Intelligent Design

This is what a reply to an Intelligent Design argument looks like

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Three days ago, I posted a 123-word critique of unguided mechanisms for evolution as an explanation for the genes, proteins and different kinds of body plans found in living things. The critique was taken from Dr. Stephen C. Meyer’s book, Darwin’s Doubt (Harper One, 2013), and I invited skeptics to rebut Dr. Meyer’s case, in 200 words or less. When I didn’t get a satisfactory rebuttal, I re-posted it. The critique read as follows:

“This book has presented four separate scientific critiques demonstrating the inadequacy of the neo-Darwinian mechanism, the mechanism that Dawkins assumes can produce the appearance of design without intelligent guidance. It has shown that the neo-Darwinian mechanism fails to account for the origin of genetic information because: (1) it has no means of efficiently searching combinatorial sequence space for functional genes and proteins and, consequently, (2) it requires unrealistically long waiting times to generate even a single new gene or protein. It has also shown that the mechanism cannot produce new body plans because: (3) early acting mutations, the only kind capable of generating large-scale changes, are also invariably deleterious, and (4) genetic mutations cannot, in any case, generate the epigenetic information necessary to build a body plan.” (2013, pp. 410-411)

In response to an objection from ID skeptic Mark Frank, who wrote that Dr. Meyer “explains perceived weaknesses in his understanding of evolutionary theory but gives no reason why design is a better alternative,” I also quoted another short passage from Darwin’s Doubt, which made a positive case for Intelligent Design:

…[E]ach of the features of the Cambrian animals and the Cambrian fossil record that constitute negative clues – clues that render neo-Darwinism and other materialistic theories inadequate as causal explanations – also happen to be features of systems known from experience to have arisen as the result of intelligent activity. In other words, standard materialistic evolutionary theories have failed to identify an adequate mechanism or cause for precisely those attributes of living forms that we know from experience only intelligence – conscious rational activity – is capable of producing. That suggests, in accord with the method of historical scientific reasoning elucidated in the previous chapter, the possibility of making a strong historical inference to intelligent design as the best explanation for the origin of those attributes. (2013, p. 358)

While Mark Frank answered the first challenge I issued, he and other readers failed to address the second. So let me spell it out.

What I was looking for was a short scientific rebuttal of Dr. Meyer’s arguments, something along these lines (I’m making this stuff up):

Contrary to Dr. Meyer’s claim that the combinatorial sequence space for functional genes and proteins is too large to be searched within the time available, scientists have calculated that functional proteins as short as 50 amino acids could have been generated within the space of 100 million years on the primordial Earth, within proto-cells near hydrothermal vents, and they have recently created artificial life-forms requiring only short amino-acid chains. What’s more, it turns out that the pathways between various proteins domains were in fact much shorter than previously believed, making the origin of the various proteins found in organisms today from a much smaller subset mathematically plausible. Scientists have also created a workable model of a developmentally plastic genome in which early acting mutations are nowhere near as harmful as in modern organisms. Finally, cell biologists have recently sketched a plausible hypothesis as to how the epigenetic information in the cell may have arisen, step-by-step. (Insert references here.)

That is what a proper reply to an Intelligent Design argument looks like. Maybe we’ll see one, in a decade or two. Who knows? But I’m not holding my breath. The case for Intelligent Design is built on cutting-edge science. The case for life having arisen by an unguided natural process is built on conjectures and castles in the air. That’s why we call it “promissory materialism.”

124 Replies to “This is what a reply to an Intelligent Design argument looks like

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    VJT:

    “promissory materialism.”

    Very interesting turn of phrase.

    Care to further elaborate?

    And, why do you think it is, in that light, that we are not seeing a real-world rendering of your made up sample, after Darwin’s pond suggestion in C19 and work since Oparin in the 1920’s?

    KF

    PS: It has been recently suggested in critiques of Meyer that he is no paleontologist, suggesting that this makes him make allegedly ill-informed blunders on basics. What relevance do you think that baseline qualifications in phil of sci focussed on origins can give, to speak to origins, and why should we listen?

  2. 2

    Darwin was no biologist either. He had only a theological degree, so what relevance do you think that baseline qualifications in theology can Darwin give, to speak about the origin of species, and why are we still listening to him?

  3. 3
    Mark Frank says:

    VJ

    I don’t know if you were expecting a response from me in particular. But it is a good opportunity for me to sign off from UD.

    In the light of the fact that comments may be deleted from UD without explanation and also the extraordinary rudeness of Barry’s responses (others are as rude but it is his blog) after many years I have decided I will no longer post here. You may have noticed that quite a lot of other regular ID sceptics have made the same decision.

    In case it is of interest I will be reading UD and may from time to time comment on TSZ. I expect some people will describe this as running away. As far as I am concerned it was not a fight in the first place, so running away does not really come into it. It has however become a frustrating, time-wasting and unpleasant experience.

    Many thanks to those of you who have contributed to interesting and polite debate over the years – particularly yourself and Gpuccio. I have learned a lot.

  4. 4
    Kaz says:

    “Darwin was no biologist either. He had only a theological degree, so what relevance do you think that baseline qualifications in theology can Darwin give, to speak about the origin of species, and…

    …why are we still listening to him?”

    Because he says what moderns want to hear.

    I’m ever fascinated by the constant quibbles over what the evidence really suggests, as though that had anything to do with the rise of Darwinism, which is sustained, not by the evidence, but by the pre-commitment to material causes.

    ~Sean

  5. 5
    redwave says:

    Kairofocus. You most likely know the contents of my post, so I apologize and have no intention of instructing you. I do not take issue against your observations, rather intending to expand your PS comment. The insistence that scientific specialization summarily qualifies or disqualifies a person from adding value and insight to an argument is a weak position and is not supportable for scientific propositions. The exception can only be sustained in a legal case in which expert testimony is governed by law.

    Informal Logical Fallacies.

    http://www.logicalfallacies.in.....e/appeals/

    Appeal to Authority

    “An appeal to authority is an argument from the fact that a person judged to be an authority affirms a proposition to the claim that the proposition is true.

    “Appeals to authority are always deductively fallacious; even a legitimate authority speaking on his area of expertise may affirm a falsehood, so no testimony of any authority is guaranteed to be true.

    “However, the informal fallacy occurs only when the authority cited either (a) is not an authority, or (b) is not an authority on the subject on which he is being cited. If someone either isn’t an authority at all, or isn’t an authority on the subject about which they’re speaking, then that undermines the value of their testimony.”

  6. 6
    Kaz says:

    @Redwave,

    That’s why I typically reference authorities only insofar as their arguments are compelling, and/or their statements cohere with known historical data. Arguing that something is true “because so-and-so said so” is really weak, esp. since so many authoritative so-and-so’s make faulty arguments all the time, as human beings who put their pants on one leg at a time and have presuppositions that govern what they’re willing to accept, just like the rest of us.

    When someone argues that Darwinism is true by the consensus of most scientists, I’m moved to yawn and take a nap, but that’s about it.

    ~Sean

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    RW:

    Long ago now, I hit on the pathos, ethos logos trichotomy of levers of persuasion. I was pointed to Aristotle in The Rhetoric Bk I Ch 2.

    The takeaway, is first our emotions are highly persuasive but are no better than the underlying perceptions and evaluations (which are too often warped by the intensity of our feelings).

    Next, no authority — expert, dictionary, teacher, spokesman/presenter, parent, witness etc — is better than his facts, logic and underlying assumptions. Never mind, 99% of practical arguments crucially depend on authorities. Thus, before we trust we should audit and verify credibility. And on controversial matters we should be aware of pro’s and cons, bias concerns, etc.

    So, it is to the facts and logic in the context of worldviews foundations that we must go.

    When it comes to OOL and OOBP issues, paleontologists are not — RPT, NOT — the only relevant experts. Especially, in a context where school of thought worldview foundations and ideological commitments are notoriously in the stakes.

    KF

  8. 8
    Axel says:

    Kaz, Your #4

    I’m ever fascinated by the constant quibbles over what the evidence really suggests, as though that had anything to do with the rise of Darwinism, which is sustained, not by the evidence, but by the pre-commitment to material causes.

    The very heart of the matter, Sean. First principles are often devastating, as here. Problem is, this forum would die of inanition, if our experts didn’t pretend to take them at least half-seriously.

  9. 9
    Axel says:

    “However, the informal fallacy occurs only when the authority cited either (a) is not an authority, or (b) is not an authority on the subject on which he is being cited. If someone either isn’t an authority at all, or isn’t an authority on the subject about which they’re speaking, then that undermines the value of their testimony.”

    Unless it’s Einstein, Redwave. Surreal that he pointed to a draw in his desk at the patent office he worked at, and said that that was his research laboratory. And looking out of the window there, first imagined a man sliding down a light-beam, or some other ‘naive’ image, which led to a seminal insight.

  10. 10
    Silver Asiatic says:

    In case it is of interest I will be reading UD and may from time to time comment on TSZ. I expect some people will describe this as running away. As far as I am concerned it was not a fight in the first place, so running away does not really come into it. It has however become a frustrating, time-wasting and unpleasant experience.

    Many thanks to those of you who have contributed to interesting and polite debate over the years – particularly yourself and Gpuccio. I have learned a lot.

    It’s sad to see you go, Mark. You’ve been here for several years and have participated quite a lot in the discussions.

    With that said, I think back to some recent exchanges with you on the question of moral issues and it seemed to me that you really had nothing to say. You locked into one position and simply ignored the counter-argument which exposed some glaring weaknesses. It seemed you were expressing a faith-assertion about materialism and you either didn’t want to, or were pretending not to, see the huge problem with the materialist viewpoint on that issue.

    Anyway, I had the feeling back then that you weren’t getting much out of the discussion at that point. None of the IDists here are going to be challenged by mere assertions … and it was clear that you decided not to budge at all in your view.

    It’s one of those things … I’m guessing you have some personal reasons to give that kind of blind assent to atheism but that’s the way it often is as I see it.

    So, I wish you would reconsider and join the discussion again — but I’d also understand if you think that you’ve just played it out as far as you can. Your recent comment, something like “why bother, we’ve been through this before” expressed an attitude of closing-off the arguments that people offer here.

    If it’s not a fight, as you say, then why not try to get a more sympathetic understanding of what people are saying? It didn’t make sense to present a hard-core materialist view with no wiggle room, and at the same time also look for a good discussion.

    With that, good luck wherever you go — and please feel free to change your mind and rejoin the discussion in the future.

  11. 11
    Zachriel says:

    Axel: Unless it’s Einstein

    Einstein was awarded a PhD by the University of Zürich under Alfred Kleiner.

  12. 12
    Axel says:

    I think it would be fair to say that Darwin had a ‘flogiston moment’.

    As the N. Irish game-show host used to say: ‘Good answer! But not the right one…’

  13. 13
    Axel says:

    Eventually Zac. But thanks for the info.

  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, and in exactly what way is a PhD in phil of sci on origins of life and thereafter author of sustained best selling works on linked origins issues comprising a critical, prolonged survey of the literature thereby dismissible on rhetoric that frankly smacks of closed shop union tactics? Especially where the problem of origin of species and body plans beyond is indeed still a major one and notoriously the train of increasingly divergent fossil forms and/or the demonstration per observation of the body-plan forming power of CV + culling on differential reproduction –> descent with mods –> incrementally branching tree evo –> ToL relevant to the Cambrian fossils are still very open challenges? KF

  15. 15
    bFast says:

    redwave (5), “However, the informal fallacy occurs only when the authority cited either (a) is not an authority, or (b) is not an authority on the subject on which he is being cited.”

    In the context of this discussion, you seem to assume that the only entity qualified to bequeath “authority” is the university. The fact that a person wrote a scholarly book on a matter should reasonably qualify him as an authority. I would dare say that Dr. Meyers is far more an authority on the Cambrian explosion than is the one with a Ph.D. in paleontology who did their doctoral thesis on the evolution of mammals from lizards.

  16. 16
    Mung says:

    You may have noticed that quite a lot of other regular ID sceptics trolls have made the same decision.

    I suppose that could explain the recent increase in Guano at TSZ.

  17. 17
    redwave says:

    BFast. “In the context of this discussion, you seem to assume that the only entity qualified to bequeath “authority” is the university.”

    For clarity, my comment was not a denial of Dr. Meyer’s credentials and the piece you reference is contained in the treatment for the informal logical fallacy, Appeal to Authority, from the provided link. Darwin’s Doubt is an excellent work of scientific investigation which would be a benefit for every or any paleontologist on how to approach difficult questions.

    I do not “seem to assume” … Anyone can make such an apparent error in review of these short comments.

    Kairofocus.

    I appreciate your responsive thoughts to my post.

    Kaz.

    My thoughts in response …
    Compelling arguments and coherent statements are an excellent combination for making scientific propositions. To compel is to drive, to beat, to force … to drive a point(s) to a logical or reasonable position or conclusion. To cohere is to stick, to prick, to urge on … to press, to push, to entreat one with the veracity or reasonableness of a position or conclusion. And what is compelling and coherent must, for scientific inquiry, be supported by empirical (experiential), experimental (testable), rational (mathematical), and verifiable (predictable) criteria, with ‘must’ as a science practitioner’s commitment to integrity and methodology. While the criteria are not inviolable absolutes in human experiencing, the criteria are necessary ‘markers’ for practicing scientific methodologies with integrity. Without markers how do we find our way? Grope in the dark?

  18. 18
    Dionisio says:

    #3

    […]I have decided I will no longer post here. You may have noticed that quite a lot of other regular ID sceptics have made the same decision.

    Apparently a few are still here. It wouldn’t hurt if they too would make the same decision.

    Less time squandered on senseless arguments. 🙂

  19. 19
    RDFish says:

    Hi VJTorley,

    Meyer’s position is that “standard materialistic evolutionary theories” fail to account for the attributes of living forms that we observe. On one hand, Meyer is correct that we cannot account for the existence and characteristics of biological systems. However, the use of the term “materialistic” is a pernicious red herring.

    The term “materialistic” is anachronistic, referring to a view of the physical world as bits of matter in motion that no physicist has believed for more than a hundred years. The notion of a field of influence has been part of our understanding of reality since early in the nineteenth century or even before, subsequently developed into the various classical and modern field theories (gravitational fields, electro-magnetic fields, quantum fields, and so on). Fields are not bits of matter in motion; they are not material in this sense. The reason they are considered part of the physical world is because they can be measured using physical instruments, not because they are composed of matter. And of course even matter itself does not exist as we experience and intuitively understand matter – the fundamental particles of physical theory are not bits of matter that move around in space.

    As Heisenberg famously said,

    The ontology of materialism rested upon the illusion that the kind of existence, the direct ‘actuality’ of the world around us, can be extrapolated into the atomic range. This extrapolation, however, is impossible… atoms are not things.

    Some have attempted to replace the outdated notion of materialism with the term physicalism, which Popper described as the claim that everything real can be (at least theoretically) denied by observation. But other philosophers have different conceptions of the nature of physical reality, and the only common thread is really that physicalism is monistic – it has no separate ontological accounting of conscious mental phenomena.

    So the first step toward clarifying Meyer’s claim is to eliminate references to “materialism”. The proper way to understand his claim, then, is that we have no scientific theory that explains the origin and characteristics of biological systems. This statement doesn’t commit to any particular metaphysical position, but simply distinguishes scientific theories that can be tested against our shared experience from non-scientific theories that cannot be empirically tested.

    One can make up various non-scientific theories that account for biological systems. Perhaps there is a huge or an infinite number of different universes so that everything that can happen does happen somewhere. Perhaps there is only our one universe and there exists some sort of tendency intrinsic to nature toward complex dynamic systems of the sorts that we find in living things. Perhaps physical reality is illusory, and there exists only consciousness, in which we only imagine the existence of biological systems and everything else. Perhaps physical reality is a simulation produced by living beings in another dimension. Perhaps physical reality fundamental does exist and was somehow created by an unknown type of conscious being from outside of spacetime. Perhaps biological systems were produced by some unknown sort of thing that exists inside our universe that was not conscious of its actions. Perhaps……

    I am not interested in non-scientific theories; anyone can make them up, but if we have no way of determining if they are true, then I see no point (except perhaps to write science fiction stories). Most people feel very strongly about one particular non-scientific theory or another, because people are very uncomfortable admitting that we actually have no idea what caused the universe and living things to exist as they do.

    So now we reach the crux of Meyer’s argument. Meyer claims that he presents a scientific theory of origins – one that can be justified via our shared experience. His argument is this:

    we know from experience only intelligence – conscious rational activity – is capable of producing [attributes of living forms] – Meyer

    But this is just the old semantic trick that misleads so many people into thinking that ID is actually a scientific theory. What we know from experience is not at all what Meyer claims of course: What we know from experience is that such attributes are produced by complex living organisms called “human beings”, with the ability to sense the world using various sense modalities, physically interact with the world using our hands and bodies, form intentions and generate action plans using our complex brains, and also experience conscious awareness in a way that remains utterly mysterious.

    The semantic trick that Meyer uses – and ID proponents fall for – is to pretend that what we know from experience is something entirely different. Instead of saying what we actually know, he says we know that “conscious rational activity” is itself something that exists independently of human brains and bodies, and thus could be responsible for the origin of biological systems and even the physical world itself.

    Now, it could be true that this is the case: Mind/body dualists believe that consciousness is an irreducible, causal thing that exists in the world, and could thus conceivably exist independently of a complex living organism. But Meyer does not provide any evidence that this is the case, nor does he ever even acknowledge the need to provide such evidence.

    When faced with my arguments, ID proponents typically begin providing what they consider evidence for minds existing independently of bodies: ESP, near-death experiences, metaphysical arguments about how thought is “immaterial”, and so on. These debates drag on without resolution, just as they have for thousands of years! – because there is no way presently to empirically test the claims of dualism.

    But whether or not one believes in dualism, what is clear is that Meyer’s argument rests solidly on the belief that dualism must be true, and that his claim that our experience reveals a known cause that could have been responsible for the origin of living things is specious. ID rests squarely on the metaphysical claim of dualism, and is merely dressed up as a scientific theory.

    In summary, materialism is a red herring – it’s time ID folks realize that their belief that defeating “materialism” somehow makes ID into a scientific theory is terminally confused. If you’d like to pick some particular non-scientific theory and claim that it is the “best available explanation”, that’s just fine, but it doesn’t somehow mean that there is any scientific justification for it. That goes for fans of multiverses, of supernatural gods, of self-organization, of idealist monism, or any other speculation of how life came to exist.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  20. 20
    Mung says:

    Hilarious. One critic argues that it’s all material and the next critic argues it’s not. Can such an approach possibly lose?

  21. 21
    RDFish says:

    Mung,

    Not all “critics” think the same thing – that is much of the point of my post. Likewise, not all “ID Proponents” think the same thing. Some believe that the universe is 6,000 years old, for example. IDers hate when “critics” conflate young-Earth creationism with ID, yet you do the same thing, pretending that anyone who doesn’t agree with you is making the same arguments.

    I’ve made an effort to explain my particular position clearly, and I’m hoping that someone here will make an effort to show where my argument fails (or concede that it is correct).

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  22. 22
    Mung says:

    RDFish, here’s what you wrote:

    Meyer’s position is that “standard materialistic evolutionary theories” fail to account for the attributes of living forms that we observe. On one hand, Meyer is correct that we cannot account for the existence and characteristics of biological systems. However, the use of the term “materialistic” is a pernicious red herring.

    And since it’s such a red herring, you went off chasing it like a hungry cat.

    If you really think it’s red herring, why then did you spend so much of your post writing about it?

  23. 23
    Collin says:

    RDFish,

    Meyer does not use the word “materialism” in the same way that Heisenberg does. Heisenberg uses it in a technical way, while Meyer uses it to denote a certain kind of metaphysical philosophy. Heisenberg uses it in a physical, not metaphysical, way.

    But I don’t understand why you don’t think that ID is scientific. It almost seems like you object because it’s not based on materialism! I say that because you object to Meyers’ assumption of dualism. If you object to dualism, then do you mean that all that there is, is material? Physical? Please explain.

  24. 24
    RDFish says:

    Hi Collin,

    Meyer does not use the word “materialism” in the same way that Heisenberg does. Heisenberg uses it in a technical way, while Meyer uses it to denote a certain kind of metaphysical philosophy. Heisenberg uses it in a physical, not metaphysical, way.

    Well, we disagree about that: Heisenberg was speaking of “ontology”, which is metaphysical domain that precedes physics. In any event, whether or not Heisenberg was using the word in the same sense as Meyer, these points remain:
    1) The term “materialism” is anachronistic and is now rendered ambiguous by modern physics
    2) Any explanation that purports to be scientific cannot be based upon untestable assertions regarding mind/body monism or dualism.

    But I don’t understand why you don’t think that ID is scientific.

    Because it is not based upon what we know from experience as Meyer claims; rather, it is based upon one particular metaphysical belief (mind/body dualism).

    It almost seems like you object because it’s not based on materialism!

    No, not at all. I myself reject materialism, since it fails to recognize conscious experience. The reason I reject ID as a scientific theory is because we have no empirical way of determining if it is true or not – just like we have no way of telling if other universes exist, for example.

    I say that because you object to Meyers’ assumption of dualism.

    I don’t object to Meyer being a dualist – I object to him pretending that dualism has been confirmed by our experience (any more than monism has been).

    If you object to dualism, then do you mean that all that there is, is material? Physical? Please explain.

    Again, please re-read my comments regarding the problems with the concept of “material” – modern science has shown that matter does not exist in the way we conceive of it. I myself do not believe there is a yet a solution to the mind/body problem that anyone understands – consciousness and its relation to physical mechanism remains utterly mysterious. Each of us knows that conscious experience exists, but nobody knows how it arises, what the necessary and sufficient conditions for its existence are, or whether or not it is causal in any way.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  25. 25
    Mung says:

    RDFish,

    The topic of Meyer’s book is the Cambrian Explosion. What is your theory as to how the non-materialistic entities, fields and forces which you mention brought about the Cambrian explosion?

  26. 26
    RDFish says:

    Hi Mung,

    The topic of Meyer’s book is the Cambrian Explosion.

    The topic VJT wrote about in this thread concerns Meyer’s “positive case for design”, and specifically the passage he quoted from Darwin’s Doubt. That is what I addressed.

    What is your theory as to how the non-materialistic entities, fields and forces which you mention brought about the Cambrian explosion?

    And once yet again I reiterate: For all the reasons I wrote about, materialism is not relevant to scientific discussions regarding theories of the Cambrian explosion or biological systems in general. There is no theory that scientifically explains the origin of biological systems, and this has nothing to do with “materialism” or any other metaphysical speculation.

    Meyer is simply wrong that our experience provides a known cause that can account for the origin of biological systems.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  27. 27
    Mung says:

    RDFish:

    Meyer is simply wrong that our experience provides a known cause that can account for the origin of biological systems.

    Darwin’s Doubt is not about the origin of biological systems. It accepts biological systems as a given.

    RDFish:

    Meyer is simply wrong that our experience provides a known cause that can account for the origin of biological systems.

    There is therefore no known cause that can account for the origin of biological systems.

    That’s your stated position?

  28. 28
    tjguy says:

    RD Fish @ 19

    So the first step toward clarifying Meyer’s claim is to eliminate references to “materialism”. The proper way to understand his claim, then, is that we have no scientific theory that explains the origin and characteristics of biological systems.

    Mr. Fish, although I am a creationist, I totally agree with what you say here. We have no scientific theory that explains the origin and characteristics of biological systems. I don’t think anyone anywhere could reasonably disagree with that if testability is a condition for the theory. Neither ID, creationism, or Materialism(or whatever you want to call it – Scientism maybe?) can provide such a theory. We are dealing with history and history is not repeatable or observable.

    This statement doesn’t commit to any particular metaphysical position, but simply distinguishes scientific theories that can be tested against our shared experience from non-scientific theories that cannot be empirically tested.

    Mr. Fish, you just admitted that there are NO scientific theories that can be tested in this area! So the statement simply lumps all ideas into the “non-scientific” category which isn’t very helpful, but it is true.

    I agree with you that ID cannot be tested either. When it comes to origins and unobservable unrepeatable history, we are really beyond the scope of science. Evolution itself is also beyond the scope of science in many ways. Evolutionists use many claims that cannot be tested. ie – Convergent evolution to explain homologous organs in unrelated species. HGT to explain away inconvenient molecular data that doesn’t fit the traditional Darwinian view, etc. BUT, can you test this stuff? NO!

    I hope you hold your own scientists to the same high standards you want to hold IDers and creationists to.

    Creationists have been pointing this problem with evolution and origins science for many years! You seem to have gotten it!

    You make a point about dualism and claim the mind/body distinction is not provable. Of course, interpretation plays a huge role here but I suppose, if you are going strictly on a scientific basis, it is not provable. It seems to be true from our experience, but perhaps we are being deceived. I would think such a claim would need some extraordinary evidence to support, but we cannot prove that is not a possibility.

    Still, ID fits with our experience much better than Scientism/Materialism/totally natural unguided random Evolution. For me, it makes the best sense out of the data.

    For instance,I just read this today: https://hms.harvard.edu/news/splitting-hair-cells

    The mechanics of hearing that the huge number of parts necessary for this to work in addition to the brain to make sense of the electric signals it receives is phenomenal.

    Darwinists claim the ear evolved. Great! Can they do an experiment to show that such a thing is even possible? No!

    crev.info says this in reference to the Harvard news release:

    In their efforts to understand the causes of hereditary deafness, researchers at HMS have tried to first identify a “parts list” of players. Working with mice, they have identified about 300 genes involved in hearing so far, but they think only one-third of proteins are known.

    Science Daily says that eardrums evolved independently in mammals and reptiles/birds; “convergent evolution can often result in structures that resemble each other so much that they appear to be homologous,” the evolutionist says.

    Ignore the evolutionary stories (good grief, convergent evolution again). Focus on the main thing: Ears are amazingly intricate organs. Talk about irreducible complexity! Imagine Darwinian luck getting even two proteins to work together, let alone 300 to a thousand.

    Look at the illustration. As elegant and lovely as it is, it would be useless without an even more complex brain able to receive the electrical impulses and interpret them.

    Things this complex, with such high performance specifications, do NOT just happen. The design is so over-the-top beautiful and functional, why do we even pay attention to mere humans who make up stories, saying it evolved? Get real; get intelligent design science.

    “Things this complex, with such high performance specifications, do NOT just happen.”

    OK, that is not a scientific statement because we cannot prove it. No experiment can show this to be true, but it sure fits the facts better than any other claim.

    The evolutionist will say “It can happen and did happen.” Fine. But that is not a scientific statement either because it cannot be tested.

  29. 29
    Collin says:

    Well, I haven’t read Darwin’s Doubt. But from what I’ve heard, I think that Meyer is using “materialism” to refer to the philosophy that matter is all there is.

    You do not dispute that matter exists, right? It doesn’t matter (ha) if matter is force fields or tiny hard particles. Meyer’s point is that matter is not all that exists and that intelligence is not merely epiphenomenal nor is information, but foundational.

    I don’t see any problem with making inferences in science. In fact, I challenge you to show me any scientific discipline that does not make many non-scientific a priori assumptions.

    Scientific disciplines that make design inferences include forensics, archaeology, anthropology, SETI, psychology, cryptography, and others. If you reject ID for making a design inference, then you would probably reject much of psychology because much weaker inferences are made all the time.

    Here’s an example: Psychologists sometimes show babies pictures of faces to see when they understand what people are supposed to look like. Some of the pictures are normal faces and some of them are strange, with the nose on the forehead, for example. At a certain age, the babies stare longer at the strange faces. Psychologists (rightly, I think) infer that babies know there is something wrong with those faces and are curious about them.

    But they can’t ask the babies what they think. The babies can’t talk. That inference is not unscientific. It’s a perfectly reasonable conclusion based on the evidence.

    So too, I argue, is the design inference with life. It is fact-based and could change with a new set of facts or new discoveries. That’s okay.

  30. 30
    RDFish says:

    Hi Mung,

    RDF: Meyer is simply wrong that our experience provides a known cause that can account for the origin of biological systems.
    MUNG: Darwin’s Doubt is not about the origin of biological systems. It accepts biological systems as a given.

    I am rebutting Meyer’s claim as quoted in the OP:

    In other words, standard materialistic evolutionary theories have failed to identify an adequate mechanism or cause for precisely those attributes of living forms that we know from experience only intelligence – conscious rational activity – is capable of producing. – Meyer

    RDF: There is therefore no known cause that can account for the origin of biological systems.
    That’s your stated position?

    Once yet again, then: The only known cause of the sort of complex mechanisms we observe in biological systems are human beings. Since human beings cannot logically be the originating cause of biological systems, Meyer is not referring to a known cause when he hypothesizes that “intelligence” was the originating cause of living things. By referring to “intelligence” in the abstract as the cause he is proposing, Meyer implicitly assumes that “intelligence” can exist independently of complex physical mechanism, which is a hypothesis that lacks scientific support.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  31. 31
    RDFish says:

    Hi tjguy,

    Mr. Fish, although I am a creationist, I totally agree with what you say here. We have no scientific theory that explains the origin and characteristics of biological systems. I don’t think anyone anywhere could reasonably disagree with that if testability is a condition for the theory. Neither ID, creationism, or Materialism(or whatever you want to call it – Scientism maybe?) can provide such a theory. We are dealing with history and history is not repeatable or observable.

    I’m glad we agree, but for different reasons I’m afraid. Geology is an historical science, but well within our ability to test various hypotheses put forward to explain what we observe in the present. It may be in the future we will develop a successful theory of biological origins that can be evaluated against currently observable evidence. For example, we might discover that immaterial intelligent beings existed prior to life on Earth, or that biological life came to Earth from somewhere else, etc. We simply have no such empirically supported theory at present.

    RDF: This statement doesn’t commit to any particular metaphysical position, but simply distinguishes scientific theories that can be tested against our shared experience from non-scientific theories that cannot be empirically tested.
    TJG: Mr. Fish, you just admitted that there are NO scientific theories that can be tested in this area!

    What I said was not that, but rather than no theories of origins have successfully been empirically tested. Neo-Darwinian theory is quite testable, which is why I do not believe it successfully accounts for what we observe in biology! Evolutionary theory has been tested and disconfirmed because (for one thing) there is good reason to think the complex biological mechanisms we observe could not have arisen on Earth in the time available (a few billion years) by means of random mutation and natural selection.

    I agree with you that ID cannot be tested either.

    ID cannot be tested, period. Again, evolutionary theory has been tested (so it is a scientific theory) and found to be incomplete (so it is not a supported scientific theory of origins).

    Creationists have been pointing this problem with evolution and origins science for many years! You seem to have gotten it!

    Yes, I’ve come to the same overall conclusions regarding evolution/OOL as creationists and ID proponents.

    Ignore the evolutionary stories (good grief, convergent evolution again).

    I agree that convergent evolution is an embarassingly epicycle in a dying theory that lacks any empirical support whatsoever.

    So yes, I think you and I do agree that Stephen Meyer is mistaken, because we have no theory of the origins of living things that can be scientifically justified.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  32. 32
    RDFish says:

    Hi Collin,

    But from what I’ve heard, I think that Meyer is using “materialism” to refer to the philosophy that matter is all there is.

    Well, not even the most hard-core atheist physicalist believes that matter is all there is, because things like quantum fields are thought to be real and to be physical but not to be made of matter.

    You do not dispute that matter exists, right? It doesn’t matter (ha) if matter is force fields or tiny hard particles.

    If you say that “force fields” are the same thing as “matter”, then you are broadening the definition of “matter” and likewise of “materialism”. In that case, then “materialism” becomes synonymous with “physicalism”, and refers to everything that can be – directly or indirectly – observed and measured.

    Meyer’s point is that matter is not all that exists and that intelligence is not merely epiphenomenal nor is information, but foundational.

    In that case, Meyer’s point is that mind/body dualism is true. This position has been debated for millenia without any semblance of resolution, because there are no observations we can make that will decide the issue.

    Scientific disciplines that make design inferences include forensics, archaeology, anthropology, SETI, psychology, cryptography, and others.

    Here you have fallen for the same semantic trick again. When you say “design inference”, you fail to say what you are actually inferring. Most disciplines you mention do not “detect design” in the abstract, but rather they detect the activity of human beings. SETI has never detected anything, and if it does, SETI will infer that intepretable signals originate from intelligent life forms on other planets in the galaxy. None of these inferences provide any reason to think that human-like intelligence could arise independently of complex physical mechanism, which is exactly what ID is attempting to explain in the first place.

    The babies can’t talk. That inference is not unscientific. It’s a perfectly reasonable conclusion based on the evidence.

    Yes, “gaze time” experiments make perfectly reasonable scientific inferences, as do countless other experiments in all scientific disciplines.

    So too, I argue, is the design inference with life.

    Not at all. If the “design inference” is meant to say that a human-like mind (a conscious, sentient mind with the ability to generate and understand natural language, learn new information, solve a variety of different types of problems in different domains, and so on) existed before the advent of complex life, then the inference is without any scientific evidence at all. If the “design inference” does not make these specific claims, then it is unclear what exactly “design” is supposed to entail. Either way, it does not constitute a scientific result supported by empirical evidence.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  33. 33
    Zachriel says:

    Collin: Scientific disciplines that make design inferences include forensics, archaeology, anthropology, SETI, psychology, cryptography, and others.

    Each of those fields propose testable hypotheses, something lacking in ID.

    tjguy: We have no scientific theory that explains the origin and characteristics of biological systems. I don’t think anyone anywhere could reasonably disagree with that if testability is a condition for the theory. Neither ID, creationism, or Materialism(or whatever you want to call it – Scientism maybe?) can provide such a theory. We are dealing with history and history is not repeatable or observable.

    One doesn’t have to repeat history to propose testable hypotheses.

  34. 34
    Axel says:

    Dionisio, your #18

    Absolutely hilarious! Precisely because it throws a merely matter-of-fact beam of light on atheists’ defections, in a positive ocean of surreal madness.

    By reason of its nature as a vehicle for arguing with atheists, this forum is intensely surreal – indeed, the more scholarly the manner in which atheists are corrected, invariably to no avail, the more surreal the scenario.

    I’m tempted to say to our lads (and sometimes lasses), ‘Well
    you knew what you were getting into, so it seems a bit odd to see you eventually gong crackers at the enormity of their ‘intellectual’ contortions, distortions, ravings, etc.

    However, on a little further reflection, I realise that there is great value in persevering with these crazy controversies, because ultimately they serve a political purpose, serving science and ultimately mankind.

    Not only that, but, as well as allowing you scientists and philosophers to edify each other, bouncing ideas off each other and so on, we ‘common or garden’ bloggers are fascinated by what we can learn from your posts. The ones that don’t appear to be written in a completely foreign language.

    So, while trying to avoid ‘flipping’ and being sectioned, (i.e. placed in an insane asylum), please persevere as long as you feel you safely can. Thank you. That is all (as some of the droller American bloggers like to conclude their posts).

  35. 35
    Mung says:

    RDFish,

    There is therefore no known cause that can account for the origin of biological systems.

    That’s your stated position?

  36. 36
    sean samis says:

    The paragraph from Dr. Meyer’s book presents a poor case. Point (1) is not a necessary function of evolution. Points (2), (3), and (4) assert unproven claims. Like most pseudoscientific arguments against evolution, the underlying (and illogical) assumption Dr. Meyer makes is that anything which is currently unexplained is assumed unexplainable, all unresolved complexity is assumed irreducible, and any problem currently known is assumed insuperable.

    There you go; 66 words. And it’s at least as scientific as Dr. Meyer’s paragraph, if not much more so. You may object that it leaves a lot unexplained, but of course there’s only so much one can do within a 200 word limit, and Dr. Meyer appears to have preceded his paragraph with 400+ pages of typing.

    sean s.

  37. 37
    Collin says:

    RDFish,

    The point is that Meyer is not using “materialism” to talk about just “matter.” He’s talking about matter, force fields, forces, and other unintelligent “substance.” Your complaint is a quibble that does not go to his real point.

    But your point about “mind/body” dualism I think is potentially an issue. In fact, it may be “THE” issue for more than just ID, but for our entire culture war. is there something “more” than just this “stuff.”

    Sean Samis,

    I think that by your logic, we must assume that Stonehenge was brought about by a natural process. Just because we don’t know what that process was, we can’t assume that people with brains designed and constructed it.

  38. 38
    sean samis says:

    Collin,

    Nothing in my paragraph supports such an assumption. Nowhere in my paragraph are the words ‘natural’ or ‘process’ used. Nothing in it relies on or asserts a bias toward explanations from “natural processes”.

    sean s.

  39. 39
    Collin says:

    Sean,

    You said, “anything which is currently unexplained is assumed unexplainable, all unresolved complexity is assumed irreducible, and any problem currently known is assumed insuperable.”

    Please explain Stonehenge without resorting to claims about intelligent people we cannot see, hear or touch.

  40. 40
    sean samis says:

    Collin,

    Try again. You are pursuing a non sequitur.

    First, the assumptions I wrote about (which you quoted incompletely) are not assumptions I agree with, they are the mistaken and implicit assumptions of Dr. Meyer which I called out. Reread the entire sentence and you’ll see. Or at least you should.

    Second, even Dr. Meyer’s assumptions don’t exclude consideration of “intelligent people we cannot see, hear or touch”.

    sean s.

  41. 41
    Collin says:

    Sean,

    I believe that you are holding Meyer to a standard that you do not hold other scientists. You accuse him of pseudoscience for doing something that many other scientists do: make an inference to intelligence.

    I admit that it is a different thing to assume a human intelligence rather than a non-human intelligence. But in order to explore this issue we should ask ourselves if the methods we use to make a design inference in one scientific domain is applicable in another scientific domain. That is totally legitimate imo.

    So I ask: if we infer that Stonehenge was designed by intelligent beings, are we just assuming it is unexplained and therefore irreducibly complex and therefore unsuperable?

    No, that makes no sense. Trying to explain Stonehenge by appealing to wind and water and chemistry alone would be inadequate.

    Meyer is not saying we should stop looking at naturalistic explanations about life, but he is saying that we can make design inferences where appropriate. That’s not unscientific imo.

  42. 42
    Zachriel says:

    Collin: But in order to explore this issue we should ask ourselves if the methods we use to make a design inference in one scientific domain is applicable in another scientific domain.

    In science, claims have testable entailments. For instance,

    Collin: if we infer that Stonehenge was designed by intelligent beings, are we just assuming it is unexplained and therefore irreducibly complex and therefore unsuperable?

    No, we’re claiming there is a chain of causation between the artifact, the art, and the artisans, and that the links of the chain can be tested. For instance, we might look for evidence of humans in the vicinity and time that Stonehenge was built.

  43. 43
    sean samis says:

    Collin,

    The standard I hold Meyer to is a standard any scientist would accept. As for “an inference to intelligence”, I’m not even sure I know what that means. Inferring that something was created has no special status or rules; it’s just one of many possible inferences. Inferring intelligent creation by creatures or persons we have never observed does have a serious constraint: you have to prove the creating person/species exists. This is why attributing things to space aliens is not well received in the scientific community; no one’ proven they exist, much less have ever visited.

    Regarding, “if we infer that Stonehenge was designed by intelligent beings, are we just assuming it is unexplained and therefore irreducibly complex and therefore unsuperable?” This seems like a car-wreck of a question. You are right to say it “makes no sense” because it makes absolutely no sense.

    We regard Stonehenge as man-made because there’s no obvious natural process to create it, there IS evidence of human construction, and the question of “how it was created” already has some pretty solid answers. The explanation that it is man-made is not something we claim for lack of a better answer, we say it because there’s supporting evidence. This I think is Zachriel’s point.

    So Stonehenge is not “unexplained”.

    And unexplained phenomena cannot be “irreducibly complex” because irreducible complexity is a positive finding. By that I mean that nothing is logically presumed to be irreducibly complex just because it cannot be explained; something would be logically regarded as irreducibly complex only when we have solid evidence that all other possible explanations have been explored and exhausted. Similarly, a problem is considered insuperable not because we don’t know the explanation, but because we KNOW that we cannot know the explanation.

    Regarding, “Meyer is not saying we should stop looking at naturalistic explanations about life, but he is saying that we can make design inferences where appropriate. That’s not unscientific imo.

    I’m not sure that’s Meyer’s position, but if it is, good. It is perfectly scientific to HYPOTHESIS that something was man-made (the Antikythera mechanism seems a good example here, or Paleolithic stone tools) but such inferences are not even evidence, much less proof. They are often simply guesses (SWAGs as we used to call them in the Navy.) Unless these SWAGs can be verified, they are not even theories, not in science. So the question to you and to Dr. Meyer and others is: how do you propose to test creationist design inferences? How will you verify or falsify them? Your proposed verification need not be something we can do anytime soon, but eventually.

    Obviously the same question applies to the related scientific, materialist explanations; and any cursory reading of scientific publications provides the answer. Verification may take decades, or centuries, but it’s doable.

    How will theistic explanations be verified? How will those be tested? Until there’s a realistic answer, they just are not science.

    sean s.

  44. 44
    CharlieM says:

    Hi Sean,

    I have a few questions and criticisms of your criticism.

    You have substituted “neo-Darwinian mechanisms” with “evolution”, why? Do you believe that they both mean the same thing?

    From your posts I can only conclude that you don’t seem to understand what ID advocates mean by, “irreducibly complex”.

    You ask about testing “creationist design inferences” and verifying “theistic explanations”. Making design inferences is not something that is confined to creationists so why have you used the term “creationist” where “intelligent” would have been more appropriate? And surely you know that the ID movement is not in the business of looking for theistic explanations? You do know that creation science and intelligent design are different entities?

  45. 45
    MatSpirit says:

    I meant to answer these assertions when you first posted them. Sorry for the delay.

    (1) it [Darwinian evolution] has no means of efficiently searching combinatorial sequence space for functional genes and proteins…

    Darwinian evolution is very efficient at searching combinatorial space. Its secret is that it only changes one or two base pairs at a time. This means it explores only areas of the search space that are very near to the original DNA, which is known to be functional because it’s successfully reproducing. For instance, if you change a base pair in a gene that affects nostril width, genes for heart valves, kidneys, livers and every other gene in your body are left in their original, successful form.

    That also means that DE never even explores large areas of a genome’s combinatorial space. You’re never going to see a genome starting with one million “C”s because you just can’t get there one base pair at a time while remaining viable. That means that in a one billion base pair genome, 4^(1,000,000,000-1000) combinations will never even be tried. That’s an astronomically large number of genomes that are never searched.

    I wonder if Dembski has ever thought of this: If you have one billion base pairs in a genome and change a single base pair, what is the size of your search space? Answer: 4. And one of them is just like the original, known to work DNA.

    I don’t think Dembski realizes any of this.

    (2) it requires unrealistically long waiting times to generate even a single new gene or protein.

    Ever hear of alleles? They’re different versions of a gene. All genomes, including the human genome, are full of them. It can’t take too long to generate a new gene if we already have several versions of most of them.

    It has also shown that the mechanism cannot produce new body plans because: (3) early acting mutations, the only kind capable of generating large-scale changes, are also invariably deleterious

    It doesn’t take any mysteriously early acting mutations to strengthen and lengthen the bones in a fish’s fin to make an early leg. How about a bat whose wing is made from greatly elongated fingers? Just a handful of late acting genes will stretch them. What about the skin stretching from finger to finger? Most animals’ hands and feet begin as undifferentiated pads and then the flesh and skin between the bones is absorbed. Just change a few genes to modify the absorption to make a webbed foot or a membranous wing. Not hard at all.

    (4) genetic mutations cannot, in any case, generate the epigenetic information necessary to build a body plan.”

    So what? Nobody in Darwin’s time even knew about genetics, let alone DNA. It does no damage to Darwin’s theory if some information is transmitted without DNA.

  46. 46
    kairosfocus says:

    MS, you are making the commonly encountered assumption of working within an island of function and finding incremental changes within that, and/or projecting a vast incrementally accessible continent of function from first life to us, mango trees, molluscs etc. That would have to be justified without begging questions; which predictably you simply cannot. By contrast, the focal problems addressed by ID have to do with initially finding the islands of function in beyond astronomical search spaces. And, islands there will be as the demands of closely co-ordinated correctly placed and coupled parts to achieve function drastically constrain acceptable configs. To get the proper understanding do what is usually skipped over and try to see how a stew of chemicals in Darwin’s pond or the like can get by empirically warranted and search-challenge plausible steps, to a gated, encapsulated, metabolic automaton with a code using integral von Neumann self replicator and genome of about 100 – 1,000 bases. Yes, self replication, the usual side-step has to be accounted for as a case of functionally specific complex organisation and associated information, FSCO/I for short. Then, extend to dozens of basic body plans demanding 10 – 100+ mn base prs, including the embryo development program or equivalent. Then, explain why we do not see overwhelming numbers of transitional forms in the fossil record to those basic plans. Finally, account for the origin of the functioning mind we have on the like grounds without self-falsifying self referential incoherence. KF

  47. 47
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: To make things a bit specific, think about proteins in AA sequence space.

  48. 48
    sean samis says:

    CharlieM, If you believe there is a material difference between “neo-Darwinian mechanisms” and “evolution” which is relevant to this topic, you should say so and tell us what it is. I notice that Vince Torley introduced Dr. Meyer’s paragraph as “a 123-word critique of unguided mechanisms for evolution” so even Torley seems to treat them interchangeably.

    From your posts I can only conclude that you don’t seem to understand what ID advocates mean by, ‘irreducibly complex’.

    Behe (who I believe did not actually invent the term) defined it as “a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning. An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly (that is, by continuously improving the initial function, which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional. An irreducibly complex biological system, if there is such a thing, would be a powerful challenge to Darwinian evolution.

    By that definition, concluding that anything actually is irreducibly complex would mean that the requirements have been established by evidence, and not by assumptions.

    why have you used the term ‘creationist’ where ‘intelligent’ would have been more appropriate?

    Because I used the term in a question specifically about creationist inferences.

    You do know that creation science and intelligent design are different entities?

    I do know that is what creationists claim; I do know it is a difference without great significance. I realize that there are multiple versions of creationism, of which ID is only one, but ID belongs to the general category of creationism.

    I doubt there’s more than a tiny fraction of IDers who believe we were created by space aliens. God’s the guy the vast majority of IDers affirm. It’s creationism. ID is a modernized form of creationism that at its roots was around when Charles Darwin was born.

    sean s.

  49. 49
    Dash Design says:

    Hello People,

    What I don’t understand is why 2 dressing as 1? Thread started by vjtorley about Intelligent Design. SC Meyer about intelligent design.

    WJ Craig speaks more clearly: http://www.reasonablefaith.org.....z3ZEUvk8mE

    “I think it advisable to capitalize “Intelligent Design” (ID) in order to signal that we are using the words in a technical sense, rather than in the sense accepted by every Christian.”

    Is not this clear & helpful difference?

    vjtorley seems to suggest Intelligent Design is theological basis – because he is Christian he capitalizes.
    SC Meyer says intelligent design is scientific theory – he speak not as Christian but as scientist.

    Proper reply to vjtorley’s Intelligent Design not difficult if reject his worldview. To SC Meyer, his science seems like idolatry – human intelligence is like a god.

  50. 50
    Upright BiPed says:

    sean,

    concluding that anything actually is irreducibly complex would mean that the requirements have been established by evidence, and not by assumptions

    Irreducible complexity is entirely and wholly irrefutable in biology. You cannot organize a heterogeneous living cell without it. You probably are not aware of the evidence surrounding this fact because it has been of utmost importance to simply ignore or assume the material conditions required for an autonomous self-replicator capable of open-ended evolution, but that doesn’t make the evidence go away.

    You should probably pick some other target for your criticism; IC is a complete loser for you.

  51. 51
    sean samis says:

    Upright BiPed

    I realize that for creationists, it is of utmost importance to assume that the material conditions required for evolution are refuted, but that assumption is not converted to evidence (much less proof) by mere urgency.

    “You should pick some other target for your criticism; IC is a complete loser for you.”

    I don’t criticize irreducible complexity, I just make note of its requirements which are daunting and as yet unsatisfied vis-à-vis creationism.

    sean s.

  52. 52
    Upright BiPed says:

    sean,

    I realize that for creationists, it is of utmost importance to assume that the material conditions required for evolution are refuted, but that assumption is not converted to evidence (much less proof) by mere urgency.

    This statement is incoherent.

    You do realize that in order to organize an autonomous living cell, something must be specified, correct?

    For instance, if you are going to organize the manufacture of a protein of some particular sequence, the objects that make up that sequence will have to be specified by some method to indicate them among other objects. Correct?

    Do you have any idea what the material requirements involved in bringing that specification into reality? Or, is strategically dancing around the issue going to be the limit of your involvment here?

  53. 53
    sean samis says:

    Upright BiPed

    This statement is incoherent.

    Clearly you don’t like it, but that’s not a requirement of coherence.

    Do you have any idea … etc.

    I have some idea, though certainly not a full explanation. But that is not required YET. Eventually, yes. But not yet. Science is a process of discovery.

    To declare that life is irreducibly complex, you need to have disproved all other explanations. You do have some idea of the evidentiary requirements of that, don’t you? Those have not been satisfied. Not yet.

    The race is on. Of course, it helps that only scientists are doing any actual science on this.

    sean s.

  54. 54
    sean samis says:

    Dash Design;

    You wrote that “SC Meyer says intelligent design is scientific theory …

    That cannot be true unless intelligent design can be tested; how would we do that?

    sean s.

  55. 55
    Dash Design says:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-564997

    Yes, although new here I agree with that.

    vjtorley’s Intelligent Design is not testable, just some kind of quasi-‘catholic’ faith seeking validity among scientists or philistines without empirical data.

    WL Craig intelligent design otoh *is* faith. He says so clearly. So if you don’t have it, sean samis, then how could you possibly know what they are talking about & feeling? You are intentionally exclusing yourself from that knowledge life experience.

    Easy to test human designs made into products, right? Humans designs. But that’s not vjtorley’s Intelligent Design, which already implies deity.

    WL Craig says clearly (even creationist self-deception not excused – they normally respect him):

    “Obviously, theists, who believe in an intelligent designer of the universe, may not be on board with all the tenets of ID.”

    The capitalized Intelligent Design of vjtorley is obviously anti-atheist & need not be accepted. So, sorry if you are one of those atheists or anti-theists, sean samis. You don’t count to ID movement people like vjtorley except as evil & wrong & inhuman; as enemy. 🙁

  56. 56
    RDFish says:

    Hi Collin,

    The point is that Meyer is not using “materialism” to talk about just “matter.” He’s talking about matter, force fields, forces, and other unintelligent “substance.” Your complaint is a quibble that does not go to his real point.

    Not really a quibble, no. The point I’m making is that one cannot make blanket statements about “materialistic explanations”, because it is not a well-defined category. ID tries to eliminate all possible “materialistic” explanations of origins, which would leave the “non-materialistic” explanation of ID. But we cannot eliminate all possible “materialistic” explanations because we have no idea what other sorts of “materialistic” phenomena there might be that could eventually explain biological systems.

    In other words, the physicalist might wish to posit that some unknown physical phenomenon might be found someday to be responsible, and the dualist might wish to posit that some unknown non-physical phenomenon might be found someday to be responsible, but since neither can produce any evidence of such a thing, the question is currently open.

    But your point about “mind/body” dualism I think is potentially an issue. In fact, it may be “THE” issue for more than just ID, but for our entire culture war. is there something “more” than just this “stuff.”

    YES! Thank you for being one of the few people here who understand and are willing to admit this! Dualism (and metphysical libertarianism) is indeed what ID is arguing for. Pretending that there is some scientific way of settling this ancient metaphysical question is ID’s big lie.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  57. 57
    RDFish says:

    Mung I’ve answered your question repeatedly. Nothing that we know of could have existed prior to living things and have been responsible for their creation. What part of that don’t you understand?

  58. 58
    Mung says:

    The part where you use a simple yes or no to answer a question that requires only a simple yes or no.

  59. 59
    Dash Design says:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-565004

    “What part of that don’t you understand?

    It’s likely not that he doesn’t understand. It’s rather an apologetics thing in disguise. Doesn’t want to appear as ‘creationist’ easy to discredit. Mung is too low on the totem rung for serious scholarly engagement with actual problems as most people around the world. His capitalized Intelligent Design seems to be purposefully divorced from lower-case intelligent design (Craig would crucify his haughty self-righteousness with higher reason). Joking as proponentsist always on behalf of Discovery Institute version Intelligent Design means hard to take seriously such a voice as Mung.

    RDFish, nevertheless, this doesn’t mean no deity or empty universe, lack of soul & spirit. Right? Maybe that anti-theism is your biggest grief, even beyond Intelligent Design?

    vjtorley’s capitalized catholic stain is visible; but that doesn’t mean anti-theism worldview perspective is off limits for critique.

  60. 60
    sean samis says:

    Mung @35 asked RDFish if their stated position was that “no known cause that can account for the origin of biological systems”.

    That question must be assuming something, because on its face it makes no sense. The difference between science and creationism is about what the cause is; both assume something caused the origin of life.

    RDFish replied @57 that “Nothing that we know of could have existed prior to living things and have been responsible for their creation”.

    Nothing? Not abiotic chemistry? Not deities? Nothing? Really? Or do you just mean “nothing we can describe specifically”?

    sean s.

  61. 61
    Upright BiPed says:

    sean at 53

    Clearly you don’t like it, but that’s not a requirement of coherence.

    I don’t like it or dislike it. It’s just incoherent.

    I have some idea, though certainly not a full explanation. But that is not required YET.

    Uhm. The physical requirements for one thing to specify another thing have been well-known for quite some time. What is clear here is that you have no idea what they are, and have never thought about it.

    To declare that life is irreducibly complex, you need to have disproved all other explanations.

    To show that a thing is irreducibly complex only requires you to show that it is irreducibly complex. In this particular instance, that is a simple task.

    Let me suggest something to you. In the living cell, the translation apparatus organizes proteins by specifying individual amino acids via the arrangement of nucleotides. For instance, the system specifies the addition of leucine by the nucleic arrangement CTA. Here is my suggestion; go find out how CTA specifies leucine.

    Or, let’s just be frank. As evidenced by your responses here thus far, you have no intentions of engaging any issues in earnest. You seem much more comfortable denigrating people and cheerleading for scientism. As for myself, I have no desire to chase you around trying to get you to stop your attack long enough to learn something of the things you attack – thus, I will limit my involvement.

    For other readers of this post, I will simply leave a link to a recent comment to another equally-challenged critic.

    cheers

  62. 62
    Mung says:

    MatSpirit:

    Darwinian evolution is very efficient at searching combinatorial space. Its secret is that it only changes one or two base pairs at a time. This means it explores only areas of the search space that are very near to the original DNA, which is known to be functional because it’s successfully reproducing.

    Your second and third sentences both contradict your first sentence.

  63. 63
    Mung says:

    MatSpirit:

    That means that in a one billion base pair genome, 4^(1,000,000,000-1000) combinations will never even be tried. That’s an astronomically large number of genomes that are never searched.

    If you have one billion base pairs in a genome and change a single base pair, what is the size of your search space? Answer: 4. And one of them is just like the original, known to work DNA.

    Your first paragraph contradicts your second paragraph.

    … what is the size of your search space? Answer: 4. And one of them is just like the original, known to work DNA.

    Are you serious?

  64. 64
    Mung says:

    … it has been of utmost importance to simply ignore or assume the material conditions required for an autonomous self-replicator capable of open-ended evolution…

    A gaping lacuna in modern evolutionary theory. There is no theory of evolvable systems.

  65. 65
    Mung says:

    sean

    Mung @35 asked RDFish if their stated position was that “no known cause that can account for the origin of biological systems”.

    That question must be assuming something, because on its face it makes no sense. The difference between science and creationism is about what the cause is; both assume something caused the origin of life.

    I don’t suppose you realize that the bold text is a quote of RDFish. So you’re just a tad late to the party.

  66. 66
    sean samis says:

    Upright BiPed

    Incoherence is a demonstrable trait, you have made no effort to cite even one fact about my statement that is inconsistent with other parts of my statement. It appears that you just don’t like it and misuse the term “incoherent” as an epithet.

    The physical requirements for one thing to specify another thing have been well-known for quite some time. What is clear here is that you have no idea what they are, and have never thought about it.

    No, that’s not true. Not even at a very high level. More importantly, in physical systems “specify” is a metaphor. The correct term is “cause”; something causes another thing to take on attributes. Some causes are already known, other are not yet.

    To show that a thing is irreducibly complex only requires you to show that it is irreducibly complex. In this particular instance, that is a simple task.

    IC is not a self-evident attribute. It is a conclusion requiring complete information about all possible and excluded alternate explanations. If even one explanation remains unfalsified, then IC is not established.

    You seem much more comfortable denigrating people …

    denigrate: criticize unfairly; disparage.
    disparage: regard or represent as being of little worth.

    I deny the charge. Present your evidence.

    …thus, I will limit my involvement.

    Hmm. Interesting. So you are dropping the charges?

    sean s.

  67. 67
    RDFish says:

    Hi sean samis,

    RDFish replied @57 that “Nothing that we know of could have existed prior to living things and have been responsible for their creation”.

    Nothing? Not abiotic chemistry? Not deities? Nothing? Really? Or do you just mean “nothing we can describe specifically”?

    I meant “nothing that we know of”, and by “know” I am referring to empirical knowledge. Meyer says that ID is an empirical science that proposes a known cause of complex mechanism as the cause of the first living things, and I’m pointing out that he is mistaken to say that.

    We know a lot about abiotic chemistry, and have good reason to believe it existed before living things of course, but nobody knows how it may have caused living things to exist, so we cannot support the hypothesis that life arose by means of abiotic chemistry. We have no empirical knowledge of extra-terrestrial life forms, so we cannot support the hypothesis that alien life was responsible for creating life on Earth. We have no empirical knowledge of deities, so we cannot support the hypothesis that life arose by means of divine activity. And so on.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  68. 68
    Upright BiPed says:

    sean,

    IC is not a self-evident attribute.

    If the nucleic triplet CTA appears in mRNA for translation, leucine will appear at the peptide binding site for inclusion into the nascent protein. Can you derive the appearance of leucine by the physical properties of CTA? If not, why not.

  69. 69
    sean samis says:

    RDFish;

    Your answer is what I thought it would be, but it’s good to get it confirmed.

    Thanks.

    sean s.

  70. 70
    sean samis says:

    Upright BiPed asked “Can you derive the appearance of leucine by the physical properties of CTA?

    Me? No.

    If not, why not.

    Because, of all the things in the world to work on, that one has not made it to the top of my to-do list.

    Even if no one in the world has the answer you seek, that would not mean that IC applies. It would just mean no one has an answer yet.

    And if someone has found the answer, there are other questions you could ask which have not been answered yet. There always will be. That does not prove IC occurs, only that there will always be yet another question to work on.

    sean s.

  71. 71
    Upright BiPed says:

    good grief

    We’ve handed out Nobel Prizes to those who demonstrated why leucine appears at the input of CTA. We did this about 45 years ago.

    I did not realize that I was talking to someone who just wanted to trash talk ID without having even the slightest clue what he was talking about.

    You don’t need me for that.

  72. 72
    Mung says:

    We’ve handed out Nobel Prizes to those who demonstrated why leucine appears at the input of CTA. We did this about 45 years ago.

    ORLY? I suppose you were there?

  73. 73
    Mung says:

    sean, thanks for raising your hand and yelling loudly.

    Always good to see an unabashed troll here at UD. Most of them try to hide it.

  74. 74
    sean samis says:

    Hmm, I must have missed the checkbox at log-in where I verify my academic credentials. Oh wait, there isn’t one!

    The point remains the same: Even if no one in the world had the answer you seek, that would not mean that IC applies. It would just mean no one has the answer yet.

    And if someone has found the answer (they have! Good for them.), there are other questions you could ask which have not been answered yet. There always will be. That does not prove IC occurs, only that there will always be yet another question to work on.

    sean s.

  75. 75
    Upright BiPed says:

    sean,

    Even if no one in the world had the answer you seek, that would not mean that IC applies. It would just mean no one has the answer yet.

    I know this is a powerful passage for you to chant. There are a couple things you might want to keep in mind:

    1). We already have the answer of how translation occurs, and we have had that answer for dozens upon dozens of years. This isn’t about finding an answer we don’t have; it’s about recognizing the necessary physcical conditions that allow translation to occur. So… when you say this kind of thing, all you are doing is flashing to people that you really haven’t a clue what the issues are. I am not merely saying this to chastise you, I am trying to get through the personal ignorance you deliberately protect – you don’t know what the hell the issues are, and thus, your criticisms are generally pointless. I can guess you are one of those people who likes to hear himself sound smart, so I am pointing this out to you so that you can have a chance to reach your dreams. Next time, deep six your scientism sales pitch (we’ve all heard it before from much more eloquent critics than you) long enough to actually learn something.

    2). Pay special attention here: The defense of materialism you’ve described here renders materialism as a non-falifiable idea. Do you even realize this? A paradigm that can always fall back on simply not knowing enough is a proposition that cannot be falsified. You are describing an idea that cannot be tested for its validity. Do you know what they call a proposition that cannopt be falsified? I bet you do. I really really bet you do.

  76. 76
    Upright BiPed says:

    Oh, and by the way sean, the point you ran from is rather simple. The translation of an informational medium requires an arrangment of matter to encode the information, as well as a second separate arrangment of matter to physically establish what the result of that encoding will be. It cannot function without both objects. Every instance of translation from the origin of biology through today has had to follow this fundamental reality. Now, given your blinders, you may ask why is this necessary? The answer is simple, its about the type of temporal effects that translation can produce, as opposed to physical effects that do not require translation. For instance, the effect of “present leucine at the binding site, then present aspartic acid, then present glycine” is not an effect that can be derived from (determined by) the dynamic properties of the medium that is being translated to evoke those effects. It is in a class of things that only come into existence by the process of translation. A living thing is a heterogeneous reality, requiring tranlation to organize its form – and that translation is inescapably dependent on irreducible complexity.

  77. 77
    eigenstate says:

    2). Pay special attention here: The defense of materialism you’ve described here renders materialism as a non-falifiable idea. Do you even realize this? A paradigm that can always fall back on simply not knowing enough is a proposition that cannot be falsified. You are describing an idea that cannot be tested for its validity. Do you know what they call a proposition that cannopt be falsified? I bet you do. I really really bet you do.

    This is confused, wrong. For any paradigm that has to shrug and say “don’t know” on proposition X, there still may be, and for metaphysical materialism are (plenty) of other propositions that are falsifiable and therefore sufficient to discredit the worldview.

    If a YEC, in defending some question about, oh God’s moral justification for the genocide against the Amelekites says “I don’t know, we can’t know”, that may be a frustrating answer, but that does not settle matters for a YEC worldview. We might look at the Y in YEC, for example as a decisive case where that worldview does make claims that can be falsified, claims that are entailed by the paradigm, etc.

    On materialism, if the world around us wasn’t amenable to effective model building, models that incorporated only natural dynamics and resources, materialism would be as untenable as YEC Christianity. That doesn’t hinge on understanding the stereochemical pathways for codon-protein mapping in DNA (although I don’t see that as problematic knowledge to obtain in principle).

    How you came to think that this question was the acid test for all of materialism, I can’t imagine. Perhaps it just proceeds from the idea that materialism must provide all answers to all questions about all phenomena in order to obtain its warrant, and thus this is just one of things materialism must now to be holistically complete so might then embrace it. Doesn’t matter, though. There’s no basis for holding out the question you’ve posed as the arbiter for the paradigm when it’s an unknown. If there are claims that proceed from the paradigm unavoidably and those can be falsified, then so much the worse for the paradigm. But here, well, it’s just goofy, muddled.

  78. 78
    Mung says:

    It’s true, none of know for sure which flavor of ice cream God enjoys most, therefore IC is false.

  79. 79
    Upright BiPed says:

    Eigenstate,

    Any proposition that can be (and is regularly) defended on the grounds that “we just don’t yet have the details, but we know it is true” (such as abiogenesis, for instance) cannot be brought to a test of its validity.

  80. 80
    rhampton7 says:

    Upright BiPed @79,

    But that also applies to ID theory; “we know that x (certain features, species, laws of nature, et. al.) must have been designed, we just don’t have the details.” Do you believe that ID can not be brought to a test of its validity?

  81. 81
    Mung says:

    eigenstate,

    God doesn’t need or require moral justification. Wrong analogy.

    On materialism, if the world around us wasn’t amenable to effective model building, models that incorporated only natural dynamics and resources, materialism would be as untenable as YEC Christianity.

    It’s not at all obvious what you’re talking about here. It’s the way that the world is that makes materialism tenable? And everything describable by the human intellect just is material? Doesn’t it follow that God, if God exists, must be immaterial?

  82. 82
    Mung says:

    rhampton7, as you well know, there is no “must have been designed” in ID theory. Do try to do better.

  83. 83
    Mung says:

    eigenstate:

    For any paradigm that has to shrug and say “don’t know” on proposition X, there still may be, and for metaphysical materialism are (plenty) of other propositions that are falsifiable and therefore sufficient to discredit the worldview.

    Let’s begin with the proposition that there are potential observations that could falsify materialism. That would include a whole class of propositions, all those which arise from observation.

    You’ve already taken the stance that no observation could falsify materialism.

    So what does that leave?

  84. 84
    Collin says:

    RDFish,

    I just take issue with one thing. Just because you are a mind/body duelist, does not mean you are not doing science. IMO

  85. 85
    jerry says:

    But that also applies to ID theory

    We get to ID by the failure of natural processes to produce the interlocking complexity of what we see. We all agree that an intelligence is the best explanation even Richard Dawkins. The argument against it that there was no intelligence to do it.

    ID says there probably was one, the natural evolutionist says there definitely was not one.

  86. 86
    rhampton7 says:

    jerry, Mung,

    According to argument made by Upright BiPed, if details are not provided then a proposition asserted to be true can not be defended.

    Any proposition that can be (and is regularly) defended on the grounds that “we just don’t yet have the details, but we know it is true” (such as abiogenesis, for instance) cannot be brought to a test of its validity.

    So, all that is needed to defend evolutionary theory is allow that it is the best explanation?

    Any proposition that can be (and is regularly) defended on the grounds that “we just don’t yet have the details, but we know it is the best explanationcan be brought to a test of its validity.

  87. 87
    Mung says:

    rhampton7, as you well know, there is no “must have been designed” in ID theory. Do try to do better.

  88. 88
    rhampton7 says:

    Mung,

    Any proposition that can be (and is regularly) defended on the grounds that “we just don’t yet have the details, but we know it is the best explanation” can be brought to a test of its validity.

    True?

  89. 89
    Mung says:

    rhampton7,

    ID theory; “we know that x (certain features, species, laws of nature, et. al.) must have been designed, we just don’t have the details.”

    False?

  90. 90
    rhampton7 says:

    Mung,

    False. You were right to point that out. That’s why I changed “must have been designed” to “best explanation.”

    Now it’s your turn:

    Any proposition that can be (and is regularly) defended on the grounds that “we just don’t yet have the details, but we know it is the best explanation” can be brought to a test of its validity.

    True?

  91. 91
    Mung says:

    Upright BiPed,

    “sign” – “something that suggests the presence or existence of some other fact, condition, or quality”

    Apparently the critics just reflexively assume that it’s the presence or existence of God that is suggested.

  92. 92
    RDFish says:

    Hi Collin,

    I just take issue with one thing. Just because you are a mind/body duelist, does not mean you are not doing science. IMO

    Not sure what you mean. First, I’m not a mind/body dualist. My point about dualism is that the argument for ID that most ID authors put forth requires that mind/body dualism be true in order for the argument to be valid. This isn’t the case for any other scientific theory about anything.

    Take a scientific theory of atomic structure, or gravity, or biological evolution, or geological phenomena, etc, and then see if the theory holds up if you assume (1) mind/body dualism and also if you assume (2) mind/body monism (e.g. physicalsm). Every scientific theory is equally well supported under either of these assumptions. ID, however, is only supported if one assumes that mind/body dualism is true. If dualism is false, then an “intelligent cause” is not ontologically distinct from a “material cause”, so statements such as Meyer’s (that only “intelligent causes” and not “material causes” can account for biological information) become meaningless.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  93. 93
    Mung says:

    rhampton7,

    Thank you for granting that. That small act sets you apart from so many others who post here.

    Are you quoting Upright BiPed?

    Here’s what he actually wrote:

    Any proposition that can be (and is regularly) defended on the grounds that “we just don’t yet have the details, but we know it is true” (such as abiogenesis, for instance) cannot be brought to a test of its validity.

  94. 94
    RDFish says:

    Hi Jerry,

    We get to ID by the failure of natural processes to produce the interlocking complexity of what we see.

    Just because no natural process that we know of cannot do this doesn’t mean that no natural process can do this in principle. That is just another facet of the central error of ID. Just because no intelligent being that we know of could have created the first living systems doesn’t mean that no intelligent being could have done it, right?

    We all agree that an intelligence is the best explanation even Richard Dawkins. The argument against it that there was no intelligence to do it.

    As far as we know, “intelligence” is a property of living things, or arguably about other sorts of systems capable of complex information processes. Since complex information processing requires (as far as we know) complex physical mechanism, then it makes no sense to posit that something intelligent somehow designed the original complex mechanisms.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  95. 95
    Mung says:

    RDFish:

    First, I’m not a mind/body dualist. My point about dualism is that the argument for ID that most ID authors put forth requires that mind/body dualism be true in order for the argument to be valid. This isn’t the case for any other scientific theory about anything.

    It is the case for “scientific” theories. They just sweep the dualism under the rug and try to ignore it, but it’s ever present.

  96. 96
    rhampton7 says:

    Mung,

    Please don’t be difficult. You pointed out that ID theory is not known to be true, but is instead the best explanation. So it would seem with one change UB’s argument can be rendered True instead of False, thereby defending ID theory. So again I ask:

    Any proposition that can be (and is regularly) defended on the grounds that “we just don’t yet have the details, but we know it is the best explanation” can be brought to a test of its validity.

    True or False?

  97. 97
    jerry says:

    Just because no natural process that we know of cannot do this doesn’t mean that no natural process can do this in principle.

    No one ever said that so why make this statement? It is not something ID claims.

    That is just another facet of the central error of ID.

    What error? There is no error.

    Just because no intelligent being that we know of could have created the first living systems doesn’t mean that no intelligent being could have done it, right?

    This is an argument for ID. Are you now an ID supporter? Welcome aboard.

  98. 98
    Mung says:

    rhampton7,

    There are no valid or invalid propositions. Propositions are either true or false. It is arguments which are either valid or invalid. Care to rephrase?

  99. 99
    jerry says:

    As far as we know, “intelligence” is a property of living things, or arguably about other sorts of systems capable of complex information processes. Since complex information processing requires (as far as we know) complex physical mechanism, then it makes no sense to posit that something intelligent somehow designed the original complex mechanisms.

    Let me quote a wise man.

    Just because no process that we know of cannot do this doesn’t mean that no process can do this in principle.

    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

  100. 100
    Mung says:

    RDFish:

    Just because no natural process that we know of cannot do this doesn’t mean that no natural process can do this in principle. That is just another facet of the central error of ID.

    LoL! Natural processes are not governed by principle, but by what is possible. “Anything is possible” is a statement of faith, not of science.

    This is just another facet of the central error of RDFish.

  101. 101
    jerry says:

    So, all that is needed to defend evolutionary theory is allow that it is the best explanation?

    What is evolutionary theory. I know of none and have been reading on this for about 20 years. So how can there be a best explanation for something that does not exist?

    if details are not provided then a proposition asserted to be true can not be defended.

    Makes sense to me. ID provides lots of details. Does anyone dispute the details that ID provides?

  102. 102
    MatSpirit says:

    KF: MS, you are making the commonly encountered assumption of working within an island of function and finding incremental changes within that …

    Assume? That’s what we observe! Every living non-sterile human is in an island of function and since there are over 7 billion of us and we all have unique DNA (except for a handful of identical siblings) that island of function is HUGE! And it’s going to get much bigger in the future unless you believe that humans will start re-using genomes someday.

    KF: … and/or projecting a vast incrementally accessible continent of function from first life to us, mango trees, molluscs etc.

    Again, that’s what we observe.

    KF: That would have to be justified without begging questions; which predictably you simply cannot.

    Oh yeah, I forgot. We don’t have the complete genomes of every organism which has ever exited (including those that existed before DNA was invented and don’t, properly speaking, even have genomes) so ID declares victory.

    That doesn’t work. Everything we CAN check agrees with theory and the things we can’t check show no obvious signs of being different from what we can. That makes evolution lots more likely than an invisible entity we can’t detect who decided to manufacture every organism which has ever existed, including the ebola virus, killer bees and, according to Dr. Behe, the malaria plasmodium.

    KF: … By contrast, the focal problems addressed by ID have to do with initially finding the islands of function in beyond astronomical search spaces.

    ASTRONOMICAL search spaces? For the first self-reproducer? Then you must know what it was. Please describe it for us and I will personally nominate you for the Nobel Prize for solving the abiogenesis problem.

    KF: And, islands there will be as the demands of closely co-ordinated correctly placed and coupled parts to achieve function drastically constrain acceptable configs.

    Except they don’t seem to do that. Probably because in fetal development cells are seldom caused to grow to one specific spot, they are made to grow until they meet another part of the developing fetus. That allows quite a bit of freedom. “Correctly placed and coupled parts to achieve function” turns out to be a lot easier than most people think.

    KF: To get the proper understanding do what is usually skipped over and try to see how a stew of chemicals in Darwin’s pond or the like can get by empirically warranted and search-challenge plausible steps, to a gated, encapsulated, metabolic automaton with a code using integral von Neumann self replicator and genome of about 100 – 1,000 bases.

    Forget the von Neumann replicator with hundreds or thousands of base pairs and a code. Think of a polymer small enough to form from random forces that reproduces by having each subunit attract an identical subunit to its side and joining them into a second polymer, identical to the first. No DNA, no codes, no thousands of basepairs.

    KF: Yes, self replication, the usual side-step has to be accounted for as a case of functionally specific complex organisation and associated information, FSCO/I for short.

    I thought Winston spoke to you about that. Use CSI. It means the same thing and it’s a lot shorter. Don’t steal Dembski’s work and give it your own name.

    KF: Then, extend to dozens of basic body plans demanding 10 – 100+ mn base prs, including the embryo development program or equivalent.

    Think of that polymer reproducing itself over and over and occasionally adding another subunit to the chain. Then think of that new polymer instantly being tested by seeing if it can reproduce itself. If it doesn’t, it’s discarded and it’s gazillions of siblings carry on. If it does survive, the “genome” just got more complicated by one. Repeat until the genome is any size you want.

    Life is a ratchet and mistakes are disposed of very soon after they’re created. Remember, ALL reproducing life is inside the target zone ALL of the time. And if it has a mutant offspring that can’t reproduce, it disappears from the genome.

    KF: Then, explain why we do not see overwhelming numbers of transitional forms in the fossil record to those basic plans.

    We do! How many species of Finches are there? Or starlings? Or cows? Or ducks? Or poisonous snakes? Ever here of Tiktaalik? Or Gould? Punctuated equilibrium? Extinction?

    KF: Finally, account for the origin of the functioning mind we have on the like grounds without self-falsifying self referential incoherence.

    We’re like apes, only smarter.

    Do “lower” animals also have dualistic minds with the “intelligence” situated somewhere outside of normal space and time? I ask because anybody who’s ever seen what happens when a mouse runs past a drowsing cat will see intentionality in action! Suddenly that sleepy cat is wide awake and has only one intention in life: to catch that mouse!

  103. 103
    MatSpirit says:

    Mung: Your second and third sentences both contradict your first sentence.

    They EXPLAIN why Darwinian evolution is very efficient at searching combinatorial space. It doesn’t waste time and effort trying the huge number of non-functional genomes like “CCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCC” to see if they produce viable offspring. It usually can’t even form such a worthless string. It sticks to trying only DNA that is almost completely identical to mommy’s and mommy is known to have functional DNA.

    Mung:

    MatSpirit: That means that in a one billion base pair genome, 4^(1,000,000,000-1000) combinations will never even be tried. That’s an astronomically large number of genomes that are never searched.

    If you have one billion base pairs in a genome and change a single base pair, what is the size of your search space? Answer: 4. And one of them is just like the original, known to work DNA.

    Mung: Your first paragraph contradicts your second paragraph.

    MatSpirit: what is the size of your search space? Answer: 4. And one of them is just like the original, known to work DNA.

    Mung: Are you serious?

    Follow me here. Suppose your genome is “CATTAGGATC”. You make a copy for your new offspring, but a cosmic ray zaps the last base pair. Your offspring’s genome is now “CATTAGGATx” where “x” is the missing base pair.

    Now your body leaps into action, firing up all the repair mechanisms, trying to replace that “x” with a good base pair.

    For 64 dollars, what are the possible base pairs that can be plunked onto the damaged genome to replace that “x”?

    Hint: Here are the FOUR possibilities: “C”, “A”, “T” and “G”.

  104. 104
    Mung says:

    Mung: Your second and third sentences both contradict your first sentence.

    MatSpirit: They EXPLAIN why Darwinian evolution is very efficient at searching combinatorial space.

    Two contradictory sentences cannot EXPLAIN anything.

  105. 105
    Mung says:

    MatSpirit:

    If you have one billion base pairs in a genome and change a single base pair, what is the size of your search space? Answer: 4. And one of them is just like the original, known to work DNA.

    One billion base pairs, four possible bases per base pair. So the size of the search space is 4. Are you a loon? Why don’t you trot over to TSZ. They will welcome your nonsense.

  106. 106
    RDFish says:

    Hi Mung,

    It is the case for “scientific” theories. They just sweep the dualism under the rug and try to ignore it, but it’s ever present.

    You say this, I disagree, and you have no provided no reason to believe it. Example please?

    LoL! Natural processes are not governed by principle, but by what is possible. “Anything is possible” is a statement of faith, not of science.

    You’ve misread entirely what I said:

    RDF: Just because no natural process that we know of cannot do this doesn’t mean that no natural process can do this in principle.

    This means we cannot eliminate a whole class of potential explanations (those based on “natural processes”) simply because we have not yet found an explanation.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  107. 107
    jerry says:

    This means we cannot eliminate a whole class of potential explanations (those based on “natural processes”) simply because we have not yet found an explanation.

    Why do you continue to make such bogus statements? ID does not claim that there are no other potential explanations for the origin of life or major changes in evolution. Just that it is unlikely based on the best science known currently to man. Unlikely does not mean impossible or non existent. For example, the universe is made of 95% dark matter and dark energy. Who knows what is hidden in these processes?

    Are you an ID plant by Barry? Sent here to make illogical arguments to indicate that the anti ID people are superficial at best? You are doing an excellent job.

    I chastised you before on you inability to use Aristotelian logic, maybe you should read up on it before commenting further on this site.

  108. 108
    Mung says:

    RDFish, consider the following:

    With Ockham, the Aristotelian categories of “being” are reduced from ten to two: substances and (biosemiotically enough!) their properties are the only genuine existents: while quantity, relation, place, time, position, state, action, and receivability are only “concepts in our minds” (verba mentis).

    – Donald Favareau, Essential Readings in Biosemiotics

    Favareau is not the first author I’ve read to point this out, just the most recent.

  109. 109
    Mung says:

    RDFish:

    This means we cannot eliminate a whole class of potential explanations (those based on “natural processes”) simply because we have not yet found an explanation.

    An explanation which has no possibility has no potential. There is a decided lack of evidence that these explanations you appeal to are possible. There is therefore no reason whatsoever to contemplate their potential, for they have none. They are vacuous.

  110. 110
    RDFish says:

    Hi Mung,

    Interesting quote about Ockham, but not sure what the relevance is here, nor do I really understand this ontology: If there are only substances and properties, how can there also be minds in which these other concepts exist?

    There is a decided lack of evidence that these explanations you appeal to are possible. There is therefore no reason whatsoever to contemplate their potential, for they have none. They are vacuous.

    There is no evidence for anything that produced the first biological systems, period. No evidence for something “natural” (whatever that means) that did it, nor evidence for something “supernatural” that did it, nor evidence for something conscious that did it, and so on. There is no scientific theory of origins that can currently be supported by evidence.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  111. 111
    RDFish says:

    Hi Jerry,
    You are both arrogant and feeble, a most distasteful combination.
    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  112. 112
    MatSpirit says:

    Mung, if my two sentences contradict each other, please show me exactly where.

    mung: One billion base pairs, four possible bases per base pair. So the size of the search space is 4. Are you a loon? Why don’t you trot over to TSZ. They will welcome your nonsense.

    MS: Remember that only one of mom’s base pairs mutated. The other 999,999,999 stay the same and we know they’re good because mom was able to reproduce. That leaves these four possibilities:

    The 999,999,999 base pairs that are known to be good plus “C”
    The 999,999,999 base pairs that are known to be good plus ”A”
    The 999,999,999 base pairs that are known to be good plus ”T”
    The 999,999,999 base pairs that are known to be good plus ”G”

    Don’t feel bad about not spotting that. Dembski seems to have missed it too.

  113. 113
    Mung says:

    RDFish:

    If there are only substances and properties, how can there also be minds in which these other concepts exist?

    Indeed. That is the conundrum.

  114. 114
    Mung says:

    MatSpirit:

    It [evolution] doesn’t waste time and effort trying the huge number of non-functional genomes … to see if they produce viable offspring.

    Evolution has no concept of a functional genome or a non-functional genome.

    As such, evolution cannot restrict itself to “trying” only certain genomes.

  115. 115
    sean samis says:

    Upright BiPed

    Sorry for the delayed response; it’s graduation weekend.

    I am clear on the issues. Science is a method, its methods are observation, reason, and testing.

    Way back at #75 you wrote that “The defense of materialism you’ve described here renders materialism as a non-falifiable idea. Do you even realize this?

    Sure I do. Materialism, like supernaturalism, or non-materialism are philosophical ideas. None of them can be verified or falsified; none of them. Science doesn’t test philosophies.

    Materialism, supernaturalism, non-materialism (or whatever term you prefer) are categories of explanations. Materialism is the default philosophy of scientists because virtually all materialist EXPLANATIONS can be falsified or verified. In contrast, virtually no non-materialist explanations can be falsified or verified.* This is why these explanations are not “scientific”; the scientific method requires testing and, so far, only materialist explanations can be tested.

    Non-materialist explanations COULD BE TRUE, they just cannot be tested. They could be true, but they are not scientific. They could be true, but they could also be false.

    * Honestly, I cannot think of any supernaturalist/non-materialist explanations that could be tested.

    You wrote, “A paradigm that can always fall back on simply not knowing enough is a proposition that cannot be falsified. You are describing an idea that cannot be tested for its validity.

    That’s only part of the problem. In the case of the origins of life, nearly all explanations (or “paradigms”) are filled with unknowns. At this point, only a few can be falsified, none of those few are creationist explanations. What you leave out is that ONLY materialist explanations can be tested AT ALL. This is just one of the reasons that scientists focus on materialist explanations; they can be tested. It may take a long time; decades or centuries, but that is much shorter than NEVER which is the non-materialist alternative.

    Another reason scientists default to materialist explanations is that over the 160+ years since evolution was proposed, materialist explanations have worked. Almost everything we know about biology traces back to a materialist explanation. Nothing in biology makes sense without evolution. Without evolution, biology is just a set of unrelated facts.

    sean s.

  116. 116
    kairosfocus says:

    MS:

    I am busy elsewhere, so I will be brief, having come by and seen, e.g.:

    KF: MS, you are making the commonly encountered assumption of working within an island of function and finding incremental changes within that …

    [MS:] Assume? That’s what we observe! Every living non-sterile human is in an island of function and since there are over 7 billion of us and we all have unique DNA (except for a handful of identical siblings) that island of function is HUGE! And it’s going to get much bigger in the future unless you believe that humans will start re-using genomes someday.

    Actually, between us there is reportedly less genetic variability than in a typical troop of baboons. And, our variations are directly inherited form a pool of variability that is decidedly within a single body plan and species, with very modest innovations through novelty. Often, with some rather hard limits to mutations, i.e. lethality often lurks.

    What you did here, is to erect and knock over a strawman, twisting a clear enough matter into pretzels in the process.

    Your challenge is first to start in a Darwin’s warm pond or the like and get to the first functioning body plan that is relevant, unicellular life of whatever ancestral form. Encapsulated, gated metabolising von Neumann kinematic self replicator-using cells. You want to substitute a mythical self replicating polymer, one BTW that would typically be very hard to form under reasonable abiotic conditions. As for to move from a polymer to a functioning cell that uses coded algorithmic D/RNA info and linked communication, control and executing machinery, i.e. the first relevant life, that is an unanswered, unobserved gap.

    Strawman.

    Sadly, typical.

    You, next, seem unable or unwilling to face the implications of functionally specific complex organisation and associated information, which confines relevant configs sharply relative to the alternative possibilities for the same atoms and molecules etc. I suggest you go look at a fishing reel or the like as a simple and readily understood case. Then ponder whether it would be reasonable to assemble same by shaking parts in a bucket.

    Needle in haystack searches are deeply challenging to blind chance and mechanical necessity.

    There is exactly one empirically, observationally warranted and needle in haystack challenge plausible cause of such FSCO/I, design. Intelligently directed configuration.

    Beyond, I can only remark on the inadvertent underscoring of the point on want of relevant transitionals for body plans in your suggesting things like finch beak variations (interfertile BTW) as showing transitions relevant to the origin of major body plans from unicellular organisms and precursor multicellular organisms.

    As for we are like apes only smarter, this begs so many questions as to be incredible.

    Just the rearrangement of the skeletal components is itself a major challenge on pop numbers and generation times as well as mut rates. Hundreds of millions of years have been put on the table already, but I doubt that will faze you. As for the origin of linguistic capacity and linked processing powers, or the origin of a rationally contemplative mind, that I suspect is not even on your radar screen.

    I will just clip famed evolutionary biologist J B S Haldane in words that have never been adequately answered over the past 80 years:

    “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.]

    There is much more that could be said, but the just noted is enough for those serious about the underlying issues.

    KF

  117. 117
    kairosfocus says:

    SS: Actually, you need to deal with the longstanding self-referential incoherence of evolutionary materialism. Also, you need to improve currency on understanding of definitions, delimitations and methods of science, as there simply is no one unique one size fits all scientific method once one moves beyond vague generalities. Third, in the context of the design inference, the issue is not the strawman caricature dichotomy, natural[istic] vs supernatural, but instead nature [= blind chance and mechanical necessity acting spontaneously] vs art [intelligently directed configuration], as has been on the table since Plato in The Laws Bk X. The issue of design theory is, whether there are empirically reliable signs of such design as key causal factor, and on a trillion member observed data base, the answer is yes. Whether relevant designers are within or beyond the physical cosmos is not fundamentally relevant to such. And, functionally specific complex organisation that is information-rich is precisely such a sign, as the text of posts in this thread illustrates. So does a fishing reel, and so does a computer such as you used to compose your comment. KF

  118. 118
    Upright BiPed says:

    Sean,

    You’ve lost your place in the conversation. You were saying that ”unexplained phenomena cannot be “irreducibly complex” because irreducible complexity is a positive finding” and that ”concluding that anything actually is irreducibly complex would mean that the requirements have been established by evidence, and not by assumptions”.

    In turn, I was telling you that attacking the concept of irreducible complexity is a loser for you. You can’t translate an informational medium into a physical effect without irreducible complexity and you can’t organize a heterogeneous living cell without translation. What good is a codon without an aaRS? This is not a rhetorical question; it goes to the fundamental fact that getting a particular amino acid to be presented for binding at a certain point in time is not something that you can derive from an arrangement of matter, specifically the arrangement of matter that is being translated to produce that effect. Having a ‘particular amino acid presented for binding at a certain point in time’ is in a class of physical effects that are only derivable from an organization, a very specific organization. In that organization there are two critical arrangements of matter. One arrangement of matter is a medium that encodes information. The other arrangement of matter must establish what the result of that encoding will be. It must do this while preserving the natural discontinuity that exists between the arrangement of the medium and its post-translation effect. The discontinuity is there as a matter of physical necessity, because you can’t derive the effect from the arrangement of the medium. It’s an irreducibly complex system, required by law, to produce the effect in question.

    So looking at the physics of it, you now have a positive finding of irreducible complexity at the very base of all biology — proposed in theory and confirmed by experiment. It is the necessary material edifice on which everything in life follows. Not only that, but the physical entailments of the system make it exclusively identifiable among all other physical systems, and it is only identified elsewhere in the recording of language and mathematics into memory, thus making it a measurable correlate of intelligence.

    Forgive me for saying so, but I’m guessing that these fundamentals will be meaningless to you today.

  119. 119
    MatSpirit says:

    Mung: Evolution has no concept of a functional genome or a non-functional genome.

    Evolution is a process and doesn’t have or need concepts.

    Mung: As such, evolution cannot restrict itself to “trying” only certain genomes.

    Checking only genomes that are very close to the original DNA in the search space, which is done by only mutating one or two base pairs and leaving the others as accurate copies of the original DNA, effectively restricts the “search” to the very tiny fraction of the search space that is likely to produce viable offspring.

    The inability of small mutations to generate genomes that start with a half billion “C”‘s or “A”‘s makes it impossible to search the mega gazillions of possible genomes that start with “CCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCC…” Or “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA…”

  120. 120
    sean samis says:

    Upright BiPed

    I appreciate your attempt (in # 118) to reset the conversation, but it didn’t work. Although you go to lengths to present genetic processes as irreducibly complex, in fact what you describe is simply a process whose origin is not yet known. You use a lot of conclusory language, saying some things are “…not something that you can derive from an arrangement of matter…” or that we “…can’t derive the effect from the arrangement of the medium…”. All nice, but pardon if I ask sez who? Who has proven that nature “…can’t translate an informational medium into a physical effect without irreducible complexity…”? How is it that we KNOW that what we see now did not arise from a process that has been depreciated by time and evolution?

    Regarding “…you now have a positive finding of irreducible complexity at the very base of all biology — proposed in theory and confirmed by experiment.

    What experiment proved that there was never another pathway? Once upon a time we proved that the Earth could not possibly move around the Sun, until we realized it could. Kelvin proved the Earth could not be more than a few million years old, until we discovered it was much older. These theories were solidly proven on a bedrock of flawed assumptions. Just like creationism. Creationism (under whatever label) seems to be predicated on the absurd notion that our understanding of all the possible forms of life is nearly complete. It ain’t.

    Forgive me for saying so, but all these unknowns will likely be meaningless to you. We just don’t know all the possibilities of carbon-based life; we only have one example of a planet with life on it, and we have no examples yet of primitive life form on new planets. The final chapter has not been written. Heck, we’re still working on the opening chapters.

    sean s.

  121. 121
    Mung says:

    sean:

    We just don’t know all the possibilities of carbon-based life

    So? You’ve adequately demonstrated that what we know doesn’t matter in the face of all that we don’t know. the same would be true if we knew all the possibilities of carbon based life. There would always be some other “I don’t know” for you to hide behind.

    But I am confidant you don’t actually life your life this way. It’s just a debating device to you.

  122. 122
    Upright BiPed says:

    There’s just one small problem there for you Sean. We already know how translation in the cell happens. We’ve known it for some 50+ years. When GTC appears in an mRNA script, valine is added to the peptide, and we know exactly (systematically and thermodynamically) why and how that happens. No one has any questions about it.

    So what you’ve done here is roll over established physical evidence in order to maintain your position. The evidence doesn’t contradict anything in the physical sciences, it just contradicts your preferred conclusions. Thus, voila.

    congrats

  123. 123
    Upright BiPed says:

    You like history stories right? Here’s one that is repeated throughout human history.

    Group A (fill in your preferred name) thought X until they found out that Y was true. They also saw that they trusted Group B, who never told them what they knew.

  124. 124
    Upright BiPed says:

    edit #122:

    “when GTC is transcribed into a mRNA script”

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