Intelligent Design

When you want the approval of people whose approval you should NOT want …

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On Sunday, Bob Marks’s lawyer John Hugh Gilmore wrote an op-ed in the Waco Tribune expressing astonishment at the sheer, manifest vulgarity of the attempt to suppress the Evolutionary Informatics Lab:

As counsel for Baylor Distinguished Professor Robert J. Marks II, I was amazed and discouraged by the controversy surrounding his rather routine yet scientifically exacting Web site that was shut down by the dean of his Engineering Department. This action came after anonymous complaints, but without an opportunity for him to respond beforehand.

The crime? His research might implicate intelligent design.

This is how a serious university should behave?

John, you and I both know what is going on: Baylor does not want a Baylor prof who is not a proponent of Darwin’s theory of evolution to be in a position to provide evidence against it. They fear he has such evidence. Who knows? He might …

In short, they do not want the books balanced.

I have myself called Darwinism the Enron of Biology – for a reason. I’m told that Enron accounted for its operating expenses as capital assets. In the same way, whenever Darwinists encounter a check to their theory, they declare how great a theory Darwinism must be, to overcome so much contrary evidence ….

John asks, naturally, is this how a serious university should behave?

Well, let’s refine the question: By whom does Baylor want to be considered a serious university? How about, for example, the academics who – to this day – hound former Harvard prez Larry Summers merely for the crime of saying, correctly, that the preponderance of men over women in maths and hard sciences is based in nature, not social injustice?

Or the academics who formed a literate lynch mob in the Duke lacrosse case, smearing innocent students. As Abigail Thernstrom writes, introducing a book on the affair,

“Until Proven Innocent” is a stunning book. It recounts the Duke lacrosse case in fascinating detail and offers, along the way, a damning portrait of the institutions–legal, educational and journalistic–that do so much to shape contemporary American culture. Messrs. Taylor and Johnson make it clear that the Duke affair–the rabid prosecution, the skewed commentary, the distorted media storyline–was not some odd, outlier incident but the product of an elite culture’s most treasured assumptions about American life,  …

And John writes, regarding his own client’s struggle,

Having represented academics sympathetic to ID for almost a decade, I would call their foes on campus intellectual fascists.

Well, if the Baylorites make it to the top, they won’t be lonely, will they?

Here is your client’s problem in a nutshell, John: Baylorites want the approval of people whose approval no decent human being could want. And Baylor is institutionally willing to act in such a way as to merit it.

What that has to do with the Baptist heritage, I just don’t know, but this column offers some observations that might shed some light on the general cultural situation in which it is happening.

I wish you luck defending Prof. Marks. If you succeed, Larry Summers and a few other people should look you up.
____________________________
P.S. The Waco Tribune-Herald altered John Gilmore’s op-ed without his permission. For the original, titled “Intelligent Design & Academic Freedom,” go here.

56 Replies to “When you want the approval of people whose approval you should NOT want …

  1. 1
    ReligionProf says:

    It is a pity that the best you can come up with to explain phenomena such as this is that even the faculty and leaders at Baylor are part of the worldwide conspiracy to promote secularism and undermine faith. Seriously?

    For me, the evidence is clear-cut that there is no such worldwide atheist conspiracy. Fred Hoyle was not alone in being drawn to the steady-state model of cosmology because it fit his atheism better. But the Big Bang won, not because there was a stronger Christian conspiracy, but because of the evidence.

    http://exploringourmatrix.blog.....iracy.html

  2. 2
    antonio jose says:

    “Baylor does not want a Baylor prof who is not a proponent of Darwin’s theory of evolution to be in a position to provide evidence against it. They fear he has such evidence.”

    ReligionProf said only one thing right: this above is a conspiracy theory and should be ridiculed because it does not work that way, with people consciously stopping science to advance their fads.

    Here is the thing: the people at Baylor simply did not want their names or Baylor’s name associated with “crackpot creationists”, because of shame and loss of credibility.

    And this is even more true if the prof does get something in his lab (or thinks that he got something), but only because it would call media attention, shame and dishonour.

    Of course this mix of intelectual snobbishness and elitist prejudices hurts science the same way a conspiracy would do…

  3. 3
    antonio jose says:

    Everything else that ReligionProf wrote is a ridiculous denial of the sociological aspects of science.

    First the “no international conspiracy, so nothing to worry about” attitude.

    Did he know that there are powerful and organized movements to promote secularism, and that…
    … they are not secret?
    … they try to entangle with the scientific establishment?
    … they try to label themselves “scientific”, “rational”, even “enlightened” (as opposed to obscurantists, I guess)?
    … they are about fighting a “cultural war”, that is, about politics, intimidation by lawsuits, public ridiculing of opponents, careers destruction, ideology-pushing, etc?

    Secondly, the “clear-cut” argument.

    ReligionProf “great argument” is a history of Boyle vs Big Bang, conveniently sketched to prove the point (which he had since the beginning) that science is self-correcting because bla-bla-bla therefore no possibility for evidence being ignored bla-bla-bla.

    He avoids searching the real History of Science, with its good supply of theories being vindicated after decades of ridicule. I understand it: facts of life can hurt, especially if one is in simbiose with preconceived ideas.

    And, by the way, Science IS self-correcting. The big question is if Intelligent Design is a correction, or if it is false and therefore only a diversion.

  4. 4
    Jehu says:

    ReligionProf.

    It is a pity that the best you can come up with to explain phenomena such as this is that even the faculty and leaders at Baylor are part of the worldwide conspiracy to promote secularism and undermine faith. Seriously?

    Where in O’Leary’s post does she mention anything about a worldwide conspiracy to promote secularism? How is it even implied that she believes such a conspiracy is behind the lynching of the Duke LaCrosse team or the hounding of Larry Summers? Perhaps you imagined it? Has her post been edited? Is there a conspiracy?

    Might I suggest that the cause behind the closing of Mark’s lab, the hounding of Larry Summers, and the lynching of the Duke LaCrosse team is not a worldwide conspiracy to promote secularism but the snobbish arrogant culture of academia where adherents of the fashionable schools of thought work to delegitimize unpopular views.

  5. 5
    gpuccio says:

    It is a pity that the best ReligionProf can come up with to say something about phenomena such as this is his old and favourite “conspiracy theory” theory. It is useless to point out to him that “conspiracy” and “widespread prejudice, arrogance and superficilaity” are not the same thing, and that the second thing is much more common than the first, as anybody can easily witness by visiting ReligionProf’s blog, whose link he kindly goes on providing in his posts here.

    It is a pity that ReligionProf himself apparently can’t understand the meaning and social and cultural influence of intellectual conformism, while constantly recurring to a completely acritical idealization of scientific conformism as his only argument against ID.

    It is a pity that we should still debate, with religious people, if a general trend (not a conspiracy) to “promote secularism and undermine faith” exists or not in contemporary scientific culture. Maybe ReligionProf has never read Dawkin’s last book, or the many articles of important neurologists on very important mass media declaring without any shame that science has definitely proven that the soul does not exist and that consciousness is an illusion (see also Hofstadter’s last book, just to cite the most recent example).

    No, ReligionProf is happily unaware of all that. And like him, I am afraid, many other amateur religious philosophers.

  6. 6
    kairos says:

    I completely agree

  7. 7
    William J. Murray says:

    #2:

    All Marks was doing was running blind mathematical simulations based on known facts to find out the limitations of random mutation and natural selection; I fail to see how actually conducting a test of an aspect of mainstream evolutionary theory can be conflated with advocating creationism.

  8. 8
    ReligionProf says:

    I am not unaware of social aspects and pressures. What troubles me is that O’Leary seems to only recognize and acknowledge one group’s pressure, but not the pressure to conform in Conservative Christian circles. I’m forcing myself to read her book, and I was amazed that she could talk about cognative dissonance and the fact that sometimes people allow what they hear (i.e. are told by a source they consider authoritative) to trump what they see (or experience for themselves). Does the same thing never happen to Christians?

    One reason I tend to post links to my blog and/or web page is to avoid having people take what I say out of context. You can claim that I’ve not read Dawkins, but I not only have read it but have been as public with my critique of him as I have with my criticisms of ID. The book review I have posted at http://exploringourmatrix.blog.....wkins.html I also posted on the Dawkins forum, leading to a lively discussion – where my views were dismissed in much the same way they are here!

    Since you mention the soul, let me say one more thing about O’Leary’s book. It suffers from the fallacy of the excluded middle. It is the equivalent of saying “Nasty materialist scientists are claiming that water is nothing more than hydrogen and oxygen. But we’ve experienced that water has properties that are not the properties of hydrogen and oxygen. Therefore God must have inserted something miraculous and immaterial that accounts for its wetness.” The concept of emergent properties is, alas, ignored.

  9. 9
    allanius says:

    ReligionProf! Come, let us reason together. At one time it was universally believed that the sun revolved around the Earth. Was this a “conspiracy”? Dear friend, it was a worldview. Surely you can see the difference. When I was in college, it was a truth universally acknowledged that Hamlet’s rage at his mother was a sign of the famous Oedipus Complex. Believe it or not, people actually used to take Freud seriously in those days! (You are probably too young to remember.) Was this benighted consensus the product of a conspiracy? No; it was about identity and thinking that we know what we know. Surely you have heard of Rationalism, Romanticism, Modernism. Were these now-defunct worldviews the product of conspiracies? No, they were the product of human pride. And as you know, pride goeth before a fall.

  10. 10
    MacT says:

    We can speculate about institutional snobbishness, right up to a conspiracy, but none of that explains Baylor’s behavior in shutting down Marks’ website.

    But that speculation misses one point: Scientists generally do not post unreviewed findings on their websites. Don’t take my word for it. Go to any university site and browse for yourself.

    I fail to see what prevents Marks from exposing his ideas to scientific scrutiny in the usual way. Why would he even want to rely on a website as the chief means of communicating his work, regardless of what institution sponsors it? That approach immediately raises credibility questions, no matter how good the work may be.

  11. 11
    O'Leary says:

    Religion Prof, watch it. I said nothing about any conspiracy. The mindless conformism that currently defaces and debases academic life is no conspiracy. It is right out there in the open.

    Indeed, the lynch mobs and fascist thugs are proud of themselves and advertise their ability to squelch dissent.

    William J. Murray: Today, any doubt about Darwin’s theory on whatever ground is regularly conflated with creationism. Michael Behe is routinely derided as a creationist, despite his thesis that no creation acts took place because everything was encoded at the time of the Big Bang.

    What makes Behe a “creationist” as far as the Darwin thugs are concerned is his doubt that natural selection acting on random mutations can do it all. In other words, he doubts THEIR creation story, … with good reason, I may say.

    Many more would voice their doubts, had they as much nerve as Behe does.

    Now, returning to the case of Prof Marks, I suspect that computer simulations of Darwin’s theory assume a flock of favourable events for which we have no warrant from nature. So corrected, the simulations would not work.

    If my hunch is right, the circular thinking in evolution simulation circles goes something like this: Such events must have happened because otherwise Darwinism wouldn’t be true. But we know Darwinism is true. Therefore those events happened – and we can assume them in our simulation!

    If that’s what’s going on, forget reasoning with them. You might as well try reasoning with the people who appear at the front door, hellfire tracts in hand, damning you to hell if you don’t join their sect …

    All we really know for sure at this point is that desperate measures were undertaken to prevent Marks from working in this area in a normal way. And that speaks volumes.

    As does the claim that I suggested anywhere that it was a conspiracy.

    A person who makes such an accusation in the face of clear evidence to the contrary obviously needs to avoid acknowledging something.

  12. 12
    antonio jose says:

    ReligionProf is all wrong, OK, but the O’Leary’s post begins with a “conspiracy theory” indeed.

    It is saying that Baylor admins “fear he has such evidence” that would prove Darwinism wrong. “Who knows? He might…”

    No; “what is going on” is that they fear pressure from peers, loss of credibility and possible retaliations.

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    Off topic,,,Religion Professor:

    Did you read the conclusive evidences I presented for ID, refuting your suggestive evidences for Darwinism?

    If not, here is the page.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com...../#comments

  14. 14
    shaner74 says:

    ReligionProf wrote:
    “What troubles me is that O’Leary seems to only recognize and acknowledge one group’s pressure, but not the pressure to conform in Conservative Christian circles”

    I swear there is a gene or meme or something that causes those opposed to ID to attack Christianity whenever they find themselves being challenged.

    “But we’ve experienced that water has properties that are not the properties of hydrogen and oxygen. Therefore God must have inserted something miraculous and immaterial that accounts for its wetness.”

    I’ve not read O’Learys book yet. Does she directly attribute the properties of water to God?

    “The concept of emergent properties is, alas, ignored.”

    Like, throw some matter together and shazaam, thought? Those kind of emergent properties?

  15. 15
    MacT says:

    O’Leary writes: “All we really know for sure at this point is that desperate measures were undertaken to prevent Marks from working in this area in a normal way. And that speaks volumes.”

    Here’s some evidence that speaks volumes too: Marks has 125 publications listed in the “Journal Articles” section on his Baylor webpage: http://web.ecs.baylor.edu/facu.....s-Pubs.htm

    Of these, three are co-authored with W. Dembski. These, and most of the rest, are freely available for download on the Baylor website.

    Desperate measures? I don’t see any evidence here that Marks is not continuing to work in a normal way.

  16. 16
    ReligionProf says:

    How can you be certain that ‘throw together neurons (not merely matter) and shazaam, thought’ is fundamentally different from ‘throw together hydrogen and oxygen and shazaam, water’?

    I am grateful to the post’s author for taking the time to reply. While there are extremes that seem to have may or may not have the capacity to reason with one another because their presuppositions are so different, there are a lot of people in between, who are not persuaded by either the materialist reductionism of the one side, or the excessive readiness to declare something scientifically inexplicable on the other. If you are persuaded that excluding this middle ground from serious consideration, and focusing on labelling the other extreme as fascists, is the best way to bring about change, that is your choice. Personally, I expect those who represent a Christian viewpoint to differ from the other extreme not only in terms of the conclusions they draw, but in the character of their conversation and their attitude. But if defending an immaterial view of the soul is more important to you than loving one’s enemies, then perhaps we don’t even have the same Bible in common, and thus are going to find meaningful discussion impossible.

  17. 17
    gpuccio says:

    ReligionProf:

    As it seems that you have finally answered, although indirectly, some of my comments, let’s go on with the discussion. That could be fun, after all.

    “I am not unaware of social aspects and pressures. What troubles me is that O’Leary seems to only recognize and acknowledge one group’s pressure, but not the pressure to conform in Conservative Christian circles.”

    I can agree with you about the “pressure to conform in Conservative Christian circles”, but I can’t see your point. I don’t see how an analysis of internal cognitive dissonances in some religious circles, interesting as it may be, has any relevance here. I must remind you that here we are talking science, not religion. What religious circles do in their private, or public life, or politically, or ideologically, is not my concern in any way.
    But here, we are talking about scientists and cultural institutions. We are talking about ideas and reasonable truth. We are talking about people like Marks and Dembski who are working very hard and very intelligently to demonstrate, for instance, that a lot of lies have been circulated in the scientific and general community about evolutionary algorithms which should support darwinian concepts, and which, instead, are an intellectual fraud.
    You see, scientists have no excuse when they behave as religious fanatics, even if their religion is stupid naturalism (I prefer this form to “methodological naturalism”, because any attempt to base one’s worldview on a completely undefined concept like “nature” is, in my view, completely stupid by definition).
    Religious people may be fanatic, irrational and intolerant, or not. If they are, that’s a problem, but it’s a religious, philosophical, or moral problem.
    But if scientists become fanatic, irratonal and intolerant, that’s a problem for science, because they are completely betraying their chosen role and abusing the cultural authority which society seems to have given them.

    “You can claim that I’ve not read Dawkins, but I not only have read it but have been as public with my critique of him as I have with my criticisms of ID.”

    No, I have never claimed that you have not read Dawkins. It’s your problem if you have or not. I have only said that, when you affirm that no general tendency to “promote secularism and undermine faith” exists in contemporary scientific culture, you “seem” not to have read Dawkins, Hostadter, and all the others, who regularly publish their detailed and authoritative (because of their status as scientists) arguments in favour of strict materialism and against any form of religion on all available media. So, telling us that you have indeed read and criticized Dawkins is not a pertinent answer to my remark.

    “Since you mention the soul, let me say one more thing about O’Leary’s book… The concept of emergent properties is, alas, ignored.”

    Ah, the soul. Please correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me that you are affirming here that the soul is an “emergent property” of the physical brain. But that’s exactly the point of view of reductionist materialists! Any materialist will be very happy with the concept that consciousness and intelligence are just an “emergent property” of neuronal activity, exactly as water is an emergent property of the combination of hydrogen and oxygen. That’s exactly the same concept of Hofstadter in “we are a strange loop”.
    So, are you a strict materialist? If so, I have no problem. But if you are not, then what are you? Please take notice that the problem of an independent existence and of a non material origin of consciousness is not so trivial as you seem to think. You see, water does not survive the separation iof its components. Being only an “emergent property”, it is no more emerging, or anything else, when its constituents are separated. It just vanishes.
    So, if consciousness, intelligence, feeling, joy, love, etc, are only “emerging properties” of the particular structure of atoms and molecules which we call neurons and brain, they can’t exist independently, and they will be completely lost with the dissolution of the physical body. That’s exactly what materialists believe.

    Now, our problem here is not whether the soul exists or not, and whether materialists or religious people are right. That’s another problem, for another place and time.

    Our problem here is if it’s true that modern science strongly supports the materialist view about consciousness, as materialists like Dawkins and Hofstadter certainly believe, or if it’s true that modern science strongly supports the opposite view, as Denyse O’Leary and Mario Beauregard are suggesting in their book, as far as I can understand (I am still waiting for it), and as I personally believe, together, I hope, with many other people on this board and elsewhere.

  18. 18
    shaner74 says:

    gpuccio wrote:
    “But if scientists become fanatic, irratonal and intolerant, that’s a problem for science, because they are completely betraying their chosen role and abusing the cultural authority which society seems to have given them.”

    Exactly. So simple to understand, but it always comes back to “see, look what the Christians are doing” nonsense.

  19. 19
    Bob O'H says:

    MacT – in fairness to Prof. Marks, some people do put their preprints on the web. Check arXiv.org, or the MCMC preprint service. Other people do put them on their own webpages, but they are in the minority.

    Also, the manuscripts that were put up there were down as “under review”, suggesting that they had been submitted to the normal channels.

    In this case, I think the benefit of doing this can be seen, with the work having been critically assessed, and at least one error has been identified (see Panda’s Thumb for the details). Putting the manuscripts up on the web allows them to receive greater scrutiny, so improving the final published version.

    Bob

  20. 20
    jerry says:

    A couple points,

    I do not think that ReligionProf knows much biology so it is likely he will accept their words because he does not have the knowledge for critical thinking. It is interesting that he thinks we do not understand biology either and should likewise accept the current world-view as truth and as allanius pointed out above world-views change like the wind.

    A part of some Christian thinking is that God would never do anything in the physical world that could be directly attributable to him. Please do not give examples disproving this. All I am saying is that this is part of some Christian intellectual thinking. I do not know whether ReligionProf is part of this thinking or not. I use this as an example of how some theology determines science and is the basis of much of the Theistic Evolutionist’s thinking.

    2. The term emergent is the new all powerful term for the naturalist. It emasculates Natural Selection which is a weak term. Emergent can explain everything without using the term evolve. Essentially emergent means something magical happening without having to explain it or how it happened. So when someone resorts to the term emergent, they are essentially admitting a weak argument.

    Yes water is very different from both hydrogen and oxygen and so is nearly every chemical compound known different from it elements. A better example is salt or NaCl which is certainly much different from its elements, one of which is a poison. Someday Chemists and Physicists will be able to predict the properties of compounds directly from its molecular structure and water will no longer be a mystery.

  21. 21
    ReligionProf says:

    I do not have a degree in biology – Jerry, please do let us all know what your qualifications are. But the proponents of Intelligent Design seem to feel that well-informed laypeople can and should make decisions about this subject, and I can safely place myself in the latter category. But at any rate, since pretty much all biologists agree on the fact of evolution, if not always on the details of the mechanisms and other aspects, it is really their knowledge and critical thinking skills you are criticizing, so I need not take it personally. 🙂

  22. 22
    Carl Sachs says:

    Is “emergence” any less of a fudge-factor than “design”? Since ID as a science can tell us that something was designed, but cannot tell us by whom, or for what purpose, it strikes me that talking about ‘design’ is also talking about “something magical happening without having to explain it or how it happened.”

    Conversely, design theorists and their advocates may have passionately held beliefs about who the designer was and/or the purposes behind design — but clearly that’s part of the implications (theological or otherwise) of design theory, not design theory itself. So taken by itself as science, I’m not sure that “design” is any less magical thinking — i.e. “something magical happening without having to explain it or how it happened” — than is “emergence.”

    In any event, ReligionProf is correct when he distinguishes between reductionism and emergentism. So arguments against the former do not, by themselves, show that mental or spiritual phenomena are metaphysically independent of physical systems.

  23. 23
    idnet.com.au says:

    Carl

    “I’m not sure that “design” is any less magical thinking — i.e. “something magical happening without having to explain it or how it happened” — than is “emergence.”

    “Design” can be observed every day. It produces specified complexity readily. It is not magical.

    The examples of non biological “emergence” that we observed are trivial, and are not able to produce specified complexity.

  24. 24
    jerry says:

    Carl Sachs,

    You cannot be serious? You equate the term “emergence” with “design” and these are two very different concepts. Actually they are not because emergence as used in ordinary English is predicated on design but as most in evolutionary biology use it, it is at best a nebulous concept.

    For example, design involves the interaction of complicated systems for a purpose. Yes, we can find purpose in the design of the universe and life. Both are very straightforward and easy to explain.

    For example, the universe. The various constants are incredibly fine tuned so that a coherent universe exists. Otherwise just incredibly small changes and the universe would be just a potential amalgam of quarks. If that isn’t purpose, I don’t know what is.

    In biology, there are thousands of complex systems that have specific purposes. Within the cells there are hundreds of very complex systems that are also finely tuned for a purpose which biology provides the purpose. There is no lack of purpose in biology. Above the cell level there are thousands of more system that have specific purposes. You confuse an ultimate purpose with the immediate purpose. I think Aristotle made some allusion to this with his analysis of causes.

    Emergent is a vague term which means exactly nothing where design is a very specific term that nearly always has meaning. In all my experience nearly every time the word emergence is used it refers to an intellectual process and that is usually a process of design despite the fact it often imperfect. In evolutionary biology it has become a pop term that is handwaving away what is not understood.

    I agree that we have no scientific evidence that show that mental or spiritual phenomena are metaphysically independent of physical systems. However, there is no evidence that it emerged in any sense of the word unless you want to use it in the sense that is suddenly happened.

    The choice of your response is interesting because it reveals a lack of understanding of the concrete aspects of the debate. ReligionProf admits he does not understand the issues but his bigotry about those who support ID is amazing for a professor or religion. You would think he would try to understand what the basis for our objections are. He also continues to use the fallacy of authority for his sole argument and you, a professor of philosophy, have decided not to point this out.

  25. 25
    jerry says:

    ReligionProf,

    I have had biology courses. To keep up to date I also have gone through the U. of Cal Berkeley evolution sections of their biology course four times to see what different professors teach. I went through most of the rest of their first year biology course. One does not need anything more to understand the issues and I defy you to find anyone who will say otherwise. I also have been through the evolution sections of the most popular biology text books.

    I have also read several of the books supporting naturalistic evolution and several books that challenge it. I have a background in science and the scientific process so I know what is supported and what is not.

    I will challenge any professor at Butler you can get to a discussion of the details of evolution. My guess none will be interested since they may not like the answers. But if they do I hope they will be more respectful of our knowledge than you seem to be.

  26. 26
    paraklete says:

    In response to ReligionProf’s emergence point…

    The emergent properties of water (e.g. wetness) are much different conceptually than mental properties allegedly emerging from complex configurations of matter (e.g. consciousness from neural networks).

    For starters, we can conceive of consciousness without brains. Pick any child on the street, and that child will have no problem conceiving of ghosts, angels, fairies, and even their own soul outside of its body. But can we conceive of non-material wetness? If you can, let me know.

    Second, how can a complex configuration of matter produce a singular, unfied center of consciousness – the “I”? Where is the “I” located? What unifies all the mental activity, if all we have to work with is matter? How come when large portions of the brain are removed – even more than half the brain – the “I” is still there, unaffected?

    A material philosopher, Colin McGinn, humorously illustrated the conceptual problem of consciousness through a story of aliens observing humans and marveling at “thinking meat.” How can meat think? This is a problem that the resources of “emergence” are not equipped to handle in my opinion. I would love to hear any counterpoints.

  27. 27
    paraklete says:

    Also, I have just finished “The Spiritual Brain” and I want to thank Denyse for a great book. I have studied philosophy of mind and I have been looking for a book addressing the neuroscience aspect in detail. Thanks!

  28. 28
    jerry says:

    I have a remote related question to what paraklete just said,

    Has any part of the body been identified with development. We all know that development operates quickly during gestation so it is guided some how but it also operates for several more years after that and maybe till death. If some part of the brain or part of the body is removed, does it affect development? I find this an interesting question because “how does it know?” Obviously this could be done with any experimental mammal such as mice to get the answer. Does anyone know if this has been done?

  29. 29
    bornagain77 says:

    Rel. Prof. you stated in your criticism of O’Leary’s book.

    It is the equivalent of saying “Nasty materialist scientists are claiming that water is nothing more than hydrogen and oxygen. But we’ve experienced that water has properties that are not the properties of hydrogen and oxygen. Therefore God must have inserted something miraculous and immaterial that accounts for its wetness.” The concept of emergent properties is, alas, ignored.

    Funny you should mention water, for in water, evidence for Intelligent Design is found everywhere. For example water, the most common substance on earth and in our bodies, We find odd characteristics that appear to be designed for a purpose. These oddities we find in water are absolutely essential for life. Some very simple organisms can exist without the direct energy of sunlight, some without oxygen; but no life on earth can exist without water. One oddity that is found is that it expands as it becomes ice, by an increase of about a 9% in volume. Thus, it floats when it becomes solid instead of sinking like other substances do upon solidification. This is an exceedingly rare ability. Yet if it were not for that fact, lakes and oceans would freeze from the bottom up. The earth would be a frozen wasteland, and human life would not be possible. Water also has the unusual ability to pull itself into very fine tubes and small spaces, defying gravity. This is called capillary action. This action is essential for the breakup of mineral bearing rock in to soil. Water pulls itself in to tiny spaces on the surface of mineral bearing rocks and freezes; it expands and breaks the rock into tinier pieces, thus producing nutrient enriched soil. Capillary action is also essential for the movement of water through soil to roots of plants. It is essential for the movement of water from the roots, to the tops of plants, even to the tops of the mighty redwood trees, and also essential for the circulation of our in our capillary vessels. Water also has an the unique ability to dissolve a wider range of substances, more so than any other solvent. This ability is essential for cells of living organisms to process the wide range of carbon based substances necessary for the construction, operation and maintenance of cells. As well, Water’s melting and boiling point are not where common sense would indicate they should be when we look at its molecular weight. The three sister compounds of water all behave as would be predicted by their molecular weight. Oddly, water just happens to have melting and boiling points of optimal biological utility. The other properties of water we measure, like its specific slipperiness and its unique ability to absorb and release more heat than any other common substance, have to be exactly as they are in order for life to be possible on earth at all. Even the oceans have to be the huge size they are, in order to stabilize the temperature of the earth, so human life is possible. On and on through each characteristic we can possibly measure water with, it appears purposely to be as it is in order for complex life to exist. No other liquid in the universe comes anywhere near matching water in its fitness for life.

    By the way Rel. Prof., Did you read my response to your purported evidence for evolution yet?

    http://www.uncommondescent.com...../#comments

    I’d appreciate a scientific response that addresses the facts I laid out in rebuttal to your assertions please.

    You may think you know evolution is true but I guarantee you, if you are honest with the evidence in trying to support your assertions, you will see how shallow your evidences are and how strong the case is for ID.

    Until then please try to realize that “mainstream” science, which you seem to put so much faith in, has been overturned many times in the past!!!

  30. 30
    bFast says:

    ReligionProf:

    the proponents of Intelligent Design seem to feel that well-informed laypeople can and should make decisions about this subject

    I wholeheartedly agree. That is the opinion of the majority of IDers.

    since pretty much all biologists agree on the fact of evolution, if not…

    If you agree that “well-informed laypeople can and should make decisions about this subject” then why are you making an argument from the authority of others? Bring on the evidence! I, as most IDers I know, am swayed by data, not by the authority of the great gurus.

  31. 31
    Apollos says:

    Saying that mind is an emergent property of matter is like saying that a Porsche Boxster is an emergent property of cash. At its best, it’s an obfuscation.

    The design inference is disallowed by the materialist elite (for biology alone) for one simple reason: it makes follow-up questions not only possible, but mandatory. In the materialist world view, self-identity is self-defined and no other realities are required.

  32. 32
    jerry says:

    From yesterday’s NY Times and appropriate to ReligionProf and a general lack of critical thinking in our world.

    “How the Low-Fat, Low-Fact Cascade Just keeps Rolling Along By John Tierney

    I suspect a few readers — and diet researchers — will take issue with my Findings column about Gary Taubes’ new book, “Good Calories, Bad Calories,” and his debunking of the myth that low-fat diets will prolong your life. I’ll be happy in subsequent posts to debate the low-fat diet as well as other issues raised in his book, like the causes of obesity and the case for low-carb diets. But before we start the food fight, I’d like to delve into the question of why scientists and other groups fall prey to the fads called “informational cascades.”

    The belief that low-fat diets prolong your life is one example of a cascade. The crusade against global warming is another — which is not to say that global warming isn’t real. Cascades can be based on correct beliefs as well as mistaken ones. The point is that large groups of people can reach a “consensus” without most of them really understanding the issue: Once a critical mass of people starts a trend, the rest make the rational decision to go along because they figure the trend-setters can’t all be wrong. The danger is that you end up with the blind leading the blind, as the economists Sushil Bikhchandani, David Hirshleifer, Ivo Welch wrote in their seminal paper on informational cascades.

    Dr. Welch, an economist at Brown, told me that while it’s always been known that people copy from another — we are social animals, after all — it wasn’t until economists worked out the math of informational cascades that it became clear how easily errors can keep spreading without being corrected.”
    ——

    The article is much longer with many related links to other relevant discussions and goes on to explain how myths arise, mainly because bum information is dispersed and that even those educated in the field go along because they assume it is true.

    To access the article go to google news and type in “NY Times fat” Look for the article by Tierney. If I try to post a link this long it always seems to go to the spam filter.

    It interesting how Tierney phrased the global warming controversy, like it was those against who are generating the false part of the issue. Maybe Tierney should read about a British judge saying that all British school children that have seen Al Gore’s movie have to be told there are 11 inaccuracies in the film.

  33. 33
    ReligionProf says:

    If it provides evidence of my willingness to change paradigms when I feel the evidence calls for it, I lost about 15 pounds by going on the Atkins diet. 🙂

  34. 34
    Carl Sachs says:

    The story of “thinking meat” is actually by Terry Bisson, and it’s called “They’re Made Of Meat!” It’s free on-line; a quick Google search will bring it up.

    I think that if one begins with an entrenched dichotomy of two radically different “kinds of thing” — say, fleshy stuff and spiritual stuff — then yes, the very notion of “thinking meat” will provoke puzzlement and confusion. It will sound like “wooden iron.”

    On the other hand, though, there’s nothing inevitable or necessary about this intellectual framework. The heritage of Plato, St. Paul, Augustine, and Descartes is optional.

    For example, one could begin, as Dewey or Whitehead do, with a concept of process, i.e. a continuum. “Mind” and “matter” would then be labels attached to different aspects of process. Or one could begin, as Merleau-Ponty does, with a concept of “the lived body” and show how both pure physicality/materiality and pure mentality/intellectuality are misleading distortions.

    My main point here is that there are viable and fascinating alternatives to the dominant assumptions which seem to govern how most of us think.

    And by the way, it strikes me as odd that a professor of religion, who is clearly a person of faith, should be treated with as much contempt as ReligionProf is here.

  35. 35
    gpuccio says:

    ReligionProf:

    “While there are extremes that seem to have may or may not have the capacity to reason with one another because their presuppositions are so different, there are a lot of people in between, who are not persuaded by either the materialist reductionism of the one side, or the excessive readiness to declare something scientifically inexplicable on the other. ”

    Different presuppositions should not be a barrier to discussion, at least in science. Again, science is different in nature from religion or poslitics. Science is about a reasonalbly “communicable” and objective search for truth.
    If you start with the principle that anyone who strongly disagrees with you (about your scientific affirmations) is someone you can’t communicate with, and that communication is possible only with those that you consider “people in between, who are not persuaded by either the materialist reductionism of the one side”, than you are already creating a filter which says, more or less: “I can discuss only with those who share my position. Because, if I understand it well, your position is exactly that you “are not persuaded by either the materialist reductionism of the one side”.
    Let’s see objectively what has happened on this blog. You have made a lot of affirmations, some of them, I would say, very irrespectful towards the ideas of most people here, and most, if not all, of them, completely unsupported by any serious scientific argumentation, unless you consider a serious argumentation the reduction to general scientific authority. Many people here, including me, have taken time to answer your points rather in detail, and I would say with intellectual respect, although not necessarily with intellectual sympathy. Intellectual respect, for me, is giveng specific arguments, and implicitly and explicitly asking for an answer to them, always ready to participate in a fair discussion.
    Well, those answers have never come from you, always if you don’t count the reduction to authority. Only new vague, and often irritating, affirmations, usually of a very philosophical or religious persuasion.
    And yet, you feel that your “ideas” have been “dismissed” here, and equate us to the thugs on Panda’s Thumb. Why? Your ideas have not been dismissed. Your ideas have not been agreed upon, and have been answered in detail, even when they were vague or impolite.

    “But if defending an immaterial view of the soul is more important to you than loving one’s enemies, then perhaps we don’t even have the same Bible in common, and thus are going to find meaningful discussion impossible.”

    Again, I can’t see your point. I can certainly love you, either you are a friend or an enemy, or one of the “people in between”. Loving you has nothing to do with inteleectual discussion. Please, pardon me if I have been in some way to you. I didn’t mean it. I really, really meant to strongly and sicerely oppose your ideas, as you had expressed them. That’s intellectual confrontation. It needs not be gentle and conciliatory: if the context requires it, it should be frank and uncompromising. But the secret is: intellectual confrontation is always about the ideas, never about the man. The flourish of ad hominem arguments in darwinian blogs is one of the most desolating charachteristics observable there. I remember reading in one of those places a very rude “ad hominem” attack towards some ID friendly poster, about the meaning of “ad hominem”: the darwinian poster, evidently lacking any knowledge of latin, was just negating that “ad hominem” means “against the man” and affirm that it means “vague”, and that was the motive for a very, very rude attack towards the previous poster, ad hominem and perfectly self-referential.

    Regarding qualifications, I am not a biologist, but rather a medical doctor, so may be I am qualified, maybe not, depending on points of view. Anyway, my full-hearted acceptance of ID is based on many of my scientific interests, including medicine, biology, physics, statistics, and so on. I have never used, as far as I can remember, religious or philosophical arguments in a pure ID context, either here or elsewhere.

  36. 36
    kairosfocus says:

    RP;

    Physicist here (cf. Appendix A my always linked on the informational and thermodynamics issues that lead me to support the inference that CSI is a strong indicator of design, including in the nanotech of cellular life).

    Also, I am an educator [experience at secondary and tertiary levels], and a strategic thinker and worldviews thinker, now working as a strategic change consultant with focus on sustainability issues. in that context, I am I believe reasonably qualified to comment on agendaqs and advocacy.

    On this issue, Ms O-Leary [pardon, weird keyboard oddity; Firefox bug with Vista?] is plainly right on her main point. So are several other commenters, especially GP.

    I note too that the emergent properties of water are based on the material properties of Hydrogen and Oxygen, leading to interesting bonding within and between water molecules, which gives rise tot he peculiar properties BA very correctly highlights as ilustrative of something very interesting going on.

    But, mental properties simply do not match physical ones. For instance, Neuron firing potentials, ion-flows and frequencies simply are not true or false, right or wrong. They are simply at best carrier hardware. Its the software and what it “really” is,then where it comes from, that counts.

    And, in our observation, the ONLY known source of functionally specified complex information is the mind. So, think about that, please.

    Also, Prof Marks’ relevant work is an investigation of the potential of proposed algorithms to create the sort of complexity being claimed by NDT advocates. That is a fair test, of the capacity of chance + necessity alone, vs C + N + Agency. It is an empirical test, and I suspect one that would require fairly modest resources. So, i tis legitimate. [BTW, the very WWW itself was set up so Physicists can share preprints; indeed, in the old days they used to be circulated by mail. ArXiv is a vestige of that process. So the attempt to smear Dr Marks for circulating preprints is ill-informed and wrong-headed at best.]

    Then, kindly come back to us on the issue that something has gone very wrong at Baylor, and it reflects a destructive, plainly oppressive and widespread cultural force tied to the various secularist and evolutionary materialist movements. (Finger-pointing at real or imagined dangers posed by other cultural movements is strictly irrelevant to the point.)

    GEM of TKI

    PS: I trust this comes across as truthing it in love, on the principle that the wounds of a “friend” are faithful ones; or at least an attempt, however imperfect, to measure up to that exacting standard. (Prof RP will doubtless be able to supply the underlying textual references for these points.)

  37. 37
    ReligionProf says:

    My reference to people with different presuppositions was in response to something O’Leary wrote. Having radically changed my views in the past, personally I don’t think genuine communication is ever impossible – although misunderstanding may be inevitable, if one perseveres one can do it.

    I finally posted my review of the part of The Spiritual Brain that I have read thus far. Although I am obviously critical, I’ve tried to be as appreciative as I could.

    http://exploringourmatrix.blog.....brain.html

  38. 38
    Bob O'H says:

    Apollos (@31) – Just out of curiosity, what are the mandatory follow-up questions to the design inference?

    Bob

  39. 39
    bFast says:

    Carl Sacs:

    And by the way, it strikes me as odd that a professor of religion, who is clearly a person of faith, should be treated with as much contempt as ReligionProf is here.

    Just because someone teaches religion, that doesn’t mean that they believe any particular religion. I have checked out ReligionProf’s website (which he links to quite often.) His approach to Biblical interpretation is much different, much more cynical, than I hear from my pulpit on Sunday mornings.

    Lets just put it this way. I have CA Parental Controls running on my computer. When I go to his website, it blocks it referring to it as an “Adult” site. I think its got something to do with the good professor suggesting that the Bible teaches child sacrifice.

  40. 40
    paraklete says:

    Thanks Carl Sachs for the “thinking meat” info… Colin McGinn cited the story in his book, “The Mysterious Flame.”

    I believe your “process” views are very vague, and do not provide any help in understanding the nature of things. It seems as if you would have us consider panpsychism – the belief that all matter is infused with mental properties – but there is no evidence for this and no one takes this view seriously. From what we know of matter, it is just plain old mindless “stuff” that follows natural laws. Mind is clearly very different.

  41. 41
    ReligionProf says:

    Wow, I am really surprised my site would be limited by parental control software – but it is aimed at adults and does discuss issues that are controversial. Indeed, one of the topics I have discussed is what rating certain books in the Bible would get!

    Historical study does not simply accept a document’s claims without questioning them. I am definitely in favor of Christians taking historical study seriously, but I wouldn’t call that “cynicism”. Historical study doesn’t make for the kinds of sermons most people expect on Sunday morning, but I think many pastors who are aware of the issues (since you cannot go to most seminaries without encountering them) do their congregations a disservice by sidestepping them altogether.

    Then again, those who disagree with me may be happy to learn that they can filter out my site with CA’s software! 🙂

  42. 42
    ReligionProf says:

    Although I have some sympathies with process theology, I don’t find panpsychism persuasive, for the same reason I didn’t find Beauregard’s and O’Leary’s. For something complex to have a certain characteristic, it is not essential for each individual component to have it. Nancey Murphy calls this view “non-reductive physicalism”.

  43. 43
    Apollos says:

    “Just out of curiosity, what are the mandatory follow-up questions to the design inference?”

    Bob O’H, IMHO any design inference, once it’s made, makes possible another scope of inquiry. Quite a few years ago I was on a hike with a man who collected Indian artifacts. At one point he observed a piece of rock protruding from the dirt. It was a pestle, used for grinding grains. To me it looked like a rock, but he was able to see the hallmark evidence of design.

    As a rock, the story wasn’t all that interesting. As a pestle, a whole new set of questions were possible. Who made it? How did it get there? Who put it there, and what was their culture like? Was it lost or abandoned? How long had it been there? Once design was inferred, there was a historical story attached to it, with an entire set of questions that were possible to ask. Without design, many of those questions would have been irrelevant or uninteresting.

    If a design inference is made in biology, it makes new questions not only possible, but mandatory. Who am I? For what purpose was I made? Who made me? What is He like? Am I accountable to Him, and in what way? The only reason to rule out the possibility of design in biology (alone) is because the implications are untenable to some. The game has been rigged to disallow science from following the evidence, if that evidence happens to demonstrate or even suggest intelligent intent behind biological systems.

  44. 44
    Tina says:

    APOLLOS: The design inference you speak of explains all non-human organic life – it is in total obedience to what it is – it does only what is necessary and lives to it’s full capacity. We call it instinct (genetically predetermined) but it is also wisdom – non-organic life is not automaton – it is life to the fullest. But the human does what is unnecessary – and tries to be what it is not. It’s detailed but we must assume that in non-organic life there is manifest wisdom.

  45. 45
    Tina says:

    Oh dear- its 3:30am lost sentence of my post above should read “ORGANIC” life.

  46. 46
    Bob O'H says:

    Apollos – I think you might be going a bit far from “the bacterial flagellum was designed” to “Why am I here?”, but I think if you rephrase your questions I would pretty much agree that they are questions that should be asked by design detectors. I’m not aware, though, of any of the ID illuminaries asking them. Can you (or someone else) point me to where they do this?

    Bob

  47. 47
    Apollos says:

    Tina, forgive me if I misunderstand. The design inference in regard to biological machines is irrespective of species. However only humans would qualify as intelligent and self-aware enough to make the inference in the first place.

    If I understand you, then we agree that only humans are capable of true self-awareness or self-denial; and the observations of human civilization as well as organic biology indicates intelligence, top to bottom.

  48. 48
    Apollos says:

    I think you might be going a bit far from “the bacterial flagellum was designed” to “Why am I here?”

    Certainly they are two ends of a spectrum, but there is a cascade of implications from one to another. You can’t conclude (or infer) intelligent design in the flagellum without it immediately raising questions directly related to your own existence. This is the main reason for militant resistance to design concepts among materialists.

    I’m not aware, though, of any of the ID illuminaries asking them. Can you (or someone else) point me to where they do this?

    It’s not the purview of ID to concern itself with theological or philosophical implications of a design inference. While the inference might open the door to all sorts of questions and observations, ID concerns itself specifically with design detection, whether biological or otherwise.

    I found an arrowhead. Is it merely a rock, or was it designed for a purpose? How do I tell, if I know nothing of arrowheads to begin with? Must I understand the source of the arrowhead and the identity of the designer before I can determine it was made for a purpose?

  49. 49
    gpuccio says:

    Carl Sachs:

    thank you for your many stimulating insights. I feel compelled to comment on some of them:

    #22: “Since ID as a science can tell us that something was designed, but cannot tell us by whom, or for what purpose, it strikes me that talking about ‘design’ is also talking about “something magical happening without having to explain it or how it happened.””

    This is a very important point, which IMO is often misunderstood. ID is not a global theory of everything, either in science or in any other field of thought. Not everynthing begins and ends with ID. In a sense, ID is a minimalist scientific approach to a very important point, that is the presence of design in observable entities, which has been irrationally denied and obfuscated by decades of very bad scientific thought.
    When we say that ID is only interested in design inference, and not in other problems like, for instance, the identity of the designer, we are not in any way affirming “a priori” that those other problems cannot be treated scientifically. We are just saying that the ID theory is not attempting that, just as we could correctly say that Einstein’s restricted relativity theory does not address the problem of gravity, while his general relativity theory does. No scientific theory is a theory of everything, and ID is no exception.

    I would like to insist on this point, answering also Bob O’H’s question to Apollos: “Just out of curiosity, what are the mandatory follow-up questions to the design inference?”

    No one can list “all” the possible questions which will arise when (not “if”) the design inference is accepted, at last, by the majority os the scientific community. They will arise naturally, as it always happens when a new scientific paradigm afiirms itself. The important thing is that they will be “scientific” questions, which will be approached in scientific ways, and will obviously have important consequences on the philosophy of science, on philosophy in general, and on religion, as always happens with important scientific results.
    But, just not to give the impression that I am speaking of vague and abstract concepts, I will try to list some possible aspects of problems which will have to be scientifically addressed in a ID scenario:

    1) What kind of design are we observing in living beings? Is it inspired to the same principles, or can it be interpreted as different kinds of design interacting?

    2) What is the relation between design in the inorganic world (universal constants, etc.) and the kind of design we observe in the living world?

    3) Are the undeniable apparent imperfections in organic design due to objective constraints, to imperfect design, to different designs interacting, or to something else?

    4) When was design added to inorganic matter (OOL) and then to existing organic entities (evolution)?

    5) How is design added? Gradually, or in different acute events? Or is it front-loaded, and in that case when and how?

    6) What is the relationship between human design and the design we observe in living things? Can we completely understand organic design? Are we imitating it, reproducing it? Can we manipulate it? Can we learn from it, not only at a technological level, but also at an abstract level?

    7) What is the relation between design and life? What is life?

    8) What is the relation between design and consciousness? What is consciousness?

    9) Last, but not least: Are the laws of nature as we understand them today complete, at least in principle? Or are new laws, new paradigms, necessary to scientifically explain what we observe in the inorganic and organic universe, not only in biology, but in physics, astronomy, etc? Will these new paradigms allow a better understanding of intelligence, meaning, design, life, consciousness?

    So, you see, ID is not a science stopper. In the contrary, it is a science redeemer. It redeems science from the trap of materialistic arrogance, from the completely arbitrary conviction, so widespread today, that a reductionist approach to reality can explain everything, that it has alredy succeeded in that.

    So, no space for magic in ID. Design inference is a very practical and sound approach to reality, which can help us get rid of a false general theory of everything, and open new scenarios to scientific research.

    The only reason for the minimalistic approach of ID (just the design inference) is that a design inference “can” absolutely already be affirmed with the facts we already know, and darwinism can in the same way be alredy falsified. The other questions I listed, instead, are not yet answerable in scientific terms, and need further inquiry.

    (Enough for now. I’ll come back with some more comments later)

  50. 50
    Bob O'H says:

    Apollos – so, ID has to ask some questions, but isn’t allowed to answer them?

    Bob

  51. 51
    Apollos says:

    Bob O’H,

    ID answers the design question. It doesn’t purport to be a universal theory of everything. ID doesn’t have to identify the designer. It seeks to determine if design took place. It is possible to detect design independently of establishing the identity of the designer, is it not?

    Imagine that you’re examining artifacts from a Martian expedition. You discover what looks to be a hammer with an iron head and the remnants of a wooden handle. Dating tests determine that it’s between 3,000 and 5,000 years old. No other traces of a Martian civilization have found to date. Can you establish that it was designed when you cannot identify the designer? Must identifying the designer precede or be in parallel to establishing intelligent agency was involved with the hammer? What principles do we use to determine that the hammer is designed? How do we know it is designed?

  52. 52
    DaveScot says:

    BobOH

    It is my position that logic, math, and empirical observation warrant a design inference with regard to the machinery of life.

    I would be more than happy to extend this to an inference to an identifiable designer or designers. The farthest I have been able to go in this regard is to say that the designer(s) must have some well developed but perfectly material skills in biochemistry in order to have accomplished the design. Beyond that I have nothing further in the way of logic, math, or empirical evidence to further characterize the designer(s).

    I believe you know this. If you don’t you’re not as bright as I thought you were and if you do know it then it appears you’re just baiting people into talking about their religious beliefs to bolster the Church Burnin’ Ebola Boy belief that ID is religion in disguise.

    Stop it now unless you want to lose your commenting privileges here. I have little patience for either stupidity or disingenuousness from ID detractors.

  53. 53
    jerry says:

    There is one thing I would like to add to gpuccio’s list and which I believe is important. That there is something more complicated than life that had to be part of the design issue and that is an ecology.

    The naturalistic approach is that the ecologies evolved as different organisms adapted to the various niches they found and the resources of the niche determined the quantity and success of the various organisms. This is a plausible explanation and I believe it has happened time and time again and this is what Darwin observed as he transnavigated the world on the Beagle.

    But what allows organism to adapt. It is that they have built in variation that allows them to adapt using typical NDE explanations. However, what NDE does not explain is how the variations arose in the first place and were conserved. This is contrary to NDE theory which knocks out variation over time in the various genes and does not develop variation for unforseen niches or environmental changes.

    And if NDE is going to claim it can explain the variation then why doesn’t it go further and say that every organism should be continually getting more fit. Eventually one or two will start eliminating the rest of the ecology till all of a sudden the organisms that are most successful because they became the most fit will die out because they will destroy all the necessary resources for them to succeed. After all there should be no limit on how fit an organism gets according to NDE. It is a Malthusian jungle that is out that is propelling each organism to selfishly preserve its genes and to constantly improve itself for success. After all it is blind to the future so an organism cannot forsee that the process of getter fitter may actually destroy itself. Man is the only organism that has that capability.

    In other words there is a design limitation built into each genome that limits how far an organism can go. So one of the design questions is how is a throttle on variation controlled in the genome. It would definitely not be an NDE question because NDE by definition would have to say it is not there because no organism except humans can forsee the future and what may be needed.

  54. 54
    jerry says:

    Bob O’H,

    The answer to your question may be answered by GFFA

    “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”

  55. 55
    gpuccio says:

    Carl Sachs:

    #34: “For example, one could begin, as Dewey or Whitehead do, with a concept of process, i.e. a continuum. “Mind” and “matter” would then be labels attached to different aspects of process. Or one could begin, as Merleau-Ponty does, with a concept of “the lived body” and show how both pure physicality/materiality and pure mentality/intellectuality are misleading distortions.”

    One can think in many different ways. Personally, I am for a comtinuum between mind and matter, but that definitely arises a lot of questions which cannot, absolutely, be solved from a traditional, materialist point of view.
    The fact is that scientific knowledge is not yet available to solve these points, ando so paraklete may well be right in thinking that “From what we know of matter, it is just plain old mindless “stuff” that follows natural laws. Mind is clearly very different.”, or I may be right in thinking that mind and matter are in some way a continuum. We just don’t know, not yet. But that doesn’t mean that these issues cannot be approached, at least in part, scientifically, as our knowledge and understanding develops.

    The problem is, current scientism “is” a theory of everything, and it is definitely false. We have to realize that, if we want to go on, and if we really want scientific understanding to grow. True science has never been an acuumulation of technical details, as most conventional science today has become. True science is about new questions, new visions, new paradigms. True science is visionary, and vastly unpredictable.

    There are a lot of observable things which scientism cannot even begin to explain, and they are not things beyond human evaluation, and beyond reasonable understanding, at least in part. One of them is consciousness. The current view that consciousness is a byproduct, or an emergent property, or call it as you like, of a ,aterial aggregation of atoms and neurons is frankly ridiculous. Everybody seems to forget two fundamental things:

    1) The first has been wonderfully stated by paraklete in post #26, and I paste it here because I cannot express it more clearly:
    “Second, how can a complex configuration of matter produce a singular, unfied center of consciousness – the “I”? Where is the “I” located? What unifies all the mental activity, if all we have to work with is matter? How come when large portions of the brain are removed – even more than half the brain – the “I” is still there, unaffected?”

    This is perhaps the strongest argument against any theory of consciousness as an emergent property of a physical aggregation. The characteristic property of consciousness, as all of us experience it, is unification of a range of modification under a singularity, which we call the “subject”. The “subject-object” distinction is essential in describing any conscious phenomenon. I maintain that thjere is nothing, in any AI theory, which even begins to explain the existence of a “subject”. The most recent attempt, Hofstadter’s “strange loop”, is as ridiculous as any other. No software can become conscious because of an increase in its complexity, no more than a mathematical formula can be thought as conscious if it becomes long enough. No aggregation of parts can generate the singularity of a subjective I, no matter how complex, or parallel, or looping, or what else, its circuits may be. The strange property of consciousness is its simplicity: it reduces infinite complexitites to a single reality, the perceiver. That’s wht Dawkinn’s, and others’, objection, that complex design must come from a more complex designer, is simply stupid. Design is the product of only one kind of stuff: consciousness. And consciousness, in its essence, is simple, although it can manage, objectually, infinite complexities.

    2) In a global cognitive attitude, and if we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit a fundamental truth: in our experience, consciousness , a fact which comes before any other fact. We observe and experience consciousness “before” we can experience anything else. And we experience anything else “in” consciousness and “through” consciousness. That’s why, until proven differently, consciousness as a stronger right to be considered essentially existing than matter itself.

    I understand that many may think that the proof of objectivity of matter over consciousness has been reached, but I am afraid that it isn’t true. At least they should try to honestly ask themselves how much we really understand of matter, starting with quantum mechanics up to mathematical laws and the reason for their existence, and up to astrophysics with its trivial problems like dark matter and dark energy. And that without even arriving at considering life and its many mysteries.
    Consciousness, on the other end, is everywhere, is experienced by all, and explained by no one.
    So, I do believe that there must be some continuum between consciousness, mind and matter, but what kind of continuum can it be, and what are the laws which can, at least partially, describe it? I don’t think the answer is easy, but it is, at least in part, scientifically approachable.

    Why? Because, whatever you think is the cause for consciousness (a force, a soul, a transcendent principle, a new kind of thing undefinable with current parameters, or just a final mystery), it will always be true that, in some way, consciousness “does” interact with matter (whatever matter may be). “Perception” and “action” are two simple words, easily and intuitively understood by anybody, which very simply scream that fact.
    Modern neurologists, who proudly affirm that they can map this and that in this or that region of the brain, and therefore think that they have demonstrated somethin (or, more probably, everything) about the problem of the soul, or rather of the non-existing soul, are merely, and rather boringly, revisiting a very simple truth which all of us have always known perfectly: if I burn my hand, I feel sensation and pain; if I decide to move my hand, it moves. It is just that simple: matter and consciousness interact, in both directions. Mapping the burning at the hand or at the brain doesn’t change anything. The probelm is the same: what is consciousness, and how does it relate to the body, be it a hand or a brain region?

    That’s the way scientism blinds us: we get some more knowledge (really admirable in itself) of technical details, and we immediately think we have solved the fundamentals. We map pain or emotions to the activity of some neurons, and we immediately affirm, and write on the newspapers, that we have found the truth about the soul. We extract bacterial chromosomes from one bacterium, mix them with living bacteria of a very similar species, observe a very rare recombination (completely spontaneous, and totally unexplained in its dynamics), or rather the usual horizontal transfer, only of a bigger “item” of DNA, and immediately we write that we have realized a “genome transplantation”, and that we are on our way to a synthetic (???) life. Or we copy a bacterial genome utilizing oligonucleotides and a biologic technology similar to PCR (a technique which has been in use for years), cutting out some parts of it, and immediately declare to an important newspaper that we are on our way to synthesizing a new form of life (before even having completed, much less published, our own experiment).

    Please, don’t misunderstand me. In all these examples, the scientific achievements of the researchers are wonderful, and deeply interesting. It is wonderful to map specific neurological activities to some parts of the brain. But that has no relevance to the problem of what consciousness is. It is wonderful to achieve the horizontal transfer of a whole bacterial genome. But that is not a “genome transplantation”. And so on. In each case, it is not the research which is wrong, nor the results. The problem is with the interpretation. The problem is, as always, with ideology, and the desire to support, at any cost, a predetermined philosophy of reality.

  56. 56
    Rude says:

    Karl Sachs speaks of “an entrenched dichotomy of two radically different ‘kinds of thing’ — say, fleshy stuff and spiritual stuff”.

    ID maintains that contingent design does not emerge from matter via the chance and necessity as limited by materialism—it is imposed from the outside.

    So what has the power to impose it? A chance and necessity machine?

    I would suggest that ID does not want to derive agency from the machinery of another genre of “stuff”. Rather we’re talking elementarity. Design is imposed in our world by agency and agency issues from something ultimately elemental. Until we have a theory for how agency emerges from mechanism, “emergence” is simply hand waving. See Angus Menuge’s Agents Under Fire.

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