Intelligent Design

UB: Master of Subtle Understatement

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ID Proponent of yore: Protein synthesis is semiotic.

ID Critic of yore: No it’s not. It’s purely chemical. You’re lying for Jesus in an effort to install a theocracy to control the world.

ID Proponent of yore: No really, it’s semiotic.

ID Critic of yore: Stupid creationist crank, when we say “information in the genome”, it’s just a metaphor. Idiot.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

ID Proponent today: Protein synthesis is semiotic.

ID Critic today: No it’s not, it purely chemical. You liars have been saying this same crap for 50 years (HT: Mike Elzinga).

ID Proponent today: No really, I can use completely accepted observations within biology to demonstrate it. Not only that, but logical analysis demonstrates that information-based replication can actually work no other way. And not only that, but there are certain observable physical features of protein synthesis that not only link it universally to pre-existing organization, but also to higher intelligence.

Mark Frank: Well if it’s a logical necessity, then it’s certainly not a prediction of design proponents, it’s a prediction of self-replication. And I don’t believe it anyway

11 Replies to “UB: Master of Subtle Understatement

  1. 1
    Brent says:

    Well, one of the benefits of giving up on logic and any grounding for reason whatsoever is that any defense will do. Can’t blame them for taking advantage of that, can we?

  2. 2
    Mark Frank says:

    Barry – you almost got right – it needs one work adding:

    Mark Frank: Well if it’s a logical necessity, then it’s certainly not a falsifiable</b. prediction of design proponents, it’s a prediction of self-replication. And I don’t believe it anyway

    You do agree that if something is a logical necessity then it is not falsifiable?

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    MF, If Q is logically necessary for P [usu: P => Q], P cannot be true if Q is false. And if we see — per observation — Q false and P true then the original claim is falsified. KF

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    BA, with all due respect, language should not be coarsened, as even the broken window theory of policing informs us. I suggest amending the OP. KF

  5. 5
    Mark Frank says:

    On reflection a more thoughtful response which also gives me a chance to correct a typo. I never talked about logical necessity and this just confuses the issue.

    Mark Frank: Well if it’s required for self-replication, then it’s certainly not a falsifiable prediction of design theory, it’s a prediction of self-replication. And I don’t believe it anyway

    Explanation:

    All theories of the development of life must include the fact that life replicates itself. Therefore, if X is required for self-replication X will be included in all theories of the development of life. Therefore, the presence of X is not a falsifiable prediction of a design theory of life.

    In the previous exchange I did take care to differentiate between predictions of design proponents and predictions of design theory.

  6. 6
    Mark Frank says:

    MF, If Q is logically necessary for P [usu: P => Q], P cannot be true if Q is false. And if we see — per observation — Q false and P true then the original claim is falsified. KF

    In this case as I understand it:

    P is “life is self-replicating”
    Q is “life includes semiotic systems”

    UB asserted that P=>Q – I don’t believe it but if it were true all that follows ~Q=>~P i.e if there were no semiotic system then life would be not be self-replicating. This tells us nothing about predictions following from a third proposition:

    X – “life was designed”

  7. 7
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    I had a minor insight yesterday: that one way of characterizing the dispute between design theorists and their critics is in terms of the question, “is the ‘code’ in ‘the genetic code’ meant literally or metaphorically?”

    What I’m not sure is whether that question has a framework-neutral answer — whether one could give a fully satisfying answer to that question without presupposing either design theory or evolutionary theory.

  8. 8
    Axel says:

    ‘You do agree that if something is a logical necessity then it is not falsifiable?’

    Surely, Mark, ‘falsifiability’ does not mean it must be found to be false, but that, in principle, if it is false, it will be possible to prove it.

    If it is true, but can be submitted to a test to establish its truth or falsity, in principle, surely, it matters not a jot that it is a logical necessity. Falsifiability is impossible without sound reasoning, however logically necessary the assertion; but when sound reason is exercised, logical necessity would not preclude falsifiabilty – just falsification.

  9. 9
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    logical necessity would not preclude falsifiabilty – just falsification.

    Sorry to come on so strong, but that can’t be right.

    “Logical necessity” means “necessarily true, on the basis of logic alone”.

    (If something is logically necessary, then its negation is logically impossible. In possible-worlds semantics, something is necessarily true if it is the case in all possible worlds, possibly true if it is the case in at least one possible world, and necessarily false if it is not the case in any possible world.)

    So if an assertion is logically necessary, i.e. necessarily true, then it cannot be false, and hence cannot be falsified. That’s why logical necessity does indeed preclude falsifiability (‘possibly being false’), and not just falsification (‘actually being shown to be false’).

  10. 10
    Mung says:

    KN, can you give us some examples of propositions that are necessarily true?

  11. 11
    Mung says:

    “Propositions which are necessarily true are necessarily true” doesn’t count.

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