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Source: (consider it) Thread: The Death of Darwinism
Callan
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So be it.

I hope you feel better soon.

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How easy it would be to live in England, if only one did not love her. - G.K. Chesterton

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
you've clearly not understood anything about ID.

Here's my very simplified understanding of ID.

There are somethings in science (origin of life from non-life, certain biological systems etc) that we can't explain how they happened by current science. They appear to have the marks of design.

The atheist scientist says "there's no designer, therefore they can't be designed. Let's continue studying them, learn a bit more, and eventually understand how it happened."

Most scientists hold some form of religious view or are agnostic. They say "there may, or may not be a designer. And, if there is a designer he may, or may not, have done something miraculous to cause this. We don't know, indeed we can't know. So lets get on with studying it as though there was no designer."

The out-and-out YEC would say "God did that 10000 years or so ago."

The IDer says, "God did it, though not 10000 years ago because that's too religious to mention in a science class. But, he did it. And, as he did it there's not much more to say about it." Many IDers recognise that if you do that then you might as well give up on science as soon as something becomes difficult. They then fall into a logical falacy and say "Darwinism says God didn't do it," (which is wrong, BTW, Darwinism isn't incompatible with "God did it"), "we know that God did it. Therefore we'll come up with whatever alternatives to Darwinism we can find to offer alternative explanations. Never mind that those explanations have long-since been disproved, or are far more speculative than Darwinism. So long as they provide an alternative in which 'God did it' they're clearly better."

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Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.

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Rex Monday

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Thanks, Callan - I didn't have time before this evening to give the latest trial by Sheepdog a going-over, and I have little to add to what you said except I'm glad that it's not just me who thought I was woefully misrepresented in the reply.

However, there is one point I'd like to expand, just for the record. Here's what Dembski says in his 'crystal clear' explanation of why ID is science and not religious that FS quoted before retiring hurt.

quote:
It follows that the charge of supernaturalism against intelligent design cannot be sustained. Indeed, to say that rejecting naturalism entails accepting supernaturalism holds only if nature is defined as a closed system of material entities ruled by unbroken laws of material interaction. But this definition of nature begs the question. Nature is what nature is and not what we define it to be. To see this, consider the following riddle: How many legs does a dog have if one calls a tail a leg? The correct answer is four. Calling one thing another thing doesn’t make it something else.

Likewise, defining nature as a closed system of material entities operating by fixed laws of interaction doesn’t make it so. Nature is what nature is, and prescribing methodological materialism as a normative principle for science does nothing to change that.

ID theorists argue that methodological materialism fundamentally distorts our understanding of nature. In assessing
the validity of ID, the crucial thing is not whether they are right but whether they might be right.

Given that they might be right, methodological materialism cannot be taken as a defining feature of science, much less should it be held dogmatically. To make methodological materialism a defining feature of science commits the premodern sin of forcing nature into a priori categories rather than allowing nature to speak for itself. To sum up, methodological materialism presents us with a false dilemma: either science must be limited to “natural explanations” (taken in a highly tendentious sense) or it must embrace “supernatural explanations,” by which is meant magic. But there is a third possibility: neither materialism nor magic but mind. ID theorists are not willing to concede the materialist claim that a designing intelligence (mind) interacting with matter is “supernatural.” Indeed, investigations by ID theorists are beginning to demonstrate that this interaction is perfectly natural — that nature cannot be properly understood apart from the activity of a designing intelligence (cf. Schwartz and Begley 2002).

I must admit immediately that I don't find this crystal clear - quite the opposite.

Dembski seems to be redefining 'natural' to include the actions of some mind external to the 'closed system of material entities operating by fixed laws of interaction', and then saying that because this happens, it's science. It's hard to be sure what he's saying, though, because although he says that the 'closed system of material entitites...' etc is insufficient to define nature, he never then gives a definition in its place. Sure looks good enough to me.

This looks like vacuous rhetoric that dismisses the fundamental tenets of science without proposing a usable alternative, while proposing a religious definition lightly cloaked under 'Neither materialism nor magic but mind'.

What 'mind' might that be, then, given that 'calling one thing another thing doesn't make it something else'? And how does its invisible manipulations of the laws of physics count as anything other than 'magic' or 'supernatural'?

I was looking forward to hearing an explanation of what the above actually meant, and why Dembski's vision of a 'designing intelligence interacting with matter' in ways that are outside our 'fixed laws of interaction' is any less religious or more scientific than the Virgin Birth or the Resurrection.

I guess we'll never know.

R

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I am largely against organised religion, which is why I am so fond of the C of E.

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Faithful Sheepdog
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quote:
Originally posted by Rex Monday:
Thanks, Callan - I didn't have time before this evening to give the latest trial by Sheepdog a going-over, and I have little to add to what you said except I'm glad that it's not just me who thought I was woefully misrepresented in the reply.

However, there is one point I'd like to expand, just for the record. Here's what Dembski says in his 'crystal clear' explanation of why ID is science and not religious that FS quoted before retiring hurt.

Rex Monday, your ad hominems are noted, as is your inability to understand plain English. I have not "retired hurt", but on the contrary, I have been seriously ill with ME/CFS for several years, with the general trend getting worse.

Often I am too ill to post, but even when I can, it is rare now that I can sustain heavyweight posting for any length of time. On this occasion I choose to put what remains of my health first and not interact further with your snide and ill-informed remarks.

Neil

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"Random mutation/natural selection works great in folks’ imaginations, but it’s a bust in the real world." ~ Michael J. Behe

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Rex Monday

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Faithful Sheepdog-

If you aren't well enough to engage in debate, may I suggest you don't post 1,200 word contributions which may give a different impression? This isn't the first time that you've started a conversation you've been unable to finish, and it appears to make a debilitating illness worse.

I would further suggest that if and when you feel well enough to return, you desist from words like 'snide', 'ill informed', 'character assassination', 'blatant use of [a] double standards' and so on, in Purgatory or in here.

I don't care what you call me, but there are rules and I think we should stick to them. If you want to accuse me of such things, call me to Hell. Perhaps, however, it would be better if you took a break for a while.

I don't propose to say anything more in this thread that doesn't touch on its subject.

R

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I am largely against organised religion, which is why I am so fond of the C of E.

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Faithful Sheepdog
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quote:
Now at the beginning of the 21st century, faced with scientific claims like neo-Darwinism and the multiverse hypothesis in cosmology invented to avoid the overwhelming evidence for purpose and design found in modern science, the Catholic Church will again defend human reason by proclaiming that the immanent design evident in nature is real. Scientific theories that try to explain away the appearance of design as the result of "chance and necessity" are not scientific at all, but, as John Paul put it, an abdication of human intelligence.
This quote comes from an intesting article, "Finding Design in Nature" by Christoph Schoenborn, the RC Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna, who incidentally was also lead editor of the 1992 RC catechism. Registration is needed but it is well worth the hassle. His article clarifies the RC viewpoint on neo-Darwinism in the light of various statements by Popes JPII and Benedict XVI. Sounds like the ID world has friends in high places. [Smile]

Neil

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"Random mutation/natural selection works great in folks’ imaginations, but it’s a bust in the real world." ~ Michael J. Behe

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Barnabas62
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The problem, Sheepdog, is their predecessors in those high places were not very nice to previous scientific truth-tellers like Galileo. To have friends in high places is not normally a very secure test for the veracity of an idea.

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

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Rex Monday

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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
quote:
Now at the beginning of the 21st century, faced with scientific claims like neo-Darwinism and the multiverse hypothesis in cosmology invented to avoid the overwhelming evidence for purpose and design found in modern science, the Catholic Church will again defend human reason by proclaiming that the immanent design evident in nature is real. Scientific theories that try to explain away the appearance of design as the result of "chance and necessity" are not scientific at all, but, as John Paul put it, an abdication of human intelligence.
This quote comes from an intesting article, "Finding Design in Nature" by Christoph Schoenborn, the RC Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna, who incidentally was also lead editor of the 1992 RC catechism. Registration is needed but it is well worth the hassle. His article clarifies the RC viewpoint on neo-Darwinism in the light of various statements by Popes JPII and Benedict XVI. Sounds like the ID world has friends in high places. [Smile]

Neil

I'm not sure that quoting an RC Cardinal Archbishop is a good ploy when trying to demonstrate that ID isn't religious, especially one who also seems to misunderstand quantum physics. It might seem somewhat counterproductive, in fact.

Are you now well enough to continue the discussion, then, or will asking you this question -- and asking you to attend to the previous questions so far ignored -- provoke your illness?

I don't want to come across as one of those shrill posters who harps on about the same old boring things, but at the moment it is impossible to continue with this discussion unless you're able or willing to do so properly.

You are in danger of looking like someone who calls names and runs away, which would not reflect well on your position. You might wish to avoid this perception!

R

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I am largely against organised religion, which is why I am so fond of the C of E.

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Callan
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Pope believes in God shock! Whatever next?

I should keep the Champagne in ice tho' O Faithful one. This pronouncement by the Vatican (approved by Pope Benedict in his old job) on evolution, whilst containing a benevolent nod to Intelligent Design suggests that it is not about to be declared a dogma of the Universal Church any time in the immediate future. The whole thing is worth a look but the key paragraphs are.

quote:
68. With respect to the evolution of conditions favorable to the emergence of life, Catholic tradition affirms that, as universal transcendent cause, God is the cause not only of existence but also the cause of causes. God’s action does not displace or supplant the activity of creaturely causes, but enables them to act according to their natures and, nonetheless, to bring about the ends he intends. In freely willing to create and conserve the universe, God wills to activate and to sustain in act all those secondary causes whose activity contributes to the unfolding of the natural order which he intends to produce. Through the activity of natural causes, God causes to arise those conditions required for the emergence and support of living organisms, and, furthermore, for their reproduction and differentiation. Although there is scientific debate about the degree of purposiveness or design operative and empirically observable in these developments, they have de facto favored the emergence and flourishing of life. Catholic theologians can see in such reasoning support for the affirmation entailed by faith in divine creation and divine providence. In the providential design of creation, the triune God intended not only to make a place for human beings in the universe but also, and ultimately, to make room for them in his own trinitarian life. Furthermore, operating as real, though secondary causes, human beings contribute to the reshaping and transformation of the universe.
quote:
69. The current scientific debate about the mechanisms at work in evolution requires theological comment insofar as it sometimes implies a misunderstanding of the nature of divine causality. Many neo-Darwinian scientists, as well as some of their critics, have concluded that, if evolution is a radically contingent materialistic process driven by natural selection and random genetic variation, then there can be no place in it for divine providential causality. A growing body of scientific critics of neo-Darwinism point to evidence of design (e.g., biological structures that exhibit specified complexity) that, in their view, cannot be explained in terms of a purely contingent process and that neo-Darwinians have ignored or misinterpreted. The nub of this currently lively disagreement involves scientific observation and generalization concerning whether the available data support inferences of design or chance, and cannot be settled by theology. But it is important to note that, according to the Catholic understanding of divine causality, true contingency in the created order is not incompatible with a purposeful divine providence. Divine causality and created causality radically differ in kind and not only in degree. Thus, even the outcome of a truly contingent natural process can nonetheless fall within God’s providential plan for creation. According to St. Thomas Aquinas: “The effect of divine providence is not only that things should happen somehow, but that they should happen either by necessity or by contingency. Therefore, whatsoever divine providence ordains to happen infallibly and of necessity happens infallibly and of necessity; and that happens from contingency, which the divine providence conceives to happen from contingency” (Summa theologiae, I, 22,4 ad 1). In the Catholic perspective, neo-Darwinians who adduce random genetic variation and natural selection as evidence that the process of evolution is absolutely unguided are straying beyond what can be demonstrated by science. Divine causality can be active in a process that is both contingent and guided. Any evolutionary mechanism that is contingent can only be contingent because God made it so. An unguided evolutionary process – one that falls outside the bounds of divine providence – simply cannot exist because “the causality of God, Who is the first agent, extends to all being, not only as to constituent principles of species, but also as to the individualizing principles....It necessarily follows that all things, inasmuch as they participate in existence, must likewise be subject to divine providence” (Summa theologiae I, 22, 2).
The Vatican's point is that whether the Darwinians or the ID people are right is immaterial from the point of view of Catholic theology which maintains that God is providentially involved in the whole of creation, not just those bits which ID theorists believe Natural selection couldn't account for.

Good to see you off your bed of sick, btw.

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How easy it would be to live in England, if only one did not love her. - G.K. Chesterton

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Faithful Sheepdog
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Barnabas62:

I think you will find that the RC church's persecution of Galileo was a political matter rather than a strictly scientific one. But even if I accept the alleged historical perfidiousness of the RC church, it does not logically follow that the contemporary RC Church cannot accurately discern the truth (or otherwise) in scientific matters today.

Rex Monday:

Please comment on the issues. Feel free to do so with or without my presence on this thread. Please substantiate your comment on the Archbishop's misunderstanding of quantum physics.

Callan:

Thank you for your good wishes and for the link. I have printed out the Vatican document for further detailed study in due course.

My initial response is that this is clearly a theological and philosophical statement rooted in RC theology and philosophy. ID is a scientific outlook and I would no more expect the various ID approaches to be become RC dogma than any other scientific hypothesis or theory.

However, I am pleased to see that the writer of this document is clearly familar with the ID world and some of its terminology. For me the key phrase in paragraph 69 is:
quote:
A growing body of scientific critics of neo-Darwinism point to evidence of design (e.g., biological structures that exhibit specified complexity) that, in their view, cannot be explained in terms of a purely contingent process and that neo-Darwinians have ignored or misinterpreted. The nub of this currently lively disagreement involves scientific observation and generalization concerning whether the available data support inferences of design or chance, and cannot be settled by theology.
"...cannot be settled by theology" is a comment with which the ID world would wholeheartedly agree. That is why the the debate needs to focus clearly on scientific issues.

Neil

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"Random mutation/natural selection works great in folks’ imaginations, but it’s a bust in the real world." ~ Michael J. Behe

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Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
"...cannot be settled by theology" is a comment with which the ID world would wholeheartedly agree.

The problem is that for most scientists "...cannot be settled by current science" is also a reasonable response to the ID claims. The situation seems to largely (if not exclusively) settle around a number of test cases that current science has no explanation for - the question being does the lack of explanation reflect the deep truth that there is no scientific explanation (it was designed like that), or merely reflect scientific ignorance. While current science has so much that falls clearly within the "scientific ignorance" category, it doesn't seem at all unreasonable to assume that the issues in question also fall into that category.

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Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.

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Justinian
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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
My initial response is that this is clearly a theological and philosophical statement rooted in RC theology and philosophy. ID is a scientific outlook and I would no more expect the various ID approaches to be become RC dogma than any other scientific hypothesis or theory.

ID is not a scientific outlook. For one thing, it is completely unfalsifiable and for another it revolves around argument from ignorance (I don't understand how that happened, therefore no one understands it therefore Goddidit).

ID revolves round a God of the Gaps, and assuming an answer from a lack of evidence rather than an attempt to find out how things happened.

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Eudaimonaic Laughter - my blog.

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Rex Monday

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FS-

I rather thought I was commenting on the issues, but so far I fear I've only garnered a collection of rather unpleasant epithets for my trouble.

However, glad to see you're better. Any chance you could forgive my 'inability to understand plain English' and address _any_ of the issues raised about the unscientific nature of the articles you referenced earlier by way of demonstrating the scientific nature of ID?

In particular, your 'crystal clear' article by Dembski that I couldn't understand. As I said earlier:

quote:
I was looking forward to hearing an explanation of what the above actually meant, and why Dembski's vision of a 'designing intelligence interacting with matter' in ways that are outside our 'fixed laws of interaction' is any less religious or more scientific than the Virgin Birth or the Resurrection.
So, how _does_ Dembski's explanation show that ID is science rather than religion? A simple paraphrase in your own words would be an interesting start.

As for the Cardinal Archbish, I'll believe he understands quantum physics when he demonstrates exactly where in the chain of logic between observation and theory there's a deliberate move away from a designer. QM is pretty darn solid, and it works (take a look at Shor's Algorithm).

R

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I am largely against organised religion, which is why I am so fond of the C of E.

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TonyK

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Host Mode <ACTIVATE>

Gentlemen (and I am referring politely to FS and RM here) please take a deep breath, count to 10 slowly and calm down a bit. Concentrate on the subject matter and stop taking side swipes at each other.

Thank you

Host Mode <DE-ACTIVATE>

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Yours aye ... TonyK

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Faithful Sheepdog
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quote:
Originally posted by Rex Monday:
As for the Cardinal Archbish, I'll believe he understands quantum physics when he demonstrates exactly where in the chain of logic between observation and theory there's a deliberate move away from a designer. QM is pretty darn solid, and it works (take a look at Shor's Algorithm).

Well, there's no argument from me against quantum physics - I used to work in the nuclear industry. But let's stick with the archbishop's article for now.

I'm afraid I don't understand your comment above. To which observation and theory are you referring? How does the archbishop's alleged lack of understanding of quantum theory make any difference to the argument presented in his article? At present I fail to see the logic of your argument.

I note that you use the word designer, but that is not a word associated with the ID world. Instead they talk about design as a phenomenon that can be emprically detected using the tools of mathematics and physics. Speculation about the identity of the designer (whether divine being, space alien, or metaphysical property of the universe) takes us beyond the realm of science at present.

Neil

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"Random mutation/natural selection works great in folks’ imaginations, but it’s a bust in the real world." ~ Michael J. Behe

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Rex Monday

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What observation? The observations made by experimental physics - stuff like the structure of the spectrum, discrete energy levels in photons and electrons, photoconductivity and so on - which have been the basic fuel for people like Newton, Einstein, Bohr and so on.

What theory? Quentum theory, which is a very successful attempt to provide a mathematical foundation for the above observations. As part of that theory, the idea of the multiverse has been advanced. I can point you at very many fine online descriptions of how, for example, Einstein arrived at his conclusions from his observations, and the subsequent work in QM that has lead to our current state of understanding.


As quantum theory is so non-intuitive, it has been the subject of intense and very sceptical analysis every step of the way. Despite - perhaps because of - this, quantum theory is the most exhaustively documented and tested physical theory ever, and one of the most spectacularly successful.

The multiverse hypothesis is a natural part of this: although still controversial, it has a good claim to be a valid interpretation. Again, look at Shor's Algorithm - this is an amazing example of a practical computational use of quantum theory that relies on the simultaneous existence of multiple and classically exclusive states to produce hard results. It is a small step from this to the idea of multiverse.

If the Cardinal Archbishop wishes to be taken seriously when he says that "scientific claims like neo-Darwinism and the multiverse hypothesis in cosmology [were] invented to avoid the overwhelming evidence for purpose and design found in modern science", then he is claiming a great error has been deliberately made. He assumes the burden of proof in making such an extraordinary claim. Where is that proof - or even, where might it be found? Ex cathedra has no place in science.


I'm still very interested in your explanation of Dembski's exposition on why ID is not religious, which I quoted and tried to paraphrase earlier. I simply cannot see how his description of ID is any more scientific or less religious than our understanding of the Virgin Birth or the Resurrection. I would very much appreciate your insights on this, as it eludes me utterly.

R

(* If you believe that design can exist independent of a designer - you have been careful to make that distinction - then I don't understand how you have a problem with design being a product of natural selection. How might you distingush between the acts of an unknown and unknowable designer, and the workings of purely natural laws?)

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I am largely against organised religion, which is why I am so fond of the C of E.

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J. J. Ramsey
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quote:
Originally posted by Rex Monday:

(* If you believe that design can exist independent of a designer - you have been careful to make that distinction - then I don't understand how you have a problem with design being a product of natural selection. How might you distingush between the acts of an unknown and unknowable designer, and the workings of purely natural laws?)

Something worth noting. There can be no design without a designer, but there can be order without an orderer. (The classical Argument From Design infers design from the presence of order, which is not necessarily a valid inference, and concludes then that there was a designer.)

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I am a rationalist. Unfortunately, this doesn't actually make me rational.

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Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
I note that you use the word designer, but that is not a word associated with the ID world. Instead they talk about design as a phenomenon that can be emprically detected using the tools of mathematics and physics.

Then design is a poor choice of word to describe the empirally detected phenomenon - outwith the ID community if you mention "design" then the natural thing to do is to think there must be a designer. Especially if you then go and add the word "intelligent" to the mix. Either the original proponents were incredibly naive in choosing to call their conjecture "Intelligent Design" as opposed to some phrase that doesn't carry strong implications about there being an intelligent designer (and in much of the US and other western nations that would be immediately understood as the Judeo-Christian God), or that's exactly the implication they wished to convey.

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Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.

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Callan
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# 525

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Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:

quote:
I note that you use the word designer, but that is not a word associated with the ID world. Instead they talk about design as a phenomenon that can be emprically detected using the tools of mathematics and physics. Speculation about the identity of the designer (whether divine being, space alien, or metaphysical property of the universe) takes us beyond the realm of science at present.
I think that this is a case of the ID fraternity having their cake and eating it. One of Dembski's books is entitled: "Intelligent Design: A Bridge Between Science and Theology". Philip Johnson's "The Case Against Darwinism" is explicit in its objection to the 'atheistic' nature of Darwinism. Remine's biotic message theory argues that life was designed in such a way as to point to a creator God (and Remine was a regular on the Scientific Creationist circuit until he re-invented himself as an Intelligent Designer), The Discovery Institute (of which Remine is a fellow) support ID, in part, because they believe that evolution undermines Judeo-Christian morality, Alvin Plantinga argues that the existence of God is a "properly basic belief" and if Christoph, Cardinal Schonborn is uncertain as to whether the designer was God or Super-intelligent aliens, I'll eat his shiny red biretta.

One could, of course, multiply examples. But I think it demonstrates admirably that rumours of studious agnosticism about the existence or nature of the deity among the ID fraternity is exaggerated.

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Justinian
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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
I note that you use the word designer, but that is not a word associated with the ID world. Instead they talk about design as a phenomenon that can be emprically detected using the tools of mathematics and physics. Speculation about the identity of the designer (whether divine being, space alien, or metaphysical property of the universe) takes us beyond the realm of science at present.

No. They do not talk about the designer directly, but to have design you must have a designer, and when you talk about intelligent design you must have an intelligent designer. That is the difference between ID and the ordering produced by Darwinian evolution.

Almost every IDer I have ever heard has one specific candidate for the role of Designer - God. Simply because the ID world doesn't directly bring God into play doesn't mean that the existance of a designer is not a fundermental principle necessary for ID to be true.

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Faithful Sheepdog
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quote:
Rex Monday said:
What observation? The observations made by experimental physics - stuff like the structure of the spectrum, discrete energy levels in photons and electrons, photoconductivity and so on - which have been the basic fuel for people like Newton, Einstein, Bohr and so on.

What theory? Quantum theory, which is a very successful attempt to provide a mathematical foundation for the above observations. As part of that theory, the idea of the multiverse has been advanced. I can point you at very many fine online descriptions of how, for example, Einstein arrived at his conclusions from his observations, and the subsequent work in QM that has lead to our current state of understanding.

As quantum theory is so non-intuitive, it has been the subject of intense and very sceptical analysis every step of the way. Despite - perhaps because of - this, quantum theory is the most exhaustively documented and tested physical theory ever, and one of the most spectacularly successful.

Thank you for the clarification. There’s no argument from me against fundamental physics and quantum theory. It provided me with a good living for over 20 years.

quote:
Rex Monday said:
The multiverse hypothesis is a natural part of this: although still controversial, it has a good claim to be a valid interpretation. Again, look at Shor's Algorithm - this is an amazing example of a practical computational use of quantum theory that relies on the simultaneous existence of multiple and classically exclusive states to produce hard results. It is a small step from this to the idea of multiverse.

For those unfamiliar here is a simple introduction to the physics associated with the multiverse hypothesis. Scroll down the page to read further.

I think you overstate your point substantially when you say that the multiverse hypothesis is a part of quantum theory. As far as I can see, the best that can be said for it is that it is a imaginative speculation made possible by one interpretation of quantum theory. It is clearly under active discussion at present, but it is far from universally agreed among cosmologists.

You have mentioned Shor’s Algorithm twice now, but it is a theoretical formulation that depends on the presently theoretical concept of a quantum computer (as opposed to classical computers, such as exist at present). Since no one has yet succeeded in making a quantum computer, it remains a theoretical tour-de-force that awaits a practical embodiment.

I do not think the ID fraternity can be blamed for basing their present scientific work on the current cosmological consensus. If and when the multiverse hypothesis is confirmed by further theoretical studies and practical observations, then that is a bridge the ID world will need to cross.

quote:
Rex Monday said:
If the Cardinal Archbishop wishes to be taken seriously when he says that "scientific claims like neo-Darwinism and the multiverse hypothesis in cosmology [were] invented to avoid the overwhelming evidence for purpose and design found in modern science", then he is claiming a great error has been deliberately made. He assumes the burden of proof in making such an extraordinary claim. Where is that proof - or even, where might it be found? Ex cathedra has no place in science.

And that dislike of “ex cathedra” is why the ID world are making their arguments on scientific and rational grounds. The only universe for which we have clear and irrefutable evidence is our own. Dembski’s formulation on the universal probability bound (10E-150) is based on what we know about our own universe based on observation and measurement.

The archbishop’s article was not intended as an exhaustive review of the scientific issues and how they have been interpreted in RC pastoral and doctrinal teaching. He needs to develop his arguments more fully elsewhere. However, I would say the more fundamental burden of proof is on those proposing the multiverse hypothesis.

quote:
Rex Monday said:
I'm still very interested in your explanation of Dembski's exposition on why ID is not religious, which I quoted and tried to paraphrase earlier. I simply cannot see how his description of ID is any more scientific or less religious than our understanding of the Virgin Birth or the Resurrection. I would very much appreciate your insights on this, as it eludes me utterly.

In turn, it is statements like this that leave me scratching my head. The Virgin Birth and the Resurrection are theological positions intimately associated with certain religious texts and faith traditions (namely Christian). Without those texts and traditions we would know nothing about the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection. In Christian theology this is the whole concept of revelation and special grace.

By contrast, the ID world (which is actually much bigger than Dembski, although he is the most well-known household name) are making their arguments on the basis of logic and reason from the established laws and facts of science. It is a position which can be embraced by those of all faiths and none. Do not be misled by those in the YEC world who have appropriated some of the ID terminology for their own use, wrongly in many cases.

quote:
Rex Monday said:
(* If you believe that design can exist independent of a designer - you have been careful to make that distinction - then I don't understand how you have a problem with design being a product of natural selection.

With reference to the general point that Alan Cresswell has made about the use of terminology, the word natural is very slippery and requires careful definition to avoid misunderstanding. A large part of the argument here is just what constitutes “nature” in the first place, as opposed to working assumptions.

The term “natural selection” is an oxymoron under a strict Darwinian paradigm – nothing does any active selection, for selection implies the ability to choose and for strict Darwinians the laws of physics and chemistry are not teleological, self-aware, and goal-directed, so there is no active choosing going on at all.

“Selection” is therefore a complete misnomer and I would argue that it is being used in a very misleading way by Darwinists. In a sound-bite era the term is of course perfect, but a much more accurate description would be “differential reproductive success under the passive and non-teleological effects of environmental pressure” - food supplies, disease resistance, predators, weather etc.

As it happens the ID world do not deny that “natural selection” is operating and is capable of effecting some evolutionary change. The most obvious example I can think of is those deep sea fish that once had (presumably) seeing eyes, but now have blind, non-seeing eyes. However, I note that this involves the loss of function and not the creation of function.

Your phrase “design as a result of natural selection” begs the question as to the limits of the creative power inherent within a random mutation/natural selection paradigm. Dembski has attempted to define the limits of that power by strict mathematical arguments based on the flow of information from the environment into the genome, and Remine has dome likewise for the rate of that information flow, given what we know about sexual reproduction and the mathematics of population genetics.

quote:
Rex Monday said:
How might you distinguish between the acts of an unknown and unknowable designer, and the workings of purely natural laws?)

That is an extremely pertinent question. This is where the specialist terminology of the ID world (or at least the better known parts of it) comes in, such as the universal probability bound, explanatory filter, specified complex information, and irreducible complexity. These are all scientific concepts which are defined with precision in the writing of Dembski, Behe and others.

The arguments supporting these scientific concepts are made on purely rational and logical grounds that are fully consistent with the known laws of science and facts of the universe. There have of course been many attempts to rebut these concepts, but none that have convinced me. I recommend studying them for yourself since the Internet is full of misunderstanding and misinformation on these points.

The “working of purely natural laws” is also a question begging phrase, given what I said earlier about the slipperiness of the word natural. Since the ID world is sympathetic to a natural teleology (whether implicit or explicit), there are those who would not explicitly associate themselves with Dembski and Co. (for whatever reason), but who have nevertheless broken away comprehensively from a strict Darwinian approach and are now part of the wider ID fraternity.

This post has taken a lot of energy. If I don’t post in depth any more for today, nobody please take it personally.

Neil

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J. J. Ramsey
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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:

The term “natural selection” is an oxymoron under a strict Darwinian paradigm – nothing does any active selection, for selection implies the ability to choose and for strict Darwinians the laws of physics and chemistry are not teleological, self-aware, and goal-directed, so there is no active choosing going on at all.

“Selection” is therefore a complete misnomer and I would argue that it is being used in a very misleading way by Darwinists.

Our cell membranes are described as "selectively permeable," but this does not mean that they actively choose anything, but rather that their structure allows some things to pass through them but not others. The term "selection" does not imply intelligence.

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
The term “natural selection” is an oxymoron under a strict Darwinian paradigm – nothing does any active selection, for selection implies the ability to choose and for strict Darwinians the laws of physics and chemistry are not teleological, self-aware, and goal-directed, so there is no active choosing going on at all.

The term is one of Darwins own choosing. "Natural" is in contrast to "artificial" (the analogy being with the artificial selection of certain traits in animals by human breeders to produce distinct new breeds; in the wild analogous selection happens, except in the wild the selection criteria is simply reproductive success and there is no breeder artificially selecting any trait).

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Faithful Sheepdog
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Now to deal with some of Callan’s points:

quote:
The three theses you cite sum up Rex's point admirably. Davison postulates that the evolutionary development of a species is somehow pre-ordained rather than determined by natural selection, an idea which can be simply dismissed by the two words "mass extinction"
If you were more familiar with Davison’s ideas, you would find that the phenomenon of extinctions is one of the fundamental facts on which he bases his work. In his model, life-forms evolve through non-sexual reproduction and non-Darwinian means. Once sexual reproduction begins, it renders the life-form vulnerable to genetic deterioration and subsequent extinction.

He sees evolution driven by the decompression of existing information within the life-form. As an analogy to aid understanding of what he means by this, consider those compressed but self-extracting files that one downloads over the Internet. He sees something similar in life-form information. For him evolution proceeds by distinct jumps, “saltation”, which has a long history in opposition to Darwinian ideas.

quote:
Callan said:
Remine's thesis is the subject of a laudatory review in Answers in Genesis.

If you had spent a little more time on the AIG site you would have found the following disclaimer in relation to Remine’s book The Biotic Message:
quote:
Although the book advocates a creationist position, it is not a biblically-based creationist position. For example, the ‘sequential release’ explanation of the fossil record (p. 423) cannot be made to fit the scriptural account. Although a direct discussion of the age of things is avoided, the explanation of the fossil record (and apparent acceptance of the big bang) seems to assume long ages, thus precluding the biblical time-frame of only thousands of years.
Remine is no young earth creationist and no supporter of the specific approach of Answers in Genesis. Just because AIG sells his book doesn’t make it otherwise. No doubt AIG also approves of motherhood and apple pie. Your argument here is lamentably weak and no more than guilt by association.

You will find that Remine subscribes to an old earth paradigm and his arguments are developed on scientific and mathematical grounds, particularly with respect to population genetics. He has defended his thesis in depth at the ARN forums. If anyone can rebut it competently he wants to hear from you.

quote:
Callan said:
The final thesis, EAM appears to be nothing more than warmed over Lamarckism, a theory that has been consigned to the rubbish heap long ago.

Here’s what EAM is:
quote:
EAM asserts that vital, (as opposed to trivial), novelty in organisms, begins exactly where and when environmental pressure forces it to happen, provided that that environmental pressure is both destructive and chronic, (without being entirely lethal), or, that it offers a highly advantageous opportunity to the organism. Adaptation is either the organism restructuring itself, and/or its offspring, so as to cope with a novel negative environmental pressure, or, so as to thrive by taking better advantage of a novel environmental opportunity.
Dismissal as “warmed over Lamarkianism” is a lamentably weak argument and simply guilt by association again. EAM ideas postulate that genetic mutations are not random with respect to environmental selection pressure. In other words, the life-form shows some awareness of its own evolutionary needs. As the ISCID article goes on to say:

quote:
EAM is a process that involves non-mechanical, non-physical, phenomena, such as self-awareness, cellular intelligence, memory, intention, and other aspects of 'mind'.
Please also note this comment from the ISCID article:

quote:
EAM is the 'multiple designers' version of Intelligent Design. It holds that every organism possesses intelligence to some degree, and that it uses that intelligence in an unconscious, instinctive way, to redesign itself and/or its behaviour, and that of its offspring, in the face of novel, crucial environmental demands.
This of course flies in the face of strict Darwinism. However, once one allows for the concept of a natural teleology, it permits some very fruitful lines of enquiry to proceed. You will find that EAM ideas are grounded in scientific observation and have recently received a boost from a paper reporting some distinctly unexpected results on the variability of mutation rates under selection pressure:

quote:
”The new data show that if more mutations show up at a gene, that gene tends to accept a higher percentage of those mutations.”
That is not a result that anyone was expecting, nor can it be claimed as a prior prediction of neo-Darwinian theory. It may, however, be compatible with EAM ideas.

quote:
Callan said:
Remine's biotic message theory argues that life was designed in such a way as to point to a creator God (and Remine was a regular on the Scientific Creationist circuit until he re-invented himself as an Intelligent Designer), The Discovery Institute (of which Remine is a fellow) support ID, in part, because they believe that evolution undermines Judeo-Christian morality.

Ahem, Callan, you’ll find that Remine published his book The Biotic Message in 1993, long before “Intelligent Design” became the well-known name for a school of thought in opposition to strict Darwinism. Remine certainly does take part in open public debates with prominent Darwinists, but his arguments are rational and rooted in mathematical logic, scientific laws and known facts.

I can find no evidence that Remine is a present fellow of the Discovery Institute. Please document this point. However, as I used to work in the nuclear industry, it is no surprise to me that many scientific ideas have important social and political ramifications. It is naïve to think that scientific ideas can be promulgated in a political vacuum or that they automatically have no moral implications. Is nuclear power safe?

quote:
Callan said:
One could, of course, multiply examples. But I think it demonstrates admirably that rumours of studious agnosticism about the existence or nature of the deity among the ID fraternity is exaggerated.

One could of course turn this argument on its head and ask why should I trust anything scientific produced by those who openly espouse the agenda of secular humanism and/or aggressive atheism. This argument cuts both ways, but it is frankly an ad hominem and therefore a logical fallacy. Even Richard Dawkins may publish some truthful scientific research.

It is no secret that some of the better known names in the ID fraternity are theists of one form or another, but others are openly agnostic and a few eschew any form of theism. As the Archbishop’s article shows, ID ideas can certainly be interpreted in a form that is compatible with an orthodox Christian theology. However, it is important to distinguish between the prior scientific ideas and the way those ideas are received in various faith communities.

Neil

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"Random mutation/natural selection works great in folks’ imaginations, but it’s a bust in the real world." ~ Michael J. Behe

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Callan
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Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:

quote:
If you were more familiar with Davison’s ideas, you would find that the phenomenon of extinctions is one of the fundamental facts on which he bases his work. In his model, life-forms evolve through non-sexual reproduction and non-Darwinian means. Once sexual reproduction begins, it renders the life-form vulnerable to genetic deterioration and subsequent extinction.

He sees evolution driven by the decompression of existing information within the life-form. As an analogy to aid understanding of what he means by this, consider those compressed but self-extracting files that one downloads over the Internet. He sees something similar in life-form information. For him evolution proceeds by distinct jumps, “saltation”, which has a long history in opposition to Darwinian ideas.

My point about Mass extinction was in response to this sort of argument, from the link already posted.

quote:
I propose that these internal factors may prove to be the primary if not the sole causes of organic evolution. In short, I suggest that evolution has been largely an emergent process in which the environment may have played, at best, a trivial role.
So not only is the current morphology of a given species encrypted on its DNA but any future evolutionary variations are lurking in there as well - a thesis that appears not to have found any vindication from the vast amount of research into DNA since Watson and Crick. This is the sort of thing which is the staple of dodgy science fiction, such as the Blake's 7 episode, Terminal which hinged on humanity being doomed to evolve into a species of homicidal primates. Clearly this sort of evolutionary determinism is incorrect as it overlooks the fundamental role played by the environment on a given species.

But also the environmental factors which a species encounters are 'trivial' in its development. This ignores, for example, the opportunity seized by the mammals after the mass extinction of the Cretaceous which eliminated the Dinosaurs. Clearly an event of this magnitude can hardly be considered trivial. Nor, for example, can climate changes which are complict in other mass extinctions such as the changes at the end of the Eocene era. Clearly environmental factors had a role to play in the development of species which was far from trivial. If Davison is correct then the predetermined evolutionary pattern of a species' development may actually mitigate against its survival as its transformation from one form to another may occur at a time when such a transformation is not evolutionary advantageous to it.

quote:
If you had spent a little more time on the AIG site you would have found the following disclaimer in relation to Remine’s book The Biotic Message: [snipped]

Remine is no young earth creationist and no supporter of the specific approach of Answers in Genesis. Just because AIG sells his book doesn’t make it otherwise. No doubt AIG also approves of motherhood and apple pie. Your argument here is lamentably weak and no more than guilt by association.

What of it? The review I linked to stated that Remine was deeply parteigenossen as far as his espousal of Big Bang theory was concerned. But whilst I don't consider AiG to be a reputable scientific site I do consider them to have a reasonable grasp of what constitutes creationist literature. If something is sufficiently far away from the scientific mainstream to warrant the approval of AiG it constitutes rather more than motherhood and apple pie. It demonstrates that ID and creationism have more in common with one another than either does with science.

quote:
EAM asserts that vital, (as opposed to trivial), novelty in organisms, begins exactly where and when environmental pressure forces it to happen, provided that that environmental pressure is both destructive and chronic, (without being entirely lethal), or, that it offers a highly advantageous opportunity to the organism. Adaptation is either the organism restructuring itself, and/or its offspring, so as to cope with a novel negative environmental pressure, or, so as to thrive by taking better advantage of a novel environmental opportunity.
quote:
Dismissal as “warmed over Lamarkianism” is a lamentably weak argument and simply guilt by association again. EAM ideas postulate that genetic mutations are not random with respect to environmental selection pressure. In other words, the life-form shows some awareness of its own evolutionary needs.
But your first definition could have been lifted from Shaw's Back to Methuselah. The idea that organisms choose to evolve in a certain direction which are advantageous to them is *precisely* what Lamarckism is. If on the other hand organisms merely react to selective pressures created by their environment EAM is merely Darwinism but you're not arguing that are you?

quote:
EAM is the 'multiple designers' version of Intelligent Design. It holds that every organism possesses intelligence to some degree, and that it uses that intelligence in an unconscious, instinctive way, to redesign itself and/or its behaviour, and that of its offspring, in the face of novel, crucial environmental demands.
Nope, thought not. That is, AFAICS, what Lamarck argued. Where would you say that EAM differs from Lamarckism?

Incidentally, of course you noted that EAM is driven by changes in the environment whereas Davison alleges that such changes are trivial and Remine alleges that life was set up by divine design. The three explanations are not only flawed but incompatible with one another.

quote:
You will find that EAM ideas are grounded in scientific observation and have recently received a boost from a paper reporting some distinctly unexpected results on the variability of mutation rates under selection pressure
I would hesitate before suggesting that the genes cited in the article willed their mutational variation on the basis of your link. There is no evidence of any mechanism by which this could happen. Incidentally, Lahn appears not to have recanted his comments that there is no evidence for ID and that it is not a scientific theory. This experiment may cause neo-Darwinian theory to be revised but there is no evidence that it will cause it to be abandoned.

quote:
quote:
Remine's biotic message theory argues that life was designed in such a way as to point to a creator God (and Remine was a regular on the Scientific Creationist circuit until he re-invented himself as an Intelligent Designer), The Discovery Institute (of which Remine is a fellow) support ID, in part, because they believe that evolution undermines Judeo-Christian morality.
Ahem, Callan, you’ll find that Remine published his book The Biotic Message in 1993, long before “Intelligent Design” became the well-known name for a school of thought in opposition to strict Darwinism. Remine certainly does take part in open public debates with prominent Darwinists, but his arguments are rational and rooted in mathematical logic, scientific laws and known facts.

I can find no evidence that Remine is a present fellow of the Discovery Institute. Please document this point. However, as I used to work in the nuclear industry, it is no surprise to me that many scientific ideas have important social and political ramifications. It is naïve to think that scientific ideas can be promulgated in a political vacuum or that they automatically have no moral implications. Is nuclear power safe?

The fact that Remine's work pre-dates ID confirms, I would have thought, my contention that he is a creationist who moved under the ID banner for tactical reasons. The fact that he debates with Darwinians is no guarantee of scientific rectitude - so does Duane Gish and plenty of others. You are quite right that he is not a current fellow of the Discovery Institute. Mea Maxima Culpa. However googling "Walter Remine discovery institute" points to a bio provided for an online debate where he is cited as a fellow and a number of internet discussions where he puts "Fellow of the Discovery Institute" in his sig. See here and here

quote:
One could of course turn this argument on its head and ask why should I trust anything scientific produced by those who openly espouse the agenda of secular humanism and/or aggressive atheism. This argument cuts both ways, but it is frankly an ad hominem and therefore a logical fallacy. Even Richard Dawkins may publish some truthful scientific research.
It is not a sufficient argument but it cannot be ruled out of court. If a Doctor tells you that he believes that smoking is not harmful and he is in the pay of Mr Benson and Hedges one should regard his arguments with suspicion. I think a simple test is to ask yourself how much of the Blind Watchmaker would Dawkins have to re-write if he found God. A lot of the rhetoric would have to go but the essential science would be sound enough. Similarly there is nothing (apart from academic snarkiness) that would preclude Dawkins from publishing a paper jointly with Kenneth Miller, despite their theological divergences. On the other hand if Remine stops believing in God he may as well get his publishers to pulp the Biotic Message. This demonstrates the ID agenda, admirably. It is an essentially ideological enterprise which sees Darwinism as the basis of materialism and therefore sets out to replace it with another paradigm. The ideological commitment precedes the science inasmuch as the Discovery Institute can, apparently, tell with accuracy and without doing any research that within twenty years they will have replaced Darwinism as the dominant paradigm. Whilst I disagree profoundly with the philosophical arguments one finds in Dawkins' work to compare him to Dembski et. al. is rather unfair.

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Barnabas62
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Callan

QED. The Wedge Strategy document is devastating. Thanks.

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Rex Monday

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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
[Long reiteration snipped]

You have mentioned Shor’s Algorithm twice now, but it is a theoretical formulation that depends on the presently theoretical concept of a quantum computer (as opposed to classical computers, such as exist at present). Since no one has yet succeeded in making a quantum computer, it remains a theoretical tour-de-force that awaits a practical embodiment.


Quantum computers have been demonstrated for some time now, a fact of which the Cardinal Archbishop also seems unaware.

From 2001:IBM demonstrates Shor's Algorithm in a working quantum computer

Not bad for thinking based on a deliberate error, eh?

quote:


I do not think the ID fraternity can be blamed for basing their present scientific work on the current cosmological consensus. If and when the multiverse hypothesis is confirmed by further theoretical studies and practical observations, then that is a bridge the ID world will need to cross.


I'm not sure what you're saying here. As far as I know, ID has nothing to say about multiverses - I was demonstrating, at your request, why I thought the Cardinal Archbishop does not know whereof he speaks.

quote:

quote:
Rex Monday said:
If the Cardinal Archbishop wishes to be taken seriously when he says that "scientific claims like neo-Darwinism and the multiverse hypothesis in cosmology [were] invented to avoid the overwhelming evidence for purpose and design found in modern science", then he is claiming a great error has been deliberately made. He assumes the burden of proof in making such an extraordinary claim. Where is that proof - or even, where might it be found? Ex cathedra has no place in science.

And that dislike of “ex cathedra” is why the ID world are making their arguments on scientific and rational grounds. The only universe for which we have clear and irrefutable evidence is our own. Dembski’s formulation on the universal probability bound (10E-150) is based on what we know about our own universe based on observation and measurement.

The archbishop’s article was not intended as an exhaustive review of the scientific issues and how they have been interpreted in RC pastoral and doctrinal teaching. He needs to develop his arguments more fully elsewhere. However, I would say the more fundamental burden of proof is on those proposing the multiverse hypothesis.


You misunderstand me. What I was saying wasn't whether the multiverse hypothesis was right or not - as I said, and you reiterated, it remains controversial.

I was pointing out that whether it was right or wrong, it was not a deliberate effort to avoid a designer as the Archbish claims in his ex cathedra statement

If his claim is to be taken seriously, he must show some evidence of it. ID supporters who use this op-ed piece of his to back up their arguments are clearly not in it for the sober scientific case he makes, for he makes none!

Dembski's probability studies are not impressive. There is no particular reason to believe his model reflects reality, and they are well refuted elsewhere.

quote:


quote:
Rex Monday said:
I'm still very interested in your explanation of Dembski's exposition on why ID is not religious, which I quoted and tried to paraphrase earlier. I simply cannot see how his description of ID is any more scientific or less religious than our understanding of the Virgin Birth or the Resurrection. I would very much appreciate your insights on this, as it eludes me utterly.

In turn, it is statements like this that leave me scratching my head. The Virgin Birth and the Resurrection are theological positions intimately associated with certain religious texts and faith traditions (namely Christian). Without those texts and traditions we would know nothing about the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection. In Christian theology this is the whole concept of revelation and special grace.

By contrast, the ID world (which is actually much bigger than Dembski, although he is the most well-known household name) are making their arguments on the basis of logic and reason from the established laws and facts of science. It is a position which can be embraced by those of all faiths and none. Do not be misled by those in the YEC world who have appropriated some of the ID terminology for their own use, wrongly in many cases.


I did not mention the YECs. I refered only to Dembski's own words, which seem to me to be a theological statement and ones which could equally well apply to any miracle in accordance to Christian dogma.

My request for amplification of how you can read them otherwise, stands. I would find it very useful.

quote:

quote:
Rex Monday said:
(* If you believe that design can exist independent of a designer - you have been careful to make that distinction - then I don't understand how you have a problem with design being a product of natural selection.

With reference to the general point that Alan Cresswell has made about the use of terminology, the word natural is very slippery and requires careful definition to avoid misunderstanding. A large part of the argument here is just what constitutes “nature” in the first place, as opposed to working assumptions.

The term “natural selection” is an oxymoron under a strict Darwinian paradigm – nothing does any active selection, for selection implies the ability to choose and for strict Darwinians the laws of physics and chemistry are not teleological, self-aware, and goal-directed, so there is no active choosing going on at all.


You don't define 'active', though. The world is full of examples where selection takes place without the intervention of some external mind, such way different sizes of pebble are sorted in a river bed. When a new species has better attributes for survival than others and thus prospers where others do not, selection seems a good word to use - and natural seems a good description of the forces at work.

quote:


“Selection” is therefore a complete misnomer and I would argue that it is being used in a very misleading way by Darwinists. In a sound-bite era the term is of course perfect, but a much more accurate description would be “differential reproductive success under the passive and non-teleological effects of environmental pressure” - food supplies, disease resistance, predators, weather etc.


That seems an excessively circuitous way of saying 'natural selection'! Natural selection remains a perfectly good, clear and unambiguous phrase. Where is it being misused?

quote:


As it happens the ID world do not deny that “natural selection” is operating and is capable of effecting some evolutionary change. The most obvious example I can think of is those deep sea fish that once had (presumably) seeing eyes, but now have blind, non-seeing eyes. However, I note that this involves the loss of function and not the creation of function.


This shibboleth of ID - and creationism - is hard to understand. If no new function can be created through mutation, why do we see it happen all the time? Why would beneficial mutations not occur?How come genetics is labouring under such a huge burden of error, while producing such good results?

quote:


Your phrase “design as a result of natural selection” begs the question as to the limits of the creative power inherent within a random mutation/natural selection paradigm. Dembski has attempted to define the limits of that power by strict mathematical arguments based on the flow of information from the environment into the genome, and Remine has dome likewise for the rate of that information flow, given what we know about sexual reproduction and the mathematics of population genetics.


Those models have been heavily and I believe successfully criticised for fundamental inappropriateness (not to mention, in Dembski's case, actual mistakes in the maths). It's like those mythical equations that purported to show that a bumblebee could not fly.

Taking known mutation rates - which can be observed - straightforward maths shows that the rate of change in organisms can easily be accounted for by what we see. An alternative model that appears very flawed and seeks to deny observations is not compelling.

quote:

quote:
Rex Monday said:
How might you distinguish between the acts of an unknown and unknowable designer, and the workings of purely natural laws?)

That is an extremely pertinent question. This is where the specialist terminology of the ID world (or at least the better known parts of it) comes in, such as the universal probability bound, explanatory filter, specified complex information, and irreducible complexity. These are all scientific concepts which are defined with precision in the writing of Dembski, Behe and others.

The arguments supporting these scientific concepts are made on purely rational and logical grounds that are fully consistent with the known laws of science and facts of the universe. There have of course been many attempts to rebut these concepts, but none that have convinced me. I recommend studying them for yourself since the Internet is full of misunderstanding and misinformation on these points.


Well, there we'll have to differ, as I find the critiques of ID's claim to science entirely convincing, for any number of reasons - not least that no _workable_ definitions of the things you list have been created. Where definitions have been worked up to a point where they can be tested, they prove useless - if you follow the history of Behe's ideas in particular, you can see this process in action.


quote:


The “working of purely natural laws” is also a question begging phrase, given what I said earlier about the slipperiness of the word natural.


Is that slipperiness the reason why Dembski's article to which you referred so difficult to fathom? I'm at the disadvantage of not finding the word slippery at all, and the distinction between natural and supernatural simple to appreciate - with ID and its talk of minds acting on physical laws falling firmly on the supernatural side.

quote:


Since the ID world is sympathetic to a natural teleology (whether implicit or explicit), there are those who would not explicitly associate themselves with Dembski and Co. (for whatever reason), but who have nevertheless broken away comprehensively from a strict Darwinian approach and are now part of the wider ID fraternity.


Such as?

quote:


This post has taken a lot of energy. If I don’t post in depth any more for today, nobody please take it personally.

Neil

Even if you subsequently answer just one aspect of this and previous posts - my request for an explanation of Dembski's article - I'd be grateful.

R

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I am largely against organised religion, which is why I am so fond of the C of E.

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Rex Monday

None but a blockhead
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
Callan

QED. The Wedge Strategy document is devastating. Thanks.

And just out of interest, Cardinal Schönborn's article in the NY Times is a primary example of the Wedge Strategy in action

From the NY Times,9th July (free reg required):

quote:

One of the strongest advocates of teaching alternatives to evolution is the Discovery Institute in Seattle, which promotes the idea, termed intelligent design, that the variety and complexity of life on earth cannot be explained except through the intervention of a designer of some sort.

Mark Ryland, a vice president of the institute, said in an interview that he had urged the cardinal to write the essay. Both Mr. Ryland and Cardinal Schönborn said that an essay in May in The Times about the compatibility of religion and evolutionary theory by Lawrence M. Krauss, a physicist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, suggested to them that it was time to clarify the church's position on evolution.

The cardinal's essay was submitted to The Times by a Virginia public relations firm, Creative Response Concepts, which also represents the Discovery Institute

There is some discussion in other places that the original op-ed piece was part of the politics of some internal Vatican wrangling, and can be construed as a tentative bit of walking the biscuit to see who nibbles.

R

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I am largely against organised religion, which is why I am so fond of the C of E.

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Faithful Sheepdog
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Callan:

I must thank you for illustrating my point so adequately. Most of your arguments are entirely ad hominem: Davison is writing science fiction; Remine is diving under umbrellas; and the EAM crowd are writing English literature. Need I say more?

quote:
Callan said:
Where would you say that EAM differs from Lamarckism?

Lamarckianism talks loosely about the inheritance of acquired characteristics as the mechanism for evolutionary change. It was a scientific theory formulated in an era long before the science of genetics became established. So, just like Lipton’s Iced Tea, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it – Darwin accepted Lamarckianism to some degree:

quote:
From Darwin’s Origin of Species, chapter 5:
From the facts alluded to in the first chapter, I think there can be little doubt that use in our domestic animals strengthens and enlarges certain parts, and disuse diminishes them; and that such modifications are inherited. Under free nature, we can have no standard of comparison, by which to judge of the effects of long-continued use or disuse, for we know not the parent-forms; but many animals have structures which can be explained by the effects of disuse.

Overall I think you have completely missed the fundamental scientific issue at stake that has enabled EAM ideas to become popular in some circles. Are genetic mutations always and in every place random with respect to environmental pressure? Random in this context means completely uncorrelated with no deterministic or statistical relation whatsoever to the environmental pressure.

That is what strict Darwinism has held up to now. It at least has the merits that it is a testable scientific prediction, especially now that the technology is available to examine and monitor genetic mutations in full detail. It only takes one confirmed case of non-randomness to show that Darwinism is not the full story.

quote:
Callan said:
Incidentally, of course you noted that EAM is driven by changes in the environment whereas Davison alleges that such changes are trivial and Remine alleges that life was set up by divine design. The three explanations are not only flawed but incompatible with one another.

Your comment here also illustrates my point perfectly (apart from your misrepresentation of Remine). There is no one single ID theory, but a broad field in which a variety of non-Darwinian scientific approaches jostle side-by-side for acceptance strictly on their scientific merits. Some ideas are uncomfortable bed-fellows and some ideas are completely incompatible with others, but that is only to be expected in an open scientific debate on unresolved questions.

quote:
Barnabas62 said:
QED. The Wedge Strategy document is devastating. Thanks.

Barnabas62, the Wedge Strategy document causes as much excitement in some circles as the The Homosexual Agenda does in others. [Smile]

As far as I know, the Wedge Strategy document is genuine, but do not mistake a public relations strategy for the substantial scientific issues underlying the debate. In a post-modern era it is easy to assume that style is everything and substance nothing, but try telling that to your plumber next time you get a leak, and even more when you have to pay him.

quote:
Rex Monday said:
Even if you subsequently answer just one aspect of this and previous posts - my request for an explanation of Dembski's article - I'd be grateful.

Rex Monday, I’m not interested in discussing or defending the Wedge Strategy document or the Discovery Institute per se, but I will respond further in due course on the scientific issues. That is where the focus of my interest lies.

Neil

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"Random mutation/natural selection works great in folks’ imaginations, but it’s a bust in the real world." ~ Michael J. Behe

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
Lamarckianism talks loosely about the inheritance of acquired characteristics as the mechanism for evolutionary change. It was a scientific theory formulated in an era long before the science of genetics became established. So, just like Lipton’s Iced Tea, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it – Darwin accepted Lamarckianism to some degree:

Lamarkism depends on those "acquired characteristics" being developed through the life time of the organism, rather than being inherited directly from the parents. So, a characteristic such as the muscles of a blacksmith are acquired during the life of the blacksmith through the physical exertion of those muscles in his work. In Lamarkism the children of a blacksmith should have well developed muscles, because their father has well developed muscles. It is totally incompatible with genetic inheritance - unless one can show that punding metal all day changes ones genes to favour bigger muscles in those who inherit those genes. Even though Darwin acknowledged Lamarkism as an influence, it was the flaws in Lamarkism (ie: that, actually, it didn't explain inheritance as actually observed) that led him to a different form of inheritance.

Interestingly, there could be a case for a Lamarkian type of inheritance in human cultures. Cultural traits that are used are selectively transmitted to later cultures, those that aren't are less likely to be transmitted. But then, apart from a few advocates of memetics, no one considers there to be a genetic analogy in culture.

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Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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Copied from Purg thread:

quote:

Originally posted by me:

I would strongly dispute the underlying concept in the Cardinal's essay that science is specifically concerned to "explain away" evidence for design. It is not. Rather, it seeks to construct models that accurately describe observed reality. This is not the same thing. Faced with a remarkable phenomenon such as the vertebrate blood clotting cascade, which certainly is a case in point, there are two paths: too say "Oh, this must be design by God supernaturally placed in the world", or "Fascinating. How did that come about?". Only the latter of these paths is a path of scientific enquiry.

But finding a non-supernatural model of the origins of the blood clotting cascade (as has been done) does not say whether a supernatural God designed it or not. It merely says how, if God exists and did design it, He put it into action. About whether God does exist, and did so, science is silent. The idea that any scientific model is saying that God didn't design it, or even worse that God doesn't exist, is a pernicious misunderstanding which unfortunately the Cardinal seems to have picked up on.

Fundamentally, the question of design by God is a philosophical one, not a scientific one, and it is a category error to try to introduce the question into science, which makes the subject of its enquiry nature, not supernature.

The Cardinal would do well to listen to Ken Miller. Yes, from a scientific frame of reference evolution is unplanned and unguided. But it's a pretty poor sort of God that finds the unplanned and unguided impossible to fit into His providence.



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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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Callan
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Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:

quote:
I must thank you for illustrating my point so adequately. Most of your arguments are entirely ad hominem: Davison is writing science fiction; Remine is diving under umbrellas; and the EAM crowd are writing English literature. Need I say more?
Actually my points were:

  • Davison's allegation that the role of the environment is trivial underestimates the affect we know environmental changes had on the course of evolution and his argument that the future development of a species is encoded on its DNA goes against everything we know about DNA.
  • Remine's thesis is Old Earth Creationism which is hardly a falsifiable scientific theory.
  • EAM is Lamarckism. You appear to accept this point whilst objecting to my comparing it to Shaw's Back to Methuselah which is a popularisation of Lamarckian ideas.

There seems to be a degree of performative inconsistency in complaining about ad hominems whilst ignoring the substantive argument.

quote:
Overall I think you have completely missed the fundamental scientific issue at stake that has enabled EAM ideas to become popular in some circles. Are genetic mutations always and in every place random with respect to environmental pressure? Random in this context means completely uncorrelated with no deterministic or statistical relation whatsoever to the environmental pressure.

That is what strict Darwinism has held up to now. It at least has the merits that it is a testable scientific prediction, especially now that the technology is available to examine and monitor genetic mutations in full detail. It only takes one confirmed case of non-randomness to show that Darwinism is not the full story.

Actually no Darwinian would argue that the environment never has an effect on mutations. UV radiation, for example, can act as a mutagen. So mutations are not random with respect to the environment inasmuch as the environment dictates the level of mutagenic pressure to which an organism is exposed. EAM is clearly based on a misunderstanding.

quote:
quote:
Incidentally, of course you noted that EAM is driven by changes in the environment whereas Davison alleges that such changes are trivial and Remine alleges that life was set up by divine design. The three explanations are not only flawed but incompatible with one another.
Your comment here also illustrates my point perfectly (apart from your misrepresentation of Remine). There is no one single ID theory, but a broad field in which a variety of non-Darwinian scientific approaches jostle side-by-side for acceptance strictly on their scientific merits. Some ideas are uncomfortable bed-fellows and some ideas are completely incompatible with others, but that is only to be expected in an open scientific debate on unresolved questions.
Firstly I summed up Remine's thesis quite adequately. According to his own website the books thesis is:

quote:
The central claims of the theory are simple and plausible: Life was reasonably designed for survival, and to convey a message that tells where life came from. The message can be described in two parts:

1. Life was designed to look like the product of a single designer.
2. Life was designed to resist all other explanations.

In other words, evolutionary theory helped shape the pattern of life — with a reverse impact. Life was intricately designed to resist all evolutionary explanations, not just Darwin's or Lamarck's.

Secondly, it appears to be the contention of ID theorists that a highly successful scientific theory should be abandoned in favour of a ragbag of doubtful theories on the ground that a designer or designers, any designer or designers, are preferable to a theory that admits of the possibility that there may have been no designer after all. The ID tent contains Old Earth Creationists, Young Earth Creationists, People like Behe who believe that Goddunit but are prepared to accept that some evolution took place, EAM Lamarckians and Anthony Flew. The point of unity is a prior ideological commitment to the wrongness of Darwinism. Logically most ID theories must be wrong, as only one of them can be right. That one of them is right strikes me as being unduly optimistic.

quote:
As far as I know, the Wedge Strategy document is genuine, but do not mistake a public relations strategy for the substantial scientific issues underlying the debate. In a post-modern era it is easy to assume that style is everything and substance nothing, but try telling that to your plumber next time you get a leak, and even more when you have to pay him.
Style over substance is the perfect description of ID. What ID, in effect, is asking us to do is to sack a perfectly decent and competent plumber and replace him with a member of the new plumbers guild. These guild members have entirely different and incompatible explanations as to what is wrong with ones drains but they are united in the belief that Mr Competent is terribly immoral. You'll pardon me if I stick with Mr Competent.

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How easy it would be to live in England, if only one did not love her. - G.K. Chesterton

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Faithful Sheepdog
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Karl Liberal-Backslider:

Please can you explain what exactly you mean by a scientific frame of reference and how precisely you arrive at your particular definition.

Neil

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"Random mutation/natural selection works great in folks’ imaginations, but it’s a bust in the real world." ~ Michael J. Behe

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ken
Ship's Roundhead
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I write this first bit before I read the last 3 days worth of postings on the thread, because I've been off reading over the weekend & want to get my thoughts down. So if it is completely irrelevant and off-topic, aplologies.

quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
quote:
Rex Monday said:
How might you distinguish between the acts of an unknown and unknowable designer, and the workings of purely natural laws?)

That is an extremely pertinent question. This is where the specialist terminology of the ID world (or at least the better known parts of it) comes in, such as the universal probability bound, explanatory filter, specified complex information, and irreducible complexity. These are all scientific concepts which are defined with precision in the writing of Dembski, Behe and others.

The arguments supporting these scientific concepts are made on purely rational and logical grounds that are fully consistent with the known laws of science and facts of the universe. There have of course been many attempts to rebut these concepts, but none that have convinced me. I recommend studying them for yourself since the Internet is full of misunderstanding and misinformation on these points.

OK, so I looked around for Dembski and Behe and others and found some online essays which I read to try to refresh my ideas of what they are talking about.

One which seemed to address all those points you mention, and to be relatively recent is [URL=http://www.iscid.org/papers/Dembski_ IrreducibleComplexityRevisited_011404.pd]Irreducible Complexity Revisited[/URL] by William Dembski (November 2004) available on the iscid.org website.

I spent a lot of time reading it (& a few other things) over the weekend and made some notes on it. I'm afraid the notes get angrier as I go on because it seemed to me that the notions you mention are not "defined with precision", or not in this paper, which appeared to be evasive and polemical.

There's no point in going through in any detail, but three or four main things stand out:

First, the whole notion of an "irreducible core" seems far from proved. I'm not at all sure that5 such things exist in quite the way they are described; and if they do I'm not at all sure that the "fundamental molecular machinery" of life contains many, if any, examples of them. OK, I would have said that before I read this paper, but these feelings are strongly reinforced by the paper which fails to convince. It also doesn;t help that he claims various structures, such as flagellae, as "irreducibly complex" with no backup to the claim. Its just an assertion. A "gosh wow, I can't believe it!".

Second - and this one is a minor point - he uses the example of a city as an illustration of what he calls "cumulative complexity" which he tries to distinguish from "irreducible complexity, asserting that even if it is possible for a "cumulatively complex" structure to come about through natural selection, it is impossible for an irreducibly complex one:

quote:

It is possible to successively remove people and services from a city until one is down to a tiny village - all without losing the sense of community which in this case constitutes the city's basic function.

But this is nonsense. If a "sense of community" was the basic function of a city then we'd all get more or it by living in tiny villages. Or big houses in the country, or caves, or nests. Cities are actually very good analogies for the molecular machinery of cells, because they function by bringing people (and other things) face to face with each other, making new kinds of economic activty possible. And also by compartmentalising econmic activities away from each other. Just as a cell functions by bringing various objects into contact over surfaces and creating compartments for things to happen in.

Cities do not typically grow by infinitesimally gradual continual stages, they grow in bursts. And there are step changes in function with growth - when the density of people goes above a threshold then new kinds of economic interaction that were not possible before now become possible. New kinds of supply emerge to satisfy new kinds of demand. Quanititative change becomes qualitative change. World metropolises like London or New York are not just larger versions of smaller world city, a Cape Town or Glasgow or Baltimore. Which are themselves not just larger versions of national-scale city. And so on down to the village.

Much the same thing seems to have happened in the development of living cells. At certain scales, quantitative becomes qualitiative. New forms became possible - maybe quite suddenly on an evolutionary scale. The history of life is in many ways the history of compartmentalisation and modularisation within and between cells. This is one mechanism that allows exactly the sort of thing Dembski doesn't believe in to happen - appearance of a crude version of a new thing.


Thirdly - and this is much more important - he repeatedly demands a "seamless Darwinian account that is both detailed and testable..." without ever saying what such a testable account would be. He presumably knows perfectly well that we can't go back in a time machine and see the real ancestry of current living things. So what is his test? In one place he dismisses "just so stories", scenarios made up to describe what things might have been like, while in another demanding that biologists make up just such stories - and somehow prove them

The only statistically testable models of the actual course of evolution are phylogenetic ones - we have the endpoints, the twigs of the tree, and we can build models of the brranches and the trunk that relate them together. But he seems to show no awareness of that. (& if he did he would I suppose quite correctly point out that such models assume kinship between extant forms so can never "prove" it)

What would he accept as evidence?

Fourthly, he writes:

quote:

By definition natural selection selects for existing function - in other words a function that is already in place and helping the organism in some way. On the other hand natural selection cannot select for future function - functions that are not present and in some way currently helping the organism are invisible to natural selection. Once a novel function comes to exist the Darwinian mechanism cann select for it. But making the transition from old to new function is not a task to which the Darwinian mechanism is suited.

What he's done here is to define away the possibility of the core of the argument for the orgin of species by means of natural selection. He's begged the question utterly. And he is ignoring - or rather ruling out of court - the possibiity of anything new emerging which can from then on be subject to selection. Ignoring not only the possibility fo the kind of qualititive step change I mentioned before, but any sort of emergent property and - much more importantly to the theory of ecology - ignoring the possibility of preadaptation, that is some character of an organism that was previously useless or even deleterious being advantageous in different circumstances.

He then goes off on one about concepts such as "scaffolding" and so on in a way which I think shows he doesn't quite understand the points being made.

Enough. The rest is less impressive than the first part because its built on the first part so can't convince the not already convinced. Though he makes a couple of glaring errors I think. One is perhaps just a matter of style. It is not always clear when he is taking about evolutionary time, ecological/population time, lifecycle time or phsysiological timescales. That's really important if anyone is goiung to make sense of his rather baroque structure of supposed probabilities he's calqued on Drake's equation.

The other more subtle but maybe more informative error is the way he keeps on talking about "the bacterial flagellum" and similar phrases, as if there is only one bacterium, only one flagellum. But of course there are millions of them, all slightly different. The idea that a flagellum is "irreducibly complex" and cannot evolve would be intuitively easier to swallow if it were not that case that there are vast variations on them in life. The same goes for much of the molecular machinery of life. Most organisms lack some part of some of the fundamental metabolic pathways for instance. But bits are all they need to live as they live.


Whoops, theres another fallacy. A statistical fallacy kin to the one that's getting Professor whatsisname kicked out of the BMA for giving bad expert evidence on cot deaths. Well illustrated by Dembski's own story about going round a supermarket blindfold and picking out exactly the right ingredients to bake a cake. That's the golfball and blade of grass fallacy. Evolution doesn't need to pick out the right ingredients to bake "the" cake, but only "a" cake. Or for that matter a pie or a pizza or porridge or any one of a number of dishes known or unknown. It only has to do well enough.

--------------------
Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

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ken
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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
If you were more familiar with Davison?s ideas, you would find that the phenomenon of extinctions is one of the fundamental facts on which he bases his work. In his model, life-forms evolve through non-sexual reproduction and non-Darwinian means. Once sexual reproduction begins, it renders the life-form vulnerable to genetic deterioration and subsequent extinction.

He sees evolution driven by the decompression of existing information within the life-form. As an analogy to aid understanding of what he means by this, consider those compressed but self-extracting files that one downloads over the Internet. He sees something similar in life-form information.

That's actually very similar to what Lamarck thought (though not to what his opponents said he thought). He reckoned that variation was inherent in living things and was expressed in different ways in different environments. And that each living thing was on one of a small numbers of evolutionary tracks leading up to a limited number of higher forms (like ourselves, daisies & starfish)

So evolution was driven by inner forces - an "onwards and upwards" tendency to higher things - interacting with a changeable environment.

The word "evolution" meaning literally something like "unfolding" was not until towards the end of the 19th century confined to what we now use it to mean. It had a range of meanings overlapping with "development".

The idea of inheritance of accquired characters wasn't particularly something Lamarck pushed more than than anyone else. Darwin also thugh there might be something in it. It wasn't really until Fisher and the other population biologists came on the scene in the early 20th century that it became apparent that Mendelian inheritance made such things unneccessary.

If there is someone the ID people are really arguing against it isn't Darwin, its Fisher. Who unlike Darwin, could do hard sums.

And would have seen why

quote:

Once sexual reproduction begins, it renders the life-form vulnerable to genetic deterioration and subsequent extinction.

is either meaningless or wrong. To tell which we'd have to agree on what "vulnerable to genetic deterioration" meant.

[ 11. July 2005, 17:33: Message edited by: ken ]

--------------------
Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

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Faithful Sheepdog
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# 2305

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quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
Actually no Darwinian would argue that the environment never has an effect on mutations. UV radiation, for example, can act as a mutagen. So mutations are not random with respect to the environment inasmuch as the environment dictates the level of mutagenic pressure to which an organism is exposed. EAM is clearly based on a misunderstanding.

The misunderstanding here is yours. No one has ever claimed that some environmental affects (such as EM radiation) cannot cause genetic mutations. The key issue is what kind of mutation and at what location on the gene.

Darwinists say that the nature and location of the mutation will be random with respect to the environment. EAM says it ain't necessarily so.

quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
Firstly I summed up Remine's thesis quite adequately. According to his own website the books thesis is:

quote:
The central claims of the theory are simple and plausible: Life was reasonably designed for survival, and to convey a message that tells where life came from. The message can be described in two parts:

1. Life was designed to look like the product of a single designer.
2. Life was designed to resist all other explanations.

In other words, evolutionary theory helped shape the pattern of life — with a reverse impact. Life was intricately designed to resist all evolutionary explanations, not just Darwin's or Lamarck's.


I stand by my criticism. I would have more sympathy for you if you had cited the following paragraph from Remine's own description of his book:

quote:
The book focuses on the biological issues. It is not about age, geology, cosmology, floods, or catastrophes. It contains no theology or religious discussion. People on various sides of those issues can comfortably embrace this book.
Neil

--------------------
"Random mutation/natural selection works great in folks’ imaginations, but it’s a bust in the real world." ~ Michael J. Behe

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Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
Darwinists say that the nature and location of the mutation will be random with respect to the environment. EAM says it ain't necessarily so.

My understanding is that there will be some areas of the genome which, due to location on the chromosome or other factors explicable by conventional science, that are more prone to mutation. And, that different causes of mutation (radiation, chemicals) will affect different areas of the genome differently. Though that's all dependant on the precise structure of the genome rather than the environment per se.

Of course, the effect of any of those mutations on evolution is anything but random. Genes that have little survival benefit many mutations can (relatively) safely build up through subsequent generations. Mutations in other genes would not be transmitted to subsequent generations because of severe delitarious effects. That's Darwinian evolution, fitness of genetic variation to particular environments.

What I don't understand is what mechanism could result in the environment having any other effect on genetic mutation. How does the environment affect which areas of the genome are susceptable to mutation?

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Posts: 32413 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
ken
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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
Darwinists say that the nature and location of the mutation will be random with respect to the environment.

Do they?

And there I was thinking that certain mutagens promote methylation of a cytosine DNA residue next to a guanosine into 5-methylcytosine, which DNA repair is likely to alter into a thymine, so that a DNA sequence ...XCGX... preferentially mutates into ...XTGX... which a 1/2 chance of the now mismatched G on the opposite strand being converted into adenosine.

So these mutagens tend to convert CG dinucleotides into TG pairs, but GC into AC (IIRC)

Which, as well as being one of the many possible influences on the skewed ratio of G+C to A+T seen in many species, will also tend to convert, for example, sequences coding for the amino-acid alanine into ones that code for threonine, or possibly glutamic acid or valine...

... and so on. Lots of mutations have specific causes and many are more probably in some circumstances than others.

Also the mutation rate is itself subject to selection and varies not only between organisms but between parts of one geneome. Also the repair mechanisms work differently in different circumstances. And some parts of some genes are even "deliberatly" edited by enzymes. As are most mRNAs & many proteins which of course has similar effects - transcription and translation mechanisms are part of the inheritance of an organism.

All behaving differently in different circumstances and therefore subject to modification over evolutionary time by natural selection.

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Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

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Barnabas62
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Faithful Sheepdog

Up to now, I have been following your arguments about the science of this with interest and respect. However, your airy and dismissive parallel between the Wedge Strategy and the Homosexual Agenda, your plumbing analogy, and your characterisation of the Wedge Strategy as public relations has cost you some of that respect.

The Wedge Strategy document is devastating evidence of the motivations and aims of the new "plumbers". It cannot be dismissed so cavalierly as you do. Why should ID proponents need a PR strategy anyway? If the science is good enough, replicable enough, testable enough, subject enough to falsifiable tests, it will stand. If not, it wont. If the science is good, the fact that that some of it may run contrary to received understanding will simply affect timescales, the degree of scrutiny and the pace of general acceptability. Good ideas, good findings, will eventually become part of the overall understanding. There is no need to be paranoid about acceptability.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
Karl Liberal-Backslider:

Please can you explain what exactly you mean by a scientific frame of reference and how precisely you arrive at your particular definition.

Neil

I mean from a viewpoint that has access to the tools that science has, describes what is observed using the vocabulary and concepts of science, and does not comment on areas outside the field of science.

I was under the impression that was the common definition.

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Rex Monday

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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
quote:
Rex Monday said:
Even if you subsequently answer just one aspect of this and previous posts - my request for an explanation of Dembski's article - I'd be grateful.

Rex Monday, I’m not interested in discussing or defending the Wedge Strategy document or the Discovery Institute per se, but I will respond further in due course on the scientific issues. That is where the focus of my interest lies.

Neil

I was not talking about the Wedge Strategy (and I quite understand why you wouldn't want to either!) nor was I talking about the Discovery Institute. As I have tried to make perfectly plain to the point of (and I fear beyond) boring repetition, I am unable to understand your interpretation of the Dembski piece you quoted earlier - viz

quote:

Dembski's article about ID in the Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science makes his own position crystal clear

In particular, as I said before, I have problems with the conclusion:

quote:

It follows that the charge of supernaturalism against intelligent design cannot be sustained. Indeed, to say that rejecting naturalism entails accepting supernaturalism holds only if nature is defined as a closed system of material entities ruled by unbroken laws of material interaction. But this definition of nature begs the question. Nature is what nature is and not what we define it to be. To see this, consider the following riddle: How many legs does a dog have if one calls a tail a leg? The correct answer is four. Calling one thing another thing doesn’t make it something else.

Likewise, defining nature as a closed system of material entities operating by fixed laws of interaction doesn’t make it so. Nature is what nature is, and prescribing methodological materialism as a normative principle for science does nothing to change that. ID theorists argue that methodological materialism fundamentally distorts our understanding of nature. In assessing the validity of ID, the crucial thing is not whether they are right but whether they might be right. Given that they might be right, methodological materialism cannot be taken as a defining feature of science, much less should it be held dogmatically. To make methodological materialism a defining feature of science commits the premodern sin of forcing nature into a priori categories rather than allowing nature to speak for itself.

To sum up, methodological materialism presents us with a false dilemma: either science must be limited to “natural explanations” (taken in a highly tendentious sense) or it must embrace “supernatural explanations,” by which is meant magic. But there is a third possibility:neither materialism nor magic but mind. ID theorists are not willing to concede the materialist claim that a designing intelligence (mind) interacting with matter is “supernatural.” Indeed, investigations by ID theorists are beginning to demonstrate that this interaction is perfectly natural — that nature cannot be properly understood apart from the activity of a designing intelligence.

To me, installing a 'designing intelligence' that acts outwith 'a closed system of material entities operating by fixed laws of interaction' is a theological statement, which as I have so tediously restated seems to me to be more at home describing miracles than science. I can't see how Dembski's extension of science to cover the apparently supernatural would work, especially if it means abandoning the fixed laws of interaction. How does that differ from theology? How *is* it science? What rules would it work by? Dembski does not say - or if he does, I am unable to discern where he says it. Merely calling one thing another thing doesn't make it that thing, after all...

You state that it is 'crystal clear' that Dembski is describing science, rather than theology. All I ask is that you share some of that clarity, even if just by paraphrasing what Dembski says above in a way that shows the error of my reasoning.

If you do not wish to do this, then I am happy to abandon this line of enquiry. You merely have to say.

R

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I am largely against organised religion, which is why I am so fond of the C of E.

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Faithful Sheepdog
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quote:
Originally posted by Rex Monday:
If you do not wish to do this, then I am happy to abandon this line of enquiry. You merely have to say.

Please be patient - I have still some real life outside these boards.

I was hoping that my query to Karl L-B would have attracted a more substantial response that might have have helped to elucidate understanding - "scientific frame of reference" was a lovely question-begging phrase that goes to the heart of the issue.

You may wish to think in detail about how you in your own terminology diffentiate between the "natural" and the "supernatural", and on what basis you arrive at this distinction.

I will try to respond in full tomorrow, health and real life permitting.

Neil

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"Random mutation/natural selection works great in folks’ imaginations, but it’s a bust in the real world." ~ Michael J. Behe

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Faithful Sheepdog
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
Faithful Sheepdog

Up to now, I have been following your arguments about the science of this with interest and respect. However, your airy and dismissive parallel between the Wedge Strategy and the Homosexual Agenda, your plumbing analogy, and your characterisation of the Wedge Strategy as public relations has cost you some of that respect.

Barnabas62, you will find that I don't respond well to attempts at emotional blackmail. Whether I have your respect or not is irrelevant - I am here to discuss the scientific issues. Please contribute as you are able.

quote:
Barnabas62 said:
The Wedge Strategy document is devastating evidence of the motivations and aims of the new "plumbers". It cannot be dismissed so cavalierly as you do. Why should ID proponents need a PR strategy anyway? If the science is good enough, replicable enough, testable enough, subject enough to falsifiable tests, it will stand. If not, it wont. If the science is good, the fact that that some of it may run contrary to received understanding will simply affect timescales, the degree of scrutiny and the pace of general acceptability. Good ideas, good findings, will eventually become part of the overall understanding. There is no need to be paranoid about acceptability.

I think that you are being very over-optimistic and somewhat naive about what is involved in the world of science and technology, especially the science of biological origins. In the USA this area of science has become extremely politicised with careers on the line and libel cases in court.

I used to work in the nuclear industry. They had an enormous PR department to sell their ideas to the public. The fundamental science involved was not the issue, but rather it was the social and political ramifications. Do you think nuclear power is safe?

Neil

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"Random mutation/natural selection works great in folks’ imaginations, but it’s a bust in the real world." ~ Michael J. Behe

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Rex Monday

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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:

Please be patient - I have still some real life outside these boards.


No problem. I've been asking about this for six days now. Another day or two is fine!

quote:


I was hoping that my query to Karl L-B would have attracted a more substantial response that might have have helped to elucidate understanding - "scientific frame of reference" was a lovely question-begging phrase that goes to the heart of the issue.


You may wish to think in detail about how you in your own terminology diffentiate between the "natural" and the "supernatural", and on what basis you arrive at this distinction.


I'm with Karl on this. I am perfectly happy with the commonly understood definitions of those phrases - and while you might be disappointed with this, it really is up to you to show why these are wrong.

If you can show how Dembski's apparent conflation of the supernatural with the natural is scientific rather than theological, I will be most interested. As I said I have read Dembski without enlightenment, let alone crystal clarity, and if this is the fault of my orthodox views then I am unlikely to achieve a breakthrough under my own steam.

You're there already. Over to you!

R

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I am largely against organised religion, which is why I am so fond of the C of E.

Posts: 514 | From: Gin Lane | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Barnabas62
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The PR in the nuclear industry relates to the technological applications of the findings, not to the pure research findings themselves. The theoretical bases and some of the publications of research results were controlled, during later stages, for security reasons, once the technological implications opened up. I see no parallel between that argument and the academic research issues embraced by ID ideas.

I will treat your assertion of over-optimism and naivety to refer to my ideas, not my character. In the same spirit, I find the ideas in your last post to be confused and confusing. I am not a practising scientist, but I know a logical flaw when I see it. But given that this is a tangent to the main debate, I'll leave the debating floor and enjoy the detailed exchanges (from which I'm learning quite a lot).

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Posts: 21397 | From: Norfolk UK | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Faithful Sheepdog
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Barnabas62:

My comments were made to the contents of your post and not to you personally.

I cannot see the logical flaw in my post that you do. What is the ‘safe’ dose of radiation to the human body? What is the ‘safe’ level of plutonium that can be ingested in the human body without ‘harmful’ effects? With present technology what are the statistical ‘failure’ rates for nuclear plant and equipment?

Are these scientific questions? Or are they merely social and political?

And do you think that someone might ever have a vested interest in obscuring these questions or even precluding public discussion of them?


Karl Liberal-Backslider;

As for the phrase “scientific frame of reference”, Googling the phrase brought up this absolute gem (from here, with my emphasis):

quote:
In fact, with the rise of modern science alchemy split into two branches--modern chemistry and mystical psychology. Jung brings mystical psychology into the 20th century by constructing a scientific frame of reference for it. It is this framework that supports research into psychic phenomena.
So there is at least one person who thinks that “scientific frame of reference” applies to mystical psychology. I think this demonstrates that the phrase is ab initio so vague that in any particular context it requires careful definition before it confuses more than it elucidates.

I submit that at the moment Karl’s phrase ‘scientific frame of reference’ is almost meaningless. This phrase simply throws the discussion back one stage as to what ‘science’ and ‘scientific’ mean.

This is not a semantic game, but rather it goes to the heart of why the ID community think (with integrity) that they are doing science and others (with equal integrity) think that they are not. We are not speaking the same language and therefore talking across one another.


Rex Monday:

Here is what dictionary.com gave me on the meaning of supernatural:

quote:
America Heritage definitions:
1. Of or relating to existence outside the natural world.
2. Attributed to a power that seems to violate or go beyond natural forces.
3. Of or relating to a deity.
4. Of or relating to the immediate exercise of divine power; miraculous.
5. Of or relating to the miraculous.

quote:
WordNet definitions:
adj : not existing in nature or subject to explanation according to natural laws; not physical or material; "supernatural forces and occurrences and beings" [ant: natural] n : supernatural forces and events and beings collectively; "She doesn't believe in the supernatural" [syn: occult]

So, I note that this term also has a rather wide semantic range. In the American Heritage definition, numbers 1 and 2 make no reference to deities, divine powers or miracles. It all depends on what one means by the ‘natural world’ and ‘natural forces’.

Likewise, the WordNet definitions include “not existing in nature” and ‘not subject to explanation according to natural laws’. Again, what precisely are meant by ‘nature’ and ‘natural laws’?

And most fundamentally of all, who gets to determine the precise meaning of these terms? To my mind there is a distinctly post-modern feel to that question.

As for the definition of supernatural as “not physical or material”, is human mind reducible to the physical or material? Is human consciousness? is human intelligence?

We have ample evidence of human mind, consciousness and intelligence, and do not label them as ‘supernatural’. We also have evidence of some animal intelligence and, so I am told, even of single cell intelligence in some circumstances.

So, the evidence of mind, consciousness and intelligence are undisputed in some situations. Who is to say that evidence of mind, consciousness and intelligence won’t be found in other, hitherto unsuspected, situations? And who is say for definite, one way or another?

Real life now intervenes. This afternoon I have to go out on a short trip and I am likely to be very tired on my return. I may not be able to post in detail again until tomorrow.

Neil

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"Random mutation/natural selection works great in folks’ imaginations, but it’s a bust in the real world." ~ Michael J. Behe

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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FS - I think the moot point here is that 99%+ of scientists are quite clear about what is and isn't science, and what is metaphysics. The phrase "scientific frame of reference" is therefore a useful shorthand to mean what 99%+ of scientists take it to mean.

In the same way, ID seems to me to be a tiny group of scientists trying to redefine what falls into the purview of science and what does not. So far, they have not given the mainstream scientific establishment a valid reason to extend its remit into metaphysical speculation about the role of supernatural creators in the origins of natural phenomena. This is why the Wedge Strategy document is so damning; it exposes the real motivation behind this attempt to move science onto ground it has long considered ultra vires, as it were.

--------------------
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Posts: 17938 | From: Chesterfield | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Callan
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This is as good a starting point for an account of what science is as any:

quote:
(1) It is easy to obtain confirmations, or verifications, for nearly every theory-if we look for confirmations.

(2) Confirmations should count only if they are the result of risky predictions;that is to say, if, unenlightened by the theory in question, we should have expected an event which was incompatible with the theory-an event which would have refuted the theory.

(3) Every "good" scientific theory is a prohibition: it forbids certain things to happen. The more a theory forbids, the better it is.

(4) A theory which is not refutable by any conceivable event is nonscientific. Irrefutability is not a virtue of theory (as people often think) but a vice.

(5) Every genuine test of a theory is an attempt to falsify it, or to refute it. Testability is falsifiability; but there are degrees of testability; some theories are more testable, more exposed to refutation, than others; they take, as it were, greater risks.

(6) Confirming evidence should not count except when it is the result of agenuine test of the theory; and this means that it can be presented as a serious but unsuccessful attempt to falsify the theory. (I now speak in such cases of "corroborating evidence.")

(7) Some genuinely testable theories, when found to be false, are still upheld by their admirers-for example by introducing ad hoc some auxiliary assumption, or by re-interpreting theory ad hoc in such a way that it escapes refutation. Such a procedure is always possible, but it rescues the theory from refutation only at the price of destroying, or at least lowering, its scientific status. (I later described such a rescuing operation as a "conventionalist twist" or a "conventionalist stratagem. ")

One can sum up all this by saying that the criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability.

The full document is here.

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How easy it would be to live in England, if only one did not love her. - G.K. Chesterton

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Barnabas62
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Faithful Sheepdog

I would have preferred to let the issue drop, but you have asked me a question. I found your post confused because you had shifted your ground. I found it confusing because I no longer know what ground you are standing on. Let me recap

1. I observed that the Wedge Strategy was devastating. You replied that I should not mistake a PR strategy for the serious underlying scientific issues.
2. I countered by questioning the need for any PR strategy, given that the aim was the publication of scientific ideas and put forward some classic arguments (later repeated by Callan) about the correct approach to this issue.
3. You described my post as naïve and referred to your time in the nuclear power industry as an illustration that it was normal for scientists to have a PR strategy. This struck me as a confused and confusing shift of ground. The use of nuclear technology is controversial, subject to misrepresentation by pressure groups and it is perfectly sensible for the industry to invest in PR. That does not apply, in general, to the issues of pure science which are the chief domain of ID arguments.
4. I observed that the PR strategy in the nuclear industry is concerned primarily with application and asserted the confusion in your post (which I have now explained from my POV).

After reading your latest post, I wonder if you are aware of your tendency to shift your ground, since you have now done so again.

Let me cut this Gordian Knot. You have not answered Callan’s point, my point, Karl’s point about the proper promotion and testing of scientific ideas. You have simply evaded all of us.

Although I am not a practising scientist, I studied Chemistry at University before a career switch into IT. My understanding of the scientific method was formed by my studies and subsequently reinforced/refreshed by reading Popper. I am very happy to admit to being out of touch with the current social/economic pressures on research scientists, which may very well distort the purity of the processes. They have never been pure in practice – that is common ground. I also thought it was common ground that the world views and prejudices of researchers did not matter a row of beans. You can have whatever daft philosophical/religious/social ideas you like on these issues but if your science is good and your results replicable, testable and falsifiable, then you add soundly to understanding. That, essentially, is where I am coming from on this issue and, so far as I can tell, so is Callan and so is Karl.

So, when you are up to it, perhaps you can address the following question? Why should some ID proponents require a Wedge Strategy in the form stated?

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

Posts: 21397 | From: Norfolk UK | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
ken
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
I also thought it was common ground that the world views and prejudices of researchers did not matter a row of beans. You can have whatever daft philosophical/religious/social ideas you like on these issues but if your science is good and your results replicable, testable and falsifiable, then you add soundly to understanding.

I don't think that is common ground. Most people, I would have thought, would allow that the biases of researchers did influence the theories and models they developed.

--------------------
Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

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