PvM posted Entry 2210 on April 13, 2006 12:08 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2205

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

Sober wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

Sober wrote:

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

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

Sober wrote:

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

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

Sober wrote:

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

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

Sober wrote:

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

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

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

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

Sober concludes that

Sober wrote:

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

and

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

So how do ID activists respond to the supernatural claim?

On ARN we find the following statement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source

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

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

Dembsk wrote:

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

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

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

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

Source

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

In other words when Stepen Meyer states that

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

Stephen C. Meyer, Mere Creation, pg. 140

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

Now the legal side of the argument

From the Kitzmiller ruling

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

and

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

So now the evidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Comment #96322

Posted by neo-anti-luddite on April 13, 2006 11:50 AM (e)

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

Comment #96324

Posted by djw on April 13, 2006 12:04 PM (e)

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

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

Comment #96326

Posted by Blake Stacey on April 13, 2006 12:07 PM (e)

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

Comment #96327

Posted by Miguelito on April 13, 2006 12:14 PM (e)

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

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

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

Comment #96328

Posted by _Arthur on April 13, 2006 12:15 PM (e)

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

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

Comment #96329

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 13, 2006 12:27 PM (e)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #96330

Posted by David Heddle on April 13, 2006 12:40 PM (e)

I don’t get it—premise four:

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

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

In the paper, justifying premise 4, Sober wrote:

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

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

Not that I really care–the designer is God.

Comment #96333

Posted by PvM on April 13, 2006 12:44 PM (e)

Heddle wrote:

Not that I really care—the designer is God.

QED

Comment #96334

Posted by k.e. on April 13, 2006 12:48 PM (e)

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

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

Just get everyone to peer review each others views on the definition for ID/Creationism/G@D and sit back and watch the fireworks.

There will never be definition for ID/Creationism/G@D that everyone will agree on.

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

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

Comment #96335

Posted by David Heddle on April 13, 2006 12:53 PM (e)

PvM,

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

Comment #96336

Posted by k.e. on April 13, 2006 12:57 PM (e)

QED

Comment #96337

Posted by secondclass on April 13, 2006 1:02 PM (e)

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

Comment #96338

Posted by AD on April 13, 2006 1:17 PM (e)

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

Where did the irreducibly complex parts come from, then?

Comment #96339

Posted by shell on April 13, 2006 1:19 PM (e)

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

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

Comment #96340

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on April 13, 2006 1:31 PM (e)

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

Comment #96341

Posted by David Heddle on April 13, 2006 1:33 PM (e)

AD,

Where did the irreducibly complex parts come from, then?

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

Comment #96342

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on April 13, 2006 1:39 PM (e)

David Heddle wrote:

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

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

Comment #96343

Posted by Curt Rozeboom on April 13, 2006 1:53 PM (e)

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

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

Comment #96353

Posted by UnMark on April 13, 2006 2:39 PM (e)

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

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

Comment #96355

Posted by normdoering on April 13, 2006 2:41 PM (e)

Curt Rozeboom wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comment #96356

Posted by HvP on April 13, 2006 2:43 PM (e)

I’m curious about this quote:

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

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

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

Comment #96358

Posted by David Heddle on April 13, 2006 2:51 PM (e)

UnMark,

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

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

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

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

Comment #96359

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on April 13, 2006 3:05 PM (e)

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

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

Comment #96360

Posted by David Heddle on April 13, 2006 3:12 PM (e)

Bill,

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

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

Comment #96361

Posted by C.J.Colucci on April 13, 2006 3:39 PM (e)

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

Comment #96362

Posted by C.J.Colucci on April 13, 2006 3:42 PM (e)

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

Comment #96363

Posted by Hosea McAdoo, M.D. on April 13, 2006 3:47 PM (e)

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

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

Comment #96364

Posted by Hosea McAdoo, M.D. on April 13, 2006 3:51 PM (e)

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

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

Comment #96366

Posted by Rich on April 13, 2006 3:53 PM (e)

FAO David Heddle.

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

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

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

or, just maybe…

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

Comment #96367

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on April 13, 2006 3:54 PM (e)

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

Ah. Microevolution.

Comment #96368

Posted by Arden Chatfield on April 13, 2006 4:00 PM (e)

heddle wrote:

Not that I really care—the designer is God.

Nope. It’s Brahma. Prove me wrong.

Comment #96370

Posted by whheydt on April 13, 2006 4:09 PM (e)

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

Actaully, in the Uplift universe, the real test is uplifting new species. It’s the dolphins and chimps the Terrans uplifted that kept humans from being forcibly indentured as a client species. The is spelled out better in _Sundiver_. (And the cartoon referred to earlier is actually _Startide Rising_, not _The Uplift War_.)

Comment #96372

Posted by steve s on April 13, 2006 4:12 PM (e)

Nope, it’s the Flying Spaghetti Monster. How do I know? I have scientific evidence. According to the Intelligent Design Theorists, my intuition counts as such.

Comment #96373

Posted by Curt Rozeboom on April 13, 2006 4:29 PM (e)

normdoering wrote:

Curt Rozeboom said:
1. All design boils down to two principles, variation and selection….

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

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

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

Yeah, getting ID-ists to see that, what happens in our brains when we design is just more selective-variation, is definitely a sticking point. Intuition and foresight are examples of variation and selection occuring at a sub-conscious level. I get the impression that many people think that designs just pop out of their heads, like magic. We learn to design from experience with what works and what doesn’t (from birth on) and so gradually shortcut the amount of time we need to design something new. Biological evolution can’t learn or remember, as is apparent from many examples, the most oft repeated one being the eyes of octopi vs. humans. However, once you cut experience out of the picture, design by trial-and-error is still quite powerful and can actually be more inventive than design from experience. That’s why genetic algorithms are so useful to engineers as a design tool as well.

I don’t think, though, that the argument hinges on what can be designed by a mere genetic algorithm. It is enough to show that evolution is a designer and that therefore it is technically possible for a “design inference” (“hey, that looks designed!”) to merely be detecting evolution, as can be (and recently has been) shown with irreducible complexity.

There is also a heavy burden of proof in (3) on anyone making a design inference. ID-ists start with the assumption that there is a ancient designer present in order to justify the detection of a ancient designer ;) Begs the question, of course. Again, evolution IS a known modern biological designer that we presume also has existed in antiquity. That presumption has been a powerful predictor of new scientific knowledge, so we feel justified in using it. Any other ancient designer would require similar predictive power or evidence of its interference. The mere detection of design is not enough to justify the addition of a new designer apart from evolution.

I know, I know, I’m preaching to the choir, here.

Show me a design in nature that required experience with previous successes or failures that wasn’t carried forward in the genetic code, or a modern animal whose genetic code takes a leap outside of normal mutational boundaries and I would say, yes, there is an example of ID in nature. Otherwise, ID just points back to evolution.

Comment #96375

Posted by Corkscrew on April 13, 2006 4:45 PM (e)

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

Problem is that there’s sorta two definitions of methodological naturalism. Both are of course limited to an individual’s scientific activities. One basically says “thou shalt not consider causes about which no predictions can be made”. The other says “thou shalt not consider Gods, demons or other incorporeal lifeforms”.

The latter is merely a damn good guideline - many otherwise excellent scientists have in the past wasted idiotic amounts of time on researching issues of this sort (for example the recent study of the efficacy of prayer). The former, however, is written into science - predictivity is king.

As with “information”, conflating the definitions appears to be some sort of hobby for many IDers.

Comment #96378

Posted by Caledonian on April 13, 2006 4:54 PM (e)

Scientists couldn’t care less whether a phenomenon is labeled natural, supernatural, material, immaterial, whatever. We can call gravity supernatural without affecting our scientific treatment of it one bit.

This is completely wrong. It doesn’t matter what arbitrary term we use to label phenomena, but those words are not empty of meaning. We cannot call gravity supernatural when it is observably part of the natural world.

Comment #96379

Posted by secondclass on April 13, 2006 4:54 PM (e)

Curt Rozeboom wrote:

I get the impression that many people think that designs just pop out of their heads, like magic.

That is, in fact, the party line of the ID leaders. Design = magic.

Comment #96380

Posted by snaxalotl on April 13, 2006 4:58 PM (e)

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

I think if your opposition is proposing that all design is variation and selection then you have a burden to demonstrate that foresight and imagination are not examples of V&S. Kind of hard to prove since we don’t have agreed mechanistic accounts of F&I, and it seems quite reasonable to me to suggest that imagination is indeed a process of generating variations and compounds of pre-existing concepts and deciding between them.

Comment #96386

Posted by secondclass on April 13, 2006 5:33 PM (e)

Caledonian wrote:

Scientists couldn’t care less whether a phenomenon is labeled natural, supernatural, material, immaterial, whatever. We can call gravity supernatural without affecting our scientific treatment of it one bit.

This is completely wrong. It doesn’t matter what arbitrary term we use to label phenomena, but those words are not empty of meaning. We cannot call gravity supernatural when it is observably part of the natural world.

I suppose the meaning of the words depends on one’s philosophy. I think most positivists would say that the words are empty of meaning, and there’s certainly no consensus on whether supernatural phenomena can influence the natural world. As far as science is concerned, I don’t see how it matters.

Comment #96389

Posted by AD on April 13, 2006 6:10 PM (e)

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

In reference to why IC pieces just laying around were a problem…

Here is why:

1) If IC pieces can just sort of pop into existence with no designer, then why is anything necessarily designed? Why can’t it just have been lying around?

2) If IC pieces can’t pop into existence, then by your logic, something had to design the things that the people designing us later used in order to do so… so you have not eliminated the problem of a supernatural designer.

Secondly:

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

I would be very interested in hearing your criteria…

Comment #96392

Posted by Faidhon on April 13, 2006 6:31 PM (e)

For what’s worth, I think the IDists’ “reasoning” is just adorable.

They say that the “who designed the Designer” argument does not refute ID because, according to Behe’s theory, Some non-irreducibly complex (evolved?) entity could have designed our irreducibly complex life.

When you tell them that Behe’s theory is bogus, because all his proposed IC systems can, in fact derive from simpler ones, they say this still does not refute ID, because, according to Dembski’s theory, the intermediate systems would still possess CSI.

When you tell them Dembski’s vague and nefarious CSI theory is crippled by the “who designed the designer” argument, they say this still does not refute ID, because according to Behe’s theory, Some non-irreducibly complex (evolved?) entity could have…

Well, you get the picture.
Gotta love those guys.

Comment #96394

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 13, 2006 6:36 PM (e)

Intelligent Design activists have become more and more insistent, given the recent court rulings, that Intelligent Design is not religious (wink wink) as it merely identifies ‘designed’ objects and does not say anything about the ‘designer(s)’.

Too late. They already lost. (shrug)

Comment #96395

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 13, 2006 6:39 PM (e)

Hey, I should have expected that Heddle would do a drive-by right after his pals Donald M and FL did ….

But now that your’e back, Davey, perhaps you’d care to answer that simple question I’ve been asking you for lo these many months …

Since your religious opinions are just that – your opinions – and aren’t any more divine or authoritative or infallible than anyone else’s, would oyu mind explaining to me why anyone should consider your religious opinions to be any better than mine or my next door neighbor’s or my car mechanic’s or my veterinarian’s or the kid who delivers my pizzas?

Your pal FL didn’t want to answer that question, Davey. How about you?

Comment #96396

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 13, 2006 6:42 PM (e)

Why is it ruled out, other than by fiat, that an intelligence whose mind evolved over a few billion years could not create our minds as composite objects—from already built pieces that fit together to make the whole

Once again, my standard response to all the ID “materialistic science unfairly rules out the supernatural boo hoo hoo” crapola:

The scientific method is very simple, and consists of five basic steps. They are:

1. Observe some aspect of the universe

2. Form a hypothesis that potentially explains what you have observed

3. Make testible predictions from that hypothesis

4. Make observations or experiments that can test those predictions

5. Modify your hypothesis until it is in accord with all observations and predictions

NOTHING in any of those five steps excludes on principle, a priori, any “supernatural cause”. Using this method, one is entirely free to invoke as many non-material pixies, ghosts, goddesses, demons, devils, djinis, and/or the Great Pumpkin, as many times as you like, in any or all of your hypotheses. And science won’t (and doesn’t) object to that in the slightest. Indeed, scientific experiments have been proposed (and carried out and published) on such “supernatural causes” as the effects of prayer on healing, as well as such “non-materialistic” or “non-natural” causes as ESP, telekinesis, precognition and “remote viewing”. So ID’s claim that science unfairly rejects supernatural or non-material causes out of hand on principle, is demonstrably quite wrong.

However, what science DOES require is that any supernatural or non-material hypothesis, whatever it might be, then be subjected to steps 3, 4 and 5. And HERE is where ID fails miserably.

To demonstate this, let’s pick a particular example of an ID hypothesis and see how the scientific method can be applied to it: One claim made by many ID creationists explains the genetic similarity between humans and chimps by asserting that God — uh, I mean, An Unknown Intelligent Designer — created both but used common features in a common design.

Let’s take this hypothesis and put it through the scientific method:

1. Observe some aspect of the universe.

OK, so we observe that humans and chimps share unique genetic markers, including a broken vitamin C gene and, in humans, a fused chromosome that is identical to two of the chimp chromosomes (with all the appropriate doubled centromeres and telomeres).

2. Invent a tentative description, called a hypothesis, that is consistent with what you have observed.

OK, the proposed ID hypothesis is “an intelligent designer used a common design to produce both chimps and humans, and that common design included placing the signs of a fused chromosome and a broken vitamin C gene in both products.”

3. Use the hypothesis to make predictions.

Well, here is ID supernaturalistic methodology’s chance to shine. What predictions can we make from ID’s hypothesis? If an Intelligent Designer used a common design to produce both chimps and humans, then we would also expect to see … ?

IDers, please fill in the blank.

And, to better help us test ID’s hypothesis, it is most useful to point out some negative predictions — things which, if found, would FALSIFY the hypothesis and demonstrate conclusively that the hypothesis is wrong. So, then — if we find (fill in the blank here), then the “common design” hypothesis would have to be rejected.

4. Test those predictions by experiments or further observations and modify the hypothesis in the light of your results.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until there are no discrepancies between theory and experiment and/or observation.

Well, the IDers seem to be sort of stuck on step 3. Despite all their voluminous writings and arguments, IDers have never yet given ANY testible predictions from their ID hypothesis that can be verified through experiment.

Take note here — contrary to the IDers whining about the “unfair exclusion of supernatural causes”, there are in fact NO limits imposed by the scientific method on the nature of their predictions, other than the simple ones indicated by steps 3, 4 and 5 (whatever predictions they make must be testible by experiments or further observations.) They are entirely free to invoke whatever supernatural causes they like, in whatever number they like, so long as they follow along to steps 3,4 and 5 and tell us how we can test these deities or causes using experiment or further observation. Want to tell us that the Good Witch Glenda used her magic non-naturalistic staff to POP these genetic sequences into both chimps and humans? Fine —- just tell us what experiment or observation we can perform to test that. Want to tell us that God — er, I mean The Unknown Intelligent Designer — didn’t like humans very much and therefore decided to design us with broken vitamin C genes? Hey, works for me — just as soon as you tell us what experiment or observation we can perform to test it. Feel entirely and totally free to use all the supernaturalistic causes that you like. Just tell us what experiment or observation we can perform to test your predictions.

Let’s assume for a moment that the IDers are right and that science is unfairly biased against supernaturalist explanations. Let’s therefore hypothetically throw methodological materialism right out the window. Gone. Bye-bye. Everything’s fair game now. Ghosts, spirits, demons, devils, cosmic enlightenment, elves, pixies, magic star goats, whatever god-thing you like. Feel free to include and invoke ALL of them. As many as you need. All the IDers have to do now is simply show us all how to apply the scientific method to whatever non-naturalistic science they choose to invoke in order to subject the hypothesis “genetic similarities between chimps and humans are the product of a common design”, or indeed ANY other non-material or super-natural ID hypothesis, to the scientific method.

And that is where ID “theory” falls flat on its face. It is NOT any presupposition of “philosophical naturalism” on the part of science that stops ID dead in its tracks —- it is the simple inability of ID “theory” to make any testible predictions. Even if we let them invoke all the non-naturalistic designers they want, intelligent design “theory” STILL can’t follow the scientific method.

Deep down inside, what the IDers are really moaning and complaining about is NOT that science unfairly rejects their supernaturalistic explanations, but that science demands ID’s proposed “supernaturalistic explanations” be tested according to the scientific method, just like every OTHER hypothesis has to be. Not only can ID not test any of its “explanations”, but it wants to modify science so it doesn’t HAVE to. In effect, the IDers want their supernaturalistic “hypothesis” to have a privileged position —- they want their hypothesis to be accepted by science WITHOUT being tested; they want to follow steps one and two of the scientific method, but prefer that we just skip steps 3,4 and 5, and just simply take their religious word for it, on the authority of their own say-so, that their “science” is correct. And that is what their entire argument over “materialism” (or “naturalism” or “atheism” or “sciencism” or “darwinism” or whatever the heck else they want to call it) boils down to.

There is no legitimate reason for the ID hypothesis to be privileged and have the special right to be exempted from testing, that other hypotheses do not. I see no reason why their hypotheses, whatever they are, should not be subjected to the very same testing process that everyone ELSE’s hypotheses, whatever they are, have to go through. If they cannot put their “hypothesis” through the same scientific method that everyone ELSE has to, then they have no claim to be “science”. Period.

Comment #96398

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 13, 2006 6:46 PM (e)

I assume you (like Lenny) are satisfied having interpretations that you yourself recognizes as less correct than others, otherwise you could ask yourself the same question.

By my dear Davey, I *have* asked myself that very question. Want to hear my answer one more time? No problem:

*ahem*

NOTHING makes my religious opinions any more correct than anyone else’s. Nothing at all whatsoever.

My religious opinions are just that, my opinions. They are no more holy or divine or infallible or authoritative than anyone else’s religious opinions. No one is obligated in any way, shape, or form to follow my religious opinions, to accept them, or even to pay any attention at all to them. My religious opinions are right for *me*. Whether they are right for *you*, I neither know nor care.

Can YOU say that, Davey? Or are you too prideful, self-righteous and holier-than-thou (literally) to choke those words past your lips?

You are no more divine than anyoen else is, Davey. You don’t know any more about God than any other mere mortal does, Davey. You are just a man, Davey.

Just a man.

(shrug)

Comment #96399

Posted by Opera Fan on April 13, 2006 6:47 PM (e)

This design debate is, to me, just another form of the “Does God exist” dialogue that has been raging for centuries. To those who would embark on this discourse for any length of time, be sure that you don’t exhaust yourselves! :)

Comment #96405

Posted by Opera Fan on April 13, 2006 7:03 PM (e)

And one reason why this debate goes on and on is because “one person’s logic is always another’s foolishness” (I forget the source of the quote).

Comment #96411

Posted by Frank J on April 13, 2006 7:15 PM (e)

djw wrote:

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

None. They’re too busy quote mining.

Comment #96413

Posted by Frank J on April 13, 2006 7:24 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

Elliott Sober in a paper titled INTELLIGENT DESIGN THEORY AND THE SUPERNATURAL — THE “GOD OR EXTRA-TERRESTRIALS” REPLY describes how ID points to a supernatural intelligent designer.

Just skimmed the article. Looks interesting, so I’ll read it tomorrow. Still, I can’t help thinking that it’s all moot since Michael Behe admitted under oath at the Dover trial that the designer might no longer exist. So every time I hear someone insist that the designer must be God, I’ll have to remind those who are impressed with ID (and very unimpressed with “sneaking in God” charges) that ID is 100% consistent with “God is dead.”

Comment #96420

Posted by UnMark on April 13, 2006 8:21 PM (e)

David Heddle wrote:

UnMark wrote:

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

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

But you’re still claiming that it’s possible for “some other” intelligence to have evolved naturally but not for life on earth (or just humans).

David Heddle wrote:

UnMark wrote:

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

I assume you (like Lenny) are satisfied having interpretations that you yourself recognizes as less correct than others, otherwise you could ask yourself the same question.

YOU are the one stating that your religious beliefs regarding the IDer should be taught to everyone, not I. So why are your religious opinions more valid than my own?

Comment #96424

Posted by buddha on April 13, 2006 9:22 PM (e)

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

Ex contradictione sequitur quodlibet.

Comment #96425

Posted by W. Kevin Vicklund on April 13, 2006 9:28 PM (e)

Actually, Heddle has claimed numerous times that he doesn’t want his views taught to everyone. He merely believes that the Anthropic Principle proves the existence of God.

Once we got some terminology out of the way, he is one of the few IDers (not biological ID, though) that I have some respect for. I disagree with his logic, but he is entitled to his opinions. As long as he doesn’t force them on others (I don’t necessarily consider spirited debate on sites like PT to be a forcing action), I don’t have any beef with him, aside from my personal disagreement with his logic.

Comment #96428

Posted by UnMark on April 13, 2006 10:51 PM (e)

Well, in light of that info I apologize for my tone and accusation.

Comment #96437

Posted by RupertG on April 14, 2006 5:13 AM (e)

I wish I knew what ID people believed, and why.

Do they believe that natural causes can create intelligence?
Do they believe in mainstream cosmology?
Do they believe in an old earth?
Do they believe in standard evolutionary explanations of speciation?
Do they believe in standard information theory?

And in all cases, if the answer is ‘no’ or ‘yes, but’, exactly what are the differences and what data lies behind them? And if it’s ‘don’t know’ (which is perfectly fair; I don’t know about biogenesis) why doesn’t it matter to ID (and I do know why biogenesis doesn’t matter to evolution)?

I’ve even tried to do a thought experiment where a world is populated with scientists who know nothing of evolutionary ideas, are predisposed towards ID, and who start to unearth the sort of evidence we have found in the past couple of hundred years of scientific work. The trouble is, that actually happened and we know the outcome. I just cannot get into the ID mindset.

Will we ever know what ID people believe, and why?

R

Comment #96438

Posted by Corkscrew on April 14, 2006 5:32 AM (e)

Opera Fan wrote:

This design debate is, to me, just another form of the “Does God exist” dialogue that has been raging for centuries. To those who would embark on this discourse for any length of time, be sure that you don’t exhaust yourselves! :)

Well, it’s slightly more subtle than that. The debate is over whether it’s demonstrable that God exists. The sciences have absolutely nothing to say about whether He exists; they only say that it’s currently not scientifically or mathematically demonstrable.

To many Christians, of course, this is rather unsatisfying, especially when they are otherwise inclined to accept the conclusions of the sciences. Hence we get the inevitable wave of apologists trying to “reconcile” the two, usually at the expense of scientific thought.

IMO, this misses the point somewhat. It’s already eminently possible to reconcile the two, as long as your God acts in a way that is not scientifically detectable (or as long as you’re willing to scientifically test those actions). If you believe that your God acts in a way that’s scientifically detectable, though, your belief would appear to be incorrect. Playing silly buggers with science won’t change that. Get over it.

Comment #96441

Posted by k.e. on April 14, 2006 6:12 AM (e)

A small point of pickyness buddha …..missing space

Ex contradictione sequitur quod libet.

Is that a Catholic theological ‘throw away line’?

I assume you mean ‘a new, contradictory, reading of scripture that is more pleasing to one (i.e. ones own conscience)’.

Teaching a protestant [Heddle] to suck eggs …..nice.

Comment #96444

Posted by FL on April 14, 2006 6:30 AM (e)

Your pal FL didn’t want to answer that question, Davey. How about you?

I have responded to that question previously. For my latest response, see Comment 96442 on the “Yet more desparation at the DI” thread.

FL

Comment #96447

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 14, 2006 7:08 AM (e)

Once we got some terminology out of the way, he is one of the few IDers (not biological ID, though) that I have some respect for.

Actually Heddle is one of the ones I have the LEAST respect for. His sole “schtick” is that his religious opinions are right because … well . . because he SAYS they are.

He’s nothing but a revivalist tent preacher. Just another arrogent prideful holier-than-thou prick who feels that everyone should just shut up and listen to his religious opinions.

Comment #96448

Posted by Frank J on April 14, 2006 7:10 AM (e)

RupertG wrote:

I wish I knew what ID people believed, and why.

Do they believe that natural causes can create intelligence?
Do they believe in mainstream cosmology?
Do they believe in an old earth?
Do they believe in standard evolutionary explanations of speciation?
Do they believe in standard information theory?

You are right that we can’t know what people truly believe, especially if they are known to repeatedly switch definitions, evade questions, quote mine, etc. My strong speculation is this: The “rank and file” “ID people” probably believe some poorly-thought-out YEC or OEC. Most ID professionals, however, probably accept all of evolution in private. They may believe in an “intelligent” ultimate cause, but so do many of their critics, who see no need to misrepresent evolution to affirm their belief, or influence the beliefs of others.

On that note, I repeat my “broken record” request: Let’s please stop dwelling on what anti-evolutionists (IDers, creationists, etc.) believe and focus on how they try to mislead others. Seen that way, there are 2 fundamentally different strategies, classic creationism (“you must accept this origins account, and here’s why…”) and ID (“you must reject ‘Darwinism’, and here’s why…”), even if they have mostly the same goals, and share many of the same arguments and tactics.

Comment #96456

Posted by Caledonian on April 14, 2006 8:29 AM (e)

Well, it’s slightly more subtle than that. The debate is over whether it’s demonstrable that God exists. The sciences have absolutely nothing to say about whether He exists; they only say that it’s currently not scientifically or mathematically demonstrable.

That’s either grossly absurd ignorance, or grossly absurd deception.

An entity that isn’t even in principle subject to empirical verification doesn’t exist by definition. We could replace ‘God’ with ‘the Easter Bunny’ or ‘Santa Claus’ in your statements without changing their logical structure at all.

The traditional conceptions of ‘God’ aren’t even logically self-consistent – there’s no way they could be possible, much less true.

Comment #96458

Posted by AD on April 14, 2006 8:52 AM (e)

An entity that isn’t even in principle subject to empirical verification doesn’t exist by definition.

I would have to disagree with this, for several reasons.

First, we don’t know what will ultimately be subject to empirical verification or not in the future. There could easily be things we suspect will be verifiable which are not, and things we suspect are not which will be. So I believe you have a problem determining classification right off the bat.

Leaving that aside, however, the second problem is that if we cannot empirically verify something, that neither confirms nor denies the existence of such a thing. It just means we cannot know. That is the difference between methodological naturalism (if we can’t verify it, we don’t know) and philosophical naturalism (if we can’t verify it, it doesn’t exist).

MN != PN.

Certainly, this (PN) might be a personal philosophical view that one holds, but if you want to believe it as absolute fact and beat everyone else about the head with it, I’ll paraphrase Lenny:

What makes your religious opinion more valid than anyone else’s?

Comment #96459

Posted by Corkscrew on April 14, 2006 8:59 AM (e)

Caledonian wrote:

That’s either grossly absurd ignorance, or grossly absurd deception.

An entity that isn’t even in principle subject to empirical verification doesn’t exist by definition. We could replace ‘God’ with ‘the Easter Bunny’ or ‘Santa Claus’ in your statements without changing their logical structure at all.

The traditional conceptions of ‘God’ aren’t even logically self-consistent — there’s no way they could be possible, much less true.

You’re right that we could say the same thing about Santa or the Tooth Fairy, and I personally would come to the same conclusion as you evidently do about the reality of these entities, because I personally have found that “there is no scientific evidence for X” tends to correlate well with “X does not exist”. That doesn’t change the fact that application of Occam’s Razor is a philosophical position that more or less by definition can’t be supported by science (since it’s axiomatic to science).

I am given to understand that this is a debate that’s been done to death on PT, so if you want to discuss this further I suggest we switch to a less prominent conversational medium.

Comment #96461

Posted by MartinM on April 14, 2006 9:15 AM (e)

AD wrote:

Leaving that aside, however, the second problem is that if we cannot empirically verify something, that neither confirms nor denies the existence of such a thing. It just means we cannot know.

Well, that rather depends on how one defines ‘existence.’

Can you tell me the difference between something which exists, but cannot be empirically verified in any way, and something which simply doesn’t exist?

Comment #96462

Posted by Caledonian on April 14, 2006 9:16 AM (e)

“there is no scientific evidence for X” tends to correlate well with “X does not exist”.

It’s not a matter of there being no scientific evidence (implication: at the present time), it’s a matter of no scientific evidence being possible, ever.

That is equivalent to saying it does not exist.

Comment #96463

Posted by k.e. on April 14, 2006 9:16 AM (e)

uh oh Lenny’s monster

AD just some minor points….. on your projected future , it’s the imaginary past, as far as verifying something…… you can do it right now, plant 2 rows of radishes… you know the rest. On what might or might not be verifiable in the future? take a look at ‘gravitons’ and have a glass of red wine and a cookie….does the word ‘exist’ require classification by belief or existence?

Belief is not existence it is a thought.

It’s something I keep in mind.

Comment #96465

Posted by steve s on April 14, 2006 9:30 AM (e)

That’s a philosophical question you got going. Accordingly, I made you an AtBC thread to discuss it.

Comment #96466

Posted by AD on April 14, 2006 9:38 AM (e)

Can you tell me the difference between something which exists, but cannot be empirically verified in any way, and something which simply doesn’t exist?

Not to sound deliberately obtuse, but the difference is that we can test one and we can’t test the other. Note I’m not making any statements on the likelihood of anything existing that we cannot test, I’m merely stating that it’s certainly not something you could rule out using science and MN. They definitionally take a pass at that question.

It’s not a matter of there being no scientific evidence (implication: at the present time), it’s a matter of no scientific evidence being possible, ever.

That is equivalent to saying it does not exist.

This reads to me as - if we cannot find scientific evidence for it (ever), then it does not and cannot exist. Again, this seems to express one of two things to me:

1) That you believe, eventually, we will know everything and will be able to test everything (in which case I concede the point, because we’ve just created a tautology).

2) That you believe in PN, and that nothing could possibly (eventually) exist outside the bounds of science, despite our inability to come up with a testable case for all potential situations. In this case, I’d assert your making a religious statement (or philosophical one, if you’d prefer), and you’re no more authoritative than anyone else on this topic.

Belief is not existence it is a thought.

Part of my original point was that we’re having some classification issues to begin with.

What is the definition of “exist”, and what criteria become necessary to determine existence? And, if people are using different definitions, it might be wise to reconcile them or simply accept a plurality of views rather than get bombastic when you aren’t even using the same words (in essence).

Don’t take this the wrong way - I’m not arguing for any particular view. I’m merely pointing out that because all of these arguments are resting on underlying unprovable assumptions, it’s silly to pound one’s fist about any particular case because you can’t prove it. Almost identical to Lenny’s point about anyone’s religious opinions being “authoritative”.

As an aside, it’s because our discussion has wandered into the realm of philosophy/religion this happens. Science is such a useful and powerful tool because it constrains people to precise definitions and observable evidence, so you do both have to prove your points and have the ability to do so.

Comment #96468

Posted by Corkscrew on April 14, 2006 9:48 AM (e)

Caledonian et al: I strongly suggest we continue this discussion elsewhere, for example here. It’s no fun for the rest of the commenters to have to wade through swathes of posts on this issue, when most of them have no interest in it.

Comment #96469

Posted by Corkscrew on April 14, 2006 9:50 AM (e)

steve s: ya beat me to it! Curses :(

Comment #96479

Posted by PvM on April 14, 2006 10:46 AM (e)

Will we ever know what ID people believe, and why?

Most seem to unite under the following ideas

1. Naturalism, including methodological naturalism is atheistic and a threat to Christianity
2. Darwinism especially is an example of atheistic science and needs to be denied at all cost of being sufficient in explaining evolution (never mind that even Darwin accepted that natural selection was one of various mechanisms…)
3. Not explained by Darwinian theory (yet) means evidence for design

It’s a hodgepodge of logical fallacies and scientific vacuity

Comment #96481

Posted by Frank J on April 14, 2006 11:16 AM (e)

PvM wrote:

Most seem to unite under the following ideas

With respect to the activists, if not the “rank and file”, you left out the most important one:

4. It’s mandatory to misrepresent evolution, bait-and-swich definitions, quote mine, and evade any question that risk exposing the fatal flaws and contradictions in the classic creationist accounts.

Comment #96482

Posted by David Heddle on April 14, 2006 11:24 AM (e)

PvM, about your second and third points, I have nothing to say, but the first:

1. Naturalism, including methodological naturalism is atheistic and a threat to Christianity

Is not an ID premise. Not only are science and methodological naturalism not an athiestic threat, they are the very tools we use to (as commanded) study creation. They are to general revelation what theology is to special revelation. Far from being a threat to Christianity, they are beautifully integrated therein.

Comment #96491

Posted by steve s on April 14, 2006 12:28 PM (e)

David Heddle, that’s the definition of the term “asking for it.”

Comment #96493

Posted by heddle on April 14, 2006 12:32 PM (e)

Steve S,

In that case, it’s damned if I do, damned if I don’t. If I claimed science was an atheistic threat, I’d get attacked–and now you suggest I’ll get attacked for saying it’s not an atheistic threat.

Comment #96494

Posted by steve s on April 14, 2006 12:36 PM (e)

No, you’re going to get deluged for saying that it’s not an ID principle that Methodological Naturalism is unfair and atheistic and must be repealed. You will be deluged with people quoting Bill Dembski and Paul Nelson and others saying exactly that.

Comment #96495

Posted by heddle on April 14, 2006 12:47 PM (e)

Since I never read Dembski or Nelson, how was I to know!

Comment #96499

Posted by steve s on April 14, 2006 12:57 PM (e)

If you never read Dembski or Nelson, you really don’t need to be ‘correcting’ PvM on what ID does or doesn’t say.

Comment #96500

Posted by Lynn on April 14, 2006 1:09 PM (e)

Caledonian said, “Can you tell me the difference between something which exists, but cannot be empirically verified in any way, and something which simply doesn’t exist?”

One problem with taking this stand is what one might refer to as a “temporal” issue. Unless we are ready to assert that there are no longer blank areas in our knowledge, we must always concede that there is almost certainly a difference.

As a simple example, if the date were 1806, rather than 2006, I’d offer the substance DNA as something which could not at the time be empirically verified in any way, but most certainly did exist.

Now you may counter-argue that nobody in 1806 *claimed* that such a substance existed, but that doesn’t save you. And if we advance the clock to the year 1906, you couldn’t even make *that* argument, as certainly by that time those practicing the budding science of genetics were ruminating over the existence of some substance which carried genetic information but which was unidentified and not empirically verified.

And later Caledonian said, “It’s not a matter of there being no scientific evidence (implication: at the present time), it’s a matter of no scientific evidence being possible, ever.”

How very arrogant! This assumes that there can’t be any kind of evidence in the future that isn’t available to us in the present!

Good thing scientists of the past didn’t have this attitude.

Lynn

Comment #96502

Posted by AD on April 14, 2006 1:14 PM (e)

Mr Heddle,

I think your problem is just that you wildly diverge from most people who support ID, to be blunt. You might not be supporting what you think you are supporting when you use that term.

Certainly, your view of it is radically different from Dembski, Behe, etc.

You may not feel that way, but also, PvM’s comments were not so much addressed to you or your personal conception of ID, hence Steve’s response.

Comment #96506

Posted by Arden Chatfield on April 14, 2006 1:53 PM (e)

If you never read Dembski or Nelson, you really don’t need to be ‘correcting’ PvM on what ID does or doesn’t say.

But this is what all ID advocates do when defending ID. They cite their own favored conception of what ID is and deny that anyone has ever said it’s anything different.

A very versatile theory. It’s quite literally anything the ‘user’ wants it to be.

Comment #96509

Posted by k.e. on April 14, 2006 2:17 PM (e)

So Lynn
Lets take a look at your argument.

This assumes that there can’t be any kind of evidence in the future that isn’t available to us in the present

Since g_d (just as an example) has not been discovered yet, since there is no evidence now, then there may be evidence in the future?

Supporting an argument by time traveling backwards with information available today, to be logically consistent that knowledge must be lost at the time it was created.

It is like me saying at this moment “a thing is discovered in the future, I don’t know what it is or what it does yet but I know it does exist now [in your example] because they found it in the future AND I would like you to test for it now, however I have no knowledge of how to test for it”

A senseless argument.

Life and objective existence just IS (with or without us) and our knowledge of it is separate, as created mental constructs through language and memes (creation in fact and always has been).

Comment #96510

Posted by Bruce Thompson GQ on April 14, 2006 2:25 PM (e)

Since there is confusion between disciplines on what intelligent design really is, perhaps there could be a meeting whose goal would be to produce the

Grand Opus on Design.

It would include ID scientists studying cosmological design including origin of the universe, biological design and origin of life, chemical design, physics design, in other words ID counterparts to all the scientific disciplines. The Grand Opus on Design would lay out a unified intelligent design theory for each discipline, including predictions derived from these theories. This would integrate ID, clarify for each discipline what others were talking about, clarify ID for mainstream scientific community, and would prevent misconceptions like the one currently taking place over the validity of IC.

Within this larger framework and with a set of predictions, ID scientists will have a goal and will be more likely to produce results that can be replicated.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

Comment #96512

Posted by k.e. on April 14, 2006 2:31 PM (e)

No that wouldn’t do Bruce, the universe will end in 30 billion years.

To produce a Grand Opus on Design would require a miracle.

Comment #96529

Posted by David B. Benson on April 14, 2006 4:35 PM (e)

k.e. “The universe will end in 30 billion years.” I’ll have to assume this is some sort of in-joke, since there is no evidence known to me but that the universe will continue to expand for the next 30 billion years and much, much longer…

Comment #96534

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 14, 2006 5:30 PM (e)

An entity that isn’t even in principle subject to empirical verification doesn’t exist by definition.

Sure about that … ?

Do you love your partner?

Can you prove it empirically?

Comment #96536

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 14, 2006 5:38 PM (e)

1. Naturalism, including methodological naturalism is atheistic and a threat to Christianity

Is not an ID premise.

From the Wedge Document, written by the Discovery Institute:

The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built. Its influence can be detected in most, if not all, of the West’s greatest achievements, including representative democracy, human rights, free enterprise, and progress in the arts and sciences.

Yet a little over a century ago, this cardinal idea came under wholesale attack by intellectuals drawing on the discoveries of modern science. Debunking the traditional conceptions of both God and man, thinkers such as Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud portrayed humans not as moral and spiritual beings, but as animals or machines who inhabited a universe ruled by purely impersonal forces and whose behavior and very thoughts were dictated by the unbending forces of biology, chemistry, and environment. This materialistic conception of reality eventually infected virtually every area of our culture, from politics and economics to literature and art

The cultural consequences of this triumph of materialism were devastating. Materialists denied the existence of objective moral standards, claiming that environment dictates our behavior and beliefs. Such moral relativism was uncritically adopted by much of the social sciences, and it still undergirds much of modern economics, political science, psychology and sociology.

Materialists also undermined personal responsibility by asserting that human thoughts and behaviors are dictated by our biology and environment. The results can be seen in modern approaches to criminal justice, product liability, and welfare. In the materialist scheme of things, everyone is a victim and no one can be held accountable for his or her actions.

Finally, materialism spawned a virulent strain of utopianism. Thinking they could engineer the perfect society through the application of scientific knowledge, materialist reformers advocated coercive government programs that falsely promised to create heaven on earth.

Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies. Bringing together leading scholars from the natural sciences and those from the humanities and social sciences, the Center explores how new developments in biology, physics and cognitive science raise serious doubts about scientific materialism and have re-opened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature. The Center awards fellowships for original research, holds conferences, and briefs policymakers about the opportunities for life after materialism.

The social consequences of materialism have been devastating. As symptoms, those consequences are certainly worth treating. However, we are convinced that in order to defeat materialism, we must cut it off at its source. That source is scientific materialism. This is precisely our strategy. If we view the predominant materialistic science as a giant tree, our strategy is intended to function as a “wedge” that, while relatively small, can split the trunk when applied at its weakest points. The very beginning of this strategy, the “thin edge of the wedge,” was Phillip ]ohnson’s critique of Darwinism begun in 1991 in Darwinism on Trial, and continued in Reason in the Balance and Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds. Michael Behe’s highly successful Darwin’s Black Box followed Johnson’s work. We are building on this momentum, broadening the wedge with a positive scientific alternative to materialistic scientific theories, which has come to be called the theory of intelligent design (ID). Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.

Once our research and writing have had time to mature, and the public prepared for the reception of design theory, we will move toward direct confrontation with the advocates of materialist science through challenge conferences in significant academic settings. We will also pursue possible legal assistance in response to resistance to the integration of design theory into public school science curricula. The attention, publicity, and influence of design theory should draw scientific materialists into open debate with design theorists, and we will be ready. With an added emphasis to the social sciences and humanities, we will begin to address the specific social consequences of materialism and the Darwinist theory that supports it in the sciences.

Governing Goals

* To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.

* To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and hurnan beings are created by God.

Mainline renewal movements begin to appropriate insights from design theory, and to repudiate theologies influenced by materialism

Major Christian denomination(s) defend(s) traditional doctrine of creation

You were saying, Davey …… . ?

Oh, and for FL and the other crackpots who want to argue that ID isn’t creationism, would you mind, please explaining to me what this “traditional doctrine of creation” is that ID sets the goal of having “Christian denominations” “defend” …. ?

Comment #96537

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 14, 2006 5:42 PM (e)

In that case, it’s damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

(sniffle) (sob) Boo hoo hoo. Sure sucks to be you, doesn’t it Davey. Boo hoo hoo hooo.

But Davey, that’s what you WANT, isn’t it? After all, the only reason you come here to begin with is to (1) pick fights and (2) feed your massive martyr complex. You WANT to be damned and oppressed. You CRAVE it. And that’s why you keep coming back for MORE of it. (shrug)

Just like FL.

Comment #96538

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 14, 2006 5:44 PM (e)

Since there is confusion between disciplines on what intelligent design really is, perhaps there could be a meeting whose goal would be to produce the

Grand Opus on Design.

It would include ID scientists

How? There aren’t any. (shrug)

Comment #96545

Posted by John Marley on April 14, 2006 6:48 PM (e)

Since there is confusion between disciplines on what intelligent design really is, perhaps there could be a meeting…

What’s the point. Xians can’t seem to decide what xianity is. Each individual seems to identify with the denomination that is LEAST different from what they personally believe.
The large sects survive by telling members exactly what to believe, but new sects still crop up.

And almost every xian I know feels the same about their own beliefs as Dave Heddle seems to about his. They’re just less strident about it.

Comment #96547

Posted by HvP on April 14, 2006 7:15 PM (e)

Posted by ‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank on April 14, 2006 05:30 PM
An entity that isn’t even in principle subject to empirical verification doesn’t exist by definition.
Sure about that … ?
Do you love your partner?
Can you prove it empirically?

Silly, the emotion of love brings about certain responses in people which can be observed. Not only are we trained by experience to look for those behaviors but even the hormonal/chemical symptoms can be tested for.

And then there is this study:
http://www.jyi.org/news/nb.php?id=274

Comment #96548

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 14, 2006 8:19 PM (e)

Silly, the emotion of love brings about certain responses in people which can be observed.

So you say. But how do you know these are effects of love? How do you know they’re not just the effects of physiological changes in biochemistry? Or are you just making a nonempirical assumption here?

Can the emotion of love be observed in, say, chimps or whales or other vertebrates? Why or why not?

Not only are we trained by experience to look for those behaviors but even the hormonal/chemical symptoms can be tested for.

Rabbits have those hormones too.

Are rabbits in love?

How can you tell?

Comment #96549

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 14, 2006 8:32 PM (e)

What’s the point. Xians can’t seem to decide what xianity is. Each individual seems to identify with the denomination that is LEAST different from what they personally believe.

Well of course the same is true about, say, politics – who can tell what “conservatism” or “liberalism” or “socialism” or “fascism” or “environmentalism” “really means”?

I suspect that is true of MOST human areas of thought. After all, humans are individuals; organizations are not. No organization, not even the strictest of the Maoist Thought Police, contains members that all think absolutely alike.

The best anyone CAN do is identify with the group that is least different from their own individual thoughts.

And almost every xian I know feels the same about their own beliefs as Dave Heddle seems to about his. They’re just less strident about it.

You need to meet some Unitarian Universalists. Or some UCCers.

If you REALLY want to blow your mind, talk to some Zen Buddhists. They quite literally don’t believe in anything “holy” at all.

:)

Comment #96554

Posted by HvP on April 15, 2006 12:57 AM (e)

So you say. But how do you know these are effects of love? How do you know they’re not just the effects of physiological changes in biochemistry? Or are you just making a nonempirical assumption here?

It can be tested in the same way we can test the supposition that any emotional/physiological response is real. It is a word we use to label a particular emotional state. We can examine the particular symptoms/reactions that correlates to that state.

For example, we all share a common response which we call “pain”. It is a response to negative physical stimulus. When someone tell us that they are in pain, we can connect that to the symptoms they are having and with what stimulus caused those symptoms. If those conditions become predictably consistent among a variety of test cases then it would constitute reasonable evidence for the existence of the emotional/physical presence of real pain.

Love is no different. It’s a physiological response due to instinct, chemistry and conditioning just like all emotions. If the person exhibits all the trademark symptoms/reactions which define the emotion - then by default the emotion exists in them because the name “love” is merely a description for that very same collection of symptoms/reactions which we are observing in the first place.

It’s like asking if “craziness” really exists. It’s a term we use to describe a behavior we’ve already noticed anyway. If the behavior didn’t exist we wouldn’t have named it in the first place.

Can the emotion of love be observed in, say, chimps or whales or other vertebrates? Why or why not?…

Rabbits have those hormones too.

Are rabbits in love?

How can you tell?

Love, as we humans have chosen to define it, also entails a number of social interactions which simply don’t apply to other animals. Most importantly is the potential for a person to be self-aware of their own feelings. Because I can’t prove that love exists in other animals does nothing whatsoever to take away from the fact that it does exist among humans. We invented the term to describe a particular emotional state that we humans experience often. There is no need to identify any concrete thing called love when there is so much evidence for the fact that the emotional state we call love does indeed exist.

Comment #96587

Posted by John Pieret on April 15, 2006 6:10 AM (e)

John Wilkins, in his inimitable style, has already put it this way:

ID requires a designer who can visualise all possible combinations of chemistry over billions of years. If that isn’t a supernatural designer, I’ll eat my epistemological hat!

Comment #96635

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 15, 2006 8:51 AM (e)

It can be tested in the same way we can test the supposition that any emotional/physiological response is real. It is a word we use to label a particular emotional state. We can examine the particular symptoms/reactions that correlates to that state.

I see. So even though we can’t empirically detect that emotional stsate itself, we can see its effects. And even though we can’t point to any concrete THING, we know it’s there because we can FEEL it.

That, uh, sounds familiar. Is there some other entity that we can’t empirically detect in any concrete manner, yet some people have argued we can examine through its effects and the way they have experienced it …… .?

Hmmm …. …. .

Comment #96636

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 15, 2006 8:53 AM (e)

Love is no different. It’s a physiological response due to instinct, chemistry and conditioning just like all emotions.

You romantic little devil, you. I bet you’re wonderful with the ladies.

Is your middle name “Spock”, by any chance … ?

Comment #96637

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 15, 2006 8:56 AM (e)

Love, as we humans have chosen to define it, also entails a number of social interactions which simply don’t apply to other animals.

Really. Which ones? Which social interactions do we ascribe to “love”, which don’t apply to other animals?

Animals don’t mate?

Animals don’t pair-bond?

Animals don’t form family or social groups?

Animals don’t sacrifice themselves for their mates or their offspring?

Do tell.

Comment #96639

Posted by k.e. on April 15, 2006 9:32 AM (e)

yes lurrve and other animals

I recall a quip made by Vilayanur S. Ramachandran Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition and Professor of Neurosciences and Psychology at the University of California during his Reith Lecture on the BBC.(available as mp3 from the BBC)

A young student MD goes home to his girlfriend and says “I learned today that love is just a bunch of neurons firing in my brain” and she said “See, I told you it was real”

And on neurons…
Take a look at the first few pages of his book
A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness : From Impostor Poodles to Purple Numbers
Part of page 3
…it has been calculated that the number of possible combinations and permutations of brain activity, in other words brain states, exceeds the number of elementary particles in the known universe. Even though it is common knowledge, it never ceases to amaze me that all the richness of our mental life- all our feelings, our emotions, our thoughts our ambitions, our love lives, our religious sentiments and even what each of us regards as his or her own intimate private self- is simply the activity of these little specks of jelly in our heads, in our brains, There is nothing else…

I would say our brains are a stone age tool hyped up on over learning with far too much room and spare imagination for wingnut ideas promoted by people who for their own self aggrandizement but more particularly just plain self delusion by choosing deliberate ignorance and wanton stupidity, that it is surprising there is not more pseudoscience and other crackpotism out there.
But then I digress.

Comment #96640

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 15, 2006 9:32 AM (e)

Compare:

There is no need to identify any concrete thing called love when there is so much evidence for the fact that the emotional state we call love does indeed exist.

with

An entity that isn’t even in principle subject to empirical verification doesn’t exist by definition.

Hmmmmmmmm.

Comment #96643

Posted by k.e. on April 15, 2006 10:33 AM (e)

But wait there’s more
MIRROR NEURONS and imitation learning as the driving force behind “the great leap forward” in human evolution
By V.S. Ramachandran


The discovery of mirror neurons in the frontal lobes of monkeys, and their potential relevance to human brain evolution — which I speculate on in this essay — is the single most important “unreported” (or at least, unpublicized) story of the decade. I predict that mirror neurons will do for psychology what DNA did for biology: they will provide a unifying framework and help explain a host of mental abilities that have hitherto remained mysterious and inaccessible to experiments.

Comment #96644

Posted by Frank J on April 15, 2006 11:03 AM (e)

Sober, who has nicely demolished ID before, disappoints me here. In Note 2, he says that Dembski “maintains that humans are specially created.” And he cites a 1995 article (the link didn’t even work, but that could be on my end). I’m sorry, but that may be as inexcusable as the IDers’ typical tactic of citing Denton’s 1985 “Evolution, a Theory in Crisis,” while conveniently ignoring his 1998 “Nature’s Destiny,” which reveals a very different conclusion.

While Dembski may have used the weasel words “specially created” in 1995, do we really know that he ever thought that modern humans are a product of independent abiogenesis? Or if he thought it then, changed his mind since? Or could he have just been referring to human souls, in which case he would be in full agreement with his theistic critics? We may never know for sure, but what may be much more revealing than an 11 year old vague reference is the fact that Dembski has been fully aware for years that Behe has no problem with common descent, but never once challenged him on it. Furthermore, in a 2002 article Dembski seems to be fully aware that he is switching definitions when he noted Behe’s acceptance of common descent and Carl Woese’s rejection of a caricature of it. And in a 2004 article, he is clearly playing word games with “modified monkey” vs. “modified dirt.” If there were any evidence to support “modified dirt” Dembski would be all over it; there would be no need for a “design” diversion. Even if he thought it merely a hypothesis worth considering, he’d be challenging Behe, if only to diffuse the charge that IDers don’t act like real scientists (who challenge each other at every opportunity).

I don’t get it. Why do so many defenders of evolution strain so hard to make us think that IDers personally believe classic creationist accounts? Wouldn’t it be better - and more honest - to warn potential ID sympathizers that IDers are not necessarily promoting an honest belief, but may be covering up what they know are fatal flaws and contradictions in the various creationist accounts? Potential ID sympathizers are likely very forgiving of any “sneaking in God” strategy, as they mostly think that the court rulings banning creationism and ID from public schools are very unfair. But they won’t be so forgiving if they suspect that IDers may be deliberately covering up what they know are failed, contradictory (and theory-free) accounts of how that design is implemented.

Comment #96647

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 15, 2006 11:34 AM (e)

Why do so many defenders of evolution strain so hard to make us think that IDers personally believe classic creationist accounts?

Because many of them DO. Just read the testimony of all the pro-ID “witnesses” called during the Kansas Kangaroo Kourt. Or ask most of the ID nutters who drop in here from time to time.

Many of them, of course, DON’T (or, at least, can’t say so out loud if they do). Creation “science” after all was already ruled illegal twenty years ago. So IDers MUST, absolutely MUST, avoid at any cost associating themselves with creation ‘science’, whether they personally support it or not, since any such association would lead to instant death in a courtroom and a non-start for ID.

On the other hand, the “classic creationists” still make up a huge proportion of the ID’s grassroots support. So, the IDers MUST, absolutely MUST, kowtow to them and, if not actively endorse those beleifs, must at least avoid openly condemning them.

Hence Dembski’s balancing act. He KNOWS that ID is politically dead without the active support of the YEC’s, yet he KNOWS that any open endorsement of YEC will condemn ID to instant legal death.

Hence, Dembski (and the other IDers) do the only thing they CAN do — they play both sides. They prevaricate, talk out of both sides of their mouth, and try desperately to avoid bringing up the subject at all.

It does nevertheless remain an indisputable fact that all of the “arguments” offered by ID, every one of them, are cribbed from standard ICR boilerplate first put out decades ago. ID simply has nothing new or original to offer. It’s just the same old crap, in a shiny new toilet. (shrug)

Comment #96648

Posted by k.e. on April 15, 2006 11:47 AM (e)

Frank J I would have to say that Classical /neo-creationism is no different in as much as it just recycles the same old so called creation ‘science’ stuff that Lenny rolls out for our edification now and then. The Dover ‘text book’ OPP was clearly shown to be a cut and paste Creationist text.

If Behe and Dembski et al. accept evolution and say so, then their case for introducing religion in science classes explodes so they must keep up a smoke screen to sell their books.

Dembski would have been roasted on the stand in Dover if he had made the mistake of testifying because he freely mixes religion and science loudly and proudly in all his pontificating so he is a lost cause for the DI and they know it.

No other scientist has come up with a theory for ‘intelligent design’ because most would know by now that it is just a socio-political engineering fraud and I am sure that a reputable scientist would check and double check before even wanting to associate with such a disreputable bunch of rogues.

Naturally that still leaves disreputable rogues, but bring them on, I love the smell of burning schizoid Berserkzian mathematicians in the morning.

Comment #96649

Posted by k.e. on April 15, 2006 11:49 AM (e)

Bah …Lenny posted while I was cogitating sorry for the double up

Comment #96655

Posted by HvP on April 15, 2006 12:52 PM (e)

Lenny Frank, your conflating a few different things here.

Having someone tell you they are in love, observing their behavior, observing the effects of that state, measuring the chemical/hormonal effects, taking note of their emotional tendencies while in that state - all constitutes emperical observation of a human emotional state.

You can emperically test the belief in God. It is a fact that a large number of people have this belief. And it can be emperically demonstrated that this belief plays a large role in their behaviors and emotional responses. But you are still just testing human thoughts and emotions. You aren’t testing anything outside of the person. It can be emperically proven that the emotional belief in a God does exist. Is that what you wanted?

Love is defined as an emotion. Emotions are defined as feelings. As such, the only proof required to define the existence of an emotion like love would be a statement of feeling and the observation of those human behaviors that entails. Love exists as an emotion within the person. You aren’t testing anything outside of the person.

If your definition of God is that God is simply a human emotion or feeling then I would agree that many people have “felt” God. But that isn’t how God is defined. It’s defined as some sort of individual intelligent consciousness, seperate from mere mankind and omnipresent throughout the universe. We have NO evidence to support the existence of such a concept.

I cannot demonstrate that animals feel love because they cannot provide feedback about their awareness of their own emotional state (I think we can agree that an individual must be self-aware in order to “feel” the types of emotions we humans take for granted). That doesn’t mean they can’t feel love. It means I don’t have enough evidence to determine that they do. But it doesn’t matter because I have plenty of evidence to determine that love does exist as a human emotional state.

As for God, all we’ve got is a widespread statement of belief. If you feel like defining God as nothing more than a personal emotional belief and the human behaviors that go with it, then by all means be my guest. But that means that it has no powers beyond human thought and it stops existing when no one believes in it anymore.

Comment #96660

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 15, 2006 1:51 PM (e)

Lenny Frank,

U,. my name is Lenny FLANK. See, it’s written right there at the top of every one of my posts.

Having someone tell you they are in love, observing their behavior, observing the effects of that state, measuring the chemical/hormonal effects, taking note of their emotional tendencies while in that state - all constitutes emperical observation of a human emotional state.

You can emperically test the belief in God. It is a fact that a large number of people have this belief. And it can be emperically demonstrated that this belief plays a large role in their behaviors and emotional responses. But you are still just testing human thoughts and emotions. You aren’t testing anything outside of the person. It can be emperically proven that the emotional belief in a God does exist.

Huh?

On the one hand, you tell me that observing the EFFECTS of a belief in love constitutes evidence for the existence of that love.

On the other hand, you tell me that observing the EFFECTS of a belief in Gpd does NOT constitute evidnece for the existence of that God.

Make up your friggin mind.

If you think you have some empirical evidence for the existence of “love”, please by all means present it.

Is that what you wanted?

Well, I’m not sure why I’d want that OR not want it, since I don’t accept or assert the existence of any god, gods or goddesses.

Comment #96661

Posted by Arden Chatfield on April 15, 2006 1:52 PM (e)

If that isn’t a supernatural designer, I’ll eat my epistemological hat!

What does an epistemological hat look like, and where would you even wear it?

Love is no different. It’s a physiological response due to instinct, chemistry and conditioning just like all emotions.

“What is this ‘love’ thing of which you foolish Earthlings speak?”

Comment #96662

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 15, 2006 1:55 PM (e)

As for God, all we’ve got is a widespread statement of belief.

And that is also all we have for Love. A widespread statement of belief.

“I feel love, even though I can’t point to it” is no different than “I feel God, even though I can’t point to it”. (shrug)

If you feel otherwise, please by all means feel free to present for me some objective measurable empirical evidence that “love” exists. What color is love? How much does it weigh? Where can I see it? How do we measure it? What determines whether it is there or not?

Or is “I know it when I feel it” the best you have to offer … ?

Sounds kind of familiar, eh?

Comment #96663

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 15, 2006 1:56 PM (e)

If you feel like defining God as nothing more than a personal emotional belief and the human behaviors that go with it, then by all means be my guest. But that means that it has no powers beyond human thought and it stops existing when no one believes in it anymore.

Indeed.

Just like “love”.

Comment #96665

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 15, 2006 2:00 PM (e)

As an aside, I find it quite humorous that all the fundamentalist atheists immediately assume that anyone who questions them, must be a fundie theist. Just as all the fundie theists assume that anyone who questions them, must be an atheist.

They are, as I’ve always said, just two sides of the very same coin, and have far far more in common with each other than either would like to admit.

Odd, isn’t it.

Comment #96667

Posted by PvM on April 15, 2006 2:14 PM (e)

As far as I have been able to trace (2004), there seems to be no overlap between the DI and the Pacific Science Center. So either this is a relatively new issue or it is overblown. Without further data, it will be hard to pursue this and I reject the application of a design inference where absence of evidence somehow triggers any particular inference beyond “we don’t know”

Comment #96679

Posted by Frank J on April 15, 2006 4:09 PM (e)

I wrote:

Why do so many defenders of evolution strain so hard to make us think that IDers personally believe classic creationist accounts?

'Rev. Dr.' Lenny Flank wrote:

Because many of them DO. Just read the testimony of all the pro-ID “witnesses” called during the Kansas Kangaroo Kourt.

I read it and kept a file on it. They mostly admitted “OEC without common descent”, with a few clinging to YEC, but allowing up to 100,000 years, and a few admitting common descent.

(the following edited from my Talk Origins post)

But look at their choice of words, the evasions in particular. Those who denied common descent seemed uncertain or hesitant, and none offered even a vague suggestion of what happened instead. Even with the age of the earth, the evasion reeks. Bryan Leonard’s answer to how old he thinks the earth is was “I tell my students 4.5 billion years.” He was asked several times, but refused to answer the question without that qualifier. Here’s what I think, and yes, I could be wrong: In a small class of biology students, he has no problem admitting the “trade secret” that the earth is 4.5 billion years old. But in the testimony he was very aware that thousands or more rank-and-file YECs would be scrutinizing every word. So he did his best to placate them with a shred of hope that he might believe otherwise. Maybe some witnesses did even more to placate YECs. Maybe they lied outright. And if they are that fearful that a public aware of the truth of evolution will act as though all is permitted, then lying is less risky than the alternative. Especially if it’s about a private belief that no one can prove anyway.

Comment #96694

Posted by HvP on April 15, 2006 5:31 PM (e)

On the one hand, you tell me that observing the EFFECTS of a belief in love constitutes evidence for the existence of that love.

On the other hand, you tell me that observing the EFFECTS of a belief in Gpd does NOT constitute evidnece for the existence of that God.

It all depends on what you’re trying to prove and what the definition of that particular thing is.

Having a “feeling” about something is no more proof for anything except the feeling itself.

Since love IS a feeling, we can logically argue that the feeling of love is real. Love = a feeling = an emotion. However, as it is normally defined, God consists of more than simply the “feeling” that it exists. It is supposed to be an actual separate conscious being, different from and external to the person making the claim. A claim of belief or feeling only proves that the BELIEF of FEELING is real. It does not making the thing believed in real. An exception would be those things which we have defined AS feelings or beliefs - like love.

Does Christianity exist? In that Christianity is defined as a system of belief and practices, and in that people exist who believe in the system and follow those practices - then, yes, Christianity exists. If there was no one who believed in Christianity nor followed its practices then it would NOT exist - much like Shakers DON’T exist anymore.

So you see, the question of whether or not something exists is dependent upon the frame of reference used to define the subject. And as such:

“I feel love, even though I can’t point to it” is no different than “I feel God, even though I can’t point to it”.

…is incorrect. You are comparing two completely different frames of reference and have failed to define either. God is NOT defined as a human emotional state - but love IS.

feel free to present for me some objective measurable empirical evidence that “love” exists. What color is love? How much does it weigh? Where can I see it? How do we measure it? What determines whether it is there or not?

You seem to have a problem with abstract concepts. How much does Shakerism weigh? You can’t weigh it or determine any other physical properties. It’s an abstract concept. Yet its possible existence CAN be tested. Was Shakerism ever practiced? Yes. Does anyone practice it today? No. Already we’ve been able to apply a test for the existence of Shakerism. That’s a very simple test which leads us to some preliminary hypotheses. It used to exist. It no longer exists.

You might as well be asking, “How much does the color blue weigh”. Does the color blue exist? It’s no different than any other part of the EM spectrum - EXCEPT in how our human eye perceives that part of the spectrum. They are just pulses of photons which have no intrinsic color value. “Blue” is completely and entirely defined by how our eyes are constructed and what sensations our brains choose to assign to that stimulus. Yet, I’m sure we can all agree that the color blue does indeed exist as a property of the objects we observe. It can be repeatedly and reliably tested. For the purpose of how we define the color, “blue” does exist.

There are tests we can use to evaluate the existence of love as it is commonly defined. The link to the MRI experiments I gave you before is one such test. People who claim to be in love show activity in a certain center of their brain in consistent patterns when shown pictures of their loved one. Hormonal activity is different in people who feel love. The brain chemistry is different around their loved one then when they aren’t feeling love. Their behaviors are different. People treat others differently when they are in love with them. All of these are observations which can be recorded and correlated with individual statements professing the feeling of love. There is a high positive correlation between the two. That constitutes empirical evidence.

But it would NOT constitute evidence for the supposition that Cupid exists just because some people believed that their feelings came from Cupid!
Does that make my position more clear?

Comment #96696

Posted by HvP on April 15, 2006 5:37 PM (e)

And I appologize for getting your name wrong, Flank. You have to admit that “Frank” is much more common as a name than “Flank” and that sometimes when typing quickly your fingers automatically go to the most natural combinations of letters first. I slipped.

Just like “love”

And yes, I agree. When the last human dies, love as we know it will die too.

Comment #96730

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 15, 2006 8:47 PM (e)

You seem to have a problem with abstract concepts.

Uh, in case you didn’t notice, *I* am not the one arguing that something doesn’t exist (by definition) unless we can provide empirical evidence for it.

When you have some empirical evidence for “love”, do let me know, OK?

Comment #96745

Posted by HvP on April 16, 2006 12:16 AM (e)

Uh, in case you didn’t notice, *I* am not the one arguing that something doesn’t exist (by definition) unless we can provide empirical evidence for it.

Good, because I haven’t been arguing for that either. I’ve been arguing for the positive existence of “love” based on the fact that we have direct first hand testable experience with human emotion - of which love is one such example. I have also been arguing for the fact that belief in something can only be considered evidence for the existence of the belief itself not actually for the thing which is believed in.

What exactly are you arguing for? You have yet to define a position. Your statements have been purely reactionary and have contributed nothing whatsoever to the resolution of this disagreement. You have been vague, evasive, unforthcoming and generally noncommittal.

It seems that you have been wholy unable to respond to my previous post because you introduced a non-sequitor that I haven’t even been arguing about, and your only other comment was a request for information which I have already provided.

It’s time for you to start answering questions.
Do you believe that love is a conscious intelligent entity which exists seperate from the individual?
Do you believe that the concept of God is simply nothing more than a human emotion?
Do you believe that the feeling of love is evidence for the existence of Cupid?

Comment #96746

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 16, 2006 12:38 AM (e)

Uh, in case you didn’t notice, *I* am not the one arguing that something doesn’t exist (by definition) unless we can provide empirical evidence for it.

Good, because I haven’t been arguing for that either.

Good, because you were not the one I was arguing with.

I was responding to:

An entity that isn’t even in principle subject to empirical verification doesn’t exist by definition.

I’m still waiting for some empirical verification of “love” that doesn’t apply equally well to “god”.

It’s time for you to start answering questions.

Why, having some trouble pigeon-holing me, are ya?

Comment #96748

Posted by Anton Mates on April 16, 2006 12:59 AM (e)

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank wrote:

I’m still waiting for some empirical verification of “love” that doesn’t apply equally well to “god”.

It seems to me HvP already gave you quite a bit. Because love is defined as a feeling, you can verify the existence of love in your own mind by direct experience. As for others, as s/he said,

There are tests we can use to evaluate the existence of love as it is commonly defined. The link to the MRI experiments I gave you before is one such test. People who claim to be in love show activity in a certain center of their brain in consistent patterns when shown pictures of their loved one. Hormonal activity is different in people who feel love. The brain chemistry is different around their loved one then when they aren’t feeling love. Their behaviors are different. People treat others differently when they are in love with them. All of these are observations which can be recorded and correlated with individual statements professing the feeling of love. There is a high positive correlation between the two. That constitutes empirical evidence.

Do you disagree that the above constitutes empirical verification, or do you think the same can be done with reference to a possible deity, or both?

Comment #96754

Posted by k.e. on April 16, 2006 3:21 AM (e)

A rose by any other name….

The Polynesian Cook Islanders have no word for “Love”

Love Food.

Comment #96768

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 16, 2006 9:35 AM (e)

There are tests we can use to evaluate the existence of love as it is commonly defined. The link to the MRI experiments I gave you before is one such test. People who claim to be in love show activity in a certain center of their brain in consistent patterns when shown pictures of their loved one. Hormonal activity is different in people who feel love. The brain chemistry is different around their loved one then when they aren’t feeling love. Their behaviors are different. People treat others differently when they are in love with them. All of these are observations which can be recorded and correlated with individual statements professing the feeling of love. There is a high positive correlation between the two. That constitutes empirical evidence.

Do you disagree that the above constitutes empirical verification

Yes, I disagree. After all, each and every one of these things – hormonal changes, different brain chemistries, different behaviors – can also be found in rabbits during mating season, or pair-bonded chimps. There is no empirical indication that any of them are produced by any such entity as “love”. Unless of course one wants to posit that “love” also produces these very same behavioral and physiological characteristics in rabbits or chimps … ?

All that this establishes is that there exist various physical effects, which can (if you like) be attributed to (or subjectively defined as) some unseeable, unmeasurable thing called “love”. One could with equal validity (if you like) attribute all of these various physiological and behavioral changes to “demon possession”. There is simply no way to demonstrate that some entity called “love” is there causing these various effects, but some other entity called “a demon” is not, or vice versa.

Oddly enough, it is often the case with religious conversions that people behave differently, act differently towards others, and (if the “god gene” hypothesis is correct) even have different brain chemistries, once they’ve “found God”. I’m pretty sure that the correlation between these would be awfully high, too.

Would you consider THAT to be empirical verification?

or do you think the same can be done with reference to a possible deity, or both?

I think the situation is the same. In either case, one simply cannot produce any empirical evidence whatsoever for the existence of the thing being looked for. The best one can do is give “correlations” and subjective “feelings”, and then make an assumption as to whether it’s really there or not.

Hence, if it is indeed true that “things that we can’t give empirical evidence for, don’t exist BY DEFINITION” (and that is what I am arguing against), then it seems quite clear to me that “love”, by that logic, doesn’t exist.

The only evidence that “love” DOES exist (“I *feel* it”) is precisely the same evidence that theists offer for the existence of their deity of choice. Yet some of us here unhestiatingly accept one, and unhesitatingly reject the other.

Odd, isn’t it.

And, before all the fundie atheists start foaming at the mouth like Pavlov’s dogs, let me state, once again, that I do not, repeat not, as in n-o-t, assert or accept the existence of any god, gods, goddesses or any other supernatural entity of any sort whatsoever. So spare me all your sermons.

Comment #96794

Posted by HvP on April 16, 2006 1:47 PM (e)

Again, you have refused to properly define the thing in question.

Love is NOT defined as an “entity”.
Love IS defined as an “emotion”.

So the question is - Do emotions exist?
If yes, is LOVE one of them?

The question of whether or not other animals experience this emotion is entirely irrlevant. Humans have defined what an emotion is based on the fact that we can give feedback about our own awareness of our emotional state.

If all other animals did NOT experience emotions it would NOT change the fact that HUMANS DO! Or if all other animals DID experience emotion, it would still not compromise the reality of human emotion. We just can’t ask them to see if they are self-aware. And since emotion REQUIRES self-awareness we don’t know if they experience them. Fortunately, humans ARE self-aware and can give researchers feedback.

None of this changes the FACT that love is defined as an emotion which is defined as a feeling.
God is NOT defined as an emotion nor is it defined as a feeling.

There is simply no way to demonstrate that some entity called “love” is there causing these various effects, but some other entity called “a demon” is not, or vice versa.

And this is where you go off the rails. Love is NOT DEFINED as an entity with the capacity to cause anything. Love is a DESCRIPTIVE TERM used to label a set of feelings/behaviors ALREADY PRESENT in the person. It is the feelings/behaviors which are being tested for and which are assumed to be real. Those are identified with the term “love”. No attempt is made to define love as anything external to the person.

I will repeat this again and again and again it seems…

BELIEF is proof of nothing except for the existence of the belief itself.

If I were to believe in a god, it would not constitute evidence for the existence of a god. However, it does constitute evidence for the reality of a belief in a god.

If I were to state that I feel love, it would not constitute evidence for the existence of some entity external to myself that IS love. It WOULD constitute evidence for an emotional feeling which we call love.

In both cases, having a feeling about something only reinforces the reality of THE FEELING.
And since the concept of love is understood to BE a FEELING - that is the end result of my proof.

God is NOT understood to simply be a FEELING. God is understood to be an entity external to the believer. Thus simply having a feeling does not provide adequate evidence of such an entity existing.

Unless of course you believe that feeling love is evidence for the existence of Cupid…
Which you still haven’t answered. In fact, you answered none of my questions. Why?

Comment #96799

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 16, 2006 2:43 PM (e)

The question of whether or not other animals experience this emotion is entirely irrlevant.

Au contraire, it is precisely to the point. After all, YOU are the one declaring that “love” is empirically indicated by a certain particular observable set of phenomena — and those very same phenomena are indeed found in rabbits, chimps and stickleback fishes. Hence, either (1) the presence of those physiological and behavioral markers is NOT an indication of the presence of “love”, or (2) rabbits, chimps and stickleback fishes have “love”.

Which do you prefer?

Once again, the remark that I am responding to says “if it is impossible, even in principle, to present empirical evidence for something, then BY DEFINITION it does not exist.”

You have given me a nice list of observable empirical behaviors and phenomena. Alas, you have not given me any empirical reason whatsoever to conclude that there is such a thing as “love” behind them. Instead, you have simply (and arbitrarily) DEFINED them as indicating “love”. I.e., they indicate the existence of “love” BECAUSE YOU SAY SO. (But, on the other hand, in animals they do NOT indicate the presence of love – again BECAUSE YOU SAY SO.)

Oddly, “it exists because I can feel it and say so” is the very same argument that theists give concerning their favorite deity.

God is understood to be an entity external to the believer.

Depends on who you ask. There are indeed many religious traditions who would deny this completely and totally, and would assert that there simply is no god external to oneself. Just ask the Zen Buddhists.

As with most fundamentalist atheists, though, you seem eager to equate “religion” with “Christianity” – and indeed with FUNDAMENTALIST Christianity.

They are, uh, not the same.

In fact, you answered none of my questions. Why?

Because they are all irrelevant to MY questions. You seem determined to get me to present some sort of evidence for the existence of god. That puzzles me somewhat, since I have already said, repeatedly, that I do not accept or assert the existence of any god, gods, goddesses or supernatural entities of any sort whatsoever. So I’m a little puzzled why you keep asking me to provide evidence for it … ?

Of course, I do understand that fundamentalist atheists do indeed tend to start automatically foaming at the mouth whenever anyone even SOUNDS like they MIGHT be some sort of theist. Just as the fundamentalist theists get all banged out of shape whenever anyone SOUNDS like they MIGHT be questioning any of *their* religious opinions.

Two sides of the same coin. More alike than either would care to admit. (shrug)

Comment #96801

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 16, 2006 2:57 PM (e)

It WOULD constitute evidence for an emotional feeling which we call love.

But alas, you have not offered any empirical evidence that any such emotional feeling *exists*. None of the “empirical verifications” you cited – behavior changes, changes in brain chemistry – demonstrates in any objective way that the emotional feeling of “love” is actually there. Indeed, fish, frogs and flickers all have the very same physiological/behavioral markers, and you have already declared that they don’t have “love”.

There simply is no way – none at all whatsoever – to empirically determine whether or not “love” exists or is present in anyone. There is no measurable evidence or data that can be presented to test for the presence or absence of “love”. The best you can do is have them declare “I *feel* it, therefore it’s real”. I.e., all you have is someone’s say-so. (And that, surprise surprise, is the very same argument that theists have given for the existence of their favorite deity.)

Therefore, the premise “if we can’t present empirical evidence for something, then BY DEFINITION it does not exist”, would appear to force us to the conclusion that “love” simply does not exist.

A conclusion that both you and I know to be wrong.

Which means there is something wrong with the premise.

Some things simply cannot be studied using the scientific method. (shrug) But then, science isn’t a philosophy, isn’t a worldview, isn’t a way of life. It’s a method. A method that simply cannot be applied to some questions. That, of course, is not a weakness of science – it is its greatest *strength*.

Comment #96827

Posted by Anton Mates on April 16, 2006 5:58 PM (e)

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank wrote:

Indeed, fish, frogs and flickers all have the very same physiological/behavioral markers, and you have already declared that they don’t have “love”.

No, s/he didn’t. HvP said:

“I cannot demonstrate that animals feel love because they cannot provide feedback about their awareness of their own emotional state (I think we can agree that an individual must be self-aware in order to “feel” the types of emotions we humans take for granted). That doesn’t mean they can’t feel love. It means I don’t have enough evidence to determine that they do.”

I would disagree inasmuch as I think self-awareness is neither all that rare nor all that important to having emotions, but HvP is clearly not arguing that animals don’t experience love. And since her/his list of evidence includes things which no nonhuman animal does–such as discussing their own emotional state in a language we can understand–there’s no inconsistency in HvP’s accepting the existence of love in humans but remaining undecided in the case of other species. (I personally think that’s setting the bar too high, so I’m quite happy to say that various species experience love.)

There simply is no way — none at all whatsoever — to empirically determine whether or not “love” exists or is present in anyone.

But this is trivially false. You can empirically determine whether or not “love” exists in you, by the simple fact that you feel it or you don’t. Hell, there’s nothing more amenable to empirical verification than your own thoughts and feelings. Everything you know about the external world could be a lie or an illusion–but if you feel a pain or see a color or think a thought, you can at least be sure of that. You might never know what external phenomena, if any, produced that thought or feeling–to use HvP’s example, you might never know whether you feel love because of a being named Cupid or not–but you still know it’s there.

Once that’s established, you can start looking for physiological or behavioral markers that you demonstrate when you’re feeling this particular emotion/motivation/whatever, see how many of them are demonstrated by other humans/ants/whatever, and make an inference as to whether they’re feeling the same thing you felt.

There is no measurable evidence or data that can be presented to test for the presence or absence of “love”. The best you can do is have them declare “I *feel* it, therefore it’s real”. I.e., all you have is someone’s say-so. (And that, surprise surprise, is the very same argument that theists have given for the existence of their favorite deity.)

And if all theists defined their deity as a feeling or a set of feelings, it’d be precisely analogous. But many don’t–not just “fundies,” but pretty much everyone I’ve ever seen who actually said “I believe in [insert deity here].” I guess you could call their definition “wrong,” but it seems like if anyone has first dibs on the definition of “god,” it’d be the people who believe in it.

If a theist does define their deity as some set of mental phenomena, then sure, it’s empirically verifiable. But then HvP already said that.

So do you consider theology and psychology to be sister disciplines? That would seem to follow if you think their subjects are equally amenable to empirical investigation.

Comment #96836

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 16, 2006 6:47 PM (e)

I cannot demonstrate that animals feel love because they cannot provide feedback about their awareness of their own emotional state

Then, uh, what was the point of all that blather about “changes in brain chemistry” and “different behavior” …. . ?

Is that supposed to be the “empirical verification” of love that I asked for, or isn’t it. If it is, then why do you *need* “feedback” about “awareness”? If not, then, uh, (1) why was it presented as if it were, and (2) what WOULD be, then?

Once again, we seem reduced to “love exists because people SAY it does”. Which would seem to be no different than “god exists because people SAY it does.” After all, I’ve seen hundreds of theists over the years give everyone feedback about their awareness of god.

Comment #96837

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 16, 2006 6:52 PM (e)

You can empirically determine whether or not “love” exists in you, by the simple fact that you feel it or you don’t.

Says you. And that is indeed all we have, someone’s say-so. (shrug)

I was told that something that can’t be empirically detected, doesn’t exist (by definition). I therefore asked for some empirical method of detecting “love”. And I still haven’t gotten it. So far, all I’ve gotten is “well, I can *feel* it”.

Not really my idea of “empirical verification”.

What about those who “feel the presence of god”? What makes their “feeling” any more or less valid than someone who “feels love”?

Comment #96838

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 16, 2006 6:56 PM (e)

So do you consider theology and psychology to be sister disciplines? That would seem to follow if you think their subjects are equally amenable to empirical investigation.

Huh? How does that follow?

Comment #96854

Posted by Anton Mates on April 16, 2006 8:14 PM (e)

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank wrote:

You can empirically determine whether or not “love” exists in you, by the simple fact that you feel it or you don’t.

Says you. And that is indeed all we have, someone’s say-so. (shrug)

I was told that something that can’t be empirically detected, doesn’t exist (by definition). I therefore asked for some empirical method of detecting “love”. And I still haven’t gotten it. So far, all I’ve gotten is “well, I can *feel* it”.

So, er, what would it mean for a feeling to exist, other than your feeling it? I’m sort of at a loss here as to what “empirical detection” actually means for you.

Comment #96855

Posted by Anton Mates on April 16, 2006 8:19 PM (e)

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank wrote:

So do you consider theology and psychology to be sister disciplines? That would seem to follow if you think their subjects are equally amenable to empirical investigation.

Huh? How does that follow?

Well, if mental phenomena and gods are on the same level in terms of empirical detectability, then the fields in charge of investigating the two would need to use analogous methods and criteria for success, no?

Comment #96860

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 16, 2006 8:54 PM (e)

So, er, what would it mean for a feeling to exist, other than your feeling it? I’m sort of at a loss here as to what “empirical detection” actually means for you.

It means, you know, empirical detection. Knowing it’s there by some method other than “because someone says so”.

Of course, I am not the one who made the claim that if something can’t be empirically detected, it BY DEFINITION does not exist.

When someone invents a “love detector”, do let me know, OK?

Comment #96861

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 16, 2006 8:55 PM (e)

Well, if mental phenomena and gods are on the same level in terms of empirical detectability, then the fields in charge of investigating the two would need to use analogous methods and criteria for success, no?

Yeah, OK, sure. If you say so. (shrug)

Comment #96872

Posted by Anton Mates on April 16, 2006 11:26 PM (e)

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank wrote:

So, er, what would it mean for a feeling to exist, other than your feeling it? I’m sort of at a loss here as to what “empirical detection” actually means for you.

It means, you know, empirical detection. Knowing it’s there by some method other than “because someone says so”.

And how does your knowing there’s a particular emotion or thought in your own mind depend on someone saying so?

Of course, I am not the one who made the claim that if something can’t be empirically detected, it BY DEFINITION does not exist.

I know, and I would also disagree with that, as would HvP.

Comment #96881

Posted by WaveyDavey on April 17, 2006 3:44 AM (e)

Something just occurred to me. In the Science of the Discworld book, and argument was made about it being Turtles all the way down. Is a consequence of ID that its designers all the way up ? ? ?

Comment #96900

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 17, 2006 7:15 AM (e)

And how does your knowing there’s a particular emotion or thought in your own mind depend on someone saying so?

It depends on YOUR OWN say-so. (shrug) After all, if you have no objective standard to measure it by, then how the heck can you even know it’s “love”, other than just assuming it is?

I asked for empirical data that shows “love” exists. “I feel it in my mind” is, alas, not empirical evidence. Any more than is “I feel god in my mind”.

How do you know it’s “god”? How do you know it’s “love”?

Comment #96906

Posted by normdoering on April 17, 2006 8:12 AM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank wrote:

How do you know it’s “god”? How do you know it’s “love”?

How do you know you’re human and not a penguin?

Seriously, can you prove you’re human and not a penguin?

Comment #96937

Posted by AD on April 17, 2006 11:28 AM (e)

Or, perhaps, another commonly referenced black and white mammal…

Comment #96941

Posted by normdoering on April 17, 2006 11:51 AM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank wrote:

So do you consider theology and psychology to be sister disciplines? That would seem to follow if you think their subjects are equally amenable to empirical investigation.

Huh? How does that follow?

Ever heard of the term “neurotheology”?

Comment #96946

Posted by Stephen Wells on April 17, 2006 12:21 PM (e)

I would love to hear the dinner-table conversations in the Flank household.

“You know, I think I might be hungry. But since I have no empirical, objective standard to measure that- only my own say-so - I would be completely unjustified in eating lunch.”

I don’t think HvP’s argument is that hard to grasp. If you accept the reality and the humanity of other people - which everyone does who isn’t solipsistic or sociopathic - then there’s plenty of empirical evidence for the feeling of being in love, as a common and widely experienced emotion, and there’s plenty of evidence for belief in god(s) also. Now, if we accept that love is an emotional state, then we can happily declare that love exists (in the same sense that music, blue, and mercy exist). But going from “belief in god exists” (empirically verifiable) to “god exists” is like going from “love exists) (verifiable) to “Cupid exists.” And I love my wife very dearly, but I don’t believe that any little winged psychopathic archer is involved.

In the above paragraph I’m using “empirical” and “verifiable” to mean that we accept evidence in roughly the same way that we do when driving cars, talking to people, or preparing dinner. You can’t logically prove that that oncoming car exists, but are you going to try to drive through it?

Flank’s scepticism has already reached the Cartesian-hyperbolic level at which point nothing is provable; Descartes had to invoke an ontological proof to get out of that. Hyperbolic doubt is pointless because you can’t live by it. Me, I’m more Baconian. “The senses are very sufficient to see and certify truth; though not immediately, yet by comparison, by help of instrument, or by producing and urging a phenomenon not perceptible to the sense to some effect perceptible to the sense.” May not be an exact quote, I don’t have my Advancement of Learning to hand.

Comment #96947

Posted by Anton Mates on April 17, 2006 12:31 PM (e)

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank wrote:

And how does your knowing there’s a particular emotion or thought in your own mind depend on someone saying so?

It depends on YOUR OWN say-so. (shrug) After all, if you have no objective standard to measure it by, then how the heck can you even know it’s “love”, other than just assuming it is?

Definitions have to start somewhere. How do you know the thing you sit on is a “chair,” and not a “shark?” Other people say it’s a “chair,” but obviously we can’t trust them.

Comment #96958

Posted by Henry J on April 17, 2006 1:40 PM (e)

Re “Something just occurred to me. In the Science of the Discworld book, and argument was made about it being Turtles all the way down. Is a consequence of ID that its designers all the way up ? ? ?”

Would that be a side effect of their hot air, causing them to rise?

Did I say that?

Henry

Comment #96981

Posted by William E Emba on April 17, 2006 4:32 PM (e)

Elliott Sober wrote:

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

Mathematically speaking, there is also the possibility of an infinite chain of superior minds that design faster and faster as you go back in time and with higher intelligence. The times involved would then converge to a finite sum. In other words, it’s either God or Turtles.

From a physical point of view, there seems to be a minimum time, the Planck time. Of course, if there’s correspondingly widening parallelism, this wouldn’t be a limitation. But the speed of light would still provide a limit to how much parallelism could be fitted in a short enough period of time. Oh, wait, now I remember, the DI disproved Einstein, after one of their fellows read an article in The New Yorker! So, it’s God or Turtles or Star Trek!!

Ooh. My brain hurts. Keeping up with these thinkers is hard work sometimes.

Comment #96988

Posted by Anton Mates on April 17, 2006 5:48 PM (e)

William E Emba wrote:

Mathematically speaking, there is also the possibility of an infinite chain of superior minds that design faster and faster as you go back in time and with higher intelligence. The times involved would then converge to a finite sum. In other words, it’s either God or Turtles.

Or the past isn’t finite and the chain of mortal designers goes back infinitely, without becoming unboundedly superior. After all, just because it looks like something very dramatic happened to the universe at the moment of the Big Bang, it doesn’t follow that that moment was the beginning of everything.

Besides, plenty of evolution opponents also oppose the Big Bang theory.

Comment #96994

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 17, 2006 6:10 PM (e)

Ah well now I see that all the fundie atheists are jumping in, since it appears (to them) that I maight be mildly sympathetic to that “god” thingie.

And like the fundie Christians, they simply cannot tolerate anyone who disagrees with any of their religious opinions. (shrug)

Let me say, one more time, for the hard of hearing:

*ahem*

I do not accept or assert the existence of any god, gods, goddesses, or supernatural entities of any sort whatsoever.

None. Not a one. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Every single one of them, without exception, is a creation of humans.

Now that we have that out of the way, would someone please point to an empirical way to detect “love” (other than “I can *feel* it”)? I’m still waiting.

Comment #97007

Posted by normdoering on April 17, 2006 6:47 PM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank wrote:

… would someone please point to an empirical way to detect “love” (other than “I can *feel* it”)? I’m still waiting.

Sure, Lenny. Just as soon as you provide an empirical way to detect your humanity and non-penguinity. As soon as you do, I will provide an equal or greater level of empirical evidence for “love.”

I’m still waiting.

Comment #97030

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 17, 2006 8:27 PM (e)

Hey Norm, go beat up some theists or something.

Comment #97033

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 17, 2006 8:33 PM (e)

From a physical point of view, there seems to be a minimum time, the Planck time.

Wave or particle?

:>

Actually, that is quite an interesting question. If time is quantized, and since space and time are inseparable, would that indicate that time can be particulate?

Comment #97049

Posted by HvP on April 17, 2006 10:27 PM (e)

Well, quite a little sand devil we’ve kicked up here. Things are getting a bit existential… I appreciate the support Anton and Normdoering. I am a guy by the way, to help you clear up the pronoun issue ;)

A few points to clarify. I did not bring up the claim that other animals did or didn’t experience love. I believe it is irrelevant to the claim that the emotion called love exists. If love exists as a human emotion (as I claim) then the issue is settled - it exists.

Also, I do not believe that lack of practical empirical detection eliminates the possibility of existence. In fact, no scientist would claim so because practical methods of detection are always advancing. While an argument can be made that something does not exist if it cannot ever be tested in principle (i.e. cannot be observed either directly or indirectly via the laws of nature in our universe), I do not believe the latter rule applies to the question of whether love exists as a human emotion, which is why I objected to Flank using it as an example.

My introduction of tests concerning hormones, MRI screenings, observations of behavior etc were responses after a request by Flank to provide examples of emperical evidence. And, contrary to his assertions, they DO constitute empirical validation of the human emotion known as love.

What do we mean by the term “emotion”? We do NOT mean that an emotion is some external entity acting upon the person in a conscious manner. Definition from Dictionary.com:

e·mo·tion n.

1. A mental state that arises spontaneously rather than through conscious effort and is often accompanied by physiological changes; a feeling: the emotions of joy, sorrow, reverence, hate, and love.

Note: A mental state… often accompanied by physiological changes.These are the very examples I have already cited as evidence. The physiological changes are unquestionable. Dopamine increases as does adrenaline. These are sexual responses. Seratonin decreases triggering a reaction in the brain similar to imprinting. This is the pair-bonding mechanism. A type of dependency is formed. Behavior is altered. Lovers tend to concentrate more on each other to the exclusion of others. These reactions are socially and medically well known.

There is a justifiable debate as to whether other animals feel emotions in ways similar to ourselves. I haven’t studied it enough to come to a conclusion. I have a feeling that many of the animals with more complex brains probably do experience something like human emotion. This is not a scientific conclusion, it is an opinion based on interaction with animals. My feeling does not constitute evidence for the possible existence of emotion in other animals. My feeling DOES however constitute evidence for my belief that some animals may experience emotion. See how that works Flank? If I’m talking about myself then my own thoughts/beliefs are a valid witness for my own mental state. If I’m talking about things other than myself then my thoughts/beliefs are not actually valid as a witness for them.

There is a long history of using an individual’s personal statements of belief or feeling as a benchmark in order to correlate medical observations. How do we know if a drug is helping to relieve pain in the patient? We ask them! But, we also give some of them a placebo to see if they aren’t deceiving themselves. If the number of satisfied people who received the real drug greatly outweighs the group receiving the placebo, then we can reliably assume that there was a real effect. If possible, heart rate, brain activity, reflex action and sweating will also be measured. High heart rate, excitation of certain brain centers, reflexive flinching, and sweating have all been correlated to the presence of pain.

So, while the statement of belief in pain may not be entirely accurate, it can be made more accurate with the use of control groups. It can be made even more accurate with the study of medical symptoms for correlation. Pain can be empirically tested.

The above example demonstrates how studying the medical symptoms for love is a valid empirical approach. It involves all the same methods, concerns very similar chemistry, and tests aspects of human nature which fall in the category of mind/body feelings. Additionally, in both cases the observation of medical symptoms corresponds strongly to statements of feeling.

The fact that, medically speaking, something different is happening in their body during those times when the person says thay are in love/pain indicates that there is a real effect in action. If there was no change in their physical or emotional condition then we might assume that the statement is false. Experience (both scientifically and socially) shows us that the difference between being in love/pain and not being in love/pain is profoundly obvious enough that we can assume there IS a real effect in action.

And besides, it is the effect that we are calling love or pain anyway. No one looks at a batch of dopamine under a microscope and says “Ah, that’s love! See it there on the slide.” No one listens to someone’s racing heart and says, “I can hear pain!”. No. The terms encompass a whole host of interrelated behaviors, reflexes, and feelings which together make up the concepts we call pain or love - sometimes both at the same time.

Flank, your argument is without foundation from a scientific standpoint. You refuse to accept that an abstract concept can be tested only because you yourself refuse to form a hypothesis capable of testing in the first place. It’s all denial and you’re unwilling to show your work. Whether or not you personally believe in a god is irrelevant. It’s your comparison of god to love that was in question. You have to FIRST establish a hypothesis regarding the definition of what constitutes the thing being tested before you can confirm or deny success in testing that thing. You have not done so.

Comment #97050

Posted by HvP on April 17, 2006 10:33 PM (e)

And that’s the last time I’m going into all that.
I’m just repeating myself anyway.
Readers can judge which claim is more logical.

Comment #97073

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 18, 2006 6:23 AM (e)

My introduction of tests concerning hormones, MRI screenings, observations of behavior etc were responses after a request by Flank to provide examples of emperical evidence. And, contrary to his assertions, they DO constitute empirical validation of the human emotion known as love.

Says you. (shrug)

Whether or not you personally believe in a god is irrelevant.

Au contraire – I suspect it’s the only thing that matters to you, and the only reason you spoke to me in the first place.

Pavlov’s dogs, ya know.

And that’s the last time I’m going into all that.

Me too.

But at least it shut Heddle up.

Comment #97081

Posted by William E Emba on April 18, 2006 7:50 AM (e)

Anton Mates wrote:

William E Emba wrote:

Mathematically speaking, there is also the possibility of an infinite chain of superior minds that design faster and faster as you go back in time and with higher intelligence. The times involved would then converge to a finite sum. In other words, it’s either God or Turtles.

Or the past isn’t finite and the chain of mortal designers goes back infinitely, without becoming unboundedly superior. After all, just because it looks like something very dramatic happened to the universe at the moment of the Big Bang, it doesn’t follow that that moment was the beginning of everything.

OK, so it’s God or Turtles or Star Trek or Galactus. This DI research gets more and more complicated every step of the way!

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

On the other hand, there are proposed cosmologies where the Big Bang is part of some bigger picture. There have even been computations of how many bits of information could be sent by a Universe Creator in a robust enough manner to survive the Big Bang. Not too many.

Comment #97082

Posted by Anton Mates on April 18, 2006 8:16 AM (e)

William E Emba wrote:

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

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

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

Comment #97097

Posted by William E Emba on April 18, 2006 10:52 AM (e)

Anton Mates wrote:

William E Emba wrote:

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

True. You’re doing the same, though.

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

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

Comment #97104

Posted by Anton Mates on April 18, 2006 11:16 AM (e)

William E Emba wrote:

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

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

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

Comment #97106

Posted by PvM on April 18, 2006 11:37 AM (e)

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

Comment #97152

Posted by William E Emba on April 18, 2006 4:07 PM (e)

Anton Mates wrote:

William E Emba wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

Comment #97215

Posted by Henry J on April 18, 2006 9:19 PM (e)

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

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

Henry

Comment #97352

Posted by Anton Mates on April 19, 2006 1:44 PM (e)

Henry J wrote:

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

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

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

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

Comment #97358

Posted by Henry J on April 19, 2006 2:30 PM (e)

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

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

Henry

Comment #97367

Posted by Anton Mates on April 19, 2006 3:30 PM (e)

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

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

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

Comment #97371

Posted by Henry J on April 19, 2006 3:43 PM (e)

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

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

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

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

Henry

Comment #97831

Posted by William E Emba on April 21, 2006 1:13 PM (e)

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

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

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