Daniel Dennett: Intelligent design? Show me the science

| 172 Comments

The never ending stream of articles critical of Intelligent Design have appeared since Bush made his ill-timed statement.

Daniel C. Dennett, a professor of philosophy at Tufts University, is the author of “Freedom Evolves” and “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea”, joins the virtual fray.

In Intelligent Design: Show me the science Dennett explores Intelligent Design.

Dennett Wrote:

Is “intelligent design” a legitimate school of scientific thought? Is there something to it, or have these people been taken in by one of the most ingenious hoaxes in the history of science? Wouldn’t such a hoax be impossible? No. Here’s how it has been done.

Dennett correctly observes how natural selection is not only an observed process but it also has been shown to be able to generate “ingeneous designs”

Dennett Wrote:

Well, yes - until you look at what contemporary biology has demonstrated beyond all reasonable doubt: that natural selection - the process in which reproducing entities must compete for finite resources and thereby engage in a tournament of blind trial and error from which improvements automatically emerge - has the power to generate breathtakingly ingenious designs.

As an example, Dennett discusses the evolution of the eye

Dennett Wrote:

Take the development of the eye, which has been one of the favorite challenges of creationists. How on earth, they ask, could that engineering marvel be produced by a series of small, unplanned steps? Only an intelligent designer could have created such a brilliant arrangement of a shape-shifting lens, an aperture-adjusting iris, a light-sensitive image surface of exquisite sensitivity, all housed in a sphere that can shift its aim in a hundredth of a second and send megabytes of information to the visual cortex every second for years on end

172 Comments

Dennett: “…contemporary biology has demonstrated beyond all reasonable doubt … that natural selection - the process in which reproducing entities must compete for finite resources and thereby engage in a tournament of blind trial and error from which improvements automatically emerge - has the power to generate breathtakingly ingenious designs.”

What breathtaking idiocy! Natural selection doesn’t “generate” anything; it is a negative process which edits that which has been generated in connection with another process, e.g. mutation.

Prof. Dennett obviously needs a proofreader.

Perhaps Dennett’s comments may appear to subtle for the ID creationists. If mutation does not generate anything and natural selection does not generate anything then what does? In information theory, it is the mutual information between environment and the genome which ‘generates’ and it is natural selection which increases this mutual information.

Let me know if you have anymore questions.

So how much does the proof-reader of natural selection supply to the sense of the final article compared with the mutations and variations in the use of the basic word kit that was acquired and deployed by the writer? ;-)

I’m wondering how Dennet knows Evolution is blind, or that Natural selection is even random?

And has “Dennett” actually shown that RM & NS was the driving force behind the evolution of the eye? My understanding is that those skeptical of darwinian forces request a step by step account? Is that asking too much and what should we do if we don’t have it? Even if intelligent design isn’t science it still raises questions about the “epistemic status” of historical, biological conclusions like the one Dennet is making.

I suppose it’s possible it evovled by this process “in which reproducing entities must compete for finite resources and thereby engage in a tournament of blind trial and error from which improvements automatically emerge”. Of course that must mean it either did evovle that way *or* that this is the most likely way things occured.. so shut up and go back into your cave. :-)

Neurode is clearly a fool – pompous, but a fool. The claim was that the filtration of natural selection can (and does) generate breathtakingly ingenious designs. Filtering often generates something new, albeit not new with respect to that which is filtered. (I assume Neurode is aware that filters are subtractive processes). Yet the resultant may accurately be described as breathtakingly ingenious even though what is in the filtrate was in the material filtered. This is as true in chemistry as it is in electronic music – filtration generates even though it is subtractive. Pfeh. The man is hardly worth bothering with. His knee-jerk repetitive outbursts aren’t even amusing, let alone thought-provoking.

hugs, Shirley Knott

Oh man, I just had a burst of insight reading that article! When is someone going to point out to the “folks” that think everything needs a designer, that all their examples of cars and buildings and paintings have ALL BEEN MADE POSSIBLE BY TRIAL AND ERROR over centuries of work! Argh, it’s so simple, it galls me. A structural engineer can’t just design a skyscraper out of the blue, he depends on the experience and learning from all the FAILURES (and subsequent successes) of all the builders before him.

Shirley Knott: “The claim was that the filtration of natural selection can (and does) generate breathtakingly ingenious designs.”

Yes…that’s the claim that was idiotic on Dennett’s part (and now on yours as well). A filtrative or subtractive process is not the same as a generative process. To generate something is to give rise to it, whereas filtration merely acts on something to which another process has previously given rise. This is a crucial distinction, and to deny it would result in all kinds of conceptual problems in various branches of empirical and mathematical science.

Plump-DJ Wrote:

My understanding is that those skeptical of darwinian forces request a step by step account?

Maybe if you actually did your homework instead of blindly repeating the same crap that every other IDist or creationist keep spiting out over the years, you’d see that Darwin (over 100 years ago) refuted the “eye” controversy himself and plainly gave a “step by step” account.

Here is a recap of the Darwinian account:

creationtheory.org Wrote:

The eye starts as a light-sensitive cell, which turns into a group of cells, which eventually forms a concave indentation in the surface of the organism. This concave indentation becomes more and more pronounced over time, until it becomes quite deep and various fluids tend to build up inside. Eventually, a protective/focusing cover develops. Voila! Eyeball.

At every stage in this process, the agglomeration of cells is light sensitive and therefore useful. Each stage has superior visual acuity to the previous stage. Get it yet?

I’m sure further investigation will provide you with the actual account from Darwin himself.

Ved Rocke,

I fail to see what you are trying to say. Looks like you may be in support of ID, or not. Can’t tell. Please verify.

The Paley argument that draws an analogy between artefacts and living things comes from a time when technologies were simpler than they are at present. It was far more plausible to understand design as the application of an individual’s idea to raw materials when the resulting gizmos were relatively simple. Contemporary technological objects obviously don’t come into being in this fashion, not only because a long process or trial and error is involved but because very little of much consequence can reasonably be called the brainchild of one person–nobody’s thought balloon is big enough to contain the blue print of a computer. Even in the industrial revolution, the great innovators earned their reputations largely because of their entrepreneurial skills at acquiring the necessary capital to implement some scheme or other or because they had a better lawyer than the folks who actually invented the thing or because, like most of our famous scientists, they were gifted with a superior ability to garner the credit. The ancient schema of the craftsman and his plan doesn’t explain technologies any better than it explains the evolution of living things.

I’m wondering how Dennet knows Evolution is blind, or that Natural selection is even random?

I’m wondering about your competence to understand the discussion. Is there a claim on the table that “natural selection is random”?

And has “Dennett” actually shown that RM & NS was the driving force behind the evolution of the eye? My understanding is that those skeptical of darwinian forces request a step by step account? Is that asking too much and what should we do if we don’t have it?

We should acknowledge that we are never going to have the complete mutation-by-mutation account of the evolution of any structure, and admit that, therefore, every alternative is equiprobable.

Even if intelligent design isn’t science it still raises questions about the “epistemic status” of historical, biological conclusions like the one Dennet[sic] is making.

See, it’s all about an honest intellectual inquiry into epistemic robustness…

…so shut up and go back into your cave.

…or, not.

Neurode dearie, I doubt you would recognize a ‘conceptual problem’ if one bit you on your remaining neuron. You are looking intensely at the surface, ignoring context and nuance, in your desparate attempt to hold to your claims that only what you pronounce to be meaningful can possibly be meaningful. Consider a filtration of a body of text which has been claimed to contain codes – are the artifacts found generated in any useful sense of the term? Of course. Consider the filtration of white noise – are the resultant tones generated by the process in any useful sense of the term? Clearly yes. Equally clearly there is potential for confusion in that the result was generated by the filtration, even though the content of the result was ‘always present’. Failure to appreciate such distinctions would lead to a breakdown in ability to draw distinctions between the material and the formal, which would be the death of conceptual thought. Of course, since the death of conceptual thought seems to be the ID goal, as well as one of your tawdry little goals, you may not see this as a criticism. (Assuming you are capable of determining which word spelled “may” is intended in the preceeding, which we may doubt.)

hugs, Shirley Knott

This is a crucial distinction, and to deny it would result in all kinds of conceptual problems in various branches of empirical and mathematical science.

How dreadful.

Hey Neurode, for some odd reason, you didn’t answer the simple question I asked of you the last time you were here.

No problem – I’ll ask again. And again and again and again and again, as many times as I need to, every time you show up here, until you either answer or run away.

*ahem*

I have just one question. All I want to know is this: what is the scientific theory of creation (or intelligent design) and how can we test it using the scientific method?

I do *NOT* want you to respond with a long laundry list of (mostly inaccurate) criticisms of evolutionary biology. They are completely irrelevant to a scientific theory of creation or intelligent design. I want to see the scientific alternative that you are proposing—- the one you want taught in public school science classes, the one that creationists and intelligent design “theorists” testified under oath in Arkansas, Louisiana, Kansas and elsewhere is SCIENCE and is NOT based on religious doctrine. Let’s assume for the purposes of this discussion that evolutionary biology is indeed absolutely completely totally irretrievable unalterably irrevocably 100% dead wrong. Fine. Show me your scientific alternative. Show me how your scientific theory explains things better than evolutionary biology does. Let’s see this superior “science” of yours.

Any testible scientific theory of creation should be able to provide answers to several questions: (1) how did life begin, (3) how did the current diversity of life appear, and (3) what mechanisms were used in these processes and where can we see these mechanisms today.

Any testible scientific theory of intelligent design should be able to give testible answers to other questions: (1) what exactly did the Intelligent Designer(s) do, (2) what mechanisms did the Designer(s) use to do whatever it is you think it did, (3) where can we see these mechanisms in action today, and (4) what objective criteria can we use to determine what entities are “intelligently designed” and what entities aren’t (please illustrate this by pointing to something that you think IS designed, something you think is NOT designed, and explain how to tell the difference).

If your, uh, “scientific theory” isn’t able to answer any of these questions yet, then please feel free to tell me how you propose to scientifically answer them. What experiments or tests can we perform, in principle, to answer these questions.

Also, since one of the criteria of “science” is falsifiability, I’d like you to tell me how your scientific theory, whatever it is, can be falsified. What experimental results or observations would conclusively prove that creation/intelligent design did not happen.

Another part of the scientific method is direct testing. One does not establish “B” simply by demonstrating that “A” did not happen. I want you to demonstrate “B” directly. So don’t give me any “there are only two choices, evolution or creation, and evolution is worng so creation must be right” baloney. I will repeat that I do NOT want a big long laundry list of “why evolution is wrong”. I don’t care why evolution is wrong. I want to know what your alternative is, and how it explains data better than evolution does.

I’d also like to know two specific things about this “alternative scientific theory”: How old does “intelligent design/creationism theory” determine the universe to be. Is it millions of years old, or thousands of years old. And does ‘intelligent design/creationism theory’ determine that humans have descended from apelike primates, or does it determine that they have not.

I look forward to seeing your “scientific theories”.

Unless, of course, you don’t HAVE any, and ID/creationists are simply lying to us when they claim they do . …

Lenny, your long search for the Theory of ID is finally at an end. Here it is. First, ID Physics:

[1] In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. [2] And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. [3] And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. [4] And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. [5] And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. [6] And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. [7] And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. [8] And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. [9] And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. [10] And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

And now, ID Biology:

[10] And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. [11] And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. [12] And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. [13] And the evening and the morning were the third day. [14] And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: [15] And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. [16] And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. [17] And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, [18] And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. [19] And the evening and the morning were the fourth day. [20] And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. [21] And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. [22] And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. [23] And the evening and the morning were the fifth day. [24] And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. [25] And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. [26] And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. [27] So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Ta-da!

And please don’t ask for anything more.

ID is not a mechanistic theory, and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories.

–Wiliam Dembski, “The Isaac Newton of Information Theory”

steve,

What you posted isn’t a theory.

What you posted is a story from an ancient book of tribal myths and legends that are no more scientific than Homer’s Illiad and the Odessy.

I am posting the information below for those ignorant of what a theory actually is.

theory

a working hypothesis that is considered probable based on experimental evidence or factual or conceptual analysis and is accepted as a basis for experimentation.

hypothesis

A tentative explanation for an observation, phenomenon, or scientific problem that can be tested by further investigation.

conceptual

Relating to concepts or the the formation of concepts.

concept

An explanatory principle in a scientific system.

analysis

The separation of an intellectual or material whole into its constituent parts for individual study.

When you seperate the “Genesis Account” into its constituent parts, they have been shamelessly shown to be very im-probable.

TRY AGAIN!

Shirley: “You are looking intensely at the surface, ignoring context and nuance…”

Unfortunately, this is not merely a matter of “context and nuance”; this is a very important distinction at the root of the ID-neoDarwinism controversy.

NeoDarwinists like to believe that natural selection (NS) determines evolution by eliminating forms already generated in association with mutation. NS supposedly accomplishes this gradually, a little bit at a time. However, NS is only the mill and not the grist; it is not responsible for producing the evolutionary information implicit in any given mutation of any size, but merely for making mutations stack up in a particular way.

You, like Dennett, call this process “generative”, but it isn’t. The generative stage is the one which produces the individual mutations, not the one which merely stacks them up; obviously, the mutations must already be present in order to get stacked.

Neo-Darwinism essentially says that the generative stage of evolution can be effectively “random”, meaning that all possible genetic mutations are produced in measure proportional to their individual probabilities without respect to phenotype, provided only that NS properly decimates the resulting forms; IDT, as properly formulated, says that the generative stage is also important, since without the phenotypic information implicit in mutation, NS has no raw material to sculpt over the long term.

Each theory is correct within its range and complementary to the other. Neo-Darwinism accentuates natural selection and is thus useful with respect to statistically-determined population effects; ID accentuates the generative aspect of mutation and, while temporarily of limited explanatory and predictive power (as Lenny here has made a minor career out of observing), nevertheless attempts a broad characterization in terms of “design”, a kind of process already observed in nature, which would in turn imply a generic analogue of intelligence. While this characterization is obviously rudimentary and (thus far) unpredictive, neither can it be definitively described as “unscientific”.

This is very basic stuff, Shirley and Lenny. I suggest that you and your pal Dennett try to get your minds around it before bloviating any further on this topic.

Miah, here is sarcasm. Sarcasm, here is Miah. Now I’ll let you to know each other better.

AKA: I think steve was being tongue in cheek.

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

Neurode, unless you produce, as Lenny has asked you again and again, an ID theory, all your comments here are useless. You cannot compare Evolution theory to ID theory because the second doesn’t exist. So produce it or stop flogging the cardboard horse.

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

Thanks Grey Wolfe:

I was thinking sarcasm at first, but by his last post where steve quoted Dembeski…it then threw me off.

Albeit, I think my post should function for anyone providing the “theory of Intelligent Design”.

Would you agree?

Course now somebody is going to blast steve for associating Dembeski as a creationist, or at least aluding to the idea that the “Genesis account” is the same as Itelligent Design Theory in which Dembeski is not a YEC wherein the Genesis Account is YEC handbook material.

I apologize, steve, for not catching that sarcasm earlier, or the “tongue in cheek”.

Neurode -

Here is a question I asked on another thread. Perhaps you didn’t see it…

It was in regards to your statement that ID predicts “order”. Please describe what features of observed order are better explained by ID than by evolution, or where ID can provide an explanation of “order” where evolution cannot.

I’d like to backtrack a little and ask why ID predicts order at all?

neurode Wrote:

Neo-Darwinism essentially says that the generative stage of evolution can be effectively “random”, meaning that all possible genetic mutations are produced in measure proportional to their individual probabilities without respect to phenotype, provided only that NS properly decimates the resulting forms;…

Actually, experimental observation says that mutations are in fact produced without respect to resulting phenotype.

…IDT, as properly formulated, says that the generative stage is also important, since without the phenotypic information implicit in mutation, NS has no raw material to sculpt over the long term.

Are you saying that IDT claims that mutational probabilities are biased with respect to resulting phenotype? The evidence is overwhelmingly against such a claim.

If you’re just saying that NS requires a source of hereditable variation to act on, yeah, but how is that a proper formulation of IDT?

Grey Wolf: “Neurode, unless you produce, as Lenny has asked you again and again, an ID theory, all your comments here are useless. You cannot compare Evolution theory to ID theory because the second doesn’t exist. So produce it or stop flogging the cardboard horse.”

Perhaps we have a bit of confusion here. Specifically, Grey Wolf seems to have me confused with someone who believes that evolution does not occur, and who says that ID proponents already have a predictive theory. But I don’t believe or say that.

However, I will throw GW and Lenny a small bone to worry: science cannot be limited to prediction alone. In order to have any scientific value whatsoever, predictions must be based on explanations. Thus, in science, explanation comes first and prediction second.

Now, if one chooses a particular degree of generality or specificity distinguishing “scientific” from “unscientific” explanations, one runs into a problem, because we require that scientific hypotheses be fully generalizable. So there’s really no such thing in science as being “too general” or “insufficiently specific”; technically, science accommodates all levels of explanation.

Lenny might not like this, since it doesn’t mesh well with his cookie-cutter analysis of scientific methodology. But that’s too bad, because when it comes right down to it, Lenny’s opinion plus a dollar will no longer buy you a cup of joe.

rdog29 wants to know how ID “predicts order”. It’s really quite obvious, rdog. Intelligence is a real phenomenon, and it is known to generate order in great abundance. Thus, any hypothesis implicating intelligence in the causation of a class of natural phenomena implicitly predicts some amount of order therein (unless the intelligence in question is somehow bent on disorder, which would, however, still be the output of intelligent, and therefore orderly, processing).

How would an intelligent design advocate go about detecting disorder that had been created by orderly processing?

neurode, much of your most recent post seems to be bafflegab. Perhaps you could explain?

Perhaps we have a bit of confusion here. Specifically, Grey Wolf seems to have me confused with someone who believes that evolution does not occur, and who says that ID proponents already have a predictive theory. But I don’t believe or say that.

That’s reassuring. Inconsistent with some of your other statements, but reassuring.

However, I will throw GW and Lenny a small bone to worry: science cannot be limited to prediction alone. In order to have any scientific value whatsoever, predictions must be based on explanations. Thus, in science, explanation comes first and prediction second.

This appears to be semantically meaningless. Science cannot predict without explanations - that’s what the predictions are derived from. So this is nothing to worry about in the slightest.

Now, if one chooses a particular degree of generality or specificity distinguishing “scientific” from “unscientific” explanations, one runs into a problem, because we require that scientific hypotheses be fully generalizable.

Nope. We don’t. This remark appears to say more about your lack of understanding of both ‘science’ and the scientific method than anything else. Or perhaps you can tell me how the predicted behavior of the strong force can be generalized to explain Dante?

So there’s really no such thing in science as being “too general” or “insufficiently specific”; technically, science accommodates all levels of explanation.

Which appears to contradict what you’ve just said. Perhaps you try to form a consistent argument within a single post? Thanks.

Lenny might not like this, since it doesn’t mesh well with his cookie-cutter analysis of scientific methodology. But that’s too bad, because when it comes right down to it, Lenny’s opinion plus a dollar will no longer buy you a cup of joe.

Irrelevant rhetoric. Lenny has asked you for the theory of ID. Apparently there isn’t one. You can avoid answering the question for as long as you like, but the plain fact is that ID has no theory. It’s merely an unformalized intuition. Dembski occasionally tries to put some ‘formalization’ around that intuition, but since he’s utterly clueless about biology, his work is worse than useless.

rdog29 wants to know how ID “predicts order”. It’s really quite obvious, rdog. Intelligence is a real phenomenon, and it is known to generate order in great abundance. Thus, any hypothesis implicating intelligence in the causation of a class of natural phenomena implicitly predicts some amount of order therein (unless the intelligence in question is somehow bent on disorder, which would, however, still be the output of intelligent, and therefore orderly, processing).

A perfect nonsense remark: intelligence predicts order or disorder. In fact, whatever we find, according to you, is consonant with intelligent design.

Great! An intution that no only explains nothing, but actually says nothing.

OK. Neurode accepts that evolution does, in fact, occur. And that there is no “predictive” theory of ID. And, while predictive is nice, you can still have an “explanation-based” theory without.

So what is the “explanation-based” theory of ID?

Intelligence is a real phenomenon, and it is known to generate order in great abundance. Thus, any hypothesis implicating intelligence in the causation of a class of natural phenomena implicitly predicts some amount of order therein (unless the intelligence in question is somehow bent on disorder, which would, however, still be the output of intelligent, and therefore orderly, processing).

Talk about things that won’t buy me a cup o’ joe! Intelligent design theory predicts order in natural phenomena (as a side issue, I thought IDT was deduced from such order; wouldn’t that make this a rather circular exercise), but might be intent on disorder, in which case one would predict disorder from IDT. But one would know that the unknown mechanisms by which this unknown intelligence had produced said disorder, had been orderly.

Brilliant.

Ah, but can we tell how much of the observed order is due to intelligent input, and how much is due to evolution? At what point do we draw the line, or at least a fuzzy boundry? ID will have to address this question, and come up with some metric for determining this.

ID will also have to explain why (non-human) order is necessarily the result of intelligent input. Analogies won’t cut it, and thus far Dembski’s theories have failed.

And if the intelligent agent is equally adept at creating disorder as well as order, well now we’re really in a pickle. How would you distinguish “designed” disorder from “natural” disorder?

I realize this is an evolution vs creationism debate, but a word that appeared above in one of the comments has always given me pause: “improvement.” Now, I’m on the evolution side of things, but this word is a head-scratcher for me – I’d appreciate any clarification.

My problem might simply be a case of ancient hangover from having read Pirsig’s bike book. But I don’t understand how natural selection improves anything. Doesn’t it just allow that which is fit for present circumstances to persist? Wouldn’t the notion of improvement be bringing the “quality” ghost into the machine? Granted, time and environment press certain biological substances into more and more complexity, but can said complexity really be improvement? Seems to be a fallacy of valuation in using that word.

Rilke’s GD: “neurode, much of your most recent post seems to be bafflegab. Perhaps you could explain?”

That shouldn’t be necessary, at least for those who don’t go out of their ways to misunderstand, misconstrue or just plain tune out what I say. As far as those people are concerned, I simply don’t care what they think. Since, unfortunately, this seems to include Rilke’s Granddaughter, I feel comfortable terminating my response right … here.

Or in other words, the Designer(s) is(are) incapable of producing a perfect RNG.

neurode

You have demonstrated that:

1) You are fairly intelligent, well spoken, and well versed in philosophical thought. 2) You haven’t the slightest ability to recognize your own embarassingly illogical trains of thought and argument.

It is like you are so mesmerized by the height of your own intelligence that you don’t realize your shoes are untied and your zipper is down. So while you are dexterously weaving what you perceive to be solid and damning arguments against the vacuity of modern science, the rest of us here are pointing and snickering at your red-and-white polka dot boxers.

The best thing you can do for yourself is get some self awareness. If you do that I guarantee you’ll be able to put together much better arguments than the utter bull you’re spouting here in this thread.

Cheers!

Ock·ham’s razor also Oc·cam’s razor n.

A rule in science and philosophy stating that entities should not be multiplied needlessly. This rule is interpreted to mean that the simplest of two or more competing theories is preferable and that an explanation for unknown phenomena should first be attempted in terms of what is already known. Also called law of parsimony.

The concept of an Intelligent Designer is a redundant term, or as per the definition above and unknown phenomena. So Plump-DJ, the Intelligent Desiger isn’t needed, wherein it’s inclusion offers nothing more than an unknown. It may work equally well, but since there is no way to detect the Designer, it is not needed.

No one has asserted that Davies is wrong on Dennett’s say so.

You questionined his authority to speak of the matter and said “well he’s not a biologst!” I knew Davies was not a biologist, i also pointed out the fact his point was philosophical in nature so even as a biologist he would not have been an “authority”. That makes your point somewhat meaningless in the end.

If our knowledge of biology increases the impression of design, (as Shapiro a *real* authority suggests) if the direct analogies to human engineering strengthen, if the need for greater amounts of intelligent concepts are required to understand these systems (Biolgoists working with engineers for example?) then this flaty argues against the point of view which says biology is without teleological content. No, it doesn’t, and I’ve already explained why — we have a non-teleological predictive model that explains the evidence, including the appearance of design.

It predicts and explains everything and nothing. This is my problem with ‘your’ theory. Once again, i am not denying that biology has evolved or been shaped by the environment with respect to time or that there are lots of data items which make sense when looked at through the prism of “evolutionary theory”, I merely think your claims about it “explaining” *all* the data is overzealous and even false. And the notion that “evolution makes predictions” – What if it ‘predicts’ things which turn out to be false or incorrect? No problem – we can still account for “x” and “not X”.

It also explains the many ways in which biology differs from human engineering.

And the many ways it’s similar too. You cannot ignore specific examples of biological systems directly relating to human systems while only talking about the ones that differ, *especially* if you are speaking about wether or not reality has real design or not.

If the dispute is “Is this a real duck or a clever duck simulacrum?” then saying “Because it looks, walks, and quacks like a duck if must be a duck” begs the question. And it’s plain dishonest when careful examination reveals whirring sounds and plastic “feathers”.

I have responded to this. As an analogy to real biology, the more we study these so called ducks the more they look like ducks and not ducks with plastic feathers. This only supports the conclusion that they’re actually ducks! You’re trying to sneak in a premise which I do not accept. *If* the more we studied these ducks, the more they actually looked fake then you might have a point, but so far as your point relates to many biolgocial systems I don’t think you do.

And If the feathers have the continued appearence of being real fethers, when can we conclude they’re actually real feathers?

Ockham said “entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily”, which is the point I made, and your avoidance of it is dishonest.

It would’ve been had I not offered an example, which you have ignored. I responded with an example of how positing free will (a horribly messy entity) is far more complicated then a theory which does not have it and can account for things without it. Now as I said you can account for things like free will in purely materialistic terms if you like without any need to figure out how this free will thing works. Much like teleology, why not just get rid of it since it’s so much ‘simpler’? Or maybe, it’s not that simple afterall?

You’re not appealing to Dawkins as an authority are you? No, I’m pointing out something he said that is strongly supported by the evidence, evidence you would be familiar with if you had gotten that education. But you already noted that you’re “not sufficently knowledgable to address that question just yet”.

And which evidence is that then? Hopefully none of the stuff you’ve offered today.

I’ve offered evidence that flaty contradicts his metaphysical claim about the nature of reality and evolution being wthiout teleological content! No, you haven’t.

Sure have - you just don’t like them. That doesn’t however remove them from the table.

He’s made a direct statement about the nature of reality, not a vague “maybe” or “there’s reason to suggest” — but a direct metaphysical claim. I have already addressed this. You are acting in bad faith.

And Dennett & Dawkins are following the data where it leads when they make their philosophical proclimations aren’t they? Round and round and round she goes — where she stops, nobody knows!

This is my problem with ‘your’ theory.

Your problem with it is that you’re “not sufficently knowledgable to address that question just yet”.

It also explains the many ways in which biology differs from human engineering.

And the many ways it’s similar too.

There’s an echo in here. Yes, the theory of evolution explains both.

As an analogy to real biology, the more we study these so called ducks the more they look like ducks and not ducks with plastic feathers.

No, you’re wrong, which was the point of “the many ways in which biology differs from human engineering”.

Ockham said “entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily”, which is the point I made, and your avoidance of it is dishonest.

It would’ve been had I not offered an example, which you have ignored.

Your offering an example was part of your dishonest avoidance of the point.

And which evidence is that then? Hopefully none of the stuff you’ve offered today.

The massive evidence that we have of the biological world. What I offered was the suggestion that you get an education.

I’ve offered evidence that flaty contradicts his metaphysical claim about the nature of reality and evolution being wthiout teleological content! No, you haven’t.

Sure have - you just don’t like them. That doesn’t however remove them from the table.

Contradiction is a concept in logic. You have failed to demonstrate any contradiction, you merely asserted it.

And Dennett & Dawkins are following the data where it leads when they make their philosophical proclimations aren’t they? Round and round and round she goes —- where she stops, nobody knows!

You go round and round, while science marches on – and that, not metaphysics, is where Dennett & Dawkins’ interests lie.

Plump-DJ Wrote:

You cannot ignore specific examples of biological systems directly relating to human systems while only talking about the ones that differ, *especially* if you are speaking about wether or not reality has real design or not.

I would agree with you if there were specific examples that resemble human systems of design. So far, each one have been refuted many times…over and over and over again. Check out pattern recognition.

But as the point has been clearly made numerous times…evolution explains certain biological systems to appear designed.

Wouldn’t asserting a contradiction without demonstration also be considered begging the question?

I would agree with you if there were specific examples that resemble human systems of design.

Bat echolocation is a specific example that closely resembles human-designed sonar, as Dawkins discusses in detail in “The Blind Watchmaker”. However, this example, like all the other examples, does not prove a teleological design process – that would be a fallacy of affirmation of the consequent. OTOH, Dawkins doesn’t prove that the watchmaker is blind, he only demonstrates that no foresight is necessary, that there isn’t any evidence of foresight, that a blind watchmaker could produce what we find in the biological world. That we explain the products of a blind watchmaker using the same sorts of concepts as we would use for the products a watchmaker with foresight doesn’t tell us that the watchmaker has foresight, but that is the inference that Plump-DJ is erroneously trying to draw. Bat echolocation isn’t evidence of teleology unless one assumes that echolocation can only be the result of intent – that is circular reasoning, aka petitio principii, aka begging the question.

To repeat a crucial point: it isn’t just that living things do not show any evidence of intelligent design, but that there is lots of positive evidence that they came to be without design. For example, the technological objects that most resemble living things are precisely those that were developed using methods analogous to or formally identical with natural selection.

Wouldn’t asserting a contradiction without demonstration also be considered begging the question?

No I would think that’s simply called “not supporting your argument!” The conclusion was not assumed by any means.

As for your main point, I was only arguing in generalities as my quotes from James Shapiro and Paul Davies indicated. These were added to support the view that there is an increased usage of teleological language and ideas needed to understand biological systems along with an increased impression of “design” found in modern biological systems the more we understand how they work.

And from the abstract of Shaprio’s Paper “A 21st Century View of Evolution”. Check out his use ot teleological language

“Complexity permits sophisticated information processing. Cells have to deal with literally millions of biochemical reactions during each cell cycle and also with innumerable unpredictable contingencies. They are constantly evaluating multiple internal and external signals and adjusting their activities to continue the basic processes of survival and reproduction. Cells carry out their computations by a process of molecular interactions. More molecules means more powerful computational capacity .”

Genomes integrate into cellular information processing because they are organized as computational storage organelles. That is, DNA serves as a data storage medium. To participate in cellular activities, genomes interact computationally with dynamic cellular complexes composed largely (but not exclusively) of proteins. As we shall see, genomes are built (Lego-like) of hierarchically organized modular systems. Much like the programs stored on a computer drive, genomic systems and subsystems are formatted by generic (i.e. repetitive) signals that provide functional addresses for the data in each module. The formatting is as important as the data (i.e. protein coding sequences) in providing a Genome System Architecture for each organism or species.”

I’m not sure we’re even talking about biology any more? This sort of “technology” that Shapiro is speaking of seems to have very direct relationships to human systems and the concepts that we use in building our own technologies.

Let’s take one specific example from above.

Much like the programs stored on a computer drive, genomic systems and subsystems are formatted by generic (i.e. repetitive) signals that provide functional addresses for the data in each module.

Have you ever sutided how a computer works? Programs stored on a drive? A storage space (memory) for the “data in each module”!

Now tell me how you *don’t* think this has a strong one to one relationship with our own technology?

Wouldn’t reasoning that echolocation as used by bats (and dolphins) and that it mimics human-design SONAR or that the human eye resembles a human-designed camera or that the shape of a bird’s wing closely resembles the shape of a wing on an airplane; then be a reverse concept and misleading? IOW Nature mimics/resembles human-design?

I mean it certainly seems that way, but doesn’t that twist the concept to prove a point?

I don’t think that is a very good argument. The correct concept (IMO) would be that SONAR mimics ecolocation, and etc. IOW human-design mimics/resembles nature?

Or is that just a concept of semantics?

DJ - so you claim that analogies imply identification?

Unutterably hilarious. Sites like this do get a little dour now and then. It’s good of you and neurode to provide a little levity. Thanks.

No I would think that’s simply called “not supporting your argument!”

Speaking of which, I *still* haven’t heard any testible scientific theory of ID from you yet.

What seems to be the problem?

Or are IDers like you jsut lying to us when you claim to have such a thing?

Plump-DJ Wrote:

Now tell me how you *don’t* think this has a strong one to one relationship with our own technology?

You do realise that many modern computers (specifically, mother bases and chips) are design with evolutionary techniques called “Genetic Algorithms”, don’t you?

Plump-DJ Wrote:

Have you ever sutided how a computer works? Programs stored on a drive? A storage space (memory) for the “data in each module”!

I have studied how a computer works, and it is very different from how cells work. Things like error correction on input, but no internal redundancy, for example, are vital differences. I get the feeling, however, Plump, that you have studied neither computers nor living systems, if you cannot see how completely different they are, except when produced by the same methods. Go read on genetic algorithms, and then we can discuss the topic.

But if you really think that the Spaghetti Monster designed us, it’s because you have purposedly ignored every single characteristic that makes biological systems unlike computers.

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

Plump-DJ Wrote:

Have you ever sutided how a computer works? Programs stored on a drive? A storage space (memory) for the “data in each module”!

Atucally yes I have. In fact http://www.howstuffworks.com is a great resource for the understanding how computers and networks handle information. And it is conditioned to the techy layman, so that it could be easily understood.

I fail to see how all of that would imply the existance of a designer. If I used the analogy that the energy of my child resembles that of a mexican jumpin bean, in no way confirms that my child actually is a mexican jumping bean or designed by one.

The formatting is as important as the data (i.e. protein coding sequences) in providing a Genome System Architecture for each organism or species.”

The author looks like from the above quote gives the reason for the analogy itself. Not really impling that it is a designed structure at all.

That’s my perception anyway.

Darwin (and Dawkins) showed how evolution explains apparent teleology without a designer. Our plump friend here seems to agree that that made sense - until “recently” when, it seems, the IDers have discovered a whole new, hitherto unsuspected degree of apparent teleology. Somehow this (perceived) matter of degree requires a qualitatively different explanation?

My search engine crashed when I tried to figure out who it was, so apologies for not remembering who it was that put it best when he or she paraphrased it thus:

“but this is eleven!”

Plump doesn’t seem to understand that nature performs computational processes as a matter of course.

From Wolfram:

“Many systems in nature are capable of universal computation

If universal computation required having a system as elaborate as a present-day computer, it would be inconceivable that typical systems in nature would show it. But the surprising discovery that even systems with very simple rules can exhibit universality implies that it should be common among systems in nature—leading to many important conclusions about a host of fundamental issues in science, mathematics and technology.”

Russell Wrote:

…it seems, the IDers have discovered a whole new, hitherto unsuspected degree of apparent teleology.

I wonder if they’d mind sharing thier discovery with the rest of the class?

Wait a minute. If we are talking about survival instincts then I’ll bite. But if we are trying to understand the purpose of life, then that is a matter of philosopy.

Self-Preservation is, I believe, to be considered a Law of Nature. Which I guess could be considered purpose, and also does not require a designer. It’s a fundamental attribute that (IMO) paralles survival of the fittest. But, if a biological entity does not adapt to its surroundings, it will inevitably become extinct as a species.

Self-Aware is a very philisophical subject.

I think, therfore I am.

- Decartes

Don’t think that would be germain to the subject at hand.

Interrestingly enough though.

but this is eleven!

I suspect you need to credit the writers of This Is Spinal Tap - ie click on “(more)” under “Quotes:”.

Wouldn’t reasoning that echolocation as used by bats (and dolphins) and that it mimics human-design SONAR or that the human eye resembles a human-designed camera or that the shape of a bird’s wing closely resembles the shape of a wing on an airplane; then be a reverse concept and misleading? IOW Nature mimics/resembles human-design?

Echolocation resembles SONAR in terms of design details much more closely than eyes to cameras or bird wings to plane wings; plane wings don’t flap, and don’t propel the plane. SONAR was developed without knowledge of echolocation, yet has similar features. Neither mimics the other in the normal sense of being inspired by the other. The best explanation may be that there aren’t very many ways to perform the echolocation function, and so all solutions will resemble each other. Of course this does not mean that, because one was designed intentionally, so was the other – the conclusion that Plump and the IDists want to much so reach. But they do such a bad job of it – Plump quotes all sorts of language from Shapiro that Plump calls “teleological”, but much of it isn’t teleological at all, it’s functional; in Dennett’s terms, it’s “design stance” language. And Plump doesn’t mention all the teleological language that we apply to computers, like chess programs wantting to corner kings, command interpreters waiting for input, parsers looking for matching tags, and so on – in Dennett’s terms, “intentional stance” language. As for his “a strong one to one relationship with our own technology”, I’ve worked with computers and software for 38 years and have paid close attention to the work in Artificial Intellgence and it would be generous to say he has no idea what he’s talking about. And even if there were such relationships (as with echolocation/SONAR), nothing would follow from that. It’s all affirmation of the consequent: We intentionally design artifacts best understood as information processing systems, many biological systems are best understood as information processing systems, therefore (fallaciously) biological systems are intentionally designed.

Plump wrote

Have you ever sutided how a computer works? Programs stored on a drive? A storage space (memory) for the “data in each module”!

Now tell me how you *don’t* think this has a strong one to one relationship with our own technology?

I’ve worked with computers since they glowed in the dark and heated large buildings. I suspect that I have more cycles available in the five machines in my house than existed in the world when I was first trained on the Polaris A-1 guidance computer. I also did a doctorate in cogntive psychology. I don’t think there’s anything resembling a “one to one” relationship between the two. We often use the same terms (e.g., “memory”) to describe similar functions in both, but they are generic functions that characterize any system that acquires, stores, and transforms information to produce outputs.

There is not an unlimited number of ways to describe phenomena, and that we use the same language to describe generically similar phenomena in different kinds of systems is not at all amazing. But don’t mistake descriptive language for the phenomena themselves. That we use familiar systems as metaphors for unfamiliar systems is not amazing. But metaphors have boundaries of utility and validity, and the leap from similar descriptive language to identical causes is a huge one that often crosses those boundaries. As others have pointed out, affirmation of the consequent is a seductive and insidious error. Unfortunately for IDists, it is the only form of ‘positive’ argument they offer.

RBH

This thread keeps crashing my computer (or at least the Internet Explorer bit of it). So far it does seem to be specifically this thread rather than all of PT. Though it then takes down all related windows. For this test post I’ve quarantined it in its own window, 2 windows distant from the last one I’m actually using for other things. I’m getting a bit fed up of having to log in to everything else all over again just because I dared even look at PT.

ts Wrote:

It’s all affirmation of the consequent:

That’s where I was getting at when I asked:

I mean it certainly seems that way, but doesn’t that twist the concept to prove a point?

I just wasn’t sure how to put it. Or what the “name” of it was.

Thanks again ts.

RBH Wrote:

But don’t mistake descriptive language for the phenomena themselves.

Excellent!

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on August 29, 2005 9:38 AM.

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