is continually and pervasively present in all aspects of the world, including all the experiences we can ever have about what we consider natural processes.”

    What do you mean exactly? That we cannot infer design for a watch, because some basic intelligence, if it does exist, is continually and pervasively present in all aspects of the world? Am I missing something?

    I am referring to those phenomena commonly studied by science as occurring by “natural processes”. See above for my thoughts about watches and other things designed and built by known living creatures.

  59. 59
    Allan Keith says:

    GP and jdk, I think that we are very good at detecting design when we have some understanding of the nature of the designer. His possible tools, his capabilities, his limitations. In short, we are very good at detecting human design. And, I would argue, that we would be able to detect the designs of beings with similar tools, capabilities and limitations.

    But pretending that we can detect design in biology is just that. Pretending. There may very well be design in biology, but extrapolating from our ability to detect human design to the design of some supernatural being is just wishful thinking.

    Just my two cents.

  60. 60

    I suppose that if such a sequence were found embedded somehow in a biological object, I would infer design, although I find it hard to imagine what we would even find to establish that.

    It was predicted what we would find. Then, through experiment, it was found. Then the fact that we found it was described through the language of physics, about 50 years ago.

    Looking away isn’t going to change the empirical facts, or the recorded history.

  61. 61
    jdk says:

    Pi was found in a biological object?

  62. 62

    Exactly. Pi is a symbolic expression that stands for something. The physical requirements of pi has been unequivocally found in a biological object, yes. Precisely. It is found right at the point where something is specified among alternatives.

    The question is not has pi, or any other symbolic expression, been found. Rather, the question is what are you intellectually prepared to do to ignore the physical evidence of it.

  63. 63
    jdk says:

    “The physical requirements of pi has been unequivocally found in a biological object, yes. Precisely.”

    Really? Tell me about that.

    I think you mean that “something that stands for something” has been found, but that is way, way too general to be in any way analogous to pi being found.

  64. 64

    Pi is a rate-independent symbol, requiring interpretation. It is a part of a language structure, in this specific case, a system of symbols that expresses mathematical values among alternatives.

    Agreed?

  65. 65
    jdk says:

    Pi is a very specific number that arises from clear basic concepts in geometry. Given a base, it has a unique representation.

    I do not know what your first sentence above means. Yes, pi is part of a larger set of symbols that humans have invented in order to express mathematical facts.

  66. 66

    Rate-independence is not difficult at all to understand. It basically refers to the fact that physical interactions are described and determined by the exchange of energy and rates of exchange of energy. In shorthand, a rate independent symbol system is independent of such energetic factors – i.e. the medium does not determine a symbol or a sequence of symbols. Allow me to clip previous writing as an explanation:

    There is a fundamental principle within physics sometimes referred to as the minimum total potential energy principle. This principle is related to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and simply states that any physical object (regardless of its size or composition, as big as a planet or as small as a molecule) will distort and twist, and naturally orient itself to seek its lowest potential energy state. To the average reader, this principle might seem difficult to understand, but it’s a principle we each see in effect around us all the time. For instance, we see it in the way a tree branch covered in snow will hang down low as it counteracts the additional weight of the snow, or the way that the propeller on a toy plane is spun by a tightly wound rubber band until the rubber band becomes loose again. In short, this principle can be thought of in general terms as the natural tendency of any object to seek a balance of all the various forces acting upon it at any given time.

    Since all symbols are physical objects, they are all subject to this fundamental principle. There are symbolic representations that function directly as a result of the medium physically assuming its lowest potential energy state. This includes the vast majority of all informational mediums. A pheromone, for instance, is a perfect example. A pheromone is a chemical compound that serves as a symbol by assuming its lowest potential energy state. In other words, any given pheromone is a combination of a certain number of specific atoms that (when bound together as a compound) assumes a certain physical structure according to its nature – and it is that specific three-dimensional structure that the system recognizes and responds to.

    However, there is another class of symbolic representation whose individuating characteristics (i.e. the properties that make a representation individually recognizable within its system) are not established by the medium assuming its lowest potential energy state. This is a very unique class of symbolic representation, and is considerably rarer among all forms of information-bearing mediums. As a simple example, the word “apple” written in ink on a piece of paper is a material structure not unlike the pheromone. In general terms, the atoms that make up the ink will interact with the atoms that make up the paper, and together they will assume their combined lowest potential energy state (i.e. a piece of paper stained with ink markings). However, what is actually recognized within the system is solely the arrangement of the ink markings (the shape and sequence of the letters) and that arrangement has nothing whatsoever to do with the lowest potential energy state of ink and paper. This is to say that the arrangement of the letters could be changed to any number of other arrangements, signifying any number of other messages, with every variation being completely undetermined by the lowest potential energy state of ink and paper. Unlike the pheromone, the pattern of a rate-independent symbol literally does not have a “physical nature” to assume. Instead, the pattern is imposed on the medium and is therefore independent of the minimum total potential energy state of the medium.

    Is that explanation sufficient?

  67. 67
    jdk says:

    Not particularly, and certainly not in respect to 62 where you claim that “the physical requirements of pi has been unequivocally found in a biological object.”

    Seems like you are saying that written or spoken representations of pi, and by extension all mathematics I would think, don’t have a physical nature subject to the laws of physics, in the same way a molecule does. If that’s what your saying, that seems pretty clear.

    On the other hand, I don’t know why you would call a pheromone a symbol.

  68. 68

    Not particularly

    What do you not understand?

    not in respect to 62 where you claim that “the physical requirements of pi has been unequivocally found in a biological object.”

    Rate independence is one of the documented physical requirements of the symbol pi – i.e. without rate independence, the symbol pi would not exist.

  69. 69
    jdk says:

    I hope to back up to 58, and my discussion with gpuccio, in response to his question about what I am interested in and what I feel I am qualified to discuss.

  70. 70

    Okay. So the prospect here is that a mature high school teacher and technologist just isn’t able to grasp rate-independence — i.e. that when he writes “Jack Krebs, ID Critic” in ink on a piece of paper, the physical properties of the medium neither determines the shape of letters he writes, nor the sequence that they appear in the message. Or rather, he grasps it all perfectly well, and sensing the potential of a coherent scientific description, simply doesn’t want to subject his ideological presumptions to any significantly well-documented physical evidence to the contrary.

    Since the first proposition is patently absurd, the second is likely true, and will certainly need a positioning statement to give it some cover.

  71. 71
    gpuccio says:

    jdk at #58:

    “Similar, I would find the presence of pi to some large number of digits a sign of design.”

    Thank you.

    Now, let’s say, always in my mental experiment, that the astronauts find instead, on the same wall and in the same distant planet, the symbolic representation, always in binary form and through an appropriate code, of the aminoacid sequence of 20000 functional proteins.

    Would you infer design?

  72. 72
    tribune7 says:

    Allen Keith

    But pretending that we can detect design in biology is just that. Pretending.

    It is not “pretending”. It is developing a method to conclusively determine design, successfully testing it on known objects of design and then applying it to biology.

    It is not “pretending”.

    You can argue that the methodology is flawed or that results when applied to biology are misinterpreted but to call it “pretending” shows a lack of understanding as to what it is about.

  73. 73
    asauber says:

    Allan Keith,

    You say this:

    we are very good at detecting human design

    And this:

    But pretending that we can detect design in biology is just that.

    The problem is human beings are biological. That’s a whopper for you to miss.

    Andrew

  74. 74
    gpuccio says:

    Allan Keith:

    In my mental experiment, we know nothing about the possible designer.

    Would you infer design or not?

  75. 75
    ET says:

    Allan Keith:

    But pretending that we can detect design in biology is just that. Pretending. There may very well be design in biology, but extrapolating from our ability to detect human design to the design of some supernatural being is just wishful thinking.

    Wow. ID does NOT require the supernatural. And our knowledge of human and other animal design is just that- knowledge. And our knowledge of what mother nature is capable of is also knowledge. So we take all of that knowledge and use it to form an inference with respect to what we observe in biology. And guess what? To refute any design inference all one has to do is step up and demonstrate non-telic processes can produce it. But no one can with respect to biology. The evolutionists don’t even have a methodology to test their claims whereas ID does. And yes, we can use our tried and true design detection techniques and apply them to biology.

    Pretending we can see the work of a blind watchmaker is just that- pretending.

  76. 76
    ET says:

    jdk- There isn’t any methodology to test the claims of evolution by means of blind and mindless processes. At least ID has a testable methodology.

    For example no one knows how to test the claim that any bacterial flagellum evolved by means of natural selection, drift or any other blind and mindless process. Yet ID can test the claim they were intelligently designed. Newton’s four rules of scientific investigation come into play. As does Dr Behe’s criteria:

    “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.”

  77. 77
    jdk says:

    To gpuccio at 71: Yes, although this situation is much more contrived, as you’re assuming the astronauts would somehow know how to compare what they found to these amino acid sequences.

  78. 78
    jdk says:

    to UB at 68

    I wrote, “Seems like you are saying that written or spoken representations of pi, and by extension all mathematics I would think, don’t have a physical nature subject to the laws of physics, in the same way a molecule does. If that’s what your saying, that seems pretty clear.”

    You didn’t respond to that: is that the gist of what you are saying?

    Your explanation was certainly not sufficient to support your claim that “the physical requirements of pi has been unequivocally found in a biological object.”

    You also didn’t respond to my question, “On the other hand, I don’t know why you would call a pheromone a symbol.”

  79. 79
    ET says:

    jdk:

    as you’re assuming the astronauts would somehow know how to compare what they found to these amino acid sequences.

    So the astronauts would have to know the symbols represented amino acids before they could infer the symbols on the wall were intelligently designed? Really?

  80. 80
    ET says:

    jdk- mRNA codons are the symbols that represent amino acids. The genetic code is arbitrary meaning it isn’t determined by laws of chemistry or physics.

    I will let UB answer for himself.

  81. 81
    ET says:

    It looks like the ID critics are quick to criticize ID but very slow to try to defend their position. Typical and still very telling

  82. 82
    tribune7 says:

    Now, let’s say, always in my mental experiment, that the astronauts find instead, on the same wall and in the same distant planet, the symbolic representation, always in binary form

    Here’s something to consider regarding the astronaut exercise:

    The astronauts find the symbols on the wall. They go to another part of the cave and find the same symbols etched backwards. They go back to the first etchings and place a mirror to it. A protein forms on a flat rock in front of it. Should design be assumed or do you decide to mess with the dungeon master?

  83. 83
    Mung says:

    jdk:

    Adding to the list, I am interested in probability and its application to the real world, and as a long-time math teacher, I believe I am qualified to talk about certain aspects of that topic,

    But most people here are probably not qualified to talk about probability.

    jdk:

    I haven’t discussed your pet subject, semiotics, because I don’t have enough knowledge about the biological details.

    There is plenty that can be learned about semiotics that has nothing to do with biology. Why not start there?

  84. 84
    Mung says:

    jdk:

    2) whether somehow we can determine that some things happen in a way that could not happen by natural processes alone: i.e., by some direct application of intelligence in a way that is usually not present in most natural processes.

    The question is misguided. It assumes facts not in evidence.

    There is no basis in science for things happening “by natural processes alone.” And there is no scientific test that has or even can establish whether intelligence is present or absent in “natural processes.”

    It;’s a verbal shell game where “natural process” is just another way of saying a process that acts in the absence of any intelligence, and that is just begging the question.

  85. 85
    Mung says:

    Upright BiPed:

    Is that explanation sufficient?

    It was awesome. Even I could understand it. It didn’t even mention semiotics.

  86. 86
    jdk says:

    to Mung at 84: from the Discovery Institute.

    “The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.”

    This is what I meant. Also, the above definition implicitly means best explained scientifically, and not metaphysically.

    I think what I wrote is fairly comparable to the DI definition.

  87. 87
    jdk says:

    to Mung at 85. UB’s explanation of rate-independence was not sufficient to explain his claim that “the physical requirements of pi has been unequivocally found in a biological object.” That is the issue that I brought up with him.

  88. 88
    ET says:

    Yes, jdk, unlike your position ID makes testable claims. Did you have a point?

  89. 89

    Jdk at 78

    I wrote, “Seems like you are saying that written or spoken representations of pi, and by extension all mathematics I would think, don’t have a physical nature subject to the laws of physics, in the same way a molecule does. If that’s what your saying, that seems pretty clear.”

    You didn’t respond to that: is that the gist of what you are saying?

    I believe I was fairly explicit as to what is meant by pi being a “rate-independent symbol”. It is an observation about different types of informational mediums, and I provided a fairly concise and understandable distinction between a rate-independent medium and one that is not. Such distinctions are important, as they come into play in a fuller physical analysis of information bearing systems.

    So (far from not responding) I gave you an explanation and asked if the explanation was sufficient for you to understand the term. You responded by saying “not particularly” and then suggested a more vague/less specific interpretation of what I had said. I don’t think replacing a more explicit explanation with a less explicit explanation is particularly useful, so I asked what part of my explanation you did not understand. You responded in comment #69 by punting the explanation entirely.

    Your explanation was certainly not sufficient to support your claim that “the physical requirements of pi has been unequivocally found in a biological object.”

    My explanation was a response to you saying that you did not understand what I meant by the term “rate-independence”, which is one of the physical requirements for the symbol “pi” to exist.

    You also didn’t respond to my question, “On the other hand, I don’t know why you would call a pheromone a symbol.”

    Because that is what it is (a signal, a medium, a symbolic representation, a symbol vehicle to convey information), typically excreted by an organism outside the body and received by another organism of the same species. You may want to note that when physicists describe the physical workings of such systems, anthropocentric ambiguities (what is a symbol, what is a signal, what is a sign, what is a representation) become irrelevant, as they all have the same key material requirements in order to function.

  90. 90
  91. 91
    gpuccio says:

    jdk at #77:

    “To gpuccio at 71: Yes, although this situation is much more contrived, as you’re assuming the astronauts would somehow know how to compare what they found to these amino acid sequences.”

    Well, that’s not really a problem. Let’s say that they are intuitive people, and they realized that the sequence presented repetitions of the same 5 bit sequences, 21 of them, and they thought they could correspond to the 20 AAs + a stop signal. At that point, it would not be really difficult to decipher the code.

    But my point is another one:

    In biological genomes, we have exactly that. The sequence of a lot (about 20000 in both humans and c. elegans, for example) of functional proteins, written in a symbolic code.

    And there is absolutely no explanation for that configuration of nucleotides.

    The RV + NS theory fails miserably and cannot explain that simple fact. And if your understanding of biology does not allow you to see that, and you are not available to try to improve that understanding, unfortunately I cannot do anything else than state that simple truth.

    But: admit for one moment that what I say is true, and that we have absolutely no explanation for that configuration of nucleotides in biological genomes.

    Then I ask you: if that is true, why shouldn’t we infer design for those biological objects?

    The scenario is the same.

    a) We have exactly the same special configuration as in my mental experiment (the sequence of 20000 functional proteins in symbolic form).

    b) There is no explanation available for it.

    c) We know nothing about the possible designer.

    So, if you infer design for the wall on the distant planet, as you said at #77, why wouldn’t you infer design for genomes on our planet? (of course, if b is true)

  92. 92
    jdk says:

    UB at 89: my “more vague/less specific” summary of what you said was an attempt to see if I understood the main point you were trying to make. Paraphrasing someone else’s point to see if you understand is a good, constructive discussion technique.

    I still don’t see that you have explained how “the physical requirements of pi has been unequivocally found in a biological object.”

    That is is really the only thing in this discussion with you that I am interested in, re 61-62.

  93. 93
    Allan Keith says:

    Tribune7,

    It is not “pretending”. It is developing a method to conclusively determine design, successfully testing it on known objects of design and then applying it to biology.

    For something like this to be effective, it must be calibrated against similar biological structures that are known to be designed. What is missing is this calibration. Comparing it agains man made structures does not qualify. That would be like calibrating a pair of callipers with a graduated cylinder.

  94. 94
    jdk says:

    RE 91. If b is true.

    I will limit myself to the topics I listed back starting with 56.

    I do not know enough, at all, about the origin of life (and I don’t think anyone does) to ascertain if b is true.

    I also am open to there being a pervasive “intelligence” in the world, but not one that just occasionally steps in to accomplish something that could not otherwise happen as part of its continual presence. However, such a belief on my part, if I were to claim it as a held belief, as opposed to a speculative metaphysical possibility, would be a faith-based choice, not a scientific claim at all.

  95. 95
    gpuccio says:

    jdk:

    OK, I respect that. 🙂

  96. 96

    I will respond sometime this evening— no time now.

  97. 97
    tribune7 says:

    Allen Keith

    For something like this to be effective, it must be calibrated against similar biological structures that are known to be designed.

    That’s a standard so loaded it is Kafkaesque.

    You wouldn’t calibrate a caliper with a graduated cylinder, you would calibrate with an object of a known width.

    In the same sense, design identification would be calibrated against objects of known design, and it wouldn’t matter if the object was animal, vegetable, mineral or something else only that it was of known design.

  98. 98
    tribune7 says:

    jdk

    I also am open to there being a pervasive “intelligence” in the world, but not one that just occasionally steps in to accomplish something that could not otherwise happen as part of its continual presence.

    But ID would not be able to determine a miracle.

  99. 99
    ET says:

    Allan Keith:

    For something like this to be effective, it must be calibrated against similar biological structures that are known to be designed.

    Why? Why can’t tried and true design detection techniques be used in biology?

  100. 100
    Origenes says:

    JDK: I do not know enough, at all, about the origin of life (and I don’t think anyone does) to ascertain if b is true.

    Jdk, in GPuccio’s question to you, there is no need to know ‘enough’ about the origin of life. He asked you if you would infer design given that there is no (naturalistic) explanation. He asked you to assume, arguendo, that no such explanation exists. Your answer seems to be “I do not know enough about naturalistic explanations of OOL”.
    Again, you are being asked to assume that naturalistic explanations are non-existent — and therefore irrelevant —, and if you would, in that case, infer design.

  101. 101
    Allan Keith says:

    ET,

    Why? Why can’t tried and true design detection techniques be used in biology?

    Because design detection techniques are based on a a basic understanding of the capabilities and limitations of the designer. Or on observing the designer actually building something very similar to the artifact in question. However, if you are willing to posit the capabilities and the limitations of your designer of biology, we can start looking for evidence that is consistent with these.

  102. 102
    gpuccio says:

    Allan Keith:

    “Because design detection techniques are based on a a basic understanding of the capabilities and limitations of the designer.”

    Why? That’s simply not true.

    Design detection is, of course, based on what a designer can do and other non design scenarios cannot do. Functional complexity, semiosis, irreducible complexity.

    It’s just as simple as that: Conscious designers can do some things that other things cannot do. That’s how we detect design from the designed object.

  103. 103
    tribune7 says:

    Allan Keith

    Because design detection techniques are based on a a basic understanding of the capabilities and limitations of the designer.

    No, they’re not. While experience helps, it basically comes down to ruling out what is inevitable by nature and possible by chance.

    Here’s something to ponder: Is life inevitable by nature? Why do we only see life coming from existing life?

  104. 104
    Allan Keith says:

    Gpuccio,

    Design detection is, of course, based on what a designer can do and other non design scenarios cannot do. Functional complexity, semiosis, irreducible complexity.

    Which is true for artifacts for which we have a reasonable understanding of the capabilities and limitations of the designer. Do you have a confirmed example for which this is not true.

    Tribune7,

    No, they’re not. While experience helps, it basically comes down to ruling out what is inevitable by nature and possible by chance.

    Sorry, but that is just the old god of the gaps argument.

  105. 105
    ET says:

    Allan Keith:

    Because design detection techniques are based on a a basic understanding of the capabilities and limitations of the designer.

    No, we know the capabilities by what they left behind. We would never have thought the ancients capable of building Stonehenge without Stonehenge. And even though we know that mother nature can produce stone formations there is just something about Stonehenge that screams for intelligent designers.

    If the Antikythera mechanism was never found we would never have thought those ancients were capable of producing such a thing.

    However, if you are willing to posit the capabilities and the limitations of your designer of biology, we can start looking for evidence that is consistent with these.

    Capable of producing complex, functional information. Capable of producing irreducibly complex systems. As Dr Behe said:

    “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.”

    It is our knowledge of cause and effect relationships that gives us the design inference.

  106. 106
    Barry Arrington says:

    Gpuccio,

    Design detection is, of course, based on what a designer can do and other non design scenarios cannot do. Functional complexity, semiosis, irreducible complexity.

    Allan Keith

    Which is true for artifacts for which we have a reasonable understanding of the capabilities and limitations of the designer. Do you have a confirmed example for which this is not true.

    What are you talking about Allan? We have countless trillions of examples of functional complexity, semiosis, and irreducible complexity arising from intelligent design. We have not a single confirmed instance of functional complexity, semiosis, or irreducible complexity coming about from mechanical necessity, chance or a combination of the two (lots of hand waving and question begging, yes, indisputable confirmation, no).

    That is why when using the technique “inference to the best explanation,” if one observes functional complexity, semiosis, or irreducible complexity, we infer the best explanation is “design by intelligent agent.”

  107. 107
    ET says:

    The conclusion that something was designed can be made quite independently of knowledge of the designer. As a matter of procedure, the design must first be apprehended before there can be any further question about the designer. The inference to design can be held with all firmness that is possible in this world, without knowing anything about the designer.—Dr Behe

    And reality dictates that in the absence of direct observation or designer input, the only possible way to make any scientific determination about the designer and any process used, is by studying the design and all relevant evidence. Archaeology shows us how difficult it is to pin down a specific designer and methods used. And they deal with things that are within our capabilities to reproduce.

    We don’t even start asking questions about the designer until after design has been detected.

    Mike Gene had an essay about Intelligent Design that opened with:

    “What is Intelligent Design? If you ask a critic, he will probably tell you that ID is a disguised version of Creationism and nothing more than a Trojan Horse to get God taught in the public schools. If you ask a typical proponent of ID, he will probably tell you that ID is the best explanation for various biotic phenomena.

    For me, ID begins exactly as William Dembski said it begins – with a question”:

    Intelligent design begins with a seemingly innocuous question: Can objects, even if nothing is known about how they arose, exhibit features that reliably signal the action of an intelligent cause?

    “The first thing to note about the question is that you don’t have to be a religious fundamentalist to ask it. You don’t have to be a religious fundamentalist to consider it. In fact, you don’t even have to be a religious fundamentalist to answer it.”

  108. 108

    No time to respond.

  109. 109
    tribune7 says:

    Allan Keith

    Sorry, but that is just the old god of the gaps argument.

    I gave you a very simple illustration as to how design detection is not based on a basic understanding of the capabilities and limitations of the designer.

    It has nothing to do with “god of the gaps”.

    The issue is the dogmatic rejection of the possibility of design even if design should be the best explanation.

    I don’t think it is unfair to describe your argument as design can’t be found in biology just because.

  110. 110
    Allan Keith says:

    Tribune7,

    I don’t think it is unfair to describe your argument as design can’t be found in biology just because.

    Not quite. I am just saying that you definitely have a tough road. You can’t infer biological design by comparing to human design. They are categorically different.

  111. 111
    Allan Keith says:

    Barry,

    What are you talking about Allan? We have countless trillions of examples of functional complexity,

    From human or other known animals for which we have a reasonable understanding of their capabilities, limitations and mechanisms for production.

    semiosis,

    From human examples.

    and irreducible complexity arising from intelligent design.

    From human design.

    Do you have any examples of any of these from known intelligent sources of which we don’t have a reasonable understanding of their capabilities, limitations and mechanisms of production?

    I’m not saying that ID is not a possibility. I just don’t see how it can be inferred without making absurd assumptions.

  112. 112
    tribune7 says:

    Allan

    You can’t infer biological design by comparing to human design.

    We are not saying that. We are saying that “design” is an observable phenomenon that has quantifiable characteristics. That’s not something reasonable people should dispute.

    The quantified characteristics being claimed include IC and CSI.

    When we look at certain aspects of biology we see that they also have these characteristics hence it becomes reasonable to infer design.

    It is far more reasonable to say that the characteristics of design are universal rather than compartmentalized.

  113. 113
    Barry Arrington says:

    Allan @ 111,

    You are still not getting it. I will make one more run at it.

    You admit that we have countless trillions of examples of functional complexity, semiosis and irreducible complexity from humans. So far so good.

    What is it about humans that enables them to cause those things Allan? Intelligence.

    So now we have countless trillions of examples of functional complexity, semiosis and irreducible complexity from humans on account of their intelligence.

    We have observed exactly ZERO instances of any other cause accounting for functional complexity, semiosis and irreducible complexity.

    Put it together Allan. Human intelligence is the only certainly known source of functional complexity, semiosis and irreducible complexity.

    Therefore, when we see functional complexity, semiosis and irreducible complexity whose origins we do not know, we have a choice:

    1. Attribute it to the only cause known with certainty to produce it, i.e. intelligence.
    2. Attribute it to causes that have never been observed producing it.

    Answer 1 is obviously best.

  114. 114
    gpuccio says:

    Allan Keith at #104:

    “Which is true for artifacts for which we have a reasonable understanding of the capabilities and limitations of the designer. Do you have a confirmed example for which this is not true.”

    You don’t understand. That is true for all known non design scenarios, and is a confirmation of what non-design scenarios cannot do, and design-scenarios can do.

    Do you have a confirmed example for which this is not true? IOWs, one single example where a non design scenario can be shown to generate new complex functional information?

    We have millions of examples where a design scenario can easily generate new complex functional information, whatever the limitations of the designer, or our understanding of them. Even the most limited human designer can easily exceed the 500 bit threshold which is the threshold of empirical impossibility for the whole universe!

    That’s the point that you should address. Our understanding of the limitations of the designer has nothing to do with that.

    IOWs, known designers, whatever their limitations, can easily generate new complex functional information beyond the 500 bits threshold.

    No known non-design scenario can do that.

    Are those simple facts really not relevant for you?

  115. 115
    Origenes says:

    The ‘we-can-only-imagine-human-design-argument’ is typically made by people who have otherwise a rich imagination. They seem to have little problem imagining concepts like a multiverse, a universe coming from nothing, extraterrestrial intelligence and so forth.
    Oh wait! What about “extraterrestrial intelligence”? That is not human, right?
    One month ago, on richarddawkins.net:

    Humans Will Hear from Intelligent Aliens This Century, Physicist Says

  116. 116
    asauber says:

    Obviously, Allan Keith is not interested in a serious conversation.

    He knows that beings, human or not, produce things that are designed.

    They range from simple to complex.

    Non-human designs are everywhere in biology, I bet Allan can even give us some good examples.

    He’s just posing for his friends.

    Andrew

  117. 117
    gpuccio says:

    Origenes:

    Yes, the only real requirement for a designer is to be conscious, and to be able of having the subjective experiences of meaning and purpose.

    And, of course, some form of interface to matter, in particular to biological matter, because the forms represented in consciousness must be outputted to the designed object, in some way.

  118. 118
    Origenes says:

    GPuccio: And, of course, some form of interface to matter, in particular to biological matter, because the forms represented in consciousness must be outputted to the designed object, in some way.

    Figuring out how this works is the ultimate challenge.

  119. 119
    ET says:

    “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.”

    It is our knowledge of cause and effect relationships that gives us the design inference. No absurd assumptions required.

  120. 120
    Mung says:

    Upright BiPed:

    Hola! Mung

    Greets mate!

  121. 121
    Allan Keith says:

    Barry,

    So now we have countless trillions of examples of functional complexity, semiosis and irreducible complexity from humans on account of their intelligence.

    Agreed.

    We have observed exactly ZERO instances of any other cause accounting for functional complexity, semiosis and irreducible complexity.

    A qualified agreement. We may have observed trillions of instances that may have another cause but we do not know the step by step processes that were followed.

    Put it together Allan. Human intelligence is the only certainly known source of functional complexity, semiosis and irreducible complexity.

    Agreed.

    Therefore, when we see functional complexity, semiosis and irreducible complexity whose origins we do not know, we have a choice:

    1. Attribute it to the only cause known with certainty to produce it, i.e. intelligence.
    2. Attribute it to causes that have never been observed producing it.

    Answer 1 is obviously best.

    Option 1 does not follow from your logic. The logical option 1 would be:

    Attribute it to the only cause known with certainty to produce it, i.e. Human intelligence.

    And I don’t hear anyone suggesting that this is the most likely explanation. But, regardless, there are many things that we have attributed causes to that we have never observed the causes actually creating. Plate tectonics and mountain formation is one. Others include black holes, diamond formation, fossilization, etc.

    I am not suggesting that ID is not a viable explanation. Just that the efforts to date to demonstrate this have been hit and miss.

  122. 122
    ET says:

    Allan Keith:

    Just that the efforts to date to demonstrate this have been hit and miss.

    That is your opinion and it appears to be based on ignorance.

  123. 123
    ET says:

    We don’t even ask about the who and how until after we have determined (intelligent) design exists. And it still stands that any given (intelligent) design inference can be falsified just by demonstrating that natural selection, drift or any other blind and mindless process could produce what we say is (intelligently) designed. Newton’s four rules of scientific reasoning apply

  124. 124
    tribune7 says:

    Allan Keith

    I am not suggesting that ID is not a viable explanation. Just that the efforts to date to demonstrate this have been hit and miss.

    That’s a fair statement and (almost) all we can ask for.

    The only thing beyond we would suggest would be for you to be able to understand and articulate the methodologies we advocate for design inference and, if you should continue to doubt them, provide specific criticisms.

  125. 125
    Allan Keith says:

    Tribune7,

    The only thing beyond we would suggest would be for you to be able to understand and articulate the methodologies we advocate for design inference and, if you should continue to doubt them, provide specific criticisms.

    Thank you for the kind response. I have several issues with ID that I would certainly like to discuss further, possibly in threads dedicated to them. But here is a brief list:

    1) IC may be the best argument that ID has. But even the poster-child for IC, the flagellum, is suspected to have “originated from “so simple a beginning,” in this case, a single gene that underwent successive duplications and subsequent diversification during the early evolution of Bacteria.” http://www.pnas.org/content/104/17/7116

    2) Design inference is based almost solely on a comparison to human design. This can certainly be used to infer design in biology, but with only one known source of intelligence as a frame of reference, the inference is weak. That is statistical reality speaking, not me. But even a weak inference can strengthen support for ID if there were other avenues of examination that support ID.

    3) The combinatorial explosion. The faulty assumptions used with regard to the use of probability in this argument have been pointed out in great detail by people much smarter than me. I have not read any counter arguments that would change this.

    4) The lack of any testable hypotheses with regard to mechanism, nature of the designer, etc. Evolutionary theory has proposed mechanisms by which change over time can accumulate and result in complexity. These have been tested to the ability that they can given the time frames involved. These tests and observations have led to modifications of the theory over time, but nothing has yet arisen that undermines the foundation of Darwin’s original theory.

    5) Fine tuning of the universe. It is an interesting mental excercise to postulate what our universe would look like if any one of our physical constants were even marginally different. ID has latched on to this and twisted the term that some physicists have used (the universe is fine tuned) to apply the verb tense of the phrase to imply that some intelligence was doing the tuning. And maybe an intelligence was involved. I don’t know, and neither does anyone else. But unless we can show that any of these constants can be different than what they are, it will remain a mental exercise and not be testable. But, I admit that I am not a physicist, so I may be off base on this.

  126. 126
    ET says:

    Allan Keith:

    1) IC may be the best argument that ID has. But even the poster-child for IC, the flagellum, is suspected to have “originated from “so simple a beginning,” in this case, a single gene that underwent successive duplications and subsequent diversification during the early evolution of Bacteria.” http://www.pnas.org/content/104/17/7116

    Oh my, and you really think that blind and mindless process pulled it off? Really? Do you know what has to happen- the duplicated gene needs a binding site or else it doesn’t matter. Then you need specific mutations to alter the function. There just isn’t enough time in the universe. See waiting for two mutations

    And it isn’t just getting the right genes. You need to have them expressed correctly to produce the right number of residues required. Then you need to configure them properly avoiding any cross-reactions. There are chaperones for this. To top it all off once you have it configured there has to be some sort of command and control otherwise the new assembly is useless.

    4) The lack of any testable hypotheses with regard to mechanism, nature of the designer, etc. Evolutionary theory has proposed mechanisms by which change over time can accumulate and result in complexity.

    Nonsense. For one design is a mechanism. For another we don’t need any testable hypotheses in regard to the mechanism or nature of the designer. Those all come AFTER design is detected. And evolutionism is a mechanistic concept. ID is not. Evolutionism doesn’t have a testable mechanism capable of producing any bacterial flagellum.

    Darwin’s original concept wasn’t testable and neither are any of the concepts that followed.

  127. 127
    Barry Arrington says:

    Allan @ 125:
    “The lack of any testable hypotheses with regard to mechanism”

    What is the mechanism by which you created the post at 125? How would we test that? If we are unable to test it, would the inference that your post at 125 was the product of intelligent design by weak?

  128. 128
    Allan Keith says:

    Barry,

    What is the mechanism by which you created the post at 125? How would we test that? If we are unable to test it, would the inference that your post at 125 was the product of intelligent design by weak?

    The fact that it is written in English (although poorly), that it conveys a coherent message (even if you disagree with it), that it is posted on a site that requires password authentication and an anti-bot question, that the person writing it has been interacting with other commenters, the inference that it was written by an intelligent human is strong. However, the inference that it may have been written by a non human intelligence is very weak.

  129. 129
    tribune7 says:

    Allan

    Design inference is based almost solely on a comparison to human design.

    Allan, ponder this: design inference is based solely on a comparison to design.

  130. 130
    asauber says:

    successive duplications and subsequent diversification during the early evolution of Bacteria

    Allan Keith,

    I hope you understand that just using the word ‘evolution’ doesn’t mean you have scientifically explained something. In this case, ‘evolution’ is being used as The Black Box.

    You could have said “successive duplications and subsequent diversification during the Black Box Era of Bacteria” and achieved the same scientific level of explanation.

    Andrew

  131. 131
    asauber says:

    I’m a little dubious of Early Evolution vs. Current Evolution. Current Evolution continues to churn out countless generations of bacteria.

    So Early Evolution had some creative properties that Current Evolution appears to lack as far as bacteria is concerned.

    Did Early Evolution do it’s job and then retire?

    Sounds a liiittle like storytelling.

    Andrew

  132. 132

    jdk at 92,

    jdk: Seems like you are saying that written or spoken representations of pi, and by extension all mathematics I would think, don’t have a physical nature subject to the laws of physics, in the same way a molecule does. If that’s what you’re saying, that seems pretty clear.

    UB: I don’t think replacing a more explicit explanation with a less explicit explanation is particularly useful

    jdk: my “more vague/less specific” summary of what you said was an attempt to see if I understood the main point you were trying to make. Paraphrasing someone else’s point to see if you understand is a good, constructive discussion technique.

    You want to repeat back to me a vague paraphrase of my explanation in order to see if you understand the more explicit details of what I said? That seems rather odd to me. Perhaps it would be all fine and good, except for the fact that I didn’t say anything whatsoever about a distinction between written words and molecules. Did you read what you wrote? I made a distinction between a rate-independent medium and a rate-dependent medium. A written word is a rate-independent representation in a system that is capable of high capacity and transcribability — and so is a molecule of DNA if it’s organized in a system of specific constraints to make it so. This is what I was referring to when I commented about important details coming into play in a fuller analysis of such systems.

    I still don’t see that you have explained how “the physical requirements of pi have been unequivocally found in a biological object.”

    I can make that claim because I’ve spent a good portion of the last decade studying and reading the relevant literature, and I am already well aware of the conclusion that the physical embodiment of a language structure (such that allows the symbol “pi” to exist) is also required (and documented) in the function of the genetic code. That is to say, a physicist can document the exclusive material requirements for a written language structure to exist (i.e. symbol vehicles, rate independence, non-integrable constraints, etc) and can demonstrate that those same things exist in the reading-frame code of the gene system. Indeed, they must exist there (as predicted) in order for the gene system to physically serve as the platform for open-ended “Darwinian” evolution. Moreover, those requirements are required to create semantic closure (the self-reference of the gene, i.e. it requires the product of its translation in order to be translated) establishing the origin of the system.

    I’ve discussed these physical requirements on the pages many many times already (a recent example is here). You are well aware of this, as you’ve already sought to brush it all aside as merely my “pet project” and have said that such things don’t interest you anyway.

    So?

    Do you want me to go through data that doesn’t interest you, or do you want to just move forward to pretending the literature doesn’t exist, or that the physics is wrong, or that I am perhaps lying about it? You can ponder your choice, as my access to UD will be limited over the weekend.

  133. 133
    Mung says:

    Barry Arrington:

    What is the mechanism by which you created the post at 125?

    Allan Keith:

    [non responsive reply excised]

  134. 134
    jdk says:

    to UB: I now understand that when you wrote ““the physical requirements of pi has been unequivocally found in a biological object”, you didn’t really mean the number pi itself. That is all I was referring to in my original response back at 63.

  135. 135
    Allan Keith says:

    Mung,

    Barry Arrington:

    What is the mechanism by which you created the post at 125?

    Allan Keith:

    [non responsive reply excised]

    Except that my response was to Barry’s last question. The part that I bolded. My response was very responsive to that question.

  136. 136

    I think I was clear in my statement:

    Pi is a symbolic expression that stands for something. The physical requirements of pi have been unequivocally found in a biological object, yes.

    …and subsequent statements. The physical conditions of language are unequivocally found inside the cell. They were required in order to describe the constraints that establish the system (semantic closure), allowing the constraints to persist over time, which we now call the genetic code.

  137. 137
    Origenes says:

    Allan Keith@

    Allan Keith: The lack of any testable hypotheses with regard to mechanism.

    Barry Arrington: What is the mechanism by which you created the post at 125? How would we test that?

    Allan Keith: … the inference that it was written by an intelligent human is strong.

    That’s unresponsive, Keith. The question is about the mechanism.

  138. 138
    Barry Arrington says:

    Allan Keith,

    When you skipped right over the first question, that was answer enough. Although it would have been less cowardly of you to actually admit that you’ve got nothing.

  139. 139
    Allan Keith says:

    Barry,

    When you skipped right over the first question, that was answer enough. Although it would have been less cowardly of you to actually admit that you’ve got nothing.

    Actually, if you had read my response to your last question you would have realized that you first question was made superfluous. Would you like me to spell it out or are you smart enough to figure it out for yourself?

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