Darwinist rhetorical tactics Functionally Specified Complex Information & Organization Origin Of Life Science, worldview issues/foundations and society

Vid: Hoping to find ancient life remains on Mars

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I ran across a vid of a proposal developed by Martin Marietta to explore Mars, towards settlement (and terraforming?):

[youtube tcTZvNLL0-w]

What I find highly interesting is the motivations given. In addition to the Mars colonisation idea, there seems to be hope that finding “independent” life on Mars would show life must be common in the universe.

ALH84001Of course, we will recall the 1990’s dust up over Nasa’s announcement of life on a meteorite held to have come from Mars. (Cf Wiki here.) Which, brings to mind Astronomer and Old Earth Creationist Hugh Ross’ thought that impacts on Earth would spread life-bearing rocks far and wide across the solar system. *His initial response to the Nasa announcement is here.)

But, too, there is a big question:

wouldn’t it be much simpler and cheaper to address the issue of whether functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information (FSCO/I) can credibly come about by blind chance and mechanical necessity right here on Earth?

Perhaps, it is time to begin decoupling the long term solar system colonisation project from speculations on the origin of life and its hoped for abundance in the universe?

Thoughts welcome. END

 

 

 

 

89 Replies to “Vid: Hoping to find ancient life remains on Mars

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    H’mm: Explore Mars, find traces of ancient life. Voila, materialistic origin of life on chance and necessity is easy, ID and Creationism are dead. Does it really come down to that? Or, would it not be wiser to ground Mars and Asteroid belt exploration on their own merits as we break out of our home planet across this century and begin to colonise the solar system? If we need a policy rationale, wouldn’t international unity and joint development of technology and knowledge that potentially transforms our accessible resources be enough? Including, say, a Bussard polywell tech derived drive, with spin offs on fusion tech and energy transformation? (And would not putting together an industrial civ 2.0 global village construction set as part of the colonising project open up development all across the world? Including of course a practical near von Neumann kinematic self replicator and universal constructor?) Do we need to rethink? KF

  2. 2
    Tiger131 says:

    Isn’t it fair to say ID can be compatible with a materialistic origin of life?

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    T, the issue is the FSCO/I involved, which is an empirically reliable sign of design backed by the needle in haystack challenge. Trivially, there is a cosmological side to ID, a world that sets up C chemistry, aqueous medium, cell based life is incredibly fine tuned. The real issue is, projecting the problem. For, the assumption that there is a credible chemical evolution blind chance and mechanical necessity, empirically anchored account that gets us to origin of cell based life is highly questionable. KF

  4. 4
    Tiger131 says:

    So … is it fair to say ID might be compatible with a materialistic origin of life?

  5. 5
    Mung says:

    Life transcends matter. Materialism is incompatible with life.

  6. 6
    Mung says:

    I just don’t understand why our hopes for finding ancient life should remain on Mars.

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    Similar to Earth? Used to have a lot of water?

  8. 8
    Tiger131 says:

    kairosfocus – Is it fair to say ID might be compatible with a materialistic origin of life?

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:

    T, inbuilt telos. As I believe was pointed to you. I won’t more than point to some forms of Molinism also. I add, cross purposes, the design inference is an induction on much tested, reliable sign and by itself does not indicate identity or nature within or beyond cosmos. Should real strong AI ever get off the ground and a robot becomes an effective designer, it would be recognised as such. Objectors to design theory often err here, thinking that inferring design on tested, reliable sign is an “assumption” when per FSCO/I, chance and/or necessity are ruled out and design is inferred. No, it is inference to best explanation, and to overturn it provide a solid counter example. A commonplace of science. KF

  10. 10
    Tiger131 says:

    kairosfocus – Does that mean “yes: id is compatible with materialism” ?

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    T,

    I believe this is the thread where the issue was answered in the OP, and you were answered in comments: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....t-dualism/

    The design inference is an exercise in inductive inference to best current explanation, and does not assume or depend on metaphysical dualism. Hence the strong AI example above.

    It seems you need to work through that logic.

    This duly noted, under the circumstances of fine tuning of the cosmos in particular, inferred design of a cosmos set up for life based on C-chemistry, aqueous medium cells in terrestrial, solar system and galactic habitable zones, can and does point to design beyond the observed cosmos and even beyond a speculative multiverse. Such an argument fits in well with a wider cumulative case pointing to necessary being, root cause of the observed cosmos that is minded and not material. Matter is incapable of being a necessary being as it is inherently contingent, cf. also the failure of the flying spaghetti monster type parody.

    Where, evolutionary materialism decisively fails as an account of reality by self referential incoherence. It cannot account for rational, responsible freedom, a necessity for us to reason, warrant, know and have a discussion shaped by those factors. Materialism is not a viable worldview.

    As a start-point for reflecting on this, cf. J B S Haldane in a famous remark:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [[“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    Further to this, our being under moral government points to a root level IS that grounds OUGHT.

    This cluster, in another level of inference to best explanation at worldviews level, highlights that after centuries of debate, there is but one serious candidate: the inherently good Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of loyalty and the service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature. (And yes, in that lurks a definition of evil as the twisting or frustration of the good out of its proper framework or purpose manifest in its nature.)

    There are several recent postss at UD that explore such themes and you are referred there. E.g. cf here: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....architect/

    (The onward links elaborate many of the themes just touched on in this comment.)

    KF

  12. 12
    Tiger131 says:

    kairosfocus, I’m asking you whether ID is compatible with materialism.

    On the other thread Mr Arrington said yes, but Mr Cain said no.

    What do you think?

    If ID is compatible with materialism, then finding a materialistic origin of life on Mars would not mean ID is dead, would it?

  13. 13
    George Edwards says:

    Tiger131, iD is compatible with everything because it can explain everything. But it is not testable or predictable.

    You also mentioned the idea that ID is dead. It is certainly not dead, and will never be (in one form or another) as long as religion survives. But it is certainly comatose. Just look at UD. The most popular thread in the last thirty days has been about hardening soft targets against terrorism. I am having a hard time finding s link between this and ID.

  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:

    T,

    You are asking me off thread and tangential to this thread’s main point.

    Be that as it may, I will say a few more things.

    First, the design inference proper is independent of metaphysical positions, being an inductive inference based on observations and in effect glorified common sense reasoning. Whether designers are wholly material has nothing directly to do with whether or not intelligently directed configuration exists, or whether it can leave traces such as FSCO/I that reliably indicate such as a causal factor.

    That is why I pointed to the issue that if strong AI succeeds somehow and machines known to be wholly material make genuine independent designs, then that will be recognised as design. And if sufficiently complex and functionally specific, the entity will point to design.

    Second, were an inbuilt purposefulness to be a part of the core of the world, inbuilt in its laws and materials so they have an inbuilt tendency to produce FSCO/I rich entities, that purposefulness would issue designs and such would be detectable.

    Third, looking to the world of life to decide whether or not designers are wholly within the physical cosmos is misdirected. Right from the first technical ID work, it was recognised and pointed out that detection of design in cell based life as observed would not allow an inference on the ontological status of the designers; as to whether within or beyond the cosmos. Indeed, I have repeatedly pointed out that a molecular nanotech lab some generations beyond the crude first steps of Venter et al, would be adequate to account for the architecture and chemistry of a living cell.

    And BTW, this point also cuts the other way, credibly finding a spontaneous origin of life or body plans would not decide whether there is mind beyond matter, or whether reality is wholly material.

    No, the place to decide the question of accounting for the observed cosmos is the cosmological level. Mars is not going to answer that question; though were apparently independent life to be found there, it will be trumpeted as a triumph of the evolutionary materialist school of thought.

    It is that level that, per astrophysics and cosmology over the past 90 years, strongly points to ours being a fine tuned cosmos set to a locally deeply isolated operating point that sets the stage for a world in which C-chemistry, aqueous medium, cell based life can exist.

    Such fine tuning points to design. Design beyond the cosmos and even beyond a speculative multiverse.

    Pulling back a bit, evolutionary materialism, separately, is in fact self-referentially incoherent as a worldview. For much the reason already pointed out: it cannot account for the responsible, rational freedom we need to reason, warrant, know and argue in hopes of fact and logic carrying the day.

    Before even coming in the door as a hoped for scientific explanation, evolutionary materialism’s self referential incoherence needs to be squarely faced. Which, makes it strictly irrelevant to any serious explanation of anything. It self falsifies and that in a way that means it is utterly unreliable in terms of what it projects, predicts or explains.

    The lab coat is empty.

    Going onwards, and as linked to in earlier threads, the logic of being points to a world root that needs to be a necessary being. Which cannot be material, as such will be inherently contingent.

    This points to mind before and as the cause of the observed cosmos.

    This may not fit the conventional wisdom of our day, but that conventional wisdom is itself questionable.

    Bring to bear the fact of moral government, and we need to bridge the IS-OUGHT gap, leading to the point that such can only be adequately bridged at world-root level.

    The only serious candidate has already been pointed out.

    Unsurprisingly, evolutionary materialism struggles with responsible, rational freedom and linked moral government.

    So much the worse for it.

    But, coming full circle, the design inference proper does not depend on the ultimate nature of designers responsible for what it does detect: design as causal process evident from empirically reliable signs, such as FSCO/I.

    KF

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    GE, no. The design inference on signs such as FSCO/I is empirically testable and would be falsified by credible empirical observation of such coming about by blind chance and/or mechanical necessity. Further to this, the design inference is by no means an attempt to explain everything. I strongly suggest to you that you should scroll up to the resources tab and clarify the many points of misunderstanding evident in your remarks above. This article may also be of help — the Wiki article is a massive fail, resistant to correction because of the flawed model for that site. KF

  16. 16
    George Edwards says:

    KF: “GE, no. The design inference on signs such as FSCO/I is empirically testable and would be falsified by credible empirical observation of such coming about by blind chance and/or mechanical necessity”

    Fair enough. Can you please provide me with a link to an article in a peer reviewed journal where FSCO/I has been empirically tested for a biological structure?

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    GE, Functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information is a descriptive phrase for the functional form of complex specified information and is massively evident all around us, per observation. Refusal to acknowledge such a directly evident fact is itself a sign of something gone seriously wrong. As for testing, on trillions of cases it is a reliable sign of design as cause. In the case of DNA, code strings are a common phenomenon, and functional specificity is notorious. The pattern of protein fold domains in the space of AA sequences then highlights precisely the deeply isolated islands of function pattern that instantly challenges sol system or even cosmos scope resources at OOL and origin of body plans. These are strong signs of design of life based on informational molecules and linked communication and control systems. KF

    PS: Let me cite here Leslie Orgel, in his 1973 discussion, which put the matter on the table:

    . . . In brief, living organisms are distinguished by their specified complexity. Crystals are usually taken as the prototypes of simple well-specified structures, because they consist of a very large number of identical molecules packed together in a uniform way. Lumps of granite or random mixtures of polymers are examples of structures that are complex but not specified. The crystals fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; the mixtures of polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity . . . .

    [HT, Mung, fr. p. 190 & 196:] These vague idea can be made more precise by introducing the idea of information. Roughly speaking, the information content of a structure is the minimum number of instructions needed to specify the structure. [–> this is of course equivalent to the string of yes/no questions required to specify the relevant “wiring diagram” for the set of functional states, T, in the much larger space of possible clumped or scattered configurations, W, as Dembski would go on to define in NFL in 2002. Note, such a structured string — i.e. a description language, is precisely how AutoCAD etc work.] One can see intuitively that many instructions are needed to specify a complex structure. [–> so if the q’s to be answered are Y/N, the chain length is an information measure that indicates complexity in bits . . . so we come to the issue of a node-arc-component mesh, described in a description language and constrained by requisites of function based on configuration, which will be sharply constrained relative to possible arbitrarily clumped or scattered combinations of the same parts. All of this is massively familiar from the world of technology] On the other hand a simple repeating structure can be specified in rather few instructions. [–> do once and repeat over and over in a loop . . . ] Complex but random structures, by definition, need hardly be specified at all . . . . Paley was right to emphasize the need for special explanations of the existence of objects with high information content, for they cannot be formed in nonevolutionary, inorganic processes. [The Origins of Life (John Wiley, 1973), p. 189, p. 190, p. 196. Of course, that immediately highlights OOL, where the required self-replicating entity is part of what has to be explained (cf. Paley here), a notorious conundrum for advocates of evolutionary materialism; one, that has led to mutual ruin documented by Shapiro and Orgel between metabolism first and genes first schools of thought, cf here. Behe would go on to point out that irreducibly complex structures are not credibly formed by incremental evolutionary processes and Menuge et al would bring up serious issues for the suggested exaptation alternative, cf. his challenges C1 – 5 in the just linked. Finally, Dembski highlights that CSI comes in deeply isolated islands T in much larger configuration spaces W, for biological systems functional islands. That puts up serious questions for origin of dozens of body plans reasonably requiring some 10 – 100+ mn bases of fresh genetic information to account for cell types, tissues, organs and multiple coherently integrated systems. Wicken’s remarks a few years later as already were cited now take on fuller force in light of the further points from Orgel at pp. 190 and 196 . . . ]

    J S Wicken, in 1979, further draws out the point:

    ‘Organized’ systems are to be carefully distinguished from ‘ordered’ systems. Neither kind of system is ‘random,’ but whereas ordered systems are generated according to simple algorithms [[i.e. “simple” force laws acting on objects starting from arbitrary and common- place initial conditions] and therefore lack complexity, organized systems must be assembled element by element according to an [[originally . . . ] external ‘wiring diagram’ with a high information content . . . Organization, then, is functional complexity and carries information. [–> this is where the descriptive phrase comes from, by simple adaptation] It is non-random by design or by selection, rather than by the a priori necessity of crystallographic ‘order.’ [[“The Generation of Complexity in Evolution: A Thermodynamic and Information-Theoretical Discussion,” Journal of Theoretical Biology, 77 (April 1979): p. 353, of pp. 349-65.]

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Dembski in NFL:

    p. 148:“The great myth of contemporary evolutionary biology is that the information needed to explain complex biological structures can be purchased without intelligence. My aim throughout this book is to dispel that myth . . . . Eigen and his colleagues must have something else in mind besides information simpliciter when they describe the origin of information as the central problem of biology.

    I submit that what they have in mind is specified complexity [[cf. here below], or what equivalently we have been calling in this Chapter Complex Specified information or CSI . . . .

    Biological specification always refers to function. An organism is a functional system comprising many functional subsystems. . . . In virtue of their function [[a living organism’s subsystems] embody patterns that are objectively given and can be identified independently of the systems that embody them. Hence these systems are specified in the sense required by the complexity-specificity criterion . . . the specification can be cashed out in any number of ways [[through observing the requisites of functional organisation within the cell, or in organs and tissues or at the level of the organism as a whole. Dembski cites:

    Wouters, p. 148: “globally in terms of the viability of whole organisms,”

    Behe, p. 148: “minimal function of biochemical systems,”

    Dawkins, pp. 148 – 9: “Complicated things have some quality, specifiable in advance, that is highly unlikely to have been acquired by ran-| dom chance alone. In the case of living things, the quality that is specified in advance is . . . the ability to propagate genes in reproduction.”

    On p. 149, he roughly cites Orgel’s famous remark from 1973, which exactly cited reads:

    In brief, living organisms are distinguished by their specified complexity. Crystals are usually taken as the prototypes of simple well-specified structures, because they consist of a very large number of identical molecules packed together in a uniform way. Lumps of granite or random mixtures of polymers are examples of structures that are complex but not specified. The crystals fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; the mixtures of polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity . . .

    And, p. 149, he highlights Paul Davis in The Fifth Miracle: “Living organisms are mysterious not for their complexity per se, but for their tightly specified complexity.”] . . .”

    p. 144: [[Specified complexity can be more formally defined:] “. . . since a universal probability bound of 1 [[chance] in 10^150 corresponds to a universal complexity bound of 500 bits of information, [[the cluster] (T, E) constitutes CSI because T [[ effectively the target hot zone in the field of possibilities] subsumes E [[ effectively the observed event from that field], T is detachable from E, and and T measures at least 500 bits of information . . . ”

  19. 19
    George Edwards says:

    KF, you copied and pasted from several discussions but not a single link to a peer reviewed article that has used the concept of FSCO/I to conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a biological structure is designed. I am not asking for proof, just a conclusion beyond reasonable doubt.

    If I am going to discuss this with you I want to do it by discussing one or two papers, not paragraphs cut and pasted into a comment in which I cannot discern the context in which it was written. I am sure you can understand this.

  20. 20
    Mung says:

    kairosfocus, we have here in our midst for the first time in ages a skeptic with an open mind and a sincere desire to know the truth.

    Please respect that.

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    GE,

    your appeal to authority in a context of known censorship and lock-out speaks volumes; where perhaps you did not observe that Orgel and Wicken are in fact leading authorities, speaking in technical context on expertise in journals or technically published works (Wiley); Dembski’s NFL is in fact peer reviewed and technically edited.

    The disqualification and dismissal game fails.

    But we do not need to go into a debate, we are dealing with a point well within reach of anyone with basic familiarity with functional information.

    Again, DNA is text, string data structure. We know and can readily calculate the config space for a string of n-elements where each place takes v values. Here V^n => 4^n. That sets the haystack for search.

    Within the stack, it is a fact of the literature, well known, that protein fold domains (a critical step to functionality) are deeply isolated as islands, leading directly to the search challenge. For a typical protein of 300 AA, 4^[3 x 300] possibilities at 3 letters per AA codon tells us what we are up against. 4^900 –> 7.14 *10^541 possibilities, utterly swamping cosmos level search capacity.

    Islands of function, even before we get to interwoven codes, alternative splicing and the like, all of which have been discussed and show more and more embedded specific complexity.

    As fr the hoped for search for a golden search that cuts down the scale of challenge, that too has to be blind and will come from the power set of the scale o the set of possibilities, as that too must be blind. As in 2 ^[7*10^541] or thereabouts.

    There is excellent reason why consitently and on trillions of cases in point of textual strings, funcitonally specific informaiton bearing strings of reasonable length will consitently be seen to be designed.

    So, the relevant FSCO/I is an empirically reliable signature of design, whatever obfuscatory or dismissive rhetoric may be trotted out.

    Indeed, absent a priori imposition of self falsifying evolutionary materialism b the back door of so called methodological naturalism, we would never even have a doubt as to what discovering extensive digitally coded information in the living cell means by way of relevant cause.

    That such rhetorical stunts have to be resorted to to try to blunt what is staring us in the face, speaks volumes.

    Sad volumes.

    KF

  22. 22
  23. 23
    George Edwards says:

    “your appeal to authority in a context of known censorship and lock-out speaks volumes; blah, blah, blah. ”

    I see you fall back on your “accuse the questioner” tactic when the question is uncomfortable again. Talk about speaking volumes. We are talking libraries here. All I did was ask for a single paper from a peer reviewed journal that has concluded that a biological structure was the result of “design”. In this way we could discuss your claims that there are millions of examples. You don’t expect me to take your word for it, do you? I certainly wouldn’t expect you to take my word without following up on it.

    If there was overwhelming evidence that design in Biological structures could conclusively (or even with a high degree of certainty) be identified using the concept of FSCO/I, then you would have absolutely no difficulty getting it published in Science or Nature, your censorship conspiracy not withstanding. Have you ever submitted a paper to a science journal about this subject? If it was rejected, I would love to hear the reasons given. I have had a couple papers rejected, and the reasons were justified.

    Dembski’s NFL is in fact peer reviewed and technically edited.”

    To the same extent that Erik Von Daniken’s Chariots of Fire was. Getting a book published does not go through the same level of peer review that papers in the top science journals do. You know this as well as I do.

    If you can’t find one peer reviewed paper, just say so and we can drop the subject.

    Cheers.

  24. 24
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Perhaps, it is time to begin decoupling the long term solar system colonisation project from speculations on the origin of life and its hoped for abundance in the universe?

    How should we begin this “decoupling” process? People are interested in colonization partly because we are curious what we will find. Evidence of life on other planets would be the most amazing scientific discovery of all time, IMO.

  25. 25
    Mung says:

    Evidence of life on other planets would be the most amazing scientific discovery of all time, IMO.

    What would make such a discovery “scientific”?

  26. 26
    daveS says:

    Mung,

    What would make such a discovery “scientific”?

    I don’t know, maybe it wouldn’t be a scientific discovery. It would be quite a big deal, though.

  27. 27
    Alicia Cartelli says:

    “What would make such a discovery ‘scientific’?”

    Quite possibly the dumbest question I’ve ever heard.
    Congrats Mungy.

  28. 28
    kairosfocus says:

    GE, if you are not aware of the lockout game has been going on for a long time, perhaps you need to come up to speed. No, this is not accuse the questioner, there has been a real problem for a long time. And BTW, Rowman & Littlefield — US publisher of NFL — as well as Cambridge U Press [I did cross checks on memory here] — publisher of his The Design Inference — bear no comparison to von Daniken; your mask has slipped and the unbridled hostility and ill informed contempt are showing. KF

    PS: The fundamental issue has been laid out, and it is in fact quite clear that complex coded text that effects algorithms is a reliable signature of design, with literally trillions of cases in point. Of cases of known origin, there are no credible counter instances. This is backed up by the needle in haystack blind search challenge.

  29. 29
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, when an agenda is as focal as in the vid above despite the actual logic of the case, something has gone wrong. The real potential benefit is opening up the wider solar system and things linked to that. KF

  30. 30
    Mung says:

    Alicia Cartelli: Quite possibly the dumbest question I’ve ever heard.

    Quite possibly the dumbest answer I’ve ever heard.
    Congrats Alicia.

  31. 31
    Mung says:

    DaveS: …maybe it wouldn’t be a scientific discovery.

    Precisely.

    Science has yet to discover life on this planet. No reason to think it’s capable of discovering life on other planets.

    The question, What Is Life?, is still a question in search of an answer.

    Perhaps Alicia thinks that’s an even dumber question than the one I asked. I wouldn’t be surprised.

  32. 32
    daveS says:

    Mung,

    Science has yet to discover life on this planet. No reason to think it’s capable of discovering life on other planets.

    Hmm. Well, let’s say they discovered extremophile bacteria, complete with DNA, or something superficially resembling them, on Mars. Whatever you want to call it, people would find that very interesting.

  33. 33
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, are you aware that, based on impacts and ejecta, life spores are expected to have reached as far as gas giant moons from Earth? KF

  34. 34
    daveS says:

    KF,

    I’ve read statements by Rob Sheldon (and others) along those lines, so yes, I am aware that “life spores” from Earth could be floating through space. I’m not aware that anyone has actually detected them, though. Were any found in samples of Moon rock?

  35. 35
    Alicia Cartelli says:

    First of all, discovering evidence of life on another planet will require the use of our scientific knowledge/inventions. It will also redefine how we think about biology, depending on exactly what this evidence is.
    The fact that I had to explain this to you worries me, Mungy.

  36. 36
    George Edwards says:

    KF: “GE, if you are not aware of the lockout game has been going on for a long time, perhaps you need to come up to speed.”

    Can I take this to mean that you have not submitted your FSCO/I idea with its preponderance of overwhelming evidence for publication in a recognized science journal? You base your entire conclusion about censorship on shoddy documentaries like Expelled but have not tested the claim yourself. Why don’t you test Expelled’s claim using the scientific principal? Submit your research for publication and see what happens.

    PS: The fundamental issue has been laid out, and it is in fact quite clear that complex coded text that effects algorithms is a reliable signature of design,…”

    All based on human design.

    with literally trillions of cases in point. “

    All of human origin.

    Of cases of known origin [all human], there are no credible counter instances.”

    Translation: All human codes are known to be designed by humans.

    In short, you are basing your conclusions on data with zero degrees of freedom. From a statistical perspective, you don’t even have correlation, let alone cause.

    Maybe if you could refer to a peer reviewed paper in a science journal that supports your point, we could discuss it logically and rationally.

  37. 37
    kairosfocus says:

    GE, You are simply recirculating already adequately answered points. The concept is not new to me or even to the ID movement. It has long been recognised as relevant to life forms and in fact is a descriptive term for a commonplace phenomenon of composite functional entities that are put together per an explicit or implicit wiring diagram to achieve function. The quantity of information involved can be assessed per description length, as was also described. The simplest case is string data structures, such as in text and in DNA. Once the complexity passes a certain threshold, it will run into the needle in haystack search challenge. So, as is readily seen, design is its best explanation. That you seem to have difficulty facing this and closely linked terms and concepts as well as observations, speaks volumes and not in favour of the dismissal you are attempting. Duly noted. KF

    PS: Not all observed cases of FSCO/I are of human origin, and there is no good reason to infer that we exhaust possible designers.

  38. 38
    Mung says:

    Alicia Cartelli:

    First of all, discovering evidence of life on another planet will require the use of our scientific knowledge/inventions.

    Is that, in your opinion, a necessary condition for it to be a scientific discovery? Is it a sufficient condition?

    Is there such a thing as non-scientific knowledge and non-scientific inventions? If so, how do we tell the difference?

    Given that the question, What Is Life? still remains unanswered by science, how does science tell us what constitutes evidence of life?

    It will also redefine how we think about biology, depending on exactly what this evidence is.

    Given that we don’t know what life is, what on earth is biology about? Perhaps it’s already past time that we begin to redefine what we think about biology.

    Nice talking to you, Alicia.

  39. 39
  40. 40
    Jack Jones says:

    George “You base your entire conclusion about censorship on shoddy documentaries like Expelled”

    Somebody with your shoddy reasoning has no credibility when talking about what is or is not shoddy.

    George “Submit your research for publication and see what happens.”

    What scientific test was done on the claim that claims have to be published to have any validity and which journal was this published in?

    George ” All based on human design.”

    And Human designs are being based off of what is discovered in Organisms, The field of Biomimicry is thriving as Inventors model their designs off of what they see in living things.

    You are most welcome to put your faith in dumb chance but dumb chance cannot explain the design being discovered with living organisms.

    “Maybe if you could refer to a peer reviewed paper in a science journal that supports your point”

    Again:

    What scientific test was done on the claim that claims have to be published to have any validity and which journal was this published in?

  41. 41
    Alicia Cartelli says:

    Not necessary or sufficient.
    Sure there’s non-scientific knowledge.
    Non-scientific inventions? I can’t think of one.
    We certainly have a general definition of life and know a good deal about it. Finding anything resembling these things would be a good indication of life.
    “what on earth is biology about?” It doesn’t surprise me that you are asking this question, Mungy.
    Always nice talking to you too.

  42. 42
    kairosfocus says:

    AC, there is no generally acknowledged one size fits all definition of life. As for inventions, inventiveness and patents are not at all locked down to science. KF

  43. 43
    Mung says:

    Alicia, given that you are willing to admit that your proposal fails to offer either necessary or sufficient conditions, why did you think my question so dumb?

    Surely you presented to us for our consideration the best that science has to offer!

  44. 44
    Mung says:

    Alicia Cartelli: Sure there’s non-scientific knowledge.

    Indeed. Science would not even be possible if that were not the case. Do your course materials inform your students that non-scientific knowledge is possible?

  45. 45
    Mung says:

    Alicia Cartelli: Non-scientific inventions? I can’t think of one.

    Stretch your mind a bit. How about writing?

  46. 46
    Mung says:

    Alicia Cartelli: We certainly have a general definition of life and know a good deal about it.

    You and who else? What is your definition of life?

  47. 47
    Tiger131 says:

    Obviously if we find complex specified information then that’s solid evidence of life.

    kairosfocus:

    * [T]he design inference proper is independent of metaphysical positions …
    * finding a spontaneous origin of life or body plans would not decide whether there is mind beyond matter, or whether reality is wholly material
    * the design inference proper does not depend on the ultimate nature of designers

    So you agree that ID is compatible with materialism.

    … were apparently independent life to be found [on Mars], it will be trumpeted as a triumph of the evolutionary materialist school of thought.

    That doesn’t make any sense if ID is compatible with materialism. It would be a triumph for ID, wouldn’t it?

  48. 48
    George Edwards says:

    KF: “… were apparently independent life to be found [on Mars], it will be trumpeted as a triumph of the evolutionary materialist school of thought.”

    Tiger: “That doesn’t make any sense if ID is compatible with materialism. It would be a triumph for ID, wouldn’t it?”

    Actually, it doesn’t lend support to either side. All it would suggest is that life in the universe is far more common than most people previously believed. If the life was DNA based and otherwise very similar to that in earth, I can conceive that the IDism side might claim victory. Conversely, if it was not DNA based, I can conceive that the evolution side might claim victory. But both would be wrong.

  49. 49
    George Edwards says:

    JJ: “What scientific test was done on the claim that claims have to be published to have any validity and which journal was this published in?”

    There is plenty of bad science published in peer reviewed journals. It is far from a perfect system. But at least it is a system. And if FSCO/I has as much evidence supporting it as KF is claiming, and if it is testable, why can the number of peer reviewed papers demonstrating its applicability in biology be counted on the fingers of one hand of an amputee? KF claims that this is due to censorship but he has never once submitted it for peer review. That speaks volumes. That would be like claiming that I was never elected mayor in my city because of racism, when I have never run for mayor. Both are empty claims.

    JJ: “George ” All based on human design.”

    And Human designs are being based off of what is discovered in Organisms, The field of Biomimicry is thriving as Inventors model their designs off of what they see in living things.”

    Such as the arch and the column and the wheel and the bow and arrow and the gun and sky scrapers? Yes, we are designing things based on the “design” of living things (JJ, be mindful of the scare quotes around design, you made yourself look foolish the last time you took a literal interpretation of the word when I used them. I would hate to see you make a fool of yourself more than is your norm). Evolution has been “designing” (Caution, scare quotes) for a few billion years, humans for a few thousand. It would only be smart to take advantage if “designs” (Caution, scare quotes) that nature has shown to be quite effective.

    But, you might also note that we do not mimic all of the “designs” (Cation, scare quotes) that we see in nature. We don’t build our cameras like the human eye, we don’t run electrical circuits in a skyscraper from the basement to the thirtieth floor and back just to provide power to a lamp in the basement, with no other outlets or junctions in the circuit.

  50. 50
    kairosfocus says:

    GE, It is clear that you refuse to examine and reflect for yourself on a phenomenon as literally in your face as the text strings — let me amplify: s-t-r-i-n-g-s — you had to compose in order to object. I further add: DNA/mRNA shows such strings. Where more complex node arc patterns can be reduced to structured y/n q’s i.e. a description language, rendering a discussion on strings WLOG. Cf AutoCAD files stored in memory to clarify if this is a mystery, noting that a binary digit is effectively a y/n q answered. That pattern shown above is inadvertently revealing. KF

  51. 51
    jerry says:

    Similar to Earth? Used to have a lot of water?

    I know that there has always been speculation that Mars had water at one time but Eric Metaxas reported that as impossible. The mass of Mars is too small to keep water on the surface. It would all evaporate away.

  52. 52
  53. 53
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: The Durston et al paper that should give pause to a few objectors trying to suggest that functionally specific complex organisation and/or information is not a confirmed biological phenomenon discussed in peer reviewed literature and/or that it does not raise serious questions of design as credible cause: http://www.tbiomed.com/content/4/1/47 KF

  54. 54
    jerry says:

    The Canyons?

    Again, could water have ever existed on Mars in a liquid form? Would it not evaporate away?

    Are these speculations in the past about Mars not based on physics but popular misunderstanding? Or is the physics that Metaxas cited, wrong? I am curious because Metaxas makes a point of this in describing Earth as extremely unlikely. Water will cling to surface at molecular weight of 18 but Methane and Ammonia at 16 and 17 will not. So on Mars all but heavy gases would evaporate.

    I am not an expert by any means but this is interesting.

  55. 55
    kairosfocus says:

    J, Nasa is arguing that water on Mars is a current matter, including flow phenomena. KF

  56. 56
    jerry says:

    Nasa is arguing that water on Mars is a current matter, including flow phenomena.

    Well, someone should ask NASA if water would evaporate on Mars due to its molecular weight. I would be interested in their response.

  57. 57
    kairosfocus says:

    J, it is not the molecular weight of water but its tendency to clump that counts, i.e. it is polar and forms a sort of 3-d polymer with holes in it allowing flow, to use crude terms. That is why it is liquid under normal conditions on Earth. For Mars, coldness points to ice and the signs that suggest liquid flows are interesting, BTW IIRC there was suggestion of ice on the Moon. Asteroid belt too. KF

  58. 58
    Zachriel says:

    jerry: I know that there has always been speculation that Mars had water at one time but Eric Metaxas reported that as impossible. The mass of Mars is too small to keep water on the surface.

    The process of losing its water took place over geological time scales. Water was added to Mars through bombardment, and then by volcanism. Water vapor then formed an atmosphere which, along with carbon dioxide, constituted a greenhouse layer, while a small magnetic field shielded the atmosphere from high energy radiation, slowing the process by which the atmosphere escaped to space. The faster the water evaporated, the thicker the atmosphere, a negative feedback. Eventually, over hundreds-of-millions of years, Mars was left a desert. Yet, liquid water may still form under certain conditions.

  59. 59
    Jack Jones says:

    @49 George

    ” you made yourself look foolish the last time you took a literal interpretation of the word when I used them.”

    Wow, You are still smarting from your humiliation on the other thread George.

    CY educated you about the use of quotes after you made a fool of yourself, You are still crying about your humiliation.

    haha

    Hey George, I have no problem if your argument to cover your humiliation is that you believe in non evil evil.

    haha

    “you made yourself look foolish the last time you took a literal interpretation of the word when I used them.”

    Poor George is still crying over his humiliation on the other thread.

    He believes in non evil evil.

    haha

    “Evolution has been “designing” (Caution, scare quotes) for a few billion years, humans for a few thousand. It would only be smart to take advantage if “designs” (Caution, scare quotes) that nature has shown to be quite effective.”

    Ladies and Gentlemen. George believes in non design design.

    haha

    If there is no design then there is no design to model, We do find design to model thus disproving the claim of no design.

    You are most welcome to believe in the oxymoron of non design design though George.

    haha

    “But, you might also note that we do not mimic all of the “designs” (Cation, scare quotes that we see in nature.”

    George believes in non design design folks.

    haha

    “We don’t build our cameras like the human eye we don’t run electrical circuits in a skyscraper from the basement to the thirtieth floor and back just to provide power to a lamp in the basement, with no other outlets or junctions in the circuit.”

    Design is found in the human eye however and modeled, This should not be possible if there is no design in living things to model for design solutions.

    But like I said George, You are most welcome to believe in non design design just like you are welcome to believe in non evil evil.

    haha

  60. 60
    kairosfocus says:

    JJ, Tone please. KF

  61. 61
    kairosfocus says:

    Z,

    interesting, though there is the matter of retention of vapours due to Mars’ small mass, a molecule of 18 AMU is rather light. We can note the thinness of the current atmosphere and the avg molecular mass, 43 AMU; with isotope ratios suggesting preferential loss of lighter molecules. I also see a suggestion of solar wind stripping.

    For human habitation, I expect domes and lined tunnels eventually.

    Water in the Asteroid belt may be useful.

    KF

  62. 62
    George Edwards says:

    KF: “JJ, Tone please. KF”

    KF, thank you for defending my honour.

  63. 63
    paul sussman says:

    Jack seems to really have a problem with George. I really don’t see why. Obviously George is not that bright.

  64. 64
    Virgil Cain says:

    ID is not and never will be compatible with materialism. If materialism is true then ID is false.

  65. 65
    Mung says:

    Jack has a problem with Jack.

  66. 66
    Virgil Cain says:

    George:

    All I did was ask for a single paper from a peer reviewed journal that has concluded that a biological structure was the result of “design”.

    The evidence from peer-review is what is used to infer biological structures are the result of design. And no one can use that evidence to show that natural selection, drift and/ or neutral changes could produce them. And that is very telling.

  67. 67
    Vy says:

    Kf and Jerry, you might be interested in this concerning Martian water.

  68. 68
    jerry says:

    you might be interested in this concerning Martian water

    My point is a physics question. Can liquid water exist on Mars now or at anytime in the past? It seems molecular weight would be a major problem for it to have ever been there.

    I am not competent to answer it but this is a question for the physicists to answer.

  69. 69
    Tiger131 says:

    Mr Cain – You and Mr Arrington are in complete disagreement regarding ID and materialism.

    You say “ID is not and never will be compatible with materialism. If materialism is true then ID is false.”

    Mr Arrington says “the existence of design as a category of causation is no obstacle to accepting the truth of monist physicalism.”

    CARM: There is no real difference between materialism and physicalism…
    Stanford: Physicalism is sometimes known as ‘materialism’…

    Do ID proponents not even agree on the fundamental metaphysics of their position?

  70. 70
    Barry Arrington says:

    Tiger131 quotes me as saying:

    “the existence of design as a category of causation is no obstacle to accepting the truth of monist physicalism.”

    I actually said:

    “If such a natural telic force exists, the existence of design as a category of causation is no obstacle to accepting the truth of monist physicalism.”

    Attributing false quotes to me gets you a first class one way ticket out of here. Bye bye.

  71. 71
    paul sussman says:

    //Attributing false quotes to me gets you a first class one way ticket out of here. Bye bye.//

    That seems rather drastic. We have all misinterpreted the words of others. It is only when we know that the misinterpretation is intentional and malicious that we can ascribe an evil intent. Do you have any indication of such an intent?

  72. 72
    CLAVDIVS says:

    Barry Arrington @ 70

    Wondering what’s the right answer – is ID compatible with materialism, under certain conditions, as you said, or is it not?

  73. 73
    kairosfocus says:

    Claudius: The design inference is independent of metaphysical commitments other than that we are able to observe, understand and reason freely and responsibly, with significant accuracy. That is, it does not embed a prior commitment that materialism is false as a start point for reasoning. So, if there is an immanent telic force in nature, the design theory will be compatible with such. On the world of life, a design inference on the FSCO/I in the cell points only to deign of the cell, not the identity or nature of its designers. Though in context of other considerations it may help people forming a worldview level conclusion. At cosmological level, fine tuning points to design of the observed cosmos, indicating that a credible candidate designer should be considered. Indeed, design is normally understood as evidence of designer being required. The issue would be of what nature, opening up worldviews level arguments on being etc; but that goes beyond what ID as a research programme within science, is about. Beyond these, evolutionary materialism should not even be on the table as a serious discussion point, as it is inherently self refuting, unable to account for what we need even to discuss in this thread, responsible, rational freedom. KF

  74. 74
    kairosfocus says:

    Jerry, liquid water faces the issue of temperature-pressure conditions, so it is likely not sustainable; short term is a different story hence serious consideration of there being water-cut features, even in very recent times. Ice obviously exists even in vacuo, e.g. comets. The other concern is that water vapour is a light molecule, relatively speaking so would tend to be lost from the atmosphere of a relatively light planet — thermal energy per degree of freedom tends to be of order kT so a light molecule can more readily get to escape velocity and will fade out of an atmosphere for a terrestrial planet. Also solar wind seems to be stripping Mars’ atmosphere. In the end, it is exploration that will answer. KF

  75. 75
    CLAVDIVS says:

    Thanks kairosfocus … so Virgil Cain is simply wrong, in your view.

    What is the difference between ‘evolutionary materialism’ and just plain ‘materialism’ as you use the terms?

  76. 76
    kairosfocus says:

    Claudius,

    the root issue is that evolutionary materialistic scientism, though politically dominant is not a viable worldview on the merits.

    I amplify to show that the focus is the lab coat clad view that the cosmos moved from hydrogen to humans by blind chance and mechanical necessity strictly.

    FYI, there are views of the nature of matter that would class what others would call spirit by way of distinction as matter.

    The key issue is that the design inference is strictly independent of major metaphysical worldview commitments beyond responsible rational freedom so we can think, know and reason; the issues about it should be at that level, as inductively grounded conclusions that are reasonably reliable should be prior to worldview frameworks in our epistemology.

    So, if the design inference is reasonable on empirical evidence, and turns out to be incompatible with evolutionary materialism that should count against evo mat.

    (For sure there should not be an insinuation of begging questions against the privileged worldview, materialism in a lab coat. In other worlds one must wonder if evo mat is increasingly obviously failing an empirical test and someone is trying to twist this around to dismiss the test as cutting across what they assume to be true.)

    The question as usually posed is misformed.

    Evolutionary materialism is a grand metaphysical narrative never mind the lab coats, the design inference is not in that category, it is about inductive inferences on tested reliable sign.

    Looking at the evo mat worldview, it is already incoherent in accounting for a commonsense fact: we are responsibly free and rational, ending in self referential incoherence. It should never have been taken seriously.

    KF

  77. 77
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Lewontin:

    . . . to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads [==> as in, “we” have cornered the market on truth, warrant and knowledge] we must first get an incorrect view out [–> as in, if you disagree with “us” of the secularist elite you are wrong, irrational and so dangerous you must be stopped, even at the price of manipulative indoctrination of hoi polloi] . . . the problem is to get them [= hoi polloi] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations,

    [ –> as in, to think in terms of ethical theism is to be delusional, justifying “our” elitist and establishment-controlling interventions of power to “fix” the widespread mental disease]

    and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth

    [–> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]

    . . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists [–> “we” are the dominant elites], it is self-evident

    [–> actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . . and in fact it is evolutionary materialism that is readily shown to be self-refuting]

    that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality [–> = all of reality to the evolutionary materialist], and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [–> i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us [= the evo-mat establishment] to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [–> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [–> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door . . . [–> irreconcilable hostility to ethical theism, already caricatured as believing delusionally in imaginary demons]. [Lewontin, Billions and billions of Demons, NYRB Jan 1997,cf. here. And, if you imagine this is “quote-mined” I invite you to read the fuller annotated citation here.]

    KF

  78. 78
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: The real prior question is whether evolutionary materialistic scientism is compatible with itself. And it is not.

  79. 79
    CLAVDIVS says:

    kairosfocus – You appear to be assuming that materialism entails the impossibility of free will. Correct?

    Also, if ID is compatible with materialism, why not make common cause with materialists to advance ID? I know you think materialism is false but there seems little point railing against materialists when they could well be ID supporters.

  80. 80
    kairosfocus says:

    Claudius:

    First, again, the question is malformed. The real issue is whether evolutionary materialist sacientism is compatible with itself.

    Second, perhaps you need to ponder what leading philosopher (and Naturalist) Nagel has had to say.

    Third, I am not “assuming” that evolutionary materialist scientism undermines responsible rational freedom.

    Just for two illustrations as to the sort of people who directly imply or state such, cf first Crick in his The Astonishing Hypothesis, 1994:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.

    . . . and Provine in a well known U of Tenn 1998 Darwin Day Keynote:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will [–> without responsible freedom, mind, reason and morality alike disintegrate into grand delusion, hence self-referential incoherence and self-refutation. But that does not make such fallacies any less effective in the hands of clever manipulators] . . . [1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address, U of Tenn — and yes, that is significant i/l/o the Scopes Trial, 1925]

    Many more could be brought forward on the point. Which is quite simple in the end. Here is JBS Haldane:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [[“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    Reppert amplifies:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [[But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [[so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

    In short the proposed cause is simply not adequate to the observed and experienced effect.

    KF

  81. 81
    Jack Jones says:

    @60 KF

    KF, I am only reciprocating.

  82. 82
    Virgil Cain says:

    I will say it again- If materialism is true then ID is false. This is exemplified by the explanatory filter as materialism is the claim that necessity and chance are all that is required to explain what we observe.

    ID claims that materialistic processes cannot produce life and if materialism is true then abiogenesis is also true. ID falls.

    Pure and simple, people.

  83. 83
    Virgil Cain says:

    From Darwinism, Design and Public Education page 92:

    1. High information content (or specified complexity) and irreducible complexity constitute strong indicators or hallmarks of (past) intelligent design.

    2. Biological systems have a high information content (or specified complexity) and utilize subsystems that manifest irreducible complexity.

    3. Naturalistic mechanisms or undirected causes do not suffice to explain the origin of information (specified complexity) or irreducible complexity.

    4. Therefore, intelligent design constitutes the best explanations for the origin of information and irreducible complexity in biological systems.

    If materialism is true then all of that is false. And if all of that is false then ID is false.

  84. 84
    kairosfocus says:

    VC,

    Actually, if evolutinary materialist scientism is true, we are delusions [there is nothing there to be a stable personal identity], our minds are delusions, rationality and responsibility collapse, and knowledge is an incoherent construct.

    So, if it were taken as true it undermines ability to access truth and indeed to be rational. Where also if the deliverances of our electrochemical computational substrates are so untrustworthy on a central issue, that puts the programming [and that has to be explained — oops, that too is a delusion — on blind chance and mechanical necessity] our whole intellectual enterprise is a futile chasing after the wind.

    Indeed, these words and all other words in this thread are just empty noise.

    It is utterly, irretrievably, patently incoherent.

    So, that is where the matter must start before asking about something else can be compatible with it. Compatibility requires what has been locked out.

    And that is where the issue needs to be faced.

    KF

  85. 85
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Nancy Pearcey:

    A major way to test a philosophy or worldview is to ask: Is it logically consistent? Internal contradictions are fatal to any worldview because contradictory statements are necessarily false. “This circle is square” is contradictory, so it has to be false. An especially damaging form of contradiction is self-referential absurdity — which means a theory sets up a definition of truth that it itself fails to meet. Therefore it refutes itself . . . . An example of self-referential absurdity is a theory called evolutionary epistemology, a naturalistic approach that applies evolution to the process of knowing. The theory proposes that the human mind is a product of natural selection. The implication is that the ideas in our minds were selected for their survival value, not for their truth-value.

    But what if we apply that theory to itself? Then it, too, was selected for survival, not truth — which discredits its own claim to truth. Evolutionary epistemology commits suicide.

    Astonishingly, many prominent thinkers have embraced the theory without detecting the logical contradiction. Philosopher John Gray writes, “If Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true,… the human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth.” What is the contradiction in that statement?

    Gray has essentially said, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it “serves evolutionary success, not truth.” In other words, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it is not true.

    Self-referential absurdity is akin to the well-known liar’s paradox: “This statement is a lie.” If the statement is true, then (as it says) it is not true, but a lie.

    Another example comes from Francis Crick. In The Astonishing Hypothesis, he writes, “Our highly developed brains, after all, were not evolved under the pressure of discovering scientific truths but only to enable us to be clever enough to survive.” But that means Crick’s own theory is not a “scientific truth.” Applied to itself, the theory commits suicide.

    Of course, the sheer pressure to survive is likely to produce some correct ideas. A zebra that thinks lions are friendly will not live long. But false ideas may be useful for survival. Evolutionists admit as much: Eric Baum says, “Sometimes you are more likely to survive and propagate if you believe a falsehood than if you believe the truth.” Steven Pinker writes, “Our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes the truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not.” The upshot is that survival is no guarantee of truth. If survival is the only standard, we can never know which ideas are true and which are adaptive but false.

    To make the dilemma even more puzzling, evolutionists tell us that natural selection has produced all sorts of false concepts in the human mind. Many evolutionary materialists maintain that free will is an illusion, consciousness is an illusion, even our sense of self is an illusion — and that all these false ideas were selected for their survival value.

    [–> that is, responsible, rational freedom is undermined. Cf here William Provine in his 1998 U Tenn Darwin Day keynote:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will [–> without responsible freedom, mind, reason and morality alike disintegrate into grand delusion, hence self-referential incoherence and self-refutation. But that does not make such fallacies any less effective in the hands of clever manipulators] . . . [1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address, U of Tenn — and yes, that is significant i/l/o the Scopes Trial, 1925]

    So how can we know whether the theory of evolution itself is one of those false ideas? The theory undercuts itself.

    A few thinkers, to their credit, recognize the problem. Literary critic Leon Wieseltier writes, “If reason is a product of natural selection, then how much confidence can we have in a rational argument for natural selection? … Evolutionary biology cannot invoke the power of reason even as it destroys it.”

    On a similar note, philosopher Thomas Nagel asks, “Is the [evolutionary] hypothesis really compatible with the continued confidence in reason as a source of knowledge?” His answer is no: “I have to be able to believe … that I follow the rules of logic because they are correct — not merely because I am biologically programmed to do so.” Hence, “insofar as the evolutionary hypothesis itself depends on reason, it would be self-undermining.” [ENV excerpt, Finding Truth (David C. Cook, 2015) by Nancy Pearcey.]

  86. 86
    Jack Jones says:

    @85

    Some good philosophy there KF, Philosophy is a love of wisdom. Chance Evolution believers have to reject wisdom to hold to their faith.

  87. 87
    zeroseven says:

    Virgil Cain @83,

    Then definitely you are in disagreement with Barry Arrington, and it seems, KF.

    As Barry said:

    “If such a natural telic force exists, the existence of design as a category of causation is no obstacle to accepting the truth of monist physicalism.”

    So if it turns out there is a natural telic force that is responsible for CSI, then ID will be a materialistic (physicalist) theory right?

    I think KF seems to be agreeing with Barry that ID does not rule out monist physicalism.

  88. 88
    Virgil Cain says:

    Whatever zeroseven. I have made my case and will add to that:

    The wedge document, so what?

  89. 89
    kairosfocus says:

    07

    I am actually emphasising two things.

    First, the design inference — note my stress on actual empirically grounded work — is an inductive exercise requiring no more metaphysical commitments than ordinary commonsense reasoning. In that context, when we find that certain things are reliable signs of design when we can directly cross check; and they are backed up by the needle in haystack blind search challenge, we have an epistemic right to hold that they are signatures of design as cause, ST future observations to the contrary. As is usual with scientific generalisations.

    On this, we may then base other arguments as reasonable.

    Secondly, evolutionary materialist scientism has some strong direct implications coming out the gate that reduce it to self-referential incoherence. So, it should be generally understood as self-falsifying. Thus, reasoning on this is utterly unreliable per principle of explosion.

    There should be no expectation of using such a position in any serious argument.

    Unfortunately, a world where that is generally accepted is not the one we inhabit.

    Now, Dembski and Arrington are speaking to some fairly esoteric worldview options on which physical reality has immanent telic factors in it. On such a world, the inductive design inference would still work, detecting that in-built ordering to an end.

    Such a view is NOT equal to the typical evolutionary materialist scientism out there. And monist physicalism — usually meaning: physical reality manifesting blind forces and factors that form the world from Hydrogen to Humans exhausts reality — is another way of saying in effect evolutionary materialistic scientism.

    The material point is that unlike Sagan, Lewontin et al, there is no a priori cartesian dualism or the like imposed on the design inference. It is an empirically grounded inductive exercise. Those who these days so often assert that an explanatory filter type approach, on rejecting chance and or necessity ASSUMES design as default, assert a twisted strawman caricature.

    KF

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