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Casey Luskin Reports On Last Night’s Visit to the Seattle Analytic Philosophy Club

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Last night, a few of us from Discovery Institute attended the Seattle Analytic Philosophy Club meetup discussion on “Is Intelligent Design Science?” I’ve never met so many thoughtful and open-minded ID critics! One atheist gentleman even said that he would have to abandon one of the arguments he’s been using against ID and research the ID position more thoroughly. He came to realize that, although dismissing ID out of hand as ‘unscientific’ offered an easy way to reject ID without careful consideration and analysis of its claims, the assertion that ID isn’t science is a very difficult position to defend philosophically.

When we adequately addressed objections, our detractors would concede the point. Why can’t all ID-critics be like that? Some really good discussion, and a few ID proponents who heard about the event through my post here at Uncommon Descent came along. I think most ended up concluding that ID is indeed science, regardless of whether it is correct.

Casey Luskin, who was also at the event, reported on the meeting at Evolution News & Views. He writes,

Last night, a couple Discovery Institute staff members and I attended the Seattle Analytic Philosophy Club at their invitation to discuss the question “Is Intelligent Design Science?” There were about 25 people there. Though the group was mostly hostile to ID, everyone was respectful and civil, and it was an enjoyable discussion. In addition to the folks from Discovery, there seemed to be several other ID-friendly people in the audience. Overall I think the conversation went very well, and that our side made a strong showing.

The moderator’s opening presentation was excellent. He recounted how philosophers of science have largely rejected demarcation criteria, and criticized the McLean v. Arkansas and Kitzmiller v. Dover rulings. That set the conversation off on a good track.

Click here to continue reading!

22 Replies to “Casey Luskin Reports On Last Night’s Visit to the Seattle Analytic Philosophy Club

  1. 1
    Gregory says:

    “ID is indeed science, regardless of whether it is correct.”

    What does that say for ‘science’? Oh, so po-mo…

  2. 2
    cantor says:

    “ID is indeed science, regardless of whether it is correct.”

    What does that say for ‘science’? Oh, so po-mo…

    Was Geology “science” prior to Plate Tectonics?

    Was Ether “science” prior to Special Relativity?

    Was “plum pudding” model of the atom “science” prior to Rutherford’s discovery of the nucleus?

    “Science” doesn’t have to be correct (and often isn’t).

  3. 3
    GeneL says:

    I moderated this meeting. Thanks to Casey and Jonathan and all who attended for an engaging meeting.

    Just a few followup comments. Regarding Cantor’s statement, it is certainly correct that science doesn’t have to be correct, as many scientific theories have turned out to be false.

    The “atheist gentleman” referred to does have a philosophy degree, which is why I suspect he may be willing to consider the arguments.

    As I mentioned last night, a priori methodological naturalism (simply saying that science cannot ever appeal to the supernatural as part of the definition of science) is problematic. However, it seems quite reasonable to adopt provisory methodological naturalism. This means that we use naturalistic explanations because they have worked so well in the past (in statistical terms, our Bayesian pre-test priors for naturalistic explanations are extremely high). So this means that we could consider supernatural explanations, but the evidence would have to be extremely high. For example, if your car does not start, you would think of a natural cause, and would need a tremendous amount of evidence to consider a supernatural cause.

    If we consider ID in these terms, and submit that it might be science, one would have to have an extremely high level of evidence to even consider a supernatural cause. So that fact that a large number of biologists do reject ID would seem to suggest that the evidence is not nearly this high. Now what of those who do accept ID? In the Bayesian statistical framework previously mentioned, I suspect this is because their pre-test probability for considering supernatural causes is substantially higher. Let’s say that this comes from what the philosopher Alvin Plantinga calls “warrant”.

    So understood in this framework, perhaps the debate is not between interpretation of the evidence provided, but rather is about a large difference between pre-test priors which determine post-test probabilities.

    There was a comment by Casey about not wanting to delve into the scientific issues in depth. I prefer this for two reasons. First, it is a philosophy club. Second, I am unsure of the value of scientific debates between even very knowledgeable non-experts. An appropriate debate might be between say, Behe and a professional evolutionary biologist.

  4. 4

    GeneL:

    Thanks for the comments about the event. I think your points about pre-test priors and warrant are valuable. Sounds like it was a good event.

    I’m a bit cautious about one aspect of your report, however. Namely, what does ID have to do with the supernatural?

    One gets to “supernatural” (whatever that may mean) only after one has answered the question of whether something is designed, and only after one has added a (non-ID) personal philosophy about the identity and alleged “supernatural” characteristics of the designer.

    Or did you mean “supernatural” just in the extremely limited linguistic sense of “not being caused by purely natural and material causes”? In that case we would typically just refer to it as an “intelligent cause” or “caused by an intelligent agent.”

    —–

    In any event, I hope the discussion last night didn’t spend a lot of time discussing the “supernatural,” as that is something of a red herring for whether the design inference is science (although the supernatural is, no doubt, an issue of much interest to philosophers). I guess if the group concluded that an inference to design is science — even in the extreme case of a direct claim of the supernatural — then ID should be in very good shape, as it certainly doesn’t go that far.

  5. 5
    Robert Byers says:

    Its great to hear a easy going discussion took place.
    As it happened in this meeting it can happen everywhere and before great numbers of the public.

    Can science be wrong and still be science does hit a nerve.
    The whole point and prestige of science is that it does a higher standard of investigation that therefore can demand , I say demand, a higher confidence in its conclusions.
    It can’t be wrong easily or forever!

    The answer in origin subjects is simply a high standard of investigation of past and gone events and processes is not possible.
    It is not like investigating gravity after all.

    I know in geomorphology subjects it Seems every graduating class corrects its own textbooks.
    They claim to do science but really its just weighing the evidence and not testing/proving it.

    I don’t believe there is such a thing in human thought as science.
    its just to me people thinking about things and saying they figured out the truth either by repeatable results or accumulation of accepted facts.
    So easily origin subjects, especially evolution etc, are based on committees that merely weigh rudimentary pieces of data.

    Thats why they get it wrong and can’t persuade critics.
    True science persuades everyone.

  6. 6
    GeneL says:

    Eric,

    Naturalism, as most philosophers would agree, is not well-defined. I mean supernatural in a metaphysical sense, in terms of a process not following law-like regularity.

    I agree that one could ask the question of whether something is designed first. But if a substantial majority of biologists disagree with the inference made by a small minority that something is designed – then it would seem that the question has been answered – for now – in the negative by the standards of scientific practice (this is not to say that things may not change in the future). But why is there a disagreement? I would say that the disagreement is not so much in answering the question, but in the pre-test priors one brings to the question.

    I think that you would agree that the majority of those who support ID are theists, and most non-theists tend to reject ID. Is this coincidental? If only the question of design were important, it would seem to be quite a coincidence. Rather, one would be more likely to infer design from the evidence given if one has pre-test priors which are higher for the possibility of a designer before even considering the question.

    Now one could of course have high pre-test priors for the existence of non-supernatural intelligent agents, say aliens who have some reason to design organisms on Earth. But as an empirical matter, that is not a widely held belief. So in this sense, the “supernatural” is part of the design inference as a practical matter (in terms of how the world actually works) – because it leads to high pre-test priors which cause one to make the inference that those who have low pre-test priors don’t. But you are correct, in that it does not have to be part of the inference theoretically.

  7. 7
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    “Supernatural” = x is supernatural just in case it has some psychological properties but not physical or biological properties.

    “Preternatural” = x is preternatural just in case it has psychological, biological, and physical properties, but it has either (i) physical properties that do not obey the known laws of physics and/or (ii) biological properties that cannot be placed within a comprehensive natural history.

    Examples of supernatural beings: gods, demons, avatars, angels, devas, avatars, disembodied souls.

    Examples of preternatural beings: dragons, werewolves, fairies, vampires, goblins, fairies, ghouls.

    If metaphysical naturalism excludes all supernatural and preternatural beings, then:

    metaphysical naturalism: the view that there no beings with psychological properties that do not also have biological and physical properties, where those physical properties obey the known laws of physics and those biological properties can be placed within a comprehensive natural history.

    By that standard, it is reasonably clear to me that

    (1) design theory is consistent with metaphysical naturalism;
    (2) design theory does not entail the negation of metaphysical naturalism.

    Likewise, and perhaps more controversially, I also think that

    (3) evolutionary theory is consistent with metaphysical supernaturalism;
    (4) Darwinian evolution does not entail the negation of metaphysical supernaturalism.

    However, I would add also that

    (5) design theory is consistent with metaphysical supernaturalism, and does not entail its negation;
    (6) evolutionary theory is consistent with metaphysical naturalism, and does not entail its negation.

    In short, neither design theory nor evolutionary theory are of any help in guiding a choice between metaphysical naturalism or metaphysical supernaturalism. Reciprocally, neither metaphysical naturalism nor metaphysical supernaturalism are of any help in guiding a choice between design theory and evolutionary theory.

    And that is exactly how it should be, because the criteria whereby we chose between scientific theories are different in kind from the criteria whereby we chose between metaphysical doctrines. The former are a posteriori; the latter are a priori. Perhaps we need both science and metaphysics for complete intellectual satisfaction, but conflating them is a serious mistake.

  8. 8
    Optimus says:

    Hey, Gene! I was at the event last night, and I really enjoyed it. Your opening remarks were quite useful and provided a nice summary of the issues involved in the demarcation problem. A few things jumped out at me, though. I noticed what seemed like an insistence (not on your part) that ID must identify the designer. I agree with Jonathan that this is a second order question. I would add to this that the reticence of ID to specify the designer is actually a strength, because it shows that ID stays within reasonable limits of inference. In examining an artifact, the design inference is often made though there may be no real way to specify the designer. An archaeologist could speculate about general characteristics of the proposed designer, but absent some readable inscription or documentary evidence the identity could remain forever beyond reach. Though I wouldn’t criticize efforts to scientifically identify a proposed designer of biological systems, it seems to me realistic to acknowledge that the precise identity could remain beyond what could reasonably be ascertained from extant evidence. The first priority would be to determine whether or not something was designed in the first place. After having made that determination, then questions about the nature of the designer could be entertained.
    It wasn’t surprising to hear the “who designed the designer?” critique raised, but I find it very tiresome. Regardless of whether one finds design plausible or not, doesn’t any causal chain at some point terminate with an uncaused cause or else lead to infinite regress? Even a purely materialistic worldview must choose between one of those possibilities, so it hardly seems a proper criticism to level at the design hypothesis.
    Lastly (for now), I vaguely remember the concern (though I may be mistaken) that the design inference functions as a science stopper. I think there are two ways to look at this. (1) In some sense, it could be said that any conclusion (not just ID) is a “science stopper.” A conclusion by its very nature is the end of a matter. When considering multiple competing hypotheses, that one wins out naturally discourages investigation of the less successful alternatives. To criticize ID for discouraging investigation of nonintelligent causation of biological complexity is like criticizing modern medicine for ending our explorations of ‘humors’ or phrenology. (2) The other way to see things, though, is that ID opens up a host of new exciting questions that never would be entertained within the current Neo-Darwinian paradigm. One could ask when design was implemented, how much of the genome’s current status is due to design versus natural selection, etc. In my view, the design inference is one of the most profound scientific conquests in human history. Essentially, it shows that humankind is not the sole intelligent form of life in the cosmos. There is (or at least was) something else. SETI scanned the stars looking for signals indicative of extraterrestrial intelligence, but if ID is corrrect, then the life on our planet including ourselves is that proof! It’s hard to see how a conclusion that fascinating would discourage scientific inquiry.

  9. 9
    GeneL says:

    Optimus,

    As best as I can recall, I don’t think the science stopper argument was made, but I may be wrong.

    I would agree that ID does not (initially) have to specify the designer, but as I mentioned in my response to Eric, making the inference in the first place does seem to depend – in actual practice – on pre-test priors about the probability of a designer to begin with. As such, there would – in most cases – be some idea of the nature of the designer before making the inference. Absent such a framework, it is hard to see why theists and non-theists would differ so dramatically in making this inference – if the question were the inference in isolation, they should have an equal probability of making the inference. Behe does state that ID would be more plausible to the theist in his Dover testimony.

    As an analogy, consider Ben who is confident that he has been abducted by aliens, and Sue who doesn’t believe him, and doesn’t think it is very likely aliens exist to begin with. Ben is much more likely to make an inference of design in certain cases than Sue is, because he is confident that there are intelligent aliens who could in principle have done the design, while Sue won’t make the inference because she doesn’t know of any possible designer. But both are actually justified in the inference itself whether positive or negative – the question might then be whose pre-test priors are better.

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    As to science stopper, must not there always be a ultimate cause for everything so as to preclude a infinite regress of causes? i.e. is not there a logical need for a ‘science stopper’, ultimate cause that scientists would always have to reason to in order to make their explanation complete?

    i.e. ot Understanding Nothing – A review of A Universe from Nothing – Edward Feser – June 2012
    Excerpt: A critic might reasonably question the arguments for a divine first cause of the cosmos. But to ask “What caused God?” misses the whole reason classical philosophers thought his existence necessary in the first place. So when physicist Lawrence Krauss begins his new book by suggesting that to ask “Who created the creator?” suffices to dispatch traditional philosophical theology, we know it isn’t going to end well. ,,,
    ,,, But Krauss simply can’t see the “difference between arguing in favor of an eternally existing creator versus an eternally existing universe without one.” The difference, as the reader of Aristotle or Aquinas knows, is that the universe changes while the unmoved mover does not, or, as the Neoplatonist can tell you, that the universe is made up of parts while its source is absolutely one; or, as Leibniz could tell you, that the universe is contingent and God absolutely necessary. There is thus a principled reason for regarding God rather than the universe as the terminus of explanation.
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ng-nothing

    “The ‘First Mover’ is necessary for change occurring at each moment.”
    Michael Egnor – Aquinas’ First Way
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....first.html

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    further note as to the ultimate cause i.e. the ‘science stopper’: The foundation of quantum mechanics within science is now so solid that researchers were able to bring forth this following proof from quantum entanglement experiments;

    An experimental test of all theories with predictive power beyond quantum theory – May 2011
    Excerpt: Hence, we can immediately refute any already considered or yet-to-be-proposed alternative model with more predictive power than this. (Quantum Theory)
    http://arxiv.org/pdf/1105.0133.pdf

    Can quantum theory be improved? – July 23, 2012
    Excerpt: However, in the new paper, the physicists have experimentally demonstrated that there cannot exist any alternative theory that increases the predictive probability of quantum theory by more than 0.165, with the only assumption being that measurement (observation) parameters can be chosen independently (free choice assumption) of the other parameters of the theory.,,,
    ,, the experimental results provide the tightest constraints yet on alternatives to quantum theory. The findings imply that quantum theory is close to optimal in terms of its predictive power, even when the predictions are completely random.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-quantum-theory.html

    Now this is completely unheard of in science as far as I know. i.e. That a mathematical description of reality would advance to the point that one can actually perform a experiment showing that your current theory will not be exceeded in predictive power by another future theory is simply unprecedented in science!

    Quantum Mechanics has now been extended to falsify local realism (reductive materialism) without even using quantum entanglement to do it:

    ‘Quantum Magic’ Without Any ‘Spooky Action at a Distance’ – June 2011
    Excerpt: A team of researchers led by Anton Zeilinger at the University of Vienna and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences used a system which does not allow for entanglement, and still found results which cannot be interpreted classically.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....111942.htm

    Falsification of Local Realism without using Quantum Entanglement – Anton Zeilinger – video
    http://vimeo.com/34168474

    Particle and Wave-Like Behavior of Light Measured Simultaneously (Nov. 1, 2012)
    Excerpt: Dr Peruzzo, Research Fellow at the Centre for Quantum Photonics, said: “The measurement apparatus detected strong nonlocality, which certified that the photon behaved simultaneously as a wave and a particle in our experiment. This represents a strong refutation of models in which the photon is either a wave or a particle.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....141107.htm

    A Quantum Delayed Choice Experiment – June 2012
    http://arxiv.org/pdf/1205.4926v2.pdf

    Moreover, non-local (spooky action at a distance) quantum entanglement is possible without the physical interaction of the particles first:

    Qubits that never interact could exhibit past-future entanglement – July 30, 2012
    Excerpt: Typically, for two particles to become entangled, they must first physically interact. Then when the particles are physically separated and still share the same quantum state, they are considered to be entangled. But in a new study, physicists have investigated a new twist on entanglement in which two qubits become entangled with each other even though they never physically interact.,,
    In the current study, the physicists have proposed an experiment based on circuit quantum electrodynamics (QED) that is fully within reach of current technologies. They describe a set-up that involves a pair of superconducting qubits, P and F, with qubit P connected to a quantum field vacuum by a transmission line. During the first time interval, which the scientists call the past, P interacts with the field. Then P is quickly decoupled from the field for the second time interval. Finally, F is coupled to the field for a time interval called the future. Even though P and F never interact with the field at the same time or with each other at all, F’s interactions with the field cause it to become entangled with P. The physicists call this correlation “past-future entanglement.”
    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-q.....ement.html

    It is very interesting to point out how these recent findings for quantum non-locality for material particles, (i.e. modern science finding that the material particles of the universe must have a non-local, beyond space and time, cause to explain their continued existence within space-time), dovetails perfectly into one of the oldest philosophical arguments for the existence of God and offers empirical confirmation for that ancient philosophical argument. That argument is known as Aquinas’ Third way, which is better known today in as the contingency argument. Of note, St Thomas Aquinas lived from 1225 to 7 March 1274.

    Aquinas’ Third way – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V030hvnX5a4

    Contingency Argument
    1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature (e.g. mathematical object) or in an external cause (e.g. mountains, galaxies, people and chairs).
    2. The universe exists (whether it always existed or not).
    3. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is an external, transcendent, personal cause (that is beyond the universe: beyond space and time: beyond matter and energy: a non-physical, immaterial, spiritual entity that has brought the universe into being: the only thing that fits this description is an unembodied Mind: a transcendent consciousness).
    4. Therefore, the (only) explanation inextricably and inexorably for the existence of the universe is an external, transcendent, personal cause.
    http://biblocality.com/forums/.....y-Argument

    related note:

    Kurt Gödel – Incompleteness Theorem – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/8462821

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    further note as to the ultimate cause i.e. the ‘science stopper’: The foundation of quantum mechanics within science is now so solid that researchers were able to bring forth this following proof from quantum entanglement experiments;

    An experimental test of all theories with predictive power beyond quantum theory – May 2011
    Excerpt: Hence, we can immediately refute any already considered or yet-to-be-proposed alternative model with more predictive power than this. (Quantum Theory)
    http://arxiv.org/pdf/1105.0133.pdf

    Can quantum theory be improved? – July 23, 2012
    Excerpt: However, in the new paper, the physicists have experimentally demonstrated that there cannot exist any alternative theory that increases the predictive probability of quantum theory by more than 0.165, with the only assumption being that measurement (observation) parameters can be chosen independently (free choice assumption) of the other parameters of the theory.,,,
    ,, the experimental results provide the tightest constraints yet on alternatives to quantum theory. The findings imply that quantum theory is close to optimal in terms of its predictive power, even when the predictions are completely random.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-quantum-theory.html

    Now this is completely unheard of in science as far as I know. i.e. That a mathematical description of reality would advance to the point that one can actually perform a experiment showing that your current theory will not be exceeded in predictive power by another future theory is simply unprecedented in science!

    Quantum Mechanics has now been extended to falsify local realism (reductive materialism) without even using quantum entanglement to do it:

    ‘Quantum Magic’ Without Any ‘Spooky Action at a Distance’ – June 2011
    Excerpt: A team of researchers led by Anton Zeilinger at the University of Vienna and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences used a system which does not allow for entanglement, and still found results which cannot be interpreted classically.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....111942.htm

    Particle and Wave-Like Behavior of Light Measured Simultaneously (Nov. 1, 2012)
    Excerpt: Dr Peruzzo, Research Fellow at the Centre for Quantum Photonics, said: “The measurement apparatus detected strong nonlocality, which certified that the photon behaved simultaneously as a wave and a particle in our experiment. This represents a strong refutation of models in which the photon is either a wave or a particle.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....141107.htm

    A Quantum Delayed Choice Experiment – June 2012
    http://arxiv.org/pdf/1205.4926v2.pdf

    Moreover, non-local (spooky action at a distance) quantum entanglement is possible without the physical interaction of the particles first:

    Qubits that never interact could exhibit past-future entanglement – July 30, 2012
    Excerpt: Typically, for two particles to become entangled, they must first physically interact. Then when the particles are physically separated and still share the same quantum state, they are considered to be entangled. But in a new study, physicists have investigated a new twist on entanglement in which two qubits become entangled with each other even though they never physically interact.,,
    In the current study, the physicists have proposed an experiment based on circuit quantum electrodynamics (QED) that is fully within reach of current technologies. They describe a set-up that involves a pair of superconducting qubits, P and F, with qubit P connected to a quantum field vacuum by a transmission line. During the first time interval, which the scientists call the past, P interacts with the field. Then P is quickly decoupled from the field for the second time interval. Finally, F is coupled to the field for a time interval called the future. Even though P and F never interact with the field at the same time or with each other at all, F’s interactions with the field cause it to become entangled with P. The physicists call this correlation “past-future entanglement.”
    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-q.....ement.html

    It is very interesting to point out how these recent findings for quantum non-locality for material particles, (i.e. modern science finding that the material particles of the universe must have a non-local, beyond space and time, cause to explain their continued existence within space-time), dovetails perfectly into one of the oldest philosophical arguments for the existence of God and offers empirical confirmation for that ancient philosophical argument. That argument is known as Aquinas’ Third way, which is better known today in as the contingency argument. Of note, St Thomas Aquinas lived from 1225 to 7 March 1274.

    Aquinas’ Third way – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V030hvnX5a4

    Contingency Argument
    1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature (e.g. mathematical object) or in an external cause (e.g. mountains, galaxies, people and chairs).
    2. The universe exists (whether it always existed or not).
    3. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is an external, transcendent, personal cause (that is beyond the universe: beyond space and time: beyond matter and energy: a non-physical, immaterial, spiritual entity that has brought the universe into being: the only thing that fits this description is an unembodied Mind: a transcendent consciousness).
    4. Therefore, the (only) explanation inextricably and inexorably for the existence of the universe is an external, transcendent, personal cause.
    http://biblocality.com/forums/.....y-Argument

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    as to the above statement #1 of the contingency argument, Well now even a mathematical object existing because of the ‘necessity of its own nature’ is found to not be true,,, it is now found that even mathematical objects cannot ‘just exist’ without reference to a first cause:

    Kurt Godel’s part in bringing the incompleteness theorem to fruition can be picked up here

    Kurt Gödel – Incompleteness Theorem – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/8462821

    Taking God Out of the Equation – Biblical Worldview – by Ron Tagliapietra – January 1, 2012
    Excerpt: Kurt Gödel (1906–1978) proved that no logical systems (if they include the counting numbers) can have all three of the following properties.
    1. Validity . . . all conclusions are reached by valid reasoning.
    2. Consistency . . . no conclusions contradict any other conclusions.
    3. Completeness . . . all statements made in the system are either true or false.
    The details filled a book, but the basic concept was simple and elegant. He summed it up this way: “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle—something you have to assume but cannot prove.” For this reason, his proof is also called the Incompleteness Theorem.
    Kurt Gödel had dropped a bomb on the foundations of mathematics. Math could not play the role of God as infinite and autonomous. It was shocking, though, that logic could prove that mathematics could not be its own ultimate foundation.
    Christians should not have been surprised. The first two conditions are true about math: it is valid and consistent. But only God fulfills the third condition. Only He is complete and therefore self-dependent (autonomous). God alone is “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28), “the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13). God is the ultimate authority (Hebrews 6:13), and in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).
    http://www.answersingenesis.or...../equation#

    It is interesting to note the radically different view Godel had of God than Einstein did:

    The God of the Mathematicians – Goldman
    Excerpt: As Gödel told Hao Wang, “Einstein’s religion [was] more abstract, like Spinoza and Indian philosophy. Spinoza’s god is less than a person; mine is more than a person; because God can play the role of a person.” – Kurt Gödel – (Gödel is considered one of the greatest logicians who ever existed)
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ematicians

  14. 14
    Joe says:

    Intelligent Design is science because it is based on our knowledge of cause and effect relationships. ID can be tested and either confirmed or falsified.

    BTW GeneL, ID does not require the supernatural…

  15. 15
    gpuccio says:

    GeneL:

    Thank you for your comments.

    Your points about Bayesian priors interestingly mirror a critical point of a recent discussion here between me and Mark Frank. There is certainly some truth in what you say.

    My simple comments would be:

    a) It is perfectly true that ID does not need any concept of “supernatural”.

    b) It is equally true that it is not compatible with some specific forms of “naturalism”, more specifically with materialistic reductionism, or in particular that specific form of scientism that seems to believe that everything can be explain not only by science, but by science as we essentially understand it now.

    c) There is, IMO, absolutely no doubt that ID is science. Whether it is good or bad science, is the important discussion.

    d) The amount of evidence for ID is tremendous, IMO. That’s why your discussion about “pre-test priors” is not fully acceptable. The vehement denial of ID arguments can be explained only as the result of very high pre test priors for a very specific world view: materialistic reductionism, or whatever you may want to call it. A similar situation, but of smaller proportions, happened with Big Bang theory. Only, in that case, reductionists found some apparently satisfying compromise. With ID, that seems more difficult, and that’s why the reaction is so strong, and so irrational.

    e) Human design is certainly “a process not following law-like regularity”. Does that put it in the supernatural? Does that put it outside of scientific approach?

  16. 16
    Mung says:

    Gene, thanks for putting together the event.

    The group of attendees was very interesting!

    One objection that was raised which was never addressed was whether ID was reading it’s predictions off the data, specifically with regard to the fossil record.

    My response to that would be no, since the prediction was made based upon what we know about designers, not from what we know about the fossil record.

  17. 17
    Mung says:

    Kantian Naturalist,

    All bio-logical properties and all physico-logical properties are phsyco-logical.

    It’s ALL supernatural!

  18. 18

    GeneL @6:

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments. It sounds like you are perhaps more interested in the social/philosophical aspect, than the actual question of whether design can be detected. That is certainly OK, and is a very interesting line of discussion itself. I believe it is important, however, to distinguish the question of design from the implications that might flow from a positive answer to the question.

    It is precisely this (sometimes quite deliberate) failure to draw the distinction that gives ID opponents much of their rhetorical ammunition — running the gamut from the occasional careful comment to the much more common ‘creationism-in-a-cheap-tuxedo’ propaganda nonsense put out by folks like the NCSE. It is extremely important to the anti-ID propaganda end of the spectrum to conflate (i) whether something is designed with (ii) follow-up questions about who designed it, when, how, for what purpose, who designed the designer, etc. This smoke and mirrors distortion of the issues is a critical aspect of much of the anti-ID sentiment. This conflation is not tangential to the debate, but is a staple of most prominent anti-ID rhetoric.

    So I apologize if it seems I am being pedantic in insisting that the issues be addressed separately, or at least be recognized as being logically separate. They must be treated as logically separate. This is critical.

    —–

    I agree that one could ask the question of whether something is designed first. But if a substantial majority of biologists disagree with the inference made by a small minority that something is designed – then it would seem that the question has been answered – for now – in the negative by the standards of scientific practice (this is not to say that things may not change in the future). But why is there a disagreement? I would say that the disagreement is not so much in answering the question, but in the pre-test priors one brings to the question.

    No, the question has not been answered in the negative by the standards of scientific practice. One can scarcely find even a coherent attempt to answer the question, and certainly not in a logically-consistent manner. So yes, there is a social/philosophical answer in the negative by many people; but certainly not much in the way of a logical or scientific answer. Instead, the majority tends to give a negative answer based on (i) conflation of the real questions being asked, and (ii) the individual’s own philosophical preferences about which kinds of questions are deemed acceptable.

    You rightly point out that the latter (the pre-test priors) is an important issue; and I agree it is worth discussing in its own right. I just want to make sure we aren’t forgetting the former.

    If we don’t even acknowledge which questions we are asking and their separate logical status, it is terribly difficult to arrive at a reasoned answer.

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    KN @7:

    Good thoughts. We could perhaps quibble on the definitions, but I certainly agree with your larger point that ID and evolution* are on equivalent grounds. Either they both are science or neither is. Meyer has an excellent discussion of this issue in Signature in the Cell.

    —–

    *That is not to say that every proposition that we hear under the heading of “evolution” (and they are legion) is strictly scientific. But as a general paradigm for seeking to explain the historical events that led to the origin of life and the biological world we see around us today, evolution (broadly speaking) is a legitimate line of scientific inquiry. Occasionally ID proponents get so tired of hearing sheer nonsense, untestable just-so stories, and self-contradictory statements from evolutionary proponents that they throw up their hands and declare the whole enterprise unscientific. Yet we need to exercise restraint, be more nuanced in our approach, and not throw out the baby with the bathwater — notwithstanding the large volume of dirty bathwater that may exist in this particular instance.

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    Kantian Naturalist says:

    All bio-logical properties and all physico-logical properties are phsyco-logical. It’s ALL supernatural!

    I’m having a bit of trouble understanding this (some typos?), but insofar as I can understand it at all, the suggestion here seems to be our capacity to judge, infer, describe, explain, predict, etc. — our epistemic capacities in general — are, in some sense, “supernatural”. In what sense of supernatural, though? And why should one think so?

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    Optimus says:

    Gene @ 9
    Thank you for your response. I agree in some measure that pre-test priors are important. However, I think that pre-test priors are only significant in the sense that they inform what a person will give serious consideration to or find plausible. Inferences should be adjudicated based on whether or not they follow from the data. Everyone has assumptions that they bring to the table, but I think the design inference is robust enough to stand by itself without dependence on metaphysical commitments. Concepts like mechanical complexity and specified & complex information are widely accepted (in a non-biological context). They require no metaphysical beliefs or holy books to recognize.
    I do acknowledge that the design inference is friendly to a theistic worldview. And it is also true that many persons in ID are theists. But these facts do no more damage to ID than the fact that some of the most vocal boosters of Neo-Darwinism are also ardent atheists (Genie Scott, P.Z. Meyers, Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, etc.). I do not hold this against them. On the contrary, it is profoundly logical to entertain metaphysical views that align with one’s understanding of scientific knowledge. At any rate, data and strength of logic trump worldview considerations. I think this question certainly came up last Wednesday, but as you correctly pointed out this is simply an instance of the genetic fallacy – dismissing a concept because of its source instead of its content.

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    Phinehas says:

    For example, if your car does not start, you would think of a natural cause, and would need a tremendous amount of evidence to consider a supernatural cause.

    If my car doesn’t start and I pop the hood and find that all the spark plug wires are missing, does that count as a tremendous amount of evidence? What if none are missing, but it appears that one may have been cut? When can I begin to consider the possibility of an intelligent agent’s involvement, scientifically speaking? And what must I know about that intelligent agent before concluding that it is highly unlikely for my spark plug wires to disappear due to a natural processes with no purpose or design.

    If you are saying that there is a huge difference between suspecting that an intelligent agent purposefully disabled my car and claiming that God stole my spark plug wires, then I agree. And so would ID. It’s focus is on intelligent causes without regard to natural or supernatural classifications.

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