42 Replies to “Why Inferring Design Does Not Require Knowledge of the Designer

  1. 1
    dchammer says:

    Thanks for posting the chapter. ‘Bout time some of us bought the whole book, eh?

    Thomas Reid gets down to brass tacks:

    “…it appears that whoever maintains that there is no force in the argument from final causes [design], denies the existence of any intelligent being but himself.”

    Heh.

  2. 2
    curtrozeboom says:

    OK, there’s something I don’t understand. You say that it is impossible for a person to initially recognize a designer’s actions as design. There’s a “boot-strap” problem in our design recognition program, so to speak. But, wouldn’t design recognition originate from watching our own actions first, presuming that since our actions are “intelligent” that they constitute design, and reasoning that observing similar actions in others also constitutes design? Is this what you mean when you say that design recognition is inherent in ourselves? If that is so, then I still fail to see how you avoid Hume’s arguments.

  3. 3
    PaV says:

    Pennock writes: It gets more difficult to work with the concept when
    speaking of extraterrestrial intelligence, and harder still when considering the possibility
    of animal or machine intelligence. But once one tries to move from natural to
    supernatural agents and powers as creationists desire, “design” loses any connection to
    reality as we know it or can know it scientifically.

    It strikes me that this is another instance of Darwinists “begging the question.” They first infer that NS is sufficient to explain the phenomena of “man” completely. And then they, secondly, tell us that “once one tries to move from natural to
    supernatural agents and powers as creationists desire, “design” loses any connection to
    reality as we know it or can know it scientifically.”

    But, if indeed, “man” shares in the “supernatural” being of his maker–which is what Judeo-Christianity means by the soul–then, we have, indeed, experiences of “supernatural” designers. In other words, the argument only works if we first concede the point they’re trying to demonstrate, which is, that everything has, as its cause, natural means.

    From a Christian perspective, one could say that design, by definition, is the confluence of (supernatural) intelligence and nature. Without nature, design cannot be “imprinted”; and without “intelligence”, design is not possible.

  4. 4
    curtrozeboom says:

    PaV said: But, if indeed, “man” shares in the “supernatural” being of his maker–which is what Judeo-Christianity means by the soul–then, we have, indeed, experiences of “supernatural” designers. In other words, the argument only works if we first concede the point they’re trying to demonstrate, which is, that everything has, as its cause, natural means.

    PaV, doesn’t your argument beg the question? Why should we start from the basis of “man shares in the supernatural being of his maker” in order to explore the question of design? It would seem to me that in order to detect design you must first start with the assumption of only natural order and build up. Dembski’s Explanatory Filter even does this.

    Can an infant, with no knowledge of design or Savior, detect design without first drawing upon its initial experience with moving its arms and legs purposefully? Their only experience at this stage with purpose is from within their own minds. The rest of the world must seem horridly random, until they recognize something in common with their own actions, such as the need to put food in their mouths. They then progress to using arm movement to purposefully grasp objects, and then mimic their parent’s spoon-feeding and draw upon their early movement knowledge to eventually grasp the design purpose of a spoon. That would seem to me to be the beginning of our ability to detect design, not our intangible souls.

  5. 5
    pmob1 says:

    If Humean limits on inductive generalization preclude knowledge of a Designed universe, then they necessarily preclude knowledge of a non-Designed universe: we simply don’t have enough universes to provide a minimum data sample for either possibility. Therefore, any honest follower of Hume can not give special place to a random universe.

    The same holds true for the more “modest” claim of intelligent design in living forms. If we lack requisite “side information” to demonstrate intelligent creation of species, then we also lack requisite side information to demonstrate random creation of species. Whatever inductive challenges make verification of design too “tenuous,” are also present and sufficient to make verification of randomness too “tenuous.”

    Darwinists such as Pennock exclude design by insisting on rigorous inductive criteria, a la Hume. But these are promptly ignored when the ball crosses the net, i.e. they sneak “random” into the back court, bandying the term as a known, familiar, quantitatively established constant or range. Upon closer inspection, “random” turns out to be vague and notional, or even an a priori. When pressed, they cough up the plea that “random” is simply the “default assumption.”

    No problem. All scientific assumptions must be testable, falsifiable, (probably quantitative.) Delineate it or concede.

    My simple question to the Pennocks is: Given that a thing is not pre-determined (as by a scientific law), how do you distinguish between that which is random and that which is designed?

    If you can distinguish between them, then it is indeed possible to detect design.

    If you can not distinguish between them, then “random” is a meaningless term.

  6. 6
    PaV says:

    curtrozeboom: “The rest of the world must seem horridly random, until they recognize something in common with their own actions, such as the need to put food in their mouths. They then progress to using arm movement to purposefully grasp objects, and then mimic their parent’s spoon-feeding and draw upon their early movement knowledge to eventually grasp the design purpose of a spoon. That would seem to me to be the beginning of our ability to detect design, not our intangible souls.”

    If I understand you correctly, I see two problems with your example: (1) design and purpose, though related, are not interchangeable: design involves the interweaving of processes to bring about a certain purpose. (2) When the infant “apes” mom and dad, specifically mom and dad using a spoon, they’re watching adults whose intelligence directs the proper use of the spoon: so intelligence is involved.

    But, again, your argument “begs the question”, since you’re assuming that what children do is completely due to nature. If, indeed, we are created, then when we look at living nature, we see a fusion/confluence of intelligence and nature. I mean, can you build a house made of wax, with the wax forming walls at exactly 60 degree angles, as bees do routinely?

    Now you say I’m “begging the question.” Let’s assume that’s the case. I assume that an Intelligent Being is responsible for life. When we look at life, we find evidence of intelligence. We find evidence of design. If we turn that around, and say that you’re “begging the question”, then where is the evidence that life developed all by itself? (Even Darwin admitted of the “Creator”)Where is the evidence that consciousness is purely “natural”? (Think of “out of body” experiences.)

  7. 7
    curtrozeboom says:

    I feel like we’re playing “beg the question” leap frog. 😉

    pmob1, I would question the use of the word “random” in your argument. You seem to be treating randomness as the compliment to design. The way I understand randomness, from a scientific perspective, it means “outside of the scope of knowledge in a particular context”, not an independent force of chaos. Randomness is always relative and a designer can in fact be the source of that randomness, yes even if there is specification present. However, randomness is never in and of itself a natural force that can act in place of design. Randomness is therefore completely justifiable as the default assumtion, because it does not rule out either design or a natural cause.

    To answer your question to Pennock, yes, randomness becomes a meaningless term in the way you are using it.

  8. 8
    curtrozeboom says:

    More question begging leap frog.

    Pav: 1) Define purpose. Is purpose our ability to identify a problem and/or apply selection to a range of solutions? How does that differ from design?
    2) How does the infant know its parents’ actions are intelligent? It and we know, in hindsight. We know because we can compare the actions of others against our own. We assume our actions to be intelligent. Therefore our ability to detect design would not come from our DNA, or soul, but from our own experience which starts initially with only our own actions as infants.

    I disagree that I am assuming a child’s actions are due to nature alone. Whatever intelligence is, it is present as well, and from the child’s perspective it is the only intelligent being in the universe.

    I don’t know where you’re going with the beehive example. Is a sunflower intelligent because its seeds use the Fibonacci(sp) sequence? What about hexagonal carbon molecules and snowflakes?

    I don’t assume that life developed “all by itself”, so that is not a question I am begging. I merely insist on better evidence of a design influence than my or others’ subjective evaluation of patterns in nature.

    So, out-of-body experiences, which are totally subjective and unrecreatable, are evidence that consciousness is supernatural? Even though we understand some of the chemistry and physiology involved when they occur?

  9. 9
    jaredl says:

    I suggest researching out of body experiences before commenting. Some common aspects of them do not lend themselves to reductionist explanations. At all.

  10. 10
    DaveScot says:

    curt

    Random should be rigorously defined as “exceedingly difficult to predict” but in fact it’s often used as “undirected”. The letter penned by 30 some Nobel laureates to the Kansas school board defined evolution as being understood to be an undirected process. Not a random process but an undirected process. This is meaning conveyed to high schoolers – not random as difficult to predict but random as in undirected.

  11. 11
    DaveScot says:

    Oh no, here we go with the paranormal out-of-body experiences again. Should I cue up the Ghost Busters theme song again?

  12. 12
    pmob1 says:

    curtrozeboom,

    You say:
    The way I understand randomness, from a scientific perspective, it means “outside of the scope of knowledge in a particular context”

    ok
    randomness is scientific if and only if it is outside the scope of knowledge?

    so:
    science and knowledge are mutually exclusive?

    i think you better try again.

  13. 13
    curtrozeboom says:

    pmob1 said: randomness is scientific if and only if it is outside the scope of knowledge? so: science and knowledge are mutually exclusive?

    How did you get that out of what I said? Again, your treatment of randomness as a force of nature seems to be causing our cognitive dissonance. Randomness can be the state of knowledge the precedes scientific understanding in a particular context. This is how I’ve heard scientists use the term, “random”, in the past.

    If I don’t understand how lightning works, it appears random to me because from my perspective they occur according to an unrecognizable pattern. Think of the perspective of a small child. But randomness does not cause the lightning strikes. If I study meterology I learn how a lightning strike might be predicted by detecting charged particles in the atmosphere. Now I see lightning as ultimately deterministic and although I still can’t predict a given lightning strike (without some seriously high-tech equipment), I know they are not infact random, merely outside of the scope of my knowledge in the context of my living-room.

    Dave Scot said: Random should be rigorously defined as “exceedingly difficult to predict” but in fact it’s often used as “undirected”.

    Or “outside the scope of knowledge in a particular context” which can mean “difficult to predict” and “undirected” in the right context. See my lightning example.

  14. 14
    curtrozeboom says:

    My definition of randomness applies down to the quantum level where, due to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, we must deal with events in a probabilistic manner rather than deterministic. Here, randomness is closer to being a state of nature and it stems from our inability to know more than one thing at a time about the state of a quantum particle. The position of the particle is outside of our scope of knowledge if we know its velocity and thusly must be dealt with as random and probabilistic. By determining the position of the particle, we would lose the information about its velocity and its “cloak of randomness” would disappear.

    If you still see a problem with this definition, give me an example of a random event/process which does not fit this definition and I will refine my understanding accordingly.

  15. 15
    curtrozeboom says:

    Turning back to the original subject of design detection…

    A designer’s actions can appear random if our inexperience puts them outside of our scope of knowledge. For example, it is possible that SETI has already received a message from an alien society, but has missed it due to our inexperience with the design of their broadcast. SETI would have ignored that broadcast as meaningless random noise. However, if we were to develop a similar advanced broadcasting technique that prompted SETI to look for the right pattern, it would be able to detect the design of that broadcast. Hence, design recognition must stem from initial personal experience, from our first moments of living and even on an interplanetary level.

    Cheers!

  16. 16
    pmob1 says:

    Curtrozeboom,
    Yeah, we’re at skew lines here.

    Let’s leave aside law-bound phenomena and provisionally agree that those are neither random nor designed.

    1) Addressing everything else that’s left, is it possible to distinguish between designed forms and randomly generated forms in nature?

    2) Is it possible to detect whether natural phenomena are “directed,” in the sense that Darwinists use the term?

  17. 17
    DaveScot says:

    pmob1

    Try asking this question first.

    In regard to intelligent design playing a role in the evolution of life do you believe it is:

    1) impossible
    2) possible

    Anyone answering with “impossible” doesn’t understand what kind of answers science can provide. For anyone answering “possible” the discussion can then procede to probabilities. ID in nature is about probabilities and anyone that can’t come to understand that cannot be reasoned with about it.

  18. 18
    pmob1 says:

    DaveScot

    Right. I was just trying to get Curt to take a stand. I guess he’s busy or doesn’t care to. Your question is even more on the dime. Answer 1 = methodological naturalism. Answer 2 = open inquiry.

    I suppose there are “inductive generalization” problems with either answer but for me it’s a philosophy of science, a preference as to how to conduct inquiry. Methodological naturalism is like putting a bag over your head and then looking for answers.

    I’m glad you asked this because I had come to the conclusion that methodological naturalism is anti-science. I’m just Joe Shmecklehead so it sounds kind of uppity to say “much of today’s science is anti-science.” But your dilemma brings that fact forward.

    Uncertainty + inquisitiveness = theory. If you say “impossible,” then you’re certain and you “know it all.” No more theories allowed. Just tell us some more about what the inside of that bag looks like.

  19. 19
    curtrozeboom says:

    Back from the weekend and ready to answer some questions!

    Dave:
    I don’t think any scientist would ever rule out ID as a possibility. So the answer has to be 2. But, in order for an intelligent designer to be used in a theory, their presence must be “ruled in” by the evidence. There must be evidence that we can tie, objectively, to a designer we are familiar with. Since the designer of ID is an unknown, there will never be any such evidence to go on to make that kind of decision. As I have argued, we base our design detection on past experience with our own primary actions, which we assume to be intelligent.

    pmob1: I’m glad you agree to disagree on the definition of randomness. I’ll presume your interpretation in understanding your questions if you presume mine when reading my answers.
    >Let’s leave aside law-bound phenomena and provisionally agree that those are neither random nor designed.
    1) …is it possible to distinguish between designed forms and randomly generated forms in nature?
    No. Because there’s nothing left to distinguish. You eliminated law-bound events as neither random not designed, and you want to differentiate what’s left. I guess randomized design is left (a directed force of randomness)? Like if I paint a picture by throwing the paint at the canvas so that even I have no idea of how it will land? Is that what we’re trying to differentiate? If so, then I need you to clarify why this type of “random design” is different from regular design or from “perspective-driven randomness” (my definition). I am having a very difficult time getting past my own definition of randomness, it fits so well for me.

    2) Is it possible to detect whether natural phenomena are “directed,” in the sense that Darwinists use the term?
    What is the sense they use it in, please clarify? I do think that the term “directed” can be used to describe the effect of natural selection, but it’s definitely a loaded term and I think that’s why scientists avoid it. For example, though, evolutionary arms races between say, snake venom and the venom resistance in the snakes prey, has the hallmark of “directedness” because the evolution is so focused by the arms race. I think that this same focus is present in our own minds when we design. I think we are not always aware of the selective process in our own minds and, in ignorance, we fool ourselves into thinking that it is special. I’m a software engineer with training in electrical engineering. I am very familiar with what it means to be a designer.

  20. 20
    curtrozeboom says:

    Something I’ve been leaving unsaid in my arguments, but which I should clarify… Our experience with the natural world and what it can and cannot do is also informative to our ability to do design detection. The “Old Man in the Mountain” vs. Mt. Rushmore is a good example of this. Facial recognition is something we are good at, and even random natural processes (processes which are out of our ken, not processes which are driven by the “forces of chaos”, pmob1 😉 can create features that look like faces. If a particular phenomenon is not attributable to our current knowledge of nature or designers, then we must wait for further experience with either. This was the case with the flagellum and blod-clotting pathways. We’ve gained experience with nature since then, but not with the properties of the Designer.

    Also, I left a false dichotamy between “ruled-in” vs. “ruled-out” in my previous post. There is also a third state, “unruled”, which I left unspoken. Events which appear random or are unattributable are in an “unruled” state, in my way of thinking, until more knowledge about them is gained.

  21. 21
    curtrozeboom says:

    > DaveScot said: ID in nature is about probabilities and anyone that can’t come to understand that cannot be reasoned with about it.

    The probability of an event or phenomenon is the method that ID wishes to use to “rule-in” a designer as a cause for that event. I get that. OK, if there is a way to calculate this design indicator objectively and to recreate it without having to consult Dembski for the proper calculation, then you might have something. There is still the problem of initial experience with a designer, outside of ourselves, which does not lead to begging the question. In other words, you can’t presume that we are designed and that therefore we already have this experience. Nor is it productive to presume everything is the work of the designer.

  22. 22
    pmob1 says:

    Curt,
    Regarding my first question: On this site, I think “designed” (sequences of) events are those about which it can be demonstrated that they could not possibly have happened by chance or that their chance occurrence would be exceedingly improbable. Chance here is likened to the outcome of flipping a “fair coin.” The demonstration is comprised of math and logic propositions in the form of probability theory. “Random” events are those about which we can make no such demonstration of design. To use obvious examples, the desposition of paint thrown on your canvas is understood to be random. The pattern is extremely improbable in the sense that you could never duplicate it, but we can not demonstrate, by logic and mathematics, that it is so improbable that it couldn’t have occurred as a flip of a fair paint can. But what if I came to you with another canvas of “thrown paint?” On this canvas, is a perfect representation of the portrait that you see in the upper left-hand corner of these web pages, over a caption that reads: “Watch out for this guy.” You have cause to doubt that this pattern resulted from a fair flip of the paint can. It so happens that there are logico-mathematical proofs that claim to validate your suspicion and to identify the pattern as a designed pattern. So those are the definitions I’m working with, designed and random. Now, to repeat the first question:

    Is it possible to distinguish between designed forms and random forms in nature?

    Regarding the second question: Darwinists mean by “directed,” the influence of an intelligence on sequences of events. Often they say “undirected,” by which they mean the absence of any intelligent influence on sequences of events. The sequences are usually construed as a series of “variations,” (these days mutations) and the reproductive fates of these variations carried forward as phenotypes. The pattern on your canvas could have been directed but it could well have been undirected if the can fell off the table, for instance. The pattern on my canvas is directed. It is possible to prove that it could not have been undirected. I agree with you that these terms are slippery and often misused so I hope this buttons it down. And so my second question again:

    Is it possible to detect whether natural phenomena are “directed?”

  23. 23
    curtrozeboom says:

    pmob1 asked: Is it possible to distinguish between designed forms and random forms in nature? Is it possible to detect whether natural phenomena are “directed?”

    These are the same question. The simplest answer I can give is, yes. I have no problem with the idea of design detection in biological systems. I think that if a future where designer genetics becomes the norm, it may become a new kind of forensic. I question Dembski’s logic and methods. If statistical math is capable of being a design indicator, I don’t think Dembski has yet developed it to that point, nor do I think we can get past the problem of initial experience with a completely unknowable designer.

  24. 24
    crandaddy says:

    Sorry to butt in, but I find this thread interesting…..

    Curt,

    “I think that if a future where designer genetics becomes the norm, it may become a new kind of forensic.”

    Could you offer a hypothetical example of such “designer genetics”?

    “nor do I think we can get past the problem of initial experience with a completely unknowable designer.”

    What sort of “initial experience” would be necessary to lead one to a valid design inference?

    David

  25. 25
    pmob1 says:

    Curt,

    I agree, they look like the same question. Sort of. But I notice you promply redivided them in making two separate points in your answer. Crandaddy is doing twosies as well and dittos for me. So I propose we leave them separate for now. If someone comes up with a nifty way to boil them down to one, that’s fine with me.

    You answered yes to Part 1, so I take it you have no problem with ID inquiries. In the classroom, for instance? If it’s possible to tell design from random, might as well look for it, if that’s what folks want to do, right?

    In part Part 2 you changed up on me a little bit. Maybe you did it unconsciously, I don’t know. I asked about detecting “directed.” I’m fine if you want to bring forward the implication of “director.” But I did not say or imply anything about the director being “completely unknowable” or about having any “initial experience” with the director. Those are your metaphysical surmises I guess. I think you would agree, those sort of presumptions are not, and can not be, scientific in any way. I’m only asking about what we can detect now (vs “initially,” whatever that might mean).

  26. 26
    curtrozeboom says:

    Designer genetics was a bit of a joke. We buy designer jeans, like Tommy Hilfiger, or whatever. So perhaps in the future, there will come a time when we have designer genes. Will we need to be able to detect these designer genes from naturally derived ones? It might be possible to do so, but would we be able to do so without our initial experience with natural genes and a record of artificial gene creation? For example, let’s say a Star Trek “Dr. Bashir”, or “Khan” type shows up. Super smart, physically tuned, a bit of a superman. How can we determine whether this person’s genes are naturally derived or artificial? It’s the steriod controversy of tomorrow. Can Dembski’s techniques offer us an answer?

    For crandaddy’s other question of what initial experience is necessary… that’s the question I’m asking, here. I’m arguing that our own initial experience with our own assumably intelligent actions as infants is all that appears to be necessary to “boot-strap” the process. After that, we gain experience by comparison with ourselves. The question I am raising is, can anyone give me a reason to think otherwise and avoid the Humean argument? Refer back to my original comment and read my other comments on this topic (2, 4, 8, 15, 20 & 21).

    > In the classroom, for instance?
    Yes, absolutely. So long as you do not presume experience with designers that you do not actually have. You want to introduce probability as a design indicator? Fine. But, is the calculation based on examples from terrestrial design alone? Without objective initial experience with a different type of designer, is it possible for such a calculation to be an indicator of non-terrestrial design?

    Is there another method of design detection you have in mind? How does it deal with the problem of initial experience with non-terrestrial designers? SETI and the Golden Record experiments presume conformity with ourselves on some level, and hence beg the question. That’s fine for them and it may lead to failure on their part. To do this in nature, you must make the same presumption, which also begs the question.

    Finally pmob1, I think your question about detecting directedness goes back to my definition of randomness. Direction & design can appear random from a perspective which is outside the scope of the director. I can detect design/direction if I am inside the scope of the designer/director, but in order to detect it from without, I must bring with me some intial knowledge of the designer/director. See comment 20 part 2.

    Also, if we do not have initial experience with a designer/director, then that designer/director is an unknown. If we wish to be able to detect design/direction apart from this initial experience, then for our purposes we presume the designer/director to be completely unknowable.

    Like Dembski’s arrowhead maker. If I watch him make one, I am in the same scope as the maker and can easily determine the directedness of his actions in making the arrowhead. If I am outside his scope (I find an arrowhead on the beach, pointing to a tree) then I must first have gained initial experience with natural vs. artificially shaped objects and that tribes’ use of arrowheads to make an inference about the arrowhead’s “direction”. (another play on words, there) Was it shot at the tree in practice, placed there to indicate a good tree, or dropped by mistake?

    So, to detect directedness in nature (scientifically) you must also have some kind of initial knowledge or experience of a director which is either direct or indirect and does not beg the question of its existence. The same is true of design detection, so I do see them as the same question, or questions which require the same answer.

  27. 27
    curtrozeboom says:

    I’m going to post a summary of my position up to this point to make it easier.

    My hypothesis of design detection is that we are able to detect design/direction or purpose because we compare our actions to the actions we observe, from birth on, and beg the question by assuming our own actions to be intelligent or purposeful. To detect the effect of a designer which is unlike us, initial impartial evidence of that designer must be introduced and the rationale of the designer elucidated and shown to be reproducibly coherent. At this point, detection of design can proceed using this new initial experience as the metric. I’ve been referring to this introduction as “initial experience”. This process is constantly at work in early childhood as a child works to comprehend their world. We encounter it much less as adults because there are fewer new ways of thinking for us to experience for the first time.
    Without initial experience to draw on, an encounter with design or directedness would appear to be randomness. Random in this context is taken to mean, “Being outside of the scope of knowledge of a particular observer”. A specified pattern appears random if the observer does not possess experience with interpreting that pattern as meaningful.
    In a sense, nature is a designer which is unlike us. Our formation of natural laws through the scientific method is our attempt to elucidate its rationale in a coherent fashion. We ascribe effects which match its rationale to its laws. Effects which can not be ascribed to it, per se, are considered random until we have better knowledge. This also explains why, if we see some form or process in biological evolution which is comparable to something we would or have created ourselves, we might think nature must also be expressing an intellect similar to our own. In reverse, we presume a lack of intelligence in nature where our comparison fails. But, the initial intellectual assumption on our own part begs the question. We do not know why we make the initial assumption of intelligence in the first place, we just do. If there is some unknown intelligence behind nature, then the assumption of our own intelligence is an insufficient criterion for detecting it.
    ID attempts to subvert the need for initial experience by using a probability calculation as a design indicator independent of a priori knowledge of a designer. However, it has been developed and can currently be refined, using only recent terrestrial examples. So, its independence is questionable. As such, its conclusions can not subvert the need for initial experience without begging the question. Its potential use would therefore seem to be limited to recent terrestrial applications, the same context it was developed in.

  28. 28
    pmob1 says:

    Curt,

    For all we know, Dr Bashir and Khan have already been here. It may be that we have no “initial experience with natural genes” at all.

    If ID guys need an “original data sample” of designed genes in order to confirm subsequent design, then Darwinists need an “original data sample” of random genes in order to confirm subsequent randomness. If Hume’s logic applies, it applies to all. You are essentially claiming a Hume Exemption. Your Hume Exemption is hereby denied.

    When explaining sequences of variation that theoretically develop into phenotypes under selective pressure, Darwinists imply their claim to a Hume Exemption in the following manner:

    I “just feel” they were “random” (whatever that is).

    Some really smart people say they were random. Case closed.

    Most of us “just agree” they were random.

    We Darwinists say they were random and we have more money and lawyers.

    The “burden of proof” is on them. We don’t have to prove our position in the same way.

    They have to define their terms and situate their inductions. We don’t have to. We don’t really have to define key terms, (in this case, “random”), because we have a Hume Exemption.

    I don’t think the Hume argument addresses the design-detection problem anyway—I’ll get to that later—but whoever uses Hume is thereafter held to Hume. (Including Hume.)

  29. 29
    pmob1 says:

    Curt,

    Okay, I read your earlier posts and I’ll start with the infant. I’d like to put your infant to bed, if you don’t mind. You imply that the infant begins to detect design more or less on its own, “from birth,” by “purposefully moving its limbs” and so forth, what you characterize as “bootstrapping.” You then sneak in “comparing” and “recognizing” and progress and mimicking etc. as if those things just emerge from interaction with the parents as baba moves its little limbs and watches. You characterize this as “the beginning of our ability to detect design.”

    No, not really. Baba’s ability to detect design begins at least 9 months before that. Here’s a frog zygote, here’s a silverfish zygote, here’s a mushroom spore, here’s a human zygote. Only the last one will be able to detect design. Its potential for detecting design is the same at Day 1 of conception as it is at birth as it is on any of its subsequent birthdays. This potential is not bootstrapped. Baba doesn’t create it. It is “built in.” (Most of us in this forum would say “designed by the Designer.”) You’re confusing the ability to detect design with the experience of detecting design.

    Regarding the latter, if Baba can detect design in the seemingly inchoate and previously unexperienced movements of itself and of the outer world (parents), I put it to you that Baba can also detect design in other inchoate and previously unexperienced movements, including those later encountered in the lab.

  30. 30
    pmob1 says:

    Curt,

    Okay, now regarding your Post #7. I do indeed treat randomness as the compliment to design, (probably in deference to the Great Blogmeister by whose whim we cyberexist). But you then try to introduce the issue of “force” and “natural force” of randomness and to accuse me of assigning those attributes to “randomness.” Nice try. No cigar.

    I didn’t bring up any causal issues until a number of posts later. I am perfectly comfortable (for now) analyzing design and randomness in terms of our “knowledge in a particular context,” i.e. as an epistemic problem. Here’s the way I put it in Post #16:

    Is it possible to distinguish between designed forms and random forms in nature?

    No causes there. You can consider that question purely as a matter of “knowledge in a particular context.”

    Only then did I did add a second question:

    Is it possible to detect whether natural phenomena are “directed?”

    That gets more to causation but you can skip it if you wish.

  31. 31
    curtrozeboom says:

    Wonderful, someone has engaged my argument.

    pmob1>For all we know, Dr Bashir and Khan have already been here. It may be that we have no “initial experience with natural genes” at all.

    Ah, the Raelian argument. If that is so, then all of the life on this planet is designed at some point in the past and we can not know any differently. This is little different from the observation that the universe could have been created 5 minutes ago, as we see it now.

    On the subject of Hume Exceptions, I agree that no one gets an exception and I disagree that I am asking for one. I don’t hold randomness in a special explanatory position; it is simply the starting position of ignorance. Without knowledge to base a determination on, you are left with randomness. If you have knowledge of the natural world which enlightens your understanding then and only then does your understanding move into that realm. It is the same with design. In science, the natural realm is always there as an actor to compare against and understanding rapidly moves into that realm, so it only seems like scientists are giving it an exception.

    From post 20: Also, I left a false dichotamy between “ruled-in” vs. “ruled-out” in my previous post. There is also a third state, “unruled”, which I left unspoken. Events which appear random or are unattributable are in an “unruled” state, in my way of thinking, until more knowledge about them is gained.

    Random events/forms exist in the un-ruled state which does not need a Hume exception because it is not an explanatory state.

    pmob1> Here’s a frog zygote, here’s a silverfish zygote, here’s a mushroom spore, here’s a human zygote. Only the last one will be able to detect design.…This potential is not bootstrapped. Baba doesn’t create it. It is “built in.” (Most of us in this forum would say “designed by the Designer.”) You’re confusing the ability to detect design with the experience of detecting design. …if Baba can detect design in the seemingly inchoate and previously unexperienced movements of itself and of the outer world (parents), I put it to you that Baba can also detect design in other inchoate and previously unexperienced movements, including those later encountered in the lab.

    I would tend to agree with the mushroom spore, but I’m not as certain about the silverfish and frog. Not being one, I can’t say how they experience the world, nor I think can you. It is possible that design detection begins at the moment our brains begin to function on that level in uteri. I don’t think you quite understand my idea, yet. I am claiming that we detect design by presuming our own actions to be intelligent/designed/purposeful and comparing those actions with what we observe and that this process begins from the very earliest stages. We have no other experience of intelligence/design/purpose to compare against so we must begin with ourselves in Descartes fashion.

    Saying it is “built in” merely begs the question. Now, you could ask, “Why do we have the ability to assume we are intelligent?” I don’t know if frogs or silverfish have this ability either. If they do, then they might think that only frog-like or silverfish-like things are designed. We may be slightly more advanced, but can we claim to be any different? Or are we only capable of detecting human-like designs? You are claiming a human exception, rather than a Hume exception 😉 I deny your human exception 😉

    pmob1> But you then try to introduce the issue of “force” and “natural force” of randomness and to accuse me of assigning those attributes to “randomness.” Nice try. No cigar.

    Until now you haven’t contested my attempt to characterize your use of randomness. I retract it, I just don’t quite know how else to explain your use of it.

    pmob1> I am perfectly comfortable (for now) analyzing design and randomness in terms of our “knowledge in a particular context,” i.e. as an epistemic problem. Here’s the way I put it in Post #16: Is it possible to distinguish between designed forms and random forms in nature?

    If you accept random forms as meaning, “forms which are outside of my scope of knowledge”, then your question becomes, “Is it possible to determine that forms, in nature, are designed.” My answer is still yes, and that you still need “initial experience” with that designer in order to detect its designs. Design detection to me is like saying, “That looks like something I would/could have done!” But, if we have no evidence of a human-like designer who could have acted and we have positive evidence of a designer from the natural realm (evolution) then the natural explanation carries more weight. No, we can never rule out a human-like designer whose presence is undetected, but we lack the evidence to rule them in also. If no evidence exists for either the natural realm (an event occurs which our science can’t currently explain) or for an intelligent designer, we must wait for evidence one way or another. In most cases, the natural realm has a very easy time getting ruled-in, though. It is this need for evidence to “rule-in” an actor whereby I deny that I am claiming a Hume exception.

  32. 32
    curtrozeboom says:

    Over at the Pan..er…you know what site… there is a post from Jason Rosenhouse (love that last name) that argues the same points I am making about SETI and ID. Emphasis mine.

    SETI researchers have a firm basis *in experience* for concluding that the sort of simple tones Shostak describes could not be produced naturally. It is that *experience*, and not some back of the envelope probability calculation, that provides the foundations for SETI’s work.

    To use another favored example of ID folk, we know that Mt. Rushmore is not the result of weathering and erosion because *we have seen the effects of those forces on countless other mountains*. That is what alerts us to the fact that Mt. Rushmore represents something requiring a special sort of explanation. But no one in his right mind draws that conclusion from a probability calculation.

    It is precisely this experience that Dembski lacks in forming conclusions about what evolution can and cannot produce. In drawing conclusions about what evolution is likely to produce in the course of four billion years, we have only one example to look at. This simple fact exposes the folly of trying to discuss the probability of a flagellum or a blood clotting cascade. It would require God-like knowledge of natural history to carry out these sorts of probability calculations.

  33. 33
    pmob1 says:

    You said:
    –This is little different from the observation that the universe could have been created 5 minutes ago, as we see it now.

    No, it’s diametrically different. There are things like carbon dating, of which you are obviously unaware. We know things are old. The question is: how do you tell whether things are designed or not? That’s why I originally asked the question.

    We do know one thing. Your definition of Random won’t get us there because it is not specified in any way. Like most Darwinists, you first present Random as complete, head-srcatching ignorance, as in “completely at a loss” “no clue” “can’t tell you anything about it,” or, to use your phrases: “starting point for ignorance” “outside our knowledge.”

    The fundamental dishonesty (confusion, to be charitable) of Darwinists is that they then turn around and use the term as if it meant something very specific, as if it were a probabilistic standard, for instance.

    Your definition includes no standards, although you (perhaps unwittingly) use it as if it did. You define Random as equivalent to “ignorance” or “beyond knowledge” (including scientific knowledge). So it is obviously not a real science term since it is nowhere specified how it might be testable and falsifiable. It points to nothing, implies nothing, disqualifies nothing and offers no criteria for any of the above. You begin with a definition of Random that is completely agnostic, but then you sneak in an implication of a more specific meaning that, for example, specifically excludes Design.

    If you still don’t see this, here are a few ways you can get at it. If “random” really just means “ignorance” and nothing more, scientists shouldn’t use the term at all! Instead of RM-NS, they should just say Mutations-Natural Selection. Science is supposed to use Occam’s Razor: no redundancy. There may be a million things we don’t know about mutations. Real scientists don’t sit there and mumble about all the things they’re ignorant of. I suspect you will object because you have some added, special meaning (not just the redundant generalization “beyond knowledge”) that you want to sneak in there. You will fanatically insist on the term Random as if it, and only it, could do the job, for some odd reason. So there’s a question for you: Can we just drop the term entirely?

    If not, why not?

    Or we might consider the term relative to our state of knowledge, as you have put it. Since we are inquisitive as well as ignorant in this case, I propose the more precise term Mysterious. Can you think of any reason not to use Mysterious Mutations instead of Random Mutations?

  34. 34
    curtrozeboom says:

    pmob1> You define Random as equivalent to “ignorance” or “beyond knowledge” (including scientific knowledge). So it is obviously not a real science term since it is nowhere specified how it might be testable and falsifiable. It points to nothing, implies nothing, disqualifies nothing and offers no criteria for any of the above.

    I propose a very simple test. Is there anything you can claim to not know? Yes? Then that thing can be a source of randomness to you because it is outside of your knowledge. You didn’t know what time I would reply to this post, right? So, to you my post was added at a random time. I knew exactly when I would post (or I do now) so it is not random to me. See comment 14 for my falsification, give me an example of randomness that does not fit my definition. I posted about 2 different random events (13 & 14) and how they did fit. You could question those. Over at Unscrewing The Inscrutable (brentrasmussen.com) there is a Science Friday post which contradicts some of my understanding of quantum theory, but the definition still holds.

    I don’t understand why you think my definition excludes design. Design can appear random when the pattern of design is unknown. It is only by learning something about the pattern that it becomes detectable. This explains why design IS detectable and differentiable from natural events. We merely have to be careful about how we rule-in design patterns, but that doesn’t mean I discount the idea.

    pmob1> Instead of RM-NS, they should just say Mutations-Natural Selection.
    pmob1> I propose the more precise term Mysterious.
    ROTFL. Yeah, sure, why not. A rose by any other name. 🙂 Yes, the term random could be left off. Putting it on merely emphasizes that the sources of the mutation are unknown. They could be from a designer, but to find that out we need knowledge of the designer’s patterns which does not beg the question of its existance.

    OK, I’m about done with this thread. I’ve made my point, repeatedly, and answered all questions to the best of my ability. If you’re going to respond to this, I’m looking for two things.
    1. Give me an example of randomness which doesn’t fit my definition, thereby falsifying it.
    2. Explain how Dembski’s ID avoids the problem of initial experience with a non-terrestrial designer since it can only be tested against terrestrial sources, without begging the question.

    Hasta.

  35. 35
    pmob1 says:

    Curt,
    You wrote: “I propose a very simple test. Is there anything you can claim to not know?”

    Yes. I don’t know whether something is random or not unless I have a big enough data sample and the results of statistical analysis. Without those, it is proper to say: I don’t know whether a sequence is random or not. An example would be any theoretical Darwinian developmental sequence, let’s say from some old bird fossil to Turdus migratorius (American Robin). Since no such data is available for that sequence, I have no idea whether or not relevant events in that sequence are random. I have no way to judge one way or the other since no such sequence has never been compiled and statistically tested, even hypothetically.

    You then wrote: “I don’t understand why you think my definition excludes design. Design can appear random when the pattern of design is unknown.”

    You may be confusing ignorance with statistically demonstrated randomness. We watch a train pass a crossway. You would apparently then say: “The temporal frequency of the train crossing this intersection is random, so far as we know.” But I would say: “No. That is wrong. As far as we know, we have no idea whether it is random or not. In order to determine its randomness, we would need a much bigger data sample and we would need to analyze it in terms of a time scheme.”

    Of course you will object that scientists might proceed with a working assumption of randomness. Fine. Depending on the field of study, other scientists might proceed with other working assumptions, design for instance. The question then arises: can either side package their assumption as a hypothesis testable for randomness (or intelligent regularity)? Neither Darwinism nor ID can do this. We might further ask which assumption should be the default assumption in the case of biological forms and their development. Darwinists claim randomness should be the default. ID claims that design has been the default assumption for most of human history. We might then ask if there is there any scientific (statistical) evidence that would settle the dispute? Obviously not.

    Therefore, I think it is fair to remain agnostic about this point. We just don’t know. Pick whichever default assumption you want. In fact, I would say ID has a slight edge insofar as they are at least willing to present some statistical theories for settling the question. Darwinists just keep insisting on default randomness without offering any models to demonstrate it statistically

    Consider the question I originally asked you: “Is it possible to distinguish between designed forms and random forms in nature?” In Post #19, you answered: “No. Because there’s nothing left to distinguish.” In Post #23 you answered: “The simplest answer I can give is, yes.” I think after 150 years, Darwinists ought to have a solid, technical definition or they should drop the term entirely. That’s fair. And I think the definition should be grounded in commonly accepted statistical theory. That’s scientific.

  36. 36
    curtrozeboom says:

    pmob1> …confusing ignorance with statistically demonstrated randomness…

    That’s a key phrase, right there, and the source of our continued cognitive dissonance. I’m not assuming SDR here, you are.

    pmob1> I don’t know whether something is random or not unless I have a big enough data sample and the results of statistical analysis. Without those, it is proper to say: I don’t know whether a sequence is random or not.

    It’s your use of randomness as a statistical concept in your question that bothers me. I don’t think the statistical definition makes sense in the context of your question. I read up on statistical randomness on Wikipedia, which defines it as “…contain[ing] no recognizable patterns or regularities…”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.....randomness
    So are you asking if it is possible to distinguish recognizable (designed) patterns from unrecognizable patterns? But, if you had a pattern that was demonstrated to not contain any recognizable patterns and I showed you a way of recreating that sequence repeatedly wouldn’t the statistical randomness of that pattern now be defunct? What if I can explain the “design” behind your statistically random pattern? When, if ever, is something immutably random in our understanding of biology? (in quantum physics, perhaps, atomic decay and all that)

    You are presuming that a scientist must demonstrate that something is statistically random before they can call it random. But most scientists are trying to demonstrate that nature is not random and operates according to non-random laws. In this context it does make sense to start with an assumption of randomness, statistically demonstrated or not, since the goal is to eventually demonstrate the lack of randomness. If the lack of randomness can not be demonstrated, then you have a case for saying it is statistically random because you have shown that it does not have any recognizable patterns. If you start from the assumption of design, you are presuming there is a pattern there to be recognized, which would be either a baseless assumption, or a completely useless one.

    The more I think about it, if you start from the assumption of design, then there is no way to distinguish randomness from design, even if you think design is statistically likely. If I take a given sequence and initially assume it is designed, then how can I ever demonstrate that I have eliminated all possible recognizable patterns and prove whether it is or is not random? After all, how can I know that I know all possible design patterns? Your statistical calculation might be a way of hinting at a need to look for design, but it does not justify assuming the presense of a designer, especially when that assumption begs the question of that designer’s existence. Metaphysical naturalism gets a “bye” on this assumption because “Mother Nature” is always demonstrably present.

    If you start from the assumption of randomness, then design is demonstrated when a recognizable pattern is found. If that pattern is generated through natural laws, we have a naturally repeatable event. If we find that the pattern corresponds to the activity of an terrestrial being, we have a case for recreating the sequence that way. If neither can be found, you have a case for statistical randomness until new evidence is found.

    If the goal of ID is to distinguish design from randomness, I would think that initially assuming design would work against it.

    Some more responses:
    pmob1> I have no idea whether or not relevant events in that sequence (old bird fossil to Turdus migratorius) are random.
    No, you have no idea whether events in that sequence are naturally occuring or designed.

    pmob1> We watch a train pass a crossway…
    I say, “I am unfamiliar with the schedule these trains are on. Without learning their schedule, I can only treat there passings in a random fashion.” If I find out that their scheduling is driven by a computer which is responsible for coordinating trains, tracks, and people, then I may conclude that the scheduling is permanantly out of my ability to know and therefore statistically random.

    pmob1> ..design has been the default assumption for most of human history…is there any scientific (statistical) evidence that would settle the dispute?
    Funny that scientific understanding hadn’t advanced until the assumption of randomness as the default assumption came along. Let’s see, using advancement as a measurement, problems solved by assuming design…quite few, problems solved by assuming randomness…inumerable to date. Yep, the statistical odds do seem to favor randomness in a fairly non-random fashion, I might add.

    pmob1> I think after 150 years, Darwinists ought to have a solid, technical definition or they should drop the term entirely.
    They have and I’ve given it to you. It is the state of being outside of the scope of knowledge of the particular observer. Whomever wrote this entry in Wikipedia apparently agrees with me:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randomness
    In the natural sciences
    Traditionally, randomness takes on an operational meaning in natural science: something is apparently random if its cause cannot be determined or controlled. When an experiment is performed and all the control variables are fixed, the remaining variation is ascribed to uncontrolled (ie, ‘random’) influences. The assumption, again, is that if it were somehow possible to perfectly control all influences, the result of the experiment would be always the same. Therefore, for most of the history of science, randomness has been interpreted in one way or another as ***ignorance on the part of the observer***.

  37. 37
    pmob1 says:

    Curt, you wrote:“I’m not assuming SDR [statistically demonstrated randomness] here, you are.”

    Bingo. Exactamondo. We have progress. This is good. Hopefully we will no longer pass each other in the dark.

    You wrote: “You are presuming that a scientist must demonstrate that something is statistically random before they can call it random.”

    I’d say we’re now on the same page here too. Of course you can just “call it random” or “assume it’s random” but, in order for that assumption to be scientific, it has to be testable and falsifiable. Randomness as a scientific concept must therefore be a statistical concept. Generally, a discipline lets you get away with a broad speculation for just a little while. If your theory proves incapable of generating a testable hypothesis, it is discarded or put on the back burner. Darwinists are really sloppy. They have allowed “random variation” to hang around for 150 years without a single testable hypothetical example. It’s really more of a social science, like Freudianism.

    You wrote: “You are presuming that a scientist must demonstrate that something is statistically random before they can call it random. But most scientists are trying to demonstrate that nature is not random and operates according to non-random laws. In this context it does make sense to start with an assumption of randomness, statistically demonstrated or not, since the goal is to eventually demonstrate the lack of randomness.”

    I don’t get this at all. If you think it’s going to show a pattern and you’re trying to demonstrate a pattern, then you present a hypothesis that predicts a pattern. Your hypothesis stands or falls depending on whether you demonstrate regularity. Until you present that hypothesis, the issue of randomness or non-randomness is idle speculation, not science. You can use “random” in your sense of “I’m still ignorant of what’s going on,” but until you put out a testable hypothetical, you’re just twiddling your thumbs like the next man. That’s not science.

    I do think you’ve hit on a huge difference between Darwinism and most science, i.e. scientists are usually trying to prove out a non-random pattern and they therefore adopt the working assumption that there is one. If their hypothesis is testable, its science. Otherwise, it’s idle speculation. Darwinists are not trying to prove out a non-random pattern. Quite the opposite. Darwinists postulate randomness (on the variation side). But they con you into thinking they don’t have to prove it out. You just have to “accept” their fairy tale. They provide no testable hypothetical. Never have, in 150 years. There is no way to scientifically establish the randomness of variations in a relevant Darwinian sequence because no such sequence has ever been described, even hypothetically. Of course there are thousands of fragmentary observations in the lab (and very good science) that can demonstrate statistical randomness. But no one has even tried to describe a typical (much longer) Darwinian sequence, even though there are supposedly billions of them at our disposal.

    Darwinists do a really tricky, fundamentally dishonest thing. They insist that opponents disprove an unspecified casual speculation, a speculation that can not be statistically disproved because there is no concrete example to analyze, no data sequence, no evidence, not even a hypothetical example.

    Consider how a real scientist does things. Kepler is upset because he can’t predict Mars’ motions, especially at the retrograde stations. It’s driving him nuts. The old uniform-circular-motion models aren’t working. He abandons the old theory but he’s certain, in his soul, that Mars’ periodicies can be figured out, can be nailed down in a pattern of some sort. But, for the time being, he has to assume random motion because there is no pattern, no predictability. I use the term in your sense, that of ignorance: Kepler is only too aware that Mars remains inscrutable. Please note that it is valid to “assume randomness,” in this case, because Kepler has data, collected by Brehe and himself. Kepler can present a number of actual data sequences and confirm statistical randomness. He can show a sequence of events that don’t fit any known pattern. (Later, of course, he found some patterns).

    Now note what the Darwinists have done. Darwin theorized long sequences of [genetic] variations that were supposedly disciplined into successful forms by succeeding environmental conditions. Darwin himself didn’t put it this way, but theoreticians from the 40s or so have held that the variations are “random” in the modern, statistical sense. So far, so good. But wait a minute. This use of the term is not valid unless it can be accompanied by testable data, by a data sequence, just like Kepler did, just like real scientists do. But where is that data? Is there any data for any of the long, gradually varying sequences postulated by Darwin? Is there any way we might actually test for this randomness? No. No sequence is known. After 150 years, there is not so much as even one hypothetical sequence, viz. from Archeoptrix to Robin. None. Zippo. Nada. There is no way to prove or disprove this “randomness” which is, in fact, idle speculation, not science.

    Ask yourself how you would disprove “random variation.” There is no way you can do this because no developmental sequence has been specified. The Darwinist puts his hand on your shoulder and says “Hey, trust us on this. Maybe some day we’ll come up with something you or your great-grandchildren can analyze.”

    I’m not holding my breath. Neither is my great-grandfather.

    I’ll respond to other points separately. Time issues. Plus, this one is too long now.
    I’m content with slow-going. You bring up good questions.

  38. 38
    curtrozeboom says:

    I think I understand you a little better now, pmob1. You say that no one has ever subjected any series of mutations from a family-tree of organisms to statistical analysis to show that they do not fit a pattern and are statistically random. OK, I agree with respect to a long narrow sequence of generations of a particular family. It would either require too much time (for future generations), or be too speculative, to get enough data to show that a sequence of this type is statistically random.

    pmob1> Ask yourself how you would disprove “random variation.” There is no way you can do this because no developmental sequence has been specified.

    There are two things at work here. The randomness of a variation and the randomness of the developmental sequence. They are not entirely the same thing, one does not imply the other. Because variations can be rejected, the sequence is not necessarily random.

    I would disprove “random variation” by demonstrating a pattern, the question is where to get the data. You are forgetting that the analysis can also be done using a broader indirect approach, within a few species’ generations, using data from all over the Earth. All we must do is look at the conditions which create variations that are currently occuring. We can statistically analyze those and demonstrate that they do not occur according to a describable pattern. We can look at mutations of a particular type, in a particular line of organisms, in particular environments and analyze their randomness. Any given mutation occurs according to determinable laws. It’s because we can’t always know all of the factors involved (chaos-theory-randomness) that we call these mutations random and we can analyze modern mutations if we’re worried about being scientific about their randomness.

    You said, “Of course there are thousands of fragmentary observations in the lab (and very good science) that can demonstrate statistical randomness”, so I think you must agree with that much. But then I think you smelled defeat at your doorstep, because you quickly reasserted your line about randomness along a sequence of variations. I see what you’re trying to do, nice try.

    So, how do we apply this analysis to a sequence? We don’t! Because that’s where natural selection comes into play and biologists don’t consider NS to be a random process! Its patterns can (hopefully) be discerned. You said, “variations…disciplined into successful forms by succeeding environmental conditions…” Disciplined, pmob1? That’s not a very random-sounding term! The patterns of NS may be laced with randomness, due to our current ignorance, but not randomness which does not fit a pattern.

    So, you are wrong about biologists. They do work the same way that Kepler did, trying to find the pattern in a ignorantly random set of data. You are also wrong about needing to prove randomness in a sequence of variations because randomness in the variations does not imply randomness in the sequence when the sequence is constructed in a patterned way. Your own quoted words imply that you know this.

  39. 39
    pmob1 says:

    Curt,

    First of all, I’m not trying to be dodgy and I doubt you are either, at this point. Second, I agree that we are slowly drawing a bead on this thing. So I’m going to try to pick through your last message but it will take some time. Here’s paragraph 1.

    P1—————————
    You wrote: —– I think I understand you a little better now, pmob1. You say that no one has ever subjected any series of mutations from a family-tree of organisms to statistical analysis to show that they do not fit a pattern and are statistically random. OK, I agree with respect to a long narrow sequence of generations of a particular family. It would either require too much time (for future generations), or be too speculative, to get enough data to show that a sequence of this type is statistically random. —–

    You write of these “long narrow” sequences as if they are exceptional in some way. The thing to remember is that, according to Darwinism, they are supposed to be the most common things in biology! Darwin did not propose a theory of clads or a theory of point mutation frequencies or a theory of population mathematics. Darwin proposed a theory of long, continuous sequences whereby every single organism that has ever lived is the product of one of these “long narrow” sequences. To offer a testable hypothetical and to demonstrate Darwin’s theory is to specify and test one of these “long narrow” sequences.

    Furthermore, this demonstration need not require “too much time (for future generations)” or “be too speculative.” Quite the contrary. The entire fossil record is before us, including strata that are finely granulated and wonderfully continuous. Far from speculative, this record is both public and set in stone. The vaunted “long narrow” changes simply aren’t there. The vast majority of fossils show stasis, i.e. sudden appearance in the record, absolutely no change for millions of years, and sudden disappearance.

    End P1——————————

  40. 40
    pmob1 says:

    P2————————————
    You wrote: “There are two things at work here. The randomness of a variation and the randomness of the developmental sequence. They are not entirely the same thing, one does not imply the other. Because variations can be rejected, the sequence is not necessarily random.”

    I agree. It is common to divide the process into RM (random mutations) and NS (natural selection). I acknowledged this in previous responses in sentences such as

    “Instead of RM-NS, they should just say Mutations-Natural Selection.” where I suggested simply dropping the “R.”

    It is a confusing subject but I am aware of the distinction. There are problems with positing nonrandomness on the NS side as well. For instance, NS is supposed to operate very immediately and be “blind.” But I move we leave the NS questions aside for now since we’ve got enough to chew on. I would certainly be happy to investigate this later.

    Since you have pointed out the distinction and since I am aware of the distinction, let us focus on the supposed randomness of the mutation side of things. I think all agree that Darwinists hold mutations to be random in the sense that they occur in embryo and are, at that moment, unaffected by environmental conditions. They are said to “come out of nowhere” as it were. It is only later that the mutation, provided it causes a significant body change, may be selected or rejected by natural conditions.

    So, to review, when we say “random,” you and I are talking about mutations in embryo. Thus, if a theory posits a long sequence, each successful instance of which involves a random variation, one might fairly ask for a demonstration of that randomness, or at least a hypothetical, which may be tested for randomness. If it is not possible to test for randomness, then the term “random” ought to be dropped, in my opinion. Scientific assumptions are not like other assumptions. They must be testable and falsifiable.

    End P2—————————————

  41. 41
    curtrozeboom says:

    pmob1>To offer a testable hypothetical and to demonstrate Darwin’s theory is to specify and test one of these “long narrow” sequences. Furthermore, this demonstration need not require “too much time (for future generations)” or “be too speculative.” Quite the contrary. The entire fossil record is before us, including strata that are finely granulated and wonderfully continuous. Far from speculative, this record is both public and set in stone.

    Wonderfully put, pmob1. If the long narrow sequences are real, then they should be reflected in the fossil record. We do in fact see change in the fossil record (punctuated, true) and we have a mechanism for that change. That’s more than Newton had for his theory of gravity, he had to posit an unknown force which wasn’t filled in until Einstein.

    pmob1> I move we leave the NS questions aside for now … when we say “random,” you and I are talking about mutations in embryo. Thus, if a theory posits a long sequence, each successful instance of which involves a random variation, one might fairly ask for a demonstration of that randomness…

    Would you just make up your mind? First you say leave NS out of it and that we’re talking about random mutations in embryos, but then you immediately bring back the long sequences of NS in the same breath. You seem to think that it is necessary to demonstrate the randomness (statistically) of each and every supposed instance of mutation. I’ve delineated how to do this generally across the spectrum of our modern world as an indirect test which can be applied by extrapolation. That is a logical approach. The randomness of each mutation in a given sequence is not treated as statistically random, but only random from ignorance and is expected to be demonstrably non-random by Darwin’s theory. Your tirade about a scientific demonstration of randomness in mutations is moot. No, the term does not need to be dropped because it is sufficiently demonstrable to anyone willing to accept a legitimate amount of evidence.

    Look, its been fun, but this post is buried so deep in this blog that it’s become pointless to continue. I can see that I’m not going to make much of a dent in your thinking and we’re still just arguing past each other. You’ve given me some interesting perspective on the thinking of an ID-er, but not much else. Thanks, perhaps I’ll post again in a more recent thread.

  42. 42
    pmob1 says:

    Curt,

    You open Paragraph 3 with: I would disprove “random variation” by demonstrating a pattern, the question is where to get the data.

    This is where you go astray. Disprove “random variation” of what? You guys never deliver a sequence for inspection, a sequence that can be analyzed for randomness or a pattern.

    Darwin’s theory is a theory of long sequences of variation. Each organism that has ever lived is supposed to be the current culmination of a long sequence of successful variations. When I refer to “a sequence for inspection,” I mean any of these, and there are supposedly trillions of them. The trouble is, no such sequence has ever been specified. Not one has ever been so much as hypothesized, step by step. It is not possible to “demonstrate a pattern” in one because no such sequence exists. Neither is it possible to analyze a typical Darwinian sequence for randomness. There is no data. None. Zip. Nada. If you know of such a typical Darwinian sequence, please let me know.

    Darwinists glare at you a triumphantly proclaim “Disprove THIS!!” and then hand you a blank sheet of paper. You can’t prove or disprove a blank slate. Darwinists glare at you and insist that YOU DO THEIR WORK FOR THEM! Yes, we’re supposed to come up with it. We’re supposed to identify a sequence that exemplifies THEIR theory, and then find a pattern in it. Because they can’t do it themselves, even though they’ve 150 years of boasting behind them. That’s why a lot of us no longer consider Darwinism real science. It’s more like a rhetorical scam.

    You then write:
    You are forgetting that the analysis can also be done using a broader indirect approach, within a few species’ generations, using data from all over the Earth. All we must do is look at the conditions which create variations that are currently occuring. We can statistically analyze those and demonstrate that they do not occur according to a describable pattern. We can look at mutations of a particular type, in a particular line of organisms, in particular environments and analyze their randomness. Any given mutation occurs according to determinable laws. It’s because we can’t always know all of the factors involved (chaos-theory-randomness) that we call these mutations random and we can analyze modern mutations if we’re worried about being scientific about their randomness.

    Well, that would be a start, but there are several huge problems. First, I know of no such examples. There may be a few extremely UNNATURAL examples—lab examples, designed examples—among the lowest orders of life. These contrived, designed examples involve inducing severe damage to a primitive genome and noting that the primitive organism can still survive, albeit in a hobbled form; hardly the stuff of Darwinism, which is supposed to yield long sequences that increase information, increase complexity, increase sophistication. At any rate, perhaps you could give me a few examples of what you’re talking about in Paragraph 3.

    Sorry for long delays. Holidays, busy, etc. Perhaps you have left off. That’s okay. If not, I’ll check in.

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