Sobering thoughts on ID

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Intelligent Design activists have become more and more insistent, given the recent court rulings, that Intelligent Design is not religious (wink wink) as it merely identifies ‘designed’ objects and does not say anything about the ‘designer(s)’. While others have already shown how vacuous such claims are, a recent paper takes a different take on this issue. Elliott Sober in a paper titled INTELLIGENT DESIGN THEORY AND THE SUPERNATURAL – THE “GOD OR EXTRA-TERRESTRIALS” REPLY describes how ID points to a supernatural intelligent designer.

Sober Wrote:

Abstract: When proponents of Intelligent Design (ID) theory deny that their theory is religious, the minimalistic theory they have in mind (the mini-ID theory) is the claim that the irreducibly complex adaptations found in nature were made by one or more intelligent designers. The denial that this theory is religious rests on the fact that it does not specify the identity of the designer – a supernatural God or a team of extra-terrestrials could have done the work. The present paper attempts to show that this reply underestimates the commitments of the mini-ID Theory. The mini-ID theory, when supplemented with four independently plausible further assumptions, entails the existence of a supernatural intelligent designer. It is further argued that scientific theories, such as the Darwinian theory of evolution, are neutral on the question of whether supernatural designers exist.

As I pointed out earlier, others have shown how ID inevitably points to the supernatural. For instance Wilkins and Elsberry in their paper The advantages of theft over toil: the design inference and arguing from ignorance show that

So a revision to Dembski’s filter is required beyond the first “Don’t-know” branch. This sort of knowledge of designers is gained empirically, and is just another kind of regularity assignment. Because we know what these designers do to some degree of accuracy, we can assess the likelihood that E would occur, whether it is the creation of skirnobs or the Antikythera Device. That knowledge makes E a HP event, and so the filter short-circuits at the next branch and gives a design inference relative to a background knowledge set Bi available at time t. So now there appears to be two kinds of design - the ordinary kind based on a knowledge of the behavior of designers, and a “rarefied” design, based on an inference from ignorance, both of the possible causes of regularities and of the nature of the designer

In other words, regular design is based on empirical knowledge which allows us to assign probabilities, whereas rarefied design is inferred based on our ignorance because we have no way to constrain said ‘designer(s)’.

Sober points out that ID activists have more to say about ID than the mini-ID argument

Sober Wrote:

Defenders of the mini-ID theory have a lot more to say about intelligent design, and this is where more contentful versions of ID theory make their appearance. For example, Philip Johnson (1996), one of the main architects of ID theory, endorses theistic realism, “affirm[ing] that God is objectively real as Creator, and that the reality of God is tangibly recorded in evidence accessible to science, particularly biology;” he says that this is “the defining concept of our movement.” In their widely used ID textbook, Of Pandas and People, Percival Davis and Dean Kenyon (1993, p. 7, p. 26, p. 100) frequently contrast “natural” and “intelligent” causes; this indicates that the intelligent designers they have in mind are supernatural. And Dembski (1998b, p 20) rejects theistic evolutionism, which is the thesis that God used the evolutionary process to produce organisms and their adaptive features. Dembski’s gripe is with evolutionary theory, not with divine design.2

So why was ID separated from this mini-ID argument? Sober concludes that the reasons are to minimize infighting between Christian factions and that by not using the word “God”, the mini-ID argument may have a better chance passing the constitutional test. Of course, behind the scenes, ID activists present the rest of the story such as found in the Wedge Strategy by the Discovery Institute.

Sober Wrote:

According to the Wedge Strategy, “design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian an theistic convictions.”

But while the motives are clear, Sober’s approach goes beyond motives and shows that the mini-ID arguments imply the existence of a supernatural designer.

Sober Wrote:

It is not the point of the present paper to discuss any further the motives behind the construction of the mini-ID theory nor to argue that one of these versions of ID theory is the “real” theory of intelligent design. Rather, the goal is to trace out the implications of what the mini-ID theory actually asserts. The mini-ID theory does imply the existence of a supernatural intelligent designer when it is supplemented by four propositions that are independently supported.

Sober argues that the logical conclusion of the mini-ID argument is that human minds exist in nature which are irreducibly complex. If that is the case, then these minds require a natural or supernatural creator. But naturally created irreducibly complex minds eventually require a supernatural designer due to the finite age of the universe.

Sober Wrote:

If the human minds that now exist in nature are irreducibly complex, then each of them was caused to exist by one or more earlier intelligent designers. Consider one of those earlier designers; either it is found in nature or it is a supernatural being. If the latter, we’re done – proposition (8) follows. So consider the former option. That intelligent designer, if it designed and produced an irreducibly complex mind, must have a mind that is irreducibly complex. If there is a finite amount of time ε such that it takes a mind in nature (e.g., a human agent) at least ε to design and build another irreducibly complex intelligent designer, then the causal chains that connect a later intelligent designer in nature to its earlier intelligent designer cause (also in nature) will have finitely many links. Each such chain, traced back into the finite past, must therefore reach a first intelligent designer in nature. But premise (1) says that these first natural minds, being irreducibly complex, must themselves be caused to exist by an intelligent designer, so the argument leads to the conclusion that a supernatural intelligent designer must exist.8

Four assumptions not part of the mini-ID argument were added

1. The age of the universe is finite 2. Causes preceded their effects 3. The human mind is irreducibly complex 4. Minds which design irreducibly complex systems are themselves irreducibly complex

So if these four assumptions are correct then logically it follows that the mini-ID argument requires a supernatural designer(s).

Sober concludes that

Sober Wrote:

Defenders of the mini-ID theory need to explain why their theory should be restricted in this way. Perhaps they will want to argue that a supernatural intelligent designer is an eternal and self-sustaining being, and thus does not need a cause external to itself to come into existence or to remain in existence. Or perhaps they will maintain that a supernatural designer is a simple being, and therefore won’t exhibits complex features at all. Their answer can’t be that their theory is agnostic about the existence of supernatural designers, for as we have just seen, it is not.

and

Deciding whether the mini-ID theory has supernatural and religious implications is not as straightforward as seeing whether the word “God” appears in the statement “each irreducibly complex system found in nature was designed and produced by an intelligent being.” When independently plausible further assumptions are taken into account, the mini-ID theory entails the existence of a supernatural intelligent designer who made at least one of the minds found in nature.

So how do ID activists respond to the supernatural claim?

On ARN we find the following statement

From an ID perspective, the natural-vs.-supernatural distinction is irrelevant. The real contrast is not between natural laws and miracles, but between undirected natural causes and intelligent ones.

But that’s a false distinction as regular design inferences are based on regularity and chance hypotheses not the rejection of such hypotheses. For instance in criminology, intelligent design is inferred from positive arguments such as means, opportunities, mnotives etc as well as physical and circumstantial evidence.

Mathematician and philosopher of science William Dembski puts it this way: “Whether an intelligent cause is located within or outside nature (i.e., is respectively natural or supernatural) is a separate question from whether an intelligent cause has operated.”

No it isn’t since a natural design inference and a supernatural one are distinctly different in nature.

Human actions are a case in point: “Just as humans do not perform miracles every time they act as intelligent agents, so there is no reason to assume that for a designer to act as an intelligent agent requires a violation of natural laws.”

In other words, while ID may be scientifically vacuous, the claim is that it need not necessarily be pointing to a supernatural designer. Remember that ID is argued to replace methodological naturalism by allowing the inclusion of the supernatural. So in other words, the argument is that science is incapable to deal with Intelligent Design without some change. However, at the same time ID activists are arguing that ID is scientifically relevant because it is used by scientists in areas such as criminology, anthropology, archaeology etc.

The claim has been made that ID has no place in science and is never used in the study of science. This is not true. In fact, all of the following areas of science use evidence of ID as the major or sole means of study. Even though the designer is not a supernatural agent, but intelligent humans, the principles involved in studying these areas of science can be applied to the study of supernatural ID.

1. Archeology: Is that rock formation natural or due to intelligent design? 2. Anthropology: Do sharp, pointed rocks occur naturally or are they designed by intelligent beings? 3. Forensics: Intelligent cause of death or natural circumstances? 4. SETI: Are those radio signals natural or caused by intelligent beings?

Source

This argument is based on a conflation between intelligent design and the ‘design inference’ used by ID activists. While science indeed can detect intelligent design, by using methodological naturalism as its foundation, ID by insisting that MN needs to be replaced, clearly has identified its designer(s) as supernatural.

Again this can be deduced from ID activists’ claims such as Dembski

Dembsk Wrote:

Two main such constraints have historically been used to keep design outside the natural sciences: methodological naturalism and dysteleology. According to methodological naturalism, in explaining any natural phenomenon the natural sciences are properly permitted to invoke only natural causes to the exclusion of intelligent causes. Methodological naturalism is a regulative principle that purports to keep science on the straight and narrow by limiting science to natural causes. In fact it does nothing of the sort but constitutes a straitjacket that actively impedes the progress of science. If an intelligence actually did play a crucial role in the origin of biological complexity, methodological naturalism would ensure that we could never know it. Imagine a detective absolutely committed to explaining by natural causes why Frank’s corpse has a knife through the heart and the words “Die, Frank, Die!” etched on his chest. Methodological naturalism requires the same unthinking commitment from science.

In one paragraph, Dembski contradicts himself by first arguing that MN limits science to natural causes and at the same time arguing that a detective explaining a murder scene somehow invokes non-natural causes. In fact, the detective is using the exact concepts of MN to determine ‘intelligent design’. In other words, this is a false analogy. One cannot on the one hand reject MN since it limits intelligent design conclusions when on the other hand scientists using MN do exactly that.

TWC (Tom Clark) explores Dembski’s argument further:

Dembski has a plausible point about methodological naturalism, also made here. Science needn’t define itself as the search for “natural” or material causes for phenomena. In actual empirical fact, in building explanations and theories, science proceeds quite nicely without any reference to the natural/supernatural distinction. Science is defined not by an antecedent commitment to naturalism (whether methodological or ontological),[2] but by criteria of explanatory adequacy which underpin a roughly defined, revisable, but extremely powerful method for generating reliable knowledge. These criteria can themselves be understood as having being selected for (during the more or less spontaneous development of science) by virtue of giving us the capacity to predict and control our circumstances, and by giving us a unified picture of the diversity of phenomena that, as cognitive creatures, we find deeply satisfying.[3] The world that science gives us is what we call nature.

Source

The IDEA center provides a poorly argued response namely that all intelligent designers can insert CSI. (Complex Specified Information). But let’s first establish that in biology CSI refers to a functional system (specified) which we do not yet fully understand (hence complex). While ID activists are thus quick to jump to the conclusion that CSI requires an intelligent designer, no logical argument links CSI, which is an argument from ignorance, to said ‘intelligent designer(s)’. Even worse, it has been shown that high information content can be generated by purely natural processes such as variation and selection, or in other words, unless ID activists can provide a comparable scientific hypothesis as to the origins of a particular system, ID remains scientifically vacuous. Of course, any natural explanation of such a system would by definition make the system non-CSI, hence the argument of CSI relies on the supernatural since that’s the only unconstrained explanation that would cause a particular system to remain ‘complex’ as we are unable to explain it scientifically.

In other words when Stepen Meyer states that

“Experience teaches that information-rich systems … invariable result from intelligent causes, not naturalistic ones.

Stephen C. Meyer, Mere Creation, pg. 140

He is simply wrong. Being wrong is nothing to be ashamed about, although some seem to continue to present Meyer’s arguments even after they have been shown to be wrong. And that does causes some concern to me.

Now the legal side of the argument

From the Kitzmiller ruling

The court concluded that creation science “is simply not science” because it depends upon “supernatural intervention,” which cannot be explained by natural causes, or be proven through empirical investigation, and is therefore neither testable nor falsifiable.Id. at 1267. Accordingly, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas deemed creation science as merely biblical creationism in a new guise and held that Arkansas’ balanced-treatment statute could have no valid secular purpose or effect, served only to advance religion, and violated the First Amendment. Id. at 1264, 1272-74.

and

In addition to the IDM itself describing ID as a religious argument, ID’s religious nature is evident because it involves a supernatural designer. The courts in Edwards and McLean expressly found that this characteristic removed creationism from the realm of science and made it a religious proposition. Edwards, 482 U.S. at 591-92; McLean, 529 F. Supp. at 1265-66.

So now the evidence

Defendants’ expert witness ID proponents confirmed that the existence of a supernatural designer is a hallmark of ID. First, Professor Behe has written that by ID he means “not designed by the laws of nature,” and that it is “implausible that the designer is a natural entity.” (P-647 at 193; P-718 at 696, 700). Second, Professor Minnich testified that for ID to be considered science, the ground rules of science have to be broadened so that supernatural forces can be considered.Third, Professor Steven William Fuller testified that it is ID’s project to change the ground rules of science to include the supernatural. (Trial Tr. vol. 28, Fuller Test., 20-24, Oct. 24, 2005). Turning from defense expert witnesses to leading ID proponents, Johnson has concluded that science must be redefined to include the supernatural if religious challenges to evolution are to get a hearing.(11:8-15 (Forrest); P-429). Additionally, Dembski agrees that science is ruled by methodological naturalism and argues that this rule must be overturned if ID is to prosper. (Trial Tr. vol. 5, Pennock Test., 32-34, Sept. 28, 2005).

The court merely applied a ‘design inference’ to the evidence and took it to its logically conclusion.

It is notable that not one defense expert was able to explain how the supernatural action suggested by ID could be anything other than an inherently religious proposition. Accordingly, we find that ID’s religious nature would be further evident to our objective observer because it directly involves a supernatural designer. A “hypothetical reasonable observer,” adult or child, who is “aware of the history and context of the community and forum” is also presumed to know that ID is a form of creationism.Child Evangelism, 386 F.3d at 531 (citations omitted); Allegheny, 492 U.S. at 624-25. The evidence at trial demonstrates that ID is nothing less than the progeny of creationism. What is likely the strongest evidence supporting the finding of ID’s creationist nature is the history and historical pedigree of the book to which students in Dover’s ninth grade biology class are referred, Pandas.

Om IDTheFuture (sic), Paul Nelson asks the following questions

Ask yourself what follows if Sober is right. I don’t yet have an opinion, having only just downloaded the paper this morning (I’ll read it at my daughter’s orthodontist appointment later today). Does it follow that ID cannot be (a) true, (b) empirical – that is, carry observational or predictive content like any other good scientific theory, or (c) the locus of scientific research?

Never say never, but unless ID can show how it can be scientifically relevant, and so far it has failed to do so, then such questions are irrelevant. A reliance on the supernatural however seems to lack much of any scientific relevance as ‘anything goes’ unless we can constrain such intelligent designer. So far ID has much to hope for but little to show for.

No. What follows mostly, I’d say, would be implications for teaching ID in public school science classrooms, a topic on which Sober has been active lately, helping to draft the Berceau/Black legislation defining science as naturalistic for public schools in the state of Wisconsin.

Cool, more and more scientists are standing up for good science.

2 TrackBacks

In INTELLIGENT DESIGN THEORY AND THE SUPERNATURAL — THE “GOD OR EXTRA-TERRESTRIALS” REPLY philosopher Elliot Sober l...

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E. Sober, ID ja usko from Älykkään suunnitelman idea on May 1, 2006 5:53 AM

(A reply to Sobers paper in english here) Filosofi E. Sober argumentoi artikkelissaan että suunnittelusta seuraa joillain lisäoletuksilla yliluonnollinen suunnittelija. Siksi ID:llä on hänen mielestään uskonnollisia seuraamuksia, implikaatioit... Read More

161 Comments

I’m reminded of David Brin’s Uplift series, where some of the alien species refuse to believe that humanity could have evolved intelligence on its own.…

One question I’d like to raise: “How many ID proponents have ever been arrowhead hunting?”

Some of the ID arguement sounds a little like a (young, four year old) arrowhead hunter picking up each rock and asking if this one is an arrowhead.

I thought of David Brin’s Uplift too. Because all good thoughts can be expressed in cartoon form, check out Startide Rising as portrayed by the Unshelved Book Club. I’m also reminded of the ancient philosophical quandary, raised by that wisest of four-year-olds, “Mommy, if God made everything, who made God?”

Dembski is wrong. Methodological naturalism can work for intelligent design, if there was something to work with.

For example, we can find primitive stone tools that were used to butcher animals. We can conclude that these stone tools are not naturally occurring because we can find tool-making sites where there are other tools that were used to make them along with piles of discarded fragments that were created during manufacture. We can then conclude that the butchering tools were constructed by breaking apart pieces of volcanic rock. Thus, it is clear that the tools were intelligently designed. And, it is predictable.

For ID, there is no theoretical mechanism by which biology is constructed. If you asked how were we created, an IDiot could only shrug their shoulders. There is nothing to base a prediction on.

In the Uplift Universe, the Galactic Civilisation philosophers are not bothered that creatures can evolve intelligence and sentience, but draw the line at spaceships. Only properly uplifted races can aspire to pass the test for true sentience and galactic citizenship or rather, galactic indenture.

We see the same argument with IDers, who sometimes concede that new species can evolve naturally, but draw the line at new *FEATURES*, that only God Himself, under his Designer avatar, can bestow.

The “designer” isn’t necessarily God, but it sure could be. Except, of course, that no human or animal “designs” creates anything like organisms are, and we have no model for aliens except for animal (human) life. So it’s a very short trip back to saying Goddidit, which is the whole point of ID anyhow.

The “designer” has to be God because they refuse to apply any of the tests for human and/or animal “design” to their “study of life”, knowing that such tests would immediately fail. Then too, we are unlikely to come up with the kinds of malicious and apparently evolved parasitic and disease designs that IDist ascribe to God. But God’s ways are inscrutable (this is the belief that underlies virtually all ID claims, and what allows IDists to be so resistant to research), so that’s all right, then.

They don’t want to “say anything about the designer” because not knowing about the designer fits the old metaphysical views of God. Only God is NOT constrained by our knowledge, beliefs, and capabilities, according to this point of view, so that the very lack of any constraints, predictions, or explanation, points to nothing except God. It’s a very slimy business, of course, and they conveniently forget the inscrutability of God as they perform their fact-free calculations, but they must get to their “designer-god”, thus they do every time. That their God is exactly the sort of “cause” who is in fact not in the least manner an explanation fits their desires extremely well, since they do not desire an explanation, but only want their God to be the Cause.

To be sure, they are forced to claim that the designer may not be God, but the inscrutability of God is thereby transferred to aliens, time-travels, or angels/demons. In other words, the “alternative designers” must be god-like in precisely the “Causal” but non-explanatory manner that God is portrayed as being. That this is exactly the opposite of science never occurs to them, but lets just say it, they’re really very ignorant, perhaps not even very intelligent–at least not in a comprehensive way.

There is a reasonable theological alternative, which is to say that God is inscrutable yet his creation is not. Thus God may “create” in any manner he chooses, including evolution (real evolution, not evolution tampered with in non-explainable ways), and what we see is also what we can understand. Thus science is compatible with God, and incompatible with pseudoscience. Nothing empirical points to the truth of this belief, however it is sanctioned by tradition and Xian philosophy. Indeed, it must be sanctioned by any coherent religion which posits that God may be seen in his “creation”, for we must be able to follow effects to their cause if natural theology is to have even a theory of how God becomes knowable to humans (other than mystically). IDists deny our abilities to reason from effect to cause, not only destroying science in their “methods” and in their minds, but also any chance of learning about God through “nature”.

Their insistence upon a “designer” who is unknowable through his designs identifies said designer as God, yet it ruins all of the careful theological reasoning that posits God to be visible in his productions. In one sense alone are they correct about God not being the designer, for they have abandoned the ideas that God made the earth and its inhabitants “good” in a way recognizable to humans. Since in fact much is not “good” or competently “designed” in our minds, the IDists must suppose a God not constrained even by intelligence and goodness, indeed, a God with as little regard for “creation” as evolution’s entailed predictions model life as being. In their zeal to explain nothing, God becomes the embodiment of uncaring natural processes, and becomes more like a number of pagan deities.

But no matter, by now their motives are more self-driven and egotistical than they are even religious.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

I don’t get it—premise four:

4. Minds which design irreducibly complex systems are themselves irreducibly complex

seems to beg the question. How does this prove, other by assuming it didn’t happen, that a reducibly complex (i.e., highly evolved, not supernatural) being could not have come to earth and created life from irreducibly complex parts?

In the paper, justifying premise 4, Sober wrote:

Premise (2) [Some of the minds found in nature are irreducibly complex] does not require that this division of the human mind into parts is complete. This division not only characterizes human beings; I suggest that it also describes the minds of intelligent beings who design and produce irreducibly complex systems, whether they happen to be human beings or not. This is the justification for premise (4). (bold emphasis added)

Does that not strike anyone as a coat placed on a shoogly nail?

Not that I really care–the designer is God.

Heddle Wrote:

Not that I really care—the designer is God.

QED

Blake I’ll have a crack at the “Who made g_D” question -multiple choice tho’ A.Adam B.Mary C.Mom D.Granddad E.Anybody Human

The hole in ID and the whole question of an old man turning the wheels of the cosmos to produce order within the minds of primates is this.

Just get everyone to peer review each others views on the definition for ID/Creationism/[Enable javascript to see this email address.] and sit back and watch the fireworks.

There will never be definition for ID/Creationism/[Enable javascript to see this email address.] that everyone will agree on.

They can run around in circles for the rest of their natural lives wasting their time and everyone elses and they will achieve nothing except confusing 2 legged sheep plus themselves , that is a rolled gold 100% guarantee.

That well known fact that has been known for thousands of years, if one has been free from religion.

PvM,

Now-now, I’m a minority opinion among IDers. (Actually, I am not even a bio-IDer) Just because I freely identify the designer of the universe as God does not mean all Iders must.

Tom Clark hits the nail on the head. Scientists couldn’t care less whether a phenomenon is labeled natural, supernatural, material, immaterial, whatever. We can call gravity supernatural without affecting our scientific treatment of it one bit. Metaphysical terms serve only to keep the debate going and distract us from the fact that ID has no theory.

seems to beg the question. How does this prove, other by assuming it didn’t happen, that a reducibly complex (i.e., highly evolved, not supernatural) being could not have come to earth and created life from irreducibly complex parts?

Where did the irreducibly complex parts come from, then?

“it merely identifies ‘designed’ objects and does not say anything about the ‘designer(s)’”

I’m not a science teacher, but I am an English teacher, and I object to their use of the passive voice to avoid identifying their subject.

But Dembski’s position is based on an illogical equivocation (or at least a slippery definition). He is defining ‘nature’ to exclude intelligent agency. That’s why they harp on the ‘intelligent’ vs. ‘unintelligent’ dichotomy so much. Dembski does not consider the actions of the human mind to be natural.

AD,

Where did the irreducibly complex parts come from, then?

Well, I am not the expert, knowing next to nothing about irreducible complexity, but I don’t see why this is a problem. Why is it ruled out, other than by fiat, that an intelligence whose mind evolved over a few billion years could not create our minds as composite objects–from already built pieces that fit together to make the whole? There would be no evolutionary pathway to explain our minds–and yet they would not be nearly as sophisticated as the reducibly complex mind that created them.

David Heddle Wrote:

Well, I am not the expert, knowing next to nothing about irreducible complexity, but I don’t see why this is a problem. Why is it ruled out, other than by fiat, that an intelligence whose mind evolved over a few billion years could not create our minds as composite objects—from already built pieces that fit together to make the whole? There would be no evolutionary pathway to explain our minds—and yet they would not be nearly as sophisticated as the reducibly complex mind that created them.

A solution which does not require any supernatural agents. Indeed, such an answer does not require God. And at this point you part company from your fellow IDists. As usual.

I’ve found it interesting to argue against ID from another direction…

1. All design boils down to two principles, variation and selection. 2. Biological evolution uses genetic mutations and selection for survivability from naturally occuring events and is therefore a designing process. 3. Any detection of design must also demonstrate the existence of a designer at the time the design was introduced. 4. Modern biology presumes that RM&NS has always been active. 5. Hence, the unnamed designer that ID requires can also be biological evolution. 6. So ID’s design detection theory (if it worked) can be one more piece of evidence for evolution.

Hey, David, why are you okay with “some other” intelligence evolving over billions of years but not with our own?

And while you’re still here, perhaps you can tell us all why your religious interpretation is more correct than anyone elses.

Curt Rozeboom wrote:

1. All design boils down to two principles, variation and selection.…

I think the IDiots would challenge that point. They would claim certain mental abilities like “foresight” and “imagination” are required to create specified and irreducible complexity.

Our argument against that is still : Random mutation and selection can produce what appears to be irreducible and specified when working for billions of years with a planetary system.

Darwinian evolution assumes “foresight” and “imagination” can evolve through the evolution of brains.

5. Hence, the unnamed designer that ID requires can also be biological evolution.

Not when you can convince people that RM+NS are not sufficient to produce some system.

Nice try – but your argument, I think, is off the mark on the first point.

I’m curious about this quote:

“Professor Behe has written that by ID he means ‘not designed by the laws of nature,’ and that it is ‘implausible that the designer is a natural entity.’”

So why do ID agents, Behe, Dembski et al, so frequently compare ID filters to the methods of archaeology, forensics and all? All human activity takes place quite squarely within the realm of the laws of nature. Humans are beings which create within the confines of natural ability.

If the ID filter assumes that identified materials are “not designed by the laws of nature” or that it is “implausible that the designer is a natural entity” - then we would have to assume that the designers of Mount Rushmore, mousetraps and motors were not natural entities because they regularly claim that such creations are positive examples of design as defined by ID.

UnMark,

Hey, David, why are you okay with “some other” intelligence evolving over billions of years but not with our own?

I believe no such thing. I’m just playing the devil’s advocate.

And while you’re still here, perhaps you can tell us all why your religious interpretation is more correct than anyone elses.

It’s optimizing—when I find an interpretation more correct than my own, I switch. I assume you (like Lenny) are satisfied having interpretations that you yourself recognizes as less correct than others, otherwise you could ask yourself the same question.

It’s optimizing—when I find an interpretation more correct than my own, I switch.

Really? And when, pray tell, was the last time that happened?

Bill,

Really? And when, pray tell, was the last time that happened?

Oh, just about on a daily basis. I am struggling with a complicated passage in the book of Hebrews at the moment, and am persuaded that my previous view was wrong. Why are you interested in such off-topic minutia? You people are not supposed to feed trolls!

Like most normal kids, I spent relatively little time with science, religion, and philosophy, and a lot with comic books. As a result, I’m perfectly happy to accept a universe full of marvelously powerful beings like Superman, Darkseid, Dr. Strange, and Galactus – any one of whom could easily pull off the kinds of parlor tricks that could convince almost anyone they were gods. So I’m irreducibly complex and Galactus made me. Fine, but if it took a Galactus to make a pipsqueak like me, who made Galactus?

It occurs to me that some wise guy is going to answer “Stan Lee.”

Mine is more of a question than a comment. In many places the fossil bed is miles thick usually with simpler organisms in the lower strata which shouls suggest a lomg term relatively constant process docu,menting change. I understand that there is some amazing ID theory about animals escaping the flood but that really is not my question.

If the sediment bed is miles thick and all these plants and animmals lived at the same time, forgetting the neat layering seen over the span of tens, hundreds or more miles, where did all these animals live before the flood? What did they eat? How could they move in their miles deep society? It must have been tough for our ancestors in this pile of teeming life pinned between a sabre toothed tiger and a Tyranasaurus Rex? How do the IDs explain this anomalie?

Mine is more of a question than a comment. In many places the fossil bed is miles thick usually with simpler organisms in the lower strata which should suggest a Long term relatively constant process documenting change. I understand that there is some amazing ID theory about animals escaping the flood but that really is not my question.

If the sediment bed is miles thick and all these plants and animals lived at the same time, forgetting the neat layering seen over the span of tens, hundreds or more miles, where did all these animals live before the flood? What did they eat? How could they move in their miles deep society? It must have been tough for our ancestors in this pile of teeming life pinned between a Sabre toothed tiger and a Tyrannosaurus Rex. How do the IDs explain this anomaly?

FAO David Heddle.

“Minds which design irreducibly complex systems are themselves irreducibly complex”

The point being that if IC is always a product of design (and a designer) then the designer must have themselves been designed. 3 takeaways I can think of:

(1) Proof the designer ISN’T god, as god is eternal… (2) Big First cause issues

or, just maybe…

(3) IC is a crock of sh1t and it tells of nothing of origins.

I am struggling with a complicated passage in the book of Hebrews at the moment, and am persuaded that my previous view was wrong.

Ah. Microevolution.

William E Emba Wrote:

From the point of view of Sober’s analysis, I was commenting on a mathematical loophole in his argument. You are often an alternative to one of his assumptions, which is irrelevant to the strength of Sober’s argument.

True. You’re doing the same, though. An infinite regress of design times converging to 0 is not possible under Sober’s assumption: “If there is a finite amount of time ε such that it takes a mind in nature (e.g., a human agent) at least ε to design and build another irreducibly complex intelligent designer.…”

IOW a natural mind, no matter how superior cannot design another irreducibly complex designer in less than ε, which is itself fixed. According to Sober’s premise, anyway.

Anton Mates Wrote:
William E Emba Wrote:

From the point of view of Sober’s analysis, I was commenting on a mathematical loophole in his argument. You are offering an alternative to one of his assumptions.

True. You’re doing the same, though.

Not quite, although it looks that way. At the beginning of Sober’s paper (not the part I quoted), he simply listed several claims, including the finitude of time, and then proceeded to make deductions. Nowhere was there a lower bound for the time involved in designing new minds mentioned until the paragraph I quoted. This lower bound is an extra assumption to his argument.

In brief, then, Sober’s argument boils down to ID, if valid, is proof of God or Turtles or Star Trek or Galactus.

William E Emba Wrote:

At the beginning of Sober’s paper (not the part I quoted), he simply listed several claims, including the finitude of time, and then proceeded to make deductions. Nowhere was there a lower bound for the time involved in designing new minds mentioned until the paragraph I quoted. This lower bound is an extra assumption to his argument.

You’re right. I wonder why he took pains to explicitly state it, but didn’t list it in the original argument?

Incidentally, the existence of the Planck time doesn’t necessarily imply a true lower bound; rather it would just mean that if any sentients were designing new minds fast enough, we’d have no way of measuring their requisite-time-to-design as definitely nonzero.

In Deconstruction examined, Kipli shows how DaveScot’s attempt to rebut Sober fails on many grounds. Well worth reading as it is another reminder of the scientific vacuity of ID.

Anton Mates Wrote:
William E Emba Wrote:

Nowhere was there a lower bound for the time involved in designing new minds mentioned until the paragraph I quoted. This lower bound is an extra assumption to his argument.

You’re right. I wonder why he took pains to explicitly state it, but didn’t list it in the original argument?

All infinite series are created equal. At least to most non-mathematicians.

Incidentally, the existence of the Planck time doesn’t necessarily imply a true lower bound; rather it would just mean that if any sentients were designing new minds fast enough, we’d have no way of measuring their requisite-time-to-design as definitely nonzero.

More accurately, it means we have no idea of what’s going on. The idea that quantum limitations are a measurement accuracy issue is a common misconception, one, unfortunately, propagated by many physicists. At best, it’s a badly stated version of “hidden variables”, considered to be rank nonsense by most physicists, despite the views of Einstein. At worst, it’s just rank nonsense, served straight up.

Anton, Re “existence of the Planck time doesn’t necessarily imply a true lower bound;”

Wouldn’t it? Seems to me that anything depending on the same subatomic processes that we depend on would be limited to a minimal number of Planck times.

Henry

Henry J Wrote:

Anton, Re “existence of the Planck time doesn’t necessarily imply a true lower bound;”

Wouldn’t it? Seems to me that anything depending on the same subatomic processes that we depend on would be limited to a minimal number of Planck times.

Only insofar as said processes were limited to a minimal amount of time anyway, I think. AFAIK there’s no rule saying that only one subatomic event can happen per Planck timespan, or anything like that.

Of course there’s all sorts of practical reasons why we might expect a lower bound on the time it takes any sentient being made from anything in the known universe to design another; I just don’t see the Planck time as being a particularly compelling one.

Anton, Re “AFAIK there’s no rule saying that only one subatomic event can happen per Planck timespan, or anything like that.”

Hmm? I thought that’s what the term “Planck time” meant. A minimal physical event would move a particle one Planck length, taking one Planck time to do it.

Henry

Hmm? I thought that’s what the term “Planck time” meant. A minimal physical event would move a particle one Planck length, taking one Planck time to do it.

A minimal physical event describable by general relativity, perhaps, but I’ve never seen an argument that nothing can take place on a smaller scale. AFAIK the Planck length is simply the scale at which relativity’s supposed to lose its predictive value. Something weird happens below that scale, presumably described by some as-yet unfinished theory.

I stopped my physics education at a B.S., though, so I’d love someone with expertise to show up and set me straight.

Re “A minimal physical event describable by general relativity, perhaps, “

I thought the limit here was from quantum mechanics. For one thing the uncertainty of a particle’s location is at least one Planck length, since a particle wavelength can’t be less than that.

A wave with a Planck length as its wavelength would have an uncertainty of position greater than its own wavelength - i.e., it’s uncertain whether or not it even exists? Also any particle whose wavelength is anywhere near that small would have a huge (for a sumbatomic particle) energy content.

And yes, a physicist might help clarify the matter (er, so to speak).

Henry

The Planck time, length, and mass are three units, identified by Planck when he noticed that his new fundamental constant h, when combined with G (Newton’s gravitational constant) and c (the speed of light) in the appropriate manner, produced absolute dimensions. Considering that this was before relativity, and coincident with the birth of quantum mechanics, it was impossible to interpret these values at the time.

Essentially, the Planck mass is the mass of a black hole so tiny that its Compton wavelength equals its Schwarzschild radius. The conceptual idea of a black hole involves trapping mass within the Schwarzschild radius, but such trapping is apparently meaningless when the location of the trap is more uncertain the size of the trap itself. Planck time is then the time it takes light to cross a Planck distance. Roughly speaking, the time it takes a mini black hole to decide to capture or not capture a passing photon.

What actually happens at the Planck scale is unknown. QM says give up the idea of spacetime defined in simple xyzt coordinates on this scale, but whether what takes its place could be used for high speed processes and computations is unknown. Indeed, there have been serious suggestions that computation on the Planck scale could violate Church’s thesis. If true, a Planck computer, while not able to operate faster than light, would be able to do arbitrarily fast computations, even some infinite computations, in a way that no finite machine could.

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on April 13, 2006 12:08 PM.

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