Friday, May 09, 2014

Intelligent Design asks a legitimate question, whatever else you might think

Im-Skeptical wrote: Science shows that evolution is a purely natural process, even though you might think there is still some divine hand behind it, sort of telling nature how to behave. But that's not what "ID science" claims. They specifically reject natural evolution. They say that complex life forms could not have evolved naturally. You can call this an anti-ID backlash if you want. What I'm against is their rejection of science in matters that are well settled.

Now here is what I think problematic about this type of argument. We can begin with a distinction between design exclusion and design denial. Design exclusion just says that design is not brought into a scientific explanation for, say, why the bacterial flagellum works the way it does. If that's the case, then science can't say that the B-F was designed (since that would be not to do science), but it also can't say that it wasn't. If we are adhering to a strict methodological naturalism, then all we can say is that since we're science over here, we can't make design part of the explanation for the B-F. The question of design is left outside the competence of science. Many people in science adhere to this kind of a position. Some are theists and some are atheists. Operating this way, it is easy to get to the conclusion that naturalistic evolution is the best science, because it's the only game in town by definition. The result is some version of NOMA (non-overlapping magisteria). Consistently applied this leads to a kind of "language game" perspective where scientists are playing the scientific language game, but that wouldn't prevent someone from playing the religious language game and affirming creation. The claim that one perspective or the other represents reality would be regarded on this view to be a mistake. 

But methodological naturalism gets challenged on both sides. People who think science should affirm a designer are going to see this as an unjustified limitation on science, and also those, like Dawkins, who argue that the evidence of evolution reveals a world without design have to argue that science could have reached the opposite result if the evidence had been different. But then we have to go back through the history of biology to figure out whether the dog is wagging its tail or the tail is wagging the dog. Did naturalistic evolution become the only game in town because of methodological constraints, or would scientists have found design if only it had been there. Because methodological arguments have so often been used in defense of evolution, I consider it unfair to call ID advocates IDiots, since they are asking a perfectly legitimate question. 

59 comments:

island said...

How to win an ID debate:

http://www.thestarpress.com/comments/article/20140508/NEWS01/305080032/Eric-Heden

island said...

Sorry, thought that my real name would post, see the first comment:

"psssst... physics lecture, number 28, One quarter of the way down the page... Distantly plausible scientific solution number 1, given the necessary interpretation of the principle... Natural Intelligent Design.

http://abyss.uoregon.edu/~js/21st_century_science/lectures/lec28.html

Hedin crossed the line to the non-material... otherwise... the culture war fighting left winged fanatics are utterly clueless as usual..."

unkleE said...

I'm not a supporter of ID, but surely if someone claims that evolution was NOT designed in any way, it is reasonable to ask about the experimental design and results that allow them to conclude that? Or is it not a scientific conclusion?

B. Prokop said...

unkleE,

As I've argued previously on this site, once anyone goes beyond describing how evolution works and comments on why it does so, they have left the purview of science. So all descriptors such as designed, blind, guided, unguided, or whatever, are a-scientific.

im-skeptical said...

Victor,

Obviously, I didn't make myself clear. My complaint was not about people who believe there is design in nature. It is not a question of positivism or adherence to methodological naturalism. My complaint was about "ID science" - that is, the kind of pseudo-science practiced by the charlatans at DI. This sentiment should be shared by materialists and theists alike, provided they have any appreciation for science.

Hugo said...

B. Prokop said...
"...comments on why it does so, they have left the purview of science. So all descriptors such as designed, blind, guided, unguided, or whatever, are a-scientific."
That's an interesting comment. I wonder if you mean that merely asking 'why' is a-scientific or if certain answers are? Also, do you make a difference between a-scientific, un-scientific, bad science...?

Hugo said...

Did naturalistic evolution become the only game in town because of methodological constraints, or would scientists have found design if only it had been there.

Scientists would have found design if only it had been there and it's still possible, though extremely unlikely: the answer to the abiogenesis problem could be that one, or a few, initial living thing was designed and left alone to evolve. After that though, there is clearly no designer involved at all; unless one wants to call 'Earth' the designer.

Crude said...

Scientists would have found design

Wonderful. How would they have done that? What scientific test for 'design' or 'guidance' or 'intention' is there, such that you can tell that evolutionary process X was designed, while evolutionary process Y was not?

And note: it has to be a scientific test. Not 'Well this amazing thing happened and I believe it's design' or 'I know it when I see it' and most especially not 'X happened, we have no explanation, therefore design'.

Hugo said...

@Crude
Ask Victor, I am not sure how we could be certain that something that otherwise look natural was designed. I was using his words; I meant that what we have found so far was clearly 'not' design. Purely natural processes explain the diversity of living things.

Bilbo said...

I'm rather amused at the confidence people such as Hugo and ImSkeptical exude regarding what they think is obvious evidence that evolution happened without design. It is known that most proteins function in complexes of six or more different proteins. What is not known is whether the complexes evolved from simpler complexes or not. If they did, if they could have evolved one protein at a time, then yes, evolution could have occurred without additional input by an intelligence. But if these complexes could not have evolved one protein (or even two) at a time, then it is not at all clear that evolution could have happened without intelligent guidance of some kind.

Now we are still very early in understanding the nature and function of all these complexes, let alone how they came to be. To pretend that we know that they did indeed evolve without intelligent guidance is one of the most preposterous things one could do.

And as Hugo pointed out, even if evolution has happened without intelligent guidance, that still leaves open the question of the origin of life, which very much looks like someone was involved in its design.

im-skeptical said...

Bilbo,

You've been reading your Behe, I see. The trouble is, you can't learn about real science by following the work of the DI charlatans. Fortunately, there's much more material available for you to read that might help to set you straight.

http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/DI/Clotting.html

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2008/04/behe-versus-rib.html

http://www.wired.com/2009/08/reduciblecomplexity/

older, but still relevant:
http://www.actionbioscience.org/evolution/nhmag.html



"And as Hugo pointed out, even if evolution has happened without intelligent guidance, that still leaves open the question of the origin of life, which very much looks like someone was involved in its design."

Can you actually describe the apparent design in the origin of life?


http://www.simonsfoundation.org/quanta/20140122-a-new-physics-theory-of-life/

http://phys.org/news/2013-10-paleontologist-life-theory.html


Yes, it is rather amusing to see the confidence exuded by theists who only look at the question from one side, and then go around acting like they know it all.

Bilbo said...

I have looked at the question from both sides, IM, which is why I'm agnostic about ID regarding evolution. Your overconfidence shows that you haven't looked at it from both sides.

Regarding the origin of life, I offer my argument, If SETI is Science, then so is ID.

Crude said...

Hugo,

I meant that what we have found so far was clearly 'not' design.

Right, I got that. I'm asking you how you came to know this. What was the experiment that tested for the presence or lack of design - and in the case of God, presence or lack of design by an omnipotent, omniscient being?

You told me that if such and such were designed, scientists would have found this by now. So, I'm asking what the test would have been, what would the scientific demonstration of design be, with the standards I mentioned.

This question can be asked in the other direction too. You say 'what we have found is clearly not design' - okay, I'd like to hear how. Keep in mind that saying 'they're natural processes' doesn't mean anything, since those processes are just one more collection of design tools available to a designer.

So where is it? Where is the scientific experiment that tested for the guidance or intention of God - or really, just powerful designers in general? Keep in mind that, last I checked, Eugenie Scott explicitly said that the sort of view you're espousing was explicitly a non-scientific view.

im-skeptical said...

Bilbo,

Unlike you, I read the material you linked to. My question is, do you think you are making a valid comparison? You make what I think is an invalid comparison: 1. No known natural process produces narrow-band radion signals, and 2. No known natural process produces proteins. But narrow-band radio signals are not known to occur in nature (apart from those that are known to be produced by humans), while protiens are known to occur in nature. So the goals of SETI and the IDiots are completely different. SETI is looking for something has never been detected, while the IDiots are looking for a theistic explanation for something that we see all the time in nature. It's just not the same kind of endeavor. Not even close.

Hugo said...

@Crude
"You say 'what we have found is clearly not design' - okay, I'd like to hear how. Keep in mind that saying 'they're natural processes' doesn't mean anything"

Design contrasts with nature processes. You just got rid of that distinction, so I don't know how what you are talking about.

Crude said...

Hugo,

Design contrasts with nature processes.

You better hope they don't, since if they do you are looking at a supernatural arrangement of letters right this second.

I'm asking what scientists could have found to demonstrate design scientifically, and I explained why some typical responses wouldn't work. I think it's clear that the proper response here is 'science doesn't deal in design'.

But that means that everything from evolution to atoms could be designed, intended, guided. Or maybe not. But science can't give us that answer.

And if you say it can - better yet, if you say it did - I'm right back to asking what the experiment was that tested for the presence or lack of guidance in nature. On the part of God or a god, no less.

Your difficulty here is, as I said, evolution is just one more tool a designer can make use of. So saying 'it wasn't designed, it evolved' is a non-sequitur.

Hugo said...

Crude said...
"you are looking at a supernatural arrangement of letters right this second."

Are you referring to the "letters" forming DNA? I don't know how familiar you are with biology so pardon me if I mention something you already know, but letters are just representation of the atoms involved. DNA is no more made of "letters" than water is, being H-H-O...

"I'm asking what scientists could have found to demonstrate design scientifically, and I explained why some typical responses wouldn't work. I think it's clear that the proper response here is 'science doesn't deal in design'."

I am not sure, and again, you tell me what 'designed' DNA would look like. However, science does deal with design. If an archeologist runs into a pointy stone that looks like it was used to make an axe; that's design. It contrasts with the natural bone found next to it...

"evolution is just one more tool a designer can make use of"

Sure, if the designer wants to make it look like nature works on its own... but then that falls back to what I wrote above. If you want you can call 'Earth' the designer because afaik, living things evolved on Earth to suit its environment. Nothing magical nor that complicated here; just fascinating discoveries on how things work made by human beings over centuries...

Crude said...

Hugo,

Are you referring to the "letters" forming DNA?

No, I'm referring to the letters on your monitor. Their arrangement is designed, and if 'design' contrasts with 'natural'...

As for the genetic code - a code is a code, but that has nothing to do with what I'm saying right now.

I am not sure, and again, you tell me what 'designed' DNA would look like.

I don't need to, since I'm not the one saying that if design existed in nature, scientists would have found it by now. You tell me what this design would look like.

My position is that science is incapable of determining the presence or lack of design in nature. Yours seems to be otherwise. But where's the experiment? Where's the research?

However, science does deal with design. If an archeologist runs into a pointy stone that looks like it was used to make an axe; that's design.

The status of archaeology as a science is extraordinarily questionable - and again, what experiment does the archaeology run? They're engaged in reasoning, even powerful reasoning, but 'scientific' reasoning? Then show me the experiment.

Further, archaeology has two problems: first, the field is limited to human design. Second, the reasoning they employ is very similar to Intelligent Design proponents. If you want to argue ID is scientific, be my guest - that's not my position.

Sure, if the designer wants to make it look like nature works on its own...

See, this is a common mistake. How does it 'look like nature works on its own' when the very thing you're using as a comparison ('nature') is the exact thing that you're trying to determine the design status of to begin with?

Likewise, I'm not calling 'Earth' the designer. If anything I'm calling 'Earth' a design tool - rather, I'm pointing that out as a possibility.

Let me give you a very small-scale example. Fermentation is a 'natural process'. A bottle of Kraken rum was not 'designed by Earth'. It was designed by the good people at Proximo Spirits - they made use of fermentation.

The case of God, gods or other powerful beings is even more extreme. So where is the scientific test to determine whether or not any given evolutionary event or process was/was not guided, intended, orchestrated and/or designed by said beings?

Or, you can say that such a thing isn't scientific. I'd agree with you, and that would explain the lack of tests. But then the question about design in 'nature' is no longer open and shut.

Greg said...

If rational human beings can detect intelligence in physical structures, then someone who infers agency in biological processes has the epistemic resources to conclude intelligence as a cause. Call it whatever you want, science or philosophy or religion, but it is still knowledge.

The next area where Christian philosophy needs to make inroads is at the meta-level. A science is an avenue to knowledge, and arbitrarily restricting what we can know because of the self-refuting philosophy of methodological naturalism is an ungodly use of our intellects.

im-skeptical said...


"arbitrarily restricting what we can know because of the self-refuting philosophy of methodological naturalism is an ungodly use of our intellects."

And a godly use of our intellect leads to rejection of evidence-based belief in favor of whatever your religious handlers and the voices in your head tell you.

Greg said...

"And a godly use of our intellect leads to rejection of evidence-based belief in favor of whatever your religious handlers and the voices in your head tell you."

Evidence-based belief? If that were the goal of atheistic science, why restrict possible evidence bases? Or are you, bereft of it yourself, incapable of detecting intelligence?

Hugo said...

Crude said...
"you are looking at a supernatural arrangement of letters right this second.
[...]
I'm referring to the letters on your monitor. Their arrangement is designed, and if 'design' contrasts with 'natural'...
"

Man-made contrasts with natural but humans are natural, so design does not imply supernatural. Design does imply human-design, or at least close enough to be called 'design' in the same sense. I don't know what non-'human-like' design would be.

"As for the genetic code - a code is a code, but that has nothing to do with what I'm saying right now."

No, 'code is not code', not at all. The genetic code is not a 'code' in the same sense that C++, English or sign language are codes. Maybe that's not what you are talking about but it's worth mentioning since it seems to be one of the "best" arguments of ID proponents.

"I'm not the one saying that if design existed in nature, scientists would have found it by now. You tell me what this design would look like."

That is a gigantic exaggeration of what I said. I am not saying that Science has ruled out any trace of design everywhere in nature; I am not even sure what that would mean and you seem to agree with that. What scientists have proven is that evolution is a natural process just like lightning strikes or tectonic plates' movement. So in that sense, we understand that living things were not designed to be the way they are; they evolved naturally. I repeat: purely natural processes explain the diversity of living things.

" Then show me the experiment."

I don't know what you are looking for regarding archeology.

"the field is limited to human design."

Yes that's the only kind of design I am aware of so that's what I am talking about.

" If you want to argue ID is scientific, be my guest - that's not my position. "

What I have heard about it does not sound scientific but rather ideologically driven; they have a conclusion that they believe no matter what and are trying to prove it instead of finding conclusion based on evidence. However, it 'could' be scientific, should we find something that stands out from known natural processes and try to find its origin.

" See, this is a common mistake. How does it 'look like nature works on its own' when the very thing you're using as a comparison ('nature') is the exact thing that you're trying to determine the design status of to begin with? "

Well that's my point yes... are you arguing for my position or against it? lol

Hugo said...

" Likewise, I'm not calling 'Earth' the designer. If anything I'm calling 'Earth' a design tool - rather, I'm pointing that out as a possibility."
Earth is the designer of all life in the sense that life was adapted to Earth; of course it does not make Earth a 'literal' designer but that's the only thing that looks design when it comes to living things. They look perfectly "designed" to be on Earth because they evolved on Earth. In a way, yes, Earth could thus be a tool shaped from outside to produce a certain kind of outcome. However, now that we know that there are billions of Earth-like worlds in the universe; there is no reason to think that Earth is a tool: it's just 1 random planet among many.

" The case of God, gods or other powerful beings is even more extreme. So where is the scientific test to determine whether or not any given evolutionary event or process was/was not guided, intended, orchestrated and/or designed by said beings? "

I don't know what a God-design would be, but we do know what human designs, so that's how we identify design. There is no general rule or test; it's all based on previous knowledge and pattern recognition, which we are both good and bad at doing, yielding false positive all the time.

" Or, you can say that such a thing isn't scientific. I'd agree with you, and that would explain the lack of tests. But then the question about design in 'nature' is no longer open and shut. "

As I just said, it 'could' be scientific and I would give an example to re-enforce the point, using an example from this great TV show called Orphan Black. A human designer, or human-like, could leave a trace in DNA. If a scientist were to find a specific arrangement of atoms that yield something which appears to be useless yet always present in DNA, he/she could be on to something. Perhaps that code never changes, except when jumping from big living group, so that all mammals have a tag that say 'mammal' and all plants have the 'plant' tag and so on. Predictions could be made as to what that label would look like and where it would be found. The difference with existing DNA markers is that it would mean something when looked at from outside, which DNA does not. Just a thought...

Hugo said...

Greg said...
"If rational human beings can detect intelligence in physical structures, then someone who infers agency in biological processes has the epistemic resources to conclude intelligence as a cause."

Correct, but the problem is with people who continue to infer agency, or even the potential of agency being involved, where none is required.

"self-refuting philosophy of methodological naturalism is an ungodly use of our intellects."

Ungodly is a good thing so what's the problem? Plus, methodological naturalism is the correct technique to use in this real world we live in, where the supernatural is mere speculation.

im-skeptical said...

"atheistic science"?
"restrict possible evidence bases"?

Science is not atheistic. Most scientists are atheists because that's what the evidence indicates. And there's no restriction on what evidence is on the table. It just has to be real - not superstition, because that's not real evidence.



Greg said...

"Correct, but the problem is with people who continue to infer agency, or even the potential of agency being involved, where none is required."

Hugo this is the point of contention. Those who naively assert that Darwin or "science" can successfully explain biological diversity and complexity, and then use this as the evidence against ID theories, have clearly begged the question at hand.

"Ungodly is a good thing so what's the problem? Plus, methodological naturalism is the correct technique to use in this real world we live in, where the supernatural is mere speculation."

By definition, your first statement is contradictory. And while methodological naturalism may get us by in scenarios where we are only exploring secondary causation, quite clearly the question of origins must be explored on other grounds. I'm also sure you hold the study of quantum mechanics in low regard due to the speculative nature of much of the science.

Greg said...

"Science is not atheistic. Most scientists are atheists because that's what the evidence indicates. And there's no restriction on what evidence is on the table. It just has to be real - not superstition, because that's not real evidence."

Let's leave the epistemology of atheists aside and get to the heart of this issue. Can we, as rational beings, detect intelligence when we come across it? Can we rule out a transcendent source for this intelligence?

Crude said...

Hugo,

Earth is the designer of all life in the sense that life was adapted to Earth

Yep, designers sure are capable of making use of variation, reproduction and selection.

Where's your point in this? Where is the experiment on whether or not this was the result of design or not?

However, now that we know that there are billions of Earth-like worlds in the universe; there is no reason to think that Earth is a tool: it's just 1 random planet among many.

We don't know whether those planets are sufficiently 'earth-like' or whether they have any life on them at all. But your conclusion doesn't follow from your premises - the existence of 2 objects, or even a billion objects, does not rule out design whatsoever. It doesn't even get you an inch in that direction. Heck, it's not even shown to be 'random' in the relevant sense.

I don't know what a God-design would be,

That's unsettling. Scientists apparently don't know either - so it would follow that that would explain why there's no scientific research on this, no tests that have been performed.

But that's just to capitulate to what I'm saying here entirely: science doesn't show that anything at all 'wasn't designed'. It can point at this or that process, this or that result in history, but 'totally random' or 'unguided' or otherwise? Well beyond science.

Which undercuts your earlier claims decisively.

A human designer, or human-like, could leave a trace in DNA.

We're not talking about humans, and neither were you earlier. We were talking about God.

Now, let's look at where we are here: you have no experiments that have been done, or really, even could be done. No research on this topic. If science showed that nature - whether evolution or otherwise - was 'not designed', we'd need exactly those things that we're lacking in order to show as much.

So the situation seems to be precisely where I said it was: while the presence of 'design' or 'guidance' in nature is a legitimate question, science is incapable of answering the question one way or the other. That's one reason why the sort of research and experiments I'm asking for, doesn't exist. You won't find it in peer-reviewed literature or elsewhere, and that's a good thing, because if you did I would personally take it apart in this very thread.

Thought experiments about what someone would find subjectively indicative of God's design are great, but what they manifestly are not is science.

Crude said...

Hugo,

Man-made contrasts with natural but humans are natural, so design does not imply supernatural.

That's under dispute as well. In fact, definitions of 'natural' and 'supernatural' aren't very helpful at all. See the SEP entry for 'naturalism' to see some of this.

No, 'code is not code', not at all. The genetic code is not a 'code' in the same sense that C++, English or sign language are codes.

Sure it is. Or are you telling me that computers and hands aren't 'composed of atoms' either? It's a symbolic code system that works with biological machines.

That is a gigantic exaggeration of what I said.

It was actually pretty much a word for word quote: "Scientists would have found design if only it had been there"

What scientists have proven is that evolution is a natural process just like lightning strikes or tectonic plates' movement.

First, they haven't even proven that much. But more than that, even if they did, it would be irrelevant - since 'natural processes' are just yet more things that can be, and often are, used by intelligent agents. Yet the very question we're examining is whether nature is in fact guided or designed.

Now, if you want to concede that, that's your prerogative. But the moment you concede that, all claims about 'science shows there is no design in nature, if they did they would have found it by now' die on the vine.

Well that's my point yes... are you arguing for my position or against it? lol

If you wish to concede that science is utterly incapable of determining the presence or lack of design by God, gods, etc in nature, feel free. As I've said, in the process you are gutting all past claims about how 'science shows nature is not designed'. In fact, it would turn out science can't show that.

Now, you do seem to be saying that ID could be science if only it weren't ideologically driven. That's a separate argument, since I'm not arguing for ID being science here.

Crude said...

By the way, regarding 'most scientists are atheists', I point to this 2009 Pew Forum poll:

According to the poll, just over half of scientists (51%) believe in some form of deity or higher power; specifically, 33% of scientists say they believe in God, while 18% believe in a universal spirit or higher power.

So, if one believes that scientists only believe what they do (even things that are non-scientific) based on the evidence, it would indicate that there is actually quite a lot of evidence for God's existence. What conclusion to draw is, on that (in my view, incorrect) reasoning, that it's a point of dispute, and quite reasonable to believe in God.

This puts aside the large number of non-believing scientists who may well simply lack God belief - in which case they'd be opposed to those who 'believe God does not exist'.

im-skeptical said...

Greg,

"Can we, as rational beings, detect intelligence when we come across it?"

Yes. We can measure intelligence. By the way, behavior is what we see as intelligent, not things. But you are asking about intelligence in the "design" of things. That's a loaded question, because things that evolve naturally are not designed. And the evidence shows quite clearly that no intelligence is involved. This is something you would understand better if you learned more about the topic.

But to answer the question, we can usually recognize things that have been designed. How? By recognizing features that serve a specific purpose and are not natural.

"Can we rule out a transcendent source for this intelligence?"

This is begging the question on your part. You assume that naturally evolved things are the result of intelligent design. If that were the case, I'd say we can't rule out any reasonable source of that intelligence. But as I said, the evidence is strong - perhaps much stronger than you realize - that there is no intelligence involved in natural evolution. I urge you to invest some effort in learning about it if you doubt what I am saying.

im-skeptical said...

"Now, let's look at where we are here: you have no experiments that have been done, or really, even could be done. No research on this topic."

Actually there have been experiments in evolutionary processes that prove that functional capabilities evolve without being designed. Also, natural evolution of "irreducibly complex" structures has been demonstrated in the lab.

Crude said...

Actually there have been experiments in evolutionary processes that prove that functional capabilities evolve without being designed.

Really? That's fantastic - link us these peer-reviewed research papers, please. I would love to see how they controlled for the involvement of an omnipotent, omniscient God - or for that matter, a mere finitely powerful god, gods or agents.

Link 'em up.

Bilbo said...

IM: My question is, do you think you are making a valid comparison? You make what I think is an invalid comparison: 1. No known natural process produces narrow-band radion signals, and 2. No known natural process produces proteins. But narrow-band radio signals are not known to occur in nature (apart from those that are known to be produced by humans), while protiens are known to occur in nature.

Proteins and nucleotides are known to occur in living things. Proteins and nucleotides are not known to occur in non-living things.

So the goals of SETI and the IDiots are completely different. SETI is looking for something has never been detected, while the IDiots are looking for a theistic explanation for something that we see all the time in nature.

ID proponents are using the same kind of reasoning that SETI researchers are using: No known natural process produces narrow-band radio signals. No known natural process (besides biological ones) produces proteins and nucleotides. Known intelligent processes produce narrow-band radio signals. Known intelligent process produce proteins and nucleotides. If we found narrow-band radio signals in nature, we would believe that they were intelligently produced. Explaining the origin of proteins and nucleotides should produce the same belief that they were intelligently produced. Whether or not they were produced by God or the FSM is a different question.

im-skeptical said...

crude,

I did that in that past. You ignored it then, and I don't expect anything different now.

Crude said...

Skep,

I did that in that past.

Oh really? Refresh my memory - link us this conversation. Are you referring to Jerry Coyne's book? You realize Jerry Coyne saying 'this stuff doesn't look designed to me' ain't exactly science, right?

Better yet, you're implying that you've linked me research where they literally did control for the activity of God, gods, and otherwise. And if you're doing that intentionally, then you my friend are engaged in pawning off a full-blown intentional lie. I'd remember you linking any such thing: I'd have had way too much fun tearing either it, or your misunderstanding of the research, to shreds.

Now, provide the links - or I'm going to have a whole lot of fun with your claims.

Hugo said...

Greg said...

"Hugo this is the point of contention. Those who naively assert that Darwin or "science" can successfully explain biological diversity and complexity, and then use this as the evidence against ID theories, have clearly begged the question at hand."

Naively? I am not sure what you mean in that context. We, humans with our collective knowledge, understand really well where biological diversity and complexity comes from. We understand it to the same level of accuracy than say, how mountain ranges or volcanoes are formed. If an ID theory was to posit that the spikes of mountains must be designed because of the shape found no where else in nature, would it be 'naive' to claim that science does explain how natural processes form these shapes and why volcanoes are not like other non-volcanic mountains?

"Hugo: Ungodly is a good thing so what's the problem?
Greg: By definition, your first statement is contradictory.
"

Ungodly is bad by definition? Hilarious, I was already pulling your leg for implying that, now you just confirmed it... well guess what, it's an opinion. I consider ungodly to be better by definition, though I have nothing against people who believe in God a priori, it's just a superfluous belief to hold that may or may not lead to other irrational beliefs.

" the question of origins must be explored on other grounds "

Still talking about origin of living things or something more general? I am asking since life's origin can certainly be explained through natural means; we have just not confirmed any of the hypothesis yet but they are good enough to reject claims such as 'life cannot possibly come from non-life.'

" I'm also sure you hold the study of quantum mechanics in low regard due to the speculative nature of much of the science. "

Ridiculous. I don't think you understand the 'speculative' part of QM to make such a statement. QM has been one of the most successful field of science since it started and the main reason is because of its PREDICTIVE power. The theory of QM was confirmed over and over again by experiments. The science of QM is NOT speculative in any way.

im-skeptical said...

Greg perhaps confuses 'indeterminacy' with 'speculative'.

Hugo said...

Crude said...
"Where's your point in this? Where is the experiment on whether or not this was the result of design or not?"

Nature re-arranging itself is not design. Something re-arranging nature in a precise way is design. Design if not specifically re-defined, is human design.

"We don't know whether those planets are sufficiently 'earth-like' or whether they have any life on them at all. But your conclusion doesn't follow from your premises - the existence of 2 objects, or even a billion objects, does not rule out design whatsoever."

Since you mention that we don't know about earth-like planets, it means you missed the point. The question is whether Earth looks like special tool or something that occurs naturally. From what we know about star systems, galaxies and their distribution, it seems more likely that Earth is just an ordinary planet, which is special for us because we live on it. It does not show any feature which would require special intervention. It looks perfectly natural.

""I don't know what a God-design would be,"
That's unsettling. Scientists apparently don't know either - so it would follow that that would explain why there's no scientific research on this, no tests that have been performed.
"

Correct. That's why I would never claim that we proved that God did not do any of this, because it's up to the God believers to explain what they mean and intend to prove when they say that God did something.

"But that's just to capitulate to what I'm saying here entirely: science doesn't show that anything at all 'wasn't designed'. It can point at this or that process, this or that result in history, but 'totally random' or 'unguided' or otherwise?"

You are not saying anything that even come close to mean that a God designed something. So if all this time you wanted science to prove that 'your' designer does not exist then you are right, nobody can prove that. What science proves is that natural things are explained by other natural things and that if you want to believe that God is behind all of that, that's fine, but don't pretend you can point to this natural thing and say 'haha, see, God surely did that part because nature could not'.

" Which undercuts your earlier claims decisively.
"A human designer, or human-like, could leave a trace in DNA. "
We're not talking about humans, and neither were you earlier. We were talking about God.
"

ID proponents insist that they don't want to mention God since that would leave them out of American classrooms. I can't believe you thought I was implicitly referring to God! We are so far from talking about God...

Hugo said...

""No, 'code is not code', not at all. The genetic code is not a 'code' in the same sense that C++, English or sign language are codes."

Sure it is. Or are you telling me that computers and hands aren't 'composed of atoms' either? It's a symbolic code system that works with biological machines.
"

Sorry Crude but wow, just wow.. DNA is NOT a symbolic code at all. I could take time to explain or show documentation if you don't understand that part. This seems to be a core reason why you don't understand the distinction. And perhaps you don't understand computer coding either at this point, I don't know...

"It was actually pretty much a word for word quote: "Scientists would have found design if only it had been there""

Look, I will help you with this one: I retract my words. It was a bad way to express what I meant; a shortcut. I clarified after but you seem hung up to it, so there you go, I was wrong to use these words. Drop it...

"What scientists have proven is that evolution is a natural process just like lightning strikes or tectonic plates' movement.
First, they haven't even proven that much.
"

Yes they did... what part don't you understand?

"since 'natural processes' are just yet more things that can be, and often are, used by intelligent agents. Yet the very question we're examining is whether nature is in fact guided or designed."

No, you twisted the topic into a question about nature as a whole being designed. I am not doing that and never intended to. If something is 'natural' it is NOT designed by definition. There could still be a mysterious God behind all of that, some mind that created nature the way it is.

Hugo said...

"Greg perhaps confuses 'indeterminacy' with 'speculative'."

Exactly

Crude said...

Hugo,

Nature re-arranging itself is not design.

Sure it is, if you created nature, knowing and intending what would result in the course of its 're-arrangement'.

Since you mention that we don't know about earth-like planets, it means you missed the point. The question is whether Earth looks like special tool or something that occurs naturally.

No, it's not the question, because that question is outside of science. 'Looks like a special tool'? We're right back to my core question of how science determines what is or is not designed - in this case, how do you determine what is or is not a tool being used as a means to an end? Amount means nothing here.

Correct. That's why I would never claim that we proved that God did not do any of this, because it's up to the God believers to explain

Two problems.

A) You did claim that science shows that there is no design (in fact, you said that if there was such design, science would have found it by now). You're apparently backing off from that claim, and that's good.

B) Whoever makes the claim, has the burden. If you tell me 'none of this is designed', the onus is on you to support your claim.

You are not saying anything that even come close to mean that a God designed something. So if all this time you wanted science to prove that 'your' designer does not exist then you are right, nobody can prove that.

I am not defending the view that science shows God designed anything. On the contrary, I'm pointing out that your earlier claim that if design existed in nature, scientists would have found it by now, is wrong-headed.

What's more, 'my' God? I didn't mention what God or gods I believe in whatsoever in this discussion - that's irrelevant to the argument I'm making.

ID proponents insist that they don't want to mention God since that would leave them out of American classrooms.

No, they insist that all they can identify is 'design' by their methods - not specifically 'God'.

Sorry Crude but wow, just wow.. DNA is NOT a symbolic code at all.

There's a reason why the genetic code is, in fact, a genetic code. As for programming - I'm a programmer. Are you? I'd love to see some of your work.

Now, I know that some people feel very uncomfortable with the genetic code being recognized as a code and try to reclassify it as such, or fit it into a more materialist-friendly framework. But I reject materialism too, so I find those arguments unpersuasive.

Look, I will help you with this one: I retract my words.

Fantastic. We're making progress.

Yes they did... what part don't you understand?

Are you open to the possibility that the understanding lies on your end, rather than mine?

No, you twisted the topic into a question about nature as a whole being designed. I am not doing that and never intended to.

Twisted the topic? Hugo, we're in a thread discussing God, the presence of design and guidance in nature, and otherwise. Now, you've retracted your words about 'if there was design in nature, science would have found it', which is great - and it serves to support my point.

As I keep saying - if you want to walk things back to the point where you're admitting that the question of whether evolution is 'designed' or 'guided' cannot be addressed by science (and thus science hasn't 'shown' it is not designed), you're welcome to it. To do so is not a small concession. It's not merely that 'there may be God behind it all'. It's that science is dead silent on the question of design and guidance of every process, from evolution to otherwise. That science has not shown 'humans weren't designed', etc.

Crude said...

Are you open to the possibility that the understanding lies on your end, rather than mine?

Misunderstanding, rather.

Greg said...

"You assume that naturally evolved things are the result of intelligent design."

There is a lot to pick out from your response but this might be the most egregious.

In claiming I beg the question, you do so yourself by insinuating that things arose and evolved without an intelligent cause. But this is the very center of the debate!

The point of this blog post was more basic: is the question ID asks a legitimate one? Either way you categorize the question--scientific or not--you have to disprove it on those grounds. So if the scientific evidence disproves intelligence as a potential source of biological life, we have to be able to first ask the question of whether or not a designer can possibly account for the origin and diversity of life. If one rules out a designer a priori, then why appeal to Darwin? If you need to appeal to Darwin to disprove ID, then ID asks a legitimate scientific question which could be shown to be correct given more evidence supporting it.

Greg said...

Hugo:
Design isn’t appealed to because of the uniqueness of biological structures, but due to the irreducible complexity and specified information found. You may continue to assert that Darwinism solves these problems, but you’re convincing no one who isn’t convinced already.

Ungodly traditionally means evil or sinful. I see no reason to adhere to a knowledge-handicapping epistemological system in the sciences. For instance, a more integrated system of knowledge would allow us to ground beauty and reason within our biological origins instead of merely explaining both realities away.

The fact we must explore origins from grounds other than methodological naturalism is uncontroversial to anyone with a basic philosophical knowledge. Now while it may be the case that there is no transcendent cause to biological origins, one cannot rule this out without first pondering it. You also seem to lack a full understanding of modern science, which must speculate in order to advance knowledge. Yes, many theories have been confirmed just as many more have been rejected; but before this came hypotheses and before this mere speculation. With the multiple interpretations of QM all empirically equivalent, much of the science today is just that—speculation.

im-skeptical said...

"You also seem to lack a full understanding of modern science ..."

Now that's a real laugh, coming from you.

im-skeptical said...

"is the question ID asks a legitimate one?"

Yes, it's a perfectly legitimate question. And we certainly can appeal to science to look for answers. Now if the IDiots would actually practice science, I'd have no issue with them.

"If one rules out a designer a priori, then why appeal to Darwin?"

Design has NOT been ruled out a priori. Design was the a priori assumption in the time of Darwin, but the evidence said otherwise. We do not appeal to Darwin, as though he's some kind of god. But he looked at the evidence and developed a theory that has proven to be extremely robust. We appeal to the evidence and the science.

Crude said...

Skep,

You said that you had provided the experiments and evidence in the past, and I ignored it.

Again, I say: produce a link to that conversation. If you're making reference to Coyne's book, we're going to see that A) it doesn't at all meet the standard of a scientific experiment demonstrating the lack of design, and B) I didn't ignore it when you brought it up - I explained why it didn't work.

Or, you can retract your statement. Up to you. If you don't, well, at least onlookers know that you can't back up your claims. As usual.

Greg said...

"Yes, it's a perfectly legitimate question."

Now kindly explain how the most complex language in the universe, intelligible to us as humans, came to be by random, mindless processes. Why should we conclude that DNA can have a mindless origin, but far simpler objects (arrowheads, pottery, etc. in archaeology) are explained in terms of agency and not natural processes like wind, erosion, pressure, etc.?

im-skeptical said...

"... Or, you can retract your statement. Up to you."

You are notorious for demanding evidence while at the same time not putting your money where your mouth is. I did post the links, and you didn't look at them. That's your problem, not mine. I told you before, I no longer accede to your demands. I'm not going to look it up again for you. And I don't retract what I said, either. And it was not anything Coyne wrote or did. One of the topics was the work of Richard Lenski.

Greg said...

Crude, your definition of science is a bit too limited.

Are design inferences as mathematically quantifiable or testable as theories in physics? No. But then again little in biology, and nothing in any meta theory of biological origins is. Working from the traditional and straightforward view that "science" equates to "knowledge," we can label ID as a science.

Crude said...

Skep,

You are notorious for demanding evidence while at the same time not putting your money where your mouth is.

Actually, I'm notorious for demanding evidence for people's claims, and supplying evidence of my own. Remember when I gave a given interpretation of Behe's words, you disagreed, and I contacted Behe personally and pasted his reply? How soon you forget - and that's just one of many examples.

I've been responding to claims here, Skep. If I said 'science shows God exists', I'd damn well show such things. But I don't make that claim, because I don't believe it.

I did post the links, and you didn't look at them.

Oh really? Which of those links controls for the presence, activity or intention of God in nature?

None of them, you say?

Don't try to bluff here, Skep. Believe me when I say, you're not fooling anyone.

I told you before, I no longer accede to your demands. I'm not going to look it up again for you.

That's fine, Skep. See, I'm not really interested in interacting with you either. But you make an absolutely splendid example for onlookers.

Everyone can see me asking you for this evidence. Everyone can see you refuse to provide it. They can also see how reasonable my claim is (if the claim is that science shows a lack of guidance, a lack of design, etc, then surely they've found a way to test for the design or guidance of God?), and they can see how you run away from it.

The idea that I didn't read about Lenski's work - considering I've brought him up in the past and explained the problems with your crazy, non-scientific interpretation of that work - is ridiculous. Doubly so since Behe talks a lot about Lenski, and I've even brought the man's work up myself in the past.

Oh, look at that: providing evidence of a claim I've made. Something you're allergic to.

Then again, I suppose you would be, since you routinely make claims you can't back up.

Crude said...

Greg,

Hi there. Have we spoken before? If not, hello and greetings! If so, pardon me - I lose track of people.

Are design inferences as mathematically quantifiable or testable as theories in physics? No. But then again little in biology, and nothing in any meta theory of biological origins is. Working from the traditional and straightforward view that "science" equates to "knowledge," we can label ID as a science.

Well, I reject that 'science' equates to 'knowledge', so that's no good to me. I mean, do you call Aquinas a scientist? A plumber? Yourself? I also don't think that definition of science is either traditional or straightforward. I mean, you'd be on firmer ground if you called science 'philosophy', because traditionally that's what it was: natural philosophy.

I prefer to say that these inferences (in either direction) may be reasonable, even powerful, but that they're a kind of reasoning that differs from scientific reasoning. That, I think, is the important thing to do - to recognize that not all knowledge is scientific knowledge, and that science is limited in scope. Not trying to react to a mistaken view of science by shoving everything under the 'science' label.

But that's how I see things.

Greg said...

Crude,

I'm not sure, but I've seen your handle around some of the blogs. And thank you for welcoming me, RFs message board has been down so I must get my philosophical and theological fixes elsewhere.

I certainly respect your own view of what constitutes a science. It is consistent, and cuts against the naturalist who claims we can disprove design theories scientifically by assuming methodological naturalism.

The reason I have a broader view of what should be labeled a "science" is two-fold. First, I'm interested in achieving an integrated philosophical and epistemological framework within a classical Christian view. Akin to "all truth is God's truth," an integrated theory of knowledge presents a harmonious and rational view of nature. For instance we can study the beginning of the universe via cosmological, philosophical, and biblical grounds. All of these evidence bases provide knowledge and cohere together.

Historically theology has been referred to as "the queen of the sciences" even though it isn't what we'd call falsifiable. Of course we get "science" from Latin scientia meaning knowledge.

But you make a good point, science has a connotation which limits it as a knowledge base (which is why no one refers to STA as a scientist). I think one solution is to refer to science in the plural--what do the sciences show regarding X, Y, Z. With this I'd refer to biology, astronomy, physics, etc. as the "natural sciences" since they study nature and its effects.

I've bogarted this conversation enough, but I think what ultimately must be done is hold the naturalist to his own standard, what you've done. Keep up the good work.

Greg said...

I love the camaraderie you guys show already.

Hugo said...

Crude said...

""Nature re-arranging itself is not design."
Sure it is, if you created nature, knowing and intending what would result in the course of its 're-arrangement'.
"

Yes, I agree with that, but then you have 2 kind of design (there could be more), 1 being human-like design and the other being nature-with-intention, if I can call it like that. The problem is that human-like design is identified because it contrasts with nature, be it designed or not. So for all practical purposes, if we find something and wonder if it's designed or not, it means the same as asking ourselves if it came about through natural processes or not.

"We're right back to my core question of how science determines what is or is not designed - in this case, how do you determine what is or is not a tool being used as a means to an end?"

Does the previous paragraph explains what I think is 'design' vs 'not-design/natural' ?

"There's a reason why the genetic code is, in fact, a genetic code. [...]Now, I know that some people feel very uncomfortable with the genetic code being recognized as a code and try to reclassify it as such"

I am not uncomfortable; what a strange word to use in this context. It's just not accurate! Code is a good analogy but just like any analogy it is flawed. I think the best distinction is that a code, when used by humans, can be completely changed and yet accomplished the exact same thing, by doing some sort of find&replace of variable names for example. DNA does not work like that; you cannot just swap the 'letters' around because the letters are actual atoms with chemical properties that cause proteins to be built in a specific manner. Protein folding is not the same as code compiling...

"As for programming - I'm a programmer. Are you? I'd love to see some of your work."

Yes I am actually! Well, I was... software engineer for 5 years and now in product management. I prefer to tell others what to code instead of coding it myself ;) so unfortunately, no work that I can share...

"Are you open to the possibility that the understanding lies on your end, rather than mine?"

In general yes, I am humble when humility has its place, so I always accept the notion that I could be wrong, and that is actually the main reason why I visit blogs that disagree with my position, instead of blogs that supports it. I don't remember the last time I checked an atheist blog; must be years ago seriously... but anyway, here though, no, no doubt at all. Evolution is a natural process depicting no signs of design in exactly the same way that mountains are formed by tectonic plates moving. These are facts; it's not my opinion. If one claims that nature itself could have been designed, fine, but that's useless when it comes to discussing evolution as anti-science people really want us to believe that a designed must have driven it, which is simply false. Again, not my opinion, we know how it happened and have even excellent hypothesis about how it all got started.

Hugo said...

"Twisted the topic? Hugo, we're in a thread discussing God, the presence of design and guidance in nature, and otherwise"

As I tried to clarify, my initial comment was really meant to address just the claim about EVOLUTION being used as an example of design found in nature. It is not; but it also does not disprove the larger claim that EVERYTHING natural was designed.

"It's that science is dead silent on the question of design and guidance of every process, from evolution to otherwise."

Not completely silent no. Again, how can you dismiss possibilities such as man-made DNA? I don't think these scenarios are worth considering but if you want to make broad philosophical claims about what science can or cannot tell us about nature, then you cannot say that science is 'dead silent' on design. That is simply false. We could have found some sort of signature in the cell (isn't that the title of a creationist book?), but we did not. The only "signature" we have is that all complex animals are eukaryotes, so if some super powerful being created eukaryotes as is and left them here and then on Earth, well, that being did not leave its business card with it unfortunately.

" That science has not shown 'humans weren't designed', etc."

To emphasize even more, science did show that humans were not designed in the same sense that mountains are not designed but rather evolved naturally. If a designer controlled nature to do so, we still fall back to saying that nature did it.

Crude said...

Hugo,

So for all practical purposes, if we find something and wonder if it's designed or not, it means the same as asking ourselves if it came about through natural processes or not.

Not at all, since - again - 'human design of nature' isn't the question anyone is asking or finds interesting. I'm pointing out that the claim of 'these natural processes made X' is not a claim in competition with 'X was designed by an intelligent agent'.

Does the previous paragraph explains what I think is 'design' vs 'not-design/natural' ?

I'm explaining the problems with the reasoning. You seriously are trying to say that when people say 'evolution is not designed or guided' they mean 'a human isn't guiding it'?

I think the best distinction is that a code, when used by humans, can be completely changed and yet accomplished the exact same thing, by doing some sort of find&replace of variable names for example. DNA does not work like that; you cannot just swap the 'letters' around because the letters are actual atoms with chemical properties that cause proteins to be built in a specific manner.

You also can't replace the 1s and 0s in binary with a 6 or a W. It's still a code.

Evolution is a natural process depicting no signs of design in exactly the same way that mountains are formed by tectonic plates moving. These are facts; it's not my opinion.

Actually, it is your opinion, since A) 'signs of design' are not scientific issues (We're talking about God, gods, etc, not humans), B) it's therefore either a philosophical or subjective claim, and C) you haven't begun to establish the philosophical proof.

And no, it's not 'simply false' that 'design' didn't drive evolution, since again - there's no barrier to evolution itself being designed, and leading to designed results.

As I tried to clarify, my initial comment was really meant to address just the claim about EVOLUTION being used as an example of design found in nature. It is not

And I'm right on back to asking - where is the scientific evidence for this? Where is the experiment, the peer reviewed research? How was 'design' tested for?

You seem to think that I mean that 'the universe itself maybe was made by God, but nothing that occurred/occurs within nature was foreseen and intended'. But I'm pointing out that science doesn't even have the resources to test the latter. Show me the purely scientific test for whether the results in such and such a lab were or were not designed by God, gods, etc. You've not provided that, and I think we know why: these experiments are not done. There's not even the beginning of a way to perform it.

Not completely silent no. Again, how can you dismiss possibilities such as man-made DNA?

What makes you think that's a wholly scientific question, even if it were made?

If a designer controlled nature to do so, we still fall back to saying that nature did it.

Actually, we fall back to saying the designer did it, through nature. Monsanto made genetically modified salmon, even if they used 'natural processes' to do it.

Hugo said...

Hi Crude,

I am getting bored of this topic so I will give my summary, in case you care, and let you have the last word before moving on to something else. Sorry I won't address all your comments...

Side topic first: I still disagree with the coding analogy. You cannot switch the 0s and 1s for something else, but you can use something else to represent your 0s and 1s. Atoms used in DNA cannot be switched with something that still represents the letters WE use to describe DNA. The letters we use is a code example of code. We could use numbers to show what each protein is, yet the protein would still be made of the same atoms. DNA does not, and cannot even possibly carry a message like codes can. DNA is not read, it is only compiled, to keep using the computer analogy, where it breaks at the software. We know it evolved naturally.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6QYDdgP9eg&list=PL0696457CAFD6D7C9

Now on to the summary...

When we look around us, in this shared reality, we see things which are clearly man made, without really asking ourselves why we know this. A house is a house, you know what it is when you see it. There is a clear division between what's human-made, designed, and what's not, what's natural. Of course, even though most of the time it's obvious, there are also lots of grey areas and cases where we cannot be sure. At what point does the designed sand castle become naturally formed dunes?

And you know why we are so quick at judging what's designed? It's our extremely good ability at pattern recognition. However, this can yield false positives too. When it comes to natural phenomena, early humans made the mistake of attributing them to the wrath of gods or some sort of lightning controller. The stars, the Sun, the Moon were all either gods themselves or controlled by gods. Eventually, we understood that they were not gods but natural objects just like the sand we make castles with. The same atoms acting the same way, the same chemicals reacting the same way, just at different scales.

One of the last big steps was with humans. People found it extremely hard to accept that humans were also the result of that kind of natural process. Surely, we are too special to be just some random event that means nothing to anyone once we are dead and forgotten. The complexity of our bodies and minds is such that nature alone could never yield such a thing. It turns out that this intuition was wrong. Humans, just like their close cousins the Apes and their distant cousins the mammals, all evolved slowly over time, from common ancestors that roamed the Earth millions of years ago.

That's the kind of 'design' I was talking about; my apology if that's far from what you were discussing all this time. The other kind of design is completely different; something that science cannot possibly address. As you said, there is no control group where we can compare god vs no-god in scientific experiments, there is no test we can perform to prove that this type of god does not exist. We cannot prove that God, you know the real one, did not start the whole universe in exactly the way He intended to such that Earth would be exactly like that so that people could write books about how great He is and how wonderful His Creation is and omG I dare you say that there is a chance that reality really just is what is is. Reality. Nothing more... possibly.

Don't forget this one too:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uk7gKixqVNU