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A Fine Tuned Universe? 7 (RJS)

posted by Jesus Creed Admin

Is there evidence for design in biology? Or for that matter, what would constitute evidence of fine-tuning in biology?

A fine tuned Universe ds.JPG

This is the next question arising as we continue on with Chapter 13 of Alister McGrath’s book A Fine-Tuned Universe: The Quest for God in Science and Theology:

If there is any question guaranteed to excite some controversy in the science/faith debate this is it. After all – fine-tuning leads to intelligent design and intelligent design to creationism. Well, in the minds of some the connections are obvious – both those who wish to discern empirical evidence for the hand of God in creation and for those who insist that science disproves the existence of God. 

On one level “fine-tuning” in biology is obvious, imperfect, and a result of evolutionary mechanisms themselves.  After all, the premise of evolution is that nature fine-tunes itself. This is the standard Darwinian answer to questions about functional precision and design.  According to McGrath At first sight, the neo-Darwinian model seems to undercut any possible appeal to the biological domain as evidence of design or fine-tuning.” Even if we move beyond the reductionist approach of the selfish gene to a systems based approach there is still no need to invoke other than natural mechanism to account for the appearance of design and fine-tuning. But perhaps it is still the possible to discern fine-tuning in biology. The question is where to look. 

The question – what constitutes evidence for design – is by far the hardest question. It is difficult to pose a suggestion that is not inherently an argument from ignorance, either ignorance of mechanism or ignorance of method. 

The correct question is not “Is our current understanding of neo-Darwinian evolution by random mutation and natural selection sufficient to explain this feature or phenomenon?” but “Is there a natural explanation for this feature or phenomenon?” If someone someday demonstrates that neo-Darwinian mechanism is insufficient to produce some phenomenon it neither disproves the general features of evolution nor demonstrates design.

The complex structures and functions we observe in biological systems are marvelous and intricate. But it seems unlikely that any biological feature at this level will provide robust evidence for fine-tuning or design beyond that capable of natural explanation. But this doesn’t preclude the presence of fine-tuning in biology.

McGrath suggests that evolvability itself may provide evidence of fine-tuning.

Is the capacity for Darwinian evolution, which many hold to ba essential to any definition of life, itself an anthropic phenomenon? Life is fundamentally a physicochemical phenomenon, and as such it depends upon the fundamental laws of physics and chemistry, as well as the availability of fundamental materials required to achieve certain biologically necessary outcomes. … Is the very phenomenon of evolvability itself dependent upon certain predetermined parameters which, if these were to have been significantly different, would have prevented or subverted this critical faculty?

This point is consistently overlooked in many accounts of evolution, which seem to treat physics and chemistry as essentially irrelevant background information to a discussion of evolution. Yet this biological process requires the availability of a stable planet, irradiated by an energy source capable of chemical conversion and storage, and the existence of a diverse array of core chemical elements, with certain fundamental properties, before life can begin, let alone evolve. … There is an implicit assumption that life would adapt to whatever hand of physical and chemical cards were dealt to it. Yet this is untested and intrinsically questionable.

… The capacity of evolution to fine-tune itself is thus ultimately dependent on fundamental chemical properties which in themselves can thus be argued to represent a case of robust and fruitful fine-tuning. (pp. 180-181)

What do you think of McGrath’s suggestion?

If you wish to contact me directly you may do so at rjs4mail [at] att.net.



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JKG

posted July 21, 2009 at 8:46 am


I think McGrath is exactly right. Two particular and critical instances of dependence on the underlying physics and chemistry come to mind.
First, quite literally, is the question of where the self-replicating “organic” molecule comes from. This is not a trivial issue. I seem to recall that the “replicating the beginnings of life in the primordial soup” experiments have been largely debunked–that is, the results are unrepeatable and the published conclusions overstated. We have not, so far, found anything other than very simple hydrocarbons in extraterrestrial environments.
Second, the introduction of changes into the genetic code still requires a mechanistic means. That is, even if the occurrence of a change appears to be random, there is still an underlying physical/chemical interaction that results in the change.
Fascinating stuff.
JKG



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pds

posted July 21, 2009 at 9:30 am


peelingdragonskin.wordpress.com
RJS- “The question – what constitutes evidence for design – is by far the hardest question. It is difficult to pose a suggestion that is not inherently an argument from ignorance, either ignorance of mechanism or ignorance of method.”
Strongly disagree. I think that this is wrong as a matter of epistemology, logic and evidence. There is very solid, positive evidence for design in biology.
Moreover, this statement proves too much. Any argument for the existence of God can be attacked for being an argument from ignorance, including the resurrection and all the miracles of Jesus. Do we refuse to make them for this reason?
JKG- I agree with you and many scientists do as well. But (based on RJS’s earlier posts) I think McGrath does not believe that the origin of life and the origin of DNA are good arguments for design.
I think his views of design in biology are way too narrow based on what RJS has posted.



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Scott Morizot

posted July 21, 2009 at 9:47 am


I still don’t grasp why people expect to find testable evidence of unnatural intervention in the natural process of creation by a God who is everywhere present and filling all things, in whom all things subsist and without whom nothing would be. It seems to me that people who are looking for testable, physical evidence are looking for evidence of a God other than the one revealed in Jesus of Nazareth.
I also don’t grasp what possible relevance the Resurrection has to this discussion. That is a one-off event in history so is also scientifically untestable. There are good historical reasons to believe it, but there’s no way to prove it. I don’t grasp the connection.



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RJS

posted July 21, 2009 at 10:19 am


JKG,
McGrath wrestles with the question of the initial formation of life – which is unsolved – meaning there is no good coherent mechanism proposed yet. We discussed it a bit in A Fine Tuned Universe 5
pds
Certainly arguments for the existence of God are attacked as “from ignorance” often in combination with an evolved psychological need for purpose.
But I don’t think introducing the Resurrection into this discussion is useful because evidence and argument for the one-off resurrection of the Son of God is entirely different from a discussion of the evidence for the mode of creation.
Does a plausible physico-chemical mechanism for the processes of life, and even the origin of life, eliminate the discovery of design or does it simply illuminate the method that God used to produce design in the universe?
I question the theological consequence of suggesting that there must be discernible evidence of design inexplicable on the basis of the (God ordained and directed) natural mechanisms. I rather think that perhaps McGrath is onto something here – that design is seen most clearly in the very nature of the universe that allows the diverse reactions and interactions that we observe, and this includes evolvability.



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dopderbeck

posted July 21, 2009 at 10:56 am


I’m not sure. Isn’t McGrath’s view also an argument from ignorance? We know that life as we know it can evolve under the environmental conditions that have characterized earth’s history, because here we are. We don’t know, however, whether other forms of life could evolve under other conditions. We have not discovered any such other forms of life, but the universe is enormous. Moreover, the discovery of such other forms of life might be beyond our perceptual capacity, particularly if there are dimensions of reality that are inaccessible to us in which other creatures have evolved.
From the perspective of the Christian tradition, for example, we know nothing at all about the “natural history” of angelic beings. To the extent we understand the Biblical references to angelic beings to refer to discrete created beings (as I do, at least in many instances), we assume God must have just poofed them into existence at some point. But if our material universe is in any way analogous to the abode of angels, why should we assume that God’s creative process in that realm wasn’t also rich, prolonged and subtle?
So, I’m not sure I like the term “evolvability” as “evidence for design.” I think I still prefer to see “design” as a theological category and the remarkable “coincidences” that support the evolution of carbon-based life as coherent within that theological / teleological framework.



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pds

posted July 21, 2009 at 11:37 am


peelingdragonskin.wordpress.com
RJS- I brought up the resurrection to make the point that any argument can be attacked as “inherently an argument from ignorance, either ignorance of mechanism or ignorance of method.” It is not helpful to attack design arguments on this basis, without further analysis. Just because you can attack an argument on that basis does not mean that the argument is not inherently sound and persuasive. It seems that all arguments are based in part on both what we know and what we don’t know.
I agree with much of dopderbeck’s comment, especially the first paragraph. I see McGrath’s argument to be more speculative (and less persuasive) than Behe’s design arguments. (But I know neither of you agrees with this.)



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Ray Ingles

posted July 21, 2009 at 11:42 am


It’s not quite so clear that our universe is fine tuned. For example, it seems that stars or their equivalents turn out to be possible under a wide range of physical laws: http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/35363/title/Stars_ablaze_in_other_skies
More, there’s evidence that evolution can work on substrates besides Earthly biology: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avida
And then there’s the other problem; as Einstein put it, “Did God have any choice in creating the universe?” It’s not clear that the ‘laws of nature’ as we see them could have been different, any more than God could alter mathematics to make 2+2=5.



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pds

posted July 21, 2009 at 12:10 pm


Ray (#7)
Avida was designed and fine-tuned by its designers. Looks like they designed it quite intelligently.



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Ray Ingles

posted July 21, 2009 at 1:23 pm


@Pds – A little off the point. McNight states that “There is an implicit assumption that life would adapt to whatever hand of physical and chemical cards were dealt to it. Yet this is untested and intrinsically questionable.” I was pointing out that, to the contrary, there’s evidence – from actual testing – that evolution doesn’t require Earthly physics and chemistry to proceed.
Then, there’s the fallback question of whether physics or chemistry was, in effect, ‘designed for life’. I pointed out that (a) it’s not clear that natural laws could have been different, and hence could have been designed, at all; and (b) if the laws of physics could differ, analysis indicates that level of fine-tuning needed might not be quite so stringent as has been supposed.
Consider: Did Conway invent the mathematical ‘Game of Life’? Or did he discover it?



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dopderbeck

posted July 21, 2009 at 2:03 pm


Ray (#9) raises an interesting point. Christian theology traditionally holds that creation is “contingent” on God. That is, the universe exists, and exists as it does, because God willed and wills it to be so. The universe could not exist without God. This implies that the universe is not “necessary,” which suggests that God could have created a different universe rather than the one we inhabit. So, perhaps it is theologically problematic to suggest that life could only have evolved in this universe — it seems to limit the contingency of creation. OTOH, perhaps this a version of the “can God create a rock that is too big for God to lift” chestnut. (The answer is that “omnipotence” is defined as the ability to do anything that is logically possible to do, not the ability to do just anything at all).



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Kenny Johnson

posted July 21, 2009 at 6:38 pm


It’s no surprise that I’m with pds on this one.
Except I don’t see design inference as an argument from ignorance — but instead the best explanation for the phenomenon that I’m witnessing. If I were walking in the desert and came across a statue, it would make perfectly logical sense that I could infer that it was the product of an intelligent mind and not merely the result of unguided natural processes. And I don’t believe I would only be making that argument because I lacked knowledge on how natural processes could create such a thing. If we can recognize design, then why is it an argument from ignorance. Didn’t even Dawkins call it an illusion that one had to keep reminding themselves was not really design?
If, as RJS obviously believes, that God created via a single event and that everything after that event was simply a product of unguided natural laws then I would agree with her that we wouldn’t likely be able to detect design in biological systems. However, why do you believe that’s the case? In my mind, it lacks scientific and scriptural support. It seems, rather, to be more of a philosophical stance than anything else. In fact, some of the disdain I see on this board against the ID movement seems to suggest that you’d love to see ID proven wrong… But why? Wouldn’t it be a wonderful witness if biological design were detectable?
It may be the case the ID is unfruitful and that natural processes seem more likely. But I see no reason why we can’t investigate the matter. I see no reason why we can’t ponder it. To make suggestions that certain things have the appearance of an intelligent mind and not simply unguided processes.
In my opinion the arguments from ID are strong ones. I don’t discount a purely Darwinian account of evolution because it doesn’t mesh with my Genesis interpretation. I’m actually pretty convinced that the Genesis creation account is not meant to be historic or scientific. I discount it because I believe it doesn’t seem credible. The unanswered questions are just an argument from ignorance, but an argument for logical inference. I don’t see how it’s even possible for all THIS to be the result of purely unguided natural processes.
Of course, for me to hold that opinion on this blog makes me very unpopular — and I’m sure in the minds of many to be ignorant and maybe a bit dim. So be it.



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Milton Pope

posted July 21, 2009 at 6:41 pm


#9 Conway and friends invented the Game of Life. He had the general idea for a cellular automaton, and tried several sets of rules until he found one that produced interesting results.
Interestingly, in one book (I think it was “The Recursive Universe”), I read about speculations on whether one could design a self-replicating construct in the Game of Life. I think the answer was, maybe, in a trillion-cell-wide square. And, given an infinite, randomly-populated plane, such a construct must occur somewhere.
Over the years, I’ve wondered whose side the author was on. He ended up making the origin of “Life” sound so bizarrely improbable that he might have been making fun of the idea.
–Milton



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Unapologetic Catholic

posted July 21, 2009 at 8:38 pm


“Wouldn’t it be a wonderful witness if biological design were detectable?
It may be the case the ID is unfruitful and that natural processes seem more likely. But I see no reason why we can’t investigate the matter. I see no reason why we can’t ponder it. To make suggestions that certain things have the appearance of an intelligent mind and not simply unguided processes.”
http://www.mnmuseumofthems.org/Faces/labels/JFK.html
You ask good questions and I don’t think you need be worried about responses here on a Christian website. I truly think it would be wonderful to find proof positive of intelligent design.
I also agree that there’s nothing worng with exploring the concept.
Howver, the statue in the desert is essentially Paley’s watch argument, and that doesn’t really work too well. Was the statue designed? Yes. but, God designed the desert, too, didn’t He?
How do we tell the difference? It’s not the design that gives it away–its the artificiality of the statue. Man-made artifical objects stand out from nature-even if the camel nex tto the statue inthe desert was intelligently designed (OK camls may be a bad example, but you ge tthe idea.)
Suppose the statue was not any ordinary statue but instead was an image of John F. Kennedy. Surely designed, Right?
Well, lets see: http://www.mnmuseumofthems.org/Faces/labels/JFK.html
What do we mean when we say “design?” I suspect that we say “design” when we really mean “artificial.” We also say “designed” when we mean “familiar pattern.” Our brains are very good at finding familiar patterns.



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JMA

posted July 22, 2009 at 3:16 am


It’s great to see serious discussion of creation issues. I haven’t any insights to offer on McGrath, but since the problem of monogenesis looks like an oft recurrent theme here, I wanted to mention that in a couple weeks at the ASA annual meeting there will be presentations on both sides of the question:
C. John Collins, ?Were Adam and Eve Historical Figures? Yes, Indeed!?
Daniel Harlow, ?Adam and Eve as Symbolic Figures in Biblical Literature?
John Schneider, ?Genetic Science and Christianity?s Story
of Human Origins: An Aesthetic ?Supra-Lapsarianism??
Jack Collins is the only of the three I recognized. Besides teaching Old Testament at Covenant Seminary, I think he also does a class on CS Lewis. It would be neat to learn his response to the fall scenario in The Problem of Pain.



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Ray Ingles

posted July 22, 2009 at 8:19 am


@Milton Pope: What if I restated your words as “Conway… had the general idea for a cellular automaton, and tried several sets of rules until he [discovered] one that produced interesting results”?
Do we invent proofs of mathematical truths, or discover them? I’d think that the rules of Life are a lot closer to mathematics than poetry…



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dopderbeck

posted July 22, 2009 at 9:17 am


Kenny (#11) — the analogy to the statue in the desert only has force if God’s creative activity is analogous to human activity. This is the theological question of the analogia entis. There are good Biblical and theological reasons to think that the image of God in humanity includes aspects of creativity, order and aesthetics, but there are also very good Biblical and theological reasons to think that God’s creative activity is not directly analogous to human creative activity. Moreover, as Unapologetic C noted in #13, a core theological affirmation about creation is that God designed everything — the desert as well as every “natural” artifact contained in the desert. If you want to know what it looks like when God creates, look out the window at the desert — don’t look for a human-made statue within the desert.



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dopderbeck

posted July 22, 2009 at 9:20 am


JMA (#14) — Daniel Harlow is a prof. at Calvin College. He wrote an excellent hermeneutical paper on interpreting Genesis in the Christian Scholars’ Review: http://www.calvin.edu/academic/religion/faculty/harlow/Creation%20according%20to%20Genesis.pdf
I wish I could get to the ASA meeting this year, but I can’t. I understand, however, that they will be publishing the audio of the sessions, including this one.



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dopderbeck

posted July 22, 2009 at 9:37 am


Kenny (#11) — on the question whether it would be “wonderful” if “design were detectable.” This is a really good and important question. Often I worry that my own resistance to ID is the result of some latent doubt or unbelief. Do I not want design to be “detectable” because such evidence would force me to leave even more committed to the belief that Christianity is true?
If I were to answer this question with complete honesty, I suppose there is some part of me for which I’d have to say “yes.” I know myself well enough to know the reality of my sinful nature, which always wars against the Spirit and the Truth.
But, at an even deeper level, I think I can honestly say “no,” that is not what primarily motivates my reaction against the strong ID program. It has mostly to do, I think, with having some glimmers, from many years of study and relationship with this God, about what He is really like. I simply don’t believe God is like the tinkerer and evidence-sprinkler of the strong ID program. I don’t believe God wants or expects us to sift through the “chaff” of creation searching for some grain of “irreducible complexity” or other “evidence” to prove He is the creator. I don’t think God works in people’s lives by the means of such hidden clues. I believe God ultimately is ineffable — so big, so incomprehensible, so “above” us, that all of our analogies about Him quickly fail. God reveals Himself in nature to everyone, but we fail to understand that revelation until we come to know Him personally. I think we know God personally only as He condescends to reveal Himself to us incarnationally in word (scripture), person (Jesus), and by the Holy Spirit. As we come to know Him in His way, then we really begin to understand how every aspect of creation reveals Him as the infinitely wise and good creator. So, honestly, I think the strong ID program misrepresents who God is and how people come to know Him — and that is the primary reason why I’ve come to reject it.



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pds

posted July 22, 2009 at 12:58 pm


peelingdragonskin.wordpress.com
UC (#13)
Excellent example. The rock formation you link to does not look designed to me. It looks like something appearing randomly in nature that by chance happens to look a little like something else.
This looks designed to me:
http://infinitejest.wallacewiki.com/david-foster-wallace/images/0/01/Easter.jpg
The key question: is the bacterial flagellum more like your rock or my rock? Is it more like your rock or this?:
http://www.nauticmotors.com/images/nauticnf_lgk6.jpg



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pds

posted July 22, 2009 at 1:29 pm


UC (#13)
Excellent example. No, I do not think that your rock looks designed. It looks like something appearing randomly in nature that by chance happens to look a little like something else.
By contrast, this looks designed to me:
http://infinitejest.wallacewiki.com/david-foster-wallace/images/0/01/Easter.jpg
The desert is designed, but the evidence of its design is not as convincing as, for example, the bacterial flagellum.



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pds

posted July 22, 2009 at 2:28 pm


dop (#18)
you said:
“I simply don’t believe God is like the tinkerer and evidence-sprinkler of the strong ID program.”
Those are pejorative descriptions that ID detractors use. ID does not say that God is a tinkerer. My God is the God of Job 38-39. Hardly a “tinkerer.”



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dopderbeck

posted July 22, 2009 at 2:59 pm


PDS (#20) — they are pejorative, but in my judgment, they are correct. I agree, my God is the God of Job 38-39 — one of the most powerful texts in the Bible, I think. Notice the focus in this text: God’s wisdom and power evidenced by all of creation, from the foundations of the earth to the stars of the heavens, from the small creatures to the great. Does God say to Job, “Here is a mathematical explanatory filter by which you can judge whether I or some other intelligent agent was involved in designing some part of this world?” or “Here is a clue I buried in the bacterial flagellum?” No! What God in fact says is, “drop your pretense and get on your knees!”



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pds

posted July 22, 2009 at 4:29 pm


dop (#21)
Ok, if you love the “tinkerer” metaphor so much, then here is my counter-metaphor: TE suggests a God like a little old man with white hair and a cane who plants a garden and sits back and does nothing after that because he is constipated. Job 38-39 speaks of a God who intervenes with direct power that inspires awe.
19 “Do you give the horse his strength
or clothe his neck with a flowing mane?
20 Do you make him leap like a locust,
striking terror with his proud snorting?
26 “Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom
and spread his wings toward the south?
27 Does the eagle soar at your command
and build his nest on high?
Good thing Job did not reply, “Well, actually, random mutation and natural selection did most of that.”
Yes, all of creation speaks of God. I don’t see design arguments as “either/or,” but rather “both/and.” Let’s make them all, including the ones that take a little more thought. We also have an obligation to use our minds to refute specious arguments for natural explanations that are not plausible.
But you and I both know that we are not going to convince the other with our “God is more like x” arguments.



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RJS

posted July 22, 2009 at 10:50 pm


pds,
Irreducible complexity and bacterial flagellum is an argument from ignorance – and talking about “discernible design” in this fashion is a losing battle. Can I prove it today? Not to your satisfaction – but I am convinced that it is like the flat earth – the idea will fall with time. And what matters is not – does the current favored theory of Darwinian natural selection explain it – but is there any natural explanation. Betting no is a bad bet – fortunately our faith doesn’t actually depend on an affirmative answer. This doesn’t leave us with deism – but with a personal God whose power is displayed in the world we see – independent of method of creation.
I am beginning to think that you find your mission here not to really enter into a conversation, but rather to defend ID at all costs. Do you work for Discovery Institute?



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dopderbeck

posted July 23, 2009 at 8:43 am


pds (#23) — where do any of the verses you’ve cited suggest a God who “intervenes” in creation? I think it’s obvious that the author of Job didn’t think God literally whispers commands into the eagle’s ear before it takes off — right? Really, I think this exactly makes my point. When an eagle takes off, there is no “intervention” by God into the eagle’s animal instincts — it just does what eagles do. But that “natural” event displays God’s design and wisdom!
Re: the constipated old man analogy — no TEs I know see God as the deistic constipated old man. For those who hold a more orthodox view of God’s providence, the analogy fails because the garden is not contingent at all on the old man. If the old man were to die, the garden would go on. For TEs with an orthodox view of providence, creation is contingent on God — creation only exists and continues to exist because of God’s providential and sovereign will.
What I’m more concerned about is the view of some TEs that God is like the soil in the garden, making the garden part of God and God part of the garden, so that God changes and suffers along with the garden through its various seasons. This is a pretty good analogy for panentheism.



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pds

posted July 23, 2009 at 10:11 am


RJS (#24)-
Personal insults are not a great strategy, in my opinion. Not sure why you are attacking me that way now. Your double standard is showing (again).
As to the logical structure of ID arguments, I would rather have a philosopher like Dallas Willard on my side than you. So I am quite content.
I have repeatedly said here that I am not “betting” on ID. Suggesting otherwise indicates that you are not listening to what I am saying.



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RJS

posted July 23, 2009 at 10:20 am


pds,
I don’t see a personal insult in my comment on any level. I asked direct question that you can answer with a yes or a no. If the answer is no, fine. I’ll tell you why I asked…I sometimes feel in this discussion that you are defending “family” not ideas when hard ID and the Discovery Institute is mentioned and I would like to know if that is true – because it would change my approach to dealing with your comments and questions.
On many issues I too would rather have Dallas Willard on my side – but on the science issues? I think that we must listen to active Christian scientists on the science issues before philosophers. So on the scientific questions of empirical evidence for design – this is a scientific question – and a scientist is better qualified to answer than a philosopher.



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pds

posted July 23, 2009 at 10:29 am


dop (#25)
Your critique of the constipated old man analogy is well taken. But you seem to agree that many holding the TE position do not see any ongoing role of God in the evolutionary process.
I raised the metaphor largely because you were insisting on the “God is a tinkerer” analogy, which does not follow logically from ID in the least. Like I said,
“But you and I both know that we are not going to convince the other with our “God is more like x” arguments.”



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AHH

posted July 23, 2009 at 10:39 am


pds @23,
OK, who is providing “misinformation” with unfair insults now? Have you actually read any books about theology in the context of theistic evolution (Polkinghorne, Murphy, Moltmann, McGrath, Perspectives on an Evolving Creation, etc.)? As dopderbeck has already pointed out, most (not all) who embrace TE have a view of God’s action in the world that is far from your “constipated” caricature, affirming God’s involvement in all the work of creation (including things for which we have “natural” explanations, like rain or how eagles fly). Do you think Michael Behe (to pick a person whose views fall under the TE umbrella even if he doesn’t use the term) has a constipated old man view of God? Is Tim Keller’s God a constipated old man? NT Wright’s?
I get a similar feeling to RJS about your role in these discussions, insulting not only those with TE positions but even those more in the middle like dopderbeck. Your unwavering defense of the ID movement reminds me of the former Iraqi Information Minister:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baghdad_Bob



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RJS

posted July 23, 2009 at 10:50 am


AHH,
Come on – the reference to an Iraqi (who by the way was not accused or convicted of any misdeed when Iraq fell) is a bit over the top. This doesn’t further civil discussion.



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RJS

posted July 23, 2009 at 10:55 am


On the other issue – you are right, I will stand with NT Wright here who has said that he supposes that he agrees with theistic evolution although he doesn’t like that term. (From a quote in a question/answer session of one of his many talks available on line).
Keller may or may not accept a TE position, he may prefer a soft ID position – but he certainly refers to Francis Collins favorably and uses him as an example in several things I have listened to and read.



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AHH

posted July 23, 2009 at 11:05 am


RJS @30,
Well, I was drawing a parallel to the pattern of defending the propaganda of a “family” position with seeming indifference to evidence or reason. Which describes my frustration with the behavior of pds on these threads.
But two wrongs don’t make a right and I should have thought better of that comment, which as you rightly say does not further civil discussion. I apologize for the last sentence of comment #28 above, and will walk away from this thread now before I let my frustration provoke something else ungracious.



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pds

posted July 23, 2009 at 11:43 am


RJS-
I don’t generally answer questions that follow personal insults that I think are unfair and reflect a double standard. Do you really not see why I would be bothered by the last paragraph of (#24)?
For the benefit of others, the answer to your question is “no.”
I can think of several insinuating questions I could ask you, but I will not go there.



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RJS

posted July 23, 2009 at 11:54 am


pds,
I did see why you would misread my intent in the abrupt question, which was why I tried to explain my reason for asking. It was simply to know where things stood.
For my part – I am a 50 year old university professor. I have also identified myself more completely to anyone who asks in reply to the address I put at the bottom of my posts. Because I am part of the “science establishment” I know that there are some who consider my positions and arguments as politically driven. But I am really trying to think through serious issues here – what I cannot do is disregard the scientific evidence and method.



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Sacred Frenzy

posted July 23, 2009 at 1:05 pm


RJS (#24): “Irreducible complexity and bacterial flagellum is an argument from ignorance”
This statement reflects a misunderstanding of ID. You certainly are free to disagree with ID, but please represent it properly. Our universal knowledge of the causal history out the outboard motor tells us that outboard motors are designed by agents, not assembled by undesigned processes. This constitutes a body of knowledge from which we infer, upon observing an outboard motor under the microsope when investigating the bacterial flagellum, that the best explanation for the flagellum is that it was the product of design by an agent, not by some undesigned process.
RJS (#27): “So on the scientific questions of empirical evidence for design – this is a scientific question – and a scientist is better qualified to answer than a philosopher.”
I think perhaps this is where much of the conflict arises. The ID movement uses a different philosophy of science which doesn’t limit explanations a priori. If the scientist investigating the empirical evidence for design precludes inferences to agents from the start, her investigation will be unable to reach a conclusion of design even if the evidence overwhelmingly points in that way.



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RJS

posted July 23, 2009 at 1:30 pm


Sacred Frenzy,
I don’t think I misunderstand ID or the philosophy of science – in fact I am perfectly willing to concede that there may be a “non-natural” explanation to phenomena.
But in the case of creation the only way to prove this is to eliminate all natural explanations – present or future. This is why I think that irreducible complexity is an argument from ignorance – it asserts that not only is there not now an explanation, but that there never will be an explanation. Frankly, I think that we are rapidly moving toward an explanation for the bacterial flagellum as an example, and I certainly will not hang anything on “there never will be a natural explanation.”
Behe does not question the basic processes of evolution or common descent – he suggests that evolution must be frontloaded because random natural selection on a level playing field could not give rise to a class of complex structures. This could be empirical evidence for design – or it could mean that either the “playing field” is not as well understood as we think or that the pathway for development of the structure is more complex than expected – involving the biological equivalent of “natural bridges” where the supporting structure has disappeared.
On the other point – I am a Christian, as such I certainly believe in “supernatural” including the resurrection and the miracles of scripture which were all performed for a specific purpose in the relationship between God and mankind created in his image. I also think that there is design in the universe and that it was created with purpose and meaning. The question is where to look for design? I think we look for the evidence of design first and foremost within ourselves and our relationships.



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Sacred Frenzy

posted July 23, 2009 at 2:12 pm


RJS (#36): “But in the case of creation the only way to prove this is to eliminate all natural explanations – present or future. This is why I think that irreducible complexity is an argument from ignorance – it asserts that not only is there not now an explanation, but that there never will be an explanation.”
Irreducible complexity does not assert that there never will be an explanation. The inference to design (note: not a “proof” of design) just means that the explanation is an agent rather than an undesigned process. The only sense in which it is true that irredicuble complexity “asserts that not only is there not now an explanation, but that there never will be an explanation” is if by explanation you mean “purely undesigned natural explanation.”
But you accept the possibility of “non-natural” explanations. I gather from previous postings that you reject ID because it’s an attempt to prove a designer. But how might the ID argument from irredicuble complexity be different if it wasn’t a “proof” but a non-natural explanation of the sort that you would be willing to accept? Keller distinguished between proofs and clues. What if irreducible complexity is a clue? Shouldn’t we investigate that, as well as look for evidence of design within our relationships?



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RJS

posted July 23, 2009 at 2:30 pm


Sacred Frenzy,
Excellent point – I think we see evidence for design all around us. I even think that biological complexity is one excellent example. I don’t actually think that there is a “purely” natural explanation for anything – because it is all of God.
But – I don’t think that there is proof for the existence for God to be found in this design – because God works through his “natural” mechanism and science works to understand this mechanism. So when we investigate the constructs that are “irreducibly complex” what we will uncover is more sophisticated and intricate workings in God’s creation – but they will be considered “purely natural” by those who are not open to seeing God in creation.
I think that Keller has it right – we see clues, but we have to be open to God to actually accept them as clues.



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Your Name

posted July 23, 2009 at 2:44 pm


“Our universal knowledge of the causal history out the outboard motor tells us that outboard motors are designed by agents, not assembled by undesigned processes. This constitutes a body of knowledge from which we infer, upon observing an outboard motor under the microsope when investigating the bacterial flagellum, that the best explanation for the flagellum is that it was the product of design by an agent, not by some undesigned process.”
This is a perfec demostraiton of an argument by analogy. Let’s be perfectrly clear here:
When you look at a flaella under a microscope you do NOT see and “outboard motor.” There are no propellers, there is no carburetor, no ignition switch, no aluminum casing, no exhaust, etc.
See here: http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.apsnet.org/education/introplantpath/Topics/plantdefenses/images/fig05.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.apsnet.org/education/introplantpath/Topics/plantdefenses/text/fig05.htm&usg=__vXmLRgAcuDGJRi33ZWhUtRwAwc4=&h=320&w=480&sz=262&hl=en&start=4&tbnid=qJIamM2D7lOQ2M:&tbnh=86&tbnw=129&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dbacterial%2Bflagella%26gbv%3D2%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DG
Compare to PDS’s humorous outbaord photo linked above.
Resemblance? No. Analaogy? strecthed. Ana analogy is not proof. It’a not even evidence. It’s arhetortical device–that’s all.
The use of “Universal knowledge” is guilding the lilly. We have no such Universla knowledge.” It is an argument from ignorance. All outboard motors–every single one of them without exception–have been built by human beings. We don’t neeed a “causal history” of outboards to know that. We recognize artifical human construttions when we see them.
So, tell me–is a rattlesnakes fang and venom dleivery system–a syringe, hydraulic plunger and hinge–“intelligently designed” because only intelligent agents have “caused” syringes and hinges?



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Unapologetic Catholic

posted July 23, 2009 at 3:37 pm


My apologies. I’m “No Name” at #39.
I will take this opportunity to emphasize that the argument from analogy just wont’ work. When you do look into a microscope you don’t really see anything that resembles an outboard motor. No prop. No aluminum parts. No “Made in the USA” or serial and model number.
What you do see is a biological system that “some people” have analogized to an outboard motor because a few subparts bear some superficial resemblance to parts of an outboard motor. This cannot be surprising because both an outboard and a flagella are means of liquid propulsion.
After that, the analogy starts to fall apart. The analogy is as useful as comparing a squid’s propulsion system to a guided missle rocket engine because it employs the same physical principle and has a directable and controllable nozzle. Nobody claims a squid’s propulsion system IS a guided missle rocket engine.
ID’s claim is not based on the argument by analogy. It is based on the claim that the flagella could not have evolved becasue it is irreducibly complex. It doesn’t matter what it resembles if it’s irreducibly complex.
That was the purpose of my rattlesnake discussion. A rattlesnake’s venom delivery system appears to be just as irreducibly complex as a bacterial flagella. It is comprised of a syringe and fluid plunger system on a hinge that is attached to a reservour operated by a hydraulic pump. If you look at the system you see a syringe. Only intellgient agents have been known to manufacture syringes.
But that’s not the question. Is the venom delivery system irreducibly complex (and therefore could not have evolved)? Yes or No?



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dopderbeck

posted July 24, 2009 at 9:57 am


Unapologetic (#40) – in fairness, you’re confusing the general argument from analogy with irreducible complexity. I think you’re right that the argument from analogy can be interesting, but is not any sort of proof. But irreducible complexity goes beyond just argument from analogy to say that the system needs every component exactly in place to function, such that there cannot have been gradual intermediate steps involved in the system’s development. Behe et al. suggest that there are a number of possibilities for the construction of such a system — most notably, that it was constructed spontaneously by a freak accident, or that an intelligent agent constructed it. They suggest the latter inference is often the most reasonable one, though even this, they acknowledge, isn’t proof positive. Note that an irreducibly complex system may or may not bear some analogy to a particular human construction such as an outboard motor. The main point is that the system cannot function without all its pieces exactly in place.
I don’t know whether a rattlesnake’s venom delivery system is irreducibly complex, but I suspect it isn’t. The fangs obviously can do something useful without the venom and pump, and the venom and pump could be useful employed without the fangs or each other. It seems easy to imagine how these different components, performing useful functions of their own, eventually could fuse into a new unified system. Behe et al argue that it is nearly impossible to imagine how the parts of the flagellar motor or the biochemical blood clotting cascade could have have had any separate functions that could gradually have been brought together in useful precursors of the existing systems.



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pds

posted July 24, 2009 at 12:05 pm


RJS (#34)
You said (#24),
“I am beginning to think that you find your mission here not to really enter into a conversation, but rather to defend ID at all costs.”
This is the insult that I think has no basis, given my comments here. I am far more engaged in conversation than many others here. I have no problem dialoguing with dopderbeck and others. He has never felt the need to personally insult me, nor I him.
I have to say, my impression of the Theistic Evolution Movement (or at least the heavy naturalism version of it) has gone way down over the last few weeks. Many use misinformation about ID as a prime argumentative device, and many others remain silent even when they know this is happening. You are not going to win the hearts and minds of ordinary Christians by engaging in these tactics.



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RJS

posted July 24, 2009 at 12:15 pm


pds,
What misinformation have you heard from me?
If you consider the fact that I think irreducible complexity is not supported by the evidence to be misinformation we have a problem – because then what you consider misinformation I consider a scientific discussion weighing the merits of the proposal.
I have never (ever) said that I have a problem with the soft forms of id.



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Unapologetic Catholic

posted July 24, 2009 at 1:11 pm


Dopderbeck,
I appreciate your thoughtful response. I think it clairifed issues.
Here’s the problem:
“Behe et al argue that it is nearly impossible to imagine how the parts of the flagellar motor or the biochemical blood clotting cascade could have have had any separate functions that could gradually have been brought together in useful precursors of the existing systems.”
That is the classic forumlation of the argument from ignornance, commonly called “God of the gaps.” We don’t know how it was done, therefore….”design.”
Thre are only two argument made in favor of ID: argument by analogy (outboard motor, Mount Rushmore) and argument from ignorance (“we” can’t imagine how something evolved–threrefor design). Both are faulty.
That’s why I posted the rattlesnake example. The venom system meets Behe’s definition of irreducible complexity. The parts are all interconected and removal of one part completely disables the utility of the system. It therefore “must have” been designed to assemble all at once.
The probelem is that biologists have a very good idea how that system evolved. Behe in 1996, cast about for another sytem that had been less studied and he seized upon the flagella.
Since 1996, scientist progress has continued and scientists now also have a very good idea how the flagella evovled. If you don’t believe me just “Google Scholar: “evolution of bacterial flagella”
(remember, Google Scholar, not just Google.) You will see enough scientifc articles to require months of study.
A single article that is more readable by non-biologists than the Google Scholar articles is here: http://www.talkdesign.org/faqs/flagellum.html
When Behe first raised the flagella example in 1996, there may have been a lot less science on it. But now, thirteen years later, the gaps have been very significantly narrowed. It is pretty clear we have a good idea how the flagella could have evolved. No design necessary.



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dopderbeck

posted July 24, 2009 at 2:34 pm


Unapologetic (#44) — I don’t disagree with your overall assessment, which is why I don’t think irreducible complexity, or at least the examples of it that have been put forward, is a very compelling argument.
However, again to be fair — yes, there has been much argument about whether the bacterial flagellum really is irreducibly complex. Opponents of Behe assemble a variety of journal articles that suggest precursors to various components of the system and possible ways in which some of those precursors could have been coopted to form a proto-system.
My problem with this is two-fold: (1) I lack the real expertise needed to evaluate these papers; and (2) with my limited expertise, the meta-argument I’ve seen based on these papers seems stretched, to say the least. It really does seem like a bit of song and dance routine: “well, if you had this thingy here, and that one over there, and some other stuff we don’t know about, maybe it could all snap together…” The truth, as far as I can tell, is that systems like the flagellar motor really do present some conundra for standard evolutionary theory, and that nobody really knows how they might have self-assembled. Like you’ve said, this doesn’t mean we should jump to the conclusion that there was direct divine intervention. But I would agree with some of the IDists that in cases like this there’s often a remarkable lack of humility about what science really does and doesn’t know at this point.



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RJS

posted July 24, 2009 at 3:14 pm


dopderbeck,
No one – least of all me – would ever claim that scientists are a humble lot. In fact when you get a bunch of highly educated, intelligent, and rather egotistical people in a room sparks can fly. But there is a culture of putting out ideas to be tested and criticized by the community. The process moves forward in this way.
There are certainly problems being put forth that are a challenge for “standard evolutionary theory” – the leap is assuming that the answer is “divine intervention.” The more “reasonable” answer – the one any scientist will consider first – is that there are aspects of standard evolutionary theory that are incomplete. Perhaps an analogy in physics is the way that classical mechanics is not wrong – it is valid in the correct regime – it is simply incomplete.
The question I would want to ask those who favor a strong Intelligent Design approach is why one would want to make a leap of “divine intervention” to explain current conundra? How would one come up with a hypothesis that could be tested and proven in a fashion that would guarantee that future advances in science won’t demonstrate a “natural” mechanism?
I think the strongest position is simply one that recognizes the hand of God active in all of nature – including the so-called “natural mechanisms.” We need no “smoking gun”.



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Sacred Frenzy

posted July 24, 2009 at 3:42 pm


UC (#44): “Thre are only two argument made in favor of ID: argument by analogy (outboard motor, Mount Rushmore) and argument from ignorance (“we” can’t imagine how something evolved–threrefor design).”
I don’t have a ton of time to respond, but I want to address this common conception of ID. Suppose I said that evolution only made two arguments: argument by analogy (to artificial selection), and argument by ignorance (we can’t understand how God designed this, therefore it evolved). You would be right in protesting that I misrepresented the theory and left important elements out of it.
Likewise, I want to protest that critics who declare that ID is an argument by analogy and an argument from ignorance misrepresent ID and leave important elements out of it. Outboard motors and Mount Rushmore are not part of the ID argument because Behe et. al. have found them analogous to what we find in nature. Rather, it is the fact that what we find in nature exhibits the exact same feature of what we see in outboard motors and Mount Rushmore. That feature is information. The argument is not that the bacterial flagellum has feature p which is analogous to feature q in the outboard motor, or that the genetic code has feature r which is analogous to feature s on Mount Rushmore. The argument is that all these things exhibit a single feature (information). Moreover, in every instance where we know the causal history of that feature, it was designed by an agent rather than an unguided process. Outboard motors and Mount Rushmore exhibit the feature of information. We know (which is the opposite of ignorance) that this feature is in these things as a result of design by an intelligent agent. So we infer, then, that the huge amounts of information found in bacterial flagella and the genetic code are designed by an intelligent agent. Knowledge is the basis for this inference to design, not ignorance of unguided processes.
I haven’t read it yet , but I expect that Stephen Meyer’s new book makes this point better than I have. Another good book that makes this argument is God’s Undertaker by John Lennox of Oxford. It is endorsed by Alister McGrath even though Lennox identifies with ID.



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RJS

posted July 24, 2009 at 4:20 pm


Sacred Frenzy, pds, anyone else,
It seems to me that the purpose of the ID movement is to demonstrate empirically that materialism is not enough to explain the world we see and experience.
Do you think that this is a fair assessment – or is there something else to it?



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Unapologetic Catholic

posted July 24, 2009 at 5:59 pm


There are some good discussions here and I still have time.
Dopderbeck, We probably have thoughts that are pretty close.
“The Heavens Declare His Glory And the firmament shows His handiwork” is true. ID’s efforts to find scientific evidence of this in germ tails has been unproductive to date.
The scientific evidence for the evolution of baterial flagella is overwhhelming. The Google Scholar papers were not written in response to Behe. It is not fair to criticize those authors as Behe opponents. (On the other hand, the talk origins papers is intended to rebut Behe.) As I observed, and you recognize, the technical level of these many dozens of papers is far above the expertise and comprehension of those who comment here.
You say, “I lack the real expertise needed to evaluate these papers…” I think that ends the argument, don’t you? In all humility if we lack the educational background and expertise in a field requiring advacned degrees and expertise, how can we credibly assert that field has somehow failed to address a particular detail?
I may have thoughts on brain surgery but, really, I have no basis at all to contest the consensus of brain surgeons on the efficacy of a particular experimental surgery.
I’m not picking on you in these comments. I think you are givign credit whre credit is due. I AM picking on those who make bold assertions about the state of scientific knowledge without any advanced scientific training, experience or any other basis at all. They simply cherry pick inaccurate information from dubiously qulaified internet websites that only confirm that person’s predispositions. They ignore Google Scholar research entirely.
RJS happens to be a qualifed scientist and I give great weight to the throughtful posts here by RJS.
SF,
I’m sorry but you re-interated the argument from ignorance. Framing it as a positive assertion, not a negative assertion, doesn’t change the argument. Here is your argument:
“The argument is that all these things [outboard motors and Mt. Rushmore] exhibit a single feature (information). Moreover, in every instance where we know the causal history of that feature, it was designed by an agent rather than an unguided process. Outboard motors and Mount Rushmore exhibit the feature of information. We know (which is the opposite of ignorance) that this feature is in these things as a result of design by an intelligent agent. So we infer, then, that the huge amounts of information found in bacterial flagella and the genetic code are designed by an intelligent agent. Knowledge is the basis for this inference to design, not ignorance of unguided processes.”
We know no such thing. All of the examples given to demostrate “information” are, as I pointed out much earlier in this thread, “artificial.” What makes them obviously designed to us in every case is their artificiality–not their information content.
Question: What is the information content of Mt. Rushmore compared to the information content my photo of the rock Kennedy linked above? What are the units of measure for this quality of “information” (bits? Dembskis?) and how did you calculate it? What’s the formula?
Question: Is the information content of a flagella higher or lower than that of an outboard motor? How do we know? You say that its information content is “huge.” Compared to what?
All you have done is taken an unquantifiable quality of “artificiality” and re-named it “information.” You’ve then linked a blanket statement that all objects with “information” are known to be designed, when the correct formulation is “All artificial objects are known to be man-made.”
You skipped the step of calculating the information content of a flagella because you don’t know how to do it. You’ve completely skipped showing any undisputed example of non-human creation of “information.” You’ve then assumed what you are ignorant about and trying to prove–the “huge” information content of a biological system–and extrapolated that assumption in the blind to claim that a certain biological object is also designed just like the artifical objects we are familair with.
Essentially, under this argument, “information” is like pornography. You can’t define it and you can’t quantify it but “You know it when you see it.” (Thanks to Justice Potter Stewart)
Can you see why this is an argument from ignorance?



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Sacred Frenzy

posted July 24, 2009 at 11:48 pm


UC (#49): “I’m sorry but you re-interated the argument from ignorance. Framing it as a positive assertion, not a negative assertion, doesn’t change the argument.”
It does change the argument: from negative (ignorance) to positive (knowledge). If you can’t accept that, I have nothing else to say.
I was not offering an exhaustive argument, just a brief sketch of it. Consult the works of Behe and Dembski for the answers to the questions you asked. Many of these issues are still being worked on. To assert that the ID argument is an argument from ignorance is to make an argument from ignorance about the intracacies of ID.



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pds

posted July 25, 2009 at 10:18 am


peelingdragonskin.wordpress.com
RJS (#43)
I did not say that you personally use misinformation. I said many did.
RJS (#48)
I have just skimmed the last few comments so forgive me if I missed something. I saw RJS’s question and it does not appear that anyone addressed it:
“It seems to me that the purpose of the ID movement is to demonstrate empirically that materialism is not enough to explain the world we see and experience.
Do you think that this is a fair assessment – or is there something else to it?”
No, I don’t see that as the main purpose or even one of the primary purposes. I see many goals of the ID movement, and the goals vary I am sure from individual to individual. One is to do good science, and to separate evidence-based science from worldview-based science. To show that there is evidence for evolution and evidence against it, and that there is a very good basis for skepticism about aspects of evolution based on the science, apart from any theological convictions. Also, to show that inferring design from evidence is a scientific enterprise, separate from any implications there may be. Also, to rebut the pernicious paradigm in our culture that anyone who doubts Darwin’s theory is a stupid, fanatical, religious nutcase.
For some, the apologetic implications are very important. But I think all in the movement agree that any supernatural or theological implications are secondary to ID. Most importantly, they are *implications* and not inherent to ID.
Darwin on Trial lays this out pretty clearly. I sometimes wonder if anyone has actually read it.



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Unapologetic Catholic

posted July 25, 2009 at 2:14 pm


Unfortunately for Johnson, too many of us have read Darwin on Trial.
Darwin on Trial does lay out something pretty clearly: Intelligent Design equals creationism. It was, of coure, written immediately after Edwards v. Aguillard, the U.S. Supreme Court case banning the teaching of creation-science in Louisiana schools. The creation industry simply re-branded to “intelligent design.” Phillip E. Johnson, a creationist lawyer following in the footsteps of Wendell Bird, makes it plain in Darwin on Trial that he does not accept either common ancestry or common descent–two beliefs diagnostic for creationism.
He spends a substantial portion of the book criticizing the Supreme Court’s ruling. His legal analysis is defective, to put it very kindly. His legal analysis has been re-argued and uniformly rejected in a number of cases acroos the country. Kitzmiller v. Dover is the most famous of these.
Unfortunately, the “apologetic implications” are everything to Phillip E. Johnson. All other considerations, inclduding facts and evidence, are secondary.
Here’s Johnson: “My primary goal in writing Darwin On Trial was to legitimate the assertion of a theistic worldview in the secular universities.”
Darwin on Trial, and his later book, Defeating Darwinism, are both apologetics books where accuracy is secondary to the apologetics purpose of establishing a theistic worldview. Both books are at some distance from the truth.
Johnson in Defeating Darwinism: “I had two goals in writing these books…First, I wanted to make it possible to question natualistic assumptions inthe secular academic community. Second, I wanted to redefine what is true inthe creation-evolution controversy, so that Chrstians, and other believers in God, could find common ground in the most fundamantal issue-the reality of God as our true Creator.”
His books demostrte an extreme binary outlook leading to several major errors. Atheistic evolution or Creationism…nothing in the middle. He refers to theistic evolutionists as “accomodationists” flatly contradicting his claim for “comon ground” on the most fundamental issue. He also makes it clear that ID is a “cover” for creationism just until the materialistic secular worldview is overthrown as set out in his Wedge strategy.
Which leads us to RJS’s perceptive question: “It seems to me that the purpose of the ID movement is to demonstrate empirically that materialism is not enough to explain the world we see and experience.
Do you think that this is a fair assessment – or is there something else to it?”
As PDS makes plain in his response incorporating Johnson, there’s something else to it. It’s all about the apologetics. ID is a dissguised effort to introduce the supernatural into science. As such, it is doomed to failure.
Even Christian reviewers of the book find it deeply flawed precisely becasue Johnson rejects theistic evolutionism and ignores the convergence of several lines of evidence supporitng evolution.
http://www.asa3.org/gray/evolution_trial/dotreview.html



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Unapologetic Catholic

posted July 25, 2009 at 2:30 pm


Sacred Frenzy,
Thank you for your response. I have checked the work of Behe and Dembski to see if they answer my questions regariding quantification and measurement of information in biological systems (and outboards).
They have not.
I concur with your assessment: “Many of these issues are still being worked on.” In plain English, that means they can’t answer my questions yet.
That also means they are ignorant of the fundamental facts necessary to support their ID claims. If ID claims that the flagella has “huge” amounts of “information” compared to the information found in undesigned biological features, yet can’t comprehesibly define either “huge” or “information” in biological systems, they are not proposing a scientific theory as that term is generally understood.
Until they do so, ID remains an argument from ignorance.



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pds

posted July 27, 2009 at 11:46 am


UC (#52)
Your comments would be simply laughable, if they did not contain so much misinformation about ID.
You said,
“Darwin on Trial does lay out something pretty clearly: Intelligent Design equals creationism.”
Readers my be interested in knowing what Johnson actually says in Darwin on Trial:
“My purpose is to examine the scientific evidence on its own terms, being careful to distinguish the evidence itself from any religious or philosophical bias that might distort our interpretation of that evidence. I assume that the creation-scientists are biased by their precommitment to Biblical fundamentalism, and I will have very little to say about their position. The question I want to investigate is whether Darwinism is based upon a fair assessment of the scientific evidence, or whether it is another kind of fundamentalism.”
I am getting the impression that lots of people in the Theistic Evolution Movement enjoy being misled and remaining ignorant about ID. Very sad.



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