Intelligent Design Philosophy Religion Science

ID and Catholic theology

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Father Michal Heller, 72, a Polish priest-cosmologist and a onetime associate of Archbishop Karol Wojtyla, the future pope, was named March 12 as the winner of the Templeton Prize.

http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0801398.htm

In this recent interview came a critique of the intelligent design position as bad theology, akin to the Manichean heresy. Fr. Heller puts forth this rather strange argument as follows:

“They implicitly revive the old manicheistic error postulating the existence of two forces acting against each other: God and an inert matter; in this case, chance and intelligent design.”

Coming from a theologian, this is an astonishing summary of the Manichean heresy. Historically Manichæism is a form of dualism: that good and evil were equal and opposite forces, locked in an eternal struggle. In this distortion, the role of the all-powerful evil is replaced by chance? It is traditional Christian teaching that God forms (i.e. designs) creation. Does this make God the arch-rival of chanciness? It is difficult to see how the intelligent design perspective could possibly be contrary to Catholic teaching. For example, St. Thomas Aquinas speaks in his Summa of God explicitly as the great designer of the creation:

“… the “Spirit of God” Scripture usually means the Holy Ghost, Who is said to “move over the waters,” not, indeed, in bodily shape, but as the craftsman’s will may be said to move over the material to which he intends to give a form.”

The ID point of view is such a minimalist position it is amazing to see the charge of heresy– it simply does not have the philosophical meat necessary to begin to make this kind of theological accusation.

There are some points that Fr. Heller raises that are entirely consistent with an ID point of view:

“There is no opposition here. Within the all-comprising Mind of God what we call chance and random events is well composed into the symphony of creation.” But “God is also the God of chance events,” he said. “From what our point of view is, chance — from God’s point of view, is … his structuring of the universe.”

In this quote, he is basically saying the there is no such thing as fundamental chance, only apparent chance. The apparent noise is really a beautiful tapestry viewed from the wrong side. Of course if there were discernable structure, then we could … well … discern it (this is the whole point of ID). The problem here is that Fr. Heller does not have a self-consistent position that one can argue or agree with, as his next quote shows:

“As an example, Father Heller said, “birth is a chance event, but people ascribe that to God. People have much better theology than adherents of intelligent design. The chance event is just a part of God’s plan.”

Now if I were picking from a list of random events to use as my illustration of chance acting in the world, childbirth would not be one of them. Does he mean the timing of birth, or the act of conception, or the forming of the child? If anything this is an extremely well-choreographed event that has very little to do with chanciness of any flavor. Here he seems to be going back, and saying that chance is real (not just apparent) – but God intends to have it that way. Once again, the ID position can also be reconciled with the existence of fundamental chance, but not fundamental chance as the only thing that exists in the universe.

In this interview, Fr. Heller does not seem to have a sophisticated view of how randomness can work together with intelligence, he also does not seem to have read any books by design advocates – the arguments he makes are directed to nonexistent opponents. For a physicist/theologian that is giving an interview upon the reception of his Templeton award, the only physics/theology that is offered is internally confused, and based on caricatures of the ID argument. My feeling is that if he actually read and considered the ID arguments we might find a kindred spirit.

258 Replies to “ID and Catholic theology

  1. 1
    DeepDesign says:

    I thought that the traditional view of Christianity was that there was visible signs of God’s handiwork in the universe.

    If anything God of Chance style evolution is the heresy.

    Question is. Why does ID get such bad press? Maybe John McCain is right, and Americans are too cynical.

  2. 2
    DeepDesign says:

    By the way. I love the name, Lord Ickenham Haha.

  3. 3
    nullasalus says:

    Well, Heller says they implicitly revive the manichean heresy – I don’t think he’s arguing ID proponents are actually duplicating it. Instead, he’s arguing that you can’t discern design in the universe by dividing things into categories of ‘God did this’ and ‘God did not do this’ – so God is not struggling to bring design out of chance. The chance is designed.

    I’m not sure he’s asserting the existence of fundamental chance with regards to birth either – it seems to me like apparent chance again, but then, I really have to read his books.

    Speaking of which, I do agree that ID could appeal to a broader category of people than it does now – everyone seems confused about just what ID covers categorically (myself included). And, if anyone is interested in Heller’s writings, some of them are available in portion via links on Templeton’s site.

  4. 4
    DeepDesign says:

    Good points Nullasalus.
    I will check out Father Heller’s work.

  5. 5
    DLH says:

    For previous discussions, see:
    Michael Heller, this year’s Templeton Prize winner, on ID

    See: extracts of Michal Heller’s book:
    Creative Tension: Essays on Science and Religion (2003)

    Further see Heller’s publications etc

    PS Seeing this was posted on April 2nd (not 1st), I found I needed to further my education on Lord Ickenham, especially considering the English!

  6. 6
    DeepDesign says:

    “everyone seems confused about just what ID”

    Isn’t that partly what the movie Expelled is about? That the Darwinian elites will not allow it to be taught, researched or even discussed?

  7. 7
    PaV says:

    To understand Fr. Heller’s position, I think you have to assume that he’s saying that the wonderful diversity and richness of life that is evident in our wolrd is the result of “chance and necessity” (physical laws interacting with chance events), and that even what appears as chance is part of the Divine Purpose for life. I think very few of us here at UD would disagree with that position. But it always gets back to the matter of degree, doesn’t it—that is, the degree to which this proposition is true; or, to put it another way, it’s a matter of where the “edge of evolution” lays? Fr. Heller seems unaware of the magnitude of probabilities involved in macroevolution (let alone OOL), as well as such things as the UPB—an Upper Probability Bound, BTW, that has NOT been defined by(just simply used by) IDists. So, as his royal highness, the Lord of Ickenham has stated, I, too, suspect that Fr. Heller would be more conducive to ID once he investigates it.

  8. 8
    StephenB says:

    I have several problems with Fr. Heller’s formulations. First, he is assuming that because God can create some things through contingency, he creates all things that way. On the contrary, it would seem that God creates through [A] physical laws interacting with chance events and [B] design. Thus, using [A] God creates moon craters and snowflakes and using [B] God creates a DNA molecules.

    Further, if, as all the great scientists have believed, God created a rational universe, then researchers can, as it were, “think God’s thoughts after him.” That means that there is still enough correspondence between God’s rationality and ours that randomness means the same thing for God as it does for us. Why think otherwise? We don’t say that God thinks of “laws” in a radically differently than we do, so why would we talk that way about chance events. It can only serve one purpose—to create the impression that the universe is not rational after all, the very antithesis of natural theology and science.

    Moreover, Fr. Heller’s main objection is not relevant in any way to the discussion about intelligent design. The first and most obvious point is that Manichean dualism is not synonymous with theistic dualism; the former characterizes spirit as good and matter as evil, the latter simply describes two realms as a composite description of reality. In that respect, ID and Catholic theology are compatible. In spite of his confident tone, Fr. Heller’s does not appear to have given this matter much thought. Indeed, I suspect that he is not even on speaking terms with the methodology of design inference.

    Since I am a Catholic who is acquainted with Catholic theology, I will make another point. Fr. Heller is one of many Catholic theistic evolutionists who have gone out of their way to downgrade ID. It seems to me that they begin by accepting the Darwinian formulation of law/chance and then they plug God into that paradigm as a kind of footnote. To make it work, they insist that God stacked the deck so that life would evolve solely by chance. Somehow, God “designed” a non-design universe, except that the design is inherent in the evolutionary process. Huh? What are we to make out of that? Life is designed, except that it isn’t? Evolution is directed, except that it isn’t? Life has purpose, except that it doesn’t?

    In truth, Theistic evolutionists are Christian Darwinists. What is a Christian Darwinist except someone who has integrated Darwinism with Christian Theology? It all sounds so eminently reasonable except for one thing. TE’s totally reject the Biblical teaching that design is “manifest,” and they totally accept the Darwinist scheme that design is “illusory.” That means of course that their Christianity is not RECONCILED WITH but is rather SUBORDINATED TO their Darwinism. Every theistic evolutionist I have ever met questions the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, insisting that we had thousands of first parents. If pressed, I suspect that many of them would question the doctrine of original sin as well. Translation: They want their God and their Darwin; but they want a quiet God and a loud Darwin

  9. 9
    allanius says:

    The cause of Father Heller’s incendiary rhetoric can be found in his distinction between “apparent gaps” and “genuine gaps” in human knowledge, which forms the basis of his shtick…er, argument. An “apparent gap” might be the inability to account for DNA by purely natural processes. According to him, all such gaps can be filled in by science. “Genuine gaps,” on the other hand, are areas where science cannot go, such as epistemology and ontology, as well as something called…oh, never mind.

    The need to defend his argument and preserve this distinction translates into fierce opposition to the God of the Gaps in science, which, in his view, is the essence of ID.

    Heller is Catholicism’s answer to Gould and his “magisteria.” Gould pretended to be conciliatory to theologians, but in fact he slyly handed the laurels to himself and his fellow scientists by implying that they were dealing with reality while theologians were fantasists. Similarly, Heller makes himself out to be a friend of science by conceding the realm of nature and disowning the God of the Gaps, but his distinction cleverly reserves the highest place for theologians by suggesting that their search for meaning goes beyond the “boundaries” of science.

    This strategy may strike some observers as being too clever by half. First, Heller’s eagerness to cozy up to Gould and his atheist gang causes him to be too unkind to his fellow believers; in this case to Behe and Wells, whose critique of materialistic science is based at least in part on reference to gaps in our knowledge of nature. This critique must be sternly repudiated in order to maintain the tidy distinction between apparent and genuine gaps—hence the harsh rhetoric of “the old manicheistic error.”

    Second, Heller may be a little too eager to give away the store. Is it really true, as his argument suggests, that all of the gaps can be filled in by materialistic science? This view is starting to look a little old-fashioned in light of current research. The confidence in the explanatory power of science once exuded by Gould and Hawking has degenerated into comic book posturing in Dawkins and his garrulous friends.

    In short, Father Heller may be making an accommodation just at the moment when accommodation is no longer necessary.

  10. 10
    garygagliardi says:

    I think you are missing Heller’s point. He is saying that what you call chance and randomness do not exist separate from God’s action. What we call a “chance” event and what appears as “chance” from our perspective is, from God’s perspective, certainty.

    I love the ID proponent’s battle with the atheists who promote Darwin and the materialism as an alternative to God. I love the fact that only ID points out the these people are confusing materialism with science.

    The problem with ID is that it has bought into the materialists’ basic assumption: that the material world has its rules and God has his rules and the two are somehow separated. ID proposes that you can tell where one stops and the other begins at the limits of Darwinian evolution.

    Heller’s point is that this is a false dichotomy. What we are seeing is what we understand of God’s work(the rules of science) and what we do not understand. Some of what we do not understand, we may never understand. There is no separation between these things in the real world. The only limit is the boundary of our understanding and possibly another boundary about limiting what we CAN EVER understand.

    The problem with the materialists is that they want to believe that what we understand is all that exists. Their need for Darwin is the need for a rug under which they can sweep everything that cannot be understood. Their only goal, however, is to deny the existence of Mystery and God. Their claim that sweeping ignorance under the Darwinian rug is somehow good for science is laughable on its face if only because it must deny the only thing that we are certain of and remains the biggest Mystery: our own self-awareness.

    ID is right when it says that there are clear limits to what can be swept under that rug. ID is wrong when it accepts elements of that rug (for example, godless chance and truly random variation) as facts that can determine those limits.

    Yes, variations in organism occur and, yes, the environment interactions with organizations to “select” variations. However, both the type of variations possible and the type of environments that the universe allows are NOT random, but tightly restricted by the laws of science, i.e. the mind of God.

  11. 11
    Gerry Rzeppa says:

    StephenB says, “…if, as all the great scientists have believed, God created a rational universe, then researchers can, as it were, “think God’s thoughts after him.” That means that there is still enough correspondence between God’s rationality and ours that randomness means the same thing for God as it does for us. Why think otherwise? We don’t say that God thinks of “laws” in a radically differently than we do, so why would we talk that way about chance events? It can only serve one purpose — to create the impression that the universe is not rational after all, the very antithesis of natural theology and science.”

    I agree. God’s thoughts might be higher than ours, “as the heavens are higher than the earth”, Isaiah 55:9, but God never says they’re radically different in kind than ours. Just the opposite, in fact, having made us “in His image.”

  12. 12
    Gerry Rzeppa says:

    StephenB says, “The problem with the materialists is that they want to believe that what we understand is all that exists.”

    I agree again. And I think this tendency to oversimplify while scoffing at all the really important things that can’t be explained with a test tube or a formula — like faith, hope, and love — is just another manifestation of fallen man’s pertinacious desire to “be as God.” After all, we can’t really be in charge until we have a “theory of everything,” right?

  13. 13
    Gerry Rzeppa says:

    StephenB says, “However, both the type of variations possible and the type of environments that the universe allows are NOT random, but tightly restricted by the laws of science, i.e. the mind of God.”

    Elegantly said.

  14. 14
    StephenB says:

    Gerry, thanks for the kind words on #11 and #12. The comments alluded to on #13 came from the well-written opinion of garygagliardi, the substance of which I am about to take issue.

    3

  15. 15
    StephenB says:

    garygagliardi: Thanks for your comments. Although you seem to be responding to allanius, I will offer my thoughts anyway.

    —–You wrote, “I think you are missing Heller’s point. He is saying that what you call chance and randomness do not exist separate from God’s action. What we call a “chance” event and what appears as “chance” from our perspective is, from God’s perspective, certainty.”

    Our inability to get into the mind of God is not related to the methodology of a design inference, which detects the EFFECTS of an intelligent agency. Intelligence leaves clues. When we observe pictures and symbols in what appears to be a cave man’s dwelling, we conclude that natural laws interacting with chance events probably did not cause the event to happen. As an inference to the best explanation, we conclude that the artifact is most likely explained by intelligent agency. This has nothing to do with our perspective about God’s perspective.

    —The problem with ID is that it has bought into the materialists’ basic assumption: that the material world has its rules and God has his rules and the two are somehow separated. ID proposes that you can tell where one stops and the other begins at the limits of Darwinian evolution.

    Again, ID doesn’t do this. ID merely points out that there are only three possible causes for any event, law, chance, and intelligent agency. It is not an “assumption;” it is a demonstrable fact that we have discovered as a result of living in a rational universe. It did it begin with Dembski, Meyer, and Behe, it began with the Greeks. As far as I know, no one has ever refuted the point or even challenged it. ID is empirically based, meaning that its conclusions follow from observations.
    . —–“ID is right when it says that there are clear limits to what can be swept under that rug. ID is wrong when it accepts elements of that rug (for example, godless chance and truly random variation) as facts that can determine those limits.”

    ID as a methodology could be wrong, and its advocates allow for that possibility. The modern theory of evolution could also be wrong, but its advocates are incapable of admitting much less confronting that obvious fact. In any case, the preponderance of the evidence is on the side of intelligent design. It is telling that neo-Darwinism has become so corrupt that it dares not challenge its own paradigm, a sure sign that science is being compromised.

    —–Yes, variations in organism occur and, yes, the environment interactions with organizations to “select” variations. However, both the type of variations possible and the type of environments that the universe allows are NOT random, but tightly restricted by the laws of science, i.e. the mind of God.
    That is always a possibility, but it is a theological assumption that is not based in empirical observation. Again, it is telling that theistic evolutionists attempt to refute intelligent design by ignoring the science and appealing to theology. What our unqualified experience tells us is that once law and chance has been eliminated, intelligent agency is the best explanation. That is not an assumption.

  16. 16
    StephenB says:

    Sorry, I did not separate the commenet from the response in that last paragraph.

    —–Yes, variations in organism occur and, yes, the environment interactions with organizations to “select” variations. However, both the type of variations possible and the type of environments that the universe allows are NOT random, but tightly restricted by the laws of science, i.e. the mind of God.”

    That is always a possibility, but it is a theological assumption that is not based in empirical observation. Again, it is telling that theistic evolutionists attempt to refute intelligent design by ignoring the science and appealing to theology. What our unqualified experience tells us is that once law and chance has been eliminated, intelligent agency is the best explanation. That is not an assumption.

  17. 17
    ericB says:

    garygagliardi (10): “I think you are missing Heller’s point. He is saying that what you call chance and randomness do not exist separate from God’s action. What we call a “chance” event and what appears as “chance” from our perspective is, from God’s perspective, certainty”

    Even understanding that as Heller’s point, his point is completely irrelevant to the question of the inference to intelligent agency. It shows his misunderstanding.

    If something could be explained by chance (completely regardless of whatever God’s relationship to chance might be), then the inference to intelligent agency is not supported. Intelligent agency is the best inference to make, if and only if, the effect in question cannot be reasonably explained by combinations of law and chance. In that case, we infer the third option, choice (i.e. detectable intelligent agency).

    It would be a mistake (one Heller appears to make) to think ID is delineating between God and nature. ID delineates between the undirected causation (i.e. law and chance) and directed causation (i.e. choice) that is empirically detectable.

    That is why it is appropriately termed an inference to intelligent design (not to God design). It applies anywhere directed causation can be distinguished from undirected causes, including but not limited to cases where the intelligent agent could be God.

    The error of materialists is to prejudicially exclude this inference only in those cases where the intelligent agent could be God.

  18. 18
    ericB says:

    p.s. When I responded to garygagliardi, I had not refreshed my page and so had not seen the response by StephenB until after I had posted mine. Nevertheless, it is obvious that I agree with StephenB and that we are independently making the same central point.

    [BTW, I also agree with Gerry that StephenB’s earlier posts were also well said.]

  19. 19
    ericB says:

    PaV (7): “So, as his royal highness, the Lord of Ickenham has stated, I, too, suspect that Fr. Heller would be more conducive to ID once he investigates it.”

    I hope that is so, but it may depend on whether his antipathy comes mainly from misunderstanding or from a theistic evolutionary (TE) desire to subordinate theology to a truce with scientific materialism.

    Whatever the reason, it does seem that many who have a strong attachment to the TE viewpoint find the idea of detectable design in nature offensive and objectionable. In such cases, it may not matter what the empirical evidence says, a quality they share with the committed materialists.

    One indication of this is how they both will try to defeat scientific observations related to inferring intelligent agency by using theological arguments. Above we see Heller doing this. Likewise, consider how quickly materialists try to defeat a design inference with theological arguments, such as regarding pain and suffering.

    In this regard, atheistic evolution and theistic evolution are twin sisters. For both of them, whatever the empirical evidence may say is trumped by a prior commitment to a theological position. Both can become instances of ideological prejudice.

  20. 20
    Frost122585 says:

    THEY HAVENT READ ANYTHING! THEY DONT KNOW ANYTHING! They are just proclaiming their ego manicalism and love of proclamation and or bad pontification.

    Read NFL. Read TDI. Read something other than the freaking news paper or the drivel on TV. Then when you know something feel free to open up your beloved mouth.

    All this proves is that bad judgement and power go hand in hand.

  21. 21
    Clarence says:

    DeepDesign (6),

    “Isn’t that partly what the movie Expelled is about? That the Darwinian elites will not allow it to be taught, researched or even discussed?”

    Trouble is that, if the reviews are anything to go by, the movie itself doesn’t actually explain what the theory of ID is.

    And as nullasullus says at (3), he’s confused about it too. So who will explain it?

    Personally I blame the Big Tent approach. It’s trying to be all things to all people, and it’s failing.

  22. 22
    Timothy V Reeves says:

    My feeling is that if he actually read and considered the ID arguments we might find a kindred spirit.

    Fair comment I think!

  23. 23
    Thomas English says:

    Well, Uncle Fred, I’d have been less surprised by Captain Charles Ryder.

  24. 24
    tribune7 says:

    The problem with ID is that it has bought into the materialists’ basic assumption: that the material world has its rules and God has his rules and the two are somehow separated.

    I think the problem with critics of ID is that they don’t understand it. ID is neutral on the existence of God.

    Completely.

    Absolutely.

  25. 25
    allanius says:

    Something very lovely about Father Heller: his contention that what appears to us poor mortals to be mere chance may actually be part of providence. This can be interpreted to mean that the ways of God surpass the understanding of men, a profound and beautiful insight. A very ambitious writer might even attempt to contextualize it as a defense of free will (where is St Thomas when we need him?).

    Something not so lovely, however: accusing one’s fellow believers of “grave theological error” for thinking that physical existence was intelligently designed. No can know with certainly whether creation was accomplished through pure chance (from the human point of view) or TE or ID or by any other means. Note that all three points of view can be supported through science. So it seems better to this poor writer, on the whole, to stop passing judgment on our fellow believers over disputable matters and save our rhetorical thunder for the real blasphemers.

    The immediate goal should be the overthrow of materialism and its stranglehold on culture. This can be accomplished more effectively by being tolerant of differences among believers than by public squabbling over theology.

  26. 26
    DaveScot says:

    Clarence

    It doesn’t take long to explain the ID concept to a lay audience – some patterns found in nature and in living things are best explained as a result of design rather than chance. Intelligent Design theory is a mathematical, logical, scientific means of determining whether any given pattern exhibits characteristics of design or not.

    I would be really surprised if one of the ID scientists interviewed in the movie didn’t offer something close to the above statement.

  27. 27
    Lord Ickenham says:

    Thomas English (23) and DLH (6)– well said. Captain Ryder or even the more fitting Lord Marchmain would have sufficed in this instance, but my larger purpose is more Ickenhamian in nature: The necessity of assuming a nom de plume in order to more effectively spread sweetness and light.

  28. 28
    PannenbergOmega says:

    Hmm.. I seem to remember either Dr. Dembski or Ms. O’Leary liking Brideshead Revisited.

  29. 29
    PannenbergOmega says:

    What a cultured and literate group of people we have visiting and taking part in this website.

    When at it’s best, Uncommon Descent is one of the most civil, intellectual and enjoyable websites on the internet.

  30. 30
    rockyr says:

    StevenB, this confusion about the meaning of basic terminology, about the meaning of words like “evolution”, “Darwinism”, “design” and “purpose”, is at the root of our conflict.

    (Re: “Huh? What are we to make out of that? Life is designed, except that it isn’t? Evolution is directed, except that it isn’t? Life has purpose, except that it doesn’t?)

    Words are labels and mean what we want them to mean, (by definition and proper logic), and the confusion arises out of the lack of (logical) precision, when dealing with these intricate concepts casually and without proper care as far as what we each mean by the words we say. (And this applies to all conflicts in the world, especially to theological and religious conflicts.)

    With respect to Fr. Heller, what I find quite ironic, is that this new Templeton prize winner, (For Progress Towards Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities), by a foundation which is “a philanthropic catalyst for research on concepts and realities such as love, gratitude, forgiveness and creativity”, (see the top http://www.templeton.org page), would immediately break the basic tenets of the prize he had just received, as he would rather unkindly, (and unwisely), attack his fellow Christians (and others) who are also struggling with the difficult scientific and philosophical realities of life and modern science.

    This Christian and especially Catholic Darwinism may turn out to be just a “Jesuitical sophistry” (literally), since the desire of TE’s to reconcile Darwin with God has deeper Jesuitical roots via Teilhard de Chardin, which many well-educated and highly placed Jesuits, such as those in astronomy and the Vatican Observatory, cherish as some kind of ultimate reconciliation of truth in life and science. (I know a Jesuit who was against Darwinism and against Teilhard de Chardin’s sophistries, and he was basically told to shut up by his superiors on those subjects.)

  31. 31
    garygagliardi says:

    I see a number of reactions to my earlier post that I would like to address, and I apologize for not answering them sooner. One thing I love about the ID community is the level of discourse, which is impressively high even when there is disagreement. As you know, that cannot be said of similar discussions elsewhere.

    First, StephenB thinks I make a mistake by disregarding the design inference, that, “Intelligence leaves clues.” He uses the example of a cave painting to illustrate, “we conclude that natural laws interacting with chance events probably did not cause the event to happen.”

    This is quite correct, as far as it goes, but in applying the analogy to divine intelligence, as believers do, let us fill in some important assumptions implicit in this statement. First, intelligence on our level leaves clues, but intelligence on God’s level only leaves clues by choice. The real problem is in the second half of your statement, which assumes that “natural laws interacting with chance events” are somehow NOT the work of God’s intelligence.

    StevenB says I am wrong to think that ID separates God from nature and to make his points says, “there are only three possible causes for any event, law, chance, and intelligent agency.” But separating these three causes out is the source of the problem. What if the law, the chance, and the intelligence are all God? Then the separations exist merely in our limited perceptions. The law is what we know of the universe. What we ascribe to chance or to intelligence agency is what we don’t know. The point (originally Heller’s not mine) is that claiming that we can know where godless chance ends and divine intelligence begins is just another level of ignorance. My point is that both belong to the realm of what we do not understand.

    Can we prove that the atheists label of “chance” is wrong by proving that there are signs of intelligence at work? Not to them. History tells us that, as we fill in the gaps of our ignorance, we are only going to find more “laws.” If people don’t accept the laws of the universe, as finely tuned as they are, as proof of intelligence, what further proof can you offer? Do you think evidence about the nature of our ignorance will sway them when the evidence for what we know does not?

    Ideas matter. The reason that the Darwinist ideas are so destructive is that they seek to deny purpose and meaning to the universe. Since the laws of nature keep indicating that the universe makes sense and that we have a special role in the universe, the Darwinist’s real battle ends up trying to maintain the veil of ignorance so that they can ascribe divine power to random, meaningless, chance. In history, others have tried to maintain ignorance to protect their belief in particular form of divine agency. Science as the process of uncovering nature’s laws can be be negatively impacted by either view. Science only works if we accept our ignorance for what it is: simple ignorance and not evidence of anything except our need to learn more.

    Finally, StephenB seems to think that when I describe the laws of science as the mind of God I “attempt to refute intelligent design by ignoring the science and appealing to theology.” I am not. I am just saying that, for the believer, there is no difference between natural laws and God’s will any more than there is a difference between chance and God. Stephen says, “What our unqualified experience tells us is that once law and chance has been eliminated, intelligent agency is the best explanation.” This statement is as anti-science as Darwinian chance. Once you start arguing that the discovery of laws eliminates intelligence as a cause, you are going in the wrong direction. Discovering laws is NOT disproving intelligence.

    There is a distinction here between the acts of intelligence that we make in a universe outside of our control, and the acts of an intelligent God in a universe of his own creation and control. Yes, we can delineate between our intelligent acts and those of the natural processes of the universe because there are two separate sources of causation at work: ourseves and the universe. Does this mean that we can delineate between intelligent acts of God as separate from the processes of the universe that are totally within his control? If the processes of the universe are not his intelligent acts as well, what are they?

    The argument for ID is a little like saying that we can look at a painting and identify which brush strokes the artist was really thinking about when he made them and which he didn’t put a lot of thought into. We accept that everything on the canvas was put there by the painter, don’t we? If all the brush strokes arose from intelligence, we should talk about the ones we understand and the ones we do not, but our criticism says more about us than it does the painter. Our arrogance can pretend to know the mind of the painter, but aren’t we just fooling ourselves?

    I realize that people that support ID have a lot emotionally invested in its importance, especially the importance of dividing “intelligence” from God. EricB says, “It would be a mistake (one Heller appears to make) to think ID is delineating between God and nature. ID delineates between the undirected causation (i.e. law and chance) and directed causation (i.e. choice) that is empirically detectable.” This argument has two holes. First, it sets up the claim that if causation cannot be proven to be intelligently directed that it is, in fact, undirected. Second, it assumes that directed causation can be empirically detectable in some form other than what becomes known as scientific law. Again, if we assume that the existence of scientific laws disproves intelligent causes, we are going down the wrong path.

    As far as not understanding that ID argues only to proving intelligence, not to proving divine intelligence, religious critics of ID understand the point but we also understand its deeper implications. If the intelligent cause is, in fact divine, we must accept the possibility that such intelligence can remain hidden if it so chooses. We must accept that all divine actions can appear as natural law. This means that the absence of evidence of intelligence, in the exactly way that ID defines it, is not the evidence of absence of divine intelligence. You can only claim that intelligent design MUST leave evidence if you first accept that this intelligence is NOT divine and separate from natural law.

    If ID people really believe that the intelligent cause is NOT God, this whole program makes a lot more sense, which is just the opposite of what your atheistic opponents claim. However, once you start down the road that says intelligent cause can be proven, you accept that is can also be disproven in exactly that same manner. I think that atheists are foolish in claiming that they can disprove God for exactly the same reasons that ID people are foolish for claiming they can prove intelligence if that intelligence is, indeed, God.

    The good work that ID is doing is mathematical and logical. The best part of this work makes it clear that, according to the laws of nature, the universe we see is incredibly unlikely in terms of chance. In other words, ID disproves that Darwinian evolution through random variation and natural selection is a “law of nature.”

    The next step is where ID gets in trouble. In terms of respecting empirical evidence, we CANNOT argue that you can prove intelligence unless you really want to claim that intelligence is not God and so, like a human agent, that intelligence must have left evidence that is separate from nature’s laws.

    The right direction for anti-meaningless-chance movement, rather than attempting to prove design, is uncovering more and more of nature’s laws. In other words, it is in doing science. This process in biology will lead exactly to where it has lead in physics and astronomy, where the “stable state” universe of the atheists fell to the Big Bang universe of incredibly precisely tuned and unlikely variables. In other words, the more science we learn, the more it leads to God. Of course, that is just my faith speaking.

  32. 32
    tribune7 says:

    garygagliardi– The right direction for anti-meaningless-chance movement, rather than attempting to prove design,

    Gary, are you saying it is impossible to detect design or are you saying it is unfair/bad/heretical to apply the methods used to detect design to living creatures?

  33. 33
    garygagliardi says:

    Tribune, I am saying that, if the intelligence is divine, there is no method of differentiation between his actins and the forces of the universe in the same way that there is between our actions and the forces of the universe.

    The argument is about simply logic, not about fairness, badness, or any set of religious beliefs.

  34. 34
    garygagliardi says:

    All we can detect is where the explanations that we know–the laws of science–stop and our ignorance begins. We can, however, certainly detect and prove the unlikeliness of these events coming about by blind, directionless chance. This does not mean that we have proven that there is no undiscovered law of science that can explain them or that the discovery of such a law would undermine the proof of an divine intelligent cause.

  35. 35
    DLH says:

    garygagliardi at 30
    Encourage rethinking your post relative to common logic.

    But separating these three causes out is the source of the problem. What if the law, the chance, and the intelligence are all God?

    ID delineates between the undirected causation (i.e. law and chance) and directed causation (i.e. choice) that is empirically detectable.” This argument has two holes. First, it sets up the claim that if causation cannot be proven to be intelligently directed that it is, in fact, undirected.

    That is logically false.
    If causation is unproven, that says nothing about whether the event is directed or not. Only that the event does not fit the stringent criteria established to conclude a true positive for causation and not a false positive. This says nothing about a true or false negative on causation.

    Second, it assumes that directed causation can be empirically detectable in some form other than what becomes known as scientific law.

    ID does not address what “becomes known” but “what IS known” as scientific law. There are no known laws that generate Complex Specified Information (CSI).

    Again, if we assume that the existence of scientific laws disproves intelligent causes, we are going down the wrong path.

    Again, that is your strawman, with no relation to ID.

  36. 36
    tribune7 says:

    if the intelligence is divine, there is no method of differentiation between his actins and the forces of the universe in the same way that there is between our actions and the forces of the universe.

    Gary, that’s an opinion. To quote Niels Bohr, who are you to tell God what to do? 🙂

    But on a practical, mundane, empirical, scientific level, why is it impossible to apply tested methods used to detect design to living creatures, and if not impossible why is it wrong?

  37. 37
    garygagliardi says:

    DLH at 34, Why do you accuse me of making a error in logic when I said specifically that “this sets up the claim.” While I agree with your points of logic, are you saying that CLAIMS in this area never violate those rules? My point is that statements like this on the part of ID open the door to the assumption others make regarding undirected causes. If your opponents do not make these claims, then I am mistaken. Is that what you are saying?

    As far as your second point, I must be missing something important. When you say that no laws of nature can generate Complex Specified Information, isn’t that by definition? Aren’t we just dealing with a bit of tautology? Complex specified information, as I understand it, is information that seems to serve a very specific purpose that we cannot explain by known laws. Does this mean that its existence proves that no principles affecting the likelihood of its existence will ever be discovered?

  38. 38
    DLH says:

    gary at 32

    if the intelligence is divine, there is no method of differentiation between his actins and the forces of the universe
    That appears to assume 1) divine intelligence IS the universe, not separate from it, and
    2) that divine intelligence is wholly unknowable and not understandable by human intelligence.
    Both of these are unnecessary and contrary to the basic assumptions of ID.

  39. 39
    garygagliardi says:

    Tribune at 35, I agreed with Bohr in my article when I said specifically that God could choose to leave evidence but the point is that, logically, there isn’t the same separation between God’s acts and the natural world as there is between our acts and the natural world. Without that separation in reality, we cannot say that we can discern his intent. I refer you to my arguments about the painting. The wall of the cave and the painting on the way can have two clearly different sources. It is not as easy at all to discern differences of intention in the stroke in the painting.

  40. 40
    garygagliardi says:

    DLH at 37, No, when I say we cannot separate divine action from natural laws, I only assume that the universe has not will or power of its own as a separate cause. It does not assume that the divine is wholly unknowable but rather that it is not totally knowable. This distinction is important.

  41. 41
    DLH says:

    gary at 36
    I agree on your distinction between (design) “principles” versus “laws”.

    When you say that no laws of nature can generate Complex Specified Information, isn’t that by definition?

    No, by consequence of what we know of law, chance, specification and the probabilistic resources in the known universe over all time. That is different from the definition (or tautology) of “Not law plus chance”.

    Gary at 30

    ID have a lot emotionally invested in its importance, especially the importance of dividing “intelligence” from God.

    I do not know of ID dividing “intelligence from God”. Rather the opposite. Intelligence may be human, alien or extra natural, and we may not be able to, nor need to distinguish them. The key issue is providing SOME evidence for “intelligent causation” from “law” or “chance.” (whether the latter are “the mind of God” or not.)

  42. 42
    tribune7 says:

    Gary, what can you infer if you find something in the natural world that highly correlates with our acts?

  43. 43
    DLH says:

    gary at 39
    Thanks for the explanation. That makes much more sense.

    re

    In terms of respecting empirical evidence, we CANNOT argue that you can prove intelligence unless you really want to claim that intelligence is not God and so, like a human agent, that intelligence must have left evidence that is separate from nature’s laws.

    I do not follow your logic at all here.

    ID does not a priori assume nor attempt to distinguish between human, alien or divine intelligence. The effort is to provide a scientific theory that can detect intelligent causation.

    (The rest of implications and/or revelation is left to religion. Nor am I saying that religion has no “facts”. Some, like Jews and Christians point to historical facts.)

    ID never assumes “must have”, but rather assumes “might have” and tests empirical evidence for that.

  44. 44
    garygagliardi says:

    DLH at 40: We are agreeing exactly, but unfortunaely, you cannot see it. You write, “by consequence of what we know of law, chance, specification and the probabilistic resources in the known universe over all time.” Isn’t this the same as saying that we don’t know the rules by which it could happen? When you say that something has happened by no known rules, you are not saying that we cannot discover those rules are you? Isn’t this my point? What am I missing?

    As far as your response about my statement about the distinctions in ID between intelligent causes and divine causes, I understand why ID makes the argument and why the enemies of ID deny it. My point is simply, from the viewpoint of a scientist who is also a believer, those arguments don’t really matter at all because I believe that the intelligent cause is divine, which opens up other posibilities, such as the idea that we might not be able to detect that intelligence.

  45. 45
    garygagliardi says:

    Tribune at 41 AND DLH at 42 (a twofer answer): I can distinguish between the intelligent acts of people and acts of the natural world because there are two, separate sources of information. In the case of identifing differences between divine action and the natural world, what is the “other” cause separate from God? This is the whole point of Heller’s remarks. Is there is no other cause, what is the basis for our identifying a division?

  46. 46
    DLH says:

    From what I understand, Heller confuses the effort to identify SOME intelligent causation with saying that all the rest (Law plus Chance) is NOT divine. He is mixing up a true identification of an intelligent cause as we understand it, versus a false negative of saying the rest is NOT a result of intelligence.

  47. 47
    garygagliardi says:

    DLH, his problem is the same as mine. If the intelligence is divine, there is not way to separate it from nature since nature also has a divine cause. The ID program only makes sense if the intelligent cause is separate from nature, or, more precisely, at odds with nature as humanity is, so that it can be distiguished from natural causes.

  48. 48
    andrew says:

    Just by the way, and since we’re talking of titles, Lord Ickenham, isn’t it against Christian theology to call yourself ‘Father’?

    As in, Jesus told his followers not to call themselves Father in Matthew 23.

    Doesn’t the fact that someone cannot follow simple instructions from his leader cast doubt on his qualifications to tell others what is bad theology?

    I continue to find it incomprehensible why theistic evolutionists (like Heller, but particularly Alister McGrath) continually rail against ID. Which part of ID do they not understand? They accept that God is the Creator (and therefore that there was purpose and design in his creatorial acts, howsoever he accomplished them), and they consider God to be intelligent.

    I suppose their point is that they consider ID unscientific – i.e. God’s creatorial works are not discernable by scientific means. How they can say this as Christians who believe in classic statements like Psalm 19 or Romans 1 completely baffles me.

    The only conclusion I can draw is that they are quislings who prefer respectablity in the scientific world to suffering the reproach that comes with standing up to philosophical/methodological naturalism.

    Of course, some of them don’t get the fact that methodological naturalism IS a theological/philosophical position. Maybe explaining that to them might be a start.

  49. 49
    garygagliardi says:

    Andrew, a reading of posts from 30 to 46 may explain the problems that believers have with ID. It has nothing do to with ID not being scientific. It has to do with distinguishing between intelligent DIVINE causes from natural causes that comes from the same source.

  50. 50
    DLH says:

    andrew
    re: “is that they are quislings”
    Stick to objective logical arguments and avoid the ad hominem attacks.

  51. 51
    DLH says:

    gary ast 46

    If the intelligence is divine, there is not way to separate it from nature since nature also has a divine cause.

    ID is only seeking to distinguish between the portions that are expressed as “law” vs as “chance” vs as (human recognizable) “intelligence” whatever the source. ID says nothing about whether “law” or “chance” or materialistic or not.

    By the anthropological principle or fine tuning, some like Gonzalez do seek to identify aspects of the Universe that do appear to reflect intelligent causation.

  52. 52
    tribune7 says:

    which opens up other posibilities, such as the idea that we might not be able to detect that intelligence.

    Which would be the case if we couldn’t but what if we could? 🙂

    I can distinguish between the intelligent acts of people and acts of the natural world because there are two, separate sources of information.

    But that is an artificial, and non-applicable, distinction. You have a methodology. You claim it can find design. You test it on objects of known designed and undesigned origin. It seems to work. You apply it to something of unknown origin. It indicates it to be designed.

    Why should one be discouraged from pointing this out?

    Now, it could be — since we are talking about science — that the methodology might be one day falsified, so if your concern is that one should not base one’s religious convictions on this methodology I agree with you completely. That does not mean, however, the methodology is something that should be ignored, hidden, shouted down, nor does it mean it is irrelevant.

    Further, you can’t ignore that neoDarwinian paradigm has transcended the boundaries of science and has caused much ill in the world. It seems if one wants to object to ID on grounds of religious dogma one should be shouting much louder at neoDarwinism.

    If ID pushes Darwinism back to the narrow realm of science it will be useful for that alone.

  53. 53
    garygagliardi says:

    DLH at 50: Perhaps a change of perspective will help. Do you agree that, if the laws, chance, and intelligence all have the same source behind them, then we may not be able to discern among them and that the distinctions that we draw among them may say more about the state of our knowledge than it does the cause?

  54. 54
    StephenB says:

    gary, Nothing personal, but your post is far too long to respond to every point. Here are a few highlights:

    —–“Ideas matter. The reason that the Darwinist ideas are so destructive is that they seek to deny purpose and meaning to the universe. Since the laws of nature keep indicating that the universe makes sense and that we have a special role in the universe, the Darwinist’s real battle ends up trying to maintain the veil of ignorance so that they can ascribe divine power to random, meaningless, chance.

    TE’s want to have it both ways. They want to incorporate irrational Darwinism into rational Christianity. That is why the composite is irrational. It posits both an “internal principle” unfolding according to a plan, and an anti-internal principle, Darwinist randomness. It is a contradiction in terms. If baffles me that more folks don’t understand that.

    —–“Finally, StephenB seems to think that when I describe the laws of science as the mind of God I “attempt to refute intelligent design by ignoring the science and appealing to theology.” I am not. I am just saying that, for the believer, there is no difference between natural laws and God’s will any more than there is a difference between chance and God.”

    With all due respect, you promptly did the one thing that you said you would not do—you appealed to theology. Address the methodology of a design inference without resorting to theology.

    —–“Stephen says, “What our unqualified experience tells us is that once law and chance has been eliminated, intelligent agency is the best explanation.” This statement is as anti-science as Darwinian chance. Once you start arguing that the discovery of laws eliminates intelligence as a cause, you are going in the wrong direction. Discovering laws is NOT disproving intelligence.”

    To eliminate law and chance as a cause is to turn to intelligence as the best explanation. You make this kind of design inference every day. You made it when you attributed agency to the paragraph I just wrote.

    —–There is a distinction here between the acts of intelligence that we make in a universe outside of our control, and the acts of an intelligent God in a universe of his own creation and control. Yes, we can delineate between our intelligent acts and those of the natural processes of the universe because there are two separate sources of causation at work: ourseves and the universe. Does this mean that we can delineate between intelligent acts of God as separate from the processes of the universe that are totally within his control? If the processes of the universe are not his intelligent acts as well, what are they?

    The point is, every time we have found intelligent agency at work, we also found specifically complex patterns. Therefore, we see these same specifically complex patterns in a DNA molecule, we recognize it as an effect of intelligence.

    —–The argument for ID is a little like saying that we can look at a painting and identify which brush strokes the artist was really thinking about when he made them and which he didn’t put a lot of thought into. We accept that everything on the canvas was put there by the painter, don’t we? If all the brush strokes arose from intelligence, we should talk about the ones we understand and the ones we do not, but our criticism says more about us than it does the painter. Our arrogance can pretend to know the mind of the painter, but aren’t we just fooling ourselves?

    That is precisely what ID does not do. It does not pretend to know the mind of the painter. It only detects the presence of the painters mind. It is the TE’s who arrogantly tell us that we cannot make any such inference.

    —–“I realize that people that support ID have a lot emotionally invested in its importance, especially the importance of dividing “intelligence” from God. EricB says, “It would be a mistake (one Heller appears to make) to think ID is delineating between God and nature. ID delineates between the undirected causation (i.e. law and chance) and directed causation (i.e. choice) that is empirically detectable.” This argument has two holes. First, it sets up the claim that if causation cannot be proven to be intelligently directed that it is, in fact, undirected. Second, it assumes that directed causation can be empirically detectable in some form other than what becomes known as scientific law. Again, if we assume that the existence of scientific laws disproves intelligent causes, we are going down the wrong path.”

    It isn’t that complicated. Once again, you are doing the process backwards. Intelligence is not ruled out to discern law and chance; law and chance are ruled out to discern intelligence. The process by which we detect intelligence in a cave dwellers drawing is the same process by which we detect intelligence in a DNA molecule. Using your standard, we could do neither.

  55. 55
    garygagliardi says:

    Tribune at 51: I agree with you completely on the good that ID is doing in terms of pushing back against Darwinian paradigm because ID has demonstrated scientifically the limits of chance. However, you leave your good work open to attack by claiming that you can prove design. You are attacked by the atheists as using “intelligence” as a Trojan horse for God and by the religious, like Heller for creating a false separation between the actions of God and the purpose of natural law.

    Your claim for your methodology only applies to identifying two DIFFERENT sources of information, an intelligent agent and the natural world. The problems arise when you claim that your methodology can distinguish between the actions of ONE intelligent when that source acts through the natural world and outside of it. As I said, this problem doesn’t arise for those who believe that the intelligence is alien rather than divine, in which, I readily agree your methods could, at least theoretically, work.

  56. 56
    StephenB says:

    —–“DLH at 50: Perhaps a change of perspective will help. Do you agree that, if the laws, chance, and intelligence all have the same source behind them, then we may not be able to discern among them and that the distinctions that we draw among them may say more about the state of our knowledge than it does the cause?”

    I don’t know about DLH, but I would disagree with that statement. When I detect design from an ancient cave man’s dwelling, I can distinguish between the design and the materials/ physical efforts needed to pull it off. Only if I can make the distinctions between law, chance, and agency, (including natural forces unrelated to the cave man’s creative efforts) can I draw the inference about intelligent agency. The same inference, by the way, that you would draw.

    {DLH I endorse StehenB’s comments}

  57. 57
    tribune7 says:

    However, you leave your good work open to attack by claiming that you can prove design.

    Good work is always open to attack 🙂

    And I agree that those who claim it can “prove design” are using a very unwise (and inaccurate) choice of words. “Indicate”, “show”, “demonstrate” would be fair, though.

    The problems arise when you claim that your methodology can distinguish between the actions of ONE intelligent when that source acts through the natural world and outside of it.

    I agree that this claim should not be made but — and this is where we get to criticize the critics — who is making it? I cannot think of any prominent ID representative who has come anywhere near close to saying this.

  58. 58
    StephenB says:

    —–gary: There are only two explanations for the coded information in a DNA molecule: [A} it was designed or {B} it formed by way of a Darwinian evolutionary pathway. If {A} is proven, “{B} is falsified, and vice versa. Therefore, you must choose between them. You cannot logically declare both to be false in the name of open-mindedness.

  59. 59
    garygagliardi says:

    StephenB at 53:
    –gary, Nothing personal, but your post is far too long to respond to every point.

    I agree completely, and, the choice is between long posts where I get a lot done in between or keeping on-line answering people remarks like this all day.

    —TE’s want to have it both ways. They want to incorporate irrational Darwinism into rational Christianity. That is why the composite is irrational.

    It can speak for “TE’s” (and don’t even know if I fit the definition), but the points is that from a believers point of view only the plan exists. The “Darwinist randomness” is simply an illusion of our limited knowledge. I am sorry if you don’t understand that.

    You say that I am trying to disprove the design inference by resorting to theology when I say, “for the believer, there is no difference between natural laws and God’s will any more than there is a difference between chance and God.”

    I am not trying to disprove it, I am only saying why it is irrelevant to a believer. If your argument is that ID is only for non-believers, I can understand you point.

    You go onto say that, “To eliminate law and chance as a cause is to turn to intelligence as the best explanation. You make this kind of design inference every day. You made it when you attributed agency to the paragraph I just wrote.”

    I agree, this is my point about there being a fundamental difference between human, if you will, artificial causes, and divine causes. We can separate artificial causes from natural one because man is clearly not the cause of nature. But on what basis can we separate divine causes from natural one IF God is the cause of nature?

    You say that, “The point is, every time we have found intelligent agency at work, we also found specifically complex patterns. Therefore, we see these same specifically complex patterns in a DNA molecule, we recognize it as an effect of intelligence.”

    Correct, prior to the discovery of DNA, we knew of only one source of coded information, that is, human intelligence. ID can go fairly far in proving that coded information cannot arise from random processes. The specific question is: can unknown laws of chemistry and physical create coded information? Or, do we assume that because we don’t know of such principles, that they do not exists and that an intelligent (divine or not) necessary?

    When I compare ID to trying to decipher the different intentions behind brush strokes on a painting, you say, “That is precisely what ID does not do. It does not pretend to know the mind of the painter. It only detects the presence of the painters mind.”

    You miss the point. If ALL the brush strokes come for the painter, how can you distinguish among them? Your methods only work if there are separate causes. You say you don’t pretend to know the mind of the painter, but you pretend to know what is and isn’t his work while denying that you are assuming that there are two different hands at work. If it is all (what we call law, chance, and intelligence) the work of the same hand, how can you distinguish between them?

    You say, “Intelligence is not ruled out to discern law and chance; law and chance are ruled out to discern intelligence.” My point is if what we call law, chance, and intelligence our merely description in our understanding and do not aspect of the source, you are saying nothing useful here about a cause.

  60. 60
    garygagliardi says:

    StephenB at 57:

    —–gary: There are only two explanations for the coded information in a DNA molecule: [A} it was designed or {B} it formed by way of a Darwinian evolutionary pathway. If {A} is proven, “{B} is falsified, and vice versa. Therefore, you must choose between them. You cannot logically declare both to be false in the name of open-mindedness.

    This is a very useful illustration of my point about the line being between the principles of science we understand and those we do not.

    When you say, “There are only two explanations” and ask me to choose between them, you are saying that both intelligence and randomness explains DNA. I am saying that NEITHER explains DNA. They are both different labels of the same thing: ignorance.

    Let us put it simply: No known principles of science explain the emergence of DNA. It is an area of our ignorance. It may always be. Waving the magic wand of “random evolution” at it, doesn’t make us any more knowledgeable. Waving the magic wand of “intelligence” at it doesn’t tell us anything either. The random evolution people and intelligence people can argue all day long about how to explain our ignorance. Both can use their arguments to stop real science, which asks a totally different question, “What can we learn about it that is useful?”

  61. 61
    garygagliardi says:

    tribune at 56:

    I agree that this claim should not be made but — and this is where we get to criticize the critics — who is making it? I cannot think of any prominent ID representative who has come anywhere near close to saying this.

    Again, you miss my point. You are right, ID does not distinguish between divine and other types of intelligence. My point is that if the intelligent cause is divine, it cannot be identified by the techniques of ID.

    As I have said before, I understand that great pride that ID takes in being based on the evidence rather than belief. Since the divine is not subject to evidence, ID focuses on finding evidence for “intelligence.” The problem is that if the intelligence just happens to be divine, that form of intelligence is not subject to the type of evidence that ID claims to appreciate.

    ID contains a number of very good, solid points of evidence and argument against chance. The problem put when you put that evidence and argument into the equation (repeated many time above): “If you remove law and chance, the only explanation is intelligence.”

    The syllogism leaves out the explanation that has proven explain unexplained evidence again and again throughout scientific history. There are laws about which we are current ignorant.

    Apply the your general rule of “the explanation of the evidence must be a known law, chance, or an intelligence agent” to trying to unravel any piece of ill-fating evidence in scientific history. Does it ever work? Wasn’t the real answer always option number four: an unknown principles of science?

  62. 62
    StephenB says:

    —–gary: “Let us put it simply: No known principles of science explain the emergence of DNA. It is an area of our ignorance. It may always be. Waving the magic wand of “random evolution” at it, doesn’t make us any more knowledgeable. Waving the magic wand of “intelligence” at it doesn’t tell us anything either. The random evolution people and intelligence people can argue all day long about how to explain our ignorance. Both can use their arguments to stop real science, which asks a totally different question, “What can we learn about it that is useful?”

    What you don’t seem to understand is that TE’s ASSUME that Darwinian processes are responsible. Beyond that, your theological points are all speculative. We can’t know the mind of God; we can only try to make sense out of his handiwork. That is what science is supposed to do. Whether you approve of it or not, the specified patterns in a DNA molecule exhibit more than 500 bits of coded information. It doesn’t matter who coded it; what matters is that it is coded. That is a scientific fact totally unrelated to all of your theological speculations. Until you address that issue, you are evading ID’s main argument.

  63. 63
    StephenB says:

    —-“When you say, “There are only two explanations” and ask me to choose between them, you are saying that both intelligence and randomness explains DNA. I am saying that NEITHER explains DNA. They are both different labels of the same thing: ignorance.”

    Well, of course, no one knows for sure. Do you not understand what is at stake here. We have two competing theories. Either the 500 bits of funtionally complex specified information found in a DNA molecule were designed or else an evolutionary pathway let up to it. That is what is on the table and that is what everyone is fighting about. If you want to declare both sides wrong, fine. I don’t know anyone else who takes that position, but to each his own. Meanwhile, by siding with the TE’s you are implictly arguing on behalf of an evolutionary pathway, because that is what they are assuming.

  64. 64
    tribune7 says:

    My point is that if the intelligent cause is divine, it cannot be identified by the techniques of ID.

    Of course. That’s one of the fundamental — and famously held — points of ID. That the object is designed, however, can be reasonably determined.

    There are laws about which we are current ignorant.

    But you cannot postpone drawing conclusions based on the possibility of unknown information since advancement in knowledge is based on starting with the known, and regardless of what is learned in the future the present model could very well be the right one and, in the case, is certainly better than the one it seeks to replace.

    Note that the established model (Darwinism) is being propped up via anti-intellectual means. The simple truth is that ID is the best existing model for understanding life.

    But I agree ID should not become a dogma. No scientific theory should.

  65. 65
    garygagliardi says:

    I have to go and may not come back to this thread again because, unfortunately, I don’t really have the time and am letting my other obligations slip by indulging my enjoyment of civil discourse. (Plus I am embarrassed by all my typos since I cannot correct them.)

    So let me just answer StephenB at 61:

    What you don’t seem to understand is that TE’s ASSUME that Darwinian processes are responsible.

    Though I cannot speak for every believer, I can only say that most people who believe in God simply don’t see chance in the same way that you and Darwinian atheists do. They don’t believe that it is random and occurs outside of God’s plan. Since Darwinian processes, by definition, are purposeless and directionless, they don’t believe in evolution in the sense that you mean it. They simply mean that it can appear that way to us but only because God created the possible evolutionary pathways AND the environmental conditions.

    Beyond that, your theological points are all speculative.

    You are right in that I use a specific definition of God as the controlling source of the universe and its laws. Other beliefs about the relationship between God and the universe are possible. However, people from Aristotle to Einstein would have understood my definition because it is a pretty standard one.

    We can’t know the mind of God; we can only try to make sense out of his handiwork.That is what science is supposed to do.
    On this we totally agree.

    Whether you approve of it or not, the specified patterns in a DNA molecule exhibit more than 500 bits of coded information. It doesn’t matter who coded it; what matters is that it is coded.
    Yes, again we agree. Now, what does that prove exactly? I am saying that we don’t know the processes by which this information arose. I am saying that ID has done a good job proving that random chance is an unlikely explanation. I suggest that there may be a more useful scientific principle that we don’t yet know that does explain how information can get coded in nature and that finding those principles is the work of science and that finding them doesn’t disprove God in any way. I am also stating that merely citing “intelligence” doesn’t get us any closer to useful scientific principles than citing “mindlessness.” I also accept that we may never find a principle that explains it. This possibility says nothing about the utility of science or the existence of God.

    That is a scientific fact totally unrelated to all of your theological speculations.
    You keep citing my “speculations” as if I haven’t said something fairly simple and specific. You use the word “speculations” to avoid dealing with the heart of the logical (not theological) problem that I have posed over and over again. Let me pose it once more and, if you want to ignore it again, fine, but please note the problem with addressing it instead of simply dismissing it as speculation.

    That problem is that we cannot distinguish between divine design and natural processes in the same was as we can human design and natural processes because natural processes are under the control of the divine. If your argument is that this statement is flawed because we do not know if natural processes are controlled by the divine, or that the divine might have intentionally left signs of his intelligence, please make those arguments. Simply saying that we don’t know the mind of the designer doesn’t address this statement at all. We don’t have to know the mind of the designer to see that detecting divine design is a very different problem that detecting non-divine design.

    Until you address that issue, you are evading ID’s main argument.
    What issue? That DNA is code? That we do not know how that code arose? Are you really saying that ID’s main argument is that 1) (human) intelligence is the only known source of code and 2) DNA is code, and therefore 3) intelligence (not human, I assume?) created DNA? Apparently, I have a much higher opinion of ID’s main arguments than you do. Because I see them as arguments against chance not this particularly faulty syllogism.

    For one last time, the problem with ID is the central idea that everything must be explained EITHER by a) known principles, chance (in the meaningless Darwinian sense), or intelligence (in a vague meaningless sense).

  66. 66
    garygagliardi says:

    Sorry, missed and end blockquote before the “on this we totally agree” above. Maybe someone can fix it.

  67. 67
    StephenB says:

    Whether you approve of it or not, the specified patterns in a DNA molecule exhibit more than 500 bits of coded information. It doesn’t matter who coded it; what matters is that it is coded.

    —–gary; “Yes, again we agree. Now, what does that prove exactly?”

    For crying out loud, it indicates the presence of an intelligent agency.

    —“I am saying that we don’t know the processes by which this information arose.”

    How the process arose is irrelevant. Where are you getting this stuff?

    —–“I am saying that ID has done a good job proving that random chance is an unlikely explanation. I suggest that there may be a more useful scientific principle that we don’t yet know that does explain how information can get coded in nature and that finding those principles is the work of science and that finding them doesn’t disprove God in any way.”

    Who is trying to do that?

    —-“I am also stating that merely citing “intelligence” doesn’t get us any closer to useful scientific principles than citing “mindlessness.”

    The problem is not getting closer to scientific principles. The problem is dismissive attitudes about science indicating the presence of intelligence. One step at a time please.

    –“-I also accept that we may never find a principle that explains it. This possibility says nothing about the utility of science or the existence of God.”

    You still have not addressed the point that you support TE’s who in turn accept the Darwinist explanation. why do you not dismiss TE for the same reason you dismiss ID, namely the fact that they accept an explanation that you consider inadequate.

  68. 68
    ericB says:

    To garygagliardi, I understand that you recognize you may be missing something and I accept that you sincerely would like to come to a better understanding. Please allow me to try to clarify.

    1) There is one misunderstanding that seems to me to run through many of your posts.

    You point out (correctly) that God has the option to work through laws and chance. Consequently, you are quite correct that such actions would be undetectable and indestinguishable from law+chance from the standpoint of science (and therefore of ID as well). [Side question: At times you seem to make the stronger claim that God can only do this and that his actions are necessarily always indirect and hidden and never distinguishable from undirected natural processes. I assume that is unintended. If intended, it appears to be an assertion without support. What is the basis for saying He cannot choose otherwise?]

    You keep asking how it would be possible for the methods of ID to distinguish divine intelligence from natural processes when God acts via these hidden means. You apparently don’t realize yet that ID never claims or attempts to do so.

    Nor is God unique in being able to act in ways that make design undetectable. Consider the crime boss: “I want him eliminated. But make it look like an accident.”

    ID advocates have always fully realized that intelligent agency may not be detectable, and they say so explicitly. Notice in my response above that I specifically distinguished “detectable” intelligent agency. Not all intelligent agency is detectable.

    ID never claims to prove the absence of intelligent agency. What ID advocates do claim is that intelligence can act in ways that produce effects outside the reach of undirected natural processes. When that happens, an inference to intelligent agency is justified.

    ID is not “arguing that the discovery of laws eliminates intelligence as a cause”. It is saying that it eliminates the ability of science to justifiably (i.e. with supporting evidence accessible to science) infer intelligent agency.

    2) ID never claims that it is impossible that science will someday discover something that will change our understanding. All science is tentative. All science is subject to being changed by future evidence, ID inferences included. What ID does claim is that, given the evidence available to science, there are specific cases of effects where the best inference available to science is the cause of intelligent agency.

    3) You write “The right direction for anti-meaningless-chance movement, rather than attempting to prove design, is uncovering more and more of nature’s laws.”

    The purpose of ID is not to decide whether chance is meaningless, or whether God can or cannot, is or is not, working through chance. This is Heller’s fundamental misunderstanding.

    ID does not know or care whether what appears to science as chance has hidden intelligence behind it. That is completely irrelevant to what ID is doing. Take any position on the interpretation of chance that you want. It does not matter at all to ID — really. Please believe me that the two are disconnected concerns. When you understand ID, you will see that is so.

    The ID inference only has application to those cases outside the reach of law+chance.

    4) Finally, you write “As far as your response about my statement about the distinctions in ID between intelligent causes and divine causes, I understand why ID makes the argument and why the enemies of ID deny it. My point is simply, from the viewpoint of a scientist who is also a believer, those arguments don’t really matter at all because I believe that the intelligent cause is divine, which opens up other posibilities, such as the idea that we might not be able to detect that intelligence.”

    When you fully understand why the distinction is made, you will see that it does matter — even to the scientist who is a believer. It matters because the intelligence being inferred is many times not divine. Again, the point is not to reach a theological conclusion about chance or whether intelligence can operate through it. That is irrelevant.

  69. 69
    tribune7 says:

    ericB

    Very true. ID fully recognizes the possibility of providing for a false negative.

  70. 70
    garygagliardi says:

    I want to thank you, StephenB and EricB, for helping me clarify more precisely my problems with ID. The context here my defense of Heller’s statement regarding the Manichean heresy.

    I am making two simple points. You keep conflating and mixing them up in interesting ways, but the points are simple and I think you realize that you haven’t come to grips with them.

    First Point: There is a flaw in the central syllogism offered by ID (which I have cited over and over in various forms from your posts). This logic goes, “If the cause is not a known law, nor random chance, then it must be intelligence.”

    I humbly suggest that there is a fourth alternative: undiscovered principles.

    What has been your response to this argument? I really don’t see one, but when I say:

    —”I am saying that we don’t know the processes by which this information arose [referring to the code in DNA].”

    StephenB snipes:

    How the process arose is irrelevant. Where are you getting this stuff?

    But I never said those processes were irrelevant. I said we don’t know them. Isn’t this a simple truth? Does the fact that we don’t know a principle mean that we can only explain it by intelligent action? Can you address my suggestion that the ID syllogism of “either known law or random chance or intelligence” doesn’t work because it assumes that there is no fourth option of unknown principles available?

    Now let us try to keep that “faulty syllogism” problem separate from what follows. These points are related, but they are distinct. Conflating them will not help you understand what I am saying or me understand your responses.

    The Second Point: IDs methods detect (human) intelligence but ONLY because human action is separate from natural forces. How can we think those same detection methods work to separate divine intelligence from natural forces if both have the SAME cause?

    How do ID’s methods work if they do not try to detect the difference between an intelligent cause and a natural causes?

    How do those methods continue to work if the intelligent cause and the the cause of the laws of nature are one and the same?

    This is where the Manichean heresy comes in because you are trying to distinguish a separation between divine intelligent action and nature’s laws that cannot exist if God controls nature.

    This is not a matter of God “hiding,” nor is it an argument about theology. If there is no separation between nature and God in the same way that there is a separation between man and nature, how do methodologies that detect a separation work?

    Do you really not understand this point? I have said this a dozen different ways, and all you seem to think is that I am saying that God can choose to “hide” his action, but my point and Heller’s is much more substantial and central than that. If there is no separation between the creating intelligence and natural forces, logically one cannot be identified as separate from the other, certainly not be the same methods that separate human intelligent action from natural action.

    Both of these points connect to a third observation. This is only an observation and not a critique of ID.

    I believe that what we call “known law,” “random chance,” and “intelligence” are ONLY labels for our current state of our understanding of the events we observe. The distinctions among these three categories are artifacts the limitations of our knowledge of the universe. As we learn more about nature, more and more evidence moves from the “explained by chance and/or intelligence” category into the “explained by laws and principles” category.

    Of course, you can dismiss both of these points and my observation by saying that I don’t understand ID. And, if you cannot discuss these points specitically or come to grips with the problems they pose, you are absolutely right.

  71. 71
    Patrick says:

    There is a flaw in the central syllogism offered by ID (which I have cited over and over in various forms from your posts). This logic goes, “If the cause is not a known law, nor random chance, then it must be intelligence.”

    I humbly suggest that there is a fourth alternative: undiscovered principles.

    Actually, “undiscovered principles” are more commonly known in ID circles as the “unknown law”. Mike Gene discusses this indirectly. Atom, kairosfocus, jack krebs, some others and myself discussed it as well on UD. ID does NOT “assume that there is no fourth option of unknown principles available” and that’s why ID is open to being falsified by an unknown law or positive evidence showing that uniformly-working mechanisms can produce CSI via Indirect Pathways. But Darwinists lack that evidence, or at least are not willing to point it out, and thus we refer to known causes.

    And while this is getting into philosophy, I don’t see how an “unknown principle” can be considered a “cause”. I would think it’s only a cause once it’s known, and thus becomes a law, one of the 3 already listed?

    I’ll copy my final thoughts on the unknown law topic:

    Jack did not seem to understand our reference to the “unknown law”. He dodged the issue by referring to an “interplay of many laws”. Well, of course.

    For example, snowflakes are crystals. Crystals are just the same simple pattern repeated. Simple, repeated patterns are not complex.

    Repetitive structures, with all the info already in H2O, whose hexagonal structure/symmetry is determined by the directional forces – ie wind, gravity- are by no means complex.

    However, repetitive structures, such as crystals, do constitute specificity.

    Snowflakes, although specified, are also low in information, because their specification is in the laws, which of course means that node 1 in the Explanatory Filter (Does a law explain it?) would reject snowflakes as being designed.

    Contingency/laws can explain complexity but not specification. For instance, the exact time sequence of radioactive emissions from a chunk of uranium will be contingent, complex, but not specified. On the other hand, laws can explain specification but not complexity. The formation of a salt crystal follows well-defined laws, produces an independently known repetitive pattern, and is therefore specified; but like the snowflake that pattern will also be simple, not complex. The problem is to explain something like the genetic code, which is both complex and specified.

    The point that Jack misses is that Node 1 need not only refer to just ONE law. It can be an interplay of laws, as in this snowflake example.

    Let me give a further example of an unknown law.

    Let’s say we found a 2001-style monolith on the moon and all the planets. Design would likely be inferred. But suppose later on we discover unknown processes (a Law) that is observed to create these monoliths in space as an emergent property of an interplay of processes. ID theory would be revised to take this Law into account.

    Similarly, formalized design detection in regards to biology is open to falsification based upon new observations. It’s possible there is an unknown Law operating upon biology. If evidence of this unknown Law were found, ID theory would need to be revised. The limits of this Law would be analyzed. For example, this Law may only operate under limited circumstances and be capable of producing limited forms of complex specified information. Now this is only in regards to self-replicating life; obviously a separate unknown Law or event would need to be found for OOL. But if positive evidence is uncovered that these Laws are capable of operating uniformly then the entire ID scientific program in regards to biology is kaput.

  72. 72
    StephenB says:

    —–gary: “There is a flaw in the central syllogism offered by ID (which I have cited over and over in various forms from your posts). This logic goes, “If the cause is not a known law, nor random chance, then it must be intelligence.”
    —–“I humbly suggest that there is a fourth alternative: undiscovered principles.”
    You are suggesting that ID has not taken this into account. We are basing our methodology on empirical facts SO FAR DISCOVERED AND CONFIRMED OVER TIME, (2500 years) that only these three elements are in play. We haven’t just assumed it; we have tested it and found it to be true in every case. If there is a fourth element, then so be it; the methodology will be changed to accommodate it. That is what high probability means; we are probably right, but we may not be. You don’t get apodictic certainly in science. We understand its provision nature.

    Now let’s deal with your problem about the manifestations of Divine and human intelligence, namely the point that God’s intelligence may reveal itself in a radically different way.

    —–“IDs methods detect (human) intelligence but ONLY because human action is separate from natural forces. How can we think those same detection methods work to separate divine intelligence from natural forces if both have the SAME cause?”

    —– “How do ID’s methods work if they do not try to detect the difference between an intelligent cause and a natural causes?”

    —–“How do those methods continue to work if the intelligent cause and the the cause of the laws of nature are one and the same?”

    Because intelligence always leaves the same kinds of clues, regardless of who leaves them or regardless of the circumstances in which they were left. God created [A] a rational universe, [B] rational minds, and [C] a correspondence between the two. This proposition is NOT empirically verifiable; it is the starting point for all rationality. That means God’s rationality is infinitely superior to, but nevertheless proportional to ours. Therefore, intelligence, the logic of the mind, and the logic of the universe have been set up by God to work as a unit, and as a reflection of his intent for the way we should perceive rationality. That means that the “signs” of our intelligence mirror the signs of God’s intelligence.
    If you don’t accept that as a given, you are not just rejecting some humble ID paradigm, you are rejecting rationality itself. Even atheists accept this point, albeit unconsciously, otherwise, they would not try to reason their way out of a paper bag, which as it turns out, they cannot do anyway. That is exactly what the great scientists of the past meant when they said that they were “thinking God’s thoughts after him.” If God didn’t reveal himself in nature—if his signs in nature are not manifestations of his intelligence—if we can’t distinguish between God’s thoughts and his actions—if God’s idea of randomness is not similar to our own—if God’s conceptions about physical laws are not parallel to ours— if nature is not a manifestation of the way God thinks and acts—-then the universe is not rational and we can all go home.

  73. 73
    gpuccio says:

    garygagliardi:

    Very briefly:

    1) Unknown laws and unknown principles are not the same thing.

    2) Laws are organized mathematical and logical relationships bewteen observable events. They are based on necessity.

    3) No known law can explain CSI (biological information) on a basis of necessity, and probably no law will ever can. If and when somebody tries to do that, we will evaluate his results.

    4) Abel and Trevors have very effectively argued in their papers that necessity (and therefore law) is in itself incapable to explain information.

    5) About principles: I am not really sure what a principle could be (energy? matter? consciousness?), but I am pretty sure that, however you define it, intelligence could qualify. Intelligence is a principle which is both known and unknown: it is known in the sense of “observed”, and it is unknown in the sense of “unexplained”.

    6) The observed and unexplained principle of intelligence does create CSI all the time. That is a daily observation which everybody can do. Therefore, being a principle which:
    a) exists
    b) generates CSI
    it is a very good explanation for CSI.

    7) If you think that favouring hypothetical “unknown” principles, which are both non observed and unexplained, over the observed and unexplained principle of consciousness, is a good scientific, or even philosphical, position, then please yourself. I don’t, and I hope that most reasonable persons don’t.

  74. 74
    garygagliardi says:

    Your responses convince me that I must continue to explain this again and again until you either come to grips with my arguments or give up. All your responses take us away from simple language in which I tried to make my points, so I apologize if, in not understanding the jargon of ID, I have missed a salient point. I am a simple person, if you can ‘t explain without jargon, just say so. I will understand.

    Our disagreement comes down to my suggestion that the “law, chance, intelligence” syllogism doesn’t work because there is a fourth option, unknown principles that remain to be discovered.

    In response to this, Peter says:

    ID does NOT “assume that there is no fourth option of unknown principles available” and that’s why ID is open to being falsified by an unknown law or positive evidence showing that uniformly-working mechanisms can produce CSI via Indirect Pathways.

    From StephenB:

    If there is a fourth element, then so be it; the methodology will be changed to accommodate it.

    And from gpuccio:

    3) No known law can explain CSI (biological information) on a basis of necessity, and probably no law will ever can. If and when somebody tries to do that, we will evaluate his results.

    Jargon aside, this seems to mean that ID accepts the idea that future discoveries could explain coded information.

    StepheB then goes on to say:

    We are basing our methodology on empirical facts SO FAR DISCOVERED AND CONFIRMED OVER TIME, (2500 years) that only these three elements are in play. We haven’t just assumed it; we have tested it and found it to be true in every case.

    But have we really “tested” the idea that these syllogism actually works in determining a cause? This syllogism is set up so that, as we learn more natural laws, known sources of phenomena are moved from the “random” and “intelligent” cause columns to the “law” column. Though we are talking here about complex information, at some point in time, every phenomena–gravity, light, electricity–has been put into one of these three columns. Every unexplained phenomena has been put in the “intelligent” cause category because people didn’t didn’t know the principles or laws behind it and they didn’t think it happened by chance. This isn’t only true of divine intelligent causes. The cows in the village gets sick with no apparent reason, is this chance or was a curse put on the cow by a witch? I do not offer this example to disparage ID, but simply to illustrate that, just because alternative explanations were not known, this does not mean that the “remainder” explanation of cause (if not this or this, it must be this) was correct.

    In the case of any other phenomena, has the “remainder” explanation using this syllogism has ever proven to be true (except artificial, man-made creations, which we will deal with in a moment)? Isn’t this exactly the type of thinking that we abhor in Darwinists? They say that the cause MUST be random chance because there is no other explanation. Using this syllogism to identify causes is not the same as having new principles and laws outdated old principles and laws (Newton by Einstein for example). The “remainder” logic of this syllogism is not falsifiable in the same sense that laws and principles are. Explanations are put into the “chance” or “intelligence” categories based upon what we don’t know, not on what we do know. I know that as I say this, your minds are running through all the “proofs” in ID, but for just a second and ask yourself: would we be using this syllogism as often as we do if our other proofs for ID were robust and persuasive? And, turning the idea around, would Darwinians rely on the same syllogism for their “proofs” if they have more robust evidence. I am tempted bring in something completely out of left field, such as global warming as another illustration: we don’t know its cause so it must be man-made!

    As I have said in every post and no one addresses, random chance and (non-human) intelligent cause explanations are simply different ways of saying, “We don’t know right now.” To say that either of these two categories MUST be true because we lack evidence for other explanatory principles right now seems to ignore scientific progress throughout history.

    Now, let us deal with the conflating of divine causes with human causes and the methods by which they can be identified, which is the second point I am trying to make. Again, no one wants to address the arguments that I use. I will simply repeat them:

    IDs methods can detect (human) intelligence ONLY because human action is separate from natural forces…How do those methods work if the intelligent cause is also the cause of the laws of nature?

    Kudos for StephenB for having the courage recognized this argument and try to address it, but does his answer come close?

    Because intelligence always leaves the same kinds of clues, regardless of who leaves them or regardless of the circumstances in which they were left.

    HUMAN intelligence (which is the only real example we have) always leave the same clues, but why? Because humans do not have direct control of nature. I am assuming that we can all agree that there is a fundamental difference that is easily recognizable between the “artificial” (man-made) and “natural.” It is artificial action that always leaves the same kind of clues, because they are fundamentally different than natural processes.

    Do you really think we can therefore make the leap to say that divine intelligent can be just as easily separated from the natural. Is it to, in your estimation, artificial in the same sense that human creations are? If that is the claim please say so directly instead of using the term “intelligence” to conflate to very different orders of “mind.”

    God created [A] a rational universe, [B] rational minds, and [C] a correspondence between the two. This proposition is NOT empirically verifiable; it is the starting point for all rationality. That means God’s rationality is infinitely superior to, but nevertheless proportional to ours.

    My problem is the last part of this statement. Something that is infinitely superior is NOT proportional by definition. Especially when we don’t mean just infinitely greater, but infinitely different. I will readily admit that I have no idea how a mind or intelligence that is outside of time works and cannot even imagine it. However, the key different, the difference between controlling nature law as God does and using natural law, as man does, is not yet addresses.

    Therefore, intelligence, the logic of the mind, and the logic of the universe have been set up by God to work as a unit, and as a reflection of his intent for the way we should perceive rationality. That means that the “signs” of our intelligence mirror the signs of God’s intelligence.

    This is a matter of belief, but I agree. Our intelligence mirror God’s if by “mirror” we mean a dim, shallow, limited reflection. My problem is with reversing this proposition. This mistake is also made by gpuccio in his explanation of “proof” that CSI must be from intelligent causes that are not natural. God’s intelligence had an infinite number of characteristics that we lack. ONE of those characteristics the complete control what we perceive as natures laws and chance.

    If you don’t accept that as a given, you are not just rejecting some humble ID paradigm, you are rejecting rationality itself. Even atheists accept this point, albeit unconsciously, otherwise, they would not try to reason their way out of a paper bag, which as it turns out, they cannot do anyway.

    Hey, I accept it. You are preaching to the choir. Do you see how it doesn’t come within a mile of my very specific point: God’s intelligence has control of natural law. It one sense, his will IS nature’s law. Our intelligence does not define natures laws. We can identify human action because it works “against” nature, at least in the sense that our actions have a separate cause that God’s actions. Notice that I am not saying that God is limited to working through nature, but that any actions within or without of nature’s laws have the same exact source and we have no basis for telling them apart.

    That is exactly what the great scientists of the past meant when they said that they were “thinking God’s thoughts after him.” If God didn’t reveal himself in nature—if his signs in nature are not manifestations of his intelligence

    Hold it! You are agreeing to me and Heller! Completely. READ YOUR ABOVE STATEMENT AGAIN!

    —if we can’t distinguish between God’s thoughts and his actions

    And then, after that long climb, you jump off a cliff! Why should there be any separation between God’s actions and his thoughts? The separation in our thoughts and actions arises because we can only express our thoughts through a physical body which works through rules we do not control. Do you REALLY think the same is true of God?

    —if God’s idea of randomness is not similar to our own—if God’s conceptions about physical laws are not parallel to ours—

    I know you meant this seriously, but please think about the implications of these statements. First, does anything seem random to God? Isn’t apparent randomness a function of our limited knowledge and temporal existence? To say that God’s conceptions of physical laws are parallel to ours is the same as saying an inch is parallel to a million miles. They may be parallel, but they are not the same and rules what you can do with an inch of knowledge is not the same as what you can do with a million miles of knowledge. This is like saying that a flea’s knowledge of the world is parallel to ours and therefore saying that we are bound by a flea’s capabilities because we are in parallel. Please admit the flaw in this thinking.

    if nature is not a manifestation of the way God thinks and acts—-then the universe is not rational and we can all go home.

    Ah, we end where we can agree with a statement that explains the exact basis of the problem with using the examples of human intelligence to identify divine intelligence. Yes, nature IS a manifestation of the way God thinks and acts. As such, how do you expect to tell the difference between natural acts and divinely intelligent acts? Again, we can tell the difference between human and natural acts because nature is NOT a manifestation of our thoughts and actions. It is something separate and different so we can discern a difference. Is, as you say, nature IS a manifestation of God’s thoughts and acts, how can we hope to perceive any difference between any “supernatural” acts of intelligence and natural actions?

    “How do ID’s methods work if they do not try to detect the difference between an intelligent cause and a natural causes?”

  75. 75
    DLH says:

    gary at 61

    Since the divine is not subject to evidence, ID focuses on finding evidence for “intelligence.”

    While that appears to be popularly repeated, it appears to be just an assertion.

    If we identify features we understand are caused by intelligence rather than by law or chance, then we can identify them, whether by human, alien, divine etc.
    e.g., by applying reverse engineering principles.

    You and Heller may dream up endless combinations wherein all is the mind or action of the Divine.

    That in no way limits the efforts of ID to develop methods that the common man can understand as distinguishing between what we commonly understand as “natural law”, vs “chance” or “luck”, versus recognizing evidence of intelligence that is complex and specified. e.g., by reverse engineering to recognize design principles and specifications not attributable to law or chance.

    The rest of your effort may satisfy you, but it appears sophistry for common communications where we seek to distinguish between atelic or materialistic neo-Darwinian evolution vs Intelligent Design.

    How can we apply this the way 95% plus of people will understand it? (compared to Heller not understanding ID and/or trying to confuse the issue to where his “theism” is indistinguishable from atelic materialism in terms of practical evaluation of nature.)

  76. 76
    gpuccio says:

    garygagliardi:

    Thank you for your detailed response. My main impression, from your comments, is that you are mainly interested in the philosophical-religious implications of the question, and just avoid the scientific aspect. That’s OK with me, if we agree that your objections have really no scientific basis (if we had to accept your reasoning about possible new laws, all modern science should be discarded, and we would still be expecting to find necessary laws to explain random events; the whole quantum mechanics, and most biological and medical sciences would be superstitions). If we agree on that, I’ll try to reply to your philosophical and religious arguments (I am stating that explicitly, because here at UD I always try to stick to the purely scientific approach).

    So, where is the philosophical problem with your statements? In my opinion, the main erros is in the use of the words “nature” and “natural”. It is interesting that the same error, although in a different form, is at the root of many irrational arguments by darwinists.

    Personally, I would, and will, try to completely avoid those terms, because they have no specific meaning, unless we first agree on a very detailed general view of reality (does God exist or not? what kind of Gos is He? How does He interact with His creation? and so on). So, maybe you are speaking as you speak because of your religious assumptions, but in that case I cannot reason furtherly with you: I always respect religious asuumptions of people, but I can’t and won’t discuss them here.

    If, instead, you are making general, non faith based, philosophical points, then I must disagree with your religious philosohy. In your arguments, you make assumptions which are not only unwarranted, but in contrast with most reasonable approachs to the problems you discuss.

    The single most important point, for me, is that you assume that God expresses Himself “only” through what you call “natural laws”. For instance, you say:

    “If, as you say, nature IS a manifestation of God’s thoughts and acts, how can we hope to perceive any difference between any “supernatural” acts of intelligence and natural actions?”

    And you repeat that point in many forms. Now, where is the problem? Let’s just avoid the dangerous word “nature”. In the context of our discussion, you are really saying:

    “If, as you say, “scientific deterministic laws” ARE a manifestation of God’s thoughts and acts, how can we hope to perceive any difference between any “non purely deterministic” acts of intelligence and natural actions?”

    THat way, the falsity of your statement becomes more obvious. Your statement would be true only if we accept the assumption that the “only” manifestation of God in reality (let’s avoid the term “nature”) are deterministic laws, in other words necessity. Personally, I can’t see any reason to believe that, and I think that I probably am not the only one in that position.

    Because, you see, that assumption is not even true of human beings, who, according to the more general assumption that a God exists, are God’s creation. In most religious paradigms, and in mine, human beings do not act “only” according to deterministic laws. They have intelligence. They have free will. Those two aspects of human consciousness (the transcendental aspect of their input/output system) are exactly what obviously defines them as different from material objects. One of the consequences of that transcendental aspect is that they produce huge quantities of information (CSI) which has the same characteristics of that which can be observed in the biological world.

    I think that the error in your reasoning is the same we can observe in all reasonings of the “theistic evolutionists”. You seem to affirm:

    1) That God acted out of the time-space frame when He created reality (and that’s true, for me: the time-space frame is part of His creation).

    2) That God doesn’t act anymore “in” the time-space frame (not necessarily true, and certainly not true for me).

    3) That anything, in the time-space frame, happens according to deterministic, necessary laws (not necessarily true, almost certainly not true at all. That would not explain human behaviour, if not in a completely reductionist, and fundamentally atheist, perspective. That would not explain quantum mechanics, and probably many other things).

    In other word, just to be clear, I believe that God acted and acts in structuring his creation at many levels. Deterministic laws are certainly a big part of His manifestation, but they are not all. Biological information cannot be explained in a deterministic (or random-deterministic) model, and we have very good theoretical reasons to believe that any unknown future model “of that form” will similarly be unable to explain it (although, obviously, as any other scientific theory, that is open to possible falsification: that’s because it is a scientific theory, and it is not based on faith).

    So, are we left with just a cognitive failure, must we admit that we cannot say anything about biological information, and just accept it as a mystery, both at the scientific and at the philosophical level?

    Certainly not. That’s where the existence of human-created information is fundamental. The existence of a similar kind of information, constantly created by a perfectly observable entity (humans), by means of a principle which, although unexplained, has, like all observable things, received a name (intelligence), allows are a very simple scientific and philosophical inference, absolutely warranted, that some principle “of the same kind” can be a very good explanation for what we observe in the biological world.

    A last note: you, like most theistic evolutionists, seem to constantly dismiss the main ID point, that what we observe in the biological world is in essence different from what we observe at the purely deterministic level of the material not living world. Biological information cannot be explained by necessity, or by randomness plus necessity. That’s the point. We are not saying that it cannot be explained by “known” necessary laws. We are making the point (certainly falsifiable in principle, but not less valid for that, just the contrary!) that no explanation of a deterministic, or random-deterministic, form is possible for biological information. That’s the point which has to be reasonably rejected, either at a scientific or phiolosophical level. That’s not a sillogism, but a sound scientific and philosophical model, absolutely independent from any specific religious belief, although compatible with most of them.

  77. 77
    StephenB says:

    —–gary: “Our disagreement comes down to my suggestion that the “law, chance, intelligence” syllogism doesn’t work because there is a fourth option, unknown principles that remain to be discovered.”

    All the evidence is against you on this one. I will not belabor the point that 2500 years of experience that refutes your claim, because that doesn’t impress you. Nor will I remind you that we have tested this hypothesis and found it to be sound. Against that, I have only your speculations about an unknown fourth principle and the salient fact that you have no reason to believe that any such thing exists. —

    —“Jargon aside, this seems to mean that ID accepts the idea that future discoveries could explain coded information.”

    Since all science is provisional, it is always possible that the explanatory filter could be wrong. It is also possible that the General theory of relativity could be wrong. It is also possible that young earth creationists are right. So, the responsible thing is to always point out that nothing in science is absolutely certain.

    —–“But have we really “tested” the idea that these syllogism actually works in determining a cause?”

    Yes, we have tested it. Each time we find human agency we find functionally complex specified information and each time we find functionally complex specified information. In philosophy we call that a bi-conditional. In science, it simple means that there is an extremely high probability that the explanatory filter works. There is nothing remarkable about this. Many sciences draw inferences to design. No one has ever proposed that they should abandon or compromise their methodology in anticipation of an “unknown principle.”

    —–“In the case of any other phenomena, has the “remainder” explanation using this syllogism has ever proven to be true (except artificial, man-made creations, which we will deal with in a moment)? Isn’t this exactly the type of thinking that we abhor in Darwinists?”

    No, it isn’t. But why would it bother you if it did. As a TE, you accept Darwinist ideology. That is what a TE is, a Christian Darwinist. I know that is a contradiction in terms, but there it is. You believe that God “designed” a non-designed Darwinian process.

    Also, you need to be advised that ID does not presume to detect “God’s intelligence.” It merely detects the presence of intelligence. It does not assume that God created the universe. That point alone refutes half of your argument. I indulge you in that part of the discussion only because you seem to have an interest in some of ID’s theological implications. Clearly, you have not addressed the scientific element at all.

    —–As I have said in every post and no one addresses, random chance and (non-human) intelligent cause explanations are simply different ways of saying, “We don’t know right now.” To say that either of these two categories MUST be true because we lack evidence for other explanatory principles right now seems to ignore scientific progress throughout history.

    That is your characterization of what ID is saying, and it happens to be wrong. We are saying, provisionally, that all the evidence points to three possible causes. So far, no one has discovered or even CONCEIVED of this fourth “unknown principle.” Apparently, your only reason for believing so strongly in the existence of something so unlikely is because you want to believe it.

    —–“IDs methods can detect (human) intelligence ONLY because human action is separate from natural forces…How do those methods work if the intelligent cause is also the cause of the laws of nature?”

    —–“HUMAN intelligence (which is the only real example we have) always leave the same clues, but why? Because humans do not have direct control of nature.”

    No, human intelligence leaves clues because, in every case, the EFFECTS of intelligence manifest themselves in the form functionally specified complex information. You are confusing the reason it is true with the method for discerning the fact.

    —–“However, the key different, the difference between controlling nature law as God does and using natural law, as man does, is not yet addresses.”

    We are made in the image and likeness of God. His superior intelligence corresponds to our inferior intelligence. God exhibits Functionally Specified Complex Information in is creation and human agents exhibit it in their creations. Remember, every time we find FSCI, intelligence is present. If, the relationship between God and nature were as you described, then God would not leave FSCI.

    Perhaps a comparison contrast between ID and TE will be helpful.
    According to ID, design is “perceivable” and can be “apprehended;” according to TE (your paradigm) design is merely “conceivable” and can only be “comprehended.” ID assumes that design can be taken in through the senses, or that it is “real” TE, like Darwinism, insists that design is illusory, except that it is “inherent in the evolutionary process.” The official TE position is this: God designed a non-design universe. Only those who are willing to twist logic and theology into a pretzel can accept such a proposition.

    —–“If there is no separation between the creating intelligence and natural forces, logically one cannot be identified as separate from the other, certainly not be the same methods that separate human intelligent action from natural action.

    There is no reason to believe that God is identical to, unified with, or bound by his laws in any way. On the contrary, it would seem that there is a separation between God and his laws. You have been trying to get a lot of mileage out of an erroneous assumption. Before I spend any more time chasing down this rabbit trail, you will have to convince me that God is “inseparable from his laws.”

    —–“Notice that I am not saying that God is limited to working through nature, but that any actions within or without of nature’s laws have the same exact source and we have no basis for telling them apart.”

    Again, the evidence is against you. If your assumptions were true, God’s intelligence would not manifest itself in the form of 500 bits of FSCI. God’s physical laws do not exhibit that quality. It’s as simple as that. What can I tell you? Science, common sense, and sound theology all testify to the fact that your assumptions about God and nature are unreasonable.

    —–“To say that God’s conceptions of physical laws are parallel to ours is the same as saying an inch is parallel to a million miles. They may be parallel, but they are not the same and rules what you can do with an inch of knowledge is not the same as what you can do with a million miles of knowledge. This is like saying that a flea’s knowledge of the world is parallel to ours and therefore saying that we are bound by a flea’s capabilities because we are in parallel. Please admit the flaw in this thinking.”

    Absolutely not. Our intelligence participates in God’s intelligence. That is the point that you do not understand or refuse to accept. He set things up so that we could detect the presence of his intelligence. You don’t realize it, I’m sure, but you are arguing for an irrational universe in which God’s handiwork is totally imperceptible. If your assumptions were true, then God could not reveal himself in nature, through 500 bits of FSCI, or in Scripture, through his word. More important, both revelations would be totally incomprehensible to us.

  78. 78
    j says:

    garygagliardi:

    You say that what we perceive as law, chance, and intelligence are all the result of divine agency. Fine. But it seems to me that your treatment of chance, law, and intelligence denies the words of any meaning.

    ID takes chance, laws, and intelligence at face value. We know the mathematical characteristics of randomness, and so can identify elements of the painting that don’t require reference to anything more than random chance. Likewise, we know the mathematical characteristics of things produced by mechanical laws, and so can identify elements of the painting that can be explained as due to mechanical law(s). If the painting is like the universe at large, then most of it (geometrically speaking) would be explicable by reference to these two causes, but there would remain small pockets that remain unexplainable by random chance, law, or a combination of the two — pockets that contain complex specified information. We know of only one other true cause in the universe: intelligent agency. And we know that it can produce complex specified information, whereas chance and law cannot. By process of elimination, unless there is a fourth, unknown cause, intelligent agency of some kind must be the explanation of those pockets.

    But it should be noted that there can be no as-yet-undiscovered laws that will, after all, explain the remaining pockets, without reference to intelligence. Laws are simple. If there were laws (or sets of laws) which could explain the remaining pockets, then they would be so unlikely as to require reference to intelligence to explain the specific complexity or coordination.

    Consider: There is no empirical demonstration that the combination of only random chance and mechanical law can evolve “endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful”. All attempts to demonstrate this in a computer have failed. Non-trivial results are obtained only when computer programs are carefully designed, both in their overall structure and in their particular rules of evolution. (I.e., the input of “active information” is necessary.)

  79. 79
    kairosfocus says:

    StephenB:

    Eloquent, and devastating.

    I find it interesting that in a context where science — rightly understood — is an empirically anchored, open-ended, provisional search for the truth about the world we experience and observe, there is now a resort to proposed undiscovered laws to explain the origin of life.

    That leads to two points:

    i: If “life” is written into the fabric of universal natural law, that is an astonishing quantum of organised complexity in the laws of the cosmos — one that points to cosmological design, which in turn makes a big-C Creator a most plausible explanation.

    ii: There is a basic factor in the platonic chance-necessity-art trichotomy [though even Plato seemed to think it was immemorial in his day]. Namely, lawlike regularities are associated with outcomes of low contingency. We use law to explain, say, how heavy objects fall and eventually settle on say a table. But, when that object is a box full of dice, such regularities do not explain the high-contingency outcome of the sequence of digits made by the uppermost faces of the dice taken in turn. Contingency traces to chance or agency, reliably. And, if we have say 500 dice and we discover that the digits spell out a message in a suitable code, we see that we hve functionally specified, complex information that reliably traces to agency; as, say, I remarked on here.

    In short, the inference to unknown law, runs into deep trouble. If it is so, it points to design of the cosmos. And, it has to be a law of contingency that bears complex, functional information. There IS an observed regularity on that — intelligence.

    And, if instead, the common sense observation that mechanical necessity gives rise to natural regularities is instead correct, we need to be looking to distinguishing chance and agency in looking at say DNA. When we do that, we see that FSCI is a reliable marker of agency.

    That sounds like a factually challenged, logically incoherent position to me, garygagliardi.

    If that is not so, why?

    I am therefore struck by the three cornered debate that has developed, in particular the ID vs TE distinction:

    According to ID, design is “perceivable” and can be “apprehended;” according to TE (your paradigm) design is merely “conceivable” and can only be “comprehended.” ID assumes that design can be taken in through the senses, or that it is “real” TE, like Darwinism, insists that design is illusory, except that it is “inherent in the evolutionary process.” The official TE position is this: God designed a non-design universe.

    Since this is in large part, a phil-theol discussion at this point, I would love to hear the TE view on say Rom 1:18 – 23:

    RO 1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

    RO 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

    I think this is a point where Paul exposed key constructs in his theology and philosophy to empirical test.

    If the cosmos as a whole and its contents up to and including us do not show “plain” and intelligible/”understandable” traces of design, but rather traces of chance + necessity only, then it logically cuts across Paul’s thinking at this point; which is of course a major part of his theology of the gospel.

    So, is Paul — on the view of TE’s — wrong? If so, why? If not, why not?

    Just curious . . .

    GEM of TKI

    PS: BTW, I found your “functionally complex specified information” an interesting formulation. Makes me think about TA’s FSC vs RSC vs OSC.

  80. 80
    nullasalus says:

    DLH,

    “compared to Heller not understanding ID and/or trying to confuse the issue to where his “theism” is indistinguishable from atelic materialism in terms of practical evaluation of nature.)”

    kairosfocus,

    “If the cosmos as a whole and its contents up to and including us do not show “plain” and intelligible/”understandable” traces of design, but rather traces of chance + necessity only, then it logically cuts across Paul’s thinking at this point; which is of course a major part of his theology of the gospel.

    So, is Paul — on the view of TE’s — wrong? If so, why? If not, why not?”

    I’m quoting both of these, because I see a common thread between them.

    DLH mentions that Heller’s theism, when practically evaluating nature, is no different from ‘atelic materialism’. Kairos asks about plain, intelligible, understandable traces of design in nature. In both cases, it seems that the TEs are being charged with denying that design is clear and obvious.

    My response is that the TE position typically IS that design is clear and obvious – to reason. To understanding. But what keeps your average TE a TE (at least, so far) is the belief that this realization is the stuff of philosophy. It’s not amenable to scientific arbitration.

    Think of it this way: Every TE I’ve come across believes in a real morality, and in objective values related to that morality. I’d assume many ID proponents would agree with them on this point. But who here would argue that morality can be measured scientifically? Who would suggest that ‘Stalin was morally wrong to kill so many russians’ is a hypothesis that can be falsified?

    So right there, you have something that both IDs and TEs would likely regard as real, recognizable, and true – but at the same time, outside the scope of science to prove it. This divide is what’s going on with Heller, D’Souza, and likely others – they do see design. Reason leads them to understand nature as having a divine author. They do not think that this can be proven in the scientific realm, and they believe such a pursuit is a mistake that will confuse people or harm their faith.

    Now, I want to say – even if I’m far closer to TEs in belief, I have strong ID leanings. I believe that, even if it’s true that design/God cannot be demonstrated via science, science can (and in fact, does) bolster the philosophical argument dramatically. And I believe that science can be done under the ID paradigm, even if it’s model-based – effectively approaching nature with a commitment to design as an axiom to work from. But I think any hostility between the ID and TE camps is a mistake – and what’s more, it is not necessary. There’s room for disagreement, not to mention rational persuasion.

    Here’s my meager suggestion: Even many TEs mention that if ID isn’t fit for the laboratory, it’s fit for the philosophy classroom. Do not consider that an insult, or even bad advice. Think of how many times we see mainstream work published on this site, with mention of its relevance to ID. Can you imagine the persuasive power of taking the mainstream science, stripping the ‘Unplanned, unguided’ mantra that typically seeps into the papers (Which, I might add, is itself unscientific commentary), and presenting the data from the philosophical perspective of an ID proponent?

  81. 81
    gpuccio says:

    leo stotch:

    I find your comment to kairosfocus’ post particularly unfair and unkind.

    You say:

    “And yet you have no problem proposing an undiscovered, disembodied designer as an opposing explanation”

    It’s probably not even worthwhile repeating that to you, but just for sport: the ID model, as you probably perfectly know, is not proposing God. It is inferring a designer, consistently with observed characteristics of designed things. The designer can certainly be a God, if one believes that a God exists. If you don’t believe that, you can choice any designer you like. At present, God’s existence and/or nature is not an ID, or a scientific, issue. But I understand that, even if we repeat that truth a million times, people like you will always be ready to go on with their falsities as soon as they have an opportunity.

    You say:

    “and resorting to quoting Bible verses to drive home your point.”

    Maybe you are somewhat a distracted reader, and missed kairosfocus’ note:

    “Since this is in large part, a phil-theol discussion at this point, I would love to hear the TE view on say Rom 1:18 – 23:”

    In case you have also problems in interpretation of what is obvious, I will remark that kairosfocus, whose posts I have read many times, always with great personal satisfaction, has posted here at UD on multiple subjects: mostly on ID proper, and always strictly from a scientific point of view, but also, and generously, on philosophical, political, religious, theological, social issues. Each time, whether you agree with him or not, you will find that he is very consistent with the level of the discussion. In other words, even if that can appear strange to you, when we are discussing, as was the case here, the philosophical and theological aspects of TE, philosophical and theological arguments are perfectly pertinent, including quoting the Bible.

    In my last post here, commenting to garygagliardi, I made a similar note, and although it’s not my habit to do so, I will cite myself:

    “My main impression, from your comments, is that you are mainly interested in the philosophical-religious implications of the question, and just avoid the scientific aspect. That’s OK with me, if we agree that your objections have really no scientific basis … If we agree on that, I’ll try to reply to your philosophical and religious arguments (I am stating that explicitly, because here at UD I always try to stick to the purely scientific approach).”

    So, as you can see, many people here are very careful to distinguish between scientific arguments and philosophical or religious arguments. You don’t seem to be so interested in that difference, as far as you can attack somebody. The same is true of the darwinists who attack Dembski for his theological writings (which he has always kept separate from his scientific ones), or just any IDist who has a religious faith. That kind of intolerance is the only truly intolerable thing.

  82. 82
    StephenB says:

    —–“My response is that the TE position typically IS that design is clear and obvious – to reason. To understanding.
    If that is the case, then why do they embrace Darwinism which insists that design is “illusory.”

    —–“So right there, you have something that both IDs and TEs would likely regard as real, recognizable, and true – but at the same time, outside the scope of science to prove it. This divide is what’s going on with Heller, D’Souza, and likely others – they do see design. Reason leads them to understand nature as having a divine author. They do not think that this can be proven in the scientific realm, and they believe such a pursuit is a mistake that will confuse people or harm their faith.”

    Heller and Dsouza both sign on the incredible proposition that the “design is inherent in the evolutionary process.” Yet the evolutionary process they describe is Darwinistic, which by definition reduces design to illusion, which is another word for nonexistent. According to them, God “designed” a “non-design” process.

    —–“Now, I want to say – even if I’m far closer to TEs in belief, I have strong ID leanings. I believe that, even if it’s true that design/God cannot be demonstrated via science, science can (and in fact, does) bolster the philosophical argument dramatically. And I believe that science can be done under the ID paradigm, even if it’s model-based – effectively approaching nature with a commitment to design as an axiom to work from. But I think any hostility between the ID and TE camps is a mistake – and what’s more, it is not necessary. There’s room for disagreement, not to mention rational persuasion.”

    You mean that we can come to a gentlemanly agreement that Darwinism is real science and that ID is not. If those are your terms for a truce, I will pass. Besides, as I have pointed out previously, it is the TE’s who are on the offensive. Did you read Dsouza’s anti-ID article last week? All ID wants is its rightful place at the table, no more, no less.

    —–“Here’s my meager suggestion: Even many TEs mention that if ID isn’t fit for the laboratory, it’s fit for the philosophy classroom. Do not consider that an insult, or even bad advice. Think of how many times we see mainstream work published on this site, with mention of its relevance to ID. Can you imagine the persuasive power of taking the mainstream science, stripping the ‘Unplanned, unguided’ mantra that typically seeps into the papers (Which, I might add, is itself unscientific commentary), and presenting the data from the philosophical perspective of an ID proponent?”

    In saner times, such an approach might have worked. In truth, philosophical and theological knowledge surpasses scientific knowledge in significance. Unfortunately, the world we live in literally worships science even as it downgrades all other forms of knowledge. It isn’t fair and it isn’t true, but that doesn’t matter. Don’t forget how this whole thing got started. Philosophers and theologians were rightly pointing out that design is real. Darwin came along as said, “You are wrong, I’m doing ‘real science’ and all your fantasies are hereby refuted. Design is an illusion.” On that part, he was wrong, of course, but it didn’t matter. In any case, ID is science, so why should it not insist on being recognized as such.

  83. 83
    StephenB says:

    Leo: “Jealousy is the tribue mediocrity pays to genius.”—-Fulton J. Sheen.

  84. 84
    StephenB says:

    —–Leo: The point still stands. KF criticizes Gary for resorting to undiscovered laws to explain the origin of life, when his (KF’s) favored explanation resorts to an undiscovered designer.

    Your comment is not rational. There is a philosophical/theological discussion going on with a blogger who has chosen to de-emphasize the scientific component.

    —– “Well, no. The nature of the designer does not change based on our respective belief systems. He is what he is. And that encapsulates exactly why I am frustrated by ID in it’s current incarnation. After detecting design, it asks no further questions. There seems to be no interest in asking what would seem the obvious, and compelling, questions of who, what, where, when, why, and how. For a scientific endeavour, that is spectacularly incurious.”

    That is because there are so many, like yourself, who deny that design detection is possible. Why try to explain the significance of a fact, while the fact is being denied? That would not be logical. It is also not logical to expect science to answer philosophical questions about meaning.

    —–“But the Darwinists are making a good show of trying to develop medicines and cure diseases. ID supporters believe that theyhave a better approach to the life sciences. Fair enough. A better approach should lead to better results. Let’s get on with it.”

    ID does not have a tough act to follow. Darwin’s theory of evolution has not contributed one positive thing to mankind in 150 years. All positive contributions to medicine have come from molecular biology and pharmacology. ID is only 15 years old. Try to make your case again in about 25 years after ID has been given the opportunity to conduct research without having its labs shut down by Darwinists.

  85. 85
    StephenB says:

    —–“Sitting around debating knuckleheads like me is not a mark of genius. Going out and using knowledge to improve the world is.”

    Liberating knukleheads from their knockleheadedness is a noble calling. In theology, we call it a “work of mercy.”

  86. 86
    StephenB says:

    —–Leo: “It is not my position that design detection is impossible. It is my position that it is insufficient. And unambitious.”

    Insufficient for what? Adjectives without nouns are hard to follow. Are you saying that the [A] ID methodology works, but [B] ought to do more to help mankind? Or are you evading [A] by emphasizing [B] without conceding [A].

    —–“I am asking it to determine means (as in method) not meaning.”

    Well, if you are asking about methods, why are you fussing over what you perceive to be inadequate social contributions of the method, which is a totally separate matter?

    —–“Are you sure you want ID associated with apologetics?”

    Only two types of people do that, those who don’t understand it and those who seek to discredit it.

  87. 87
    nullasalus says:

    StephenB,

    “Heller and Dsouza both sign on the incredible proposition that the “design is inherent in the evolutionary process.” Yet the evolutionary process they describe is Darwinistic, which by definition reduces design to illusion, which is another word for nonexistent. According to them, God “designed” a “non-design” process. ”

    If Heller has commented on Darwinism in any way, I’ve missed it – his dismissive attitude towards ID (which I, from the start, said may be due to misunderstanding) isn’t enough to place him where you’re placing him.

    D’Souza said outright that he thinks evolution is intellectually abused as a theory to support particular philosophical views. It’s clear that he does not consider evolution or Darwinism to mean ‘no design’. Yes, I’m sure others do use Darwinism to mean as much. I suspect one kinda-TE in particular (Ken Miller) means as much. But clearly D’Souza, possibly Heller, and certainly many other TEs hold a view of ‘Darwinism’ that is not ‘no design’.

    If you want to argue that the very definition of Darwinism requires that there be no design, do so. My response would vary between disagreeing (because the presence or lack of design is a philosophical question, which according to TEs and many others, the science cannot address) and simply not caring (because arguing that TEs are illogical because they mean something different from ‘Darwinism’ than you think is acceptable is just too minor a point to bicker about.)

    “You mean that we can come to a gentlemanly agreement that Darwinism is real science and that ID is not. If those are your terms for a truce, I will pass. Besides, as I have pointed out previously, it is the TE’s who are on the offensive. Did you read Dsouza’s anti-ID article last week? All ID wants is its rightful place at the table, no more, no less.”

    No, I mean that TEs and IDers can come to a gentlemanly agreement that they both disagree about the scientific status of ID theory (present and future), while cooperating insofar as philosophical presentations of the data goes, and hey – maybe even attacks on the philosophy-as-science presentations that are offered up for a more atheistic Darwinism, often.

    That requires fairly engaging the criticisms and reservations TEs have with ID. Arguing that they don’t really believe in design when they repeatedly state that they do, and even provide arguments of how they view that design, helps no one. With the possible exception of Dawkins & co.


    In saner times, such an approach might have worked. In truth, philosophical and theological knowledge surpasses scientific knowledge in significance. Unfortunately, the world we live in literally worships science even as it downgrades all other forms of knowledge. It isn’t fair and it isn’t true, but that doesn’t matter. Don’t forget how this whole thing got started. Philosophers and theologians were rightly pointing out that design is real. Darwin came along as said, “You are wrong, I’m doing ‘real science’ and all your fantasies are hereby refuted. Design is an illusion.” On that part, he was wrong, of course, but it didn’t matter. In any case, ID is science, so why should it not insist on being recognized as such.”

    I’m not even arguing that ID shouldn’t be recognized as science. I think ID is (in fact, must) engaging the 800lb gorilla in natural science that no one wants to go near – the theoretical extent of intelligence and what impact it could have on the natural world. That is the atomic bomb of “undesigned” naturalistic theories, and every scientific success we experience as humans further justifies – on several grounds – a theistic view of the world. I’m arguing that TEs are essentially on the same side as ID proponents and that the hostility between the two camps is unnecessary. What’s more, it shouldn’t bring a desire for intellectual retribution just because someone makes with a flippant remark. That should be criticized, but cooperation should be pursued.

    Second, you’re (surprisingly) discounting philosophy. Insofar as Darwin (or anyone else) says that science shows design to be an illusion, they are not doing science. They are engaged in philosophy. Yes, they are employing scientific discoveries to justify their philosophies – but the result is still philosophy. The reaction should be to A) Point out where the science ends, and where the atheology begins, and demand the same separation that critics demand of ID proposals, and B) In the philosophical realm, pick up the science and start arguing the case for a Designer (Which a good number of the TEs are doing, and which more ID proponents need to do as well).

  88. 88
    StephenB says:

    nullasalus: I must say that you have been quite measured and thoughtful in your responses to my criticism of the TE’s. Inasmuch as you appear to be a quasi-TE, it would have been easy for you to take it personally; I am glad that you did not. To me, the key to nagivating through this mess is to watch carefully way TE’s use and abuse key terms. It ain’t pretty.

  89. 89
    gpuccio says:

    leo (#84):

    Much better, much better… You make some interesting points.

    You say:

    “Well, no. The nature of the designer does not change based on our respective belief systems. He is what he is. And that encapsulates exactly why I am frustrated by ID in it’s current incarnation. After detecting design, it asks no further questions. There seems to be no interest in asking what would seem the obvious, and compelling, questions of who, what, where, when, why, and how. For a scientific endeavour, that is spectacularly incurious.”

    I agree with you, but only partially. I agree that the nature of the designer, and the modalities of design, are perfectly reasonable, indeed mandatory, scientifci questions. But I think you don’t understand why ID at present has to restrict its main field of activity to affirm design detection. There are different reasons, all of them perfectly valid:

    1) The principle that design can be detected in biological information is not a new, complete scientific model. It is, more correctly, a new paradigm, a new scenario, which can create room for many new scientific models. In other words, admitting the presence and nature of design is just the first step for a new conception of science. But if we don’t take that first step, the new conception will never come, and our scientific thought will remain enslaved by the false assumptions of determinism and materialism.

    2) Detecting design in biological information is something which can already be done, and it is effectively supported by known facts, and ever more supported by each new fact which is daily discovered. On the contrary, the nature of the designer and the modalities of design are at present scarsely clarified by known facts. Many aspects of those problems can certainly be discussed in the light of what we know, and we certainly are doing that here at UD. You will have certainly read many threads about front-loading or non front-loading, aliens or God, graduality or non graduality, common or non common descent,and so on. As you probably know, we have different views about many of those aspects, and that is completely right. ID is the first step. It is the step already supported by facts. The rest will come. But we can speculate as long as we want, if facts are not yet sufficient to give definite answers our discussion will remain, for now, mostly philosophical. That’s the point we are at, for instance, about common descent. Some of us (most, probably) accept it. Some don’t. Personally, I still have not a final opinion. Why? Because, in my opinion, our knowledge is still not enough to decide.
    So, you see, we are perfectly aware that some things, while being in principle in the range of scientific knowledge, cannot still be evaluated satisfactorily because we don’t know enough facts, or because our theoretical models are not yet enough developed. But design detection is not one of those things.

    3) Last, but not least, you seem to dismiss the obvious fact that the whole model of design inference, of ID, has been violently, and unreasonably, rejected by the official scientific world, and that indeed the same idea of design is treated as though it were an heresy. In this situation, fighting to have the true value of the ID model at least admitted and fairly discussed becomes a logical priority. The rest will come.

    You say:

    “ID supporters believe that theyhave a better approach to the life sciences. Fair enough. A better approach should lead to better results. Let’s get on with it.”

    Frankly, are you playing naif? Aren’t you aware that all the technical resources in biology are owned, managed and controlled by strict darwinists? Aren’t you aware of how difficult it is even to publish something which even indirectly is in support of ID?
    The ID perspective can certainly help, immediately help science. But it has to be recognized as valid, and seriously applied. Just a couple of examples. Abel and Trevors have been doing a very interesting work on CSI measurement, even if they never refer to ID or to Dembski while using the same concepts. In their last paper, they really apply a method to measure CSI in proteins. Right or wrong, it is an interesting start. But the biological community has mainly reacted with critics and disdain, accusing them (and they are right!) of being too ID friendly!
    Second example: Dembski and Marks had started a very important critical work about genetic algorytms, and what was the reaction at Baylor? We all know…

    Remember, gathering the facts is the duty of every researcher, whatever his ideological frame. But interpreting facts is always done inside an ideological frame, be it darwinism, ID or any other. That’s why plurality of interpretations is vital for science. Scientists are gathering facts. Most scientists, today, are darwinists. They own the resources, and therefore they are those who gather the facts. But the facts are not owned by anyone. Accusing IDists of not contributing to gather facts is like accusing poor people of not living in beautiful palaces. Give ID the resources, and you will see…

  90. 90
    tribune7 says:

    He is what he is. And that encapsulates exactly why I am frustrated by ID in it’s current incarnation. After detecting design, it asks no further questions.

    OK, someone says a particular thing is designed. He is asked who designed it. He answers he doesn’t know. Why would that invalidate the claim that that particular thing was designed?

  91. 91
    ericB says:

    garygagliardi (70): “all you seem to think is that I am saying that God can choose to “hide” his action, but my point and Heller’s is much more substantial and central than that. If there is no separation between the creating intelligence and natural forces, logically one cannot be identified as separate from the other, certainly not be the same methods that separate human intelligent action from natural action.”

    Side observation: Taken as stated, you are describing pantheism, not Catholic or Christian theology, nor even theism.

    However that may be, although you referred in 70 to my position, I doesn’t seem you engaged or even quoted from it, either there or in 74. The application to your question is straight forward.

    If God’s actions were always indistinguishable from what science sees as the law+chance patterns of undirected natural processes, then it follows necessarily that any time that science detects the actions of intelligent agency, that would be some intelligent agency other than God.

    Thus, Heller’s objection to ID completely misses the mark. He does not understand that his objection makes no connection with what ID is doing. None whatsoever.

    You also misunderstand ID as some simple syllogism, one with absolutes that are inappropriate to science, which is always tentative. Even if the actual cause is unknown, the “unknown” is not a different kind of cause. Science does not operate based on speculations that lack empirical support. So far, I don’t see that you have engaged my points about the nature of science.

    In summary, to take an example for illustration, if ID infers intelligent agency as the best explanation for the information content of biological life, and Heller or you come along and say “What if God’s actions are indistinguishable from undirected law+chance?”, the proper response is “What does that have to do with it at all? Symbolic information is distinguishable from the observed effects of undirected law+chance. This inference to intelligent agency is completely unaffected by your theological assertion.”

  92. 92
    StephenB says:

    —-nullasalus: “If Heller has commented on Darwinism in any way, I’ve missed it – his dismissive attitude towards ID (which I, from the start, said may be due to misunderstanding) isn’t enough to place him where you’re placing him.”

    Most TE’s, (there may be some exceptions) believe in a naturalistic, non-directed evolutionary process as an explanation for bio-diversity. I use the word Darwinism to differentiate between TE (non-directed evolution and ID (God-directed or “designed” evolution). My definition of a Theistic Evolutionist or Christian Darwinist is anyone who argues that God allowed this naturalistic, non-directed evolution to take place. Obviously, that is tantamount to arguing for no design.

    Incredibly, TE’s argue that God somehow designed this no-design process by allowing it to happen. That is what they mean when they say that design is “inherent in the evolutionary process.” Still, they obviously don’t really believe that the design is real, because they are arguing for a non-design process. The idea is to both affirm and deny design, as incredible as this may seem. Even so, they are serious only about the no-design part of the formula, which is why they militate against ID.

    —–“No, I mean that TEs and IDers can come to a gentlemanly agreement that they both disagree about the scientific status of ID theory (present and future), while cooperating insofar as philosophical presentations of the data goes, and hey – maybe even attacks on the philosophy-as-science presentations that are offered up for a more atheistic Darwinism, often.”

    TEs have already decided on which side their bread is buttered. Anytime there is a debate between ID and atheistic Darwinism, the theistic evolutionist ALWAYS takes the side of the atheist. What does that tell you?

    —–“That requires fairly engaging the criticisms and reservations TEs have with ID. Arguing that they don’t really believe in design when they repeatedly state that they do, and even provide arguments of how they view that design, helps no one. With the possible exception of Dawkins & co.”

    It would appear that design that they believe in is merely rhetorical, as I have pointed out. Have you not heard of “methodological naturalism?” That is the anti-design methodology that Darwinists promote and to which TEs have signed on to wholeheartedly. So, TE’s have two non-design agendas: 1) naturalistic evolution and 2) methodological naturalism. If you are aware of a TE who abjures these agendas, let me know and I will take note of it. I don’t think that you will. To renounce naturalistic evolution and methodological naturalism automatically puts one in the ID camp. —

    —–“I’m not even arguing that ID shouldn’t be recognized as science. I think ID is (in fact, must) engaging the 800lb gorilla in natural science that no one wants to go near – the theoretical extent of intelligence and what impact it could have on the natural world.

    So, tell me. Do you think that ID is science as deserves a place at the table or don’t you? You seem to equivocate on this matter.
    —–“I’m arguing that TEs are essentially on the same side as ID proponents and that the hostility between the two camps is unnecessary. What’s more, it shouldn’t bring a desire for intellectual retribution just because someone makes with a flippant remark. That should be criticized, but cooperation should be pursued.”

    From my vantage point, the TEs are busy undermining ID at every turn. I’ll tell you what, though, if you can get them to cease fire, I will happily participate in the peace process. Meanwhile, I am not a big fan of unilateral truces.

    —–“The reaction should be to A) Point out where the science ends, and where the atheology begins, and demand the same separation that critics demand of ID proposals, and B) In the philosophical realm, pick up the science and start arguing the case for a Designer (Which a good number of the TEs are doing, and which more ID proponents need to do as well).”

    Yes, there is some truth in what you say. A few TE’s do, at least, accept the “anthropic principle,” which points to the fine tuning of the universe. I think Francis Collins and Dinesh Dsouza probably fit that category, although Dsouza appears to accept something like a God-directed evolution, which means he is not squarely in the TE camp. However, both of these men have made damaging public pronouncements about ID science, even though they obviously know next to nothing about it. Dsouza is arguing in favor of theism and against atheism and he is doing a very good job of it. In some ways, that puts him in a position to hurt us more. Many will say, “He is a Christian apologist and even he doesn’t believe in ID.”

  93. 93
    garygagliardi says:

    Let’ start by reminded everyone of the only two points I write about:
    Point One: The syllogism used to identify a cause, “if not known law nor random chance then intelligence” is flawed because ignorance of cause does not correctly assign a cause simply by “eliminating” two of these alternatives.
    Point Two: Divine intelligence cannot be identified as separated from nature in the same way that non-divine intelligence can because divine intelligence controls nature (this was Heller’s original point).

    First, since many posters seem to think that the special nature complex information makes these problem vanish, let me first illustrate them specifically with two examples using complex information.

    The first is a thought experiment. Let us use the previously cited example of a cave painting as its basis. Suppose a cave was found that seemed to have primitive pictures of animals. Those pictures are sufficiently detailed (complex) that they seem to be the work of intelligence, BUT as the image is examined, it is clear that the image is not artificial. It is literally formed from the rock of the cave wall itself from the natural minerals in the rock. These minerals just seem to “happen” to form this detailed image on the surface.

    How do we attribute the “cause” of the image using “Not law nor chance so intelligence” syllogism. Well, clearly there is no law that explains the image. We would say “chance,” except that the image is detailed information and it is specific. So do we accept intelligence? You can answer the question for yourselves. Would most scientists, in lieu of another explanation, would go back to “chance” explanation despite the details of the image? Would others suggest a miracle? Would still others suggest some unknown process that would allow a normal cave painting to affect the rock in some unknown way to create the appearance of a natural process? Is it a message from God?

    For my purposes, it doesn’t matter. Whatever the real cause of the image, my point is simply that the syllogism doesn’t work as advertised making the answer clear. The best answer remains, as I suggested, that we don’t know despite the existence of detailed information. If the image was artificial, the decision would be easy. The problem is that it is not artificial.

    Ah, now you are saying, BUT this is an false thought experiment. In REAL life detailed information ALWAYS has a clear source despite any problems with natural processes. People ALWAYS accept that source as intelligence. Does it? Do they? Of course we have lot of real life “miracle” images we could use as examples, but, for the purpose of argument, perhaps they are not sufficiently detailed.

    So, let us go to a real life example you all may be familiar with.

    This example is the Shroud of Turin. Here again, we have complex information in the form of a detailed image. Again presumption is that it was created by intelligence because it of its detail. However, despite all our examinations, we can think of no artificial process that could have created it. Since it is on a man-made cloth, attributing it purely to “chance” natural processes is impossible. An intelligent process would seem logical but given the fact that no known artificial means could have created the image we see, no one can say how.

    SO, what does everyone accept as the cause? Intelligence? Divine intelligence with the control over natural processes? And unknown natural principle? Is there agreement based upon the syllogism?

    No. I don’t there is. Again, the syllogism is not proof of anything and not really accepted as such. In this case, it is interesting because the “intelligence” cause is preferred by non-believers.

    The determinative factor is the artificial nature of the cause. When artificial methods are identified, the cause is automatically attributed to human intelligence. When the methods seem natural, problems immediately arise even with detailed information.

    With this in mind let us go through some of the answers other posters have offered to my two points. Apologize that I haven’t had time to respond to them all. I will respond to more as I get a chance, but to be honest, the process is not very profitable since no one really engages the points above and instead simply claim they are wrong and prove it by mistating my position.

    For now, I offer three detailed responses as example, but, I don’t find that any of these posters willing to engage the core of my arguments so it isn’t very useful.

    To DLH at 75:
    You don’t address my Point One at all.
    Your argument regarding my Point Two ignores the fact that this argument is specific: that ID’s methods cannot identify DIVINE intelligence that has control of nature. You may consider this “sophistry,” but do you REALLY think that 95% can’t understand this idea?
    To gpuccio at 76: You say-

    My main impression, from your comments, is that you are mainly interested in the philosophical-religious implications of the question, and just avoid the scientific aspect.

    Point one is a purely scientific point regarding the nature of scientific proof and I see that you don’t address it. If you want, as you indicate to discuss purely scientific points, this is where to start.
    Point two is only philosophical-religious because it deals with a specific formulation of the divine. It points out (as Heller did initially) that a divine intelligence that complete control of nature is indistinguishable from nature. After claiming that I misuse the words “natural” and “nature,” but not explaining how, you speculate on my beliefs, which are irrelevant to my arguments and finally say:

    The single most important point, for me, is that you assume that God expresses Himself “only” through what you call “natural laws”.

    Despite your quote around “only,” I have specifically said the opposite and even suggested exactly that in the quote you use. Then you proceed to replace my easily understood concept of “nature” with your own of “scientific deterministic laws.” You then proceed to prove the “obvious falsity” of “only” “scientific deterministic laws” explaining information, two things that have nothing to do with my two simply points. This type of argument doesn’t even rise to the level of a straw man. Everything that you claim after that I “seem to affirm,” are things I do NOT affirm and have nothing to do with my arguments. And to be honest, I stopped reading your post at that point. Why not just replace my concept of “divine” with the word “cheese,” and REALLY show everyone how stupid I am saying that I am claiming that cheese has control over nature? You should be embarrassed by this. One last note, you say:

    you, like most theistic evolutionists, seem to constantly dismiss the main ID point, that what we observe in the biological world is in essence different from what we observe at the purely deterministic level of the material not living world.

    First, I am not a TE, but your definition and I hate to be the first to break the news to you, but the laws of physics haven’t been deterministic since the introduction of quantum mechanics in the 1920s. In real life I happen to do a lot of work on the difference between deterministic and stochastic methods. Your misunderstand of term makes it hard to take you other statement seriously.

    StephenB at 77:
    Finally, we get someone wants to discuss point number one. Let us see: in paragraph one, you claim that the evidence is all against me, but don’t offer it. At paragraph two, you agree with me. In paragraph three, you claim to contradict my statement about testing the syllogism, but you don’t address testing the syllogism at all (which was what I was writing about), but rather the testing of information coming from human intelligence, (which is only relevant to my Point Two). You then deny that Darwinists use this syllogism in the same way but don’t offer any proof because, after all you claim that I am a TE and accept Darwin, which I don’t. You then go on to say:

    Also, you need to be advised that ID does not presume to detect “God’s intelligence.”

    Of course, I have never said that it did. Point Two says that the methods used by ID could identify intelligence, but only if it is non-divine. The general assumption in ID is that method that detect human intelligence can detect all intelligence. I maintain that in the special case of divine intelligence, they must fail. At this point, I notice that you have skipped over the heart of my arguments regarding the problems with using this syllogism as a proof of a source cause and instead skip to my argument, that the “chance” and “intelligence” have been used through history as the explanation of phenomena when we don’t know any other cause. You response to this is:

    That is your characterization of what ID is saying, and it happens to be wrong. We are saying, provisionally, that all the evidence points to three possible causes.

    First, I was not characterizing ID as saying this. I was saying it. My arguments, which you skipped entirely, were about the dangers of using “chance” or “intelligence” as a provisionally cause when we cannot explain a phenomena using a known principles of science. You skipped over all the arguments and examples of the mistakes in doing this, but you still maintain that “all evidence points to three possible cause” because I guess you didn’t read those examples or arguments. Again, you give no examples or evidence other than the claim.

    You then move onto Point Two. You rebut my statements saying that we are able to discern human intelligence from nature because humana do not control nature by saying:

    No, human intelligence leaves clues because, in every case, the EFFECTS of intelligence manifest themselves in the form functionally specified complex information. You are confusing the reason it is true with the method for discerning the fact.

    First, let me note that your “in every case,” is exactly ONE case, human intelligence. Then let me note that your statement is simply an assertion, not an argument, an example, or anything else I can work with. I have used the examples of complex information at the beginning of this post and how they don’t resolve anything.

    Regarding the problems of identifying divine intelligence as separate from nature. You say:

    If, the relationship between God and nature were as you described, then God would not leave FSCI.

    First, The relationship that I describe between God and nature is that of God being the author of nature and having control over it. Are you really saying that this God cannot be in control of nature if we find complex information in nature? Really? My argument is simply that we could not identify the information left by God from that left by nature so its source would always be in question, but I have no idea how to respond to your seeming statement that God cannot control nature. I assume it is a misstatement.

    You then go on to describe what you see as the difference between ID and TE. Since your definition of a TE is someone who believes that “God designed a non-design universe,” it is helpful only in the sense that it clarifies that I, by your definition, am not a TE. In rejecting ID, I do not have to accept the absence of design, only your methods of proving it. Regardless, this argument has nothing to do with any of my points.

    When I point out that we cannot separate God’s work from nature because God, unlike man, is in control of nature, you say:

    There is no reason to believe that God is identical to, unified with, or bound by his laws in any way.

    You apparently missed the first part of the next paragraph that you actually quote which says:

    “Notice that I am not saying that God is limited to working through nature, but that any actions within or without of nature’s laws have the same exact source and we have no basis for telling them apart.”

    Instead, you react to my statement regarding our inability to discern nature from divine action by saying:

    Again, the evidence is against you. If your assumptions were true, God’s intelligence would not manifest itself in the form of 500 bits of FSCI.

    So, the evidence that I am wrong about being unable to discern divine action from nature is that complex information exists in nature. I hate to remind you that no one disagrees that information exists in nature: only about its sources.

    And you contradict not only your own claims but those of all you fellow since you all claim that ID makes no inferences about this information coming from God. Right? Now, to prove me wrong about your inability to detect divine intelligence, you claim ID has already done so? Really?

    In response to my request that you agree that not really know much about God’s intelligence based on the limited example of our own, you respond.

    Absolutely not. Our intelligence participates in God’s intelligence. That is the point that you do not understand or refuse to accept. He set things up so that we could detect the presence of his intelligence. You don’t realize it, I’m sure, but you are arguing for an irrational universe in which God’s handiwork is totally imperceptible. If your assumptions were true, then God could not reveal himself in nature, through 500 bits of FSCI, or in Scripture, through his word. More important, both revelations would be totally incomprehensible to us.

    None of your statements about my beliefs are remotely true. As a matter of fact, I believe the opposite of what you claim. I completely accept that we participate in God’s intelligence and, reading my posts, you know this. I complete accept that he set up the universe so that we COULD detect his intelligence and have said so.

    What I reject is that we are FORCED to recognize his intelligence in the way you say. We can only CHOOSE to believe in it. I personally do believe in a rational universe, but not in a universe that forces belief. If you want me to explain the difference, I will be glad to do so, but it isn’t a part of the discussion here.

    All for today, but for future posters, please try to avoid misrepresenting my beliefs and statements or lumping them will “all TEs (especially since I don’t seem to meet the definition). My two points are simple. Please do not try to disprove them by insisting I must mean something other that what I say.

  94. 94
    kairosfocus says:

    Okaaay . . .

    Returning from the real world, in the usual wee hours.

    LS, FYI, I am doing serious things in my “real world, for pay” work, things that are scientifically and technologically connected and deal with major challenges facing my adopted homeland, Montserrat.

    At some points they even over lap into the sorts of issues in this and similar threads, not least on matters linked to the ties between energy, work — physical and economic — and intelligent action. But, also, wearing another hat, I have an interest in where our culture is going (straight over the cliff), and the movements that are shaping it and inducing it into suicide — literal not metaphorical.

    IMHBXO, the evolutionary materialist paradigm in science and as a wider world view and cultural agenda that improperly exploits the prestige of science, is such a case in point of personally and socially destructive en-darkenment in the name of enlightenment, too often backed up by Plato’s Cave games. So, for instance, as an educator, I seek to understand and respond to such trends and agendas, testing my insights and responses online, e.g. at UD. So, the science is relevant, the phil is relevant, and since major worldviews intersect with theological themes, and ours is a Civilisation that has deep Judaeo-Christian roots, they also interact with Bible-oriented theology. At the centre of that intersection today lies the debate over the empirical evidence anchored inference to design.

    Also Leo, FYI, GP is right that I seek to distinguish the different levels and contexts in the exchanges, and as for instance may be seen in the Stein at Biola thread, from 19 on, I have laid out, step by step, the scientific issue on inference to design, and asked for response. Again and again I meet evasions, distractions and distortions, so what do you think that is telling me about the balance of the case on the merits?

    But, too, the very intensity and to often uncivil ferocity of the response tells me that the issue is important and the ability to de-censor science so that it may infer reasonably and credibly to the full set of relevant causal factors — intelligence as well as chance + necessity, is a major achievement. Onward, we are interested in many cases in agent identification adn in reverse engineering the relevant techniques, which are dependent on contextual cues; but first and foremost, let the evidence be heard, uncensored: FSCI IS A RELIABLE SIGNPOST POINTING TO INTELLIGENT ACTION. (And in such a context of exposing and correcting censorship backed up by ferocious attacks to the man up to and including slander and career busting [that picture of the barrage of the expelled flying out of the halls of science as the machine works away is ever so sadly apt . . .], on one of the key institutions in our culture, the diversion to pointing out “but you have not also done X, Y, Z, A, B, C . . . loses any respectability it may otherwise have had. It becomes simply a red herring, distracting from INJUSTICE, Leo.)

    So, GP, thanks — yet again.

    You have aptly rebutted. I also appreciate the kind words. [Leo, FYI you have improperly characterised me, and need to take back and correct your words, then deal with the real issue on the merits, not the red herrings, strawmen and ad hominems.]

    StephenB, thanks too.

    I think this whole exchange in the large is settling down to some clear conclusions on the merits. We also have now got some tested approaches for understanding, addressing and where necessary exposing, what is going on. I think Expelled looks like a good point to start the discussion in the wider culture from.

    Now, on particular points of note:

    1] Is design in the universe “plain,” “Clearly seen” and “understandable” wrt to evident design?

    It is “plain” that there is a major disconnect in the thread on the key points, scientific, philosophical, theological!

    For instance, in citing Paul, I highlighted that his theology at the point exemplified by Rom 1:18 – 23 is open to a comparative difficulties analysis, with a scientific input. Namely: Is design empirically detectable and plain to the point of being compelling on pain of selective hyperskepticism to reject it, rather than just conceivable to the proverbial — and there is too often a subtext of contempt in this context — “eye of faith”?

    And, of course, there is usually a sneer that is not even so veiled in that reference to “faith.”

    Certainly, we must recall that we live in an age that is so philosophically illiterate and bewitched by the mere name “Science” that it fails to see that faith and reason are inextricably intertwined in the roots of our worldviews, once we see that for instance the quest for proof and certainly requires further proofs until either we see absurd infinite regress or else accept first plausibles. By definition, such first plausibles are taken on trust, i.e. faith. [Cf my basic level discussion here.]

    Now, if design is plainly seen and clearly understood from the things that have been MADE, then such design will be empirically detectable. And, such was the predominant view of the educated across our civilisation for centuries — nay, for millennia — until Darwin. As Dick to the Dawk to the PhD says — and remember, he thinks he is “smarter” than you or me [note his self-chosen appellation for evo mat atheists: “Brights”] — he thinks Darwin makes it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist, and he thinks that those who reject his evo mat darwinian view are “ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked.” [NB, we looked at the coherence of evolutionary materialism from here on in UD, and the answer plainly is that evolutionary materialism anchored atheism cannot account dynamically and logically for the basic credibility of the mind one needs to use to think materialist thoughts and take them seriously. Evo mat is intellectually incoherent and arguably self-refuting; i.e. intellectually bankrupt. Endarkenment, not enlightenment..]

    So, we have an agreed point of worldviews testing: comparative factual adequacy through empirical test on whether design is credibly detectable in the empirical world. So, let us take a look under the hood . . .

    2] Empirically detecting design – a scientific and fruitful project:

    Here, I can simply begin by scooping out and slightly adjusting the points I made in the recent thread:

    1 –> Natural regularities reflect underlying mechanical necessities that we try to capture in statements of “laws of nature.” [E.g. we see that heat + oxidiser + fuel –> fire, reliably, and infer to laws of combustion to explain it.]

    2 –> That is fine when we seek to explain regularities. But, we also try to explain contingent situations. [E.g. the origin of Garibaldi Hill here in Montserrat – monogentic (one-shot eruption) cooled down dome, or is it that we have evidence that it is a formerly active mini volcano in its own right with its own little history of eruptions, pyroclastic flows and all the way up to plinian eruptions and associated deposits?]

    3 –> Highly contingent situations arise from chance or agency, based on our observation. For simple instance: a die sits on the table in front of us, 6 uppermost: necessity, chance or agency? Necessity may explain — using gravity and the dynamics of intermolecular repulsive forces and elasticity [very slight deflection reflecting distortion of inter-atomic relationships and resulting forces] — how it simply and reliably sits on the table, but the uppermost face (which is highly contingent) is either chance or agency.

    4 –> Science often studies such contingent situations, and we have developed techniques for identifying the source of contingent outcomes. For instance, experiment designs are often based on the statistics of populations and the difference between what could be expected on chance variation and intent-full experimenter intervention.

    5 –> Now, in certain situations, contingency show itself in complex information-storage capacity, and further shows itself in functionality dependent on that information, e.g the DNA code and the molecules that hold it and process it in the cell.

    6 –> Such FSCI has a contingency pattern in which the functionality is relatively isolated in the space of possible configurations: to better than 1 in 10^150. So, when we have information storage beyond 500 – 1,000 bits, we can very reasonably infer that islands of functional configurations are incredibly isolated in the config space. So much so that no random-walk based search on the gamut of our observed universe could be expected to reach the shores of an island of functionality.

    7 –> In short, biofuncitonality is observed to be based on DNA strands of at least of 300 – 500,000 4-state elements. The resulting config spaces start at about 10^180,000 cells, making islands of functionality so isolated that they simply are not credibly accessible to a random walk based search in any even very generous prebiotic soup scenario.

    8 –> Onward, as we look a the origin of body plan level biodiversity, we see that — e.g. through the Cambrian life revolution in the fossil record — we need to account for dozens of phyla and subphyla, with increments of DNA that reasonably are of order 100 m bases, multiple times over in a narrow window of time and space relative to the scope of he cosmos as a whole. 100 m bases is a config space of order ~ 1,36*10^60,205,999. The bio-functional states in that space would be utterly lost and isolated, so by probabilistic resource exhaustion, are credibly unreachable by chance + necessity on the gamut of our observed universe. [And remember, one has to first reach to the shores of islands of functionality before one may begin to climb the hill to improve the functionality through culling by competition for reproduction ,nutrition etc. So, NS is irrelevant to the ORIGIN of the required biodiversity, it only culls for the better performing varieties. ]

    9 –> But contingencies on the relevant scale of complexity and specificity are routinely produced by agents using insight and intent: more or less reliably functional software requiring 600k bits upwards is something all of us who deal with computers address daily. So, we KNOW that intelligence can produce FSCI, routinely,a nd that it is utterly unlikely for chance + necessity to do so on the gamut of the cosmos. So, Design thinkers, for excellent reason, conclude: on empirically anchored inference to best explanation, FSCI is a reliable sign of intelligence and counts as evidence that discloses the presence of intelligence at the relevant time and place of its origin. (“All” that is needed to overturn this, is a good counter example. Guess why none is forthcoming, over the 15 or so years of the debate, onlookers . . .)

    10 –> When we turn to the cosmos as a whole, of course, traditional Judaeo-Christian thought says, the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows his handiwork; again, open to empirical test. And, the complex, extremely fine-tuned organisation of the physics to get to a cosmos such as ours revealed by the advances of astrophysics and cosmology in recent decades underscores that such a delicate balancing is “there” that it points to similar FSCI. So, we confidently infer to intelligence as the most reasonable explanation of the cosmos as we observe it.

    11 –> So, we have a choice of two sources for such contingency, one of which arguably is inadequate [chance], the other of which is adequate [intelligence]. It is not hard — absent selective hyperskepticism — to see which explanation is superior.

    3] The worldviews bottomline

    So, through scientific reasoning, we come back to the point that the evidence does point to design, quite strongly and even “plainly.” In the biological world, and in the cosmological world. That may be inconvenient tot he evolutionary mateialists who hold the positions of power in a lot of institutions of power and influence, but that is the state on the merits. And, when we see that the usual reaction is just that — reaction, even resort to naked force and abuse of influence and power – it clinches the force of the point.

    So, in the end, on factual adequacy of worldviews, it is Paul, John, David and Paley that are still in the running, long after Darwin’s ideas – though not the institutions dominated by those ideas – have clearly bitten the dust.

    So, it seems a major rethink needs to happen. And those who have revealed their design by “a long train of abuses and usurpations” must be curbed now.

    Before it is too late.

    GEM of TKI

  95. 95
    gpuccio says:

    garygagliardi:

    I appreciate your comments, which are certanly sincere and passionate. I think I owe you further clarifications because, although our points of view are probably not reconcilable, some aspects may perhaps be explained better. So, I will try to address your points in the best way I can.

    First of all, I apologize for my phrase:

    “you, like most theistic evolutionists, seem to constantly dismiss the main ID point”.
    Indeed, I was not implying that you were a TE (I had no idea if you were), but that your specific attitude towards that point was the same as that of TEs. It was not my intention to force a position on you. If you are not a TE, I appreciate that, because my opinion of TE is certanly not good.

    Similarly, when I wrote “only”, I had no intention to cite you, just to stress the word, although I was certainly trying to interpret you.

    But let’s go to more substantial matters. You complain that I have misinterpretated your meaning when I have reformulated one of your phrases substituting your use of the term “nature”. That’s absolutely possible. That’s why I don’t like the word “nature”, which has many different possible meanings.
    On that point, you say:

    “After claiming that I misuse the words “natural” and “nature,” but not explaining how”

    I am not claiming that you misuse the word nature, but that the word itself has no definite meaning, and therefore it would be better to specify what one means, so that there are no ambiguities. So, to be more specific, I will go into some detail about my problems with the word “nature”.

    Your original phrase was as follows:

    “If, as you say, nature IS a manifestation of God’s thoughts and acts, how can we hope to perceive any difference between any “supernatural” acts of intelligence and natural actions?”

    I reformulated it as follows:

    “If, as you say, “scientific deterministic laws” ARE a manifestation of God’s thoughts and acts, how can we hope to perceive any difference between any “non purely deterministic” acts of intelligence and natural actions?”

    Now, I was not trying to read your mind, but just to express what I thought you were saying. If I was wrong, I apologize. But let’s try to understand where is the problem.

    The problem for me is that I can’t understand what you mean by “nature”. Is nature all that exists except the transcendent God? Is God inside nature, or “only” outside of it? Is human consciousness, or human soul, “only” inside nature, or is it transcendental?
    Besides, you speak of God’s thoughts and acts, but are those thoughts and acts beyond nature? Are they in any way phenomenic? (I would say that the same idea of thoughts and acts has some phenomenic aspect). And if they are, in what dimension do they happen? Supernatural?
    What is “supernatural”? A miracle? But a miracle happens “in” nature, so how do you define it? Something we can’t explain? Or do you just think there is no such thing as a miracle?

    I am not saying that there are not possible and reasonable answers to those questions, I am just saying that your answers are probably different from mine, and so what is “natural” to you is not necessarily “natural” to me, and vice versa.

    So, I introduced the term “scientific deterministic laws” in the place of “nature”. And here comes another misunderstanding. You object, rather sarcastically:

    “I hate to be the first to break the news to you, but the laws of physics haven’t been deterministic since the introduction of quantum mechanics in the 1920s. In real life I happen to do a lot of work on the difference between deterministic and stochastic methods. Your misunderstand of term makes it hard to take you other statement seriously.”

    So, in the hope that you can take my other statements more seriously, I state more clearly what in my opinion should have been obvious, but probably was not.

    When I say “scientific deterministic laws”, I am certainly including quantum mechanics in that. Indeed, I had a lot of detailed dicussions about QM and its significance for many key points of our debate, here at UD. Now, QM is a scientific deterministic law which includes in its general model a crucial probabilistic aspect. It is very important to understand that the relationship between determinism and statistical law in QM is very subtle, and essentially the most controversial point in the interpretations of QM meaning.

    In other words, the mathematical computation of the
    wave function, which is the basic essence of QM, is totally deterministic, while the prevision of real observations, after the so called “wave function collapse”, is probabilistic.

    The real menaing of that all is not really understood, and I agree with you that it is a crucial point in the scientific understanding of reality. But the important point is that even the probabilistic aspects of QM are anyway managed through a rigorous mathematical and statistical formalism, which is in itself logically determined. It’s not a case that QM has been taken as a possible “interface” in all the models which try to explain the relationship between free will and deterministic reality (I mean, all the models which are not in line with the sheer atheistic determinism, which negates free will), but we must understand that, in all those models, a manipulation is assumed of the simple statistical laws of randomness by a different, intelligent and conscious principle, whose function of free will would be expressed through the probabilistic “window” of QM, so that a free output is achieved without apparently violating known laws, ot at least violating only the probabilistic part, which would be less “apparent”.

    The important point is that purely probabilist mathematical laws are always laws, and even if we cannot call them deterministic, they are mathematically constrained, and are in themselves no better than pure determinism in order to explain phenomena like free will, or CSI. That’s exactly the main point of ID.

    So, I could rephrase your statement (always for the sake of discussion, no offense intended) as follows:

    “If, as you say, “mathematical and logical laws which can explain events” ARE a manifestation of God’s thoughts and acts, how can we hope to perceive any difference between any “non purely mathematically and logically explainable” acts of intelligence and “logically and mathematically explainable events”?

    We can. Events like human acts of free will, human generation of CSI, and the presence of CSI in biological beings “can” be distinguished from those events that a logico-mathematical model can explain. That’s the point of ID.

    Now, after having clarified, at least as I can, my points, I will try to address yours.

    “Point One: The syllogism used to identify a cause, “if not known law nor random chance then intelligence” is flawed because ignorance of cause does not correctly assign a cause simply by “eliminating” two of these alternatives.”

    Well, let’s put it this way:

    1)The first ID point is that no known law of necessity, more or less coupled to random chance, can even begin to explain biological information.

    2) The second point of ID is that, for formal and logical reasons, it is very likely that no future new law “of that kind”, that is logically and mathematically determined, more or less coupled to random chance, will ever be able to explain biological information.

    These first two points have nothing to do with any “sillogism”. They derive from a logico-mathematical analysis of what we know. They have nothing to do with the concept of design. You can agree or disagree, but that’s all.

    3) A whole category of observable events, namely human artifacts, often exhibit the formal characteristics of CSI, the same formal characteristics which can in great abundance be observed in biological information.

    This point, again, has nothing to do with any sillogism. It is an objective observation and, for those who agree on the definition of CSI, it is practically incontrovertible.

    4) ID, on the basis of the first three points, proposes a scientific model to start explaining biological information: behind it there may be a process similar to the process which is behind human CSI. As we call that process “design” for humans, we call the similar process “design” too. As humans are conscious, intelligent beings, and produce design, so we hypothesize that some conscious, intelligent being has designed biological beings.

    The important point is that this is not a sillogism. It is not a logical demonstration. It is an inference. An inference is a totally different thing. An inference does not give logical certainty. And yet, most of empirical sciences, if not all, are based on inferences. So, I can’t understand why you go on using the term “sillogism” to describe a perfectly acceptable scientific inference. Shall I recall that the title of one of the first works by Dembski is, indeed: “The design inference”?

    So, if with your “point one” you mean that we cannot have the logical certainty of a designer, then I agree with you. But empirical science is never about logical certainties. Only in mathemathics, which is not an empirical science, you have some degree of logical certainties, because mathematics is largely deductive. But empirical sciences are mainly inferential.

    “Point Two: Divine intelligence cannot be identified as separated from nature in the same way that non-divine intelligence can because divine intelligence controls nature (this was Heller’s original point).”

    Here my answer is simple: I don’t agree, neither with your terminology, nor with your conclusion. I will rephrase the issue as I see it, with my terminology (I am not rephrasing your thought here, just expressing mine):

    Divine Intelligence expresses itself in observable reality (phenomena) in (at least two)different ways.
    1) The first way is to control events through logico-mathematical laws, either purely deterministic or deterministic and probabilistic, like QM. At that level, all events are totally constrained by those laws, either deterministically or probabilistically. The initial (at the beginning of time) implementation of those laws, and selection of the correct parameters for those laws, is sufficient for their workings. Those laws are, in principle, accessible to human reason through the observation of events and the formulation of logico-mathemathical models. No event of the CSI type can be explained by that kind of laws.

    2) The second way is to super-impose information to those laws, without necessarily violating them formallly (or maybe “naturally” violating them at a level which is not yet observable or understandable by us). The super-imposed information is the expression of God’s thoughts, and very much a God’s act. It happens “inside” time, and modifies phenomena in a discernible way, in the same way that human free will (for those who believe in it) modifies phenomena “beyond” logico-mathematical laws. That second level can better be defined an “expression” rather than a “contol”, but in the end it’s just a matter of words. The important thing is that the second level cannot be reconducted to the same kind of laws as the first level. In other words,the second level is not logico-mathematically constrained, neither in a deterministic nor in a probabilistic way. It has, on the contrary, the characteristics of freedom, love, invention, novelty, which can, in a much lesser degree, be found in human behaviour.
    That second level “can” causally explain CSI, exactly as human behaviour causally explains human CSI. Being a free expression of a conscious beings, it cannot in principle be explained by human logico-mathenmatical models, as the first level. But I do believe that it can be “understood”, at least in part, in other ways.
    But human logico-mathematical models are not, anyway, totally impotent with it. Even if they cannot explain level two, they can perfectly separate the effects of level two (CSI) from those of level one, at least empirically, if not logically.

    In brief, that’s my model, which is perfectly compatible with ID. I can see, in my model, no problem of the kind that you rise in your point one. The different perspective and terminology, as often happens, simply eliminates the problem.

    Finally, let’s go to your two examples.

    In the first one, the painting in the cave, if the evidence of CSI were strong, I would definitely attribute it to design. I can’t understand how you can imagine that one can be sure that it was due to “natural” causes. Again, designers do use natural causes, only “direct” them by information. If we were sure that the painting was realized by water infiltration, well, then I would think that someone directed water infiltration to realize his design. Where is the problem?
    Just two notes: the evidence for CSI must be very strong, because we are talking of a single event. A single event, anyway, can never be the basis of a general theory, for obvious reasons, although it certainly retains a strong empirical value. In the case of biological CSI, luckily, we are not in that trouble. We have billions of independent events, and the evidence of CSI is strong for each one.

    Regarding the Shroud of Turin, I prefer not to give my opinion because I am not aware of all the pertinent problematics, and therefore I probably can’t understand the true point of your example.

    Regarding your final observation:

    “What I reject is that we are FORCED to recognize his intelligence in the way you say. We can only CHOOSE to believe in it. I personally do believe in a rational universe, but not in a universe that forces belief. ”

    Well, I certainly agree with you. That’s why science is never absolute certainty. There is no certainly in the phenomenal world, least of all scientific certainty. Science should be a humble approach to our possible limited knowledge of the external world. The idea that science can give the final answers is totally wrong, and is one of the consequences of atheistic materialism.

    ID is science, not religion. It cannot give any final answer. But it is good science, while darwinian evolution theory is, definitely, very bad science.

    What we believe in our heart, as you rightly say, is only our choice, an expression of our free will.

  96. 96
    kairosfocus says:

    Gary:

    Re yr:

    Let us use the previously cited example of a cave painting as its basis. Suppose a cave was found that seemed to have primitive pictures of animals. Those pictures are sufficiently detailed (complex) that they seem to be the work of intelligence, BUT as the image is examined, it is clear that the image is not artificial. It is literally formed from the rock of the cave wall itself from the natural minerals in the rock. These minerals just seem to “happen” to form this detailed image on the surface . . . .

    let us go to a real life example you all may be familiar with.

    This example is the Shroud of Turin. Here again, we have complex information in the form of a detailed image. Again presumption is that it was created by intelligence because it of its detail. However, despite all our examinations, we can think of no artificial process that could have created it. Since it is on a man-made cloth, attributing it purely to “chance” natural processes is impossible. An intelligent process would seem logical but given the fact that no known artificial means could have created the image we see, no one can say how.

    SO, what does everyone accept as the cause? Intelligence? Divine intelligence with the control over natural processes? And unknown natural principle? Is there agreement based upon the syllogism?

    This requires several observations:

    1 –> Observe, the imagined case is the one in which chance + necessity “somehow” account for an image in the form of a drawing. WHAT IS REQUIRED IS AN EMPIRICAL CASE IN POINT.

    2 –> When you turn to an empirical case, it is one where as you acknowledge, intelligent agency is involved from the outset. You then divert to the question of agent identification.

    3 –> In neither case do you actually address the main point at stake: the origin of FUNCTIONALLY specified, algorithmically working, digital, complex information. That is what DNA is, and we know from much observation and no observed counter examples, and from reasoning on why that would be so on probabilistic grounds, that such FSCI is reliably the product of agency.

    4 –> We are not just inferring to a blank alternative, dumping ground – if not chance and necessity then let’s call what’s left “intelligence.” Not at all: we know what intelligence is like ,and we know what it does, and the traces it leaves when it acts: FSCI in the form of digital, algorithmic information being one of them. [BTW, this is why I focus on FSCI and not the broader concept CSI – we are directly familiar with it and can operationally recognise it easily.]

    5 –> Coming back to your images: first, they are not algorithmically functional, though they are recognisable to our eyes as images. In the case of the hypothetical one, it is noteworthy that in this case, the image claimed to be produced by chance + necessity only is an imaginary one, not an empirical case. When we move to a real world case, lo and behold, the image is in a context that positively reeks of intelligent involvement: cloth is a known artifact of intelligent agents.

    6 –> We may then look at the image and observe the anatomical accuracy, X-ray-like effects [bones of the hand show up], there is 3-dimensional information encoded in it, it matches icons from the relevant time and place if it had been used as a model, its flora are claimed to be “right” for the traditional time and place of origin, on both images of flowers and on pollen etc etc. It has the nail holes in the technically correct location and does not have them in the location [in the palms] that would have been likely to be so if there was deception at the time and place of the now suspect C14 dating. There is that sudarion over in Oviedo that reportedly matches the putative sindon and which has a known, diverse history. [Egypt to Spain to escape the Islamic conquest.] All of which is fascinating, but not really of much direct relevance.

    7 –> So,we ask, what effect was likely to make/ capable of making an image by scorching surface fibres in 3:1 twill linen fabric, with the required characteristics? We don’t really know, but we know enough to know that the object in question is unquestionably at its base — a sheet of linen cloth — an artifact. So, we have long since detected the presence of intelligent agents here, though their action: creation of the functionally specified complex information embedded in making a 3:1 twill linen cloth. [The odds of such retting, stripping, twirling and counter-twirling of linen fibres to form threads then weave it to make a rectangular piece of cloth with the pattern of a 3:1 twill (note the discrete state pattern here on warp and woof threads!) by chance + necessity only is negligibly different from zero. FSCI again shows up as a mark of agent action.]

    8 –> The image is superposed on that, and is made up from surface fibres being slightly charred. But, images FORM (for instance, it is conceivable that a cave could have a pinhole in it that allows a pinhole camera obscura image to form on the opposite wall), they are not code-bearing, functionally specified, complex messages. The occurrence of an image – as opposed to a DRAWING or a PAINTING – is not a reliable indicator of chance vs agency. [Notice how I am using the earlier nodes of the EF . . . contingent but in a context where natural regularities of optics in general can give rise to images]. But, the occurrence of a message is known tobe an artifact of agency, and DNA is a message.

    9 –> So, it comes back to the point: your “Drawing by chance + necessity” is hypothetical; your image is an image, in a context where the medium already implicates intelligent action in the time and place where the image originated.

    GEM of TKI

  97. 97
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: On the origin adn nature of the concept CSI, cf here.

  98. 98
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: It is worth calling attention to this, from Locke’s intro to his essay on human understanding, section 5:

    _____________

    Men have reason to be well satisfied with what God hath thought fit for them, since he hath given them (as St. Peter says [NB: i.e. 2 Pet 1:2 – 4]) pana pros zoen kaieusebeian, whatsoever is necessary for the conveniences of life and information of virtue; and has put within the reach of their discovery, the comfortable provision for this life, and the way that leads to a better. How short soever their knowledge may come of an universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is, it yet secures their great concernments [Prov 1: 1 – 7], that they have light enough to lead them to the knowledge of their Maker, and the sight of their own duties [cf Rom 1 – 2, Ac 17, etc, etc]. Men may find matter sufficient to busy their heads, and employ their hands with variety, delight, and satisfaction, if they will not boldly quarrel with their own constitution, and throw away the blessings their hands are filled with, because they are not big enough to grasp everything . . . It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [Matt 24:42 – 51], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly.

    ________________

    Worth a thought or two, methinks.

    And, BTW, I should note that I am pointing out that the evidence points to design, not to just who is the relvant designer.

    I repeat,that requires additional clues from the situation.

    Consequently, DNA being designed is not the same thing as that the creator of DNA is the Logos of Jn 1, but is compatible with it; but equally so with the idea that an intelligent, ancient sentient species from elsewhere within the cosmos sowed life here, etc etc. It is NOT compatible with the evo mat view that such DNA is a product of blind chance and necessity.

    On the cosmological scale, teh fine tuning is evidence that points to design as that is a much better explanation that the quasi-infinite array of sub cosmi with randomly distributed physics alternative, which is an obvious piece of metaphysical ad hocery. That said, an intelligent extracosmic intelligent designer who made a cosmos suited for life sounds rather familiar. But again,even this is not a proof, it is an inference, albeit an empirically anchored one. And the field is now worldview analysis by comparative difficulties, not science proper.

  99. 99
    StephenB says:

    gary: I am going to dispense with comments about “the unknown principle” for now, because there is nothing more to be said about it. You have no reason to believe that any such thing exists, so until you do, there is no reason for me to speculate about it with you. If, in the unlikely event, something of this nature could be found, ID methodology could incorporate it.

    Your main argument is that we cannot distinguish the presence of Divine intelligence because God controls nature. I am going to perform a service for you by boiling this thing down to its bare essence. I ask you to abandon your assumptions for two paragraphs, because that is all it will take.

    First, your statement about “control” is too simplistic. Yes, God is in control of all things, in the sense of being in charge, but that is not the end of the story. God also allows for an inter play between nature and other unpredictable elements, such as intelligence and chance. If I accidentally drop a glass of water, God controls only the law of gravity which forces the water to fall to the floor. God does not control my klutziness, or, if it be the case, my decision to let the glass to fall. Nor does he control the direction in which the water splatters or the final form of the water puddle. Because God is omnipotent and omniscient, he knew these things were going to happen, including the precise ways that they would manifest themselves—but he does not control them in every sense. Further, his control does not preclude me from making the distinctions that I just made.

    Second, your thesis about our inability to distinguish intelligence from law is demonstrably wrong. God made the distinction for us through his creative act by separating intelligence from physical laws when he fashioned the world. We didn’t make the distinction, God did. Law manifests itself as ordered regularity and intelligence manifests itself as coded information. We can distinguish one from the other because God left clues in both forms and obviously WANTED BOTH ELEMENTS DISCOVERED. We can detect both by using sciences tools, because both can be measured and analyzed. With regard to isolating the presence of intelligence, we can identify only the fact of its existence, not its source. That means that IF GOD’S INTELLIGENCE IS MANIFEST, we can SOMETIMES discover it in the form of FSCI, but we cannot, from a scientific perspective, attribute it to God. Beyond that, I cannot say anything more. These are the facts.

  100. 100
    ericB says:

    garygagliardi (99): “The general assumption in ID is that method that detect human intelligence can detect all intelligence.” (emphasis in your original).

    False. You have accused others of failing to engage your position. Yet you continue to cling to a false straw man view of ID, despite repeatedly warnings that it is false.

    I and others have been clear that ID has always recognized the potential for intelligent agency that is not detectable by ID.

    ID only addresses those cases where science is warranted in inferring intelligent agency as the best explanation, given the evidence so far available to science. As always with science, it is a tentative inference. It can detect intelligence, including non-human intelligence, but it only applies to effects beyond the patterns of natural process effects.

    Please give to others the consideration you request for your own views, and let go of the false caricatures.

    garygagliardi (99): “I maintain that in the special case of divine intelligence, they [the methods of ID] must fail.”

    The claim that “they must fail” (emphasis added) is true if and only if the effects of divine intelligence are always necessarily indistinguishable from what science recognizes and describes as the patterns of undirected natural processes. (Side observation: As I mentioned earlier, this is a pantheistic religious view, not a theistic one. Within theism, the claim is false.)

    Let us suppose your claim is true. I pointed out that this is irrelevant to ID. The correct response is “So what?”. ID has never claimed to be able to detect such an intelligence. As you acknowledged, you “have never said that [ID] did” presume to detect God’s intelligence.

    Consequently, whether such an intelligence exists or not has no bearing at all on the scientific inference to intelligent agency. It would simply be the case that evidence indicating intelligent agency (e.g. in the origin of biological life) would be pointing toward some other intelligence, if your claim were true.

    Therefore, though Heller may think he is raising an objection to ID, he is only making an irrelevant religious statement.

    What was your response specifically to this disconnect and its irrelevance? Sorry, but I appear to have missed it.

    Regarding your cave drawing thought experiment, you said: “Well, clearly there is no law that explains the image. We would say “chance,” except that the image is detailed information and it is specific. So do we accept intelligence?”

    If the image is sufficiently detailed and complex to rule out an accidental similarity from undirected variations, then the answer is “Yes, intelligent agency is indicated (tentatively) as the best inference, given the evidence available to science.” If we later discover an undirected process that puts pictures of animals into cave walls, that inference could change.

    You claim that “the image is not artificial” because “It is literally formed from the rock of the cave wall itself from the natural minerals in the rock.” However, that claim is empty. It is the arrangement that is artificial. Detailed stone statues are also formed from rock. The medium is natural. The arrangement is artificial.

    If we see water frozen into the shape of an informative message, the fact that the medium (e.g. water or rock or whatever) occurs in nature is irrelevant. What matters is the artificial arrangement that defies undirected explanations. It is the arrangement that is both specified, complex, and potentially outside the reach of undirected natural processes.

    In any case where science observes such a distinction, the religious claims made by you or Heller do not remove that distinction. Those religious claims have no effect or relevance to the inference that directed causation has influenced the arrangement of matter.

  101. 101
    garygagliardi says:

    A brief summary to remind myself and others of where we are and provide some context, since that seems to get lost along the way.

    The context of all my posts are a specific response to the initial attacks on Heller’s arguments regarding the Manichean heresy. Since the original article and the subsequent “stupid TEs” comments didn’t seem to understand Heller’s point, which was very clear to me, my first post simply explain why ID’s methods included an unconscious assumption that the intelligence being identified didn’t have control of nature.

    This line of discussion started at my comment 10, which was responded to by others at 15,16, and 18. I responded at 31, and this discussion continued with a variety of people until it had clarified, for me, the problems with ID, at least as represented by the commenter’s, which I summarized and explain at 70. IU didn’t get an chance to answer ensuing comments until 99 and at this point haven’t address posts 78 though 96 or anything since 99 through 106.

    To simplify communication in the future, rather than long posts, I am going to offer two types of shorter posts.

    First, I will offer short posts where I clarify my arguments succinctly on specific points that are being widely misconstrued. This will allow me simply to refer to those short posts when a specific type of misstatement regarding my position occurs again.

    Second, I will address each commenter’s comments in a separate post dedicated to his or her arguments alone.

  102. 102
    garygagliardi says:

    To start, it may be helpful to clarify what AGREE with in ID and, indeed, have applauded in my previous posts. This may be helpful just to save others time in assigning disagreement where not exists.

    I think IDs methods demonstrate clearly that complex information cannot arise simply by chance, or rather, that the odds of it doing so are virtually non-existence.

    I think that IDs methods can identify intelligence except for one special case.

    I have no problem with the ideas advanced regarding functional complex specified information and find them useful, interesting and well-worth discussing.

    I agree that law, chance, and intelligence are all causes, and may, at least from our perspective, explain all phenomena.

    I agree specifically that complex information MAY only be explained by intelligence.

    That MAY is important because my criticisms of ID are all about the LIMITS of ID’s methods not your conclusions.

  103. 103
    garygagliardi says:

    The Limits of the ID Syllogism “Proving” Intelligence as a Cause
    (I have called this Point One previously.)

    The syllogism of “if not known law, random chance, then intelligence” fails to prove what the proponents of ID claim that it proves.

    Note PLEASE that I don’t deny that all things ARE caused by laws, chance, or intelligence. NOR do I deny that assignments made by this syllogism COULD be correct, including that specific assignment of complex information to an intelligent cause.

    I am simply saying that these assignments of cause by this syllogism alone are flawed.

    The problem is with “known” laws portion of the syllogism. Just because we don’t know a law doesn’t mean that a physical law doesn’t explain a phenomena. All through history people EVERY PHYSICAL PHENOMENA has thought to be cause be either chance and intelligence because those at the time didn’t know the physical laws involved. MOST OF THESE assignements of cause have been proven wrong as we learned more.

    This syllogism ONLY works if we can eliminate ALL “physical laws” as a cause, but we can ONLY eliminate the ones we know. Give our deep lack of understanding of the laws of the universe and even our possible lack of understanding regarding the real nature of what we call random chance, assigning a cause to the category of “intelligence” by eliminating only known laws and chance fails.

    While certainly some and possibly even most of what ID uses this syllogism to assign to the “intelligence” is correct, it is not proven so. They could be caused physical laws that we do NOT know, not intelligence.

    Saying that “intelligence” is just a theory and that assignment of cause is provisional like all of science doesn’t address the deep problem of using the syllogism as proof.

    Once again, I point to the history of “causes” assigned to all physical phenomena before an given scientific principles was known. I have given numerous examples of how easy it is for us as mere mortal to assign the wrong cause using this syllogism because our knowledge is limited.

    Assignment of a cause via this syllogism is not the same as an explanation of a phenomena by scientific principles, which, as you recognize, are revised by better scientific knowledge.

    An assignment by this syllogism doesn’t rise to the level of an explanation in the normal sense.

    Though everyone accepts that our knowledge of nature is limited (and in my mind, severely limited), no one, thus far seems to understand how this means that assigning a cause as a “remainder” based on this syllogism is simply not proof of anything in and of itself.

  104. 104
    garygagliardi says:

    J. at 78.
    You state that I believe that law, chance, and intelligence all have a divine source, which I do, but I completely accept your definitions of the terms and refer you to 108 and 109 above for clarity. Your say:

    But it should be noted that there can be no as-yet-undiscovered laws that will, after all, explain the remaining pockets, without reference to intelligence.

    And I agree. Intelligence is a cause, the problem is that we cannot say where undiscovered laws explanation ends and intelligence begins though all “remaining pockets” are explained by one of the other. The problems arise with your next statement:

    Laws are simple. If there were laws (or sets of laws) which could explain the remaining pockets, then they would be so unlikely as to require reference to intelligence to explain the specific complexity or coordination.

    This statement seems to say that if there were laws that explained the remaining pockets they would be unlikely to require intelligence, but I think you meant that they WOULD require intelligence, correct? In any case, we have no idea how “complete” our knowledge of physical laws are or how large those remaining pockets of ignorance are or in our growing knowledge, what will fall to science or intelligence from within those pockets.

    All we can do is look back at history and ask: how good were their assessments of the completeness of their knowledge of laws, chance, and intelligence? And how correct were their assignment of phenomena to these causes.

    You end with:

    There is no empirical demonstration that the combination of only random chance and mechanical law can evolve “endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful”.

    And I don’t think they ever will, but the absence of evidence for one set of causes is not to be mistaken for positive evidence of a competing cause. Your opinion of the advanced state of our current science (especially computer science, which is my background) is much, much higher than mine. The most advanced thing about every generation of scientists, seen from the perspective of future generations, is their extravagant claims of what they will soon be able to do or prove.

  105. 105
    garygagliardi says:

    kairosfocus at 79:
    You praise StephenB’s critique (77) as:

    Eloquent, and devastating.

    But may I remind you that in that post, StephenB wrote:

    If, the relationship between God and nature were as you described, then God would not leave FSCI.

    Since the relationship that I describe between God and nature as that God controls nature, you would therefore agree that he does not? And you would also agree that IDs method can identify God as the source of FSDI, despite its frequent claims that is does not even attempt to do so? While I have dealt with StephenB’s post earlier, I am curious why you, appreciating the post as you did, didn’t correct StephenB on this last point. I have never claimed that ID tries to identify God (just that its methods are limited from doing so), but have been accused making that claim again and again. Apparently, having an ID supporter make that claim that ID proves God is acceptable to you?

    When you say:

    And, if instead, the common sense observation that mechanical necessity gives rise to natural regularities is instead correct, we need to be looking to distinguishing chance and agency in looking at say DNA. When we do that, we see that FSCI is a reliable marker of agency.

    Do you realize that we have one and only one example of intelligence, humanity. And we also have one and only one example of FSCI that we know doesn’t have a human origin, DNA. Do you really thinks that, given the sample size, we can make solid statements about something being a “reliable marker?” To make statement about ALL intelligence based on one sample or statement about ALL non-human originating FSCI given one example seems at the best, extravagant.

    Your statements regarding “TEs” don’t apply to me (or I suspect Heller) since I ascribe to the none of the views that you ascribe to them, but answering your question regarding Paul in Romans 1. There is a huge difference between perceiving God, which I do and “testing for” God, which is I claim that ID’s methods cannot do. (And again, I know that ID doesn’t claim to test for God, but it assumes its tests for intelligence must be positive for God’s intelligence. While they MAY be positive, they are not necessarily so.

  106. 106
    garygagliardi says:

    gpuccio at 101:
    Thank you for the tone of your response and apologize for my sarcasm earlier, but, quite honestly, you post at 76 was more than a little unfair in misrepresenting my statements. As far as defining “nature” and “natural,” let’s cut to the chase: by natural I mean the material universe, that we can perceive with our senses and instruments and that we attempt to describe in our science. The soul is thus far out. God is definitely out. Human consciousness is an interesting case because it is at the center of our perception of nature, but we cannot perceive it except by inference in others. I cannot be any more clear.

    Replacing the term “nature” with any set of laws is wrong-headed (the whole discussion of “deterministic” aside because I think we agree). The reason is that any set of laws is only an artificial and limited understanding of nature. Nature is the phenomena that we attempted to describe but it is in no way limited by our description (which is my problem with using “laws” in ID syllogism to assign cause.) All that is limited by known laws is our ability to understand and utilize nature.

    So, let us go onto where you address my two points specifically. We agree that chance does not explain biological information. You then say:

    2) The second point of ID is that, for formal and logical reasons, it is very likely that no future new law “of that kind”, that is logically and mathematically determined, more or less coupled to random chance, will ever be able to explain biological information.

    Given your knowledge of the history of science, can you give me some good examples when any generation of scientists were able to predict with any accuracy what a future generation would or would not find in terms of new principles? Every generations “logically and mathematically proven” predictions have proven false again and again. I am sorry if I lack your faith in any current set of predictions given this track record.

    You then say:

    3) A whole category of observable events, namely human artifacts, often exhibit the formal characteristics of CSI, the same formal characteristics which can in great abundance be observed in biological information.

    I see that I am going to have to do a separate post about this problem because we keep coming back to it. One example of intelligence, PROVES little about ALL intelligence. One example of non-human source complex information PROVES little about all complex information when all other samples come from humans. I am sure that are specific names for this fallacy in logic and, I suspect, statistics. However, it isn’t a complex concept. When we universalize the nature of a characteristic based upon such a limited number of samples, we are saying nothing useful.

    Again, I can give lots of examples of how easily this process of universalizing from one example leads to errors, but to give this argument some emotional punch, think about the judgments that people might make about “all black people” or “all Jews” based upon their experience with meeting one black person or one Jew. No matter how closely and thoroughly they studied that one example, would their opinions be justified?

    Your point four uses this same reasoning only more extensively using the example of how carefully ID analyzes human CSI. I accept all that analysis as good and valid. I only object to universalizing from one example.

    This takes us to your analysis of Point Two, the specific problem with separating divine intelligence from nature, which it controls.

    Your first point objecting to this ideal is:

    1) The first way is to control events through logico-mathematical laws, either purely deterministic or deterministic and probabilistic, like QM.

    But God does not control events through laws. Laws are only expressions of our limited understanding of nature. Laws help us manipulate nature by understanding its rules. Divinity does not “control through laws.” Divinity controls directly. What we perceive of as “law” is simply that way that divinity choose things to work. What we see as “laws” are outlines of the will of God. Events chosen by God are not “constrained by laws” as you claim, though they are for humans, who must work within the law. This confusing divine limitations with human is exactly my point and the source of Heller’s objections. To say that “No event of the CSI type can be explained by that kind of laws,” says more about our knowledge of our universe (which is what is represented in known laws) than it does divine action.

    I don’t know how to address your statements about Gods need to “super-impose information to those laws” except that this idea arises from your confusion about the first point. Your statement that, “It happens “inside” time, and modifies phenomena in a discernible way,” is also necessary by your conception of a God who did not, at the first moment of creation, instill in his creation everything that was needed to fulfill his plan, a God that must reach into time to “adjust” that creation. While I do not make any statements about whether this happens or not, I am simply saying that we cannot insist that it MUST happen.

    Going onto my examples, the fact that you attribute the image in the cave to design is immaterial. My point is only that not everyone would agree. So I will again ask the question directly: would everyone agree because the syllogism of “if not law or chance then intelligence” convince them? I believe most people would not be convinced by this logic even though it convinces you. The Shroud of Turin, which you decline to address, make the challenge more interesting because, to be consistent, you would have to believe it was a fake because, using your previous logic, you must attribute it to intelligent agency rather than some natural (in the sense of physical forces) consequence of the resurrection.

    In the end, you agree with me that we are not forced to recognize divinity and I agree with you that the good work that ID does is scientific. Where ID gets screwed up is where it attempts to have religious implications, which was Heller’s original point.

  107. 107
    garygagliardi says:

    The Error of Attempting to Identify the Characteristics of ALL Intelligence and ALL Complex Information From Limited (Single) Examples.

    There the inherent assumption running through the posts of many commenting on my statements that one example of intelligence (human), PROVES everything about ALL intelligence. Again, I can give lots of examples of how easily this process of universalizing from one example leads to errors, but to give this argument some emotional punch, think about the judgments that people might make about “all black people” or “all Jews” based upon their experience with meeting one black person or one Jew. No matter how closely and thoroughly they studied that one example, would their opinions be justified?

    Similarly, there is the mistake of thinking because we know of complex information from a single source (human) that the characteristics of the source of that information can be attributed to the source of all other complex information (non-human). In this case, we have only one example of non-human complex information. It is from DNA. To make any grand statement about ALL such information from our single example, is as flawed a making statement about about the characteristics of ALL of any group from a single example.

    When we universalize the nature of a characteristic based upon such a limited number of samples, we are saying nothing useful.

    In your arguments for ID, you would be well served to stop using the terms IN ALL CASE or FOR EVERY EXAMPLE when these terms actually refer to a single case and example, human intelligence and DNA. You may find the use of such terminology more convincing, but others find it less so.

  108. 108
    Frost122585 says:

    gary says,

    “In this case, we have only one example of non-human complex information. It is from DNA. To make any grand statement about ALL such information from our single example, is as flawed a making statement about the characteristics of ALL of any group from a single example.”

    Not so fast. First of all it is an estimate of “all of the particle events in the universe from explosion to implosion” that mathematically warrants the design inference. Read The Design Inference. Other than human intelligence you could have alien intelligence and obviously animals do very improbable things using their intelligences such as beavers building a dam. While the beaver’s dam may not cross the universal probability bound it still is intelligence.

    ID does not claim to be able to detect all intelligence in the world it claims to be able to detect intelligences up to a certain level. But as we can see with the movie Contact’s information wave pattern example the theory pins down intelligence very well. It wont miss too much. Of course if you can infer intelligence in natural things not designed by humans like for example DNA then the claim that “everything” could be designed grows a lot stronger real quick.

  109. 109
    StephenB says:

    I have a problem @ 111, and I don’t quite know what to make of it. Is this a case of intellectual confusion or calculated misrepresentation?

    The chaos began when garygagliardi wrote this at @70.

    —–“IDs methods detect (human) intelligence but ONLY because human action is separate from natural forces. How can we think those same detection methods work to separate divine intelligence from natural forces if both have the SAME cause?”

    His argument goes like this: We cannot distinguish the presence of Divine intelligence from nature’s physical laws, because God controls nature. I have explained to him multiple times that this assumption is irrelevant to the method of finding evidence of Divine intelligence in nature. Realizing over time that he simply would not accept this point, I decided to explain the reason.

    So, I offered this terse response:

    “If, the relationship between God and nature is as you described, then God would not leave FSCI.”

    The point seems obvious enough. If, because God controls nature, God’s physical laws and his intelligence are INDISTINQUISHABLE, then FSCI, which is the mark of intelligence, would not be DISTINCTLY present in nature. Case closed, right? Wrong. gary continues to ignore and dismiss this unassailable point. So, I provided a more detailed theological explanation @ 105

    “Your thesis about our inability to distinguish intelligence from law is demonstrably wrong. God made the distinction for us through his creative act by separating intelligence from physical laws when he fashioned the world. We didn’t make the distinction, God did. Law manifests itself as ordered regularity and intelligence manifests itself as coded information. We can distinguish one from the other because God left clues in both forms and obviously WANTED BOTH ELEMENTS DISCOVERED. We can detect both by using sciences tools, because both can be measured and analyzed. With regard to isolating the presence of intelligence, we can identify only the fact of its existence, not its source. That means that IF GOD’S INTELLIGENCE IS MANIFEST, we can SOMETIMES discover it in the form of FSCI, but we cannot, from a scientific perspective, attribute it to God. Beyond that, I cannot say anything more. These are the facts.”

    In spite of my continuous effort to point out the irrelevant nature of his assumption, he now writes this incredible response filled with ambiguities and misrepresentations:

    First, he alludes to my earlier statement:

    “If, the relationship between God and nature were as you described, then God would not leave FSCI.”

    Then, he says this:

    —–“Since the relationship that I describe between God and nature as that God controls nature, you would therefore agree that he does not? And you would also agree that IDs method can identify God as the source of FSDI, despite its frequent claims that is does not even attempt to do so? While I have dealt with StephenB’s post earlier, I am curious why you, appreciating the post as you did, didn’t correct StephenB on this last point. I have never claimed that ID tries to identify God (just that its methods are limited from doing so), but have been accused making that claim again and again. Apparently, having an ID supporter make that claim that ID proves God is acceptable to you?”

    ——-Let’s break it up: “Since the relationship that I describe between God and nature as that God controls nature, you would therefore agree that he does not?” And you would also agree that IDs method can identify God as the source of FSDI, despite its frequent claims that it does not even attempt to do so.”

    Now I don’t want to be unkind here, but this foray into the world of fantasy is a little hard to take. We can, perhaps, forget about the first sentence, which we probably written too hurriedly. We have all done that. Notice, though, that in the second sentence, he makes a claim that is clearly not true. He accuses kairosfocus, me, and the entire ID movement of saying that we can identify God as the SOURCE of FSDI, and he further claims we all try to hide the fact. Notice also my comments above at 105, in which I had explicitly pointed out that ID cannot identify God as the source of FSDI.

    ——-Continuing: “While I have dealt with StephenB’s post earlier, I am curious why you, appreciating the post as you did, didn’t correct StephenB on this last point.”

    What is there to correct? The misrepresentation is all his.

    ——–Continuing: “I have never claimed that ID tries to identify God (just that its methods are limited from doing so), but have been accused making that claim again and again. Apparently, having an ID supporter make that claim that ID proves God is acceptable to you?”

    Huh? First, he suggests that HE has been accused of claiming that ID can identify God as a“source” of information. Then, in the second sentence, he completely changes direction and accuses ME of making the same claim. Next, he wants to know if kairosfocus finds my behavior acceptable, even though he has also implicated kairosfocus in the same alleged misbehavior.

    Now I am guessing that this is a very young person who is just beginning to gain some experience in the life of the mind. I want to be charitable about this, but I am not sure where to go from here. What do you do when someone shrugs off repeated refutations, misrepresents clearly articulated statements, wreaks havoc and confusion, and then continues on as sleek as ever? Is this person impervious to reason?

  110. 110
    Frost122585 says:

    His point displays his inherent ignorance of the theory of ID and I don’t mean that derogatorily. ID is about intelligence, information and design. Not only human intelligence- it could be animal or alien or natural is the planets revolving around the sun could be considered teleological. The very theory of ID speculates that intelligence does not simply exist as a descriptive illusion in the human manifold or exclusively of it. Who would argue that animals don’t exhibit a certain level of intelligence? ID says that intelligence is “defined by its effects (emphasis added).”

    We think that information transcends matter for various reasons but it is in the structure of the matter that information makes itself empirically manifest. Whether that is a beaver’s dam or a space shit- or writing or a signal from another planet doesn’t matter. Specified complex arrangements of matter can be inferred to be the product of intelligence witch is “that transcendent property that accounts for the organization of things in the universe.” We are however only justified in a design inference if it crosses the threshold of the universes probabilistic resources. 10^150.

  111. 111
    Frost122585 says:

    thats obviously space “shiP!”***

  112. 112
    gpuccio says:

    garygagliardi:

    After your very clear answer at #112, I can finally, and with satisfaction, say that we agree on practically all.

    First of all, I again apologize for misrepresenting your thought in my previous post: that was not in bad faith, but because I had really not understood it well. This is one of those happy cases where sincere discussion, though passionate, brings out better reciprocal understanding.

    So, to sum up the way I see our “agreement”:

    You say:

    “As far as defining “nature” and “natural,” let’s cut to the chase: by natural I mean the material universe, that we can perceive with our senses and instruments and that we attempt to describe in our science. The soul is thus far out. God is definitely out. Human consciousness is an interesting case because it is at the center of our perception of nature, but we cannot perceive it except by inference in others. I cannot be any more clear.”

    That’s clear enough, for me, and I can partially agree with your position, even if I would define some points a little bit differently in my position. But a comparison of our positions about those points is not the issue. Just as an example, in my position I would not be able to give a clear-cut definition of nature as:

    “the material universe, that we can perceive with our senses and instruments and that we attempt to describe in our science”.

    I would prefer to define it as

    “the idea of reality that we build from our perceptions with our senses and instruments plus our mental reconstruction processes, and that we attempt to describe in our science”.

    In other words, I would not give an absolute existence to the object of perception (“the material world”), about whose real nature we know practically nothing. In that case, the word “nature” becomes only a synonim of “our specific phenomenal perception of reality”.

    But that’s not the point. My point, which I hope is easily acceptable, is that the concept of nature is not necessarikly the same thing to all, and that for some aspects it is even more elusive than the concept of God, from which it in some ways depends. That’s why I don’t like the word, and I think it can easily generate misunderstandings (which, it seems, is proven by our debate).

    Another point which would leave me in a slightly different position is human consciousness. For me, it is a direct manifestation of the soul, that is of a transcendental perceiver. Moreover, I wouldn’t agree that:

    “we cannot perceive it except by inference in others”.

    I don’t believe that we can’t perceive our personal consciousness: we do perceive it intuitively, that is directly, and on that perception we build all our further reconstruction of reality, including the inference of the existence of similar consciousness in others. But the certainty of he existence of “our” consciousness is not inferential, but direct and intuitive. It certainly does not pass through the senses, but rather it is the basis of any sensorial or mental experience, which all take place “in” it.

    But, as I said, comparison between our different perspectives on those points is not the issue here, and it is not my intention to open a new, vast philosophical thread on those points. Just consider what I have said as an incidental clarification and as an example of how it is possible to have different interpretations of the concept of nature, even when sharing many fundamental beliefs (God, the soul, and so on).

    But let’s go on.

    You say:

    “Replacing the term “nature” with any set of laws is wrong-headed (the whole discussion of “deterministic” aside because I think we agree). The reason is that any set of laws is only an artificial and limited understanding of nature.”

    After what I have said before, maybe it is more clear to you why I always want to replace “nature” with something, and more precisely with some subset of our “representation of reality”. That’s because I believe that our concept of nature, however we define it, can’t be any more than that: a partial subjective concept, a partial subset of our subjective representations of what may exist. In other words, for me “nature” always means “an artificial and limited understanding”, and therefore I feel I can replace the term with some “set of laws”, or any other more detailed definition, without any contradiction. Again, I am not trying to force my point of view, just to describe it. I have no interest in imposing my philosophical or religious points of view, and I usually not even discuss them here.

    You say:

    “Given your knowledge of the history of science, can you give me some good examples when any generation of scientists were able to predict with any accuracy what a future generation would or would not find in terms of new principles? Every generations “logically and mathematically proven” predictions have proven false again and again. I am sorry if I lack your faith in any current set of predictions given this track record.”

    Here I think that probably you still misunderstand me, and the main attitude of ID, a little bit. At the core of that misunderstanding, in my opinion, are some assumptions you seem to make about the meaning of science, which are in my opinion incorrect. But please, believe that I am not trying to speak for you, or deliberately misunderstand you. I am just trying to clarify what I think. If I am wrong, I will be absolutely happy to receive from you a better explanation of your thought.
    I will try to clarify where the problem is directly from your statements, but in essence the problem is only one, and I hope that in the end it may be clear enough.

    Basically, the problem is that, in a correct (at least for me, but also for most modern philosophy of science) epistemological scenario, scientific knowledge is never, for its same nature, “logically and mathematically proven”. I tried to make that point clear in my previous post.

    In brief, logical and mathemathical proof is, in essence, “deductive”. I will not try to go into detail, and I understand that these are difficult, and often controversial, subjects, but still I think we must try to clarify them a little.

    Logics and mathemathics are the only subsets of scientific thought for which I would use the word “proof”, if with the term “proof” we mean “logically certain demonstration”. It is important to remark that the “certainty” of the logical proof is a consequence of its deductive nature, ans so it is in a sense a limitation, rather than a merit. Logical proof is “certain” only because it does not really add any knowledge to a set of arbitrary premises, it just clarifies their logical implications, “if” we accept the premises “and” the implicit value of a few fundamental logical principles, such as identity, non contradiction, and so on. But, in essence, both the premises “and” the logical principles are not necessarily warranted or assigned a final relevance in reality.

    Empirical science is another thing. It is a tentative explanation of facts by logico-mathematical “models”, and therefore:

    a) It is alway a theory: never a fact, and never a proof (demonstration) of anything

    b) It is never certain

    c) It is always falsifiable by either new facts or better theories

    d) It is mostly inferential, and not deductive, although the logico-mathemathical “model” in the theories certainly has deductive components

    e) As a consequence of point d), it does add new knowledge to the premises, but that knowledge is never certain

    f) Although not certain, that knowledge is often (not always) useful, both practically and cognitively

    That is a brief (and very partial) summary of my conception of science, and I believe that it could be shared by many who are serious about science itself. It has certainly good foundations in the history of philosophy of science, but obviously other paradigms of science are possible, and nothing of that, as always happens in philosophy, is non controversial.

    Anyway, having clarified (I hope) my position, and assuming that it may represent the general position of others (not all) in the ID field, I will go on commenting some of your statements, although at this point the issues should already be clear.

    “Every generations “logically and mathematically proven” predictions have proven false again and again.”

    That’s perfectly normal. They were not “proven” in that sense. When they are falsified, they are falsified, period. If they are not falsified, that does not mean that they are, in any way, “proven”.

    “I am sorry if I lack your faith in any current set of predictions given this track record.”

    I have no such faith. I agree with you. At the end of the nineteenth century, most scientists were convinced that physics was virtually complete and finished, and that was just a few years before the advent of relativity and quantum mechanics. Even for mathematics, which should be purely deductive, the “deductions” of a guy named Godel came as a devastating novelty. That is the glory of science, not its limit (although, in another sense, it is certainly a limit). Most of the ID battle is of that kind: having a new and better paradigm accepted against the arrogant certainties of scientism (scientism is not science, it is only a bad philosophy-religion of science).

    “Nature is the phenomena that we attempted to describe but it is in no way limited by our description ”

    Science (good science, I mean) is never trying to limit “nature”, only to describe it with better “maps”. The map is not the territory. Scientific theories are maps, and don’t limit anything. But some maps are better (more useful) than others, when we are to travel.

    “which is my problem with using “laws” in ID syllogism to assign cause”

    That’s the main point. ID never tries to use any sillogism to assign cause. Sillogism is a logical tool. ID is a scientific theory, and it is inferential.
    So, your “sillogism”: “if not known laws, and not randomness, then design” does not exist in ID. What ID is saying is:

    a) Known laws are not able to build an explanatory scientific model

    b) The same is true for randomness, or for a mixture of the two

    c) Design (an obervable reality) allows to build a satisfying model.

    d) Design is the best scientific model (indeed, at present the only credible one) we have “at present”.

    That’s all. No sillogism, no proof of anything. Only sensible, humble, correct scientific approach. If anyone in the ID field wants to consider design as a logically “proven” and incontrovertible issue, that’s his problem, not mine, and not ID’s. To my knowledge, none of the serious representatives of ID has ever done that, but I could be wrong.
    I am perfectly satisfied that ID is the best scientific model we have, and would be very happy if even a significant minority of the scientific academy would accept that.

    By the way, ID has never tried, to my knowledge, to be the “only” scientific model. I believe that plurality of models is the only guarantee in science (like in politics) of true progress.

    “One example of intelligence, PROVES little about ALL intelligence.”

    True, but it is a good basis for scientific inference. The point is the same.

    “I am sure that are specific names for this fallacy in logic and, I suspect, statistics.”

    There is no fallacy here. Inference works that way, and statistics (inferential statistics, I mean) is only the mathemathical support for inference (in a fisherian scenario, it just gives you the probability of being wrong if you reject the null hypothesis, but that’s not the only interpretation, obviously).

    “When we universalize the nature of a characteristic based upon such a limited number of samples, we are saying nothing useful.”

    I’ll answer here to your whole discourse about generalization. Obviously, generalization is a source of error, but at the same time it is a powerful cognitive tool, when used with carefulness. From a logical point of view, the issue is simple: you have correct generalizations, which are logically true, and incorrect generalizations, which are logically false. That is logically computable, and there should be no problem with that, except in the details of the computation.

    But, again, here we are talking of empirical knowledge, and empirical knowledge is inferential, and there is no way to know in absolute if an inference is true or wrong. That’s the substance of empirical science.
    You speak of “a limited number of samples”. I think you don’t mean “a limited number of samples of biological information”, because we have billions of them. What I think you mean is that we have only two “kinds” of CSI, human-made and biological, and therefore the inference from one to the other is hazardous. That’s true. It is hazardous, and statistics cannot help there (just two cases).
    But, again, we have just two cases, and those two cases represent a very big part of what we can observe in the outer world (not as material mass, I mean, but as type of phenomena). Therefore, some scientific inference is warranted just the same, because we cannot renounce to have scientific models for such a big part of reality.
    And again, in absence of any better model (indeed, of any “credible” model) design remains the best option.

    “Your point four uses this same reasoning only more extensively using the example of how carefully ID analyzes human CSI. I accept all that analysis as good and valid. I only object to universalizing from one example.”

    OK. Nobody is trying to universalize: just to infer.

    “But God does not control events through laws. Laws are only expressions of our limited understanding of nature. Laws help us manipulate nature by understanding its rules. Divinity does not “control through laws.” Divinity controls directly.”

    The strange thing is that I perfectly agree with you. I do believe that laws are only our way of understanding a constant expression of divine will, and not an independent principle put there in the beginning. But we must remark that here we have moved from the scientific level to a philosophical level. I have no problem with that, but that’s why I have never discussed that personal conviction here. But it seems that we differ in some way in the implications of that. See the following points.

    “Events chosen by God are not “constrained by laws” as you claim, though they are for humans, who must work within the law.”

    Indeed, I was speaking of the human perspective, which is all we have both in science and philosophy. In a way, we are always speaking of the human perspective.

    “To say that “No event of the CSI type can be explained by that kind of laws,” says more about our knowledge of our universe (which is what is represented in known laws) than it does divine action.”

    No problem with that. ID is about our knowledge of the universe. That’s no objection to ID.

    “I don’t know how to address your statements about Gods need to “super-impose information to those laws” except that this idea arises from your confusion about the first point. Your statement that, “It happens “inside” time, and modifies phenomena in a discernible way,” is also necessary by your conception of a God who did not, at the first moment of creation, instill in his creation everything that was needed to fulfill his plan, a God that must reach into time to “adjust” that creation. While I do not make any statements about whether this happens or not, I am simply saying that we cannot insist that it MUST happen.”

    That’s more interesting, and opens new points. First of all, as I have repeated maybe too many times, nobody is trying to say that anything MUST happen. Not in science, and not even in philosophy. Philosophy is no less inferential than science, and no less uncertain. So, even if we have moved here from science to philosophy, many methodological cautions still apply.

    But the interesting philosphcal point is that, from our previous agreement about God directly controlling reality, I would derive exactly the opposite model. God “always” works (in creation) “inside” time (at least, after having created it), only He does that with different modalities, or at least with what appears to our reconstruction of reality (science, philosophy) as different modalities: one appears to us as laws (necessity); another one appears to us as randomness; another one appears to us as CSI; others are possible (direct miracles being one of them).
    All of them are different forms of our reconstruction of reality (which, by the way, is made by other God-given faculties, and has probably a purpose).

    Are they the same thing for God? Probably. I like to think that, but who am I to tell?

    Are they the same thing for our reconstruction of reality? Absolutely not. They are clearly discernible one from the other, using correct methods. And again, “clearly” does not mean “with absolute certainty”.

    At risk of being boring, I repeat: science “and” philosophy are about our perception of reality, not about reality itself. They are maps, not the territory. Even when we hypothesize the noumenon, we are still drawing a phenomenal map. Even when we (philosophically) postulate a God, we are drawing a map. At that level, our subjective reconstruction of reality is all we have. There is no “absolute” truth there.

    So, God “super-imposing” information, in other words generating CSI in biological beings, is just a different modality in which we perceive God’s action. But the point is: it is “different”, both from a scientific and a philosophical point of view.

    About God “reaching out” to “adjust”: in my model, God is “always” reaching out, even in the workin of the so called natural laws (I understand we agree on that). And he is not “adjusting” anything, just directly expressing His will in different (for us) modalities. But let me incidentally remark that, in creation, there are other God created agents, endowed by God with free will, who are expressing themselves (I mean humans, at least).

    “Going onto my examples, the fact that you attribute the image in the cave to design is immaterial. My point is only that not everyone would agree.”

    Where is the problem? Nobody is ever obliged to agree with a specific scientific model. Scientific consensus is a myth, and an ugly myth indeed. But, if my model has some scientific explanatory value, if indeed it is at a certain moment the best explanatory model, that can be recognized by many (never by all, and not necessarily by a majoriy). That’s how science works, and evolves.

    “I believe most people would not be convinced by this logic even though it convinces you”

    People should not be “convinced” by any logic, but some of them may appreciate how well a logical model explains known data. And they can anyway prefer another model. That’s how science, healthy science, works. Plurality, tolerance, respect and passionate debate.

    I still can’t get your point about the Shroud of Turin, but that’s probably not important. As I see it, if the resurrection happened (which I do believe), it was an observable event, in other words a fact. If Jesus left his image on the Shroud, where is the problem? Was it by natural laws? Probably. Was the image CSI? Probably, but only in the sense that it is an analogic record of a face, and a face is CSI. The information is only transferred to a storing media. So, I still can’t see your point, but it’s probably my fault. Maybe you can explain that better.

    “In the end, you agree with me that we are not forced to recognize divinity and I agree with you that the good work that ID does is scientific. Where ID gets screwed up is where it attempts to have religious implications, which was Heller’s original point.”

    What gets “screwed up”? ID, as far as I know, has never, and I say never, attempted to have religious implications. That would contradict ID’s definition as a scientific theory. I’ll say that again. ID never attempts to have religious implications.

    But you can say: many IDers do think that ID has religious implications. That’s true, I am one of them. Where is the problem?. As far as I can see, practically anything in the world has religious implications: facts, theories, feelings, and so on. I have a very vast conception of religion, which for me ncludes practically everything.

    Any religious implicaton postulated for ID is the respobsibility of the specific guy who makes it, not of ID. For me, anybody is free to see atheistic implications in ID. I have no problem with that, and I am ready to discuss any point of view, provided it is interesting and fairly expressed.

    So, which is “My personal religious implication from ID”? Very simple:

    a)I think that ID is the best scientific model to explain biological information at present (no religious implications here).

    b)I think that ID is a model very well compatible with many different religious beliefs (not necessarily all).

    c)I think ID is not very much compatible with most materialistic, purely deterministic and atheistic philosophies of life, maybe only, and with difficultes, with a very restricted subset of them. That’s the real source of materialists’anger against ID.

    d) I think that practically all the current alternative explanations of biological information (let’s call them collectively, for the sake of simplicity, post-darwinian models) are scarsely, if at all, compatible with most serious religious beliefs. That’s why I have no sympathy, and certainly no cognitive esteem, for TE.

    That’s all. I take the full responsibility for these statements. In no way they are statements of the ID theory itself.

    I see no other religious implications of ID, and whoever sees any others is free to state and defend them, at his own responsibility.

    But again, and I hope finally, ID is not “attempting” to have any religious implicatons. It is only attempting to make its specific scientific points.

  113. 113
    kairosfocus says:

    Gary:

    A] First off, some ID 101:

    1] A good recent overview.

    2] Probably the best general audience level introductory article, with an emphasis on the biological side. [There is a cosmological side, which has perhaps even bigger implications. Cf Section D my always linked, through my handle in the LH column.]

    3] A good discussion in a follow up article on the cultural, historical, philosophical and general intellectual significance of the controversy surrounding ID.

    4] FAQs on ID issues, by IDEA Center.

    You may find it useful to note the following in-a-nutshell intro to ID, from the first linked:

    Intelligent design (ID) is the view that it is possible to infer from empirical evidence that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection” [1] Intelligent design cannot be inferred from complexity alone, since complex patterns often happen by chance. ID focuses on just those sorts of complex patterns that in human experience are produced by a mind that conceives and executes a plan. Intelligent design can be detected in the natural laws and structure of the cosmos; it can also be detected in at least some features of living things.

    In short, and citing Dembski’s definition:

    intelligent design begins with a seemingly innocuous question: Can objects, even if nothing is known about how they arose, exhibit features that reliably signal the action of an intelligent cause? . . . Proponents of intelligent design, known as design theorists, purport to study such signs formally, rigorously, and scientifically. Intelligent design may therefore be defined as the science that studies signs of intelligence.

    In another context, he discusses:

    Intelligent design is the science that studies signs of intelligence. Note that a sign is not the thing signified. Intelligent design does not try to get into the mind of the designer and figure out what a designer is thinking. Its focus is not a designer’s mind (the thing signified) but the artifact due to a designer’s mind (the sign). What a designer is thinking may be an interesting question, and one may be able to infer something about what a designer is thinking from the designed objects that a designer produces (provided the designer is being honest). But the designer’s thought processes lie outside the scope of intelligent design. As a scientific research program, intelligent design investigates the effects of intelligence and not intelligence as such. (William A. Dembski, “Chapter 1: Intelligent Design: What is intelligent design?” in The Design Revolution, pg. 33, The Design Revolution (InterVarsity Press, 2004)

    From this point on, we have good reason to expect that you will show us that you are addressing the real issues of ID, not a strawman caricature.

    B] Intelligence:

    We are verbalising, tool-using intelligent beings. That means that we live in a cosmos which is compatible with the existence of intelligent beings. We have no reason to infer that we are the only existing or possible intelligences — especially when we see that animals exhibit in certain cases manifestations of [limited] intelligence.

    So, if we see entities behaving in ways that show creative problem solving and/or conceptual behaviour, we will have reason to infer that these entities are intelligent.

    C] Signs of Intelligences

    Further to the just above, we see that intelligent actors leave certain signs of intelligence behind when they work.

    We study those signs, and infer from that to intelligence on a more or less reliable way. Two of those signs are: [a] functionally specified, complex information (e.g. long enough, code-bearing messages), and organised, irreducible complexity of functional entities (e.g. entities made up from parts that when any one of a core set of the parts breaks down or is missing, the function ceases; which e.g. we routinely use in troubleshooting, and in knockout studies for genetic analysis, though we must note on redundancy).

    Routinely and reliably we use these insights to infer to design in the day today world and in scientific contexts, e.g. through the design of experiments that use statistical techniques to distinguish treatment and natural variability.

    Indeed, I think it is fair comment to observe that FSCI and IC are in all cases where we do directly know the causal process, reliable indicators of design. There may be designs that are “missed” but when they rule design, they do so accurately and reliably in our observation. So, absent clear, actually observed [not hypothetical cave paintings . . .], counter-instances, we have every reason to induce that we may trust these principles, as we similarly trust many other scientific principles.

    D] Intelligence and nature vs God …

    Now, you also raise the claim that “God” created the world and his intelligent action is therefore foundational to nature and cannot be distinguished from it.

    Sorry; you need to look at the signs of intelligence principle again, and look at he underlying complex organisation of the cosmos — does this show intelligent action?

    It seems so, for many reasons as discussed in brief in my always linked section D. So, we may reasonably infer to an extracosmic intelligence of vast power who made a cosmos suitable for life, which required exquisite fine-tuning of the physics of the cosmos. The operation of the laws and processes of nature is distinct from the setting up of the same, and in a way that shows that there is complex organisation that points to intelligent action.

    Is this “science” inferring to — horror of horrors, in today’s ever so militantly secularist intellectual culture — “God”?

    Not at all. It is inference to the credible significance of he signs of intelligence embedded into the underlying fabric of the natural world. Identifying who or what that intelligence is is another story entirely, one that engages other contexts of discussion, i.e philosophy in this case. The evidence form science is CONSISTENT with the relevant intelligence being the God of theism, but that is not the same as that the inference form organised complexity here points to intelligent action.

    Observe the careful distinction: we show that it is arguable per the science that we may infer from signs to intelligence; i.e we have facts and inferences we have reason to view as reliable per those facts. That is where the science can take us. In this case, we cvan go beyond, into another world of discussion, worldview analysis: that inferred to intelligence from its context of power and cleverness and extracosmic status — after all, it is very credible our observed cosmos had a beginning and is thus contingent — is compatible with a certain view in philosophy: a personal, extracosmic intelligence of vast power as out creator.

    So, it is reasonable to see that we can distinguish intelligence in nature, even in the case of a candidate for “God.”

    GEM of TKI

  114. 114
    kairosfocus says:

    Gary, 2:

    First, I must commend GP for an exemplary, very gentle, patient, well-written corrective response. [I do note that I believe Kant had a problem or two in very sharply marking a dichotomy between the world of perceptions and ideas and the world of things in themselves, but that is for another day’s debate.]

    Now, GG, let us respond on points relative to your 111:

    1] Since the relationship that I describe between God and nature as that God controls nature, you would therefore agree that he does not [leave behind him as a sign of his intelligent work, FSCI]?

    No, I do not, starting with the organised, functional, information rich complexity of the physics of the cosmos. Cf my always linked, Section D.

    That is, as I just posted, we may infer from the physics of the cosmos and its finely tuned, evidently purposeful and functional structure, that we see sings that point to an extra-cosmic, powerful, creator who intended to create a cosmos in which life such as ours is feasible. That is compatible with the God of theism, and so it is at least reasonable that such a God can and perhaps did leave “behind” signs of his intelligent action that may be viewed as functionally specified, complex information. And, when we go to the writings and a key speech of two chief founders of the major theistic tradition in the Western Civilisation of which we are both a part, as an example of typical theistic thought, we see:

    JN 1:1 In the beginning was the Word [LOGOS – in effect the rational principle himself], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.

    JN 1:3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men . . . .

    AC 17:24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28 `For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, `We are his offspring.’
    RO 1:19 . . . what may be known about God is plain to [men], because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

    RO 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles . . . .

    COL 1:15 He [the Son] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

    That sounds to me rather like these worthies had a view of God the Creator and sustainer of the world in whom all things hold together, and in whom we live, move and have our being, that expected to see signs of his intelligent, purposeful, and indeed moral action. Indeed, so much so that they exposed their theologies to empirical test on this point. Indeed, that is what is reflected in the premature triumphalism of Dawkins, when he said that Darwinism makes it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.

    So, while you may have — and are free to have — a different view of God, it plainly does not follow from the fact that God may have created and controls the cosmos, that his work in it will not leave discoverable signs of his intelligent action. Indeed, just the opposite is to be expected, once one factors in that God may have reason to want to relate to his creatures personally, i.e. us.

    So, the issue as to whether design that may trace to God is detectable or just conceivable is something to be examined, not assumed or asserted. And,t eh case of cosmological ID raises some interesting pointers. Similarly, once we see the sort of universe in which we live in, we then see that the evident design of life — recall how often evolutionary materialists are forced to insist that the apparent design is an illusion [complete with censorship to enforce that insistence] – points to as the best (but obviously not only) candidate for originator of life on earth, the same intelligence that is responsible for the life-facilitating design of the cosmos.

    Nor is the testimony of millions across the centuries and currently that hey have met and know that creator personally and as the transformer of their lives, easily dismissed evidence; unless we are willing to resort to selective hyperskepticism.

    2] you would also agree that IDs method can identify God as the source of FSDI, despite its frequent claims that is does not even attempt to do so?

    Observe the above and previous. Nowhere have we said — and no responsible technical level ID person says — that ID as a scientific method identifies God as the source of FSCI. Indeed, the design inference is an inference from signs to intelligent ACTION not the identity of the ACTOR.

    In short, this is a strawman misrepresentation.

    I pointed instead to the specific focus where science routinely studies signs of intelligence and infe3rs thereto, relative to the known causal facrtors, chance, necessity, agency. I then insisted on a CONSISTRENT application of this inference when we see the same signs of intelligence. In certain situations, this consistent reading of the source of organised, functionally specified complexity [e.g in DNA as a digital code bearing molecule, or the finetuned physics of the cosmos] then establishes a credible datum against which philosophical level worldview analysis may happen. Namely, that on good scientific induction, it is credible that intelligence acted in certain contexts. Other contextual cues and live option alternatives at phil level then lead to a situation where some suggest or conclude that the scientific results are compatible with or even support that God is a relevant candidate for causing the identified intelligent action.

    The fact that there is such a ferocious resistance to the inference to intelligent action from its signs based on force and on selective hyperskepticism rooted in question-begging and even suppression of relevant evidence shows that the data are speaking all too clearly for those committed to a worldview in which evolutionary materialism has more or less taken science captive to an agenda.

    But, worldview analysis on comparative difficulties relative to factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory elegance his phil, not science. And the distinction was clearly and repeatedly drawn. If you further insist on the above conflation in the teeth of such correction, then we are within our rights to infer that you are not arguing in good faith.

    As to SB’s remarks, he clearly was pointing out that FSCI is a sign of intelligence, and it is not reasonable to infer that God, as the creator-sustainer of the cosmos, cannot leave that behind.

    3] we have one and only one example of intelligence, humanity. And we also have one and only one example of FSCI that we know doesn’t have a human origin, DNA.

    Simply false.

    We have many more or less intelligent animals, we have computers and robots that are/may be fully independent intelligences, depending on your estimation of the current status of AI. And, we live in a cosmos in which our existence shows that intelligent agents may exist in it. We have no grounds for artificially constricting the existence of intelligence to ourselves.

    As tot eh FSCI, not only is tere a lot of it in biology that goes far beyond DNA, but the existence of DNA is a powerful case in point, not one to be dismissed. What do we know about the source of codes that are integrated into algorithms and associated with machinery that implements it, from every case that we directly know the causal process? Why, then – apart from selective hyperskepticism – do you wish to resit the reasonable inferences from that?

    Moreover, the most significant case of non-human originated FSCI is in the physics of the cosmos; as already has been briefly discussed.

    4] There is a huge difference between perceiving God, which I do and “testing for” God, which is I claim that ID’s methods cannot do. (And again, I know that ID doesn’t claim to test for God, but it assumes its tests for intelligence must be positive for God’s intelligence. While they MAY be positive, they are not necessarily so.

    First, no scientific reasoning is about things being “necessarily” so [that is in the province of deductive logic and/or mathematics], nor is there any assertion that say the Explanatory Filter is positive for all cases of intelligence, much less for cases of that candidate for certain cases of design: God’s intelligence. [The EF is deliberately designed to be heavily biased to false negatives, through a very stringent criterion of complexity, at least 500 or so bits of information storing capacity. That is part of why when it rules positive, it does so very reliably based on our experience of cases where we can directly cross-check.]

    Next, the Judaeo-Christian thought I cited earlier speaks of God being clearly discernible from the creation order in which we live. That means that — on that worldview — God’s existence and action would reasonably leave empirically detectable traces of intent-full intelligent action, which may then be empirically investigated. So, if key cases in the natural world show signs of such intelligent action, or strongly show no mark of such intelligent action, that would be relevant to the empirical support for the view, or otherwise.

    As Dawkins shows, many over the past 150 years or so have thought that Darwinism and its related extensions show good reason to infer that the design perceived by some in the context of OOL and its diversification is illusory. So much so, that he asserts that those who differ with his view are “ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked.”

    But in fact there is good scientific reason – i.e. the empirically anchored design inference — to see that the appearance of design in nature is apparent for the excellent reason that it is on inference to best explanation, credibly real.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: You need to note that — as has been repeatedly pointed out to you [cf 100 above] — natural regularities show themselves in low contingency, and that high contingency traces to chance and/or agency. Think about the case of a die sitting on a table [natural regularity] and which face is uppermost [contingency]. When the complexity of the contingency passes 500 – 1000 bits of information storing capacity and there is a functionally specified pattern, we have good reason [as previously discussed] to infer to agent action as the cause.

  115. 115
    ericB says:

    garygagliardi, Since you have not yet had time to respond to my most recent post at 106, in the interest of short summaries here is a concise version of the three points I made. Looking forward to your responses.

    1) You are still incorrectly attributing to ID an assumption of detecting “all intelligence”. Straw man attack.

    2) Even if it were true, a claim that divine intelligence is indistinguishable from undirected natural processes would have no effect on or relevance to an ID inference, which is made only for cases that are distinguishable. Heller’s complaint is a religious claim with no relevance to scientific inferences to intelligent agency, regardless of whether the claim is true or false.

    3) Your rock thought experiment incorrectly supposes that such a case is not “artificial” if the medium is natural, e.g. rock. This misses the central fact that it is the arrangement, not the material of the medium, which is artificial, i.e. beyond the range of undirected natural processes as judged tentatively by science according to the evidence it has.

    Supplemental examples:
    For your rock drawing, try substituting Mount Rushmore and see if that suggests intelligent design using a natural medium.

    Or
    Case 1: Visible water vapor high in the atmosphere (i.e. clouds) might accidentally look kind of like a bunny, or maybe a turtle, or something else.
    Case 2: Visible water vapor high in the atmosphere spells out “EAT AT JOES”.
    It is not the medium which matters. What matters is the artificial arrangement, regardless of whether the material of the medium is “natural”.

  116. 116
    Frost122585 says:

    Kairosfocus at 104,

    I see you are reading Locke. I have found a fascinating correlation in Locke’s Essay CTHU. As you may well have noticed I have been studying Kurt Gödel for some time now. In a book that I read about him “A World Without Time” it focuses on his relationship with Einstein at Princeton and how Gödel inspired by the logical implications of relativity theory sought to find a solution to Einstein’s field equations. In any event, what the mad genius actually ended up doing was to discover a description of the known universe that was mathematically and physically sound, though dependent on general relativity, which not only proved time travel existed but hat time itself in the linear sense did not. Hence, the title of the book.

    The simple linguistic formulation or explanation of Gödel’s universe was said to be one where “time was actually a space.” That is time is merely “the distance” between two physical events” and perhaps nothing more. This is much like saying that space is the distance between two physical objects but has nothing to do with duration- except that it is its inverse.

    The mysterious correlation is found in none other than Locke’s Essay Concerning The Human Understanding.

    Locke was born and died before Gödel was born and so one has to wonder whether Gödel’s idea of a space-time and perhaps Einstein’s too- was actually stolen from Locke’s manifold and philosophy.

    Einstein did once famously says

    “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”

    Perhaps I have stumbled on the meaning of that quote.

    Here is the text from Locke….

    “As the idea of the particular duration of any thing, is an idea of that portion of infinite duration, which passes during the existence of that thing; so the time when the thing existed, is the idea of that space of duration, which passed between some known and fixed period of duration, and the being of that thing.”

    – Locke, ECTHU page 191, book 2 of Ideas, chapter 15: Of Duration And Expansion, Considered Together

    Forcing one’s way through the classical philosophical works of old can, at times, sure seem to have its benefits.

  117. 117
    garygagliardi says:

    Frost122585 at 114:
    In rebutting my claim that ID offers only one non-human example of FSCI, DNA.

    First of all it is an estimate of “all of the particle events in the universe from explosion to implosion” that mathematically warrants the design inference. Read The Design Inference.

    You can certainly make that claim, but will you also admit that a bit tenuous to take a stand on? If this was a strong argument, ID would make it more often. The fact that the hundred of so claims ID has made in just this thread all reference DNA, not “the universe” says how confident ID is in this idea. In DNA we have a clearly functional information system with coding elements and decoding elements. This is what makes it like human coded information, correct? Are you saying that anyone recognizes the universe similarly? What is the code? Where is the coding mechanism? How do you separate the code from the functional parts.

    You then cite animal intelligence as another example of intelligence. Perhaps you could give me an example of animal created FSCI? That is what we are taking about, right? Alien intelligence? If you had a strong case here, would you b e grasping at these particular straws?

    You then say:

    ID does not claim to be able to detect all intelligence in the world it claims to be able to detect intelligences up to a certain level.

    But again, what is that claim based on? One example of intelligence.

  118. 118
    Frost122585 says:

    Well the case is as it is. There is only “one” example or anser to the structure of DNA- the double Helix. Yes the inference is inductive no one has claimed otherwise. If this exmple is not being used as often its not because of me, I use it all the time. Animal intelligence is obvious. I have never tried to calculate the probability of a bee’s hive of a Beaver’s Dam. I conceed that point. Bu the point is still valid that animals clearly share design ability.

    So i stand by my words but admit it is an infernce- that is it is not certain to be right but then again no scientific theory is. The world is composed of degrees of absolute truth.

  119. 119
    garygagliardi says:

    StephenB at 105 and 115:
    At 115, you start with a statement that makes my problems with so many of your posts clear:

    His argument goes like this: We cannot distinguish the presence of Divine intelligence from nature’s physical laws, because God controls nature. I have explained to him multiple times that this assumption is irrelevant to the method of finding evidence of Divine intelligence in nature. Realizing over time that he simply would not accept this point, I decided to explain the reason.

    Notice what you say here:
    You have made a claim over and over again without explaining the reason for it.

    And, golly, I just wouldn’t accept your claim without knowing the reasoning behind it.

    I must be a real donkey! However, by being such a donkey, we finally have a chance to see if there is any reasoning in your reason. Your start:

    If, because God controls nature, God’s physical laws and his intelligence are INDISTINQUISHABLE, then FSCI, which is the mark of intelligence, would not be DISTINCTLY present in nature. Case closed, right? Wrong. gary continues to ignore and dismiss this unassailable point.

    What is the basis of your proof here? FSCI is “the mark of intelligence.” You can see that assumption, right? Your “proof” hangs in it.

    But isn’t that exactly one of the two points under contention? See 109 for reference. If this was an “unassailable point,” would I have spent some much of my time assailing it?

    To bolster this unassailable argument, you then go on to add your argument from 105. And I agree with everything quoted until you say:

    That means that IF GOD’S INTELLIGENCE IS MANIFEST, we can SOMETIMES discover it in the form of FSCI, but we cannot, from a scientific perspective, attribute it to God. Beyond that, I cannot say anything more. These are the facts.”

    Notice the same mistake again? Doesn’t your argument again assume that FSCI can only arise from intelligence?

    So, we are back EXACTLY where we started. Again, I am not disagreeing with your conclusions. I too believe that complex information is a result of God’s action and that he enabled us to find it. However, your “proof” of this is circular.

    I maintain 1) we cannot identify God actions as separate from nature (which was Heller’s point) AND 2) that cannot know that DNA comes from intelligence.

    So your proof that we can identify God’s actions in nature is because DNA-FSCI proves intelligence. Yikes!

    And it gets worse, because you go onto claim that your are disproving my point about God, despite the fact that you also claim that the “intelligence” in your proof has nothing to do with God because ID doesn’t deal with God, just intelligence.

    So your COMPLETE line of reasoning is that I am wrong about our inability to separate God’ action from nature because we can identify God’s action in nature through the presence of complex information which proves intelligence, but not divine intelligence. DOUBLE Yikes!

    So, I am the donkey for not simply accepting your statements as obvious fact, forcing you to explain your reasoning. When you explain, it not only includes ideas that I cannot accept (DNA proving intelligence) but ideas that YOU cannot accept (the intelligence must be divine).

    Is this really the quality of reasoning that you are proud of? Is this the logical foundation for the ID movement? I know you are full of pride because of all your snipes about my living in a fantasy and so on. I challenge you to put that pride to work and craft a simple, clean argument of which you can be proud.

  120. 120
    garygagliardi says:

    Frost122585 at 116:
    Your argument hinges on the idea that ID can say everything about “not only human intelligence” but all intelligence based on one example. The problem with this idea is laid out at 113.

    Would you accept claims like this in everyday life? Do you think they make people see more credible?

    What if you had a friend who adamantly claims “in all his experience fishing worm are ALWAYS the best bait.” When you asked him, “How many times have you been fishing?” He says, “Once.” How vast is his knowledge of fishing.

    What if a business claimed “100% customer satisfaction,” “never had a customer complaint,” and “every one of our customers comes back again and again.” But you notice the store is empty, so you asked, “How many customers do you have?” The business owner honestly says, “One.” What are all those claims worth?

    It actually makes ID look foolish to use phrases such as “in every case,” “in all our experience,” and “100% of the time,” when all those claims are based on a single example.

  121. 121
    nullasalus says:

    For the record, another Dinesh D’Souza article is up today – continuing his argument that evolution is not atheistic, but is instead wrongfully advertised as atheistic by some scientists. Therefore, the correct choice of action isn’t to try and get ID into schools, or try and get evolution out, but to investigate whether these misrepresentations of evolution are being brought into the classroom – and if they are, to demand they be removed.

    I have to admit, I agree. Though I personally would go a step further, and argue how what we know of the natural world (from evolution to cosmology) strongly indicates design, even if it’s only through arguments of reason and philosophy.

  122. 122
    garygagliardi says:

    gpuccio at 118:
    I too agree with much of what you say in this point, even about ID being a useful science. My only problem is with the two (now three) points on which ID gets into trouble, making its claims seem extravagant and even foolish (see 125), instead of useful.

    My problems with the original post on Heller is that his particular objection to idea regarding separating God from nature was correct. As I said at 10, I believe in a universe where “both the type of variations possible and the type of environments that the universe allows are NOT random, but tightly restricted by the laws of science, i.e. the mind of God.”

    I even agree with your critique of 113, including that, “Design is the best option.” My problem is with the inflated claims of “in every case,” “all our experience,” etc. which attempts to move “the best option” to “absolutely proven” when, in reality, we are talking about only one or two examples no matter how often they are replicated.

    About my point regarding the inability of the “not law, not chance, therefore intelligence” to convince people, you say:

    Where is the problem? Nobody is ever obliged to agree with a specific scientific model.

    The problem is that many in ID (look throughout this thread) really think that this issue of ‘FSCI proves intelligence” is beyond doubt and question. So much so that they use it to prop up every argument. I am just a complete donkey for trying to explain why most people don’t see it that way.

    While the problems of argument here are not nearly as bad as some science blogs (I have made the mistake ONCE of trying reasoned discourse at Panda’s Thumb, and won’t again), this overestimation of what is proven destroy thinking.

    My point about the cave and the Shroud of Turin is simpler than perhaps I have stated it. Though my specific target was about the weakness in “not known law nor chance, then intelligence” syllogism, what I am saying is that the way we usually distinguish intelligence is by the presence of artificial methods rather than natural ones.

    I do believe that information is a sign of intelligence, but not a certain one because we cannot know if information can arise in other ways. The CERTAIN sign of human intelligence information from artifice. We can clearly distinguish between the artificial world we create from the natural world that God creates by our methods of working.

    Another brief thought experiment to illustrate this point. A man threatens to kill someone, predicting that the person will die at a specific day and time to the minute and second. That person DOES die at that exact second. Did that specific information prove that threatener do it even if we don’t know how? The proof and even suspicion of guilt would depend entirely on the means of death.

    If the person died in a manner that the threatener had absolutely no control over, say a lighting strike from a thunder cloud that everyone witnessed, for example, everyone would assume that, no matter how unlikely, the cause was simply chance, wouldn’t they?

    The point is that the level of detailed information is less persuasive proving source than many on this blog think.

    What is really important is the means: artificial versus natural. If intelligence involved has no control over the method creating the information, it isn’t the source.

    This is my problem both with the ID syllogism “proving” intelligence AND the claims that Heller was wrong when he pointed out that ID’s arguments deprived God of the control of nature. Indeed, if God controls nature, a non-Darwinian, teleological “natural” evolution is possible and perhaps even likely.

    You raise an number of interesting other points that are well worth discussing, but time is limited, but thank you for this post. I feel like I am making progress.

  123. 123
    Frost122585 says:

    Gery,

    First off, the theory does not hinge on human intelligence except in the way that all theories do- that is we need our minds to devise them and understand them. As I said earlier, just because there may only be one clear cut example doesn’t mean anything about the theory’s strength. Would you say that they theory of DNA is flawed because there is only one plan for how it could work- the double helix? No, of course not. A theory is judged by the amount of evidence it has for its conclusion or method- it is judge by how well it explains things in comparison to other explanations. DE says things happen because of a much of mechanisms- while it is easy to create a story of how things evolved for example I could say “a fox came from when an ancient cat and ancient dog mated”- there needs to be an assessment of evidence yes, but also probability. Darwin’s theory has evidence for parts of it although people like Mike Behe think it is adequate at explaining about 2% of life’s diversity- I am intuitively in agreement because there is the issue of improbability but your better to take his word than mine. Intelligent design however can do thing and design things that are highly improbably. Yes, information of the kind we speak of is usually human based. But what is aliens were discovered? The point is that clearly there is nothing special about human information as it could exist in other life forms as well. ID deals with inferences from the effects of intelligence- that is the arrangements and structure of matter in the universe. Human invention or design is just the clear cut example like the current concept of the double helix- it is what it is alone- and I have nothing to do with it.

    “Would you accept claims like this in everyday life? Do you think they make people see more credible?”

    Im guessing that is meant to be “seeM” more credible?

    Yes, it is fine as far as credibility. he theory of Dark matter is no better than ID and it is applauded by all of the Darwinian elitists. Dark matter appeals to nothing by extrapolated mathematics and speculations about the properties of matter. Even worse dark matter is said “to be invisible.” You can get locked up in mental institutions making similar claims like this.

    I don’t know where you 100 keeps Cumming from. I feel you misunderstand the theory. It is possible that all things are designed. This is a matter of logical fact. The theory claims that we can detect the complex design up to a point. That is it. The only claim that the theory postulates I feel is that information is ubiquitous. That is it is everywhere and transcends matter. This is a 100% postulate but we don’t claim to be able to find 100% of the design. You are the only one painting that picture. And even more ID is about probability. It is here that the theory is truly hinged. That means that there could be a case of design that slips by or there could be a case that is attributed to design that was natural. maybe one species could have happened by chance- but all species? No.

    To say in ever case, I agree is an over statement- but to say in all of “our experience” is a very different animal indeed. I have never seen a hole in one, in golf, live in my entire life- but I know they happen. Have you ever seen, for example, the transformative evolution of one species into another via the DE pathways? One phyla into another?

    No. Not in “all of the experiences” of every man who has ever lived has this miraculous transformation occurred in anyone’s life time. On the other hand in my life I have witnessed the intelligently designed evolution of the Nissan Maxima. I even had one with a tremendous Bose sound system that was crystal clear even when I‘d turn it all the way up— that is until I wrecked it 😉

  124. 124
    Frost122585 says:

    So the theory is hinged on probability not human intelligence- and it is going to stay hinged too, from all of the evidence that I have see. The human complexity part is just the unique perspective we have found ourselves in at this stage in the game. Humans have nothing to do with this. We have to appeal to something else- something higher. Nature? Only if it is intelligently designed does it have the resources necessary to not only produce human beings and their creative potential, but also all of the natural potential we see in the biological world such as DNA- and this is to say nothing about the fine tuning of the cosmos.

  125. 125
    Frost122585 says:

    When we say all- it is probability and specificity that makes up out understanding of “all information or intelligence” if you will. Can we say for sure that we have the final handel on information and intelligence- no way! If that is all you are arguing then your right. But if you want to argue against specificity and complexity being the hall marks of intelligence then you need to specifiy your own arguemnt. It is all ways moot when you apply to hyper skepticism. You ahve to have smothing to replace our current definition with, obviously- and guee what- if you try and do so you will be appealing to the very same quetionalbe source that your argument began negating the force of- that is human expierence.

  126. 126
    garygagliardi says:

    kairosfocus at 119:
    If you can read my posts and think that I haven’t spent some years familiarizing myself with ID and its literature, you are quite mistaken.

    The issues here are very specific. If you think in challenging the 1) “not known law nor chance then intelligence” syllogism and 2) the abilities of ID to identify divine intelligence as separate from nature, I am building a “strawman caricature,” please explain how. Are these not the basis of the discussion here?

    I can go down your entire post agreeing with everything until I come (as I inevitable must because it is in EVERY postin which an ID proponent claims to rebut me) to your statement:

    Indeed, I think it is fair comment to observe that FSCI and IC are in all cases where we do directly know the causal process, reliable indicators of design.

    This is the point were you simply assume that your point is proven in only we assume the exact point under contention. Your use of “all cases” really means actually one case.

    All your reasoning before and after hinges on this statement. You cannot construct an argument without, at some point, having to make this assumption nor can other ID proponents.

    Either you have gotten too lazy or so used to talking with people who agree on this point that you do not even recognize when you are using the point under contention to prove you argument.

    You do it AGAIN to make your argument about how I am wrong about not being able to identify God:

    ‘Sorry; you need to look at the signs of intelligence principle again, and look at he underlying complex organisation of the cosmos — does this show intelligent action?

    Again, this is the very point under contention so it does NOT prove anything. It does show something. It may suggest something. I may even agree with it. What I disagree with, for reasons cited and ignored again and again, is confusing something that is suggested with something proven.

    Again, we have no disagreement about what we believe about the nature of the universe. Our disagreement is about very specific points. Most of your post is wasted stating things that I agree with to come to a point where your whole argument hinges on my simply conceding what I disagree with without your arguing the point.

    Rather than explain the entire logic of ID, which I mostly agree with, I suggest you focus laser-like on our two or three simply points of difference.

  127. 127
    Frost122585 says:

    gary, I went back and tried to reread and decode your other posts. Please do us all a favor and write out your objection or points of inquiry “as explicitly as possible” in a 1,2,3, point numberd form. I think that we all largly agree but you keep objecting about this 100% concept. Please make it more explicit. I read you last post above and you have a chance to explicitly sate your point and refute Kairosfocus’ and you did not.

    Please enlighten us.

  128. 128
    garygagliardi says:

    kairosfocus at 120:
    Two LONG posts in a row, filled with lengthy explication of points not under contention, interspersed with self-righteous assertions, accusations of straw men, and so on. Here is my favorite part (emphasis yours):

    The fact that there is such a ferocious resistance to the inference to intelligent action from its signs based on force and on selective hyperskepticism rooted in question-begging and even suppression of relevant evidence shows that the data are speaking all too clearly for those committed to a worldview in which evolutionary materialism has more or less taken science captive to an agenda.

    But, worldview analysis on comparative difficulties relative to factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory elegance his phil, not science. And the distinction was clearly and repeatedly drawn. If you further insist on the above conflation in the teeth of such correction, then we are within our rights to infer that you are not arguing in good faith.

    Though it is hard to parse statements such as this, apparently, my “ferocious” focus on two or three specific issues is now, in your words, “selective hyperskepticism rooted in question-begging and even suppression of relevant evidence.” I am curious about what evidence I have suppressed, but, apparently, unless I agree with you I am forcing the world into the clutches of materialism. Really? Seriously?

    To the charge that I am conflating science and philosophy, I plead guilty. Since my “hyperskepticim” is rooted in two and only two (okay, maybe three) issues and my problems with 1) the “if not know law nor chance then intelligence” syllogism are scientific, while my problems with 1) “God must be identifiable separate from nature,” is philosophical, I am bringing the two together.

    Since, according to you, this means that I am arguing in bad faith (despite your stern correction), I guess we can leave it there and argue no more. Since your posts are more accusation and “correction” than discussion anyway, I will try to bear the loss.

  129. 129
    larrynormanfan says:

    For my part, I think garygagliardi has brought a great deal of insight into these discussions. He has argued forcefully and well and — yes, kf — in good faith, as far as I can tell. No need to accuse him in your usual fashion. He makes a lot of arguments I would have made if I were as smart or well-read.

  130. 130
    Frost122585 says:

    larry, Ive been reading everyhting he says- He hasn’t made a single explicit point!

  131. 131
    Frost122585 says:

    His entire last post said nothing!

    Though it is hard to parse statements such as this, apparently, my “ferocious” focus on two or three specific issues is now, in your words, “selective hyper skepticism rooted in question-begging and even suppression of relevant evidence.” I am curious about what evidence I have suppressed, but, apparently, unless I agree with you I am forcing the world into the clutches of materialism. Really? Seriously?

    He’s simply talking about Kairos’ statements here– nothing of any substance regarding ID.

    “To the charge that I am conflating science and philosophy, I plead guilty. Since my “hyperskepticim” is rooted in two and only two (okay, maybe three) issues and my problems with 1) the “if not know law nor chance then intelligence” syllogism are scientific, while my problems with 1) “God must be identifiable separate from nature,” is philosophical, I am bringing the two together.”

    I don’t even understand this part. Ok you admit your being a hyper skeptic so what can anyone do then? With this hat on we can reject the big bang, evolution, thermodynamics, ID, gravitation, relativity, logic, mathematics etc.

    As far as your points go you say 3 but you list only 2 one time each- and I’m at a loss as to how they are connected.

    The syllogism of chance, necessity, intelligence is NOT the one that ID makes. ID makes the one of complexity, specificity, design. Chance and necessity don’t equal intelligence they equal improbability- that surpassing 10^150 matched with an arbitrary pattern gives is SC and a design inference.

    As for your second one, God is not the same thing as the designer. The designer is only framed by the steps I listed above. Whether it is connected with nature or separate with nature or both or neither – is a question for theology at this stage in the game.

    Since, according to you, this means that I am arguing in bad faith (despite your stern correction), I guess we can leave it there and argue no more. Since your posts are more accusation and “correction” than discussion anyway, I will try to bear the loss.

    So now he ends the debate before it was ever understood and calls Kairosfocus out for foul play?

  132. 132
    larrynormanfan says:

    Frost, I thought post #10 above was quite elegant, and spot on. Responses (starting with StephenB in #15) basically accuse GG of misunderstanding ID. But it’s not so much that he misunderstands ID as that he has a different understanding than the one StephenB offers. The one StephenB offers is ID’s highly rehearsed public face, but that’s not necessarily the only or even most legitimate way to think about ID.

  133. 133
    larrynormanfan says:

    To be fair, I think kairosfocus made the “foul play” accusation first. But that’s quite predictable: it always happens when kf disagrees with someone for long enough online. Guar-an-teed.

  134. 134
    Frost122585 says:

    im saying its too early IMOP for anyone to stop the conversation on the grounds on foul play. I feel he may have had a good point of inquiry I tried to adress what i kinda thought it was on many occasions but I never really got to an explicit question propsition or statement that I felt warrented his level skepticism and his derogatory tone towards the theory.

    He started with this point about human intelligence being 100% of the data that we use to forn the ID thery. But I brought up animals and possibly aliens and said that the whole of nature could consist of information we just dont know- that is why we have the theory cause some things like DNA- the cell and living things and the process of evolution look like they require it.

    I was wondering if there was more to his question then I felt my answer readily dealt with.

  135. 135
    Apollos says:

    Hi gary, I’m not sure where the “only one case” argument is coming from.

    We have thousands of examples of CSI resulting from intelligence. In regards to DNA, it’s not being invoked as an explanation, but the subject of an inference. You seem to be claiming that DNA is used as the example meant to prove intelligent causes. It’s not. It is the thing being analyzed. The inference is made because of the numerous extant examples of intelligently caused CSI, and the utter lack of non-intelligently caused CSI. This is why the inference to design is reliable.

    So we have a subject: DNA. There are three explanations on the table as to the cause: 1) Law; 2) Chance; 3) Intelligent Design.

    As to law: We know of no law that can result in the formation of complex abstract code. This doesn’t mean we won’t find one in the future, but until we do, it’s off the table. The inference to design can be falsified here by in vitro demonstration of the law of CSI self-organization.

    As to chance: There is absolutely no evidence that the universe contains the probabilistic resources necessary to allow a chance assemblage of the most basic bacterial life. The design inference could be falsified mathematically by demonstrating that the complexity of living organisms is such that the chance assemblage of parts could easily be arrived at within the age of the universe.

    As to design: complex, abstract code is present in DNA. We know of only one cause that can consistently and repeatedly result in the generation of abstract, complex, specified codes: intelligence. We know of no material processes that can generate abstract codes of this complexity (or any complexity really).

    So of our three choices, design is clearly the winner. No assumptions need to be made. This is the unassailable point. We know that intelligent agency can produce complex and abstract codes. The very nature of intelligently designed codes is that their specification defies any observable/testable mechanism for their arrangement, save agency.

    If you’re arguing that this is circular reasoning, don’t forget that we have thousands of examples serving as proof of extant CSI linked directly to intelligent design, and no examples serving as proof for law+chance having any similar effect — not even close. You can’t invoke biology here either, or you’re guilty of the same transgression that you previously accused StephenB of (circular reasoning).

    So it seems to me that you’re left arguing for one of the above. You’re either claiming that the CSI in DNA is due to law, in which case you’re obligated to divulge the law; or your arguing that chance (in whatever way you wish to define it) is responsible — again you’re obligated to demonstrate an empirical or logical case that can be objectively established; or your argument really is that design is the best explanation for DNA.

    If you’re trying to make a case for some combination of design+chance, design+law, or for a fourth “unknown” then your invoking something that is outside the scope of ID, or outside any sort of inquiry. In this case your argument is theological, relying on what you think you already know about how the designer interacts with material reality. This results in promoting an explanation prior to examining the evidence.

    Forgive me if I’m skipping past your points, but this thread has been notoriously hard to follow.

    Thanks for your time.

  136. 136
    kairosfocus says:

    H’mm:

    It first seems that an apology is due on grounds of causing unintended offense, though with a caveat on the underlying issue on the merits. GG, kindly cf 8 below.

    Thus, let us look at the underlying basis on the merits issues, with particular reference to comment 125 [which will show that there is a serious gap between the observed misperceptions/ misrepresentations and the claimed degree of familiarity with ID thought], then move on to the apology on the grounds that I “clearly” did not communicate adequately that I am not speaking of bad faith as a “proved” fact in the here and now; but of bad faith as — regrettably — the best explanation if and where is persistent refusal to accept correction of basic errors and insistence on dismissal of the ID case based on such strawmen. (For now, we can leave aside the well known, sadly all too commonly encountered, bad faith tactic of twisting words to try to gain an advantage by portraying the other side of a debate as a “bad” person.)

    On points:

    1] GG, 125: What is the basis of your proof here? FSCI is “the mark of intelligence.” You can see that assumption, right? Your “proof” hangs in it. But isn’t that exactly one of the two points under contention? See 109 for reference. If this was an “unassailable point,” would I have spent some much of my time assailing it?

    Excuse me, GG, but we are not dealing with “proofs” but empirically based scientific inferences.

    In short, unfortunately, you are misrepresenting what we are saying right from the outset. The technical name for that fallacy, FYI, is the straw-man. Wiki:

    A straw man argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position.[1] To “set up a straw man” or “set up a straw man argument” is to describe a position that superficially resembles an opponent’s actual view but is easier to refute, then attribute that position to the opponent (for example, deliberately overstating the opponent’s position).[1] A straw man argument can be a successful rhetorical technique (that is, it may succeed in persuading people) but it carries little or no real evidential weight, because the opponent’s actual argument has not been refuted.[2]

    Its name is derived from the practice of using straw men in combat training. In such training, a scarecrow is made in the image of the enemy with the single intent of attacking it[3]. Such a target is, naturally, immobile and does not fight back, and is not as realistic to test skill against compared to a live and armed opponent.

    Then, even the very posts on this thread are examples in point of how FSCI is — per so far un-exceptioned observations, where we directly know the causal story — a reliable and even routine product of intelligence.

    That is not a [question-begging] “assumption” but an easily exemplified, empirically reliable observation. [Strawman no 2.]

    Let’s take the above excerpt from you as an example, i.e. 312 ASCII discrete-state characters, at 128 states per element; or a config space of 128^312, or ~2.82 * 10^657 cells.

    This is complex in the Dembski-type sense [which is based on the number of quantum states that the cosmos we observe will have from its origin at the big bang to the heat death of the cosmos as we project it, i.e a metric of the probabilistic resources of the observed cosmos so that if something is significantly more improbable than 1 in 10^150, it is improbable that the cosmos acting as a giant lottery will be able to find it — not all conceivable lotteries are winnable!], being well beyond 500 – 1,000 bits worth of information storage capacity. It is functionally specified as English language text, and it is complex beyond the UPB, even as extended to take in reasonable islands of functionality with up to 10^150 functional cells altogether. Thus, we confidently infer to an agent, rather than to lucky noise, which it is logically conceivable could generate such a configuration through chance processes. And, in light of other contextual cues, this is the case: FSCI correctly points to atgency.

    At this point, so many cases have been adduced in point that the real empirical challenge is not to exemplify FSCI as the product of agency, but to find a credible counter-instance whereby there is a known chance + necessity process that generates an instance of FSCI. [I have often issued a challenge to set up a million retired PC’s and disk drives, to spew random noise across the disks and see if a viable sense-making, functional text string of 500 or more bits emerges.] So, the attempt to turnabout the burden of proof fails; as it is an apt example of selective hyperskepticism on your part.

    And, that is exactly what I and others have repeatedly pointed out here and elsewhere.

    2] your proof that we can identify God’s actions in nature is because DNA-FSCI proves intelligence. Yikes!

    First, as has been repeatedly pointed out, in science nothing of consequence is a “proof.” We have more or less reliable, empirically anchored explanations and inferences, also observations. So, you have distorted what has been said, making it into a strawman caricature, now repeated in the teeth of corrections from other posters [especially note GP’s remarks above and some by Eric, Frosty and SB] and myself.

    Unfortunately, you then go on to build a card-castle on your selectively hyperskeptical attempt to assert question-begging on our part.

    Here’s the deal: in science, we observe real-world patterns and infer hyps that explain them. We subject to tests on known cases, until it is credible that the hyp is reliable. We then induce, per the general [as opposed to absolute] uniformity of the natural world principle — of course an unproved thesis of scientific work — that the reliable explanation is, provisionally speaking, a general one. At this point, the burden then shifts to those who would overturn the validity of the reliable pattern.

    Sounds familiar? It should; cf. Wiki for a on the basics of scientific method 101:

    Scientific method refers to the body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. It is based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.[1] A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.[2]

    Although procedures vary from one field of inquiry to another, identifiable features distinguish scientific inquiry from other methodologies of knowledge. Scientific researchers propose hypotheses as explanations of phenomena, and design experimental studies to test these hypotheses. These steps must be repeatable in order to predict dependably any future results. Theories that encompass wider domains of inquiry may bind many hypotheses together in a coherent structure. This in turn may help form new hypotheses or place groups of hypotheses into context.

    Among other facets shared by the various fields of inquiry is the conviction that the process must be objective to reduce a biased interpretation of the results. Another basic expectation is to document, archive and share all data and methodology so it is available for careful scrutiny by other scientists, thereby allowing other researchers the opportunity to verify results by attempting to reproduce them. This practice, called full disclosure, also allows statistical measures of the reliability of these data to be established.

    In the case in view, we have laid out the observation that FSCI exists and in the many cases where we know the causal story [i.e on empirical testing] it is routinely the product of intelligence. Indeed, so far there are no known exceptions in such test cases.

    How have you responded?

    Have you shown a counter instance? [Such would give an immediate refutation by empirical counter example and would be decisive.]

    No, you have not – most likely because you cannot.

    Instead you have tried to brand the empirically anchored principle as if it were a mere question-begging, dubious “assumption.” Then, when someone has gone on to use the principle to point out that DNA is an instance of FSCI which phenomenon per the principle of the reliably observed source of FSCI is a product of agency, you then triumphalistically announce: “Yikes!”

    Sorry, it is you who are caught out here, GG: caught out in question-begging selective hyperskepticism regarding the commonly accepted and highly successful basic scientific method.

    3] you go onto claim that your are disproving my point about God, despite the fact that you also claim that the “intelligence” in your proof has nothing to do with God because ID doesn’t deal with God, just intelligence.

    Excuse me. Where have I or any other responsible ID advocate in this thread spoken in terms of “proofs”? Have we not specifically and repeatedly corrected that term as inappropriate to scientific contexts? Why have you then insisted on using it to characterise what we have to say – apart from insistent misrrpresentation?

    Observe again: FSCI per scientific method and literally billions of test observations — e.g an Internet full of them — is a reliable empirical sign of intelligence.

    DNA is such an instance of FSCI, and so it is inferred as credibly the result of intelligent action. Standing by itself, that does not allow you to infer that the intelligence in question is within or beyond the cosmos — as TBO long since said in their discussion in TMLO, circa 1984. That is, there is a longstanding statement from the very first technical level ID work, that DNA points to intelligence but not to who or what that intelligence is.

    One may then look at the context of DNA — namely, it exists in a cosmos that requires exquisite fine-tuning and resulting organised complexity to be at all suitable for DNA-based life to exist. So, it is credible as a candidate working hypothesis at least that the cosmos in which DNA exists as a key component of cell-based life is also the product of agency, powerful, extracosmic highly intelligent agency with an intent to produce a life-habitable cosmos.

    Thus, we see that the inference to design, and the further context of that inference make — at worldviews analysis level [i.e philosophy not science] — the theistic God a credible candidate for the agent who made a life-habitable cosmos, and then onward, actual life in it. But, even moreso than with science, worldviews are instances of inference to best explanation and comparative difficulties testing of live alternatives, not “proofs.” That is we live by faith so we need to seek critically aware, reasonable faith.

    [ . . . ]

  137. 137
    kairosfocus says:

    Sorry: point no 9 . . .

  138. 138
    kairosfocus says:

    4] your COMPLETE line of reasoning is that I am wrong about our inability to separate God’ action from nature because we can identify God’s action in nature through the presence of complex information which proves intelligence, but not divine intelligence. DOUBLE Yikes!

    See that key misrperesentaiton again: PROVES?

    What we have pointed out per scientific method and significant empirical investigation, is that we have identified a reliable SIGN of intelligence. We then identify DNA and the complex organisation of the cosmos as significant cases in point. We then scientifically infer to intelligence as the best explanations of both.

    In short, your selectively hyperskeptical question begging simply continues and now reaches its “logical” conclusion.

    5] 126, Your argument hinges on the idea that ID can say everything about “not only human intelligence” but all intelligence based on one example . . . . What if you had a friend who adamantly claims “in all his experience fishing worm are ALWAYS the best bait.” When you asked him, “How many times have you been fishing?” He says, “Once.” How vast is his knowledge of fishing.

    The two are simply not comparable or analogous.

    Onlookers, observe: above Frosty and others, including myself, have pointed out that we have instances of intelligence that are credibly non-human [albeit obviously more limited than ours], starting with that of animals and the current state of and prospects for the ongoing AI research programme. So the “one example” inference is plainly and indisputably false. (And that is long before we get to the too often brushed aside issue that there are millions of people across history and currently — including a pretty big slice of the list of the greatest minds and lives ever lived — who have seriously claimed to know a certain extra-Cosmic intelligence personally and relationally, showing the results in transformed and transforming lives. I point this out to show that there are at least a few signs out there that there is a bigger world outside the currently fashionable evolutionary materialist, radical secularist version of Plato’s Cave. “Step into the sunshine . . .”)

    More generally, we have evidence from ourselves that intelligence is possible in our cosmos. We have no good reason to infer that we exhaust the possibilities for such intelligence, but just the converse. We also have a well-tested, reliable sign of intelligence, namely FSCI. We observe a case where we obviously were not present to produce it – a complex message that is foundational to life itself, and exists in a cosmos that was carefully and complexly organised in a way that just happens to facilitate such life.

    In such a context, and in the light of the general track record of the underlying scientific method at work, to reject the inference that DNA points to intelligence that is beyond our human world of intelligence is selective hyperskepticism.

    6] 132, The issues here are very specific. If you think in challenging the 1) “not known law nor chance then intelligence” syllogism and 2) the abilities of ID to identify divine intelligence as separate from nature, I am building a “strawman caricature,” please explain how. Are these not the basis of the discussion here?

    First, the insistence on the use of the term “syllogism” is an instance of a clear distortion of the method and context of the design inference, as has been repeatredly shown by others and myself above, including, again, just above. Second, I took the charitable assumption that this reflects want of knowledge instead of deliberate misrepresentation, so in response to someone else’s similar inference, I put up a list of basic 101 level material.

    You now claim to NOT be ignorant. Oh, well . . .

    Just above, I have shown in summary how your argument fails,and in so failing, shows that precisely you either [a] do not understand the scientific method or [b] are utterly unwilling to accept that the process that leads us to the conclusion that FSCI is a reliable sign of intelligence follows that process.

    You take your pick — on either horn of that dilemma, your argument fails.

    7] you simply assume that your point [FSCI in all cases of direct observation of the causal story is the product of intelligent action] is proven in only we assume the exact point under contention. Your use of “all cases” really means actually one case.

    The highlighted part shows a gross misrepresentation, where by lumping literally billions of test instances — the very stuff of empirical observation and testing — into the head: “human” you try to turn billions into “just one instance.”

    Sir, the empirical challenge to you and your ilk is this: show a single case where we know the causal story directly, where chance + necessity produce a sample of FSCI beyond the Dembski type bound, i.e 500 – 1,000 or so bits of information storage capacity. We can easily show many, many instances where reliably the presence of FSCI points to intelligent agency. On the track record of literally years of putting this challenge to evo mat advocates and their fellow travellers, NOT ONE KNOWN COUNTER INSTANCE EXISTS. So, per the scientific method, we have a perfect right to infer that FSCI is a sign of intelligence, until and unless a counter isntance produced by chance + necessity only can be produced.

    From the sort of counter arguments excerpted above, we have a perfect right to infer that you cannot produce a counter example where lucky noise in our observation produced FSCI. [And Genetic algorithms, Dawkins’ “methinks” and the like simply don’t count: they are preloaded with active information and intelligently designed search algorithms. In fact they are inadvertent examples of precisely the contention that FSCI is the product of intelligent agency.]

    8] Two LONG posts in a row, filled with lengthy explication of points not under contention, interspersed with self-righteous assertions, accusations of straw men, and so on.

    Excuse me, I have SHOWN the strawman arguments, including again above.

    9] . . . my “ferocious” focus on two or three specific issues is now, in your words, “selective hyperskepticism rooted in question-begging and even suppression of relevant evidence.” I am curious about what evidence I have suppressed, but, apparently, unless I agree with you I am forcing the world into the clutches of materialism. Really? Seriously?

    First, a clarification:t eh ferocious resistance to ID I am speaking of is in the broad context of our exchange – censorship, redefinitions of science, career-busting, slanderous accusations and the like, now also court rulings that are very questionably based. I would have hoped that that should have been fairly clear to one long familiar with the debates and conflicts over ID in Western culture.

    Second, If you claim to have long acquaintance with ID but so utterly distort it [as you do,on evidence such as I have discussed just above], then it properly becomes a serious issue as to whether you are dialoguing in good faith but making basic errors or are debating using dubious tactics; which last is indeed argument in bad faith. At this point, I am still willing to hold the former, on the charitable assumption that there is a confusion on the basic method of science at work. [Sadly, in our day there is so much confusion about what science is and how it works, that it is very possible to make the sort of basic errors pointed out above.]

    So, I apologise for causing unintended offense.

    Having noted that, if there is resistance to correction and insistence on errors in the teeth of basic facts, then that is not a good sign at all.

    GEM of TKI

  139. 139
    kairosfocus says:

    LNF:

    Really now!

    GEM of TKI

  140. 140
    StephenB says:

    —–garyg: “So your proof that we can identify God’s actions in nature is because DNA-FSCI proves intelligence. Yikes!”

    Once it has passed through the filter and once the math has been done, we can certainly make an “inference to the best explanation.” Yes, definitely. I notice, by the way, that even after Gpuccio patiently explained to you about the problematic use of the term “proof,” you persist in using it.

    —–“So your COMPLETE line of reasoning is that I am wrong about our inability to separate God’ action from nature because we can identify God’s action in nature through the presence of complex information which proves intelligence, but not divine intelligence. DOUBLE Yikes!”

    Of course. We can conclude that the (FSCI) WHICH HAPPENS TO COME from God is present in nature without knowing that God was responsible for it. You haven’t gotten that yet?

    Suppose a man comes home one day and finds that his house has been ransacked, a situation that indicates the possible presence of FSCI. Now suppose that the police rule out bad weather and other such factors and draw the obvious conclusion that that disordered condition occurred as a result of intelligent agency. Assume further that no one knows that the culprit was the man’s alcoholic brother who needed money for a drink.
    [A] Did the man’s brother leave FSCI? Yes, of course.

    [B] Can the police conclude that a crime was committed based on the FSCI? Yes, of course.

    [C] Can the police use the FSCI to identify the brother as the criminal? No, of course not.

    This is basic logic.
    Believe it or not, I take no joy in piling on this way, but I don’t know what else to do. The harder you charge, the harder you will hit the ground when you are flipped. So, stop charging so hard. As Will Rogers once remarked, “It isn’t what we don’t know that kills us; it’s what we know for sure that ain’t so.”

    We do have a little problem though. You have seriously misrepresented my words once again, and I am beginning to think that reading comprehension is not your only problem. But I will withhold judgment on that matter a little bit longer.

    —–You write: “And it gets worse, because you go onto claim that your are disproving my point about God, despite the fact that you also claim that the “intelligence” in your proof has nothing to do with God because ID doesn’t deal with God, just intelligence.”

    I claimed no such thing, nor did I even come close to it.

    I am going to reproduce the paragraph in question. Let’s search for anything resembling that phrase “HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH GOD.”

    “Your thesis about our inability to distinguish intelligence from law is demonstrably wrong. Insofar as God exhibits evidence of his intelligence, there is no problem isolating it from his laws. That God is the author of those laws does not prevent us from made the distinction for us through his creative act by separating intelligence from physical laws when he fashioned the world. We didn’t make the distinction, God did. Law manifests itself as ordered regularity and intelligence manifests itself as coded information. We can distinguish one from the other because God left clues in both forms and obviously WANTED BOTH ELEMENTS DISCOVERED. We can detect both by using sciences tools, because both can be measured and analyzed. With regard to isolating the presence of intelligence, we can identify only the fact of its existence, not its source. That means that IF GOD’S INTELLIGENCE IS MANIFEST, we can SOMETIMES discover it in the form of FSCI, but we cannot, from a scientific perspective, attribute it to God. Beyond that, I cannot say anything more. These are the facts.”

    Not only is that statement not there, there is no word or phrase that could possibly be interpreted that way. Try to rephrase your comment in a more sophisticated manner. This would be a fair translation of what I said. FSCI NEED NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH God. Try to absorb all of the subtleties involved in the design inference. The more you learn about intelligent design, the more you will learn that you theological objections have no meaning.

    Originally, I was going to take a much harder line. Your irksomely triumphant tone, coupled with your demonstrably poor reasoning, left me with a pretty fat target to shoot at. Even so, I have been moved by the patient and charitable responses by kairosfocus, Gpuccio, EricB, and Frost, and so I will follow their generous example. Also, you are basically alone, and I know that it isn’t easy to play chess with multiple challengers.

  141. 141
    StephenB says:

    —–larrynormanfan: Frost, I thought post #10 above was quite elegant, and spot on. Responses (starting with StephenB in #15) basically accuse GG of misunderstanding ID. But it’s not so much that he misunderstands ID as that he has a different understanding than the one StephenB offers. The one StephenB offers is ID’s highly rehearsed public face, but that’s not necessarily the only or even most legitimate way to think about ID.

    What I have offered is a custom-made analysis formed in my own words to meet a specific challenge.I have taken complex principles, simplified them, and expained them in simple language. Many of my observations are original applications. A careful reader would know that. There is nothing rehearsed about it, thank you very much.

  142. 142
    kairosfocus says:

    PS to GG: I took time out to look back at 119 – 120. I strengthen my apology as your later remarks show me how one from your perspective could easily see a personal direct reference when I in fact actually intended a general one; pardon my clumsy expression.

    Having noted that, it is fair comment for me to observe that your dismissal as being on points not in contention is on its face, false: in fact had you taken time to read carefully and take on board the corrective remarks therein, you would not have fallen into the logical traps again corrected just above. Let’s hope we don’t have to go around this circle a THIRD time.

  143. 143
    DaveScot says:

    frost

    Dark matter is much more than a mathematical concept. It exhibits all the properties of matter except emission and absorption of photons. It’s evidenced by well observed gravitational interaction such as lensing and in keeping spiral galaxies from flying apart when there’s not enough visible mass to overcome the angular momentum. It’s no insignificant amount either. If the theory of gravity is not profoundly wrong then dark matter must comprise four times the mass of visible matter. There are various candidates for dark matter that would fit within the current framework of physics. Dark energy is really mysterious. Nothing that fits within the current framework of physics can account for it as it manifests as an anti-gravitational force whose effects are detectable only over very, very large distances. The rate of expansion of the universe is accelerating. If gravity as we understand it were the sole force then there can’t be any acceleration in expansion – it can only be decelerating. Again, either some form of dark energy exists or our theory of gravity is profoundly mistaken. Since we as yet don’t have a quantum theory of gravity, meaning our understanding of gravity is at best incomplete, it could go either way (theory of gravity profoundly wrong or there’s a form of energy, or fundamental force, that current physics doesn’t describe). It’s not just a little dark energy either. Given e=mc^2 if we take the total amount of energy contained in the mass of visible matter then the total amount of dark energy to make the expansion of the universe accelerate at the observed rate is twenty times greater. It basically works out to:

    visible matter = 5% of the universe
    dark matter = 20% of the universe
    dark energy = 75% of the universe

    Given that all science has a good handle on is 5% of the universe there could be an awful lot of stuff going on in the 95% we don’t yet understand – stuff that may be brushed off as “supernatural”. The so-called supernatural might very well be a quite natural part of the universe, a part that as of today is invisible to us except through profound gravitational anomalies. The history of science is replete with examples of things once considered supernatural being explained by natural causes. Could the designer of life be hidden in the folds of dark matter and dark energy? You bet.

    “There’s more in heaven and earth, Horatio, than is dreamed of in your philosophy.” – W.Shakespeare

    Scientists need to keep this in mind for the philosophy of science.

    The so-called fine-tuning problem that plays a prominent role in Cosmological ID is related to the accelerating expansion of the universe. Einstein initially put term called the “cosmological constant” into his general relativity field equation. It was needed to achieve a “stationary” universe. When the universe was subsequently observed to be expanding the cosmological constant was zeroed out. Einstein called it the biggest blunder of his life. As it turns out, it’s needed to explain accelerating expansion so it may not have been a blunder at all. Suggested further reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmological_constant

  144. 144
    Frost122585 says:

    Oh I read Einstein’s cosmos by Kaku, and know the story of his blunder well. About a month or so back i corresponded with Behe via email and told him that Hubble’s telescope was to cosmology what the microscope was to biology and Darwin’s simply view of the blob like cell.

    I’m just not convinced with the Dark Matter thing. When I was in high school string theory was the big thing and it never made any sense to me why the universe should or would or could be made up of strings. Now physicists have used the concept of invisible mater to fill all the gaps of quantum cosmology which if you read David Berlinski’s new book is a very questionable field as far as it tries to paint a picture of “reality.” I know that one of the critiques of dark matter theory is as you mentioned a new concept of gravity. I think intuitively that there is something there and more there then might be in dark matter theory. The structure of the universe is much more interesting when thinking about questions like “what keeps the stars apart” or where does the symmetry come from?” The beautiful rotation of the planets? These question have historically been related to the arena of gravity and motion. Not to say that Dark Matter couldn’t play a part but I think we are dealing with bigger more fundamental problems then just invisible matter -and that is ironically saying a lot.

    This is just my opinion Dave and I respect yours. I’m not nearly well versed in physics enough to carry on any such debate. But I don’t think one has to be that mathematically skilled to have a little natural doubt about a theory of everything comprised of tiny strings that wriggle like crazy or a universe fill mostly with invisible matter. Though I promise the next time I fall down some invisible stairs I will seriously reconsider my position on this issue. Either that or the quality of my psychiatrist.

  145. 145
    Frost122585 says:

    Kairosfocus I wrote you at 122- i hope you read it.- i thought it was really insightful – though largely off topic.

  146. 146
    kairosfocus says:

    Frosty:

    Sorry — I was busyish (as you will see . . .) .

    Your cite and remarks are indeed interesting. I think though that Locke probably would have been amazed at the view of the cosmos circa 2008.

    DS also has a very useful tight summary of some BIG issues in cosmology and astrophysics. He reminds us, too, that sometimes the “blunders” of a true genius are profoundly stimulating and even sometimes prescient — not just their more obscure remarks, as with Locke.

    The reminder to be intellectually humble is very important.

    GEM of TKI

  147. 147
    Frost122585 says:

    Yeah im saying Locke wrote about the shape of time- of the space of time long before relativity and Godel brought that thought into formal frution. I was just honestly reading it and because I read Godel first it leaped up out at me. I think the shape of time or the idea that time is merely a space is a very interesting issue all in all.

    This was one of the things I was trying to get at with my comment to Berlinski- I hope you saw me-

    What i was getting at is that if you take away the concept of time (which may be intutivly misleading) and replace it merely with space you get a differnt sense about nature and design. Here is the beginning of a hypothetical syllogism that I am working out. This is where my though process was during the question I was adressing to David…

    P1: Matter and energy are interchangeable

    P2: Nature is comprised of energy and matter and space

    P3: Human beings are made out of matter

    P4:Human technology is made of matter

    P5: Nature produces human beings

    P6: Nature though human beings designs things

    P7: Time is a space

    P8: Human beings design “at the same time” that nature is acting

    P9:Nature designs through human beings

    P10:Nature designs

    P11: Design requires intelligence

    P12:Nature has intelligence

    P13:(The world is designed by a nature that has intelligece and therefore) Nature is intelligent

    C: Therefore, the world or aspects of it are intelligently designed by nature.

    Once you get to this point you need to build a syllogism that proves that intelligence and design requires “a designer.”

    That would be a bit more tricky.

    But the point is that if you can get rid of time- then nature and design become one. Inextricably linked. All you have to do then is say that nature is acting as designer with the cell- as a theory- then prove that design requires a designer and your there.

    Its all just a primative thought.

  148. 148
    kairosfocus says:

    Frosty:

    Your propositions sound rather like those of Plato in his The Laws, Book X. namely:

    Ath. . . . we have . . . lighted on a strange doctrine.
    Cle. What doctrine do you mean?
    Ath. The wisest of all doctrines, in the opinion of many.
    Cle. I wish that you would speak plainer.
    Ath. The doctrine that all things do become, have become, and will become, some by nature, some by art, and some by chance.
    Cle. Is not that true?
    Ath. Well, philosophers are probably right; at any rate we may as well follow in their track, and examine what is the meaning of them and their disciples.
    Cle. By all means.
    Ath. They say that the greatest and fairest things are the work of nature and of chance, the lesser of art, which, receiving from nature the greater and primeval creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser works which are generally termed artificial . . . . . fire and water, and earth and air, all exist by nature and chance . . . The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them . . . After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only . . . . Nearly all of them, my friends, seem to be ignorant of the nature and power of the soul [i.e. mind], especially in what relates to her origin: they do not know that she is among the first of things, and before all bodies, and is the chief author of their changes and transpositions. And if this is true, and if the soul is older than the body, must not the things which are of the soul’s kindred be of necessity prior to those which appertain to the body? . . . . if the soul turn out to be the primeval element, and not fire or air, then in the truest sense and beyond other things the soul may be said to exist by nature; and this would be true if you proved that the soul is older than the body, but not otherwise.

    My own worldview level — as opposed to “scientific” — response is along the lines of the traditional Christian response to platonic forms: The forms of the world are in the mind of God. (Jn 1, Rom 1 and Col 1 as cited above have something to say to that traditional Christian view.)

    Having said that, we should not get too carried away with space-time analogies, as time has “time’s arrow” and thus a unidirectionality: the heat and general energy distribution of the cosmos degrades over time, in accord with the Clausius insight:

    a] Clausius is the founder of the 2nd law, and the first standard example of an isolated system — one that allows neither energy nor matter to flow in or out — is instructive, given the “closed” subsystems [i.e. allowing energy to pass in or out] in it:

    Isol System:

    | | (A, at Thot) –> d’Q, heat –> (B, at T cold) | |

    b] Now, we introduce entropy change dS >/= d’Q/T . . . “Eqn” A.1

    c] So, dSa >/= -d’Q/Th, and dSb >/= +d’Q/Tc, where Th > Tc

    d] That is, for system, dStot >/= dSa + dSb >/= 0, as Th > Tc . . . “Eqn” A.2

    Now of course I go on to make some arguments from that to the point that FSCI reflects a constraining of matter-energy at the micro level that is utterly unexpected on chance + necessity, but the direct point is there: if we consider the cosmos as a whole an isolated system — big if — then its energetic interactions (involving radiation especially at that scale) trend towards irreversible decay. Space simply does not have that sort of property.

    Beyond that I beg to remind you that sets of propositions that are syllogistically linked together have nothing more in the entailed conclusion than was in the start-point [save for the surprise effect of learning/discovering — which may well be non-trivial — what those implications may be].

    So, true claims may be seen as the vital ones. Of these, there are tautological ones, true by definition and agreement on terms in the definitions. There are contingently true propositions that we believe based on credible evidence. And, there are self-evident truths that have an experiential component in them but once we understand our experience we see that to deny their truth is t land in absurdity.

    But in a world in which men are sometimes ignorant and doubtful or deceived and sometimes are guilty of active suppression of unwelcome truth, we are unlikely to be able to get to a conclusion on the issue of design by reference to syllogistic argument.

    The vital issue lies in the foundational propositions and in how we establish them as trustworthy knowledge. And as the recent exchanges with GG show, people can be ignorant of science as a method, or may refuse to accept the deliverances of that method when it cuts across their preferences.

    We have morally tinged intellectual duties regarding knowledge and truth, as Paul underscored 2,000 years ago. Duties that go beyond treating persuasion as a game in which one seeks the advantage of one’s side and agenda.

    It is therefore worth looking at his classic statement of that duty (and I think his usage of the imagery of light and darkness reflects in part the classic parable of the Cave, complete with the bit within the ellipsis on the ‘god’ of this age who blinds men to the truth [i.e it invites a reading in light of the manipulation of the worldviews of the denizens of that cave by hidden agents and actors who enchain the denizens and give them shadow shows for reality]):

    2CO 4:2 . . . we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God . . . 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

    Let us break the chains of oppression, manipulation, deception and ignorance and let us “step into the sunshine . . .”

    GEM of TKI

    PS: I should note that when I once had occasion to teach an intro-level phil course, I began it with the parable of the cave. And, strangely enough at just the right time — it was an evening class — there was a power cut and so the students heard the parable with car headlights casting shadows on the wall just above my head through the open windows!

  149. 149
    DeepDesign says:

    KairoFocus, you keep an eye on ol’ Frosty. He is going places. 🙂

    Seriously, we are already seeing the emergance of the next generation of ID’rs.

  150. 150
    larrynormanfan says:

    kairosfocus — that was a bit rude of me,

    StephenB, I don’t think your position is “rehearsed” — sorry for giving that impression. You’re a pretty sophisticated cat. I was trying to point out that, while GG’s view of ID is at odds with some of ID’s self-descriptions, it is not necessarily wrong or uninformed.

  151. 151
    Frost122585 says:

    Kairos, beautiful post above. Really, I mean that.

  152. 152
    kairosfocus says:

    DD:

    You’re right — spilled bottles of wine notwithstanding!

    Also, at my feet, in the face of one who has already called himself the little KF, I see the NEXT yet generation of design thinkers coming up.

    We are going to win this one.

    LNF:

    Appreciated, and accepted.

    Frosty:

    Thanks. Appreciated.

    Plato and Paul are both awesome thinkers, as is Aristotle! (Let us never forget that all three are great — and too often under-recognised — synthesisers.)

    GEM of TKI

  153. 153
    Frost122585 says:

    Amen.

  154. 154
    StephenB says:

    larrynormanfan: Fair enough.

  155. 155
    jerry says:

    kairosfocus,

    you said,

    “We have morally tinged intellectual duties regarding knowledge and truth…. Duties that go beyond treating persuasion as a game in which one seeks the advantage of one’s side and agenda.”

    and

    “people can be ignorant of science as a method, or may refuse to accept the deliverances of that method when it cuts across their preferences.”

    I believe that this applies to many here who support ID as well as those who oppose ID wholesale or in parts. Many who come here are driven by ideological pre conditions that not allow them to accept the truth or the most reasonable interpretation of the evidence.

  156. 156
    larrynormanfan says:

    jerry, excellent point. I’d even go a bit farther and say that all of us are driven to some extent by such “ideological pre conditions.” Determining “the most reasonable interpretation of the evidence” ain’t easy when standards of reasonableness are part of the debate and when ideology is never absent.

  157. 157
    kairosfocus says:

    Jerry (and LNF):

    First of all, I indeed agree that “Many who come here [to UD] are driven by ideological pre conditions that [do] not allow them to accept the truth or the most reasonable interpretation of the evidence.”

    Sadly, for instance, these words rather neatly describe the sort of selective hyperskepticism and question begging joined to red herrings, straw men and ad homionems that are all too typically found among the more enthusiastic and contentious supporters of evolutionary materialist views in this blog and elsewhere across the internet.

    The issue, then, is not so much whether worldview level pre-commitments exist [a point I have long argued, e.g. cf here on the inextricable intertwining of reason and core beliefs in the deep roots of our worldviews], but whether we can rise above them to become intellectually virtuous in the teeth of what it might cost. For instance, above, I was speaking in the explicit context of the parable of Plato’s Cave, which is about the duty — and potential cost [with the sad fate of Socrates in mind] — of recognising and turning from clever manipulative world-stories to [painfully] discovered truth, in the teeth of powerful institutions and potentially violently oppressive social “consensus” that backs those clever stories. One way to do that, is to keep on asking “why?” while being willing to follow where the answers lead.

    Thirdly, I was alluding in part to the intellectual virtues approach to epistemology. W. Jay Wood aptly summarises:

    Intellectual virtues . . . include character traits such as wisdom, prudence, foresight, understanding, discernment, truthfulness and studiousness, among others. Here too are to be found their opposite vices: folly, obtuseness, gullibility, dishonesty, willful naiveté and vicious curiosity, to name a few. Certain excellences and deficiencies, then, shape our intellectual as well as our moral lives. An epistemology that takes the virtues seriously claims that our ability to lay hold of the truth about important matters turns on more than our IQ or the caliber of school we attend; it also depends on whether we have fostered within ourselves virtuous habits of mind. Our careers as cognitive agents, as persons concerned to lay hold of the truth and pursue other important intellectual goals, will in large measure succeed or fail as we cultivate our intellectual virtues . . . . Careful oversight of our intellectual lives is imperative if we are to think well, and thinking well is an indispensable ingredient in living well . . . only by superintending our cognitive life (the way, for example, we form, defend, maintain, revise, abandon and act on our beliefs about important matters) can we become excellent as thinkers and, ultimately, excellent as persons.

    If we fail to oversee our intellectual life and cultivate virtue, the likely consequences will be a maimed and stunted mind that thwarts our prospects for living a flourishing life. [Epistemology: Becoming Intellectually Virtuous, (Leicester, UK: Apollos/IVP, 1998), pp. 16 – 17 .]

    Perhaps, Paul’s version of this on the cusp of the Neronian persecution will help:

    . . . you must no longer live as the [ethnoi — nations] do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness . . . . For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. [Eph 4:17 – 24, 5:8 – 10.]

    So, the issue is not whether one may be biased by one’s ideology or core worldview beliefs, but whether one is serious about the truth, even in the teeth of what it may cost. And, in our day, plainly, Expelled shows what being serious and honest about the truth on the state of origins science might cost. Especially in a context that is replete with question-begging, historically and philosophically unsound attempted redefinitions to science designed to exclude the possibility of reasonable inference to intelligent action where that is inconvenient for evolutionary materialism, and where those who dare to be different face slander, harassment or outright career destruction. [Think about what that means for someone with a mortgage and a young family to provide for.]

    As to the idea that “standards of reasonableness are part of the debate that last word is telling on the problem there. For, as we may paraphrase Jefferson [who in turn echoed others all the way back to Plato’s Socrates]:

    Debate is that wicked art by which we are able to make the worse appear the better case, being therein aided and abetted by rhetoric, the [too often outright deceptive] art of persuasion — not justification. . .

    Even the most radical relativist heeds the traffic light, looks before crossing the street and jumps out of the way if s/he sees a car careering down the road in their direction. So, the issue is whether one is willing to be consistent and coherent in listening to the quiet counsels of logic, evident fact and reasoned discourse; especially when it may be personally costly to heed them. The further issue is whether in dialogue — note how I have changed the terms — one is willing to be consistent on standards of evidence and warrant.

    Thus, the crucial importance of the issue of selective hyperskepticism.

    I trust that is helpful on the epistemological and cost- of- enlightenment meta issues that lurk on the topic. Can we get back to the topic in the main, while bearing such meta-issues in mind?

    GEM of TKI

  158. 158
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: LNF, this [yrs at 156] may be a good place to begin:

    while GG’s view of ID is at odds with some of ID’s self-descriptions, it is not necessarily wrong or uninformed.

    A good way to do that would be to cogently address 118 – 121 above, for therein may be found a response point by point to his claims, with links that outline the basics of design thinking. I believe that GG’s remarks, as per much of the above, can be shown to be ill-informed, question-begging and strawmannish, starting from his tendency to speak of syllogisms, proofs and assumptions [cf corrections at 142 – 144].

    Let GG now show — if he can — why he thinks his characterisation is justified on the merits, so much so that we may properly discard and dismiss the sort of self-descriptions of ID thought that have been linked and/or described in outline above.

    Or, if you can, show us just how his views are correct and aptly informed, as you seem to have claimed that GG’s remarks have significant merits.

    If the dismissal of the self-descriptions cannot be justified, it would be fair comment to conclude that eh dismissal arguments constitute a strawman fallacy.

    So, to the merits, to the merits we must go.

  159. 159
    gpuccio says:

    Gary and all:

    Just a brief thought about TE and similar critics of ID (including some aspects, only some, of Gary’s points).

    I would like to stress the following:

    1) ID has a whole scientific discourse which, through many arguments, all of them scientific, falsifies all post-darwinian theories which attempt to explain biological information without recurring to the design hypothesis. At least, that’s what we IDists believe. The core of ID arguments is the existence in biological information of a special kind of information (call it CSI, FSI, or else) which cannot be explained in any way by the said theories and which, in our experience, is also present in human designed artifacts, and practically nowhere else.

    2) On the basis of point 1), ID makes the resonable hypothesis of a designer to explain CSI in biological information. If point 1) is true, that is at present the best, and maybe the only, scientific hypothesis to just begin try to explain biological information from a scientific point of biew.

    3) On the basis of point 2), many, but not all, IDists make the philosophical (not scientific) hypothesis that the designer could be a God. They also believe (quite reasonably, I think) that such an hypothesis can be also considered a scientific possibility, although no scientific evidence of that is at present compelling.

    4) TEs affirm that point 3) is wrong. It is important to understand that critics like Heller’s (and in part Gary’s) ae based only on philosophical and theological considerations, and so they only address point 3).

    5) If the assumption in point 4) were true, point 1) and 2) would still be valid (if ID scientific arguments are accepted, as Gary, for instance, does). In other words, let’s admit that TEs are right, and that there are true philosophical reasons to “exclude” (philosophically) that God’s action in the world could be scientifically traceable (I think that’s also Gary’s point, only he does not affirm that as a necessary conclusion, but as an important possibility). Anyway, let’s assume, hypothetically, that point (point 4). What does that mean?

    Only one thing: If point 4) is true, and if points 1) and 2) are both true, the implication is only one: some other designer, and not God, must explain CSI (I am not considering here as scientifically interesting Gary’s hypothesis of “unknown laws” fro the reason, abundantly discussed, that it, while logically impeccable, has scarse scientific appeal).

    In other words, TEs refuse to accept a God-designer as a scientific possibility for the origin of CSI in biological information. So, only two lines of reasoning remain to them:

    a) Another designer, which cannot be a God, designed biological CSI.

    or

    b) All the ID scientific discourse (points 1 and 2) is wrong, and darwinian theories “can” explain biological information.

    Notably, the position of most TEs is b). I have nothing against that, but I have everything against the fact that they derive their refuse of points 1) and 2) not fron scientific reasoning, but from a (flawed) philosophical reasoning which if fully dependent on a lot of religious assumptions which are anything but universal. In other words, TEs are worse that creationists: they derive scientific conclusions from religious assumtions, which, while acceptable as a purely personal belief, is in no way a correct epistemological position.

    In other words, TEs should either accept points 1) and 2), and look for some non God designer, to stay consistent with their religious premise, or actively falsify ID’s scientific arguments (which is what Miller uneffectively attempts to do, but not what Heller and other “religion-based” TEs do).

    I really don’t know what to say about Gary. His point, as he has explained in detail, is not the same as TE. He accepts points 1) and 2), but gives too much importance (IMO) to the generic possibility of “unknown laws” even after we have tried to explain that ID is about scientifically credible theories, and not about all logical possibilities. Moreover, he insists that Heller’s critics of ID, which are essentially of the TE kind, religion based, and completely lacking any scientific substance, are correct. I think he has to decide: either he embraces TE’s views like Heller’s, and then, if he really continues to accept points 1) and 2), should admit aliens or something similar as his favourite model, or he rejects points 1) and 2) (but he has repeatedly said that he accepts them), or he should dissociate himself from Heller and other TEs, and just retain his correct points about ID not being a logical certainty (which, I hope, we all agree with), but certainly a very good scientific scenario (I would say the best).

    Just to be clear, I would some up my arguments in a direct question: Gary, if CSI is in bological information, if known laws and randomness at present can in no way explain it, and if a God cannot be the explanation (I don’t understand why, but let’s pretend it) then:

    How would you try to scientifically explain CSI? What model would you suggest “at present”? (Please, not the “unknown laws”, that’s not a scientifically useful model; you can keep that as a logical window, nobody denies that, but it’s not a scientifically explanatory model).

    Who is the designer of biological CSI “in nature”?

  160. 160
    RichardFry says:

    kairosfocus,
    You appear to be a storehouse of esoteric knowedge!

    Could you inform me as to your opinion regarding what items in the inoverse you would not consider to be designed? I think the inverse case is just as important in this debate as it helps to seperate the debaters and make understanding who is on what side of the fence easier.

  161. 161
    RichardFry says:

    oops!

    inoverse = universe

    in post 166.

  162. 162
    RichardFry says:

    Kairofocus

    So, the issue is not whether one may be biased by one’s ideology or core worldview beliefs, but whether one is serious about the truth, even in the teeth of what it may cost.

    From what I’ve read about expelled it features interviews with scientists who have requested that their identities are disguised. Are you really saying that those scientists are not serious about their beliefs? That they are not serious about the truth? I personally think ID needs people to take a stand and proclaim their alligence. After all, while there any many cases featured in “expelled” there are many people who are still in productive emplyoment with their beliefs about ID right out there in the open (Dr Dembski, Behe etc). So, yes, “coming out” about ID may be harmfull to your prospects but can ID make progress if people don’t take a stand and come out?

  163. 163
    jerry says:

    kairosfocus,

    It is not just evolutionists (I assume you mean Darwinists since ID supports evolution) who have preconditions that do not allow them to accept the truth. There are many who support ID that behave the same way. In fact if someone does not support evolution then they are in the same category.

    It the mechanism for evolution that is under debate, not evolution itself.

  164. 164
    kairosfocus says:

    Mr Fry:

    The inference to design based on the Dembski-style explanatory filter is about signs of intelligence in particular case by case phenomena, not about a grand metaphysical view of the cosmos as a whole that can unambiguously assign all phenomena with great reliability to: chance or necessity or agency.

    [This limitation is generally true of science — science, properly speaking, builds up from individual cases to broader and broader syntheses. For instance, Newton (per the usual suspect story that probably has a germ of truth in it) started with a falling apple and the moon swinging by in the sky, inferred that the same force of gravitation caused both to fall, checked his numbers, then inferred a theory of universal gravitation.]

    The EF addresses sources of contingency in specific observed phenomena, by first recognising that where we see a persistent regularity we look for mechanical necessity. (And natural laws seek to explain by trying to summarise the relevant regulartity, as Newton did.)

    The EF then holds that where we see sufficient complexity [significantly more than about 500- 1000 bits of info storing capacity] and especially functional specification of the particular observed config, the best explanation is design. This criterion is empirically based, and it is credibly reliable when it rules “design” — i.e. there are no observed counter-examples [and billions of supportive ones] where we directly know the source of the observed FSCI. It is also relevant and significant for our broader view of the origins of many key phenomena; because it highlights the several highly important cases where we see FSCI, and know that humans could not have been the designers.

    The price the Dembski-style EF pays, is that it is not just conservative on ruling “design” but quite stringent. That is, where there is not adequate complexity, the filter will not rule design, but will assign the phenomenon as being best explained by chance. For instance it will evaluate THIS TEXT STRING as best explained by chance, as it is too short: 128^16 ~ 5.19 *10^33, well within 500 bits. In short, it is prone to false negatives, as the example just shown illustrates.

    (Oddly enough, the paragraph just above, at 489 characters, is well within the region where the EF will rule design: 2.66 *10^1030 possible ASCII configs.)

    That means that in the context of our discussion here, the EF will reliably rule design, but will often give a false negative, ruling “chance” where we independently know that “design” is correct. (The REAL problem evolutionary materialism enthusiasts have with the EF here is that it rules design in cases where they most emphatically wish that there be no design.)

    Now, using a broader criterion, we can look at the observed cosmos and its underlying physics.

    When we do so, we see some very interesting results as has been mentioned above (and is discussed in brief in my always linked, section D): there are dozens of key parameters in physics that are astonishingly tightly balanced, such that slight tips one way or the other will lead to a radically different cosmos that cannot support life as we know it. I have even taken time to do a bit depth analysis of some of them: in aggregate, there is a LOT of information in these functional parameters. So, the organised complexity of he observed universe leads to the reasonable inference that the physics that underlies the cosmos was likely to have been designed. That would mean that physical reality as we observe it is credibly designed; a view that I happen to accept.

    But that does not remove chance, unpredictability and randomness from that reality.

    Indeed, temperature is a measure of the average random energy per degree of freedom of the particles in bodies at molecular scale — i.e. vibration, rotation, translation. Similarly, set up a factory process to produce say bolts. Tiny variations will inevitably creep in and we see a statistical distribution (often but not always a Gaussian) of the output bolts, the basis for statistical process control and the classic Shewhart quality control chart. The wind tends to obey Weibull distributions — the bane of wind energy advocates. Toss a die and for all the known Newtonian dynamics at work, eight corners and twelve edges conspire to make it a practical, classic case of a random outcome; as are well-shuffled cards. More broadly, if a deterministic system has in it sensitive dependence on initial conditions, we see the now well-known butterfly effect, whereby the actual outcome at any given moment after enough time has passed will be unpredictable, once the most tiny potential variations in initial conditions may occur. In quantum physics, there is reason to believe that many things are truly, truly — not just apparently — random. In short, we see chance and/or random processes and even unpredictability of deterministic processes in both naturally occurring and known designed systems.

    That may not be neat and tidy, nor is it easily pigeon-hole-able, but that is where it seems to me that the best balance of the case is.

    And, it still leaves standing the key material issue: we can discern necessity [low contingency] from highly contingent outcomes, which can be explained by chance and/or intelligence. When we see functionally specified complexity, we have reason to reliably infer to design – but not by itself to the identity or techniques of the designer[s] in question.

    That speaks to certain highly important cases, and that is where we need to focus..

    GEM of TKI

  165. 165
    kairosfocus says:

    Jerry:

    A bit of a correction, if you don’t mind.

    Please read carefully: I spoke specifically to “. . . the more enthusiastic and contentious supporters of evolutionary materialist views”; NOT “evolutionists.” Big difference – i.e. I am not speaking to those who may believe in common descent but rather those who deny that intelligence could have anything to do with origins “from hydrogen to humans” and in certain cases, who have tried to redefine science in a way that question-beggingly builds in their worldview.

    Also, of course evo mat advocates have no monopoly on closed mindedness.

    But, kindly look above: do you see evidence that supports that the design thinkers in this thread are [il-]logically equivalent to he sort of challenges I discussed earlier this morning?

    In particular, I would think that before discussing alleged hidden agendas and logical failings of design thinkers, it would be proper to first address the issues we have raised here on the way the EF in particular works, and also that the way it works is a valid expression of the scientific method, not a matter of question-begging assumptions or attempted syllogistic proofs or proofs in general.

    In short, I think that in the specific context of this thread and its discussion, there is demonstrably no [il-]logical equivalence between the two sides.

    GEM of TKI

  166. 166
    RichardFry says:

    Mr Focus:
    Thank you for the detailed answer.

    However, I would in fact like you to give me an example of an object in the physical world that you would not consider to be designed.

    That is, where there is not adequate complexity, the filter will not rule design, but will assign the phenomenon as being best explained by chance.

    Would a set of repeating text like “THIS TEXT STRING THIS TEXT STRING”, repeated a million times trip the EF as a false negative? I only ask as you appear to be something of a expert user and I’m taking the opportunity to ask a few things I’ve wondered about for some time.

    slight tips one way or the other will lead to a radically different cosmos that cannot support life as we know it.

    Yes but it seems everywhere we look we find life where we would not expect to see it. The inside of nuclear reactor walls do a nice line in some kind of moss I believe, and some bacteria live in cracks in ice. and so forth. If would you agree or disagree with the idea that “slight tips one way or the other will lead to a radically different cosmos that cannot support life exactly as we know it but quite possibly could support something that we would recognise as life nonetheless”.
    I mean, I’m not aware of any research that shows that our universe is the only possible one suitable for life. Sure, it might be hospitable but that does not mean it’s the only possible variation capable of supporting life.

    And anyway, you cannot give me an example of an object that is not designed because everything is designed right mr Focus? If the cosmos is designed and/or the rules that make it so then everything else is also designed. Do you consider yourself to be a TE then Mr Focus?

    In quantum physics, there is reason to believe that many things are truly, truly — not just apparently — random. In short, we see chance and/or random processes and even unpredictability of deterministic processes in both naturally occurring and known designed systems.

    It seems to me this is your escape hatch, if you will. If randomness is possible then you can claim that not everything is designed even in a designed universe right? Even if the laws are desgiend and add up to CSI 500+ bits that leaves room inside for randomness. In fact, I’ve recently been reading that the randomness in quantum systems can be attributed to determinstic causes. Cutting edge research to be sure, and I’ve only read a popular version of it in a science magazine but still I don’t think the case is closed yet on quantum randomness.

    When we see functionally specified complexity, we have reason to reliably infer to design – but not by itself to the identity or techniques of the designer[s] in question.

    When don’t we see functionally specified complexity in the world? I’d just like to get you on the specific apparant contradiction I see here in that if the cosmos is designed how can anything “under” that not be designed?

  167. 167
    gpuccio says:

    RichardFry:

    Excuse me, but I am afraid I don’t understand your points. It should be simple:

    Many things are designed, but do not display CSI. The principle is not that design implies CSI, but that CSI implies (as its best explanation, not logically) design. Simple designs do not reach the level of CSI, and yet they are designed.

    CSI is a property which allows to infer design, because it is a type of functional complexity which cannot, in the real world, be generated by other causal principles (necessity, randomness, or a mixture of the two).

    So, it could be true or not that everything is designed (I have no opinion on that), but still only a subset of observable entities would exhibit CSI, and allow to infer design.

    The question if the universe as a whole exhibits CSI is at the base of the fine tuning argument. I personally believe in the fine tuning argument, but it is important to understand that it is different under many aspects from the biological information argument, and I believe that the second is even stronger.

    Let’s go to your string “THIS TEXT STRING” repeated a million times. First of all, the substring itself, as kairosfocus has said, is not complex enough to be CSI, although it is functional in the context of english language. It is rather complex indeed, as a simple google search would show, and therefore I would not dismiss the design hypothesis so easily, but we have accepted a conventional limit (Dembski’s UPB), and so it will be fair to respect it, although I have always though that it is by far too strict.

    What can we say of the same string repeated many times? It is simple. The global complexity increases with the repetition, but I think there are two important reasons not to considere that situation as CSI, unless further information is available:

    1) The repetition could well be the product of necessity, and therefore we ought to exclude any simple law which can produce the repetition of the originary string.

    2) While the originary string is functionally specified, its multiple repetition is not. In other words, the million times repetition of the string does not seem to have any obvious, specific function in any known context.

    So, we are left with the complexity of the specified substring, which, as already said, does not reach the conventional limit.

  168. 168
    RichardFry says:

    So, it could be true or not that everything is designed (I have no opinion on that), but still only a subset of observable entities would exhibit CSI, and allow to infer design.

    But does that not lead to a contradiction? If as KF says the cosmos is designed, then logically everything in the cosmos is also designed. I realise you are not saying the cosmos is designed.

    In other words, the million times repetition of the string does not seem to have any obvious, specific function in any known context.

    Could it not be argued that a set of digits that on the face of it had no obvious, specific function in any known context might later turn out to be the billionth and 10 digits of pi? And so it would have been wrong tionot consider it as CSI (as if the cosmos is designed so is the value of pi).

    You said

    The question if the universe as a whole exhibits CSI is at the base of the fine tuning argument. I personally believe in the fine tuning argument

    but having just said

    CSI is a property which allows to infer design

    I don’t see how you can also say

  169. 169
    RichardFry says:

    So, it could be true or not that everything is designed (I have no opinion on that), but still only a subset of observable entities would exhibit CSI, and allow to infer design.

    But does that not lead to a contradiction? If as KF says the cosmos is designed, then logically everything in the cosmos is also designed. I realise you are not saying the cosmos is designed.

    In other words, the million times repetition of the string does not seem to have any obvious, specific function in any known context.

    Could it not be argued that a set of digits that on the face of it had no obvious, specific function in any known context might later turn out to be the billionth and 10 digits of pi? And so it would have been wrong tionot consider it as CSI (as if the cosmos is designed so is the value of pi).

    You said

    The question if the universe as a whole exhibits CSI is at the base of the fine tuning argument. I personally believe in the fine tuning argument

    but having just said

    CSI is a property which allows to infer design

    I don’t see how you can also say

    but still only a subset of observable entities would exhibit CSI

    If a thing is designed the things it contains must also be designed!

  170. 170
    RichardFry says:

    double post! Sorry, delete 174 please somebody!

  171. 171
    RichardFry says:

    CSI is a property which allows to infer design, because it is a type of functional complexity which cannot, in the real world, be generated by other causal principles (necessity, randomness, or a mixture of the two).

    You say “in the real world”. What is the non-real world you allude to then? Who lives there? 🙂

  172. 172
    gpuccio says:

    RichardFry:

    It is very easy to address your problems.

    1) You say:

    “If as KF says the cosmos is designed, then logically everything in the cosmos is also designed.”

    Why do you say that? There is no logical necessity of such a proposition. A complex structure can be designed, and yet allow random events, or designed events, in its context. The statement that, if the cosmos is designed, then everything is designed, is true only under a very strict, and completely unwarranted, assumption, that is complete determinism. There are at least two important exceptions to complete determinism:

    a) the random part of Quantum Mechanics (and I do believe QM still has probability at its core, notwithstanding your vague reference in a previous post). And please, notice that smal quantistics oscillation can very well be the base of great, macroscopic differences, especially in chaotic systems.

    b) human actions, for those who believe in free will, that means a very big portion of humanity, and certainly almost all those who believe that the cosmos is designed by a God.

    So, are we all in contradiction? No, very simply we don’t share the blind faith in complete determinism which seems to be the dogma of some.

    2) You say:

    “Could it not be argued that a set of digits that on the face of it had no obvious, specific function in any known context might later turn out to be the billionth and 10 digits of pi? And so it would have been wrong tionot consider it as CSI (as if the cosmos is designed so is the value of pi)”

    Certainly it could be argued. And so? Nobody ever said that design detection cannot have its false positives and its false negatives. All scientifics methods, especially if they include probabilistic considerations, have them. Are you suggesting to dimiss all science?
    In design detection, identifying the functional context is the crucial point. That’s not necessarily easy, but it can be done. Functional specification is alway dependent on a context.In your example, the point is not that pi is designed, but that pi is functionally specified in the context of mathematics. It’s quite different. So yes, you could miss the fact that a particular sequence of digits is part of pi, and so? That would just be a false negative, due to not recognizing a specification which, however, was there. That kind of errors is daily routine in science, and is anyway open to correction.

    3) You say:

    “If a thing is designed the things it contains must also be designed!”

    Again, why in the world? See point 1).

    4) You say:

    “You say “in the real world”. What is the non-real world you allude to then? Who lives there?”.

    I apologize, I was not clear enough. I was not hypothesizing “unreal” worlds. My phrase:

    “CSI is a property which allows to infer design, because it is a type of functional complexity which cannot, in the real world, be generated by other causal principles (necessity, randomness, or a mixture of the two).”

    just meant that CSI cannot happen “empirically” (in the real world), while it is true that it retains a very low “logical” possibility. I specified “in the real world”, meaning “empirically”, “in a scientifically credible or relevant way” because many darwinists stick to the concept that, anyway, CSI “could” happen, because its probability is not zero. That’s the infamous “hand of cards” argument, (ab)used by many relevant darwinists, which shows only epistemological confusion, or simple bad faith. Again (that was also a problem with Gary) I must restate that ID is a scientific empirical model, not a logical theorem of mathematics.

  173. 173
    RichardFry says:

    A complex structure can be designed, and yet allow random events, or designed events, in its context.

    The only example I can think of is a random number generator. Do you have a different example of such a structure?

    No, very simply we don’t share the blind faith in complete determinism which seems to be the dogma of some.

    I think you misunderstand me. Let me give you an example. The laws of physics define the properties of a (for example) given laser beam. Given that combination of factors, the laws of physics and the physical properties of the item generating the beam, would it not be true to say that the beam was designed due to the laws of physics defining it’s behaviour also being designed?

    And so? Nobody ever said that design detection cannot have its false positives and its false negatives.

    From what I’ve read Dr Dembski disagrees with you

    I argue that the Explanatory Filter successfully avoids false positives. Thus whenever the Explanatory Filter attributes design, it does so correctly.

    That’s from ARN.

    the point is not that pi is designed, but that pi is functionally specified in the context of mathematics. It’s quite different.

    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on that. I don’t see a difference between “functionally specified” and “designed” or just plain “set”.

    I must restate that ID is a scientific empirical model, not a logical theorem of mathematics.

    I had not realised ID had progressed so far. Only today I was commenting on the fact that Miss O’Leary did not want it taught in schools. Do you personally ID, now that it has a scientific empirical model is ready for “prime time” and teaching below the university level?

  174. 174
    gpuccio says:

    RichardFry:

    “The only example I can think of is a random number generator. Do you have a different example of such a structure?”

    Random number generators, indeed, are an example of amplification of variable uncertainty, but in essence they are deterministic, as far as I know, and indeed they are “pseudorandom number generators”. Dembski has written about the difficulty of intentionally creating true randomness. But, if a chaotic system amplifies basic quantum uncertainties, the result can be really random (and, indeed, many natural systems could be of that kind, at least in part, including weather).
    Moreover, living beings are typically “far from equilibrium” systems, and nobody has ever demonstrated that strictly deterministic principles rigidly apply to them (although that’s usually ssumed by materialists).
    Moreover, human behaviour and artifacts are, in a classical religious point of view, the product of human free will, and therefore not “designed” a priori in the unverse: that’s a model shared by the majority of humanity, and I am not aware of any scientific confutation of that model, apart from a strict and dogmatic materialism.

    “The laws of physics define the properties of a (for example) given laser beam. Given that combination of factors, the laws of physics and the physical properties of the item generating the beam, would it not be true to say that the beam was designed due to the laws of physics defining it’s behaviour also being designed?”

    No, if the laser beam is generated by a man made machine, it is designed by humans “using” physical laws. Strict physical laws would never have producted it, without human intervention. The same can be said, for instance, of a computer. It was not designed by God, although the laws utilized in it were certainly designed by God (for those who believe that).

    “From what I’ve read Dr Dembski disagrees with you

    “I argue that the Explanatory Filter successfully avoids false positives. Thus whenever the Explanatory Filter attributes design, it does so correctly.””

    First of all I could very well disagree with Dembski on some points: he is not an absolute authority, even if I have the greatest admiration for him. But luckily, this is not the case. First of all, your example was of a false negative, and not of a false positive. And yet, I maintain that false positives can also exist, in theory. What Dembski is saying, IMO, is that, due to the cognitive choices he made for the explanatory filter, and especially the extremely low UPB, upon which is based the rejection of the hypothesis of randomness, false positives are virtually (that is, empirically) negligible, and on that I perfectly agree with him. But false negatives can certainly occur. Indeed, with such strict criteria as the UPB, false negatives are due to occur.

    “I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on that. I don’t see a difference between “functionally specified” and “designed” or just plain “set”.”

    Then you must be the most extreme and dogmatic of IDists! The difference is as follows:

    “Functionally specified” means that an objective observer can detect a function in that information, obviously in some specific context.

    “Designed” means that an intelligent, conscious being designed it, in other words willfully originated the specific order of that information.

    Now, let’s take the first word in your string example, THIS. It is certainly functionally specified in the english language, and yet, because of its low complexity, it is not necessarily designed. Let’s consider the two following examples:

    a) I write here the word THIS. In this case, the word is both functionally specified “and” designed (by me). But still it does not exhibit CSI, because of its low complexity.

    b) You find the string THIS in the context of a mega string of one billion apparently random characters. In that case, the best explanation is a random origin of it. It is therefore both functionally specified “and” random.

    In both cases, the explanatory filter would not define the string as designed, because of the absence of CSI. In the first case, that would be a false negative, in the second case a true negative.

    So, I hope you can see that “functionally specified” and “designed” are not the same thing, at least not certainly in the ID model. If you want to use those words differently, that’s up to you.

    “I had not realised ID had progressed so far. Only today I was commenting on the fact that Miss O’Leary did not want it taught in schools. Do you personally ID, now that it has a scientific empirical model is ready for “prime time” and teaching below the university level?”

    Again, it’s simple. ID should be taught and discussed at the university level, and gain its due place in scientific thought, without persecutions and dogmatic preclusions. Below the university level, people should certainly be taught the “existence” of ID, not necessarily the details of the theory. If and when the detailed theory will be taught at that level depends on the relative role that a free, non dogmatically indoctrinated, scientific community will give to that theory. It is perfectly natural that, below university level, the most “popular” theories be taught in preference of the more controversial, and I would never affirm that, at present, ID is very popular in the scientific community, or that it is not controversial in it. That would be a simple lie.

    But no scientific theory (and ID “is” a scientific theory) should be “hidden”, or falsely described as unscientific, or persecuted, only because the majority of the scientific community does not accept it.

  175. 175
    jerry says:

    RichardFry,

    you said

    “A complex structure can be designed, and yet allow random events, or designed events, in its context.

    The only example I can think of is a random number generator.”

    Did you ever play a pin ball machine?

    There are zillions of designed systems that allow random events within it including DNA and micro evolution.

  176. 176
    jerry says:

    kairosfocus,

    I fail to see when it is right to abhor disingenuous positions by Darwinists and not have the same reaction to pro ID adherents when they too are disingenuous or support non truth. To me there is no difference and both should be objected to.

  177. 177
    ericB says:

    To RichardFry and gpuccio regarding whether pi is designed (as well as functionally specified), it would be appropriate to ask whether the value of pi is necessary.

    Design (as it is used within the context of a warranted inference to the influence of intelligent agency) implies contingency. If something has to be a certain way, we do not consider the inference to intelligent agency/design to be warranted from a scientific perspective.

    From within that perspective, it would be hard to think of anything more necessary than the value of an abstract mathematical constant. Certainly physical constants (and therefore the particular laws of physics) cannot exceed that level and do not seem even to attain it.

    Philosophically, one can speculate about realities that might have been otherwise. Even then, could pi’s value be different? Pi is an abstraction, independent of physical reality. In any case, such speculations are reach beyond science.

    About designed things that include randomness, jerry gave the example of a pin ball machine. For another illustration, consider a snow globe — a transparent globe containing a miniature scene, filled with water and loose white flakes resembling snow. Shake the designed globe and see the random pattern of the falling of the flakes.

  178. 178
    ericB says:

    gpuccio (173): “Let’s go to your string “THIS TEXT STRING” repeated a million times. … What can we say of the same string repeated many times? It is simple. The global complexity increases with the repetition, but …”

    It actually does not increase with repetition so much as one might suppose.

    One way to measure the essential inherent complexity of a string of characters or symbols is to consider the minimum length of the instructions needed to recreate the exact string. For a string that has no pattern or compressible aspects to it (e.g. some random strings), the minimum length may be the original string itself or something close to it.

    In the case of

    “THIS TEXT STRING” repeated a million times

    you see right there that it doesn’t require many characters to fully define the final string.

    This corresponds to your intuitive sense that simple repetition does not imply complexity. In a physical context, the regular repeating alternating patterns of the molecular structure of various materials would be an example that can be explained by chemical necessity. It is not really complex, even if one sees many repetitions of the same necessary pattern.

  179. 179
    Frost122585 says:

    By the way Davescot, I loved your quote at 149,

    “There’s more in heaven and earth, Horatio, than is dreamed of in your philosophy.” – W.Shakespeare

    Sheer novelty by the great one- the wizard of words.

  180. 180
    DaveScot says:

    Frost

    When I took Shakespeare’s Theater in college I thought it was pretty useless beyond filling a humanities requirement. Little did I know how much I’d grow to appreciate Shakespeare’s wit and wisdom over the subsequent decades. Turned out it was the best useless humanity class I was forced to endure.

  181. 181
    Frost122585 says:

    Haha, no doubt. A true genius outside the realms of math and science- which in many respects requires less novel genius because in math you have the blessing of dealing with proofs and truths and can mostly fallow the dots until an interesting question becomes evident.

    In literature you have to reach inside yourself deep for new and novel connections almost all the way through if you want to build a notable legacy or write anything of value. This is why Shakespeare was so great – like Cambrian Explosion his works just appeared on the scene is all their beauty and complexity dwarfing even the other geniuses around him at his time. Still to this day as was started with the insanity of Cantor, people seek to prove that he didn’t write his own plays. How could he? The argument goes, “they were too great!”

    Raised as a catholic some of the mystical elements in Shakespeare- as in Macbeth and in Hamlet when he sees his dead father and the audience is left wondering whether it’s an aberration or an apparition- the imagery of Shakespeare is loaded with significance that seems to incorporate the existential, transcendental, spiritual and earthly- in ways that scientists reach for but can only dream of.

    For example Hamlet’s dialectic is “profoundly profound“- to use the only adequate word twice.

    “What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals—and yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?”

    Written over 400 years ago- can we think of any better way of theatrically describing the significance of the battle between DE Materialism and ID?

    Is man an angel or an ape? Made of dust or of the divine? We all have both possibilities within us- but in which, does the absolute truth reside?

    Only in the character of Don Quixote by “Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra” (that I have read) can Hamlet be matched in its ability to reach for the essence of the human condition. Quixote of course deals with limits nobility and devotion- the other part of man- “the part that hopelessly tries” which stems from faith and belief. If you recall Don chooses to face his own execution over admitting that his love Dulcinea del Toboso “wasn’t the most beautiful woman in the world and in fact wasn’t fairer than even “any” woman. And what makes his choice even more heroic is the fact that the girl never even liked him. His commitment to his dream (while partly insane) frames what is in my opinion true romance which cant be found in any cold calculation of the physical- and of course true romance accompanies true love.

    The loss of the appreciation of true romance and true love is evident everywhere in today’s culture. Divorce rates show this manifestly. People no longer know what love is really about- they think its all fun and games a fact of biological life that they learned about in evolutionary biology or Freudian psychology– “a necessary convenience”.

    I’m not a perfect person – not by far- but when people get up and exchange their vowels at the alter or any other place in life, the “for worse” part means something.

    Quixote does not simply speak about sensual love or romance but commitment to nobility as it stands even in the darkest of moments- A lesson of value that is never more timely.

    Perhaps Darwinists should go back and reread that book and realize that “the trying part of man” “romantic nobility” will never be found within the incomplete, insufficient and un-heroic theory that they foolishly place their devotion. The truth cannot be reduced to dust.

    Fade to black.

  182. 182
    StephenB says:

    —–Jerry: “I fail to see when it is right to abhor disingenuous positions by Darwinists and not have the same reaction to pro ID adherents when they too are disingenuous or support non truth. To me there is no difference and both should be objected to.”

    A few months ago, several anti-ID trolls used this website to do the very thing that you abhor. They made it a point to link ID to Christian salvation, far beyond the point of absurdity. To me, it was obvious that they couldn’t possibly be serious, except as a parody on uneducated Christian fundamentalists. Every time the subject of a design inference came up, they would respond with something like, “yes, and we must use this to save souls.” It was a madhouse, but was also an anomaly. These were not our people; these were anti-ID zealots posing as ID sympathizers. They didn’t last long. Other than that, I haven’t noticed anything like it.

    Nor can I remember observing anyone crying out in protest against RS+NS or advancing mindless fundamentalist positions. If we could ever expect that problem to rear its ugly head, it would have happened when Allen MacNeill was here. As far as I know, it didn’t and hasn’t. I wasn’t as active on those threads as you were, but at those times that I did tune in, I noticed nothing but spirited intellectual dialogue. If mindless fundamentalism had been out in force, I think I would have picked up on it. I just don’t think it is a big problem on this blog. There are about 600 comments on the active record right now. Can you direct me to a single one that offends in ways that you describe? If you can’t find one blatantly fundamentalist comment in 600 opportunities, how serious can the problem be?

    On the other hand, a large number of TE’s visit this blog, and they always attack the ID position. Getawitness, larrynormanfan, digdug, religious prof and many others who hold a position or something like it—all were banned for being hostile or obtuse in some way. I believe that a huge percentage of our critics fall into that camp, maybe even more than half. In this current discussion, for example, we are analyzing the assault from Fr. Heller and other TE like thinkers who have assured us that ID violates the very notion of Divine causality. In other cases, they charge us with confusing design with final causes. This is serious business. Sooner or later we are going to have to face our real enemies, the ones who persecute ID in the name of God. There may be some Christian fundamentalists who make us look bad, but I sure don’t witness them hanging out here. I think you worry far too much about religious ideologues and far too little about theistic evolutionists.

  183. 183
    gpuccio says:

    StephenB:

    “I think you worry far too much about religious ideologues and far too little about theistic evolutionists.”

    I wholeheartedly agree with you. TEs are IMO extremely dangerous, and, as I have said many times, I have no sympathy for their position. That’s not out of mere unfairness. It is due to two important reasons:

    1) TEs, being religious people, contribute to the false notion that the materialistic theories of darwinian evolution are perfectly compatible with religious faith. That’s, IMO, completely false, and contributes to support the false credibility of darwinian evolution even among people who have a general view of reality which is totally incompatible with it, and to give to the general public the false impression that ID is some kind of bizarre and unnecessary religious extremism.

    2)But the real reason why I deeply dislike TE is its internal inconsistency, its very low philosophical credibility, and the complete absence in it of any scientific relevance, and last but not least its cognitive arrogance. In that sense, I respect much more positions like Dawkins’, which at least have some form of internal consistency and of passionate, although dogmatic, conviction. The like of Dawkins can at least be addressed, because they make some arguments, although wrong. See, for instance, Dawkin’s famous “Methinks it’s like a weasel” example, which has become a true triumph for ID. But TEs, very often, cannot even be addressed, so inconsequential are their arguments. What can you say to Heller’s “argument” that ID is resurrecting the manicheistic heresy? I am not available to discuss at that level.

    And yes, darwinists at least usually stay away from this blog, or sometimes come just to provoke and go away, or (rarely) engage in really pleasant and constructive discussion. I think they are welcome in the third case, and they can be tolerated in the second (up to a certain point).

    But TEs seem to come here with a superiority complex, just to tell us: “Dear fellow believers, please recognize that you are confused,and that your pseudoscientific ramblings are not really necessary for your faith”.

    Well, that I can scarsely tolerate. I have never come here to discuss or defend my faith. I have always come here to discuss science, or in some cases philosophy of science, or even more rarely the general implications of scientific theories for vast philosophical or religious problems. So, I am absolutely not interested in faith based arguments of any kind, be they from atheistic faith or any kind of religious faith. Especially when, as is the case of TE, those arguments are completely inconsistent, epistemologically confused, and essentially irrelevant.

  184. 184
    kairosfocus says:

    Participants (and onlookers):

    First, I see that a considerable back-forth has happened on digital strings and how one may assign them to chance, necessity or agency, centred on my example of a functionally specified text string that is not sufficiently complex for the EF to rule “design.”

    I will address this a bit, and other points of interest:

    1] RF, 172: Would a set of repeating text like “THIS TEXT STRING THIS TEXT STRING”, repeated a million times trip the EF as a false negative?

    Such a string is specified [and highly compressible,as EB notes] as to description: “repeat [THIS TEXT STRING] 10^6 times” specifies the algorithm adequately] , but periodic and repetitive, similar to the structure of a crystal. It would most likely be ruled as necessity by the filter, which might again be a false negative [depending on the circumstances].

    This is not surprising, as an agent may imitate necessity. And, by extension, it highlights that the EF is looking for those situations where an agent acts in a characteristic way – generating functionally specified, complex information.

    More broadly, this is actually a reflection of one of the very first examples studied by the very first technical level ID researchers, TBO, in their book, TMLO, as they set out to identify and explain a then emergent concept in OOL studies, complex specified information; which traces to Orgel, 1973. I suggest you read Appendix 3, my always linked [through my name, LH column], to see that discussion in its context. Or, more simply, read Peterson’s basic intro article, which also addresses the case of identifying CSI:

    . . . . suppose my computer keyboard had only one key, and all I could type was:
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
    My computer would be incapable of producing contingency. This is rather like the operation of many physical laws in nature . . . . The sequence of 22 letters:
    KAZDNHF OPZSJHQL ZXFNV
    is complex in a certain sense, because that exact pattern is highly unlikely to be produced by chance . . . The total number of unique sequences of [27] characters that could be produced would be 27 multiplied by itself 22 times, or 27 to the 22nd power . . . If we . . . generate random strings 22 characters long . . . [with] a trillion tries every second, the odds would still be against producing this exact sequence by chance in 20 billion years . . . .

    The third criterion is specification. Here’s another 22-character sequence:
    THE AMERICAN SPECTATOR
    . . . . [which] is complex . . . It is also specified in relation to a pre-existing standard or function; in this case, the rules, spelling, and vocabulary of the English language . . . . In every case in which we know the “causal story” underlying complex specified information (writing a sonnet, creating a computer program, or sculpting Mount Rushmore) we know that it has been produced by an intelligence. [Source: “The Little Engine That Could…Undo Darwinism,” Published 8/5/2005.]

    2] it seems everywhere we look we find life where we would not expect to see it. The inside of nuclear reactor walls do a nice line in some kind of moss I believe, and some bacteria live in cracks in ice. and so forth . . . . I’m not aware of any research that shows that our universe is the only possible one suitable for life.

    I am talking about alternative universes where there would be no atoms, or there would not be the set of atoms required for life as we know it, starting with C, or no stars, or no sun-like [long term, more or less stable, hot enough] stars, or no galaxies, or all stars would be giants that burn out rapidly . . . etc, etc. [Have you read the summary in Section D, the always linked, as I advised?]

    Excerpting an example or two from Craig:

    Changes in the gravitational or electromagnetic forces, for example, by only one part in 10^40 would preclude the existence of stars like our sun, making life impossible. Changes in the speed of the expansion by only one part in a million million when the temperature of the universe was 10^10 degrees would have either resulted in the universe’s recollapse long ago, or precluded galaxies’ condensing, in both cases making life impossible. The present temperature of the universe is so isotropic [uniform] that Roger Penrose of Oxford calculates that “the accuracy of the Creator’s aim,” when he selected this world from the set of physically possible ones, must have been on the order of one part in 10^10(^124). [That is, 1 followed by 10^124 zeros, far more than there are atoms in the observed universe.]

    Leslie adds a significant point, on convergent specifications of the same constants:

    One striking thing about the fine tuning is that a force strength or a particle mass often appears to require accurate tuning for several reasons at once. Look at electromagnetism. Electromagnetism seems to require tuning for there to be any clear-cut distinction between matter and radiation; for stars to burn neither too fast nor too slowly for life’s requirements; for protons to be stable; for complex chemistry to be possible; for chemical changes not to be extremely sluggish; and for carbon synthesis inside stars (carbon being quite probably crucial to life). Universes all obeying the same fundamental laws could still differ in the strengths of their physical forces, as was explained earlier, and random variations in electromagnetism from universe to universe might then ensure that it took on any particular strength sooner or later. Yet how could they possibly account for the fact that the same one strength satisfied many potentially conflicting requirements, each of them a requirement for impressively accurate tuning? [Our Place in the Cosmos, 1998]

    As to the second point, let us now excerpt from from Leslie:

    . . . the need for such explanations does not depend on any estimate of how many universes would be observer-permitting, out of the entire field of possible universes. Claiming that our universe is ‘fine tuned for observers’, we base our claim on how life’s evolution would apparently have been rendered utterly impossible by comparatively minor alterations in physical force strengths, elementary particle masses and so forth. There is no need for us to ask whether very great alterations in these affairs would have rendered it fully possible once more, let alone whether physical worlds conforming to very different laws could have been observer-permitting without being in any way fine tuned. Here it can be useful to think of a fly on a wall, surrounded by an empty region. A bullet hits the fly Two explanations suggest themselves. Perhaps many bullets are hitting the wall or perhaps a marksman fired the bullet. There is no need to ask whether distant areas of the wall, or other quite different walls, are covered with flies so that more or less any bullet striking there would have hit one. The important point is that the local area contains just the one fly.

    If you pardon a procedural note, it would help if you were to do some basic readings and then discuss in light of what has already been put into play.

    3] you cannot give me an example of an object that is not designed because everything is designed right mr Focus? If the cosmos is designed and/or the rules that make it so then everything else is also designed . . . . It seems to me this is your escape hatch, if you will. If randomness is possible then you can claim that not everything is designed even in a designed universe right? Even if the laws are desgiend and add up to CSI 500+ bits that leaves room inside for randomness.

    First of all, I gave a clear way to identify the characteristic behaviour of intelligent agents, one that is empirically tested and shown to be reliable. That is central [even, decisive], and so the onward context of the points raised, in the tone now plainly visible, suggests a “red herring leading out to a strawman to be pummelled” strategy.

    Kindly, note that already I took time to point out that there is reason to believe that the physics of the cosmos is designed, and that this accomodates, chance, randomness and unpredictability [even in the case of determinstic laws, esp. where sensitive dependence on initial conditions obtains], thus also events that are characterised by chance or necessity, not by functionally specified complex information. And, the real issue on the table is whether cell-based life and its key components such as DNA are credibly shaped by chance + necessity only [whatever the underlying context for the origin of the cosmos as a physical entity], or show characteristic signs of design.

    They in fact show signs of design, through FSCI. That is what you need to address on the merits.

    Instead of addressing the central issue, however, you have now chosen to brand the discussion of how chance and related situations may arise in a cosmos that credibly exhibits design in the structure of its physics, “an escape hatch” i.e, you have elected to use emotionally loaded language to try to dismiss it; and that in a context where you have evidently failed to address seriously the central issue. When that is joined to the evidence of want of basic reading on easily accessible matters before firing off further remarks, then that suggests to the onlooker that, sadly, you seem to be more interested in trying to score debate points than in serious dialogue towards discovering the truth on vitally important matters. But then, maybe that is a false impression. [And BTW, if in q-phys there is a deterministic basis for random results, that simply underscores that chance can be a component of a designed cosmos.]

    4] When don’t we see functionally specified complexity in the world? I’d just like to get you on the specific apparant contradiction I see here in that if the cosmos is designed how can anything “under” that not be designed?

    Let’s underscore what is happening here:

    RF: When don’t we see functionally specified complexity in the world?

    GEM: Quite often, as I exemplified in the case of the text string THIS TEXT STRING; as was shown in direct response to a previous question. Similarly, a long random string would not be FSCI: fhwifjshgfhirewgf . . . [Though, in turn, that can be embedded into a yet wider context which is functionally specified and complex, like this paragraph is. Rather like how dice-tossing which results in a practical case of random outcomes (even through the deterministic physics at work) may be a key component of an unquestionably designed game such as Monopoly.]

    Second, as was also previously discussed, there is no contradiction in a designed cosmos that specific phenomena in it are chance-based and not themselves the result of specific designs.

    In short, sadly, we see here insistent – and too often triumphalistic — reiteration of questions that have already been adequately answered. RF, please show us the courtesy of seriously interacting with what has already been put into play.

    [. . . ]

  185. 185
    kairosfocus says:

    5] 174: If as KF says the cosmos is designed, then logically everything in the cosmos is also designed.

    Not at all, as was specifically pointed out and EXEMPLIFIED.

    Designed contexts may in praxis – per design — incorporate chance processes. In the case of the cosmos, the design plainly includes the random thermal agitation we measure when we measure temperature. A monopoly game includes dice-throwing, which for practical purposes is a manifestation of chance within a designed, rule-regulated context.

    In short, the design of the cosmos does not entail that within the cosmos everything is specifically designed in the relevant sense detected by the EF: FSCI. FSCI, when it is observed, is a reliable characteristic of agents making configurations to fulfill purposes. Nothing RF has said undercuts this central pint – though it repeatedly distracts ourt attention from it.

    [Of course, if complex, lawlike necessity is an integral part of the cosmos, that, too may reflect design, especially where there is evident fine-tuning at work, as described already in very brief outline.]

    6] Could it not be argued that a set of digits that on the face of it had no obvious, specific function in any known context might later turn out to be the billionth and 10 digits of pi? And so it would have been wrong tionot consider it as CSI (as if the cosmos is designed so is the value of pi).

    The first point is that this would be anotehr false negative, i.e. This is strictly irrelevant to the material question – identifying cases that may test whether or no the EF gives false positives.

    Secondly, the digits of pi are a matter of mathematical necessity: the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter is a specific, definable deterministic value. It so happens that the resulting number is irrational, in fact more than that, transcendental, as are MOST actual real numbers and so the actual digits do not show any particular pattern that we may discern from scooping out an arbitrary substring, but that is not relevant to the case.

    Third, as has been discussed previously, with examples, the detection of functionality as and instance of specification is prior to the issue of deciding that something is a case of FSCI:

    [1] CONTINGENT AND FUNCTIONALLY SPECIFIED – Y/N?

    [2] If N, then not FSCI. (Probably lawlike necessity, but false negatives are possible.)

    [3] If Y, then functionally specified, so is it complex enough? — Y/N?

    [4] If N, then probably chance [false negatives are possible]

    [5] If Y, then FSCI.

    Once informationally complex functional specification is observed, then that is what needs to be explained. To date, all cases of FSCI where we directly know the cause, are the result of agent action. That is, the EF is on evidence in hand, reliable when it rules design.

    7] 179, Given that combination of factors, the laws of physics and the physical properties of the item generating the beam, would it not be true to say that the beam was designed due to the laws of physics defining it’s behaviour also being designed?

    There are naturally occurring lasers and masers, and for that matter, there were naturally occurring nuclear reactors on earth.

    Further to this, human designed lasers often exhibit spiking behaviour, which reflects underlying random processes of photon generation and encounter with excited atoms in the lasing cavity as photons that happen to be aligned with the end-mirrors travel back and forth — most are not (hence typical low energetic efficiency) — and pull down other photons in coherent lockstep. [This leads to for instance the use of Q-switching to get strong, controlled pulses out of the system.]

    Again, design may lead to or incorporate random behaviour, or may exploit randomness.

    8] EF and false positives:

    The point GP makes, substantially speaking, is that our work is provisional. It is possible in the abstract that the EF may turn out to givber false positives, as any scientific inference may be empirically overturned. It is know that it gives false negatives.

    In praxis, in every test case where we directly know the causal process, the observation that FSCI is present, reliably and accurately rules design.

    But, the underlying point is a statistical one similar tot hat underlying the statistical version of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. For instance, it is logically and physically possible that all the O2 molecules in the room in which you sit could find themselves rushing off to one end, leaving you gasping fro breath and dying as a result. But, the highly mixed configs are so utterly overwhelmingly dominant in the space of all configs, that you are maximally unlikely to observe such on the gamut of the lifetime of the observed cosmos.

    In short, 2 LOT is in principle subject to huge fluctuations, but per probabilistic resources, we are so unlikely to see that happen that we see the law as a highly reliable one.

    The EF and observation of FSCI are similarly probailistic in focus (as I discussed in my always linked section A): it is logically and physically possible that lucky noise has generated e.g. this post, but that outcome is so utterly improbable that we infer on best and reliable explanation to agent action.

    9] Random number generators and free wills:

    The best examples trace to quantum or tehrmally-linkled or similar physical phenomena, e.g. A Zener diode noise source driving an electronic circuit, or Johnson noise in a resistor, or the noise in an antenna and radio picking up the ionosphere’s off-station shortwave RF, etc. All of this is consistent with a cosmos that exhibits underlying design in its physics.

    In short, design, as GP points out, is not determinism.

    Similarly, that there may – on evidence as discussed in brief — be an extracosmic mind that has designed the cosmos does not preclude that there may also be minds within the cosmos that are significantly free to decide, think, reason and communicate. [Indeed, evolutionary materialism and all other worldviews that reduce mind to chance and/or necessity end up in self refutation, as they undermine the freedom of choice and action that underlies real rationality. This includes theological determinisms. Divine sovereignty and foreknowledge are not logically equivalent to, nor do they entail, determinism.]

    GEM of TKI

    PS: It is interesting (though a bit sad) to observe that GG seems to have simply elected to drop out of the discussion instead of addressing the issues raised above. If you are lurking, GG, cou;ld you update us on your response to the above; especially on the questions of proof, syllogisms and assumptions?

    PPS: Jerry at 182 – the material point is that we are discussing in THIS thread, and there is no [il-]logical equivalency here, as can be seen from the above interaction on fallacies. Of course there are closed-minded, ignorant and even wicked ID supporters; as is true of all human movements. But that is not at all the same as the accusation that those who reject the evo mat paradigm are necessarily one or more of: “ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked. “

    PPPS: DS: “Turned out it was the best useless humanity class I was forced to endure. “ Sounds like my long term view of UWI’s old UC 100 — “Useless English” as we used to call it. For, it was not so “useless” at all! [But one hard lesson: it’s “easy” to spot fallacies in Hitler, but when you are caught up in the heat of the moment and the one holding forth on stage is one you look to for hope, that’s another matter! Indeed, on observing communist agitators at work manipulating my university’s student body, I called a meeting with the staff who taught UC 100, to discuss this observed gap and what could be done to improve the critical awareness component. Later on, they split the course into a basic language skills fixup one and a language for academic purposes one, with a pretest to pick which you would do as your first course . . .]

  186. 186
    gpuccio says:

    ericB (# 183 and 184):

    I agree with you, I just need to specify better a couple of points:

    1) About pi, I was not interested in a philosophical discussion about the nature of pi, or of other fundamental constants. I was interested in the meaning of a sequence of digits which corresponded to pi.
    Now, the fact is that pi is an irrational number, and therefore its sequence cannot be compressed (anticipated) in any way. It can, indeed, be calculated, but through complex mathematical algorithms. So, what I am saying is: if we have a complex (long) enough sequence of digits which corresponds to the sequence of pi, and our options are:

    a) it was randomly generated

    b) it was calculated by an intelligent agent

    then the specification of the sequence (it corresponds to a computable mathematical constant) and its complexity would favour option b. Please take notice that we must always exclude necessity, but I believe, although I am not a mathematician, that the sequence of pi cannot be generated by any “natural” (in the sense of not designed) law, and it requires a complex and intelligent computation. Again, I am not interested to any generic discussion, just the problem: we see some information, what can we say about it from the causal point of view?

    2)About complexity and compressibility, you are obviously right, But there is an aspect of the problem of compressibility which deserves further discussion.
    In the general context of CSI compressibility is a kind of specification, because compressible sequences are a minute fraction of the total, and they can easily be recognized, and created, by intelligent agents. For instance, I can easily write a sequence of 1000 repetitions of the “A” character. That string would exhibit CSI, because it is at the same time complex (in its uncompressed form) and specified (by its compressibility).

    But the problem is that compressible information can easily be generated by necessity. For instance, a typewriter with only the “A” character would easily generate such a string, without any need for specific design. That’s why compressible specification is often not included in the concept of functional specification (for instance, by Abel and Trevors). It remains true, anyway, that if we were certain that the string was generated by a perfectly random system, where all the letters in the alphabbet had the same probability to occur, then the above string would exhibit CSI.

    This discussion anyway, while interesting in a general context, is not particularly relevant to biological information, because biological information is practically never of the compressible type. Protein primary structure, for instance, is an example of functional specification which is comletely contingent: there is no mathemathical way of significantly compressing that information.

    In that case, functional specification is the equivalent of some form of pre-specification: only a designer who already knows the sequence, or in alternative has specific and abundant information about the result to be obtained, can implement that CSI. The second alternative is very interesting, because we have good examples of design which intelligently uses some kind of random search to obtain a result in a scenario where the designer knows what to obtain, but not how to obtain it. Those examples are:

    a) Protein engineering by random mutation intentionally applied to a specif subset of intelligently selected precursors, and followed by intelligent selection of the output by measurement of a function intelligently chosen in advance.

    b) Antibody maturation, where an indirect designer (the intelligently designed immune system) intelligently increases the affinity of already existing antibodies to a specific antigen by effecting a specific random hypermutation on the specific sequences of the existing reactive antibodies, and then intelligently selects the output on the basis of its affinity with the stored information of the original antigen.

    So, a designer can act in two different ways:

    a) he can already know the final functional information in advance, and just implement it in a flexible contingent “material”.

    b) he can have specific information and knowledge of what to attain, but not know in detail how to implement it (that’s certainly the case with many human designers!). In that case, he can use various kinds of guided search to reach the final result, including guided searchs which utilize, at some point, a directed random search. But the important point, made very clearly by Dembski and Marks, is that in the second case the guided search has to incorporate a lot of information about the target, to be really successful.

  187. 187
    gpuccio says:

    kairosfocus:

    sorry to have repeated the “AAA” example, I had not yet seen your post…

  188. 188
    jerry says:

    StephenB,

    I could point out several instances but I won’t of people who are here all the time. They are not trolls and I would not be saying what I say if I didn’t see continued instances of it. We have suffered a lot of temporary intrusions of irrational folks who for whatever reasons seem only want to disrupt. I do not mean these people.

    The constant harping against rm + ns is slowly disappearing. Maybe by pointing out the fallacy of opposing it or the better terminology in discussing it has gotten through to some. Maybe by pointing out that a lot of what Darwin and his successors has proposed has merit is also getting through. There are still many irrelevant arguments to evolution that are frequently raised and it should be an objective here of eliminating these too. I have learned a lot since coming here and so have others. This process should not stop. One way of ensuring that is to promote truth.

    I have a question here. Why should anyone object to eliminating untruth by whoever makes it? Why bring up spurious irrelevant arguments?

  189. 189
    gpuccio says:

    jerry:

    With all the possible respect and affection for a regular contributor of this blog as you are, I am not sure I understand what you mean. Who decides what “untruth” is? You? Who decides what arguments sre spurious or irrelevant?

    I confess that I am a little bit worried by your approach. Why do you say that “The constant harping against rm + ns is slowly disappearing.”? I believe that the only reason it can disappear is if everyone agrees on their role, and that’s not even true in the darwinist field, least of all here.

    “Maybe by pointing out the fallacy of opposing it “. Which fallacy? Whatever some can say, RM + NS is still the main “engine of variation” in darwinist theories. We can call it RV + NS, just to emphasize what anybody knows, that random variation is not limited to single point mutations, but has other perfectly equivalent forms, but then? The problem is the same.

    “There are still many irrelevant arguments to evolution that are frequently raised and it should be an objective here of eliminating these too.”

    Very, very worrying statement!

    “I have learned a lot since coming here and so have others. ”

    Good for you, good for them.

    “This process should not stop. One way of ensuring that is to promote truth.”

    Again I don’t understand. Everybody here, if he is in good faith, is trying to “promote truth”. That does not mean that we agree. Again, who decides what truth is? After all, we are talking science here, and not indoctrination,or at least that was my impression. I don’t think there is truth in science, at best a correct attitude of debate, respect and confrontation.

    I can’t see any alternative to an open debate for the big scientific problems we are addressing here. Many darwinist don’t agree with that. They think they can unilaterally decide what is scientific truth and what can or cannot be debated.

    I am sorry, but if that’s what you have been learning, I fell obliged to disagree.

  190. 190
    ericB says:

    to gpuccio (re: 192), I’m sorry. I misunderstood the question about pi.

    Yes, I quite agree that if we see something following the independently specified pattern of a sufficiently long portion of the digits of pi, then (in the absence of any evident constraint to do so) I would agree that could become a legitimate basis for inferring intelligent agency.

  191. 191
    jerry says:

    gpuccio,

    you said

    “Who decides what “untruth” is? You? Who decides what arguments sre spurious or irrelevant?”

    I never said it was I and it would certainly be the last one I would choose. But anyone can point out an untruthful statement if they think it is so. We do that all the time. It then gets discussed or not. I can point out where very relevant statements never get discussed.

    Learning what is not true is an easier process than learning what is true. Essentially it is what we try do all the time. It is not hard to point out spurious arguments most times. Kairosfocus is a one man machine at pointing out spurious and irrelevant arguments. They are so frequently used here. Do you object to him doing so?

    you said

    ” “There are still many irrelevant arguments to evolution that are frequently raised and it should be an objective here of eliminating these too.”

    Very, very worrying statement!”

    Why is it a worrying statement? Based on your reply then any statement by a Darwinist pushing gradual evolution and deep time as the explanation for evolution should be given equal acceptance as any other nonsense statement. The implication by your short comment is that there are no irrelevant comments or that there is someone who determines what is relevant and not relevant.

    So why is it a worrisome statement. It should be one you should embrace.

    you said

    “Everybody here, if he is in good faith, is trying to “promote truth” ”

    Well maybe not everyone here is of good faith or maybe they have agendas or they are just not attentive and say things reflexively. When they make statements that are untrue, then they should be corrected.

    you said

    “I believe that the only reason it can disappear is if everyone agrees on their role, and that’s not even true in the darwinist field, least of all here.”

    Then we should try to correct it here as well with the scientific community if we can. We are trying to promote a correct view of ID and we should also promote a correct view of evolution. Or don’t you believe the two are related?

    I am sorry. I do not agree with you. If a lot of nonsense is allowed to pass unchecked on this site then where else is there that it can be corrected. If the blog of one of the major contributors to Intelligent Design does not care about eliminating untruth, how can we expect any meaningful people to take us seriously.

  192. 192
    StephenB says:

    Jerry: If someone is truly off the wall, they will be probably be challenged. If they are not roundly challenged, then they are probably off the wall.

    Think of it this way. We have a wide variety of opinions here, much like a continuum with extreme positions on both ends. Either position at either end, COULD be right, but probably not. On the one hand, Creation scientists COULD be right, but probably not. On the other hand, pure naturalists could be right, but probably not.

    HOWEVER:
    The Creation scientists are much more likely to be right than the pure naturalists. Much better. If we must abandon most current evidence and choose either [A] God simply stepped in and did it all, even in seven days or [B] Everything created itself (many pure naturalists believe exactly that) then, given only those two choices, [A] is a much better choice. Further, most YEC’s do not take such an extreme position as [A]. On the other hand, most naturalists really do believe in spontaneous generation. That is why we should give YEC’s more slack than we give pure naturalists.

  193. 193
    StephenB says:

    Sorry, my first sentence should read, if they are not roundly challenged, then they are probably NOT off the wall.

  194. 194
    StephenB says:

    I am so embarrassed with my poor editing. The term “much better” should not be there. I promise not to be so careless in the future.

  195. 195
    jerry says:

    StephenB,

    The problem lies in that the evidence supports naturalistic explanations for the appearance for most species while there are relatively few species that the best explanation is intelligent input (any bets this comment gets misinterpreted.)

    So if you are going to err in a direction of giving slack (and I don’t believe in giving any slack to untruth), why err in the direction which has no scientific support.

    As I said I don’t want to give anyone who is wrong any slack. That is how we may get to the truth. But if certain untruths are off limits then we will never get very far.

    Don’t be embarrassed by anything you write. When we write fast and edit on the fly as it is often done here there are plenty of errors. You did not say “more better” which is something I might say.

    Where did spontaneous generation come from? No body believes that any more.

  196. 196
    gpuccio says:

    jerry:

    let’s try to understand each other. If you mean that those who comr here in bad faith, and try only to provoke and disturb, making unsubstantiated claims and not engaging in any serious and sincere discussion, should be in some way controlled, I agree with you. That means trying to control the evident trolls. Any moderated blog does that. It is not always easy, and it is not always a pleasure, but it must be done. Especially on a “minority” blog as this.

    But that is already done here. quite well indeed, sometimes even too vehemently for my taste.

    That would seem the sum of your #197 post, where you respond to me, although it seems quite different from what you were saying in the original post I was addressing. OK. Maybe I misunderstood.

    But then, in your post #201, responding to StephenB, you seem to refer to well different problems:

    “The problem lies in that the evidence supports naturalistic explanations for the appearance for most species while there are relatively few species that the best explanation is intelligent input (any bets this comment gets misinterpreted.)”

    No, I think I can interpret it well, because wehave already discussed that exstensively. In few words, correct me if I am wrong, you believe that most of evolution “at the species level” is easily explained without intelligent input. Well you are welcome to believe so. You know I believe the opposite, and that our beliefs are instead similar at higher tassonominc levels. But I could object to the part that says: “that the evidence supports naturalistic explanations”. You obviously believe that, but I obviously believe that the evidence supports the opposite view. That’s exactly why we have opposite views on that point.

    So, what’s the “truth” about that? There is not a “truth”. Both you and I are aware of what is known, we just interpret it differently. That is called scientific debate.

    You argue that most of the scientific community would agree with you. That’s true, but most of the scientific community would agree that no designer is needed at all, and I have not use for that kind of “agreement”.

    And still I am alittle bit worried, when you say:

    “But if certain untruths are off limits then we will never get very far.”

    Are my scientific opinions in the bunch of “off limit untruths”? Just to know…

  197. 197
    StephenB says:

    —–Jerry: “As I said I don’t want to give anyone who is wrong any slack. That is how we may get to the truth. But if certain untruths are off limits then we will never get very far.

    I completely agree with you on this one. As I have pointed out in the past, people deserve consideration and mercy, but bad ideas deserve no mercy.

    The problem is, however, that we are making inferences to the best explanation and we have to interpret facts. Facts don’t do their own interpreting. So, yes, lets be merciless about facts, but let dialogue about the interpretation. It is very easy for some of us, myself included, to treat our well-thought out opinions to be facts. This, it seems to me, is where the danger lies.

  198. 198
    StephenB says:

    Jerry: By the way, your abbreviated account of the Galileo affair was one of the best I have ever read over the internet. Don’t get discouraged if people pile out, but do take it all in.

    My favorite verse about all this comes from Kipling’s poem “If.” …..”If you can keep your head when all men doubt you, But make allowances for their doubting too”………

  199. 199
    gpuccio says:

    StephenB:

    “So, yes, lets be merciless about facts, but let dialogue about the interpretation. It is very easy for some of us, myself included, to treat our well-thought out opinions to be facts. This, it seems to me, is where the danger lies.”

    I thing that’s exactly the point.

  200. 200
    jerry says:

    gpuccio,

    “Are my scientific opinions in the bunch of “off limit untruths”?”

    No I do not think so. You can certainly believe that species are mostly created. I will continue to fight any such opinion, not because I find them personally objectionable, but I believe that they do not meet with reality.

    I believe there are many instances of ID in the history of life and at times listed several of them. So I accept intelligent input at various different points in time. But I also recognize many of the problems with such a position. There is no trouble free position in this morass.

    My objective is to persuade the average person that Darwinian evolution has several problems and important flaws and thus should be questioned. But that does not mean that much if not most of life cannot be explained by Darwinian processes. My personal belief is that in order to change opinions, then one has to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    Many of these “Darwinian processes” were unknown to Darwin and many of his followers over the next 130 years. The list of processes that affect the offspring of a species grows by the year and is much more than natural selection (or genetic drift and gene flow). But none of these new models of development of an offspring affects more than micro evolution. It is just that natural selection is not the only process that affects adaptation. Allen MacNeill is fond of throwing water on the ID fire by suggesting all sorts of processes but it seems none of what he adds really affects ID at all but expands what is meant by micro evolution and is compatible with ID.

    So I am pushing for what I consider the most reasonable explanation for life’s variety and changes. And I actually believe that micro evolution is fantastic design and should be part of the ID paradigm. But micro evolution does not lead to macro evolution under any scenario ever brought up that has scientific under pinning.

  201. 201
    jerry says:

    StephenB,

    Thank you for the comment about Galileo. Like Darwin, I did not know the truth about this topic until a few years ago.

  202. 202
    jerry says:

    StephenB,

    On Galileo, I learned a lot from other people on this site especially one insightful comment by you on a previous occasion.

  203. 203
    gpuccio says:

    jerry:

    Thank you for the clarification. This way, it’s perfectly OK for me.

    I really would like to engage you more in depth about the “speciation” issue, but really I had not the time to gather enough information, for the moment (I would like to bring the discussion more in technical detail, from a strict ID perspective), So, let’s consider our personal confrontation about that only postpopned…

  204. 204
    StephenB says:

    —–Jerry: “On Galileo, I learned a lot from other people on this site especially one insightful comment by you on a previous occasion.”

    Thanks, I have been edified by many of your posts as well. And I am grateful that you always take time out to clarify your points when guestions arise.

  205. 205
    StephenB says:

    News Flash: Catholic Priest Thomas Dubay is unabashedly ID and has written a book entitled,”The Evidential Power of Beauty.”

  206. 206
    RichardFry says:

    Mr Focus [190]

    It would most likely be ruled as necessity by the filter, which might again be a false negative [depending on the circumstances].

    That’s all very vague. “likely”, “might” “depending on the circumstances”. I mean, everything depends on the corcumstances.

    And, by extension, it highlights that the EF is looking for those situations where an agent acts in a characteristic way – generating functionally specified, complex information.

    How can the EF be used to determine that the cambrian explosion required intelligent design? On another thread to another poster you said ID explains it easily. Could you perhaps expland on that?

    I am talking about alternative universes where there would be no atoms, or there would not be the set of atoms required for life as we know it

    Well.
    A) If, as Miss O’Leary says in her book the mind is a seperate and distinct entity from the brain why would the lack of atoms preclude life (aka minds).
    B) The entire point is that “life as we know it” does not encompass the set of all possible circumstances that can support life. Are you saying there is nothing beyond your imaginaion?

    That is, 1 followed by 10^124 zeros, far more than there are atoms in the observed universe

    Are you claiming that there is only 1 set of constants that can support life then? And you know this how?

    I’m always reminded of the puddle argument here. It’s amazing how exactly this puddle of water fits the ground underneath it. It’s almost as if it was designed specifically for that exact puddle! Look, if we were all sitting round on neutron star like objects in universes where sound went faster then light then people would still say “the accuracy of the Creator’s aim,” when he selected this world from the set of physically possible ones, must have been on the order of one part in 10^10(^124).. And I’m a fan of Penrose by the way.

    If you pardon a procedural note, it would help if you were to do some basic readings and then discuss in light of what has already been put into play.

    Could you give me an example of a non-designed object ?

    you have elected to use emotionally loaded language to try to dismiss it; and that in a context where you have evidently failed to address seriously the central issue.

    Perhaps you could repise it for me? I’m afraid that with the volume of text you are able to summon on demand I’m simply not capable of responding to overlong quotes from professors too.

    First of all, I gave a clear way to identify the characteristic behaviour of intelligent agents, one that is empirically tested and shown to be reliable.

    Do you have a link to a website that shows me all the instances of identification of characteristic behaviour of intelligent agents where such identification was shown to be both reliable and empircally repdocuable?

    They in fact show signs of design, through FSCI. That is what you need to address on the merits.

    And how do I go about that? What units is information measured in?

    it is logically and physically possible that lucky noise has generated e.g. this post, but that outcome is so utterly improbable that we infer on best and reliable explanation to agent action.

    What does lucky noise have to do with anything? If you had a load of lucky noise and a selection filter that pared it down to text as you required, would it be amazing if what you wanted was selected from this “lucky noise?”. What about selection? I think you’ve been watching too many japanese cartoons where things self-assemble from parts and attack!

    Peace

  207. 207
    StephenB says:

    Gpuccio, I couldn’t agree with you more. Straddling the fence between materialist/ Darwinism and Intelligent Design, we find the ever popular, media friendly paragons of schizophrenia—the Christian/Darwinists. Abandoning the law of the excluded middle, they want their God and their Darwin too; but they want a quiet God and a loud Darwin. To believers they say, “Hey, I am a Christian.” leaving the convenient impression they believe in a purposeful, mindful creator. To the academy they say, “Don’t worry, I am first and foremost a Darwinist, so I really believe in a purposeless, mindless process that has no need of a creator. I you don’t believe me, just watch how I slander and smear the ID people.”

    Incredibly, the only thing they are consistent about is their double-mindedness. For them, any pair of contradictory statements can be reconciled. On the one hand, they believe God revealed himself in Scripture; on the other hand, they insist that God hid himself in nature. On the one hand, they reject design inference in principle; on the other hand, they find design inherent in the “evolutionary process.” On the one hand, they renounce the philosophy of metaphysical materialism; on the other hand, they practice it under the aegis of “methodological naturalism.” Be sure of one thing, though. If an atheist arguing for Darwin debates a Christian arguing for design, they will always go with the side that butters their bread.

    Not only does their duplicity betray the public trust, it retards scientific progress.. More to the point, these disingenuous hacks harm the ID movement 100 times more than Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens could ever hope to. There is just enough sugar in their confection to make young Christians swallow the poison whole and join the ranks of the anti-ID militants. Although I am a Catholic Christian myself, I do, nevertheless, find the radical atheist easier to bear. Spare me from the soul selling, split-the-difference, have-it-both-ways Christian.

  208. 208
    ericB says:

    (To garygagliardi too) gpuccio (189) wrote: “But TEs, very often, cannot even be addressed, so inconsequential are their arguments. What can you say to Heller’s “argument” that ID is resurrecting the manicheistic heresy?”

    The burden of showing relevance is upon the TE advocate who claims to offer something relevant.

    That said, those who understand ID may need to help the TE advocate past their misconceptions about ID, assuming they are willing to let go of them. Too often, a TE advocate will come into the discussion supposing that ID’s aim is to make theological claims and attempt to answer theological questions. They don’t realize the extent to which this is fundamentally misguided. Thus, they come bearing “gifts” of alternate answers to theological issues.

    A possibly helpful exercise might be to set out three cases and ask the TE advocate whether what they are saying has any effect on any part of the scientific process.

    Case A: Scientist studying effect X observes that, although unusual or interesting in some ways, the empirical evidence does not convincingly indicate that X is beyond the reach of undirected processes. Outcome: An inference to the influence of intelligent agency is not warranted by the evidence. (This never proves the absence of design. It only means science lacks the warrant to infer intelligent causation.)

    Case B: Scientist studying effect Y finds the empirical evidence persuasive that Y is beyond the reach of the effects of undirected processes. Outcome: An inference to the influence of intelligent agency becomes warranted. Tentatively, intelligent agency is inferred as the best explanation available to science.

    Case C: Scientist studying effect Z also finds the empirical evidence persuasive that Z is beyond the reach of the effects of undirected processes. However, at some later date, science is rocked by revolutionary discoveries that overturn our previous understanding of the reach of undirected processes. Outcome: If and when this happens, with support from empirical evidence available to science, science will make revisions as needed in light of the new relevant empirical evidence, including but not limited to reevaluating the status of earlier inferences to intelligent agency if they are affected by the change.

    If the TE advocate is unable or unwilling to show how any of these cases would be affected, even supposing that their theological claims were true, then they have failed to demonstrate relevance to scientific inferences to intelligent agency.

    garygagliardi, if you see this, I would still welcome your response. As it stands, I am not aware that you ever showed Heller’s points to have any effect whatsoever on ID inferences, such as these cases illustrate.

  209. 209
    kairosfocus says:

    Fellow participants [esp. GG]:

    It is a good sign that this thread continues to be active, as it speaks to several important issues lying at the interface of science, philosophy, worldviews and theology; especially the issue of warrant as a criterion of knowledge. [And EB, you have done an an excellent job in 214 on bringing out the implications of the provisionality of the inference to design as a scientific endeavour that rests on the logic of inference to best explanation.]

    Unfortunately, it also reveals cases where some have not done basic homework.

    On select points:

    1] Jerry, 201: The problem lies in that the evidence supports naturalistic explanations for the appearance for most species while there are relatively few species that the best explanation is intelligent input (any bets this comment gets misinterpreted.)
    First, the definition of species is extremely contentious in biology, and in many cases is probably significantly arbitrary.
    The true issue is not species formation, but the creation of the underlying functionally specified, complex information that is required to form new body plans, e.g. as the Cambrian revolution points to — a challenge that just got bigger with the latest announcements.

    2] SB, 203: we are making inferences to the best explanation and we have to interpret facts. Facts don’t do their own interpreting. So, yes, lets be merciless about facts, but let dialogue about the interpretation. It is very easy for some of us, myself included, to treat our well-thought out opinions to be facts. This, it seems to me, is where the danger lies.

    Key observation.

    3] RF, 212: That’s all very vague. “likely”, “might” “depending on the circumstances”. I mean, everything depends on the corcumstances.

    First, RF, there is an agenda of issues on the table that you need to clearly resolve. Namely, as per corrective remarks at 118 – 121 and 142 – 148, your use of concepts such as proof, syllogisms and assumptions as ways to dismiss the design inference. Are we to take your silence as consent that you were wrong, or are you just shrugging your shoulders and passing on to the “next objection”?

    Now, on the point in question, kindly observe immediate context from 190:

    “repeat [THIS TEXT STRING] 10^6 times” specifies the algorithm adequately] , but periodic and repetitive, similar to the structure of a crystal. It would most likely be ruled as necessity by the filter, which might again be a false negative [depending on the circumstances].

    Here, I simply pointed to a key factor: circumstances are decisive.
    If, e.g., we see an actual coded algorithm that gives the result, the context probably has in it sufficient additional functionally specified complex information that we see that the text string is designed. If on the other hand, we are in a context where something may have gone amok with say an unattended printer overnight, that would be accident driven by chance + necessity. But in either case, “THIS TEXT STRING” is in itself insufficient to be seen by itself as FSCI, and its repetition 10^6 times is a matter of periodic repetition, a pattern reminiscent of law-like necessity, not the aperiodic complexities of functional information. This was actually excerpted on and discussed with reference to the TBO discussion of 1984, two paragraphs below your out-of-context excerpt.

    More to the point, in 191, I actually laid out an algorithm in outline:

    Third, as has been discussed previously, with examples, the detection of functionality as and instance of specification is prior to the issue of deciding that something is a case of FSCI:

    [1] CONTINGENT AND FUNCTIONALLY SPECIFIED – Y/N?
    [2] If N, then not FSCI. (Probably lawlike necessity, but false negatives are possible.)
    [3] If Y, then functionally specified, so is it complex enough? — Y/N?
    [4] If N, then probably chance [false negatives are possible]
    [5] If Y, then FSCI.
    Once informationally complex functional specification is observed, then that is what needs to be explained. To date, all cases of FSCI where we directly know the cause, are the result of agent action. That is, the EF is on evidence in hand, reliable when it rules design.

    In short, your comment smacks uncomfortably of the rhetoric of out-of context citation and sniping at resulting strawmen; rather than a serious engagement with serious and substantial issues.

    4] How can the EF be used to determine that the cambrian explosion required intelligent design? On another thread to another poster you said ID explains it easily. Could you perhaps expland on that?

    This was already done in the always linked, section C, and in other threads; it is also a major element of the 101 level intro to design by Dan Peterson I highlighted above. At more technical level, you may wish to read the Meyer paper on this.

    In a very brief nutshell, and not intended to do your basic homework for you, we are looking at several dozen phyla and subphyla emerging in a narrow window in the fossil record, and a context where 300k – a few million base pairs is a reasonable ballpark for the dna content of unicellular life.

    Comparing with say a typical arthropod, we can see that to get the body plans credibly requires on the order of increments of 100 mn base-pairs in information storage capacity, dozens of times over, and just 100 mn base pairs [200 mn bits of information storage capacity – a measure of information, btw] is a config space of ~ 1.36*10^60,205,999, vastly beyond the UPB. The Cambrian life forms show incremental bio-functionally specified information, and are complex, so arte FSCI, and fall well within the UPB intelligence zone.

    5] The entire point is that “life as we know it” does not encompass the set of all possible circumstances that can support life. Are you saying there is nothing beyond your imaginaion?

    We are specifically discussing an observed cosmos suited to observed, cell based life. The required physics turns out to be exquisitely fine-tuned and manifests functional, organised complexity. So, observing that for instance simply the cumulative bit depth on several of the constants puts us well beyond the UPB, we have excellent reason to infer to design as the best explanation of the observed cosmos.

    In short, you have again resorted to an irrelevancy, and so have pummelled a strawman caricature of the real issue. [FYFI, in Section D the always linked, and as I directed you to examine, I discuss exactly the case of non-cellular life. In short you did not do your homework before attacking.]

    6] Are you claiming that there is only 1 set of constants that can support life then? And you know this how?

    This is inexcusable, as in 190, I actually explicitly cited Leslie — a well known, highly respected figure in this field — on this exact point. Cf, the discussion of “the lone fly on the local section of the wall swatted by a bullet,” GG.

    7] It’s amazing how exactly this puddle of water fits the ground underneath it. It’s almost as if it was designed specifically for that exact puddle!

    The shape of a puddle has little resemblance to the exquisite balance of the physics underlying the observed cosmos, and in particular the clusters of independently convergent values that come together to make our life-facilitating observed cosmos possible.

    Again, you did not address or show evidence of simply seriously reading the actual argument before quote-mining and dismissing it. This lends stronger and stronger support to the inference that this is closed minded objectionism, not a serious addressing of a serious issue, GG.

    This is then underscored by your excuse for not engaging the matter on the merits:

    I’m afraid that with the volume of text you are able to summon on demand I’m simply not capable of responding to overlong quotes from professors too.

    Cho, man, do betta dan dat!

    8] Could you give me an example of a non-designed object ?

    A typical random rock from your backyard or a streambed or a pyroclastic flow or a lahar will do nicely.

    [Did you pause long enough to read 190 -191, points 3 – 9? A designed cosmos can easily have in it many objects and phenomena that are not specifically designed, and the FSCI principle is capable of distinguishing them, e.g. the difference between a spearhead and a random rock.]

    9] Do you have a link to a website that shows me all the instances of identification of characteristic behaviour of intelligent agents where such identification was shown to be both reliable and empircally repdocuable?

    As I have already pointed out in this thread, the entire Internet is a set of examples comprising billions of true positives for the EF. [In the school room, I would maybe say: “Pay attention, you there in the back of the class!”]
    I showed, above, an example of a typical false negative, and an other of a true positive. We have excellent reason –- absent closed minded objecitonism –- to see that the EF is empirically reliable in doing what it was designed to do, detect positive cases of design.

    10] What units is information measured in?

    Have you done basic homework, GG?

    [If you need it, cf Section A the always linked which, inter alia, using standard results, step by step takes you through the quantification of and metrics for information.]

    11] What does lucky noise have to do with anything?

    Much [cf Section A the always linked on this term . . .]: as has been repeatedly put in this threads and elsewhere, kindly identify just one actual empirical case where noise generates functional text beyond the UPB, i.e. 500 bits of information storing capacity.

    12] What about selection? I think you’ve been watching too many japanese cartoons where things self-assemble from parts and attack!

    First, differential reproductive success [in effect, roughly: “survival and overwhelming reproduction of the fittest”] is logically and dynamically irrelevant to the claimed chem evo driven spontaneous origin of life, as may be seen from the discussions in and surrounding Appendix 1 the always linked.

    I refer you onwards to the Shapiro [Sci Am] and Orgel [PLOS] mutually destructive exchange on metabolism first and RNA world models.

    Next, the mechanisms of chance variation and natural selection have to face a basic challenge: NS is a culling filter, i.e the less fit lose in the struggle to survive and reproduce. That is, NS inherently REDUCES diversity of bioinformation.

    So, to explain the SOURCE of such novel bio-information as say encoded in DNA, we must look elsewhere, which brings up an increasing list of chance-based processes. And that runs right into the clash between observed complexity of dna for life function and the UPB.

    GG, right now you don’t come across as a serious participant in a dialogue.

    Please, please, please, do something about that.

    GEM of TKI

  210. 210
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Shapiro and Orgel:

    ______________

    SHAPIRO, in Sci Am: RNA’s building blocks, nucleotides, are complex substances as organic molecules go. They each contain a sugar, a phosphate and one of four nitrogen-containing bases as sub-subunits. Thus, each RNA nucleotide contains 9 or 10 carbon atoms, numerous nitrogen and oxygen atoms and the phosphate group, all connected in a precise three-dimensional pattern. Many alternative ways exist for making those connections, yielding thousands of plausible nucleotides that could readily join in place of the standard ones but that are not represented in RNA. That number is itself dwarfed by the hundreds of thousands to millions of stable organic molecules of similar size that are not nucleotides . . . . The RNA nucleotides are familiar to chemists because of their abundance in life and their resulting commercial availability. In a form of molecular vitalism, some scientists have presumed that nature has an innate tendency to produce life’s building blocks preferentially, rather than the hordes of other molecules that can also be derived from the rules of organic chemistry. This idea drew inspiration from . . . Stanley Miller . . . .

    A careful examination of the results of the analysis of several meteorites led the scientists who conducted the work to a different conclusion: inanimate nature has a bias toward the formation of molecules made of fewer rather than greater numbers of carbon atoms, and thus shows no partiality in favor of creating the building blocks of our kind of life . . . I have observed a similar pattern in the results of many spark discharge experiments . . . . no nucleotides of any kind have been reported as products of spark discharge experiments or in studies of meteorites, nor have the smaller units (nucleosides) that contain a sugar and base but lack the phosphate.

    To rescue the RNA-first concept from this otherwise lethal defect, its advocates have created a discipline called prebiotic synthesis. They have attempted to show that RNA and its components can be prepared in their laboratories in a sequence of carefully controlled reactions, normally carried out in water at temperatures observed on Earth . . . . Unfortunately, neither chemists nor laboratories were present on the early Earth to produce RNA . . . .

    His Punch-line:

    The analogy that comes to mind is that of a golfer, who having played a golf ball through an 18-hole course, then assumed that the ball could also play itself around the course in his absence. He had demonstrated the possibility of the event; it was only necessary to presume that some combination of natural forces (earthquakes, winds, tornadoes and floods, for example) could produce the same result, given enough time. No physical law need be broken for spontaneous RNA formation to happen, but the chances against it are so immense, that the suggestion implies that the non-living world had an innate desire to generate RNA. The majority of origin-of-life scientists who still support the RNA-first theory either accept this concept (implicitly, if not explicitly) or feel that the immensely unfavorable odds were simply overcome by good luck.

    ORGEL’s Rejoinder:

    If complex cycles analogous to metabolic cycles could have operated on the primitive Earth, before the appearance of enzymes or other informational polymers, many of the obstacles to the construction of a plausible scenario for the origin of life would disappear . . . Could a nonenzymatic “metabolic cycle” have made such compounds available in sufficient purity to facilitate the appearance of a replicating informational polymer?

    It must be recognized that assessment of the feasibility of any particular proposed prebiotic cycle must depend on arguments about chemical plausibility, rather than on a decision about logical possibility . . . few would believe that any assembly of minerals on the primitive Earth is likely to have promoted these syntheses in significant yield. Each proposed metabolic cycle, therefore, must be evaluated in terms of the efficiencies and specificities that would be required of its hypothetical catalysts in order for the cycle to persist. Then arguments based on experimental evidence or chemical plausibility can be used to assess the likelihood that a family of catalysts that is adequate for maintaining the cycle could have existed on the primitive Earth . . . .

    Why should one believe that an ensemble of minerals that are capable of catalyzing each of the many steps of [for instance] the reverse citric acid cycle was present anywhere on the primitive Earth [8], or that the cycle mysteriously organized itself topographically on a metal sulfide surface [6]? The lack of a supporting background in chemistry is even more evident in proposals that metabolic cycles can evolve to “life-like” complexity. The most serious challenge to proponents of metabolic cycle theories—the problems presented by the lack of specificity of most nonenzymatic catalysts—has, in general, not been appreciated. If it has, it has been ignored. Theories of the origin of life based on metabolic cycles cannot be justified by the inadequacy of competing theories: they must stand on their own . . . .

    The prebiotic syntheses that have been investigated experimentally almost always lead to the formation of complex mixtures. Proposed polymer replication schemes are unlikely to succeed except with reasonably pure input monomers. No solution of the origin-of-life problem will be possible until the gap between the two kinds of chemistry is closed. Simplification of product mixtures through the self-organization of organic reaction sequences, whether cyclic or not, would help enormously, as would the discovery of very simple replicating polymers. However, solutions offered by supporters of geneticist or metabolist scenarios that are dependent on “if pigs could fly” hypothetical chemistry are unlikely to help.

    _____________

    See why science writer Robinson in PLOS observed:

    . . . there has been relatively little progress in the past half century on how it [life] began—the so-called origin question . . . . finding the answer to the origin question will require not only money but also progress in understanding how the most basic of biological molecules were put together before life began, how they became organized and self-sustaining, and how they developed into the membrane-bound cells that are our ancestors. Scientists have come a long way from the early days of supposing that all this would inevitably arise in the “prebiotic soup” of the ancient oceans; indeed, evidence eventually argued against such a soup, and the concept was largely discarded as the field progressed. But significant problems persist with each of the two competing models that have arisen—usually called “genes first” and “metabolism first”—and neither has emerged as a robust and obvious favorite.

  211. 211
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Dembski and Marks on active information and searches that do significantly better than random walks, is relevant, too, GG. (As my former students used to say” “More work, sir . . .!”]

  212. 212
    RichardFry says:

    Kairosfocus @191

    A monopoly game includes dice-throwing, which for practical purposes is a manifestation of chance within a designed, rule-regulated context.

    And because monopoly is designed and dice are “random” the cosmos is therefore designed? I think not.

    In short, the design of the cosmos does not entail that within the cosmos everything is specifically designed in the relevant sense detected by the EF

    Does it not? On what basis do you make that claim? Quote a sweeping claim no?

    FSCI. FSCI, when it is observed, is a reliable characteristic of agents making configurations to fulfill purposes.

    If I accept that, I’d have to say that it’s “characteristic” of humans. Not “agents”. Give me an example where the EF points to a non-human source of information?

    The first point is that this would be anotehr false negative, i.e. This is strictly irrelevant to the material question – identifying cases that may test whether or no the EF gives false positives.

    Dr Dembski disagrees with you I suspect. I suggest you read some more of his work on false positives and the EF.

    It so happens that the resulting number is irrational, in fact more than that, transcendental, as are MOST actual real numbers and so the actual digits do not show any particular pattern that we may discern from scooping out an arbitrary substring, but that is not relevant to the case.

    and the set of all transcendental numbers is uncountable. And?
    Plus that string must be designed right? Remember Penrose and how unlikely this particular configuration of universe was? What proportion of that complexity was used up in making up pi do you think? Lets say we don’t scoop out an arbitrary substring. Given the free choice, how big a substring would you need to determine if a given string was part of pi? How big before you can discern that pattern? Does the EF do that?…..

    That is, the EF is on evidence in hand, reliable when it rules design.

    Are the rings of Saturn designed according to the EF? Is the moon? Is Pi?

    In praxis, in every test case where we directly know the causal process, the observation that FSCI is present, reliably and accurately rules design.

    Do you have a list of such test cases? Or will you fob me off again with “there are billlions, open your eyes and look”?

    Similarly, that there may – on evidence as discussed in brief — be an extracosmic mind that has designed the cosmos does not preclude that there may also be minds within the cosmos that are significantly free to decide, think, reason and communicate.

    That’s very generous of the extracosmic mind that designed the cosmos. What limits in your opinion has this extracosmic mind placed on humanities ability to decide, think, reason and communication? If they are only significantly free they are not free at all IMHO. Is that how you think about free will? “the extracosmic mind that designed the cosmos has given me significant freedom”.

    Random number generators and free wills:
    The best examples trace to quantum or tehrmally-linkled or similar physical phenomena, e.g. A Zener diode noise source driving an electronic circuit, or Johnson noise in a resistor, or the noise in an antenna and radio picking up the ionosphere’s off-station shortwave RF, etc. All of this is consistent with a cosmos that exhibits underlying design in its physics.

    The relevance?
    “The best examples?” the best examples of what? Did anybody ask for examples of random number generators? You seem to be answering a different post to the one that I wrote.
    @215

    First, RF, there is an agenda of issues on the table that you need to clearly resolve. Namely, as per corrective remarks at 118 – 121 and 142 – 148, your use of concepts such as proof, syllogisms and assumptions as ways to dismiss the design inference. Are we to take your silence as consent that you were wrong, or are you just shrugging your shoulders and passing on to the “next objection”?

    I tell you what. If you can summarise what it is that you want me to answer in less then 100 words then I’ll do my best. However asking people to respond to a dozen odd comments plus the “always linked” and several long quotes on top is kind of like asking me to respond to “War and Peace” Which part do you want a response to?

    So, lets see:
    Post 118: Long comment covering much ground. Can you not summarise relevant points? I believe we can really advance if we do? Contains this “

    I am perfectly satisfied that ID is the best scientific model we have, and would be very happy if even a significant minority of the scientific academy would accept that.


    While we can debate all day about the rigour of the scientific model of ID I doubt that even Dr Dembski would claim it’s the “best” model we have.

    Post 119: Another blockbuster of a post. Contains this

    So, we may reasonably infer to an extracosmic intelligence of vast power who made a cosmos suitable for life, which required exquisite fine-tuning of the physics of the cosmos. The operation of the laws and processes of nature is distinct from the setting up of the same, and in a way that shows that there is complex organisation that points to intelligent action.

    I can see you saying it, but I don’t see you backing it up in any way. How do you know that the laws and processes of nature are distinct from the setting up of the laws and processes?
    Post 120: Contains this, of you

    Since your posts are more accusation and “correction” than discussion anyway, I will try to bear the loss.

    Not sure why you refer me to read that.

    Post 121:

    It is not the medium which matters. What matters is the artificial arrangement, regardless of whether the material of the medium is “natural”.

    Profound. No wonder you wanted me to read that post.

    Post 142 – 148:

    FSCI per scientific method and literally billions of test observations — e.g an Internet full of them — is a reliable empirical sign of intelligence.

    Has the FSCI concept been taken up by the “average scientist in a lab with no particular axe to grind”? If not, why not if there are billions of positive examples? And how do you suggest going about correcting that?

    Post 143:

    Sorry: point no 9 . . .

    Not sure about that one.

    We then identify DNA and the complex organisation of the cosmos as significant cases in point. We then scientifically infer to intelligence as the best explanations of both.

    Can I see the report that you’ve compiled that contains the evidence for that? I’m afraid I doubt Nature will accept papers hosted on Geocitys….

    More generally, we have evidence from ourselves that intelligence is possible in our cosmos.

    Oh? I thought there was a vast brain at the centre of the cosmos allowing us “significant” freedom?

    We observe a case where we obviously were not present to produce it – a complex message that is foundational to life itself, and exists in a cosmos that was carefully and complexly organised in a way that just happens to facilitate such life.

    And again, beings sitting on what we would call red dwarf stars in a universe where sound was faster then light could say exactly the same thing ont the same evidence.

    We can easily show many, many instances where reliably the presence of FSCI points to intelligent agency.

    Go on then. Links please!

    And Genetic algorithms, Dawkins’ “methinks” and the like simply don’t count: they are preloaded with active information and intelligently designed search algorithms

    I can only conclude from that that you don’t actualy know what a Genetic algorithim is. Therefore your sweeping claims about them can be discounted with no further requirement to read any of your other opinions on them. In my humble opinion, of course, infected as I no doubt am with selective hyperskepticism.

  213. 213
    kairosfocus says:

    RF:

    You really need to avoid tilting at strawmen so often . . .

    A quick note or three — or four, to hold you till I get back anon, DV [by which time hopefully you will have read section D my always linked]:

    1 –> For instance, the Monopoly game shows through a concrete example, how a designed context can incorporate chance elements. Thus, it is logically and physically possible for a designed context to embed chance elements. [Cf my remarks on temperature, lasers and spiking emission etc.]

    2 –> In the cosmos, I think a handy rock from your backyard — as I stated above — is an excellent case in point of an object that may well be part of a designed world, but which is not specifically designed; by contrast with, say, finding a clovis point stone spearhead in the same backyard.

    3 –> Now, also, observe, we are able to use human artifacts to test the reliability of the EF and the principle that FSCI is a reliable [which is not the same as an absolute, i.e I am saying that just as it is statistically possible for 2 LOT to be violated, but overwhelmingly improbable on relevant observational scopes, the same holds for FSCI] sign of intelligent agency. You do not come up with a counterexample for an excellent reason – you don’t have one handy, despite an Internet full of darwinista sites. But, the whole Internet is replete with instances where FSCI exists and is known to trace to intelligent agents. [Here’s a deal for ya – show me just one web site where we credibly know the causal story of how its contents arose, and we see that sense-making data arose by chance + necessity only, with no intelligence. JUST ONE.]

    4 –> But also, as long since pointed out, we have no good reason to infer that humans exhaust the set of possible or even actual intelligent agents. So, we have to be open tot he possibility that evidence such as FSCI may point to intelligence in non-human contexts; unless we want to beg the question.

    In short, onlookers, the now habitual resort to strawmen by objectors to the EF-anchored inference to design is telling, very very telling on where the weight of the evidence on the merits lies.

    More anon, DV.

    GEM of TKI

  214. 214
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Wiki on GA’s:

    Genetic algorithms are implemented as a computer simulation in which a population of abstract representations (called chromosomes or the genotype or the genome) of candidate solutions (called individuals, creatures, or phenotypes) to an optimization problem evolves toward better solutions. Traditionally, solutions are represented in binary as strings of 0s and 1s, but other encodings are also possible. The evolution usually starts from a population of randomly generated individuals and happens in generations. In each generation, the fitness of every individual in the population is evaluated, multiple individuals are stochastically selected from the current population (based on their fitness), and modified (recombined and possibly randomly mutated) to form a new population. The new population is then used in the next iteration of the algorithm. Commonly, the algorithm terminates when either a maximum number of generations has been produced, or a satisfactory fitness level has been reached for the population. If the algorithm has terminated due to a maximum number of generations, a satisfactory solution may or may not have been reached . . . .

    A typical genetic algorithm requires two things to be defined:

    1. a genetic representation of the solution domain,
    2. a fitness function to evaluate the solution domain.

    . . . .

    The fitness function is defined over the genetic representation and measures the quality of the represented solution. The fitness function is always problem dependent.

    In short, a specifically targetted search. Bye bye for now.

  215. 215
    RichardFry says:

    You really need to avoid tilting at strawmen so often

    Well, I can only thank you for burning them down so well and persevering with me.

    Monopoly game shows through a concrete example, how a designed context can incorporate chance elements

    I would counter by saying that the entire scene is subject to random effects, including the quantum effects you refered to in a different thread. There is no real difference between the dice and me or the air between the dice and me. What’s not random about that scene? Sure, some things are predictable in the short term. The dice will roll, I won’t float off etc. So it’s just a matter of degree really you see. Not really a designed context including randomness. And so you scale that up to the cosmos too. Why not.

    I think a handy rock from your backyard — as I stated above — is an excellent case in point of an object that may well be part of a designed world, but which is not specifically designed

    Can we run a rock and a Clovis point arrowhead into the EF just for fun?

    I am saying that just as it is statistically possible for 2 LOT to be violated, but overwhelmingly improbable on relevant observational scopes

    Er, care to substantiate that? I might be missing somthing obvious here but I don’t really count all the air rushing to one corner of the room as violating SLOT.

    You do not come up with a counterexample for an excellent reason – you don’t have one handy

    For what? I’m not saying you can’t detect agency at work. I just want to see the EF at work on lots of diffreent things.

    [Here’s a deal for ya – show me just one web site where we credibly know the causal story of how its contents arose, and we see that sense-making data arose by chance + necessity only, with no intelligence. JUST ONE.]

    I asked first ! Dibs! Nimbs! Got your Ribs!:)

    So, we have to be open tot he possibility that evidence such as FSCI may point to intelligence in non-human contexts; unless we want to beg the question.

    Who is not open to that possibility ? That would be great. Super smashing great! I just want to see the mechanism that was used to determine what you are saying used in a number of difference scenarios. I guess there’s plenty of books to read right guys? Ok…

  216. 216
    RichardFry says:

    Yes, of course. But the best solution (or rather best it’s able to find) is not specifically targetted in the way that the example you reference is. The “weasel” GA example is an example used only as a pedagogical device. There is no “target phrase” like “WEASEL” in real GA’s, unless you count high level descriptions such as “maximise the radio frequency X pickup” as specifically targetted. Of course, in a way it is “specifically targetted” but in the same way that saying “America will go to the moon” is the same level of specification as “the documentation for the project that took man to the moon” To conflate the two and write off GA’s is mistake as you appear to be doing. I think. Industry thinks so too.

    The fitness function is always problem dependent.

    What problem is WEASEL solving KF?

  217. 217
    kairosfocus says:

    Mr Fry (and onlookers . . .)

    Let us now follow up on several points overnight (while waiting on GG to come back . . .):

    1] RF, 218: On what basis do you make that claim? [Namely, that: “the design of the cosmos does not entail that within the cosmos everything is specifically designed in the relevant sense detected by the EF “] Quote a sweeping claim no?

    First step, I used the case of Monopoly to show that in a known designed context, one may have chance-based features and processes. So, the logical and physical possibility exists, per concrete example.

    Second, we observe that the cosmos, per fine-tuning, may be designed; and, in that context that we have a lot of evidence to support the reliability of the inference from FSCI to intelligent action as its cause. Further to this, we have no good reason to infer that humans exhaust the set of possible or existing intelligent agents, or that other agents would not manifest FSCI as ONE sign of intelligent action. [This takes in your immediately following point on trying to confine inferences from FSCI to human agents only.]

    Indeed, just the opposite obtains: intelligent agents use insight and imagination to creatively configure elements to achieve entities and processes that work to achieve goals. FSCI is a manifestation of that configuration, where relatively rare and specified configs show up in config spaces that are sufficiently vast that relevant probabilistic resources for chance-based searches would be exhausted.

    Next, we observe actual cases: a common, garden variety rock is credibly a product of chance + necessity, but say a Clovis point spearhead is not. And, the evident functionality, characteristic stylistic features and vast array of alternative configs for a rock show that the Clovis point exhibits FSCI and is designed. [In fact it is used as a diagnostic of certain ancient cultures in the Americas.]

    2] false positives and the EF

    In principle, any statistical test is capable of false negatives and false positives. The EF is designed to be reliable in cases where it rules “design,” and cheerfully pays the price of false negatives. On observation, it is indeed reliable. [Onlookers, notice how, for all the objections above, those who do not like where the EF points have been unable to provide a credible instance of a false positive. No prizes for guessing why.]

    3] Plus that string [scooped out digits from pi] must be designed right? . . . What proportion of that complexity [in making up the observed cosmos] was used up in making up pi do you think? Lets say we don’t scoop out an arbitrary substring. Given the free choice, how big a substring would you need to determine if a given string was part of pi?

    First, pi is the name of a basic ratio: circumference to diameter of a circle. Once circles can exist, pi, as a ratio, in principle exists, by necessity. That means that your question is tantamount to asking what sort of cosmos allows circles to exist; to which the answer is, physical or abstract ones that allow spaces that can host planes and conic sections. This is not a matter at stake in the discussion of fine-tuning of physical parameters. That is, this is a red herring.

    More to the point [and as someone else pointed out], would be an object that accurately emits, without evident constraint, say in classic 8421 BCD code, decimal digits of pi in sequence; as recognised; NB: for ASCII, we would simply prefix 011 to each 4-bit cluster. Such an entity would be producing functionally specified, complex information, and we would be justified in inferring that its behaviour reflects intelligence.

    Thirdly, you will note that I have highlighted “as recognised,” just above. This is to point out that we begin the inquiry into FSCI when we have first noticed that something is behaving in a functionally specified manner. That is, we are not creating a universal decoder algorithm that is instantly capable of recognising any and all functional strings of information, but we start from the recognition that we have evident functionality in a context of complexity here. In short, the question about substrings to recognise pi is irrelevant to the central question; misidentifying emitted digits of pi as random digits — the highly contingent situation already rules out mechanical necessity as the dominant causal factor — is a false negative and we have cheerfully accepted that possibility.

    Finally, I just gave a note of interest on the structure of the Reals (whereby irrationals dominate rationals, and transcendentals dominate all – indeed, grant just one transcendental (say pi or e), then process it by applying all the rationals through say multiplication and division operations. Just one transcendental would then propagate to exceed the rationals!). Teacher’s habit.

    4] Are the rings of Saturn designed according to the EF? Is the moon? Is Pi?

    First of all, we do not need to address all and every possible entity in the cosmos through the EF to see if it works, even reliably. Indeed, since we are finite and fallible, we cannot. The basic scientific method therefore uses the principle of induction to infer from demonstrated reliability of a scientific principle, to provisional universal applicability.

    So, proposing arbitrary cases where we were not present to test does not undermine the basic point: we have tested the EF and it is reliable. Also, observe that in two of the three cases,you are not actually addressing functionally specified complex INFORMATION stored in configurations of objects (cf DNA); but rather instances of complexity.

    In the cases, for which we do not have independent observation of the actual causal process, we may reason as follows:

    [a] rings: i.e rocks orbiting in the general plane of Saturn’s moons [and with gaps swept by said moons]. Necessity and chance evidently dominate. [Are there any features of these rings that exhibit functionality dependent on a specified information-bearing configuration?]

    [b] Moon: a more or less spherical satellite of earth [or the smaller planet of a double planet system, depending on your view], which in many features reflects chance + necessity. However, certain features of where our moon is and how it functions in the earth-moon system to facilitate life as we know it (and even scientific investigation, e.g. through solar eclipses . . .) may reflect design, as say Gonzalez argues.

    [c] pi: the existence of pi was already addressed — necessity once we have a space in which planes and conical sections are possible.

    5] Do you have a list of such test cases [of the EF’s success] ? Or will you fob me off again with “there are billlions, open your eyes and look”?

    This is rather unfair.

    I have pointed out how, for instance, the Internet constitutes a typical illustration, comprising billions of known instances of FSCI, all of which are known to trace to intelligent action. The libraries of the world constitute similar cases, as do the records of organisations etc etc. I then asked you to put forth a single credible counter-instance, in light of the issue of probabilistic resource exhaustion ion attempted use of random walk based searches to find islands of FSCI. You have been obviously unable to provide such, so you now wish to dismiss the test cases with loaded language.

    That’s not cricket, sir. And, you know it or should know it.

    6] What limits in your opinion has this extracosmic mind placed on humanities ability to decide, think, reason and communication? If they are only significantly free they are not free at all IMHO. Is that how you think about free will? “the extracosmic mind that designed the cosmos has given me significant freedom”.

    First, this is now worldviews comparisons, not science. I therefore speak from a general theistic context, at worldviews level.

    On that premise, I observe that we live in a world in which necessity constrains our freedom of action, but is also a premise for decision making. IF ACTIONS DID NOT HAVE RELIABLY PREDICTABLE CONSEQUENCES IN GENERAL, WE COULD NOT MAKE RATIONAL DECISIONS OR ACTIONS.

    Think about a world in which, for instance, thrown objects did not follow reasonably predictable ballistic paths, and more generally we see no reliable regularities: chaos. The same extends to the intellectual sphere – think of a world [if you could] in which there was no distinction between symbols: confusion in one word. Also, think of a world in which there were no reliable principles of actions and consequences so that one could not discern what does harm from what does good: chaos, again, in one word.

    So, freedom is in the contexts of constraints of necessity, logical, intellectual, moral. And it is significant. Howbeit, we are plainly finite, limited in capacity to act, and fallible [though some would argue that we too often reject what we should trust to be wise counsel, which would save us from much grief].

    In such a world, a creature with a mind of his/her own can be significantly free, but is also morally responsible.

    [ . . . ]

  218. 218
    kairosfocus says:

    7] [Zener and Johnson noise are] the best examples of what? Did anybody ask for examples of random number generators?

    Perhaps, I should have phrased my head a bit better.

    Recall my contrast of rocks and spearheads. I was then giving examples of chance objects in a credibly designed world.

    Namely, 191:

    . . . design, as GP points out, is not determinism.
    Similarly, that there may – on evidence as discussed in brief — be an extracosmic mind that has designed the cosmos does not preclude that there may also be minds within the cosmos that are significantly free to decide, think, reason and communicate. [Indeed, evolutionary materialism and all other worldviews that reduce mind to chance and/or necessity end up in self refutation, as they undermine the freedom of choice and action that underlies real rationality. This includes theological determinisms. Divine sovereignty and foreknowledge are not logically equivalent to, nor do they entail, determinism.]

    In giving the examples of Zener noise and Johnson noise, I pointed to thermally linked chance processes and phenomena that are real-world, and commonly encountered in electronics systems; they are not just a matter of random number generators. Spiking in lasers is an instance of a chance process similarly tied to the micro-scale chance processes in our world. For that matter, many transistors take advantage of diffusion, yet another thermally linked chance process. And more,. Much more.

    That is, I have here provided further concrete examples of chance objects and processes in a credibly designed world; indeed, cases commonly found in KNOWN designed objects. So, I have shown by example.

    8] A corrective:

    Sorry, RF, I made correctives to GG on his use of terms like “proof,” “syllogism,” and “assumptions.”

    9] While we can debate all day about the rigour of the scientific model of ID I doubt that even Dr Dembski would claim it’s the “best” model we have.

    Here, GP in 118 made some observations on ID in its context, and again mostly to GG. In that context, he said “ID is the best scientific model we have” in a very particular context, i.e accounting for FSCI.

    And, he is manifestly right, and notes in the context that this is – as all serious scientific inferences are – provisional.

    10] I can see you saying it [i.e arguing to the credibility of an extrracosmic intelligence as cause of our observed cosmos; per implications of fine-tuned complex organisation of the physics of the cosmos], but I don’t see you backing it up in any way.

    You plainly did not read the context:

    you need to look at the signs of intelligence principle again, and look at he underlying complex organisation of the cosmos — does this show intelligent action? It seems so, for many reasons as discussed in brief in my always linked section D. So, we may reasonably infer to an extracosmic intelligence of vast power who made a cosmos suitable for life, which required exquisite fine-tuning of the physics of the cosmos. The operation of the laws and processes of nature is distinct from the setting up of the same, and in a way that shows that there is complex organisation that points to intelligent action.

    In short, kindly go to the LH column, click on my handle and follow the in-page link after the synopsis to read section D. This link is ALWAYS there in any comment I make in this blog.

    11] Has the FSCI concept been taken up by the “average scientist in a lab with no particular axe to grind”? If not, why not if there are billions of positive examples?

    First, your average scientist in fact routinely uses and accepts the implications of FSCI, in day to day life and in science. (The exchange in another current thread that highlights how a medical illustrator, acting in defense of the evolutionary materialist paradigm, uses the EF to infer to design – per specification [similarity] + complexity [many other ways to come up with a solution that is not such a close match] in explaining the similarity between an animation in EXPELLED and a Harvard animation, is illuminating. Similarly, when PZM claims that “copied errors” show that the EXPELED video is derivative from the harvard one, shows that he knows that specification + complexity –> design.)

    Think about, e.g. how control and treatment experiments are designed, executed and analysed; and on how we distinguish random errors and erratic ones or biases imposed by experiment techniques or personal equations etc. For that matter, look at how classical inferential statistics works.

    The problem is not with the recognition, credibility and use of the EF per se. Not at all. Rather, it is that in certain key cases it points to design that would not sit well with the evolutionary materialist paradigm. And, there is routine resort to naked force and the rhetoric of distraction and polarisation to try to suppress that.

    As to the billions of instances, I have long since pointed to an Internet full of them. Hundreds of TV and radio channels are similar cases in point, sustained for the bast 100 or so years for Radio, and 60 years for TV.

    To correct that, we need to expose the inconsistency and address the abuse of force and persuasion techniques, not to mention the abuse of the power of educators. That has been the answer ever since the days of the parable of Plato’s cave. [You’ll love the video version just linked; just take due note of its own ideological agendas.]

    12] Can I see the report that you’ve compiled that contains the evidence for that? I’m afraid I doubt Nature will accept papers hosted on Geocitys….

    Why not look at he collection of peer reviewed and peer-edited [remember the way say Annalen der Physik was managed circa 1905 . . . the year in which four papers, each worth a Nobel were published by a certain 3rd class Patents Clerk] works listed here, instead? [Then, think about the sort of games that go on in a Plato’s Cave institutional culture. Or, just go watch the Machine video, if you won’t be seeing Expelled in a week or so . . .]

    In short, i am pointing out that relevant technical materials exist, and that the naked appeal to authority in the context of an oppressive institutional situation simply underscores that no authority is better than its facts, assumptions and logic. So, kindly address the issue on the merits – and if my always ANGELFIRE [Thank you CMU!] page is nonsense, that should be easy enough to show . . . so why is it that you are making such heavy weather of it? [BTW, I simply have no interest in trying to publish anything in Nature or the like – they have been long since weighed in the balance and found sadly wanting.]

    [ . . . ]

  219. 219
    kairosfocus says:

    13] 221: Can we run a rock and a Clovis point arrowhead into the EF just for fun?

    Done, cf point 1, no 223 above.

    14] I might be missing something obvious here but I don’t really count all the air rushing to one corner of the room as violating SLOT.

    I am of course speaking of the classic form of 2 LOT.

    If all the O2 molecules in a room were to rush to one end, diffusion would be undone, and a counterexample to that classical form would be instantiated: entropy would spontaneously, quite appreciably fall. {I think the new edn of Kittel’s Thermal Physics has an analysis of this case.] Similarly, if the air in a [suitably sealed] room wee to rush to one end, that would be an instance of “free contraction” — as opposed to free expansion. The STATISTICAL analysis shows that at room scale we would reliably not expect to see such instances [on maximal improbability], but it is not absolutely ruled out per logic and physics of molecules freely rushing about.

    15] I’m not saying you can’t detect agency at work. I just want to see the EF at work on lots of diffreent things.

    I have repeatedly given you an Internet full of instances of FSCI originating by known intelligent action. So, you give me a case in point of a web site with 500 – 1,00 or more bits of functionally specified complex information that credibly has originated by chance + necessity only, i.e “lucky noise.”

    16] Who is not open to that possibility [i.e that “evidence such as FSCI may point to intelligence in non-human contexts”]?

    Sadly, a lot of people.

    That is why I argued in 219 that: [PREMISE} we have no good reason to infer that humans exhaust the set of possible or even actual intelligent agents. So, [CONCLUSION} we have to be open to the possibility that evidence such as FSCI may point to intelligence in non-human contexts; [FALLACIOUS REJECTION} unless we want to beg the question.

    17] The “weasel” GA example is an example used only as a pedagogical device. There is no “target phrase” like “WEASEL” in real GA’s, unless you count high level descriptions such as “maximise the radio frequency X pickup” as specifically targetted.

    But of course, that is exactly a target [BTW, the actual exact case I had in mind . . . GA’s for Antenna design, thanks to a logn ago article now in good old Wireless World by which I first saw GA’s in action, in my long time favourite technical mag], and one incrementally approached through artificial – not natural – selection! [BTW, the use of AS as a stand-in for NS has been going on since Darwin.]

    18] What problem is WEASEL solving KF?

    At technical level: using initially random text strings to change them through artificial selection dependent on Hamming Distance to target, into the target.

    At rhetorical level: making CV + NS appear as a plausible – as opposed to well-warranted — source of functional DNA variation.

    Cf Marks and Dembski:

    As an example, consider finding the following phrase taken from Shakespeare’s Hamlet [23]. ME*THINKS*IT*IS*LIKE*A*WEASEL (3) Using an alphabet of N = 27 characters (26 letters and a space), the probability of choosing these L = 29 specific characters in a single query is p = N¡L = 27¡29 = 3:0935 £ 10¡42:

    To increase this probability, Dawkins [8] uses a partitioned search [23] for the phrase by randomly choosing letters and, if there is a match, keeping the letter. For example, if the first set of randomly chosen letters has an M in the first position and an L in the last, our search for the letters in these positions is finished. These letters are kept as is, and the search continues only for the letters not yet successfully identified . . . .

    If there are Q = NL = 3:2326 £ 1041 queries, then to an excellent approximation1 pw = 1 ¡ e¡1 = 0:6321, whereas solving for Q in (4) gives the same probability of success after only Q = 110 queries when pps = 0:6321: For this probability, the ratio of the Q’s reveals the random search is 2.9387£1041 per cent worse than partitioned search. Partitioned search contributes an enormous amount of information . . . . The random queries probability in (5) is small and therefore corresponds to a large amount of information. For a fixed Q, the partitioned search is more probable and therefore has less information. The difference in these values is the active information, in bits, front loaded in the partitioned search. the weasel phrase in (5), the deterministic approach provides log2(43=26)=29 =0.0250 more bits of active information per query.

    See what I mean?

    GEM of TKI

  220. 220
    RichardFry says:

    KF:

    At rhetorical level: making CV + NS appear as a plausible – as opposed to well-warranted — source of functional DNA variation.

    I’ll addres your other points shortly.
    With regard to the above you are simply wrong. It appears your education in this regard is faulty. WEASEL is not trying to make CV+NS appear as a plausible source of functional DNA variation.

    Kairos, have you even read the book in which it appears? Like I said in my first post WEASEL is simply a toy example used to explain the basic concepts of a GA. It does not need, nor require, nor is it appropriate for Dr Dembski et al to apply such a rigoirous mathmatical examination of such a trivial toy example. It’s the equivilent of writing off an entire culture because their “learn to read” books for children are of little literary worth.

    But of course, that is exactly a target

    But as onlookers can themselves note, “flying to the moon” and “the technicial documentation that allows flight to the moon” are two different things altogether. One is simply a string representing an aim “flying to the moon” and the other represents the accumilated knowledge of hundreds of engineers and scientists. It appears that KF thinks that an instruction to “write a bestselling book” and “the contents of a best selling book” are the same thing.
    Onlookers please note how Kairos has not addressed this simple distinction. KF appears to think the two things are equal because they are both “targets”

    So KF, I simply don’t see how you can say that a GA that finds a target that is known in advance such as WEASEL is equivilent to a GA that finds a target that is not known in any detail in advance, but where parameters are set that define sucess. WEASEL “sneaks” in information, the target phrase is known in advance before the program is even run. Normal GA’s work somewhat differently and if you knew that then you are wrong to conflate the two.

    At rhetorical level: making CV + NS appear as a plausible – as opposed to well-warranted — source of functional DNA variation.

    please provide a page reference so I can check this claim that you say Dawkins is making.

  221. 221
    kairosfocus says:

    RF:

    Please.

    I am speaking in the global context of Mr Dawkins’ work. The work of a man who in effect argues that those who reject the evo mat version of the Darwinian paradigm are “ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked.”

    Weasel was an early attempt, done with BASIC and PASCAL. Here is how Wiki excerpts — do a Google etc search — Dawkins, from Ch 3 of Blind Watchmaker [1986]:

    I don’t know who it was first pointed out that, given enough time, a monkey bashing away at random on a typewriter could produce all the works of Shakespeare. The operative phrase is, of course, given enough time. Let us limit the task facing our monkey somewhat. Suppose that he has to produce, not the complete works of Shakespeare but just the short sentence ‘Methinks it is like a weasel’, and we shall make it relatively easy by giving him a typewriter with a restricted keyboard, one with just the 26 (capital) letters, and a space bar. How long will he take to write this one little sentence? . . . .

    We again use our computer monkey, but with a crucial difference in its program. It again begins by choosing a random sequence of 28 letters, just as before … it duplicates it repeatedly, but with a certain chance of random error – ‘mutation’ – in the copying. The computer examines the mutant nonsense phrases, the ‘progeny’ of the original phrase, and chooses the one which, however slightly, most resembles the target phrase, METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL . . . . What matters is the difference between the time taken by cumulative selection, and the time which the same computer, working flat out at the same rate, would take to reach the target phrase if it were forced to use the other procedure of single-step selection: about a million million million million million years. This is more than a million million million times as long as the universe has so far existed . . . .

    The human eye has an active role to play in the story. It is the selecting agent. It surveys the litter of progeny and chooses one for breeding. …Our model, in other words, is strictly a model of artificial selection, not natural selection. The criterion for ‘success’ is not the direct criterion of survival, as it is in true natural selection. In true natural selection, if a body has what it takes to survive, its genes automatically survive because they are inside it. So the genes that survive tend to be, automatically, those genes that confer on bodies the qualities that assist them to survive.

    Now, how was this example used?

    1 –> It presented itself as a simplification of the million monkeys typing out Shakespeare example [Huxley wasn’t it or someone like that], without drawing out the significant difference between a corpus of millions of words and less than a dozen: COMPLEXITY, including the complexity of the “simplest” unicellular life forms and the increment in complexity to get to the body plan divergence that the Cambrian fossils show us.

    2 –> Also, the traditional monkeys example was notoriously in the context of creation of biologically FUNCTIONAL information by chance; showing that complex information could be produced by a random walk. [The traditional illustration — per its rhetorical purpose — never got around to the issue of the unlikelihood of success of random walks in vast search spaces, though . . .]. And, e.g. Wiki’s dismissive reference to saltationism vs cumulative change does not address cogently the implications of the sort of credible scale of increments in information we are dealing with – e.g. Unicellular to arthropod would require something like 100 mn+ base prs, or ~ 200 mn bits. [At ~ 4.75 bits per letter, then 7 letters per avg word, that is about 42 mn letters or 6 mn words, or at 600 words per page, about 10,000 pages. A good slice of Shakespeare’s corpus I’d say!]

    3 –> WEASEL proceeds to use an instance of artificial selection as as substitute for cumulative natural selection [just as Darwin did in Origin], producing sense out of nonsense, tada, like “magic.” [And, AS is of course DESIGN!]

    4 –> Dawkins then infers — noting en passant but not highlighting the telling implications of the crucial difference — onward to NS: In true natural selection, if a body has what it takes to survive, its genes automatically survive because they are inside it. So the genes that survive tend to be, automatically, those genes that confer on bodies the qualities that assist them to survive. [BTW, Darwin did essentially the same thing in Origin when he used AS as evidence supportive to NS.]

    5 –> Now, let’s ask: where do these novel genes come from?

    6 –> D’uH: Genes, presumably — per NDT type models — are the product of chance variations? BINGO!

    Thus, we see the rhetorical function and context clearly enough.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Marks and Dembski bring the analysis up to date in the two already linked papers on active information and search algors, here and here.

  222. 222
    RichardFry says:

    Well, my comments are no longer appearing so I guess you “win” by default.

  223. 223
    RichardFry says:

    Oh, it only appears to be on a per thread basis. Then we’ll continue.

  224. 224
    RichardFry says:

    KF, before I decide how to respond could you confirm if you’ve read the book or not? If not, then I’ll only reference wiki articles, as you have done.

  225. 225
    kairosfocus says:

    FYI RF:

    At this stage, after hours of interaction over the past few days, sorry to say — but I think it is necessary to move back to substance [and the forest, not just one after another of real or imagined fly specks on the pine needles on the trees . . .] — you are beginning to remind me of the saying about “straining at gnats . . .”

    Since you asked: I dipped into the book way back when it came out. Was not impressed then, and put my time to better use. [That was a time when I typically was reading 4 – 6 serious books at a time in addition to my studies. I didn’t have time to waste on what did not impress me as real substance, on a READAK-trained speed preread. (This and this are somewhat developed forms of things I originally wrote at about that time, on relevant topics. I think it will show how I was thinking and dialoguing with serious people.)]

    If you pardon some direct remarks, what you need to do is to resist the temptation to go off on yet another tangential red herring, but instead speak cogently to the issue in the main on the merits.

    The Wiki excerpts are enough for that, on this sub-point of a sub-point of a sub-point.

    GEM of TKI

  226. 226
    ericB says:

    RichardFry (226): “Like I said in my first post WEASEL is simply a toy example used to explain the basic concepts of a GA. It does not need, nor require, nor is it appropriate for Dr Dembski et al to apply such a rigoirous mathmatical examination of such a trivial toy example. It’s the equivilent of writing off an entire culture because their “learn to read” books for children are of little literary worth.”

    I agree that your general point here is fine, i.e. it would be inappropriate to treat a toy example as though it represented the full potential.

    On the other hand, even a toy example would still be legitimately an appropriate example. Even a “learn to read” book still rises to the level of a book legitimately containing meaningful language, albeit simplified.

    Dawkins’ WEASEL fails to rise to the level of a legitimate toy example. It is a smoke-and-mirrors illusion appearing as though it were at least a toy example. A stage magician’s trick is a trick, not a toy example of supernatural magic, but some will be taken in nonetheless.

    What it does illustrate, however, is that the ability of computer software to accomplish a task need not represent or demonstrate how biology actually works — even if we attach words like “genetic” or “evolutionary” to the algorithms. Consequently, the fundamental problem is not that it is “simple” or “toy” but that it is “not like biology” regarding the key questions.

    One of the fundamental dissimilarities of computer software, including genetic/evolutionary algorithms, is that the authors can build in knowledge and a sense of target that real world biology would have no access to. In WEASEL, storing and comparing against a target is the obvious departure. In other software, the same unrepresentative advantage can be built in.

    When genetic/evolutionary software is developed, the developers define in advance the model of the solution space they will explore. This is necessary because they must anticipate and insure that

    a) as new solutions are generated, they must fall within the defined solution space they have modeled, and

    b) the fitness function must be able to evaluate any solution so generated.

    Consequently, there cannot be any solution that is not within the predetermined solution space of the model, and the process is simply a way of searching that large solution space for solutions that optimize the predefined function, i.e. finding the peaks in the landscape defined by their chosen function.

    Undirected processes are inherently unable to invent symbolic representation and encode information into it. Dawkins’ non-example is inappropriate hand waving not only because the program stored a target string, but also more fundamentally because it could sense relative “nearness” to meaningful text even when the strings were still gibberish. It is the insight from the special information that gave it a slope that it could climb.

    In software, developers can build that kind of inside knowledge into the fitness function. The developer knows what s/he is looking for and tailors accordingly. In that artificial world, the preservation of closeness to desired future function need not have any demonstrable significance in the intermediate steps. A future goal is being pursued.

    This is exactly what Dawkins’ non-example does. It does not preserve blindly according to present value considerations only. One gibberish is just as much gibberish as another. Rather, it uses secret knowledge to preserve progress beneficial to a future function, i.e. becoming a meaningful English sentence.

    In the real world, the Blind Watchmaker cannot do this. Dawkins’ non-example fails, even as an toy example. It is less than a toy. It is a special effects image illustrating what Dawkins would like us to believe about the Great and Powerful Blind Watchmaker of Oz. Meanwhile, Dawkins is the man behind the curtain, operating the controls of the illusion (until someone pulls away the curtain).

  227. 227
    RichardFry says:

    KF:

    I dipped into the book way back when it came out.

    Yet you are happy to claim things about WEASEL without having read teh book but insist that people go and read your “always linked” at every opportunity. Whatever.

    EricB:

    The developer knows what s/he is looking for and tailors accordingly.

    Eric, you are obviously an expert in this field. I expect you see yourself as the person “pulling away the curtain”. I’ll leave you to it then rather then attempt to make you face facts. However, all I would say in response to this

    When genetic/evolutionary software is developed, the developers define in advance the model of the solution space they will explore.

    Is that when you write a book the “solution space” you explore is constructed from only 26 letters and a space. Presumably you would also count this as cheating.

  228. 228
    kairosfocus says:

    RF (and Eric and onlookers . . .):

    First, Eric, thanks for a substantial, well-informed response on a point. The contrast with the last from RF is telling.

    Given the rhetorical tactic of dismissal used just above, let us first follow an exchange:

    1] Exchange on sources and substance . . .

    Let us follow the record, which will plainly show who is “fac[ing] facts” on the merits, and just who is consistently dodging them:

    GEM, 119 [to GG]: you also raise the claim that “God” created the world and his intelligent action is therefore foundational to nature and cannot be distinguished from it.
    Sorry; you need to look at the signs of intelligence principle again, and look at he underlying complex organisation of the cosmos — does this show intelligent action?
    It seems so, for many reasons as discussed in brief in my always linked section D. So, we may reasonably infer to an extracosmic intelligence of vast power who made a cosmos suitable for life, which required exquisite fine-tuning of the physics of the cosmos. The operation of the laws and processes of nature is distinct from the setting up of the same, and in a way that shows that there is complex organisation that points to intelligent action.

    RF, 218: I can see you saying it, but I don’t see you backing it up in any way. How do you know that the laws and processes of nature are distinct from the setting up of the laws and processes?

    GEM, 224: You plainly did not read the context . . . “does this show intelligent action? It seems so, for many reasons as discussed in brief in my always linked section D . . . . In short, kindly go to the LH column, click on my handle and follow the in-page link after the synopsis to read section D. ”

    RF, 226: Kairos, have you even read the book in which it [Dawkins’ Weasel] appears?

    GEM, 227: I excerpted the relevant text, courtesy Wiki, Dawkins’ presentation and context for WEASEL, and made a few remarks on it.

    RF, 230: before I decide how to respond could you confirm if you’ve read the book or not? If not, then I’ll only reference wiki articles, as you have done.

    GEM, 231: Since you asked: I dipped into the book way back when it came out. Was not impressed then, and put my time to better use . . . I didn’t have time to waste on what did not impress me as real substance, on a READAK-trained speed preread . . . .

    If you pardon some direct remarks, what you need to do is to resist the temptation to go off on yet another tangential red herring, but instead speak cogently to the issue in the main on the merits.
    The Wiki excerpts are enough for that, on this sub-point of a sub-point of a sub-point.

    RF, 233: you are happy to claim things about WEASEL without having read teh book but insist that people go and read your “always linked” at every opportunity . . .

    It should be obvious that I called attention to the Section D the always linked, to point to where a short but substantial summary of the cosmological inference to design is worked out. RF plainly has been unable to answer cogently on the merits so he has diverted to red herring after red herring.

    In particular, he has tried to use the fact that I pre-read instead of reading the Dawkins book to say in effect, that he does not need to read the substantiating information on a different point where he accused me of simply asserting without substance, and where I proceeded to point him to the fact that right from the beginning I had highlifhted just where the details were to be found.

    2] The Weasel . . .

    Worse, courtesy Wiki I ACTUALLY PRESENTED THE WEASEL CASE AS DAWKINS DEVELOPED IT IN 1986.

    Thus, I showed, from Dawkins himself, that Weasel is of course a specifically targetted Hamming distance based search in a constrained finite domain that deliberately cuts down from the scale of config space that a more realistic model of the genome would require. (Notice how I showed above that the Cambrian life revolution would require searching out bio-functionality through a digital config space comparable to creating the worlks of Shakespeare.)

    And, in context [both of the book as a whole, as its very title — The BLIND Watchmaker (i.e. by contrast with Paley’s inference to design from sumbling over a watch as opposed to a stone in a field) –specified, and in that of Mr Dawkins’ wider career and arguments], it was used rhetorically (NOT “educationally”) to try to persuade the reader that chance variations plus natural selection can be used to create functionally specific complex information.

    To do that, it cut down the search space unrealistically, used a purposeful target and substituted artificial for natural selection. In short, it set up a strawman – RF’s “toy example” is in fact a backhanded acknowledgement of this that refuses to face the implications.

    3] Genetic Algors:

    Here, from p. 3 of a current online textbook, is a summary of the underlying basic GA:

    1: Randomly create an initial population of programs from the available primitives (more on this in Section 2.2).
    2: repeat
    3: Execute each program and ascertain its fitness.
    4: Select one or two program(s) from the population with a probability
    based on fitness to participate in genetic operations (Section 2.3).
    5: Create new individual program(s) by applying genetic operations with specified probabilities (Section 2.4).
    6: until an acceptable solution is found or some other stopping condition is met (e.g., a maximum number of generations is reached).
    7: return the best-so-far individual.

    MATLAB, discussing its GA toolbox, comments:

    The genetic algorithm solves optimization problems by mimicking the principles of biological evolution, repeatedly modifying a population of individual points using rules modeled on gene combinations in biological reproduction. Due to its random nature, the genetic algorithm improves your chances of finding a global solution.

    In short, we see exactly what EB pointed out:

    a –> In praxis — as opposed to how the general context is presented to the public [and the naive technical practitioner] — a finite and conveniently scaled [digital] search/performance space is set up, a criterion of fitness [performance metric] towards optimisation [resource constrained search for maximum desired performance relative to some objective function] is set up.

    b –> random initial points in a space known to be near to the desired performance are sampled [e.g. we do not start with random individual atoms floating dispersed in a fluid to search for a high-performance antenna, or of course — per my version of Hoyle’s well-known 747 scenario at point 6, app 1 the always linked (which is in fact such an “evolutionary search” — and with a simpler case than an organism) — to get to a flyable jet plane] and tested for fitness relative to the known desired performance objective [i.e. We have to have a criterion of performacne to assess which is better and which worse]

    c –> a process of iterative culling and “interbreeding” is used to try to find an optimum or at least good performance in a finite number of steps.

    d –> This is of course targetted search through intelligently designed artificial selection that exploits active information to get search process gains over a pure random walk.

    e –> However, it is then presented as a model of how biological [including of course body-plan origination level macro-]evolution works [without adequately dealing with the search space and complexity issues, and the absence of intelligent direction in the usual model of such evolution].

    4] On writing books and programs:

    RF makes an inadvertently deeply revealing comment to EB:

    all I would say in response to this:

    [cites EB] When genetic/evolutionary software is developed, the developers define in advance the model of the solution space they will explore.
    [Comments] Is that when you write a book the “solution space” you explore is constructed from only 26 letters and a space. Presumably you would also count this as cheating.

    A book, of course, is openly intelligently designed, using a 128-state digital element as its base unit, the alphanumeric charactern [it is a lot more than 26 letters and a space!]. Authors are intelligent, and use insight, knowledge and imagination to construct intelligent communications. We do not write books by the million monkeys banging away at keyboards method! For excellent reason.

    GA’s by contrast, are too often presented as if they were models of evolution by chance variation and undirected, non-purposive natural selection. Indeed, at the same site that led me to the book I cited, I have seen an attempted rebuttal by an academic practitioner, on the NFL-active information critique, that argues:

    If blind optimization is as inadequate as NFLers insist, how did nature evolve the incredible complexity surrounding us? And if genetic algorithms and genetic programming are so weird, how come these procedures are regularly infringing on patents of human inventors and creating new patentable gizmos?

    In effect, this begs the question. For, first, GA’s are precisely NOT a blind search, but a set up intelligently designed search in a selected, constrained target zone with preset criteria of performance. And, to assert that NS — notice the omission of the chance variation and config space issues — has shown that blind optimisation can do wonders, simply begs an even bigger set of questions, starting from OOL and OO body plan level biodiversity in the face of the known organised, massively and tightly integrated functional complexity of DNA, the cell, tissues, organs and body plans.

    Both are intelligently designed, and in fact exemplify how FSCI comes about reliably by intelligent agency. One is openly acknowledged to be such: the author’s name usually goes right on the cover. The other too often tries to have its cake and eat it too: putting out the notion that somehow an artificially constrained search across a finite and controllable domain that was selected for likelihood of success, is a good model of OOL and OO body plan level biodiver4sity by a claimed, unintelligent, none foresighted, non purposeful process..

    That’s giving us a nine for a six, RF.

    GEM of TKI

  229. 229
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Eric this analysis is so good I want to scoop it out and highlight it:

    _____________

    . . . [What the WEASEL example illustrates is that] the ability of computer software to accomplish a task need not represent or demonstrate how biology actually works — even if we attach words like “genetic” or “evolutionary” to the algorithms. Consequently, the fundamental problem is not that it is “simple” or “toy” but that it is “not like biology” regarding the key questions.

    One of the fundamental dissimilarities of computer software, including genetic/evolutionary algorithms, is that the authors can build in knowledge and a sense of target that real world biology would have no access to. In WEASEL, storing and comparing against a target is the obvious departure. In other software, the same unrepresentative advantage can be built in.

    When genetic/evolutionary software is developed, the developers define in advance the model of the solution space they will explore. This is necessary because they must anticipate and insure that

    a) as new solutions are generated, they must fall within the defined solution space they have modeled, and

    b) the fitness function must be able to evaluate any solution so generated.

    Consequently, there cannot be any solution that is not within the predetermined solution space of the model, and the process is simply a way of searching that large solution space for solutions that optimize the predefined function, i.e. finding the peaks in the landscape defined by their chosen function.

    Undirected processes are inherently unable to invent symbolic representation and encode information into it. [Here we see that, per reliable (and even routine) observation, it is intelligent agents who originate and use symbolic codes to arrive at functionally specified, complex information] Dawkins’ non-example is inappropriate hand waving not only because the program stored a target string, but also more fundamentally because it could sense relative “nearness” to meaningful text even when the strings were still gibberish. It is the insight from the special information that gave it a slope that it could climb. [In short, active information from the programmer came in the back door of the algorithm; and the issue of required functionality at every stage of a system that has to live [function] and reproduce (at least potentially) while it evolves was dodged. In WEASEL, this is tantamount to specifying that unless the string at each stage is a viable sentence, it cannot go forward, regardless of nearness to the target . . . which would at once make WEASEL fail to get off the ground.]

    In software, developers can build that kind of inside knowledge into the fitness function. The developer knows what s/he is looking for and tailors accordingly. In that artificial world, the preservation of closeness to desired future function need not have any demonstrable significance in the intermediate steps. A future goal is being pursued.

    This is exactly what Dawkins’ non-example does. It does not preserve blindly according to present value considerations only. One gibberish is just as much gibberish as another. Rather, it uses secret knowledge to preserve progress beneficial to a future function, i.e. becoming a meaningful English sentence.

    In the real world, the Blind Watchmaker cannot do this.

    _________________

    So, it looks like there are a few facts to face here, RF. [And BTW, what about the substantial matters above . . . ?]

  230. 230
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: This is also useful, from the GA warehouse’s tutorial:

    Genetic algorithms are one of the best ways to solve a problem for which little is known. They are a very general algorithm and so will work well in any search space. All you need to know is what you need the solution to be able to do well [TRANS: optimisable objective — i.e. target performance — function], and a genetic algorithm will be able to create a high quality solution. Genetic algorithms use the principles of selection and evolution [NOT CV + NS!] to produce several solutions to a given problem.

    Genetic algorithms tend to thrive in an environment in which there is a very large set of candidate solutions and in which the search space is uneven and has many hills and valleys. True, genetic algorithms will do well in any environment, but they will be greatly outclassed by more situation specific algorithms in the simpler search spaces . . .

    In short, intelligently designed, targetted, hill-climbing searches across a defined, feasibly [finite and small enough] config space.

  231. 231
    tribune7 says:

    Is that when you write a book the “solution space” you explore is constructed from only 26 letters and a space. Presumably you would also count this as cheating.

    Richard are you implying that books are written via random mutations and natural selection?

  232. 232
    ericB says:

    RichardFry (233): “Eric, you are obviously an expert in this field. I expect you see yourself as the person “pulling away the curtain”. I’ll leave you to it then rather then attempt to make you face facts.”

    Please know that I am interested in your input. If there are facts that you feel I am not facing, I do want to better understand what you are specifically alluding to. Your contributions have value in the exchange from different perspectives. I’m listening.

    RichardFry (233): “However, all I would say in response to this

    [When genetic/evolutionary software is developed, the developers define in advance the model of the solution space they will explore.]

    Is that when you write a book the “solution space” you explore is constructed from only 26 letters and a space. Presumably you would also count this as cheating.”

    If I miss part of your point here, please correct me. I will try to address what I would count as “cheating”.

    The case of meaningful text is actually a very good example of what is fundamentally misleading about supposed illustrations such as WEASEL or others like it.

    When we look at the example, we easily forget that as readers we are supplying the ability to translate. However, translation of symbols to their meaning is always via a non-essential convention. We can see that, for example, when we find words that mean different things in different languages, or when we consider that different languages express the same meaning differently, each by their own conventions.

    When we think of a blind process shuffling symbols, it is easy for us to forget that without an established translation convention, they would not be symbols and they would have no symbolic meaning at all.

    Consequently, any blind process of shuffling markers without knowing a translation convention is inherently doomed. It cannot ever possibly assess “nearness” to meaning because those markers have no meaning.

    That is why the dependence of life upon symbolic information is the doom for explaining life entirely through Blind Watchmaker processes, regardless of how broad that category is.

    Now if Dawkins were writing a book about understanding computer search strategies, then the WEASEL example might have legitimately served some purposes related to the topic of the book.

    However, I understand The Blind Watchmaker to be about Blind Watchmaker processes related to biology, showing us how these could potentially accomplish the design we thought required a seeing watchmaker. The whole point of the term “blind” is to deny any claim of using foresight.

    In this context, to provide a supposedly supporting “illustration” or “example” that relies on foresight programmed in by an intelligent designer, one who supplies the understanding of English language implicitly though the program itself does not understand English, this is a clear cut example of cheating. It is a deceptively misleading illustration that smuggles in the very sort of quality that Dawkins claims the Blind Watchmaker can manage without. It runs contrary to the core premise of the book.

  233. 233
    kairosfocus says:

    Eric:

    Excellent again. I especially liked:

    When we think of a blind process shuffling symbols, it is easy for us to forget that without an established translation convention, they would not be symbols and they would have no symbolic meaning at all.

    Consequently, any blind process of shuffling markers without knowing a translation convention is inherently doomed. It cannot ever possibly assess “nearness” to meaning because those markers have no meaning.

    That is why the dependence of life upon symbolic information is the doom for explaining life entirely through Blind Watchmaker processes, regardless of how broad that category is . . . .

    The whole point of the term “blind” [in the title of The Blind Watchmaker] is to deny any claim of using foresight.

    In this context, to provide a supposedly supporting “illustration” or “example” that relies on foresight programmed in by an intelligent designer, one who supplies the understanding of English language implicitly though the program itself does not understand English, this is a clear cut example of cheating. It is a deceptively misleading illustration that smuggles in the very sort of quality that Dawkins claims the Blind Watchmaker can manage without. It runs contrary to the core premise of the book.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: that the solution space for standard English text is based on a 128-state digital element [the 7-bit acii alphanumeric character] is a basis for constructing a vast config space when we write a book, say of 10^6 characters [~ 9.32 *10^2,107,209 cells]. Then, when we see that through intelligence we have targetted the tiny fraction of possible configs of such a large set of elements that makes sense in English, we see the power of insightful, conceptual intelligence, over the million monkeys banging away at keyboards at random.

  234. 234
    RichardFry says:

    Karios

    we see the power of insightful, conceptual intelligence, over the million monkeys banging away at keyboards at random.

    As you continue to conflate randomness with the workings of GA’s it’s pointless to continue talking to you. You obviously only have a superficial understanding of the subject as shown by your preference to quote others rather then submit your own opinions on the matter.

    What do random keypresses have to do with the subject at hand? Where is selection here? You are trying to lead the onlookers down a rabbit hole!

    Eric

    Consequently, any blind process of shuffling markers without knowing a translation convention is inherently doomed. It cannot ever possibly assess “nearness” to meaning because those markers have no meaning.

    Eric, thank you for keeping close to the topic at hand. If we put WEASEL to the side for a moment, what do you think in biological evolution the terms “nearness” and “markers” have as analogues? After all the toy example WEASEL appears now to be used to prove that evolution cannot generate new information, somehow, without it being “sneaked in”. So, as WEASEL is being conflated with actual biological evolution I’d like to know what “nearness” and “markers” mean in biological terms.

    Plus in biological terms, is there any meaning in the “markers”? Perumably so, but I’d like you to tell me what it is as I’ve no idea.

    KariosFocus

    PS: that the solution space for standard English text is based on a 128-state digital element [the 7-bit acii alphanumeric character] is a basis for constructing a vast config space when we write a book

    What about UTF-8 encoding then?

    And KariosFocus, what is the chance of a book self-assembling wholesale, as a 747 could not do in a junkyard?

    Are books not written a word at a time rather then coming into being at once? Don’t they evolve? Or are you of the opinion that the config space for books is too large for them to actually come into existence?

  235. 235
    RichardFry says:

    Eric

    The case of meaningful text is actually a very good example of what is fundamentally misleading about supposed illustrations such as WEASEL or others like it.

    On re-reading your comment it struck me that we might be closer then you think. Are you here saying that you accept that WEASEL is simply a illustration for teaching purposes and so conclusions about other GA’s cannot (and should not) be drawn from it?

    And Karios, what’s your point anyway? That GA’s don’t work? That they don’t represent biological evolution? That they can’t create new information? That they are no better then a random search? What?
    I don’t believe you’ve ever actually said what the problem with you and GA’s is.

  236. 236
    kairosfocus says:

    Eric and onlookers (Re RF):

    So very sadly, it is now increasingly evident that RF is either only superficially glancing at what others have to say, then dashes off to attacking the resulting strawman [typically on yet another tangent to the issues for the thread in the main; which he has consistently distracted from], or else is that he is a willful distorter of what others have to say, with intent to mislead onlookers.

    Let us therefore pause and put the focus back on track:

    A: Heller

    [OP] Father Michal Heller, 72, a Polish priest-cosmologist . . . . In this recent interview [linked to his winnint the Templeton Prize] [gave] a critique of the intelligent design position as bad theology, akin to the Manichean heresy . . . .

    “They implicitly revive the old manicheistic error postulating the existence of two forces acting against each other: God and an inert matter; in this case, chance and intelligent design.” . . . . “There is no opposition here. Within the all-comprising Mind of God what we call chance and random events is well composed into the symphony of creation.” . . . . “God is also the God of chance events,” he said. “From what our point of view is, chance — from God’s point of view, is … his structuring of the universe.

    “Lord Ickenham” then links a summary of the Manichean heresy, from the classic edn of the Catholic Enc:

    Manichæism is a religion founded by the Persian Mani in the latter half of the third century . . . As the theory of two eternal principles, good and evil, is predominant in this fusion of ideas and gives color to the whole, Manichæism is classified as a form of religious Dualism . . . . The key to Mani’s system is his cosmogony. Once this is known there is little else to learn. In this sense Mani was a true Gnostic, as he brought salvation by knowledge. Manichæism professed to be a religion of pure reason as opposed to Christian credulity; it professed to explain the origin, the composition, and the future of the universe . . . . Before the existence of heaven and earth and all that is therein, there were two Principles, the one Good the other Bad. The Good Principle dwells in the realm of light . . . . This Father of light together with the light-air and the light-earth, the former with five attributes parallel to his own, and the latter with the five limbs of Breath, Wind, Light, Water, and Fire constitute the Manichæan pleroma. This light world is of infinite exrtent in five directions and has only one limit, set to it below by the realm of Darkness, which is likewise infinite in all directions barring the one above, where it borders on the realm of light. Opposed to the Father of Grandeur is the King of Darkness. He is actually never called God, but otherwise, he and his kingdom down below are exactly parallel to the ruler and realm of the light above. The dark Pleroma is also triple, as it were firmament, air, and earth inverted . . . . These two powers might have lived eternally in peace, had not the Prince of Darkness decided to invade the realm of light. On the approach of the monarch of chaos the five aeons of light were seized with terror. This incarnation of evil called Satan or Ur-devil (Diabolos protos, Iblis Kadim, in Arabic sources), a monster half fish, half bird, yet with four feet and lion-headed, threw himself upward toward the confines of light.

    In short, it seems that Heller is probably thinking of ID as a theological dualistic system that sees forces of order and organisation opposed to those of chaos [chance]. But in fact, the design inference is a scientific inference to best explanation within the observed cosmos, from SIGNS of Intelligence to its credibly known source, intelligent action:

    i –> It is a commonplace observation, immemorial since the days of Plato, that causal factors commonly rsolve into [1] natural regularities tracing to mechanical necessity, [2] chance (often showing itself in random behaviour), [3] intelligent aciton.

    ii –> It is possible to see the three at work in a given situation. For instance as discussed in the always linked, heavy objects fall under the natural regularity we call gravity. If the object now in question is a die, its uppermost face for practical pruposes is a mater odf chance, and the die may have been tossed as a part of a game, and intelligently designed process using intelligently designed objects in ways that take advantage of chance and natural regularities to achieve the purposes of agents.

    iii –> natural regularities are detectable by consistent, low contingency patterns of events, i.e we may use scientific approaches to infer to natural laws as their best explanation.

    iv –> When by contrast we see high contingency, we know that chance and/or agency are the relevant predominant causal factors. That is the particular configs observed may result from chance or from agent action: we may toss a six or we may set thedie with 6 uppermost.

    v –> Per the principle of large numbers, we observe that random/chance samples of a population of possible outcomes tend to reflect its predominant clusters of configurations. [This is in fact the foundation of the statistical form of the 2nde law of thermodynamics. It is also the basis for Fisherian style inference testing and experiemnt designs that use these principles, e.g control expts and treatments studied using ANOVA etc]

    vi –> When therefore we see that these predominant clusters are non-functional, but the observed outcome is functionally specified and complex, we infer — routinely and reliably — not to chance but to intelligent agency.

    vii –> This is generally non-controversial, but on matters tied to origins of life and the cosmos, there is a currently dominant, evolutionary materialist school of thought that strongly objects to what would otherwise be the obvious explanation for the organised complexity [OC] of cell-based life and the similar OC of the physics that underlies the cosmos that facilitates such life. Thus, through the injection of methodological naturalism into the understanding of science [= “knowledge,” etymologically], the question is too often begged.

    viii –> This is a matter of science, not theology. The inference to design is a reasonable principle in science not a theologically speculative, ill-founded heresy.

    ix –> but , going beyond the province of science, as Fr Heller has, the issue brings up a very familiar and unquestionably foundational Christian theological context that challenges Fr Heller’s thinking:

    Rom 1:19 . . . what may be known about God is plain to [men], because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

    RO 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles [yesteryear, in temples, today, often in museums, magazines, textbooks and on TV] . . . .

    RO 1:28 . . . since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
    RO 2:6 God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

    x –> So, is the design of the world plain to those willing to follow the evidence where it leads instead of rejecting the evidence in favour of agenda-serving assumptions and stories? Paul says, yes. In so saying, he opens himself up to empirical test, and the implication of the design inference is that design is indeed intelligible and very evident in the world as we experience and observe it. That makes the theological inference to a Creator God as designer of the world a reasonable worldview alternative indeed.

    B: Dealing with RF’s latest . . .

    1] 240: you [GEM] continue to conflate randomness with the workings of GA’s it’s pointless to continue talking to you.

    I have pointed out, FYI, that random searches are incorporated as components in GA’s, and that the Gas are targetted searches based on finite solution spaces which are sampled through a partly random process in an attempt to escape the local maximum problem.

    However, this boils down to the point that GA’s search within islands of known or suspected functionality – target zones similar to the one we are just about to designate here for geothermal energy, not the config spaces as a whole.

    As I discuss in my always linked sections B and C [in light of the discussion of inference to design in section A], OOL would have to have started with getting to monomers of life then would have had to get the polymers of life and the configs that store and implement code-based algorithms. Similarly, to move from first life to body-plan level biodiversity, huge increments of functional information would have had to be generated before hill-climbing through natural selection etc serving as culling [thus information-based diversity-reducing!] mechanisms could get to work.

    You have to get to “Island Improbable” before you can try to climb “Mt Improbable,” while avoiding getting stuck on climbing just one of its foot hills. And, since – per the evo mat model — we are not dealing with intelligently designed searches that start within target zones, we have to address getting to the initial functional configs through random walks not rewarded by mere relative closeness to functionality. Close[r] to functioning [per WEASEL] is not good enough to reward: you gotta minimally function before you can try to incrementally get better function.

    How long would WEASEL take if we imposed the criterion that each and every iteration must itself be a functional sentence, while it tries to get to the targetted phrase?

    [ . . . ]

  237. 237
    kairosfocus says:

    2] RF: You [GEM] obviously only have a superficial understanding of the subject [GA’s] as shown by your preference to quote others rather then submit your own opinions on the matter.

    Onlookers: I have cited reasonable authority, in order to show on the record that I am not misrepresenting the facts. As the above shows, the real problem is not that I do not understand what is going on in GA’s, but that RF is unwilling to accept that there is a serious problem with trying to make out that GA’s work as materialistic evolution is claimed to have worked to get to where the biosphere and fossil record are.

    Now, too, had I simply stated my opinions, which I ALSO did, RF would doubtless have been objecting that I am just giving ill-informed, one-sided opinion.

    Also, notice, onlookers, how this pattern of argument by RF moves ever further away from the issues in the main for the thread, along one red herring after another. That consistent pattern of the rhetoric of distraction and ad hominem, is no accident.

    Now, on this particular tangent:

    i –> I cited and stated that the facts are that GA’s are intelligently designed, targetted searches in conveniently sized spaces, in zones reasonably known or suspected by the designers to be close to “good” performance, based on comparative performance and various randomising processed that try to keep hill climbing from just going up one local hill instead of finding a better hill to climb.

    ii –> More specifically, on the point originally challenged, WEASEL is an even more targetted search, where the hill of peak performance is known from the outset and iterative partial solutions are propagated to the next iteration based on closeness to the target.

    iii –> Thus, in the context of a book that advocates for the power of CV + NS, WEASEL [just as I originally objected and as Eric backs me up . . .] serves a rhetorically manipulative purpose, not an educational one.

    iv –> And, by his own words as cited above from the discussion in Wiki, Mr Dawkins knew at the time that the example was off-target. [But then, artificial selection processes have been used as persuasive examples for NS, ever since Darwin. Yet another misleading icon of evolution, in short.]

    3] What do random keypresses have to do with the subject at hand? Where is selection here?

    Had you paid close attention, you would have seen that I took time to show that the relevant increments in bio-functional information to get to body-plan level macro-evolution are fully comparable with having to first produce a good slice ofsay the Shakespearean corpus to get TO the functionality that we can then see competitive reproductive success selecting against. To even just get to the observed complexity of observed simplest life forms.

    You have to generate information before you can select for functionality much less comparative functionality.

    For instance we are looking at DNA strands of order 300 – 500 or even 1 mn bases. 300 k bases is a config space of 4^300k ~ . And, that would have to be arrived at in a prebiotic soup that somehow manages to create the algors of life, a coding scheme, then the molecules in the appropriate protected configs to implement the algors of cellular life. To go thence to the dozens of Phyla in the Cambrian, we are looking at credibly increments of ~ 100mn bases per major body plan.

    In short, we are looking at having to get huge increments in bio-information before we can select through differential survival and reproduction; which is in turn a diversity-reducing filter, through culling of the “unfit.”

    4] Eric, thank you for keeping close to the topic at hand.

    In short, this is loaded: he here tries to imply that I have not – a falsehood. And of course the fact that his is a tangential issue relative tot he thread in the main as led by RF is of course not discussed.

    5] the toy example WEASEL appears now to be used to prove that evolution cannot generate new information, somehow, without it being “sneaked in”. So, as WEASEL is being conflated with actual biological evolution I’d like to know what “nearness” and “markers” mean in biological terms.

    First, Weasel ends up inadvertently showing that intelligent design is capable of moving to a functional target. And, it was set in the context of a book that set out to use it to promote the evolutionary materialist paradigm to the public.

    Second, as long since shown, it is a rhetorical bait and switch. Instead of showing how we move from one functional state arrived at by CV + NS, it is a case of incrementally moving to a target by small changes that are kept if they get closer to it.

    In the case of the broader issue, bio-functionality is an observable phenomenon: the organism lives or dies. Within islands of functionality [which “live” in vast config spaces,the vast majority of which, e.g. per the existence of the simple stop codon in DNA will be non-functional], one may indeed have differential reproductive success that may either preserve an existing population or – per observations – leads to small variations. But, the problem is the increments in information to get TO these islands, starting with OOL and the Cambrian phyla explosion.

    So, on GA’s the selection of zones of known or suspected functionality, multiplied by definition of fitness functions by intelligent designers, multiplied by the use of symbolic systems of representation [the genetic element of the GA], we are looking at a very large increment of too often unacknowledged active information giving purpose and targetting to the search: search in this zone, and use the following intelligent technique [comparative performance, mutations, cross-breeding etc] to get to a hopefully better solution as evaluated through the following equally intelligently designed objective function.

    6] What about UTF-8 encoding then?

    Yet another red herring. It is enough to use ASCII to make the point [as would good old EBCDIC]; UTF-8 is an extension thereto.

    7] what is the chance of a book self-assembling wholesale, as a 747 could not do in a junkyard?

    As a matter of fact, it is logically and physically possible – but maximally improbable – that a tornado in a junkyard near the Boeing factory would assemble a 747.

    Similarly, an explosion in a print factory could conceivably splash ink across paper to make a book. That is we are looking at config spaces and microstates in such spaces. It is only because the predominant observable clusters of states are so overwhelming in relative statistical weight that we do not expect to see functionally specified complex information merging by such processes.

    The odds against are similarly huge, which is precisely why we normally infer from FSCI to intelligent action as its best explanation – save when worldview level evo mat commitments are at stake it seems.

    We could do an experiment, to try to create a page of text by spraying ink from a nozzle at a suitable distance from a page, with the number of dots of – lets say fusable toner – being enough to give the typical 5% cover on the page at say 300 dots per inch and a written area of 9” x 6.5” — 58.5 sq in at 90,000 pixels per sq in; 5.265 mn pixels. 5% would be 263,250. Then let’s say we have to do 200 pp. i.e. 5% cover of pixels, making symbolic, grammatical and narrative sense. (These pp would have to embed a coherent continuous narrative in a recognisable language, using its symbols.) That such could happen by chance is of course logically and physically possible [nothing blocks it physically and it does not imply a logical contradiction], but the config space is such that the islands of functionality thus specified would be overwhelmed on the scale of our planet. If we see pages of a book, we routinely and reliably infer very properly to an intelligent author.

    Indeed, we could extend this to an in-principle GA: move to a computer blank screen with the same constraints and impose the 5% cover of pixels at random, then do so across a population of initial dots on the computer equivalent to a sheet of paper, and do mutations and fitness-based probability enhanced cross breeding to move towards a functional text. We could even start with an initial functional text and see if the process could transform it from one form to another. Do that matter, we could do the same to try to create the engineering drawings for say the jet engine of the 747, or even the drawings for an antenna.

    Then, see how many iterations it takes to get the page of text or the 747 engine drawing or the high performance antenna.

    8] Are books not written a word at a time rather then coming into being at once?

    Ever heard of a book — or an essay – plan?

    9] Don’t they evolve?

    Indeed they do: by intelligent design, through drafts in the first instance,t hen editorial revisions then further issuing of revised editions.

    10] are you of the opinion that the config space for books is too large for them to actually come into existence?

    I am of the observationally anchored opinion that books are the product of intelligent authors who use their smarts to target functional configs, not random walks that have to initially hit islands of functionality [target zones] before climbing hills through one hill-climbing algor or another to more or less good performances.

    11] 241, Karios, what’s your point anyway? That GA’s don’t work? That they don’t represent biological evolution? That they can’t create new information? That they are no better then a random search?

    GA’s work; this – as onlookers can easily verify – I have never doubted or disputed..

    They do so, however, preciely by incorporating intelligently sourced active information. In so doing they may well hit surprising new configs in the said target zone — base d on the intelligent input from the beginning. And, as Marks and Demsbski showed in the papers I have linked twice now, IT IS THE INJECTION OF SUCH ACTIVE INFORMATION INTO GA’S THAT GIVES BETTER PERFORMANCE ON AVERAGE THAN RTANDOM SEARCH. (So, again, this set of quesitons is a strawman.)

    GA’s may well represent real-world biological evolution — as opposed to the evolutionary materialist picture of such evolution. That is, if life in the various forms we see now and in the fossil record evolved through body plan level macroevolution — whether all the way from a last common ancestor or no — then it credibly was intelligently directed. And, GA’s are supportive evidence for that.

    12] I don’t believe you’ve ever actually said what the problem with you and GA’s is.

    Simply false, and yet another tangential misrepresentation and distraction.

    I have repeatedly pointed out that GA’s and their kin — contrary to the billing often put up by evo mat advocates — are not illustrative of the proposed CV + NS mechanisms that are foundaitonal to the NDT account of macro-evolutionary change.

    GEM of TKI

  238. 238
    kairosfocus says:

    PS I forgot: 4^300,000 ~ 9.94*10^180,617.

    That is the sort of config space we have to find islands of functionality in to get to first life on an evo mat prebiotic scenario. Even if there were 10^1,500 such islands, each with 10^150 configs, that would be so maximally improbable to access through prebiotic chemistry on the scope of our observed cosmos that the FSCI leads tot he comfortable inference to intelligent design of life — and we have only factored in the DNA strands here, not the code nor the algorithm nor the associated implementing machinery.

    The only seriously mentioned evo mat alternative is a quasi-infinite array of sub cosmi, to soak up the config space, and that plainly moves out of science into ad hoc speculative philosophical metaphysics. This is similar to the attempt to get around the finetunig of the cosmos by a similar quasi-infinite array.

    The result: a quasi-infinite array of life-facilitating sub cosmi, each within the contrext of a quasi infinite array of non-life facilitating sub cosmi. The epicycles and deferents are multiplying without limit in a vain attempt to save the phenomena for the modern equivalent to Ptolemy’s system.

    Intelligent design of the observed cosmos and of cell-based life in it is plainly a far superior alternative to that!

  239. 239
    ericB says:

    RichardFry (241): “… I’d like to know what “nearness” and “markers” mean in biological terms.

    Plus in biological terms, is there any meaning in the “markers”? Perumably so, but I’d like you to tell me what it is as I’ve no idea.”

    By “markers” I simply meant anything we might hope could become a symbol, but which is not yet a symbol. But even “marker” may be suggesting more than is justified. You could use “object” or anything else similar for something that is not at present a “symbol”. Biologically, a nucleotide in a prebiotic universe might be such an object, if any existed. Now that biological life exists, groups of three nucleotides — a codon — can form a symbol corresponding to an amino acid in a functional protein. Biological life includes symbolic information.

    Is there any meaning in these objects or “markers”? No, none at all. That is why I didn’t use the term “symbol”. A symbol represents something other than itself according to an associated convention. A symbol has meaning. The problem is, can a prebiotic universe make the transition to a universe with information-based biological life using only Blind Watchmaker processes, that is without the help of intelligent agency (i.e. a seeing watchmaker)? The answer is no.

    By “nearness” I am just referring to the game of “hotter/colder” that all genetic/evolutionary algorithms play. The fitness function distinguishes all candidates based on a score. The better the score, the “nearer” that candidate solution is to the goal defined by the fitness function.

    What is the biological equivalent for “nearness” to symbolic information in a prebiotic universe? There is none. That is the problem. A mindless prebiotic universe has no access to any way to detect that one arrangement of matter is “closer” to being symbolic information than another. There is no gradual upward path to climb (i.e. the Climbing Mount Improbable). A prebiotic universe is both utterly blind to and supremely uninterested in the possibility of symbolic information. It has neither desire nor need for it. (Aristotle defined “Nothing” as that which rocks dream about.)

    In addition to the many merely chemical obstacles, this is why Blind Watchmaker processes could not ever create information-based biological life. Analogies to GAs are useless and not applicable. Intelligent agency is required.

    RichardFry: “Are you here saying that you accept that WEASEL is simply a illustration for teaching purposes and so conclusions about other GA’s cannot (and should not) be drawn from it?”

    I was never drawing conclusions about all GAs based merely on WEASEL. I do say that WEASEL does not even rise to the level of a legitimate example or illustration for biological contexts. Its presence in The Blind Watchmaker illegitimately attempts to attach credibility by violating the core premise of the book. A stage magician’s magic trick is not even a “toy” example of supernatural magic. It does not serve to teach supernatural magic. It is just a trick and all it teaches is deception.

    Dawkins is mistaken if he thinks the problem can be patched over, and it would be a mistake for readers to just trust him on this one. BTW, Dembski’s book No Free Lunch devotes chapter 4 to Evolutionary Algorithms. Dembski’s thorough treatment does not depend on WEASEL. It addresses all evolutionary algorithms in general.

  240. 240
    ericB says:

    p.s. To RichardFry, here are two other ways to think about the fundamental difficulty.

    1) Sometimes people think of the problem of information as though it were merely a difficult probability problem, as if it were just a matter of finding sequences of letters that match actual English. Viewed that way, it does seem like a hard problem, but only practically impossible, not strictly impossible. In principle, one can imagine being miraculously lucky and landing on a valid sequence.

    But that doesn’t capture the whole of the real problem. It takes for granted that “English” (the symbolic convention by which the sequence is translated) exists and that there is someone or something that can do the translating. The real problem is that neither of these exist for free in the prebiotic world, and the prebiotic world has no means, reason, or motivation to provide them. Yet without them, none of the possible sequences of objects have symbolic meaning and the probability of finding one that has meaning is literally zero.

    2) Suppose we knew all the laws and properties of paper and ink and could apply them. For now, ignore all issues of uncertainty, incompleteness, etc. With that knowledge, would it be possible in principle to derive the contents of a book? Or even to derive just the remainder of a book, given its first chapter? No. The properties of the medium do not define the information held by the medium, not even in principle.

    Chance plus time plus the laws of physics and chemistry are insufficient to explain the origin of symbolic conventions and symbolically encoded information. Nature only defines the properties of the medium, not the message. To have symbolic conventions and a symbolic message, intelligent agency is required.

  241. 241
    kairosfocus says:

    Eric:

    Excellent again:

    Now that biological life exists, groups of three nucleotides — a codon — can form a symbol corresponding to an amino acid in a functional protein. Biological life includes symbolic information . . . .

    The problem is, can a prebiotic universe make the transition to a universe with information-based biological life using only Blind Watchmaker processes, that is without the help of intelligent agency (i.e. a seeing watchmaker)? The answer is no . . . .
    What is the biological equivalent for “nearness” to symbolic information in a prebiotic universe? There is none. That is the problem. A mindless prebiotic universe has no access to any way to detect that one arrangement of matter is “closer” to being symbolic information than another. There is no gradual upward path to climb (i.e. the Climbing Mount Improbable). A prebiotic universe is both utterly blind to and supremely uninterested in the possibility of symbolic information. It has neither desire nor need for it. (Aristotle defined “Nothing” as that which rocks dream about.) . . . .

    Chance plus time plus the laws of physics and chemistry are insufficient to explain the origin of symbolic conventions and symbolically encoded information. Nature only defines the properties of the medium, not the message. To have symbolic conventions and a symbolic message, intelligent agency is required.

    While of course it is logically possible that all of this originated by sheer lucky noise (as a 747 can be assembled, in principle, by a tornado passing through a junkyard . . .):

    1] symbolic codes expressed in chemical monomer letters,

    2] algorithms to implement same codes,

    3] physical molecular nanomachines in proximity and arrangeement to implement said algors and meaningful codes . . .

    this is counter to our experience and observation, and requires resort to quasi-infinities of quasi-infinities of sub cosmi, each on the scale of our observed cosmos.

    The epicycles and deferents are multiplying without limit — a sure sign of runaway ad-hocery.

    GEM of TKI

  242. 242
    RichardFry says:

    Karios, I keep losing my place with you so here’s more:

    Karios @223

    I used the case of Monopoly to show that in a known designed context, one may have chance-based features and processes.

    You have not shown that these “chance based features” are in fact random. Nor have you shown that chance is inapplicable even in “designed contexts”.

    Second, we observe that the cosmos, per fine-tuning, may be designed

    It may also be made of fine wire and cheese. You just don’t get it do you? Sure, science can never say 100% “this is the way it is”, it’s always a balance of probabilities. You have not shown that the balance has tipped in your favour. You have no definitive proof that the cosmos is designed and so are reduced to “may” yet then continue on as if you’ve established your case beyond reasonable doubt.

    Further to this, we have no good reason to infer that humans exhaust the set of possible or existing intelligent agents

    Indeed, just the opposite obtains: intelligent agents use insight and imagination to creatively configure elements to achieve entities and processes that work to achieve goals.

    I heard a story about a GA that was required to evolve a timer mechanism. It was provided with a mechanism to place components on a board. Rather then evolve a timer from the parts available to it it evolved a radio reciever. Which picked up signals from a nearby computer as computers have timers in them to synchronise everything up, don’t ya know?. Seems to me that fits the bill for “insight and imagination to creatively configure elements” no?

    FSCI is a manifestation of that configuration, where relatively rare and specified configs show up in config spaces that are sufficiently vast that relevant probabilistic resources for chance-based searches would be exhausted.

    What is this obsession with chance-based searches? Karios, do you really think that it’s simply a choice between “intelligent design” and “random chance”? Everything I read from you on that subject leads me to think so.

    Next, we observe actual cases: a common, garden variety rock is credibly a product of chance + necessity, but say a Clovis point spearhead is not. And, the evident functionality, characteristic stylistic features and vast array of alternative configs for a rock show that the Clovis point exhibits FSCI and is designed. [In fact it is used as a diagnostic of certain ancient cultures in the Americas.]

    Presumably you determined this partly by comparing the values of Complex Specified Informatinon for a rock and a Clovis point? What were the values you obtained for the CSI of each? Please don’t explain it further, or refer to your always linked, Just put the figure down (or whatever form it takes) for each please.

  243. 243
    RichardFry says:

    Karios @234

    In particular, he has tried to use the fact that I pre-read instead of reading the Dawkins book to say in effect, that he does not need to read the substantiating information

    what on earth is “pre-reading”?

    Karios, how would you like it if I criticised the contents of a book, for example the Bible, and then it tured out that in fact I’ve never read it? How would that strike you?

    on a different point where he accused me of simply asserting without substance, and where I proceeded to point him to the fact that right from the beginning I had highlifhted just where the details were to be found.

    please. Onlookers, please note the habit of using the “always linked” as a cover all for any point at all claimed without further substantiation.

    Thus, I showed, from Dawkins himself, that Weasel is of course a specifically targetted Hamming distance based search in a constrained finite domain that deliberately cuts down from the scale of config space that a more realistic model of the genome would require.

    Sigh. Please. If you’d read the book you would realise that it was not supposed to be a “realistic model” of anything, let alone “the genome” (presumably human).

    Notice how I showed above that the Cambrian life revolution would require searching out bio-functionality through a digital config space comparable to creating the worlks of Shakespeare

    As you know all the factors affecting “bio-functionality” in the Cambrian I can but acquiesce to your knowledge, oh time-lord.

    it was used rhetorically (NOT “educationally”) to try to persuade the reader that chance variations plus natural selection can be used to create functionally specific complex information.

    Both parts of that sentence cannot be true. If it was used rhetorically how could it have been, in your words an attempt at a realistic simulation?

    To do that, it cut down the search space unrealistically, used a purposeful target and substituted artificial for natural selection.

    Not only that, but as he did not simulate the interactions of all the atoms and electrons that also cut down the search space unrealistically. As he also purposeful target and substituted artificial for natural selection (what’s the difference by the way?) that would also have cut down the search space unrealistically. Hardly worth the bother spending any tmie looking at really , except as a toy example to teach people stuff.

    In short, it set up a strawman – RF’s “toy example” is in fact a backhanded acknowledgement of this that refuses to face the implications.

    I think the onlookers (some of them) will agree quote the opposite. It is you that has set this “toy example” up and destroyed it with thousands of words.

    Continued in next comment.

  244. 244
    RichardFry says:

    Karios, continued

    a –> In praxis — as opposed to how the general context is presented to the public [and the naive technical practitioner]

    a –> In praxis — as opposed to how the general context is presented to the public [and the naive technical practitioner]

    a finite and conveniently scaled [digital] search/performance space is set up

    I don’t think the general public care as long as the stuff keeps coming out of the shops.
    Yes, and as I noted you can also set up an analogue search/performace space using physical components and breadboards. One page from one book does not define the entirety of a subject.
    And in any case the the text you quote contains “The genetic algorithm solves optimization problems by mimicking the principles of biological evolution”. Biological evolution eh? How about that.

    random initial points in a space known to be near to the desired performance are sampled [e.g. we do not start with random individual atoms floating dispersed in a fluid to search for a high-performance antenna

    I doubt the origin of life if achieved via non-intelligent design methods would either.

    or of course — per my version of Hoyle’s well-known 747 scenario

    Randomness again KF? I know it’s your trusty sheld but it’s getting a bit thin. Did the previous planes to the 747 (the ones that evolved into it) also self-assemble in junkyards?

    a process of iterative culling and “interbreeding” is used to try to find an optimum or at least good performance in a finite number of steps

    What, selection?

    This is of course targetted search through intelligently designed artificial selection that exploits active information to get search process gains over a pure random walk.

    . What’s your point? If you had a random target what would be the point?
    So “maximise the gain on this antenna” is active information? Or the physical behaviour of the system in question is “active information” Of course I’m aware of Dr Dembski’s work on this, no need to link…

    However, it is then presented as a model of how biological [including of course body-plan origination level macro-]evolution works [without adequately dealing with the search space and complexity issues, and the absence of intelligent direction in the usual model of such evolution].

    I saw a child playing with a model plane. He said “look at my plane fly, my model plance”. I simply had to correct him, his “plane” was simply not a smaller version of the real thing, it was being depicted as something it was not. KF, are you active in the research of the origination of body-plans then?

    A book, of course, is openly intelligently designed, using a 128-state digital element as its base unit, the alphanumeric charactern [it is a lot more than 26 letters and a space!]. Authors are intelligent, and use insight, knowledge and imagination to construct intelligent communications. We do not write books by the million monkeys banging away at keyboards method! For excellent reason.

    You state the obvious in such eloquent ways. Congratulations. Again your comment with the monkeys indicates it’s “random v’s intelligent design” here yet again. Yet you were quoting things about selection earlier.

    GA’s by contrast, are too often presented as if they were models of evolution by chance variation and undirected, non-purposive natural selection

    There must be 100’s of GA’s out there. If “often” is true you will have no trouble giving me one, ten, two dozen examples of GA’s misrepresented as if they were models of evolution by chance variation and undirected, non-purposive natural selection.

  245. 245
    RichardFry says:

    For, first, GA’s are precisely NOT a blind search, but a set up intelligently designed search in a selected, constrained target zone with preset criteria of performance.

    And?
    If it was a blind search it might as well just start at the beginning and end at the end. And in any case if your “selected, constrained target zone” is “physical reality” then does that not change anything for you?

    putting out the notion that somehow an artificially constrained search across a finite and controllable domain that was selected for likelihood of success, is a good model of OOL and OO body plan level biodiver4sity by a claimed, unintelligent, none foresighted, non purposeful process..

    Then give me an example of people putting out this “notion”

    Then, when we see that through intelligence we have targetted the tiny fraction of possible configs of such a large set of elements that makes sense in English, we see the power of insightful, conceptual intelligence, over the million monkeys banging away at keyboards at random.

    Again, it’s 100% random v’s 100% intelligent design. strawman? I think so.

  246. 246
    DLH says:

    RichardFry

    Again, it’s 100% random v’s 100% intelligent design. strawman? I think so.

    False interpretation. Note that “that makes sense in English” incorporates grammar or “law”.

    If it was a blind search it might as well just start at the beginning and end at the end.

    That is the problem with evolutionary searches.

    On “Is anyone using this” please do your homework first. e.g. see Differential Evolution

  247. 247
    RichardFry says:

    DLH

    False interpretation. Note that “that makes sense in English” incorporates grammar or “law”.

    Sorry, not clear to me what you refer to here. I’m not interpreting anything here. I’m pointing out that Kariosfocus’ intrepretation is 100% random 100% of the time.

    That is the problem with evolutionary searches.

    That it’s not a blind search? Sorry, again here it’s opaque to me.

    On “Is anyone using this” please do your homework first. e.g. see Differential Evolution

    Once more, not clear what you are getting at here. I’m not claiming that GA’s are not used right now in industry. They are, of course. KF seems to be saying they are unable to solve a class of problem,a class the deatils of which he so far has not made clear to me except to claim that the use of pre specified information in setting the target somehow invalidates something.

  248. 248
    austin_english says:

    DLH,

    On “Is anyone using this” please do your homework first. e.g. see Differential Evolution

    Why that? Please don’t dump a source on us without saying what to get from it.

  249. 249
    austin_english says:

    I’m going to do my best to say how my dad explained this to me. Reproduction increases information. You have to write more to describe all the critters after reproduction than before. The “laws of nature” (and some chance) decide which offspring reproduce. Not all reproduce, so there may be a decrease in information here. But what remains may say more about what works in nature than the information in the original parents.

    In evolutionary computation the researcher makes up his own “laws of nature.” He sets the standards of success, but he doesn’t say how to succeed. The information on HOW comes from reproduction. And reproduction doesn’t “know” anything about the standards.

    If you believe that artificial “laws of nature” direct artificial evolution, then why can’t THE laws of nature direct natural evolution?

  250. 250
    ericB says:

    austin_english (255) “Reproduction increases information”.

    Actually, simple reproduction itself doesn’t do much to increase information. See the discussion above in post 184 about “Let’s go to your string “THIS TEXT STRING” repeated a million times.

    “In evolutionary computation the researcher makes up his own “laws of nature.” He sets the standards of success, but he doesn’t say how to succeed. The information on HOW comes from reproduction. And reproduction doesn’t “know” anything about the standards.”

    In a way, yes the programmer does say how. Each program must be written in such a way that every candidate solution must be able to be understood and evaluated by the associated fitness function. Thus, it is necessary that all production of candidate solutions is constrained so that it always produces only those kinds of solutions that the fitness function can understand and evaluate. Otherwise, the program would crash or give faulty results.

    So the programmer must define the solution space of possible candidates. This is typically too large to have even a computer consider every one in turn, but it is constrained in its nature. There is no opportunity for true novelty outside the predefined solution space of possible candidates.

    What the programmer doesn’t know is exactly which possible candidates will be evaluated and of these which will score the best given the predefined fitness function.

    This makes this type of algorithm potentially very useful for searching a large solution space of possibilities. However, it never gives a solution other than one of those within the predefined constraints of the model. The computer is searching within a large box in a deterministic way, not being inspirationally creative in the way we would think of creativity, as in thinking outside the box. It is up to the programmer to creatively define the box they want the software to search.

    “If you believe that artificial “laws of nature” direct artificial evolution, then why can’t THE laws of nature direct natural evolution?”

    Even those who doubt that neo-Darwinian processes can account for as much as is claimed for them do not claim that undirected processes are free of the laws of nature. So I don’t think anyone is saying that natural evolution is not being influenced by the laws of nature.

    The question is more subtle. How far can that sort of process go in taking an existing creature and changing it into something quite different? Are there never any limits at all to change? If there are limits or constraints, what are they? What is the edge of evolution?

    To say that the laws of nature are in the game does not automatically mean that those laws are encouraging change. It could also mean that they sometimes inhibit or prevent change. (Indeed most of the time, the fossil record shows stasis for species — they stay the same for long periods of time until they become extinct.)

    Within both computer algorithms and in biological change, there is also the issue of being trapped in a local optimal region (sometimes called a local maxima or a local minima). Other possible solutions may be separated by impassable regions that divide the possibilities into islands of variation.

    Which of these effects the laws might have and when they do it is a question for research. Saying the laws participate doesn’t by itself inform about the effect of that participation.

    You are asking good questions and thinking about these issues. I would recommend that you read Dr. Michael Behe’s recent book The Edge of Evolution. In it he looks at both the abilities and the limitations of these processes, based on the best available empirical evidence.

  251. 251
    ericB says:

    RichardFry (248): “I heard a story about a GA that was required to evolve a timer mechanism. It was provided with a mechanism to place components on a board. Rather then evolve a timer from the parts available to it it evolved a radio reciever. Which picked up signals from a nearby computer as computers have timers in them to synchronise everything up, don’t ya know?. Seems to me that fits the bill for “insight and imagination to creatively configure elements” no?”

    In short, no. (But let me tell you a story sometime about a fish I caught… 😉

    Sorry to rain on that story you have heard, but I will assure you that it was not as creative as the story makes it sound.

    You can safely count on the fact that the program did exactly what it was told to do. Whether people noticed that the outcome could be used in other ways might reflect on the observation of those people or some lucky accident. But I assure you that the program itself did not think “Hey, while I was working on this, I got an idea. What about this instead?”

    Evolutionary / genetic algorithms provide a way to search a large set of possible candidate solutions predefined by the programmer’s model. They cannot innovate outside the defined box they are told to search. Think for a moment about the fact that everything they do is evaluated by the defined fitness function.

    Please see my response to austin_english at 256 and please review my post at 232 in regard to this point.

    Also, did you find either 245 or 246 helpful?

  252. 252
    kairosfocus says:

    Participants [and onlookers]:

    First of all, kindly cf 242 above and of course, the original post, to see the effect of one tangential distractor after another on a serious matter in the main.

    So, I ask: is anyone out there serious about discussing the matter in the main? In absence of such, we can now conclude that those who play rhetorical games — as will be documented yet again below — with distractors and misrepresentations thereby reveal their utter want of a serious case on the merits.

    We can further take it as a given that if the argument in the main [that, contra Heller, design is evident in the cosmos and in cell based life and that it is not Manichean heresy to see that] were easily overturned, it would have been, so RF’s resort to one red herring after another; leading out to one strawman after another (then duly pummelled – at least, not soaked in oil of ad hominem and ignited to cloud and poison the atmosphere through polarisation and confusion), is indicative of the balance of the case on the merits of fact and logic. And, not to his advantage.

    Having noted that general point, we need to address the usual cluster of tangential red herrings, yet again, so that certain points may be made clear:

    1] RF, 249: what on earth is “pre-reading”?Karios, how would you like it if I criticised the contents of a book, for example the Bible, and then it turned out that in fact I’ve never read it?

    You will note that I gave a context: “READAK-trained pre-read.” This is a fast survey of a written work that takes in key features: themes/theses, topic sentences, conclusions, summaries, key illustrations and examples etc, to get an overview of its substance in a very few minutes. [Go look up READAK; they are still in business, and are worth far, far, far more than every cent that one of their courses costs. This is one deeply satisfied and grateful client.]

    In short, on the tangential point, I in fact surveyed and sampled Dawkins’ Blind Watchmaker in my old university bookshop when it came out, found it sadly wanting, and saved my money. It is therefore not part of the 100 or so shelf feet of books that surround me as I speak. [Those are the books that passed the pre-read test and were worth the investment, including e.g. TBO’s TMLO as I discuss in the appendix 1 the always linked. Sears-Salinger’s Thermodynamics came in as a textbook and has stayed on as an old friend.]

    So, I hardly can be said to be in the position of dismissing what I have not read. I pre-read, found wanting, and moved on to what makes better substance. (and BW is hardly comparable in literary, historical or spiritual merit to the Bible, which notoriously many a skeptic critiques without taking time to so much as pre-read.]

    2] Weasel, again:

    On the more direct response, onlookers, kindly compare what is actually being discussed: Dawkins’ notorious WEASEL, which I took time in 227 to excerpt the actual discussion in BW, ch 3, from Wiki [i.e I have actually not only read but presented the matter in this thread]. Namely:

    I don’t know who it was first pointed out that, given enough time, a monkey bashing away at random on a typewriter could produce all the works of Shakespeare. The operative phrase is, of course, given enough time. Let us limit the task facing our monkey somewhat. Suppose that he has to produce, not the complete works of Shakespeare but just the short sentence ‘Methinks it is like a weasel’, and we shall make it relatively easy by giving him a typewriter with a restricted keyboard, one with just the 26 (capital) letters, and a space bar. How long will he take to write this one little sentence? . . . .
    We again use our computer monkey, but with a crucial difference in its program. It again begins by choosing a random sequence of 28 letters, just as before … it duplicates it repeatedly, but with a certain chance of random error – ‘mutation’ – in the copying. The computer examines the mutant nonsense phrases, the ‘progeny’ of the original phrase, and chooses the one which, however slightly, most resembles the target phrase, METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL . . . . What matters is the difference between the time taken by cumulative selection, and the time which the same computer, working flat out at the same rate, would take to reach the target phrase if it were forced to use the other procedure of single-step selection: about a million million million million million years. This is more than a million million million times as long as the universe has so far existed . . . .
    The human eye has an active role to play in the story. It is the selecting agent. It surveys the litter of progeny and chooses one for breeding. …Our model, in other words, is strictly a model of artificial selection, not natural selection. The criterion for ’success’ is not the direct criterion of survival, as it is in true natural selection. In true natural selection, if a body has what it takes to survive, its genes automatically survive because they are inside it. So the genes that survive tend to be, automatically, those genes that confer on bodies the qualities that assist them to survive.

    There, I addressed the deep challenges this notorious bit of rhetoric in the guise of popular education faces:

    1 –> It presented itself as a simplification of the million monkeys typing out Shakespeare example [Huxley wasn’t it or someone like that], without drawing out the significant difference between a corpus of millions of words and less than a dozen: COMPLEXITY, including the complexity of the “simplest” unicellular life forms and the increment in complexity to get to the body plan divergence that the Cambrian fossils show us.
    2 –> Also, the traditional monkeys example was notoriously in the context of creation of biologically FUNCTIONAL information by chance; showing that complex information could be produced by a random walk. [The traditional illustration — per its rhetorical purpose — never got around to the issue of the unlikelihood of success of random walks in vast search spaces, though . . .]. And, e.g. Wiki’s dismissive reference to saltationism vs cumulative change does not address cogently the implications of the sort of credible scale of increments in information we are dealing with – e.g. Unicellular to arthropod would require something like 100 mn+ base prs, or ~ 200 mn bits. [At ~ 4.75 bits per letter, then 7 letters per avg word, that is about 42 mn letters or 6 mn words, or at 600 words per page, about 10,000 pages. A good slice of Shakespeare’s corpus I’d say!]
    3 –> WEASEL proceeds to use an instance of artificial selection as as substitute for cumulative natural selection [just as Darwin did in Origin], producing sense out of nonsense, tada, like “magic.” [And, AS is of course DESIGN!]
    4 –> Dawkins then infers — noting en passant but not highlighting the telling implications of the crucial difference — onward to NS: In true natural selection, if a body has what it takes to survive, its genes automatically survive because they are inside it. So the genes that survive tend to be, automatically, those genes that confer on bodies the qualities that assist them to survive. [BTW, Darwin did essentially the same thing in Origin when he used AS as evidence supportive to NS.]
    5 –> Now, let’s ask: where do these novel genes come from?
    6 –> D’uH: Genes, presumably — per NDT type models — are the product of chance variations? BINGO!

    In short, a major red herring leading out to a strawman.

    Worse, Eric B has repeatedly also addressed the Weasel example and the wider question of GA’s, only to meet the same tangential tendencies. I find it hard to believe that RF’s argument is serious, instead of a rhetorical game.

    3] 248, You have not shown that these “chance based features” [ie. Stemming from the role dice play in Monopoly] are in fact random. Nor have you shown that chance is inapplicable even in “designed contexts”.

    Now, first, RF takes the excuse that I have only pre-read BW to refuse to address the relevant contents of my always linked. Had he taken time, he would have seent hat in section A, I speak to the use of dice as in a game:

    heavy objects tend to fall under the natural regularity we call gravity. If the object is a die, the face that ends up on the top from the set {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6} is for practical purposes a matter of chance. But, if the die is cast as part of a game, the results are as much a product of agency as of natural regularity and chance. Indeed, the agents in question are taking advantage of natural regularities and chance to achieve their purposes!
    This concrete, familiar illustration should suffice to show that the three causal factors approach is not at all arbitrary or dubious — as some are tempted to imagine or assert.

    Now, a die has eight corners and twelve edges. In tumbling these features cause it to have sensitive dependence on initial conditions. Consequently, we see the physical basis for the commonplace observation that a reasonably fair die shows a pattern where each side turns up uppermost 1 in 6 throws, on an effectively random basis. Indeed, that is why such dice are commonly used, even as one of the three basic examples in any initial course in probability and statistics, with the fair coin and the deck of cards.

    So, as long since noted by the undersigned, chance-based – even, effectively random — elements can be a part of a designed context, per very familiar example. Thus, that we can see similar chance-based elements in a designed cosmos should not be surprising either. And, I cited rocks vs spearheads, thermally linked phenomena and more to illustrate in the observed cosmos. In short, this is plainly objection for the sake of objection, not serious dialogue at this point.

    Worse, there is an OUTRIGHT MISREPRESENTATION there too: I have NEVER set out to argue that “chance is inapplicable even in “designed contexts”.” Just the opposite, that designed contexts can embed chance elements, as illustrated by the game, Monopoly.

    [ . . . ]

  253. 253
    kairosfocus says:

    4] RF: Sure, science can never say 100% “this is the way it is”, it’s always a balance of probabilities. You have not shown that the balance has tipped in your favour.

    Onlookers, I took time to show in the always linked that RF refuses to address, just why there is good reason to infer to design when we see fucntionallys pecified, complex information and more broadly fucntioanlly specific organised complexity. This, I pointed to in the case of observed information, DNA and the like, the body plan level diversity of the observed life forms here on earth, and the underlying, convergent, multidimensionally fine tuned physics of the cosmos. RF has never actually addressed on the merits what he seeks to dismiss.

    At least, he is willing to accept that scientific findings are inherently provisional so the acceptance of any given theory is in the end a matter of trust in what cvannot be provfed and is subject to correction. That correction is precisely what the design inference is provciding in the context of the evolutionary materialist paradigm.

    5] You have no definitive proof that the cosmos is designed and so are reduced to “may” yet then continue on as if you’ve established your case beyond reasonable doubt.

    As just noted, and as pointed out repeatedly above to anoterh participant, “proof” is not a reasonable criterion in a scientific context, provisional, empirically anchred warrant per abductive inference to best explanation is. And that is what I have provided in the always linked, thus my use of “may.”

    In short, sadly, we see here selective hyperskepticism at work, leading to evidently closed minded objectionism.

    6] obsession with chance-based searches? Karios, do you really think that it’s simply a choice between “intelligent design” and “random chance”?

    Again, a serious misrepresentation – aka strawman. On two levels.

    First, I have repeatedly and consistently pointed out that from Plato on, it has been immemorial that chance, necessity and agency are three relevant causal factors. Mechanical necessity shows itself in natural regularities, i.e low contingency: a heavy object – e.g. a die — resting on a table does so in light of fundamentally gravitational and electrical forces leading to elastic deflections and equilibrium. Where contingency dominates — e.g which of the die’s faces is uppermost — that is either chance or intelligent action. So, in contexts where we study highly contingent phenomena [and information is precisely based on such high contingency to configure meaningful symbols to represent states of affairs etc], we use techniques that more or less reliably discriminate between agency and chance.

    One of those techniques, as Mr Bolinski showed in inferring that Premise Media used XVIVO’s work as a source for their clips on the inner workings of a cell, is complex specified information. (So, why then do so many now so desperately want to resist a similar inference when we address the origin of DNA say as an information-bearing macromolecule . . . ?]

    So, at the first level, to address chance and agency as the two long-known alternatives to account for high contingency, is plainly not an “obsession.”

    A the second level, kindly avoid conflating chance and randomness. A chance situation is one that could just as easily have been something else, as opposed to a purposefully set state. Randomness is a property of certain mathematical and practical situations, but chance may come up in for instance sensitive dependence on initial conditions. [in the case of the die, it comes up in that the precise config of forces and initial conds does lead deterministically tot he outcome of which face is uppermost, but the sensitive dependence means that the outcome is for us incalculable as we cannot specify sufficiently accurately to determine the outcome consistently. So, for practical purposes the uppermost face of a tossed fair die is chance and is random, due to the finest degrees of differences in the initial conditions.]

    7] Presumably you determined this [the difference between a random rock and a clovis point] partly by comparing the values of Complex Specified Informatinon for a rock and a Clovis point? What were the values you obtained for the CSI of each?

    No need: basic common sense and a little observation will do nicely.

    Going beyond that, we may observet hat fucntionally specified complex organisation is just as effective an index of the action of agancy as is a measured value of he statistical weights of functional and non-functional subsets of the config space for an observed functional element. Random rocks don’t make good spear heads, which in turn tend to be pointed, symmetrical, adapted for hafting, and conform to styles, also showing signs of flint knapping. All fof which were discussed and linked above.

    And, one can look at functionality vs non-functionality of rock and clovis point. Then we can look at the pattern of the elements of shape vs say typically observed ones for similarly sized rocks, from balls to plates in shape. Even without explicit calculation it should be plain that there is a vast config space for such rocks, of which those shapes that correspond to clovis points are a very small subset. So, we have observed functionality, and high contingency, then also being in an otherwise improbable state, apart form intelligent action.

    Not too hard to see, if one is willing, i.e is docile before evident truth.

    8] 249, Onlookers, please note the habit of using the “always linked” as a cover all for any point at all claimed without further substantiation.

    This is rich!

    Having just complained that I am objecting to a work that I have only pre-read [and have cited the relevant parts of, cf supra], RF now objects that I always link a reasonably detailed summary case for the design inference, and refer him to it for substantiation of shorter remarks in this thread. [And, were I to take out the details in the blog thread, he would doubtless join Leo in objecting to prolixity. As Morris Cargill used to say: logic with a swivel – there is always an objection to be made.]

    RF, why not show us that you have looked at the relevant linked and have found the relevant case wanting on specific grounds? Like, my “obsession” with chance vs agency as the relevant causal factors for highly contingent outcomes?

    9] If you’d read the book you would realise that it [WEASEL]was not supposed to be a “realistic model” of anything, let alone “the genome” (presumably human).

    if you’d cared to respond to what I actually said,a dn what Eer4ic actually said, you would realise that we have cited the weasel case and given its rhetorical context, warranting our objections. It is a case of the now long traditional iconic substitution of artificial selection for natural selection, to persuade the unwary that NS is capable of vast informational innovation and creativity.

    10] As you know all the factors affecting “bio-functionality” in the Cambrian I can but acquiesce to your knowledge, oh time-lord.

    Again, a strawman, this time putting words into my mouth that do not belong there.

    What I pointed out is that we see in the fossil record on the usual interpretation that in a window of some 10 MY, ~ 5- 600 MYa, up to about 40 phyla and subphyla appear in the fossil record, requiring innovation of dozens of body plans with required diverse organisation, organs, tissues, cell types and of course proteins. This requires a vast increment in DNA.

    Using Meyer’s example of an arthropod, I indicated that for just one of these body plans, relative to the 1 mn or so DNA base prs in a reasonable simple unicellular organism, we have to account for upwards of about 100 mn base pairs of incremental DNA. That is in an obviously functional context, and it sets up config spaces of order ~ 1.36*10^60,205,999 states. To find the observed and potential functional subsets of any reasonable scale becomes maximally improbable on the gamut of the observed universe, much less the required window of time here on earth. But, 100 mn base prs is 200 mn bits, or about 29 mn 7-bit ASCII characters worth of information storage/representation capacity. At 7 characters per word in English, avg., that is about 4 mn words, or about 6 – 7,000 pp at 600 words per page; comparable to the corpus of a great writer or a major reference work.

    In short, we are right back at a million monkeys banging away at keyboards at random, trying to write a good slice of Shakespeare, before we can get tot he bio-functionality required to account for the fossil evidence, then to climb from functionality to improved functionality and diversity within the general body plan.

    To not weary the reader even further, let us be more selective from now on:

    11] 250, the text you quote contains “The genetic algorithm solves optimization problems by mimicking the principles of biological evolution”. Biological evolution eh? How about that.

    Precisely: my point was, and is, that the GA approach is routinely [and usually ignorantly] misrepresented as mimicking the principles of biological evolution. For details of why cf Eric and myself above, onlookers.

    [ . . . ]

  254. 254
    kairosfocus says:

    12] RF: Did the previous planes to the 747 (the ones that evolved into it) also self-assemble in junkyards?

    Oddly, RF here echoes the classic Berra’s blunder: planes “evolved into” the 747 all right – by technological transformation through INTELLIGENT DESIGNS; designs that, step by step, with cases of revolutionary change in body plan, improved on previous ones.

    Macro-evolution by intelligent design, in short.

    On the “self-assemb[ly]” issue: misrepresentation, by now “as usual” – nowhere do I argue that planes self-assemble, but that it is logically and physically possible for a plane to be assembled by a tornado passing through a junkyard, but utterly improbable to the point where we routinely and reliably infer to agency as being responsible for the FSCI in a plane.

    Now, this point, which echoes Hoyle, is rooted in the underlying fact that the config space is too big and too populated with non-functional states. Oddly enough, Dawkins in the same book, BW, p. 8, agrees with me and with the late, great Sir Fred [member in good standing of The Noble Order of the Gadfly]:

    Hitting upon the lucky number that opens the bank’s safe [NB: cf. here the case in Brown’s The Da Vinci Code] is the equivalent, in our analogy, of hurling scrap metal around at random and happening to assemble a Boeing 747. Of all the millions of unique and, with hindsight equally improbable, positions of the combination lock, only one opens the lock. Similarly, of all the millions of unique and, with hindsight equally improbable, arrangements of a heap of junk, only one (or very few) will fly. The uniqueness of the arrangement that flies, or that opens the safe, has nothing to do with hindsight. It is specified in advance. [BW, p.8]

    Thus, when we see a jumbo jet, we routinely and reliably – and accurately – infer to agent action as the cause, not chance.

    13] What’s your point? If you had a random target what would be the point?

    Pretending that something is unclear can only get you so far. Here is the context in 234 – and note onlookers how RF does not give that context, No prize for guessing why:

    MATLAB, discussing its GA toolbox, comments:

    The genetic algorithm solves optimization problems by mimicking the principles of biological evolution, repeatedly modifying a population of individual points using rules modeled on gene combinations in biological reproduction. Due to its random nature, the genetic algorithm improves your chances of finding a global solution.
    In short, we see exactly what EB pointed out:
    a –> In praxis — as opposed to how the general context is presented to the public [and the naive technical practitioner] — a finite and conveniently scaled [digital] search/performance space is set up, a criterion of fitness [performance metric] towards optimisation [resource constrained search for maximum desired performance relative to some objective function] is set up.
    b –> random initial points in a space known to be near to the desired performance are sampled [e.g. we do not start with random individual atoms floating dispersed in a fluid to search for a high-performance antenna, or of course — per my version of Hoyle’s well-known 747 scenario at point 6, app 1 the always linked (which is in fact such an “evolutionary search” — and with a simpler case than an organism) — to get to a flyable jet plane] and tested for fitness relative to the known desired performance objective [i.e. We have to have a criterion of performance to assess which is better and which worse]
    c –> a process of iterative culling and “interbreeding” is used to try to find an optimum or at least good performance in a finite number of steps.
    d –> This is of course targetted search through intelligently designed artificial selection that exploits active information to get search process gains over a pure random walk.
    e –> However, it is then presented as a model of how biological [including of course body-plan origination level macro-]evolution works [without adequately dealing with the search space and complexity issues, and the absence of intelligent direction in the usual model of such evolution].

    14] give me an example of people putting out this “notion” [ie. that GA’s are said to mimic biological evolution]

    Just did, by excerpting 234. Indeed, when you thought it served your interests to do so, you cited the exact same text. The difference: I have pointed out just why GA’s do not at all mimic the observed sort of NDT-based biological evolution [which is of course microevolution.].

    15] , it’s 100% random v’s 100% intelligent design. strawman? I think so.

    Here is how I discussed the die excample in the always linked section A:

    A Tumbling Die: For instance, heavy objects tend to fall under the natural regularity we call gravity. If the object is a die, the face that ends up on the top from the set {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6} is for practical purposes a matter of chance. But, if the die is cast as part of a game, the results are as much a product of agency as of natural regularity and chance. Indeed, the agents in question are taking advantage of natural regularities and chance to achieve their purposes!
    This concrete, familiar illustration should suffice to show that the three causal factors approach is not at all arbitrary or dubious — as some are tempted to imagine or assert.

    Then again:

    a hypothetical, dice-based information system: If one were so inclined, s/he could define a six-state code and use a digital string of dice to store or communicate a message by setting each die in turn to the required functional value for communicating the message. In principle, we could then develop information-processing and communication systems that use dice as the data-storage and transmission elements [say, using registers made from plastic troughs loaded with strings of dice set to particular values and “read” by scanning the pips]; rather like the underlying two-state [binary] digital code-strings used for this web page. So also, since 6^193 ~ 10^150, if a functional code-string using dice requires significantly more than 193 to 386 six-state elements [we can conveniently round this up to 200 – 400], it would be beyond the edge of chance as can be specified by the Dembski universal probability bound, UPB. [That is, the probabilistic resources of the observed universe would be most likely fruitlessly exhausted if a random-walk search starting from an arbitrary initial point in the configuration space were to be tasked to find an “island” of functionality: not all “lotteries” are winnable (and those that are, are designed to be winnable but profitable for their owners). So, if we were to then see a code-bearing, functionally meaningful string of say 500 dice, it would be most reasonable to infer that this string was arranged by an agent, rather than to assume it came about because someone tossed a box of dice and got really lucky! (Actually, this count is rather conservative, because the specification of the code, algorithms and required executing machinery are further — rather large — increments of organised, purposeful complexity.)]

    Who is misrepresenting whom, on the explicit evidence here, Mr Fry?

    I can leave onlookers to judge that for themselves.

    However, the bottomline is clear: HAVING PLAINLY LONG SINCE LOST ON THE MERITS, EVO MAT ADVOCATES ARE NOW RESORTING TO RED HERRING DISTRACTGORS AND STRAWMAN MISREPRESENTATIONS, plainly to disguise and distract attention from the unwelcome fact. In the large through the sort of tactics exposed in Expelled and in the brouhaha just raised on alleged plagiarism and stealing of intellectual property. In the minor key, the sort of distracting rhetoric as we have again had to point out step by step in this thread.

    For shame, Mr Fry.

    Cho man, do betta dan dat.

    GEM of TKI

  255. 255
    RichardFry says:

    KF I asked you

    Presumably you determined this partly by comparing the values of Complex Specified Informatinon for a rock and a Clovis point? What were the values you obtained for the CSI of each? Please don’t explain it further, or refer to your always linked, Just put the figure down (or whatever form it takes) for each please.

    You then said

    No need: basic common sense and a little observation will do
    nicely.

    So there’s “no need” to tell me the CSI you obtained for each item? Basic common sense and observation tell us that the sun orbits the earth. The whole point of formalising such a method of design detection is that it is formalised!

    It’s very convinenent that the crux upon which your argument rests does not need anything other then basic common sense to prove it’s case.

    I’ll ask again. What were the values of the CSI in the Clovis point and the rock? It’s a calculation you claim to have done. So lets see the “working”, don’t just give me “it’s obvious”

    You will note that I gave a context: “READAK-trained pre-read.”

    The word READAK does not appear in this thread. Perhaps you imagined it.

    In short, on the tangential point, I in fact surveyed and sampled Dawkins’ Blind Watchmaker in my old university bookshop when it came out, found it sadly wanting, and saved my money.

    SO you’ve not read it and yet think you can pontificate about what it purports to say. Wrong.

    It is therefore not part of the 100 or so shelf feet of books that surround me as I speak.

    Very impressive.

    So, I hardly can be said to be in the position of dismissing what I have not read. I pre-read, found wanting, and moved on to what makes better substance.

    Have you read any of Dawkins’ work?

    Worse, Eric B has repeatedly also addressed the Weasel example and the wider question of GA’s, only to meet the same tangential tendencies. I find it hard to believe that RF’s argument is serious, instead of a rhetorical game

    What is your problem with GA’s in general KF? Yes, we know all about your thoughts on Weasl, but you appear to have a problem with the whole concept. What is it that you think that people are claiming for GA’s that you know they cannot do? Please don’t quote, in your own words if possible.

    Thus, that we can see similar chance-based elements in a designed cosmos should not be surprising either.

    As you have not proven the cosmos to be designed you are assuming your conclusion and running with it.

    Again, this comment is not appearing. KF, I guess you win by default once more. I really can’t be bothered to type if there’s a good chance my comment will never appear. I guess I’ve been expelled!

  256. 256
    kairosfocus says:

    Mr Fry (and onlookers):

    You have plainly not been expelled (maybe, for cause, put on moderation? or it could be the usual annoying bugs that show up here . . .); you have dropped out of the college of reasoned discourse, by insistent resort to quote-mining, misrepresentations and ad hominems.

    I will very mildly mitigate that by noting that a mechanical search on READAK — at least in Firefox –will not show up my remarks in 252 [which goes next to making a freebie ad for READAK], so part of the trouble may be that you are not reading carefully but then essay to rebut on ill-informed snippets out of context. (BTW, evidently some deletions of posts probably related to recent disciplinary action by DS, has thrown the numbers above into chaos.)

    Sadly, in either case, this is trollish behaviour, not serious civil-minded discourse.

    In any case, this pattern moves far afield from the core business of the thread, so let us again draw attention to that core business, from whifh RF and his ilk would insistently distract us:

    A: Fr Heller and ID, from what is now 236

    [OP] Father Michal Heller, 72, a Polish priest-cosmologist . . . . In this recent interview [linked to his winnint the Templeton Prize] [gave] a critique of the intelligent design position as bad theology, akin to the Manichean heresy . . . .
    “They implicitly revive the old manicheistic error postulating the existence of two forces acting against each other: God and an inert matter; in this case, chance and intelligent design.” . . . . “There is no opposition here. Within the all-comprising Mind of God what we call chance and random events is well composed into the symphony of creation.” . . . . “God is also the God of chance events,” he said. “From what our point of view is, chance — from God’s point of view, is … his structuring of the universe.

    “Lord Ickenham” then links a summary of the Manichean heresy, from the classic edn of the Catholic Enc:

    Manichæism is a religion founded by the Persian Mani in the latter half of the third century . . . As the theory of two eternal principles, good and evil, is predominant in this fusion of ideas and gives color to the whole, Manichæism is classified as a form of religious Dualism . . . . The key to Mani’s system is his cosmogony. Once this is known there is little else to learn. In this sense Mani was a true Gnostic, as he brought salvation by knowledge. Manichæism professed to be a religion of pure reason as opposed to Christian credulity; it professed to explain the origin, the composition, and the future of the universe . . . . Before the existence of heaven and earth and all that is therein, there were two Principles, the one Good the other Bad. The Good Principle dwells in the realm of light . . . . This Father of light together with the light-air and the light-earth, the former with five attributes parallel to his own, and the latter with the five limbs of Breath, Wind, Light, Water, and Fire constitute the Manichæan pleroma. This light world is of infinite exrtent in five directions and has only one limit, set to it below by the realm of Darkness, which is likewise infinite in all directions barring the one above, where it borders on the realm of light. Opposed to the Father of Grandeur is the King of Darkness. He is actually never called God, but otherwise, he and his kingdom down below are exactly parallel to the ruler and realm of the light above. The dark Pleroma is also triple, as it were firmament, air, and earth inverted . . . . These two powers might have lived eternally in peace, had not the Prince of Darkness decided to invade the realm of light. On the approach of the monarch of chaos the five aeons of light were seized with terror. This incarnation of evil called Satan or Ur-devil (Diabolos protos, Iblis Kadim, in Arabic sources), a monster half fish, half bird, yet with four feet and lion-headed, threw himself upward toward the confines of light.

    In short, it seems that Heller is probably thinking of ID as a theological dualistic system that sees forces of order and organisation opposed to those of chaos [chance]. But in fact, the design inference is a scientific inference to best explanation within the observed cosmos, from SIGNS of Intelligence to its credibly known source, intelligent action:

    i –> It is a commonplace observation, immemorial since the days of Plato, that causal factors commonly rsolve into [1] natural regularities tracing to mechanical necessity, [2] chance (often showing itself in random behaviour), [3] intelligent action.

    ii –> It is possible to see the three at work in a given situation. For instance as discussed in the always linked, heavy objects fall under the natural regularity we call gravity. If the object now in question is a die, its uppermost face for practical purposes is a mater of chance, and the die may have been tossed as a part of a game, and intelligently designed process using intelligently designed objects in ways that take advantage of chance and natural regularities to achieve the purposes of agents.

    iii –> natural regularities are detectable by consistent, low contingency patterns of events, i.e we may use scientific approaches to infer to natural laws as their best explanation.

    iv –> When by contrast we see high contingency, we know that chance and/or agency are the relevant predominant causal factors. That is the particular configs observed may result from chance or from agent action: we may toss a six or we may set the die with 6 uppermost.

    v –> Per the principle of large numbers, we observe that random/chance samples of a population of possible outcomes tend to reflect its predominant clusters of configurations. [This is in fact the foundation of the statistical form of the 2nde law of thermodynamics. It is also the basis for Fisherian style inference testing and experiment designs that use these principles, e.g control expts and treatments studied using ANOVA etc]

    vi –> When therefore we see that these predominant clusters are non-functional, but the observed outcome is functionally specified and complex, we infer — routinely and reliably — not to chance but to intelligent agency.

    vii –> This is generally non-controversial, but on matters tied to origins of life and the cosmos, there is a currently dominant, evolutionary materialist school of thought that strongly objects to what would otherwise be the obvious explanation for the organised complexity [OC] of cell-based life and the similar OC of the physics that underlies the cosmos that facilitates such life. Thus, through the injection of methodological naturalism into the understanding of science [= “knowledge,” etymologically], the question is too often begged.

    viii –> This is a matter of science, not theology. The inference to design is a reasonable principle in science not a theologically speculative, ill-founded heresy.

    ix –> but , going beyond the province of science, as Fr Heller has, the issue brings up a very familiar and unquestionably foundational Christian theological context that challenges Fr Heller’s thinking:

    Rom 1:19 . . . what may be known about God is plain to [men], because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

    RO 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles [yesteryear, in temples, today, often in museums, magazines, textbooks and on TV] . . . .

    x –> So, is the design of the world plain to those willing to follow the evidence where it leads instead of rejecting the evidence in favour of agenda-serving assumptions and stories? Paul says, yes. In so saying, he opens himself up to empirical test, and the implication of the design inference is that design is indeed intelligible and very evident in the world as we experience and observe it. That makes the theological inference to a Creator God as designer of the world a reasonable worldview alternative indeed.

    B: Onlookers: On exposing further select distractions and distortions:

    1] 255: there’s “no need” to tell me the CSI you obtained for each item [stone vs Clovis point]?

    Let’s roll the actual tape from point 7, what is now 253, which RF artfully excerpted just a tiny snippet of:

    No need: basic common sense and a little observation will do nicely.

    Going beyond that, we may observe that functionally specified complex organisation is just as effective an index of the action of agency as is a measured value of he statistical weights of functional and non-functional subsets of the config space for an observed functional element. Random rocks don’t make good spear heads, which in turn tend to be pointed, symmetrical, adapted for hafting, and conform to styles, also showing signs of flint knapping. All of which were discussed and linked above.

    And, one can look at functionality vs non-functionality of rock and clovis point. Then we can look at the pattern of the elements of shape vs say typically observed ones for similarly sized rocks, from balls to plates in shape. Even without explicit calculation it should be plain that there is a vast config space for such rocks, of which those shapes that correspond to clovis points are a very small subset. So, we have observed functionality, and high contingency, then also being in an otherwise improbable state, apart form intelligent action.

    Not too hard to see, if one is willing, i.e is docile before evident truth.

    That is, I pointed out that the EF-CSI scheme is just one of several ways of formally or informally detecting design. I started with common sense [how we recognise spear-points in our backyard in the first instance], then moved up to complex organisation, then pointed to the way one could do the calc if one wanted, noting that in fact explicit calcs of config spaces is unnecessary, as the point is plain from looking at random rocks and clovis points.

    [Take a largish sample of representative random rocks of appropriate size (i.e using the principle that samples tend to look like the population) , then profile their shapes. Take some representative Clovis points. Which is more sharply constrained as to shape and functionality? And of course, RF puts in my mouth the claim that I claimed to have made the explicit calculation. There was no need, as a glance at my backyard full of volcanic rocks suffices to remind me of the vast variety of flattened, oblong and rounded off shapes natural rocks take, vs what spear points do.]

    So, the problem — sadly but plainly — is want of docility before plainly evident truth.

    [ . . . ]

  257. 257
    kairosfocus says:

    2] You ain’t read it [Dawkins’ Blind Watchmaker] . . . how dare you critique it

    On the direct and irrefutable contrary — cf, e.g., what is how 252, point 2 — I have read and now twice excerpted the relevant section of BW, viz, that on Weasel.

    It suffices to summarise my findings in the point Eric and I have made very clear: WEASEL is a clear instance of the sadly now very familiar illustration of rhetoric in the guise of education, the misleading icon of darwinism.

    In short, having no real reply on the substantial case, RF sets up a strawman, since I have pre-read and on the strength of therefore finding BW seriously wanting, refused to waste time and money to buy it 20 years ago. What he conveniently insists on leaving out, is that when I have needed to make specific reference to a specific point, Weasel, I have been able to find and excerpt the relevant data.

    Then, I have used it to show just how seriously amiss Weasel is [excerpting again . . .]:

    1 –> It presented itself as a simplification of the million monkeys typing out Shakespeare example [Huxley wasn’t it or someone like that], without drawing out the significant difference between a corpus of millions of words and less than a dozen: COMPLEXITY, including the complexity of the “simplest” unicellular life forms and the increment in complexity to get to the body plan divergence that the Cambrian fossils show us.

    2 –> Also, the traditional monkeys example was notoriously in the context of creation of biologically FUNCTIONAL information by chance; showing that complex information could be produced by a random walk. [The traditional illustration — per its rhetorical purpose — never got around to the issue of the unlikelihood of success of random walks in vast search spaces, though . . .]. And, e.g. Wiki’s dismissive reference to saltationism vs cumulative change does not address cogently the implications of the sort of credible scale of increments in information we are dealing with – e.g. Unicellular to arthropod would require something like 100 mn+ base prs, or ~ 200 mn bits. [At ~ 4.75 bits per letter, then 7 letters per avg word, that is about 42 mn letters or 6 mn words, or at 600 words per page, about 10,000 pages. A good slice of Shakespeare’s corpus I’d say!]

    3 –> WEASEL proceeds to use an instance of artificial selection as as substitute for cumulative natural selection [just as Darwin did in Origin], producing sense out of nonsense, tada, like “magic.” [And, AS is of course DESIGN!]

    4 –> Dawkins then infers — noting en passant but not highlighting the telling implications of the crucial difference — onward to NS: In true natural selection, if a body has what it takes to survive, its genes automatically survive because they are inside it. So the genes that survive tend to be, automatically, those genes that confer on bodies the qualities that assist them to survive. [BTW, Darwin did essentially the same thing in Origin when he used AS as evidence supportive to NS.]
    5 –> Now, let’s ask: where do these novel genes come from?

    6 –> D’uH: Genes, presumably — per NDT type models — are the product of chance variations? BINGO!

    Onlookers, simply compare what I excerpted and discussed above, what Eric B similarly discussed, and what RF is trying to do.

    3] you appear to have a problem with the whole concept [of GA’s]. What is it that you think that people are claiming for GA’s that you know they cannot do?

    This is again an utter and evidently willful or at minimum willfully negligent misrepresentation. Here is what I most recently said when this strawman was raised:

    253, point 11] [RF,] 250 [now 244], the text you quote contains “The genetic algorithm solves optimization problems by mimicking the principles of biological evolution”. Biological evolution eh? How about that.

    GEM: Precisely: my point was, and is, that the GA approach is routinely [and usually ignorantly] misrepresented as mimicking the principles of biological evolution. For details of why cf Eric and myself above, onlookers.

    That is I am very aware of the fact that GA’s work, and of how they work. Also,t hat this is said to be how biological evolution happened – BTW, ironically this could be read as saying that biological macro-level diversity owes itself — per the true, observed and reliably known nature of GA’s — to intelligent design!

    But, that is not the intended meaning; the idea is that chance + necessity suffice to create “brilliant design” and GA’s are held to mimic that.

    But to do that, the issue of first finding the shores of islands of functionality is dodged, and the further issue of the step-size to get to bio-function [comparable to the information content of a major literary work or corpus] is also dodged. This detailed in the same post; which serious onlookers can easily enough scroll up to.

    RF again shows himself a devotee of the strawman stratagem.

    4] As you have not proven the cosmos to be designed you are assuming your conclusion and running with it.

    Let’s see, I have long since first pointed out that “proof” is not a proper category in science, but rather the making of inference to best, empirically anchored explanation, linking a discussion of same.

    What do we see in response: insistence on an irrelevant, misrepresentation based, question-begging objection, selective hyperskepticism in short:

    i –> Scientific theories are not held to the criterion of logico-mathematical demonstration relative to universally acceptable premises, but that of inference to best current – and provisional – explanation.

    ii –> That is a commonplace of phil of sci, it is even held up as a virtue of science by the likes of Popper.

    iii –> So, we put forward the well-tested observation that, reliably, complex, functional organisation [as analysed by the EF or other similar formal and informal techniques] is a sign of intelligent action, as opposed to the other major source of high contingency outcomes, chance. Can this be overturned by reference to empirical data? No, or RF would have eagerly and gladly done so long ago. [Cf how he tried to dismiss the difference between a random stone in the backyard and a Clovis point, which is actually used by Archaeologists as a diagnostic for a particular culture in the Americas: i.e. if it shows up, you infer to that culture.]

    iv –> So, per the basic sci method, we have a well-tested, reliable hypothesis: organised, especially functional complexity [as indicated by FSCI or the like] is a reliable sign of intelligent action. We have a right to use this principle, subject to of course a solid counter-instance. That is just how science works, based on the general — as opposed to absolute — concept that the world works in an orderly, reliable, intelligible way; a premise BTW, that historically owes its origin to the influence of Judaeo-Christian theism in the founding era of science.

    v –> Now, we briefly mentioned, excerpted and linked [Section D my always linked] on the complex, convergently fine-tuned organisation of the physics of the observed, life-facilitating cosmos we happen to inhabit. Per that discussion, we infer provisionally but with high confidence, that the cosmos as we observe it, manifests reliable signs of design.

    vi –> What is the objection: first, that you have not PROVED. But of course not, science, as an empirical world exercise is incapable of proof. Tha tis an irrelevancy leading out to a misrepresentation of what HAS been said.

    vii –> Second, that the question is being begged. Not at all, per scientific method, a reliable principle is being used to infer to the best explanation of observed phenomena. That means that the burden of proof, properly, is on those who would overturn it. On pain of selective hyperskepticism — inconsistently rejecting what does not sit well with what one wishes the world is like, while accepting similar cases that fit with what one hopes the world is like.

    viii –> So, RF had a choice: EITHER [P] keep his rejection of cosmological design, but at the expense of admitting that he rejects the basic principles of scientific investigation, OR [Q] accept the scientific principles, recognise that the inference to design is based on a hitherto well-tested principle, but – tada – here is why the principle fails as a generalisation.

    ix –> That he insistently picks P shows strongly that he cannot fulfill what Q requires. Thas tis, he is unable to overturn that organised complexity is a reliable sign of design, but does not wish to accept certain key cases [cosmology, DNA, body plan level biodiversity spring to mind; cf the always linked sections B – D], so he instead pretends that science is about “proof” as opposed to empirically based well-warranted, provisional inference to best explanation.

    So, it is RF who is really begging the question here.

    Given the above all too painfully plain track record by RF, that is, sadly, no great surprise.

    GEM of TKI

  258. 258
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Maybe I can make a point above clearer this way, by turning about and modifying the following:

    As you have not proven the cosmos to be designed [cell-based biological life to have originated by chance + necessity in some form o fa pre-biotic soup, and onward that such life by CV + NS has diversified into the range of observed body-plans], you are assuming your conclusion and running with it.

    In short, if you [RF] hold that on principles of science, you may confidently reconstruct the past in accordance with the evolutionary materialist paradigm, then so can I [GEM] use the same principles to reconstruct the past based on the design paradigm – and with a better fit to ALL the data. [Unless, you also intend that you can write evolutionary materialism into the very definition of “science” which is not only question-begging — as well as historically and philosophically unwarranted — but boils down to censorship when the results of free scientific thinking cut across the desired materialistic outcomes!]

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