PvM posted Entry 3223 on July 5, 2007 01:59 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/3212

Robert Crowther wrote:

Critics of intelligent design theory often throw this question out thinking to highlight a weakness in ID. Richards shows that the theory’s inability to identify the designer is not a weakness, but a strength. ID does not identify the designer is because ID limits its claims to those which can be established by empirical evidence.

This is yet another example of why ID is scientifically vacuous. Indeed, if the designer could be established by empirical evidence, it would immediately eliminate the ‘Intelligent Designer’ as proposed by ID, namely a supernatural designer called ‘God’. In fact, in order to establish a ‘designer’ and in fact ‘design’ science inevitably uses such concepts as means, motives, opportunity, capability and so on. In addition, science uses eye witness accounts, physical evidence and more to support its thesis.

So how does ID infer design? Simple by arguing that a particular system or event cannot be explained by natural processes and thus should be seen as evidence for design. While ID also requires a specification, such specification is trivial, all that is required is some imagination about function.

ID faces a real problem: Either it insists that it cannot determine much of anything about the Designer which makes the ID inference inherently unreliable and thus useless (Dembski) or it attempts to become scientifically relevant but then it can at best conclude ‘we don’t know’.

So why do ID proponents still insist on such a flawed premise? Kitzmiller and Judge Jones explain.

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Comment #185968

Posted by steve s on July 5, 2007 2:14 PM (e)

Robert Crowther wrote:

Critics of intelligent design theory often throw this question out thinking to highlight a weakness in ID. Richards shows that the theory’s inability to identify the designer is not a weakness, but a strength. ID does not identify the designer because we got boned when we tried that in the 80’s ID limits its claims to those which can be established by empirical evidence.

Comment #185976

Posted by Eric Finn on July 5, 2007 2:46 PM (e)

It is perfectly fine to pinpoint problems in theories, especially in established theories. Also, it is perfectly fine to present alternative hypotheses, consisting of what ever it takes. However, these alternative hypotheses should make predictions to be verified.
It does not matter whether the presented hypothesis is able to identify the explaining agent(s) or not, as long as the hypothesis produces verifiable predictions.

For example, astrology does produce (more or less) verifiable predictions. Unfortunately, the predictions are at odds with observations.
The only prediction of ID that I am aware of is that we are likely to encounter phenomena that we do not fully understand.
Well, I guess this is an accurate prediction…

Regards
Eric

Comment #185978

Posted by Ian on July 5, 2007 2:54 PM (e)

[Intelligent design’s] inability to identify the designer is not a weakness, but a strength. ID does not identify the designer is because ID limits its claims to those which can be established by empirical evidence.

Intelligent design is “designed” to appear to be science. People often draw the line between science and religion on issues like “science cannot speculate about the supernatural”. Saying that ID cannot address the nature of the designer is a strength…the objective of ID isn’t to produce a coherent world view, the objective of ID is to produce something that can pass for science. When they declare speculation about the nature of the designer to be by definition off limits, the objective is to better fit themselves into the Edwards loophole. In addition, this allows them to maintain the “big tent” idea.

Failure to specify the designer is a strength of ID. It’s only when you do something silly, like look for coherence in ID, that one would see it as a weakness.

Comment #185979

Posted by ben on July 5, 2007 3:12 PM (e)

ID limits its claims to those which can be established by empirical evidence

ID limited its claims to stuff it thought wouldn’t get them laughed out of court. Like with pretty much everything else, they were wrong about that. Lately, at least from perusing the stupIDs’ blogs anyway, they’ve pretty much given up on that and gone back to yapping about jeebus 24/7, just like they wanted to all along (and usually couldn’t avoid even when they were trying to).

ID = (Creationism + Lying About Being Creationism) = 0

Comment #185981

Posted by Larry Gilman on July 5, 2007 3:16 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

Indeed, if the designer could be established by empirical evidence, it would immediately eliminate the ‘Intelligent Designer’ as proposed by ID, namely a supernatural designer called ‘God’.

I interpret you as meaning that science by definition doesn’t do the supernatural, so any Designer that we could get a lock on using science could not be God, only some lesser entity. Reasonably paraphrased? If so, I agree.

It is frightening, by the way, to see this firewall of methodological naturalism, so key to the legal case for keeping creationism out of public-school classrooms, being attacked in the latest issue of Science by Dawkins groupie Michael Shermer (“Response,” 29 June 2007, p. 1843). Shermer’s only problem with the idea of IDers doing science on God, apparently, is that his hero does it better. He is outraged at a Science letter-writer’s charge that The God Delusion should not be called a “work of science.” In responding that it most certainly is a work of science, and a very fine one too, despite citing no science testing the existence of God (there is none) and lacking peer review, he implies that IDers are also doing science, or could be. “Implies”?—nay, he explicitly invites them to answer Dawkins as scientists: “One may disagree with Dawkins’s conclusions, but if that is the case, then one must specify which experiments, studies, hypotheses, models, and theories that he or she thinks do support the God hypothesis.”

He also trots out that long-bearded Discovery Institute canard about The Origin of Species not being peer-reviewed either—as if scientific norms hadn’t changed between 1859 and 2007. The non-peer-reviewed trade book whose stature as an epoch-making “work of science” the DI usually wants to defend by citing the Origin (and/or Newton’s Principia) is Darwin’s Black Box (and now The Edge of Evolution, too, I suppose); Shermer simply substitutes The God Delusion. Weirdly, he seems not to be aware that his rhetorical move is standard with the Dark Side.

If one can’t do science on God, one just can’t do it. If one jettisons methodological naturalism by insisting that Richard Dawkins can do it, then one implies that Behe can too—or anyone. After which it’s just Rock-Em-Sock-Em Experts, case and countercase, as Shermer explicitly invites, a legitimate scientific debate that we cannot legally or morally keep out of the science classroom. Please, Lord, no.

The claim that methodological naturalism is essential to science is not only strategically useful but true. Good to see you upholding it (as I read you), and a pity to see it going AWOL in the pages of Science even briefly, even in the book reviews and letters sections.

Larry

Comment #185982

Posted by PvM on July 5, 2007 3:20 PM (e)

Dawkins applies the claims of ID about complexity and applies it to God. In other words, IFF ID is correct THEN ID can be shown to lead to a low probability for the God hypothesis.

So either ID accepts its own foundation and permits Dawkins to show that God is improbable or ID rejects its own foundation and returns to doing theology. If I remember correctly, is this not what Dembski has done?

Comment #186050

Posted by rgrover on July 5, 2007 4:51 PM (e)

It’s turtles all the way down.

Comment #186053

Posted by Jedidiah Palosaari on July 5, 2007 4:55 PM (e)

I think the question also highlights how possible it is to believe in a God who designs everything through delegation- that is, who designed evolution and probabilty such that they work on their own through their own processes without needing miraculous infusions to run efficiently. To the extent that animals and plants are “designed” by natural selection and chance, we can say that the one who designed the designer is indeed God, and all evidence of design simply points to the truth of evolution, for it is a design that indicates structure imposed by probability working with the materials available, and not an infinite conscience.

Comment #186058

Posted by Lamuella on July 5, 2007 5:26 PM (e)

One of the biggest problems ID creationism has is this:

it defines something as “designed” if it cannot have come about by natural processes.

but it maintains at its core a belief that the entire universe was designed.

so what’s “natural”?

Comment #186059

Posted by Larry Gilman on July 5, 2007 5:28 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

Dawkins applies the claims of ID about complexity and applies it to God. In other words, IFF ID is correct THEN ID can be shown to lead to a low probability for the God hypothesis.

But this isn’t really Dawkins’s thesis, is it? Isn’t his whole thrust not simply that ID can be overthrown by reasoning from its own premises, but that God does not exist, period, ID or no ID, and that Science allows no other conclusion to Straight-Thinking Minds? Dawkins is not just doing jiujitsu on ID, turning its own attack against it: he’s claiming that science tells him something definite about the supernatural. At least, that is exactly how Shermer represents him in Science. Shermer hails The God Delusion as a “higher-order work[] of science”—higher-order than peer-reviewed reseearch!—a work in which Dawkins is

Shermer wrote:

synthesizing, integrating, and coalescing primary works of science into a unifying whole with the goal of testing a general theory or answering a grand question. This is what Richard Dawkins has done in The God Delusion, addressing what has to be the grandest question of all—God’s existence.

No question here of simply arguing that ID stings itself to death with its own assumptions. Shermer thinks that Dawkins has done science on the question of “God’s existence.” (NB: Shermer makes no mention of ID in the letters exchange I am quoting.) Frankly, this would be a huge gift to the ID people, if it were to become a widely accepted viewpoint in scientific circles. It legitimizes the ID claim to be doing science on the God-existence question. That the IDers’ specific claims might be overthrown would not, if there were really science to be done on God, necessarily disprove the scientific nature of their project: real scientists have argued true theories for wrong reasons before, then found the right reasons later on. I’m not saying ID is real science; I’m saying that sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander under all possible rotations, translations, and reflections.

PvM wrote:

So either ID accepts its own foundation and permits Dawkins to show that God is improbable or ID rejects its own foundation and returns to doing theology.

That is a neat dilemma for ID to be in but it is exactly the dilemma that Shermer offers them a way out of. For even if you could drive the IDers to admit that their premises suck, which you will probably never do, they could exchange or modify or add to their premises, beginning a whole new round of debate—debate which we would be obliged to treat as scientific. For if the question of God’s existence is allowed to be a scientific one at all—if we declare a Dawkins Exception to methodological naturalism, as Shermer would apparently do—then we’re stuck to the tar baby. Then the IDers can claim a seat at the scientific table—and a page in the biology textbook—which at the present time can still be denied them, in court, on the grounds that science doesn’t do the supernatural.

Shermer doesn’t claim that Dawkins shows that ID fails on its own premises. He claims that Dawkins has done science on “the grandest question of all—God’s existence.” That’s what I’m on about.

Larry

Comment #186061

Posted by Popper's Ghost on July 5, 2007 5:49 PM (e)

It does not matter whether the presented hypothesis is able to identify the explaining agent(s) or not, as long as the hypothesis produces verifiable predictions.

That makes as much sense as saying that it doesn’t matter if one is able to identify a nest builder, or even establish the existence of a nest builder, as long as one is able to produce verifiable predictions about the resulting nests. Verifiable predictions don’t come out of thin air, they are derived from models which are in turn the result of previous application of the scientific method.

methodological naturalism, so key to the legal case for keeping creationism out of public-school classrooms

Methodological naturalism isn’t key to any legal case. What is key is that creationism has been recognized by the courts as religion, and thus teaching it in public schools is in violation of the first amendment. Even if we had good scientific demonstrations that God does or does not exist – and according to both Richard Dawkins and Victor Stenger we do – they still could not be taught in public schools, not because of some violation of scientific methodology, but because of the law of the land. This is something that those who believe there are such demonstrations – for or against – must live with. The creationists can’t teach in public high schools that there is a God, and the scientific atheists can’t teach that there isn’t, regardless of whether either has a valid demonstration.

In responding that it most certainly is a work of science, and a very fine one too, despite citing no science testing the existence of God (there is none)

I have to wonder if you bothered to read the book. Science is based on inference to the best explanation, not just “testing”, and the best explanation (it is argued) for the evidence we observe is that there is no God. Dawkins makes it quite clear that this does not prove that there is no God, it only indicates that there almost certainly is no God.

Physicist Victor Stenger, in “GOD: The Failed Hypothesis”, notes that a number of people, including scientists, have made appeals to “fine-tuning” arguments that God exists, noting that these are empirical arguments of a scientific-seeming nature, and that thus it is only fair and proper to lay out the scientific arguments in the other direction. He makes a strong empirical case that the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God does not exist, while making it clear (certainly clearer than Dawkins) that his argument is limited to that sort of God, and other sorts of Gods may or may not exist. I daresay that Professor Emeritus Stenger has a far better understanding of science than you do.

Comment #186062

Posted by Popper's Ghost on July 5, 2007 5:51 PM (e)

But this isn’t really Dawkins’s thesis, is it?

Yes, it is.

Isn’t his whole thrust not simply that ID can be overthrown by reasoning from its own premises, but that God does not exist, period

No. Read his book before characterizing it, please.

Comment #186063

Posted by Frank J on July 5, 2007 5:59 PM (e)

PvM, does anyone get it yet?!?

The DI’s target audience - and that includes a ~20% segment of the public that accepts evolution yet wants “the controversy” taught - doesn’t care whether the designer is designed, or possibly deceased (per Behe’s testimony), God, an alien, whatever, because they are conditioned to fill in the blanks with what they want to believe, and not second-guess anyone but the big, bad scientists.

It’s long overdue to start downplaying the designer’s identity, or how ID is just a “god of the gaps” non-explanation, etc., and start putting IDers feet to the fire regarding what the designer did, when, and how, that makes ID qualify as something other than evolution. Rather than take ther bait and go on the tangents that they want us on, it’s time to expose the well-kept secrets about the irreconcilable differences between, say, Michael Behe and Paul Nelson, or the deliberate “don’t ask, don’t tell” antics of a William Dembski.

Yeah, that may not work either, but it’s worth a try.

Also, after 10 years, it’s about time that people know why IDers want others to believe what they don’t necessarily believe themselves.

Comment #186071

Posted by Popper's Ghost on July 5, 2007 6:10 PM (e)

Frankly, this would be a huge gift to the ID people, if it were to become a widely accepted viewpoint in scientific circles. It legitimizes the ID claim to be doing science on the God-existence question. That the IDers’ specific claims might be overthrown would not, if there were really science to be done on God, necessarily disprove the scientific nature of their project: real scientists have argued true theories for wrong reasons before, then found the right reasons later on. I’m not saying ID is real science; I’m saying that sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander under all possible rotations, translations, and reflections.

Yes, sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. So why are you so desperate to deny even the possibility or right of IDists to do science? Nothing that Dawkins has done legitimizes the ID claim to be doing science on the God-existence question, only their right to do so. But hey, they have failed misably to do so, and that’s what matters. Yes, overthrowing the IDer’s specific claims would not necessarily disprove the scientific nature of their project. But numerous other factors, laid out at length by PvM and others, makes it clear that theirs is not a scientific enterprise.

If they want to empirically demonstrate that God exists, let them try; we should be open to any demonstrable truth. It is you who hand them ammunition by declaring their inquiry off-limits up front. I say, let them compete with Dawkins, Stenger, Dennett, Harris, and others who have argued the opposite, and see who has the better argument. Don’t be so afraid of the result of a free inquiry. At the same time, don’t ignore the content of the arguments, as you are doing by dwelling entirely on the mere fact that both Dawkins and the IDers present arguments. The ID arguments are based on bad logic, misrepresentation of facts, failure to admit demonstrated error, and a raft of other dishonest and fallacious techniques, and those are the grounds for dismissing their arguments, not that they are about some forbidden subject or violate some methodological dogma.

Comment #186074

Posted by Popper's Ghost on July 5, 2007 6:23 PM (e)

That is a neat dilemma for ID to be in but it is exactly the dilemma that Shermer offers them a way out of. For even if you could drive the IDers to admit that their premises suck, which you will probably never do, they could exchange or modify or add to their premises, beginning a whole new round of debate—debate which we would be obliged to treat as scientific. For if the question of God’s existence is allowed to be a scientific one at all—if we declare a Dawkins Exception to methodological naturalism, as Shermer would apparently do—then we’re stuck to the tar baby. Then the IDers can claim a seat at the scientific table—and a page in the biology textbook—which at the present time can still be denied them, in court, on the grounds that science doesn’t do the supernatural.

Shermer doesn’t claim that Dawkins shows that ID fails on its own premises. He claims that Dawkins has done science on “the grandest question of all—God’s existence.” That’s what I’m on about.

Here’s a clue for you: whether Dawkins has done science on this question is an empirical matter, not one to be decided based on your political fears about what IDers can claim. Your results-oriented fearful thinking is very similar to theists who are afraid of evolution because of what they think it might imply about their self-worth or “meaning” or “purpose”, or about social morality, etc. etc.

Rather than point out the many ways in which ID isn’t scientific, you focus entirely on form rather than substance, and lean on the law rather than on reason. And wth the Roberts/Alito court ruling on the law of the land for decades to come, that’s a rather shaky crutch.

Comment #186075

Posted by Popper's Ghost on July 5, 2007 6:39 PM (e)

Dawkins applies the claims of ID about complexity and applies it to God. In other words, IFF ID is correct THEN ID can be shown to lead to a low probability for the God hypothesis.

This is a misstatement, and Gilman is sort of right that it’s not Dawkins’ thesis (but he isn’t right about what Dawkins’ thesis is). The low probability for the God hypothesis doesn’t follow from ID being correct, but from using ID reasoning. This is a double whammy: by ID’s own reasoning, not only is ID’s argument not correct, but it’s inverse is correct. To avoid this conclusion one could reject ID’s sort of statistical reasoning, but then one must still reject the ID argument based on it.

Richard Dawkins wrote:

The argument from improbability is the big one. In the traditional guise of the argument from design, it is easily todays’ most popular argument offered in favour of the existence of God and it is seen, by an amazingly large number of theists, as completely and utterably convincing. It is indeed a very strong and, I suspect, unanswerable argument–but in precisely the opposite direction from the theist’s intention. The argument from improbability, properly deployed, comes close to proving that God does not exist. My name for the statistical demonstration that God almost certainly does not exist is the Ultimate Boeing 747 gambit.

Instead of wailing about legitimacy, seats at the table, peer review, etc., it would be nice to see Mr. Gilman read Dawkins’ argument and make an intellectually honest stab at refuting it.

Comment #186114

Posted by Eric Finn on July 6, 2007 12:46 AM (e)

Popper’s Ghost, Comment #186061

It does not matter whether the presented hypothesis is able to identify the explaining agent(s) or not, as long as the hypothesis produces verifiable predictions.

That makes as much sense as saying that it doesn’t matter if one is able to identify a nest builder, or even establish the existence of a nest builder, as long as one is able to produce verifiable predictions about the resulting nests. Verifiable predictions don’t come out of thin air, they are derived from models which are in turn the result of previous application of the scientific method.

Yes, I do agree that verifiable predictions are derived from models, but that is, in my opinion, a part of the scientific method, not an end result of the scientific method.
We might think that we know an electron intimately, since we have attributed it mass, charge and physical size. Well, the size is not that straight forward. Anyway, this hypothetical thing we call an electron works beautifully in the framework of many models, including quantum mechanics. If one finds electrons too familiar, then one might consider dark energy. About all we know is that it is unlike anything we know of.
My point is that a successful hypothesis does not need to describe the explaining agent in great detail, what counts is how accurate predictions we can make based on that hypothesis.
I feel (although I am not sure) that we need to assign at least one property to the explaining agent to be able make any predictions what so ever.

Popper’s Ghost, Comment #186071
Nothing that Dawkins has done legitimizes the ID claim to be doing science on the God-existence question, only their right to do so. But hey, they have failed misably to do so, and that’s what matters. Yes, overthrowing the IDer’s specific claims would not necessarily disprove the scientific nature of their project. But numerous other factors, laid out at length by PvM and others, makes it clear that theirs is not a scientific enterprise.

Here we have full agreement. The results count and the starting position is not that relevant.

Regards
Eric

Comment #186146

Posted by TomS on July 6, 2007 5:56 AM (e)

Thus the proof could at most establish a highest architect of the world, who would always be limited by the suitability of the material in which he works, but not a creator of the world, to whose idea everything is subject, which is far from sufficient for the great aim that one has in view, namely that of proving an all-sufficient original being.

Immanuel Kant, Critique of pure reason, A627/B655
translated and edited by Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood
Cambridge: Cambridge U. Press, 1998
The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant
ISBN 0-521-35402-1
page 581 (boldface in original)

Comment #186150

Posted by Steverino on July 6, 2007 6:39 AM (e)

But, where is the the science that proves the appearance of design must mean a designer?

On the same thought line, even if something was irreducibly complex, as we know it, what and how would that prove design?

I think ID, missing many things, is missing a key step in their argument.

Comment #186167

Posted by BlastfromthePast on July 6, 2007 9:30 AM (e)

Why don’t we learn from Charles Darwin himself?

In the second edition of OOS, he concluded this way:

“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

Well, there’s your Designer/Creator!

Comment #186180

Posted by Flint on July 6, 2007 10:12 AM (e)

Why don’t we learn from Charles Darwin himself?

Learn what, exactly? From his words, it’s not exactly clear whether Darwin thought abiogenesis was a singular divine event, or whether he’s using the word generically or metaphorically. In any case, this is perhaps interesting from a biographical standpoint; it’s certainly no basis for any scientific conclusion.

I’m not aware of whether Darwin speculated on the origins of any hypothetical creator, but I would still argue that any such speculations are nothing more than that.

Comment #186192

Posted by Bruce Thompson GQ on July 6, 2007 11:22 AM (e)

On one hand by publicly ignoring the designer and hiding he/she/it/they under rock ID proponents continue this attempt to gain legitimacy, while simultaneously continually making it plain in other venues who they believe the designer is. This duality of purpose always leads to missteps on their part and serious errors in judgment most notably to the predictions of victory in Penn. followed by a resounding defeat. The zeal and passion for their cause colors their public position on every issue and I can’t help but wonder how it affects their science. What sort of questions does an ID proponent ask? What does an ID experiment look like? If Axe’s protein evolution paper is an example then I wonder how the physical world will bend to the needs of the ID community. Designing experiments whose results will lend credence to the argument that evolutionary theory is false is a daunting task and will require extraordinary talent. I wonder what happens when results do not fit the ID paradigm and an ID researcher finally throws up their hands chooses an alternative hypothesis?

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

Comment #186200

Posted by raven on July 6, 2007 12:00 PM (e)

The IDers always try to hide the Designer and refuse to say much about him/it/they. Sort of like that funny aunt in the attic that no one really wants to talk about. Could it be, with their connection to the divine, that they have learned that there are many Designers, a veritable consortium of them, and that many of those have a large number of….….tentacles. Cthulhu and the Others could be embarrassing to a few people. LOL

If ID was a true hypothesis, there is always the possibility that it could be falsified. What if they managed to prove that, in fact, there is no Designer(s). Ooops!

Comment #186219

Posted by John Marley on July 6, 2007 1:18 PM (e)

Blast:

Why don’t we learn from Charles Darwin himself?

This kind of thing might work for slaves of Jebus, but Darwin was a scientist like any other. We don’t worship him.

Comment #186220

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson, OM on July 6, 2007 1:27 PM (e)

“Design” is an incredibly applicable thesis; “goddidit”, “godditthat”, doddidthattoo”. It is also incredibly weak since it can’t be associated with any properties or mechanisms and thus be tested.

Unless one explicitly make obeisance before religion and attribute a specific god, in which case it is readily false.

Eric Finn wrote:

Yes, I do agree that verifiable predictions are derived from models, but that is, in my opinion, a part of the scientific method, not an end result of the scientific method. [Bold removed.]

I agree with your general sentiment, but to be fair to Popper’s Ghost I think it is clear that definable objects are observable and often inherited from a theory to another. It is probably a part behind the ‘unreasonable success of natural theories’ that philosophers of science somewhat misappropriate have discussed.

What is completely unclear (to me, at least) is what reality underlies observations. Due to symmetries and other reasons many theories have dualities. String theory predicts the holographic AdS/CFT duality, where our experienced 4d gravity is isomorphic with a 3d conformal field theory on the boundary of the observed volume. What is reality there - how do we know which isomorphism we inhabit? Platon would be confused - we are both the bodies and the shadows.

Though to get back to the objects, it would surprise me if particles, as more or less stable excitations of fields, would not have a corresponding CFT boundary object. It just doesn’t seem to be placeable as definite in the volume or on the boundary.

Reality, if it exists, is a funny system or a weird ‘object’.

Comment #186221

Posted by Bruce Thompson GQ on July 6, 2007 1:29 PM (e)

raven asks: Could it be, with their connection to the divine, that they have learned that there are many Designers, a veritable consortium of them…?

The consortium of design, COD, sort of payment on delivery. Could it be that the Biologic Institute sole function is to figure out what the bill is? Either that or its location in Seattle suggests a marine institute of some sort.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

Comment #186222

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson, OM on July 6, 2007 1:30 PM (e)

TL wrote:

Reality, if it exists

If it isn’t clear, I don’t mean the factual reality of observable facts, but the hypothesized reality of “underlying” objects.

Comment #186226

Posted by Glen Davidson on July 6, 2007 2:33 PM (e)

Robert Crowther wrote:

Critics of intelligent design theory often throw this question out thinking to highlight a weakness in ID. Richards shows that the theory’s inability to identify the designer is not a weakness, but a strength. ID does not identify the designer is because ID limits its claims to those which can be established by empirical evidence.

The “who designed the designer?” question is best posed against theism per se, not against any real “design theory,” like Paley’s was (I wouldn’t call it science as such, but credit Paley for a concept that at least can be falsifiable). In a real sense, we’ve credited used “humans designed it” for objects for a very long time without knowing actually how humans did it. The regularities in human design made it identifiable in most cases, even when much was not known about the particular process or reason for said design.

But of course the idea that not identifying the designer, any of its traits, nor anything that would be expected from said “designer”, is a strength, works only for an idea that desperately wants to avoid issues of verification/falsification (not being able to be falsified is a strength for any idea that otherwise would be immediately falsified, as versions utilizing normal ‘design expectations’ always are). Simple reason: The “designer” acts like mutation and natural selection, plus other known evolutionary processes, are predicted to work. So what if you tried to infer what this designer were like? You’d end up with “Darwinism” all over again, and that is unacceptable to them.

Thus everything is argued by “analogy” with them, for analogies aren’t science and normally don’t have to be exact in order to work in the mind (this is true even of many science analogies). They analogize detection of human designs, but fail to use the criteria we use to detect design, like rationality, novelty, and lack of evolutionary (heredity) constraints. For, if they really were treating design as the set complement of regularity and chance (illegitimate to science, but we can play with it), they’d fail the second they paid attention to the regularities of evolution—the hierarchies, the derivation, IOW all of the constraints of evolution. That is to say, evolution is regularity, thus there is no design in biology, if we go by their claims.

That’s why evolutionary theory is essential, for life is regularity, and not a “set complement” of regularity and necessity. Unfortunately for Dembski and the IDists, they have themselves written ID out of the running even if evolution could be proven not to be sufficient for what we see, because in any case life is regularity (and chance, depending upon the definition of that word) and thus by their own standards of not knowing how to account for regularity by their unknown designer, life cannot be the result of intelligent design as they define it.

By insisting that ID is pure creativity and a lack of the regularity known in real designers, they have refuted their own claims that life was designed, never mind their stupid analogies trying to show that designers might copy themselves (in a manner completely unknown among all observed designers), since, of course, that says something about the designer and thus invites more comparison of life to the products of known design processes—which ID cannot withstand.

Behe’s great mutator either mimics other mutating agents and thus differs not at all from known regularites and/or chance, or it makes designed changes which happen to fit in with the regularities of evolution and thus cannot be the set complement of chance and regularity. That is to say, if it really does anything, then it can’t be ID, and if it doesn’t do anything, it can’t be ID. So we’ll have to conclude that Behe’s Great Mutator is an unknown cause producing unknown effects, for the regularities of evolution are accountable (according to ID dicta) by “natural science”, hence evolutionary theory.

True, Behe seems never to have subscribed wholly to Dembski’s definition, nevertheless he ends up with a God who is at best a mutator. Behe’s doing his best to submerge any test of his own ideas into impossibility. Meaning that regularities are still explained by evolutionary theory, while Behe can’t honestly show where anything unusual takes place (implicitly he knows better than to ascribe any regularity to God, for we’d expect non-evolutionary regularities from any real designer, and Behe’s trying to co-opt evolutionary evidence for “design”). It all comes out the same, then, that in trying to make the “designer” into pure creativity and no regularity whatsoever, there is absolutely nothing attributable to “design”.

IOW, the inscrutable cause produces unidentifiable effects. They don’t attempt any science for a very good reason, they’ve had to avoid all predictivity (except that life will look like it does, complex, if Goddidit, which is hardly entailed in the concept of “design”) in order not to be falsified. Therefore, ID has only one inherent prediction, that IDists don’t understand biology (or the rare exceptions, some may understand it but deny it). Now that entailed prediction has been fulfilled, for they attribute to their inscrutable cause everything they don’t understand, which is mostly everything in evolutionary thought.

Glen D
http://geocities.com/interelectromagnetic

Comment #186227

Posted by harold on July 6, 2007 2:47 PM (e)

Blastfromthepast -

“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

Thanks. It’s good to hear you admit that all your previous posts were wrong, and everyone else was right.

Taken very literally, this quote implies that the very first cellular life was magically created by God.

Now, I don’t happen to believe that (although I’m not stricly an “atheist”), and I’m not sure if Darwin meant it to be taken literally, but this idea is, for the present, compatible with the theory of evolution, which for the present deals only with the evolution of cellular and post-cellular life. It’s a bit “god of the gaps” in that a future scientific model for the origin of cellular life on earth could render it redundant, but it doesn’t outright deny anything that is currently known.

Thank goodness you now admit that humans share a recent common ancestor with chimpanzees, that the bacterial flagella evolved naturally, that the blood clotting system evolved, that Noah’s ark is a spiritual parable not a history lesson, etc.

Comment #186310

Posted by Popper's Ghost on July 6, 2007 10:26 PM (e)

Yes, I do agree that verifiable predictions are derived from models, but that is, in my opinion, a part of the scientific method, not an end result of the scientific method.

I never said otherwise.

My point is that a successful hypothesis does not need to describe the explaining agent in great detail, what counts is how accurate predictions we can make based on that hypothesis.

My point, as I said quite explicitly, is that successful hypotheses do not come out of thin air. Without a model of the “explaining agent”, stumbling upon a successful hypothesis would be sheer luck, like predicting the location and construction of nests when you have nothing to say about the nest builders (clearly, brontosauruses and birds are not equally likely to produce nests of straw 4 inches in diameter in tree limbs). Things go the other way around: observation of nests results in hypotheses about the nest builders. The IDists claim they see design in nature. Fine, then they should be telling us what the design they see implies about the characteristics of the designer, and what can further be predicted from that. Leaving out the middle part shows that it isn’t an honest scientific enterprise, as does being vague and imprecise about the latter, making only post hoc predictions of observations already made, like “junk” DNA or the Cambrian explosion.

I feel (although I am not sure) that we need to assign at least one property to the explaining agent to be able make any predictions what so ever.

I am sure that without such assignment there is no basis for making any predictions, because predictions are logical entailments of models, and from 0 claims there are 0 logical entailments.

Comment #186323

Posted by Popper's Ghost on July 6, 2007 11:28 PM (e)

What is reality there - how do we know which isomorphism we inhabit?
Platon would be confused - we are both the bodies and the shadows.

I think you’re both confused. Those in the cave could only see the shadows, but Plato imagined leaving the cave. We aren’t able to leave the cave – the shadows for us are a network of relationships among observations. That’s as “real” as it will ever get, but it’s as real as we have any need for.

Consider qualia inversion. Anti-physicalist or anti-functionalist philosophers of mind argue that two people could have their qualia inverted, with one seeing as red what the other sees as blue, etc., while using the exact same language (one an inversion of the other) for the same phenomena; since they are behaviorally identical, both calling blood red and the sky blue, it’s impossible to know whether some people have qualia that are inversions of each other. And since the qualia could differ while the physical form of the brain or its functional organization remain the same, physical form and functional organization can’t tell the full ontological story.

But this assumes that “blueness” or “redness” are things in themselves, existing independently of the relationships in the perceptual color space. Despite how real the “essence of blue” may seem to us, there is absolutely no evidence that there is such a thing above and beyond its relational status within the color space and its association through experience with visually perceived objects and phenomena. If that were all there were to “blueness”, we should expect it to seem just as it does, an ineffable conceptually opaque essence, so the seeming doesn’t count against the hypothesis. The same goes for, say, smells. The smell of coffee is not perceived as a particular set of chemical bonds, any more than hues are perceived as numerical wavelengths, it is perceived as the smell of coffee. Imagine that coffee smelled just like turpentine, but seemed just like coffee, and vice versa, with no change in emotional reactions or associations, so that all your behavioral dispositions toward coffee and turpentine remained the same. But what is the smell of coffee or turpentine other than how they seem, and one’s behavioral dispositions toward them?

The question of which isomorphism is real, the one in which blue and red things possess my sense of blue and red or the one in which blue and red things possess the sense of red and blue of someone with qualia inverted relative to mine, is meaningless; the relationships among blue and red things are the same in both cases, and the terms “blue” and “red” don’t refer to anything above and beyond those relationships. The same can be said of all of our language – it refers to perceptual relationships, and doesn’t have any intrinsic meaning beyond that.

Comment #186337

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson, OM on July 7, 2007 1:10 AM (e)

PG wrote:

Those in the cave could only see the shadows, but Plato imagined leaving the cave.

My point is that since Plato [thanks for the spelling correction] in the world of string theory knows he can’t leave the cave, he would be confused.

PG wrote:

Consider qualia inversion.

Interesting to see a philosophical viewpoint. But since I’m curious about the physical problems, I have to translate it back there:

Qualia, especially as considered on a biology oriented blog, is a model that seems to be inconsistent with what we see. There are papers that indicates that the brain spontaneously builds symbol-like patterns (thus avoiding the overtraining problem).

Symbols are convenient, because we know how to study those. And, incidentally, it is consistent with the physics description I gave, that we make observations.

In the discussion about “blue” and “red” I don’t see that it would really happen. We learn socially and have similar mechanisms for doing this. Recently, mice were given a light receptor molecule that they haven’t originally, and they picked up on the new capability. If they had been humans they would surely have learned from each other what the new color(s) were.

There is a difference between agreeing on observables, which we can do by definition and in practice, and on isomorphisms, which we can’t do by definition and in practice. I would like to keep that distinction.

Unfortunately I don’t see how to get around the isomorphism problem, which is different from trying to agree on a fundamental theory which I think much of the “relativist” model discussion will come down to when we start to study physics, neuroscience, et cetera. If the fundamental theory allows isomorphic dualities, we can’t use the criteria of finding “a better fit” or “a more elegant” theory to choose between them.

Comment #186386

Posted by Popper's Ghost on July 7, 2007 5:18 AM (e)

In the discussion about “blue” and “red” I don’t see that it would really happen.

I don’t know what you’re talking about; I didn’t refer to anything “happening”. I wrote about philosophers drawing metaphysical implications from a reification error, asserting the reality of an unmeasurable quality, when there’s a simpler interpretation based on only asserting the reality of the relationships among perceptions, rather than taking the perceptions to be things in themselves.

We learn socially and have similar mechanisms for doing this. Recently, mice were given a light receptor molecule that they haven’t originally, and they picked up on the new capability. If they had been humans they would surely have learned from each other what the new color(s) were.

What part of “using the exact same language (one an inversion of the other) for the same phenomena; since they are behaviorally identical” don’t you understand? I’m talking about two human beings who are behaviorally identical – they are even functionally and perhaps physically identical. They both have identical capabilities, so there is nothing new for either to learn from the other. The only purported difference is how hues appear to them; what appears to A as blue appears to B as what A would call red, but which B calls blue. (This requires accepting the reality of appearances independent of behavioral dispositions, which I don’t.)

Unfortunately I don’t see how to get around the isomorphism problem, which is different from trying to agree on a fundamental theory which I think much of the “relativist” model discussion will come down to when we start to study physics, neuroscience, et cetera. If the fundamental theory allows isomorphic dualities, we can’t use the criteria of finding “a better fit” or “a more elegant” theory to choose between them.

Why is it a “problem”, or “unfortunate”, to be unable to distinguish between two models with identical observables? Why do you feel compelled to “choose”?

Rather than seeking a pointless choice, it might be better to see if there isn’t another interpretation where this difference factors out as a false reification, much like in the case of the inversion of qualia – by eliminating the concept of qualia and modeling perception in terms of relational spaces, there’s nothing to invert and no need to choose one or the other qualia assignment as the “real” one. We’ve seen similar model changes in physics, with simultaneity being eliminated, and along with it the “problem” of determining whether two events “really” happen at the same time, and the specificity of location being eliminated, and along with it the “problem” of determining whether, say, a particle is “really” inside a black hole or not, etc. In each case, the model change required abandoning naive intuitions. As you noted, reality “is a funny system or a weird ‘object’”, but it’s only funny or weird relative to our naive folk physics intuitions.

Comment #186440

Posted by Eric Finn on July 7, 2007 9:55 AM (e)

Torbjörn wrote:

Reality, if it exists, is a funny system or a weird ‘objects’.

I liked this one.
That is exactly how it appears to be.
Physicists tend think about weird things in a weird way.

Regards
Eric

Comment #186441

Posted by Eric Finn on July 7, 2007 10:10 AM (e)

Popper's Ghost wrote:

My point, as I said quite explicitly, is that successful hypotheses do not come out of thin air. Without a model of the “explaining agent”, stumbling upon a successful hypothesis would be sheer luck, like predicting the location and construction of nests when you have nothing to say about the nest builders (clearly, brontosauruses and birds are not equally likely to produce nests of straw 4 inches in diameter in tree limbs). Things go the other way around: observation of nests results in hypotheses about the nest builders. The IDists claim they see design in nature. Fine, then they should be telling us what the design they see implies about the characteristics of the designer, and what can further be predicted from that. Leaving out the middle part shows that it isn’t an honest scientific enterprise, as does being vague and imprecise about the latter, making only post hoc predictions of observations already made, like “junk” DNA or the Cambrian explosion.

I think we are emphasizing different aspects of the same issue.
I do acknowledge that your wording might be more accurate.
Anyway, I do not see any disagreement.

Regards
Eric

Comment #186445

Posted by Eric Finn on July 7, 2007 10:29 AM (e)

Torbjörn Larsson,

Sorry about the “correction”.
I am ashamed and will quit for a few weeks.

Sincerely,
Eric

Comment #186448

Posted by Chicken or the Egg?? on July 7, 2007 11:06 AM (e)

How is it that the information in the genome that codes for the production of transfer RNA could have been transcribed when transfer RNA is needed to do transcription??

How is it that the information in the genome that codes for the production of ribosomes could have been transcribed when ribosomes are needed for transcription?

Would this not indicate that information had to randomly “evolve” a) three times independent of each other (the tRNA, the ribosome, and the actual DNA), b) in the same vicinity of each other, and (even more amazingly) that the DNA that evolved just happened to “evolve” the codes for the tRNA and ribosome??

Comment #186449

Posted by raven on July 7, 2007 11:39 AM (e)

chicken-egg. Your argument is an argument from incredulity or ignorance. A common fallacy. Stated another way, “I can’t see how my foot evolved so god exists.” Proves nothing.

We don’t know much about what happened 3.6 billion years ago. Most likely DNA, tRNA, and rRNA didn’t just suddenly exist. They evolved from simpler systems. One theory is that the first replicator was an RNA molecule that could copy itself.

In point of fact, RNA can be catalytic (ribozymes). In laboratory experiments RNA has been evolved by experimental evolution that can catalyze…RNA polymerization. So far AFAIK, an RNA molecule has not been evolved that can completely replicate itself. But we haven’t been working on this for 200 million years either.

Comment #186451

Posted by Bruce Thompson GQ on July 7, 2007 11:48 AM (e)

How is it that the information in the genome that codes for the production of transfer RNA could have been transcribed when transfer RNA is needed to do transcription??

The problem is easily solved with a frying pan, fried chicken or fried eggs. Why must all 3 be required simultaneously? Would a multifunctional precursor work in a simpler system. The level of complexity observed today does not represent the level of complexity in the past.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

Comment #186452

Posted by raven on July 7, 2007 11:49 AM (e)

Abiogenesis is a separate problem from evolution. Evolution is how and why life changes over time. It presupposes that life exists. So far the reality deniers haven’t picked up this fact and started a LIFE DENIERS movement. [It is the next logical step. HIV doesn’t exist, germs don’t cause disease, …germs don’t exist, life doesn’t exist.]

Abiogenesis is the process by which life arises from the primordial world. There are hypothesis and some data but it is a process far from understood. Be careful what you wish for. We are now able to synthesize life forms. The next step and it is a big one, is to create life from nonlife.

Comment #186453

Posted by Dan on July 7, 2007 12:03 PM (e)

Frank J;
Thanks for that link; many ideas about public faith were expressed unflatteringly by those that espouse it.
Kristol is an intellectual thug.
“Death to the old reality!” (a prize for knowing the movie-quote, slightly altered)

Comment #186454

Posted by harold on July 7, 2007 12:07 PM (e)

Chicken or the Egg -

How is it that the information in the genome that codes for the production of transfer RNA could have been transcribed when transfer RNA is needed to do transcription??

Transfer RNA is not needed for its own transcription, its basic function is to bind mRNA at one end and an amino acid at the other, so that peptide chains can be formed, and transfer RNA has no protein component. Therefore, sadly, this first question tells me that you don’t much about RNA.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transfer_RNA

How transfer RNA originated is an excellent question, and although not one that you asked, may be what you were trying to get at. We don’t know for certain and may never know the exact historic answer, although we may eventually have good models of how it may have happened.

One plausible but purely hypothetical thought is that an original single transfer RNA that produced monopeptide chains when a single repeated DNA motif was encountered may have arisen first, and that replication with variation, similar to modern evolution, may have produced more variety.

This question is fascinating, but not directly related to the theory of evolution at present, strictly speaking. The theory of evolution deals with the evolution of cellular and post-cellular life. A theory or strong, detailed hypothesis of abiogenesis, including the origin of t-rna, would be great, but the theory of evolution is already very strong, without such an adjunct.

How is it that the information in the genome that codes for the production of ribosomes could have been transcribed when ribosomes are needed for transcription?

Actually, the language here again tells me that you don’t know what “transcribed” or “transcription” means.

But it is interesting to ask how genes for ribosomal proteins could have evolved, given that modern cells need ribosomes to efficiently express any proteins.

We don’t know, exactly, of course, and probably never will know the exact historic answer, although we may eventually develop good models.

An obvious thought is that very early cells or proto-cells did not use ribosomes with a protein component, and that the protein component evolved later, albeit very early in the history of life.

Would this not indicate that information had to randomly “evolve” a) three times independent of each other (the tRNA, the ribosome, and the actual DNA), b) in the same vicinity of each other, and (even more amazingly) that the DNA that evolved just happened to “evolve” the codes for the tRNA and ribosome??

Of course not. This is a straw man argument that no-one would ever honestly present.

As I pointed out, this is an argument about abiogenesis at any rate. We have an excellent idea of how cellular and post-cellular life that already has t-rna and ribosomes evolves, and that idea is the modern theory of biological evolution.

Why did you right the word evolve in quotation marks?

If you claim that God created the first cellular life by magic, as seems to be your point, no-one can “prove you wrong”, but if you hang your religious faith on that kind god-of-the-gaps argument, you’ll simply experience a crisis each time scientific progress into that particular area is made.

Even if t-rna and ribosomes were created magically, and that’s not my personal belief, but even if they were, cellular life still evolves, and we’re still primates who share a recent common ancestor with chimpanzees.

Comment #186455

Posted by harold on July 7, 2007 12:13 PM (e)

How embarrassing.

I typed “right” instead of “write”. Apologies.

Comment #186460

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson, OM on July 7, 2007 12:53 PM (e)

PG wrote:

I don’t know what you’re talking about; I didn’t refer to anything “happening”. I wrote about philosophers drawing metaphysical implications from a reification error,

I’m sorry about the confusion. As I mentioned, I pulled the question back into the domain of physics. Now, it will be a dance night so I am a bit rushed. But I feel that your comment deserves some deliberation before I get tired feet and soused brain. So I will do my best.

I made the pullback to physics not because the philosophic view is not interesting (I said that too), but because it is terribly confusing to discuss the nature of reality and what we can currently get at from a physics viewpoint. There we have observables, theories, and theories objects; in philosophy we have qualia, which seems to have to do with how the mind works.

Btw, I’m not sure how qualia is definable and defined. According to Wikipedia it has many definitions, centered around it being “properties of sensory experiences”. Dennett’s narrower definition is “ineffable, intrinsic, private, apprehensible”. Not a very useful definition, since it places itself outside empiricism. “Unmeasurable”, as you note. How would you define “qualia”?

Moving on, the reality of “blue” and “red” is an especially confusing example since colors are observables. Also, as I mentioned, symbol-like patterns seems to emerge spontaneously in the brain, so we can study them as such and even communicate the characteristics captured by them. It is consistent with the physics view, whereas qualia is not a consideration.

PG wrote:

The only purported difference is how hues appear to them

I now that this is supposed to be a model for something about qualia properties. However, my understanding of biology and physics gets in the way. Symbols are only roughly equivalent at best.

Since we already agree on the difficulties of qualia, I’m not sure if they are fruitful to discuss. My view was given in the previous comment - one problem is comparing observables (doable), another is distinguishing isomorphic worlds (not doable). Qualia, or at least the examples given, seem to confuse or even conflate these problems.

PG wrote:

Why is it a “problem”, or “unfortunate”, to be unable to distinguish between two models with identical observables? Why do you feel compelled to “choose”?

Why, indeed? It isn’t a reasonable expectation (and there I think the idea of qualia is analogous).

But it expressed my bafflement when symmetries, which makes our world stable (conservation rules) and understandable (showing time isomorphic with space), in the end seems to prevent us from getting to information.

I would at this point like to extend the discussion to the mathematical theorem that shows that we can completely map an object by throwing all doable measurements on it and observe that comes out. Because it shows that we can get to the needed data to grasp reality, yet it eludes us. But alas, I’m out of time.

A final note in this comment: When I note that reality is a weird ‘object’ I mean that if one insists, as you note as folk psychology, to get at objects instead of patterns among processes one runs into the problems of dualities. Personally I am quite happy with the patterns, but I am still wondering what remains of the “realistic” viewpoint.

Comment #186461

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson, OM on July 7, 2007 1:00 PM (e)

Eric Finn wrote:

Torbjörn Larsson,

Sorry about the “correction”.
I am ashamed and will quit for a few weeks.

This sounds terrible! But, I don’t understand either - which was the correction, and why are you ashamed? I thought we had a great discussion.

If you are referring to my point about being fair to PG’s argument, it was very tangential to what both your and PG’s discussion. And the rest of that comment was my own view, I had hoped that was clear from the context.

Anyway, I hope that you will continue to comment as your heart desire.

Comment #186467

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson, OM on July 7, 2007 1:49 PM (e)

Chicken,

To add to the above comments, the plausible DNA and RNA quasispecies that we could see when we get far enough back (and which, modulo some technicalities, AFAIU we see in viruses today) means that lateral transfer of mechanisms could be a factor.

Researchers are suggesting that the different families of homologue replication machineries can be explained thusly. Specifically this paper presents the “three viruses, three domains theory”.

The proposal is that “each cellular domain originated independently from the fusion of an RNA cell and a large DNA virus”, see its figure 1. The RNA cell is from a world of perhaps quasispecies of RNA cells, and the DNA viruses stems from a DNA world of quasispecies. It discusses means to test this.

raven wrote:

Abiogenesis is a separate problem from evolution. Evolution is how and why life changes over time. It presupposes that life exists. So far the reality deniers haven’t picked up this fact and started a LIFE DENIERS movement.

Ooh, I like the LD movement - it must have its Deniers Institute as well.

Considered read, appreciated and stolen. ;-)

harold wrote:

Apologies.

Their now, that wasnt to bad.

Comment #186471

Posted by Eric Finn on July 7, 2007 2:33 PM (e)

Torbjörn,

The “correction” was one letter in the quotation from you.
The “correction” was wrong.
I am not a native speaker in English language, and it is quite apparent.
What I was ashamed of, was that quotations should be quoted verbatim.

Since you do not feel so bad about my mistake, I will consider a more lenient punishment for myself.

Most certainly, I am looking forward to exchanging opinions with you.

Regards
Eric

Comment #186480

Posted by DP on July 7, 2007 3:35 PM (e)

Thing is, when IDists say that they don’t identify a designer their being less than honest.

Sure ID proponents don’t identify a designer Directly, but they do identify designers Indirectly when they use examples such as Easter Island, Mt. Rushmore, Pyramids,
etc. etc. Even with their famous SETI example, what do you know, they’re identifying an ET, a physically embodied designer.

So there you have it. They Indirectly cite empirically observable designers to say that ID is empirical, then they deny that ID identifies a designer.

Swear words anyone?

Comment #186491

Posted by harold on July 7, 2007 5:42 PM (e)

Chicken and egg didn’t have anything more to say.

I guess only the first half of his name was accurate.

Although I suppose he may come back and cherry pick a few irrelevant things to “respond” to in a meaningless way.

Comment #186598

Posted by ben on July 8, 2007 7:06 AM (e)

While you are talking about scientifically vacuous theories, just what was the “big bang”?

I mean specifically. What equations decribe the event itself?

And clear up string theory for me too while you are at it.

Thanks in advance.

While you are posing rhetorical questions about physics, why don’t you try posting them on a “physics blog”?

I mean specifically. What equations describe your decision to post them on an evolutionary biology blog?

And clear up why ID pretends it isn’t creationism too, while you’re at it.

Thanks in advance.

Comment #186615

Posted by raven on July 8, 2007 9:49 AM (e)

While you are talking about scientifically vacuous theories, just what was the “big bang”?

I mean specifically. What equations decribe the event itself?

1. The Big Bang is an observed event. As telescopes look further out, they are also looking back in time. Your question is as meaningless as asking for the equations for cheerios, or a creo troll.

2. You would know this if you put a few simple terms in a search engine and did some reading. The Big Bang is well accepted by physicists for many, many, reasons. Cure your ignorance yourself, this is an evolution blog, not astronomy.

And clear up string theory for me too while you are at it. Thanks in advance.

If I could do that, I would be polishing my Nobel prize right now rather than posting on PT.

Looks like we got a Physics Denier troll right here. Probably the same as the Biology Denier, named Chicken. The earth is flat, the sun goes around the earth, gravity doesn’t exist etc.. I expect the creos will soon have a pseudoscience organization to promote 2,000 year old physics theories that were wrong.

Comment #186640

Posted by Larry Gilman on July 8, 2007 1:43 PM (e)

Poppers ghost wrote:

Methodological naturalism isn’t key to any legal case.

It’s puzzling, then, to my non-lawyerly mind—I admit I lack the encyclopedic knowledge of case-law from which you appear to speak—that methodological naturalism has featured explicitly and prominently in several major US constitutional cases on creationism in the classroom since the 1960s. Most recently, the concept was mentioned 28 times on day 3 alone of Kitzmiller v. Dover (in plaintiff expert witness Pennock’s testimony). In his K v. D decision, Judge Jones quotes McLean v. Arkansas on this subject (p. 22 of ruling) and, in establishing that ID is religion, not science, notes that “Dembski agrees that science is ruled by methodological naturalism and argues that this rule must be overturned if ID is to prosper” (p. 30 of decision). Jones himself asserts that methodological naturalism is basic to the definition of science (a definition, one might have thought, that was a “key” aspect of his ruling that ID “is not science,” p. 64):

This self-imposed convention of science, which limits inquiry to testable, natural explanations about the natural world, is referred to by philosophers as “methodological naturalism” and is sometimes known as the scientific method. (5:23, 29-30 (Pennock)). Methodological naturalism is a “ground rule” of science today which requires scientists to seek explanations in the world around us based upon what we can observe, test, replicate, and verify. [p. 65]

And so methodological naturalism might seem, to the uninstructed, to have played a “key” role in K v. D—just going by the actual text, mind.

Poppers ghost wrote:

I have to wonder if you bothered to read the book. Science is based on inference to the best explanation, not just “testing”, and the best explanation (it is argued) for the evidence we observe is that there is no God. Dawkins makes it quite clear that this does not prove that there is no God, it only indicates that there almost certainly is no God.

(a) “Almost” is a quibble. For of course science declares nothing with absolute certainty: it is always leaves epistemological wiggle room. To say that science shows there “almost certainly is no God” is to say that science shows there is no God to the same degree of certainty that it shows that we evolved, or that gravitation obeys an inverse-square law, or that Jupiter is filled mostly with hydrogen, not cream cheese. “There is no God, science sez” versus “There is almost certainly no God, science sez” is distinction without a difference.

(b) You tell me in one place that I am plumb wrong to characterize Dawkins as arguing that science shows there is no God (“No. Read his book before characterizing it, please”); in another, you argue that that is exactly what Dawkins does (“Dawkins makes it quite clear that [science] … indicates that there almost certainly is no God”). Yeah, right, whatever.

Overall, your postings confirm my original point: widespread insistence in the scientific community that Dawkins can do science on God would eventually empower the IDers to claim that they are doing it too, and to lever their ideas into public-school classrooms. For, affirming that Dawkins actually has done science on God, you actually do (wow!) go right ahead and defend the logical consequence that the IDers must have ability, or as you put it, “the right” to do it too (NB: a misleading term, as if whether this or that person has the “right” to do science on the supernatural was the issue I’d raised, rather than whether the very idea of doing science on the supernatural has any coherent content). And if the IDers come marching into court next time armed with the Shermer view that peer review is irrelevant to qualifying as a “work of science”, and your thesis that methodological naturalism is bunk and that the Iders have a perfect “right” to do science on God, what are the chances that we’ll be able to keep Darwin’s Black Box out of the schools? For your expert testimony that only Dawkins has done good science on God may not be legally relevant: in Kitzmiller v. Dover, Jones was explicitly not ruling on the question of correctness: “After a searching review of the record and applicable caselaw, we find that while ID arguments may be true, a proposition on which the Court takes no position, ID is not science.” (“Not science” in Judge Jones’s opininion, recall, in part because it defies the scientific “ground rule” of methodological naturalism.)

Whether you, personally, happen to think that Dawkins has exercised his “right” to do science on God more effectively than the Discovery Institute would, if future judges follow Jones in ruling not on whether ID arguments are “true” but whether they are scientific arguments, be irrelevant. Since it’s no longer a matter of peer review—you appear to agree with me that there are no peer-reviewed papers on the question of whether God exists, and to agree with Shermer that peer review is not essential to whether Dawkins’s latest utterance is a “work of science”—ID would be in the schoolroom door. It is at least a plausible scenario.

As for the last word … please, take it. I’m through. When somebody spews stuff like “I daresay that Professor Emeritus Stenger has a far better understanding of science than you do”, I know from long experience that my time would be more profitably spent conversing with a two-by-four than continuing the exchange. And more pleasantly spent by banging myself with said two-by-four. As it happens, I’m quite sure I don’t know as much science as Professor Emeritus (oo-o-o-o-h! emeritus!) Stenger, but I’m not an absolute science virgin either (PhD in Engineering Science, Dartmouth, 1995, biomedical dissertation). So what? And if I hadn’t graduated from grade school, so what? How long is your stream of urine?

Larry

Comment #186649

Posted by PvM on July 8, 2007 5:05 PM (e)

Methodological naturalism isn’t key to any legal case. What is key is that creationism has been recognized by the courts as religion, and thus teaching it in public schools is in violation of the first amendment. Even if we had good scientific demonstrations that God does or does not exist – and according to both Richard Dawkins and Victor Stenger we do – they still could not be taught in public schools, not because of some violation of scientific methodology, but because of the law of the land

I believe this to be at odds with jurisprudence in this country. Religious ideas, lacking a valid secular purpose, cannot be taught in public schools.

Comment #186650

Posted by harold on July 8, 2007 5:05 PM (e)

Larry Gilman -

widespread insistence in the scientific community that Dawkins can do science on God

Nobody thinks that Dawkins “can do science on God”. You should have checked on that before expending so much energy.

I don’t want to get into a Dawkins flame war with his loyal fan base, and I’ll concede his admirable talents in many areas, so I’ll just say that I’m underwhelmend by his analyses of what he calls “religion”.

Streen -

While you are talking about scientifically vacuous theories, just what was the “big bang”?

I mean specifically. What equations decribe the event itself?

And clear up string theory for me too while you are at it.

Thanks in advance.

What a coincidence.

A troll dumped some garbled stuff about RNA and ribosomes a while ago. The content of the post revealed that he didn’t know the most basic thing about either.

Now someone has dumped the ludicrous suggestion that the “big bang” is a “vacuous” theory.

It wouldn’t have taken much effort to cure yourself of that misconception, and to learn about some equations which are associated with the big bang.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_bang

You don’t have any clue about any of the topics you post on, not even to the extent that an honest layman could gain in half an hour, and you don’t have the guts to respond to posts that correct you.

You lose, infinity to nothing.

Go sulk somewhere else.

Comment #186655

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson, OM on July 8, 2007 6:26 PM (e)

harold wrote:

The “correction” was one letter in the quotation from you.
The “correction” was wrong.

Frankly, I’m not sure I understand. I am reading this thread, and I can’t see any correction. I believe I quoted you, if that is what you mean, but I hope didn’t change anything. (Except removing the emphasis (the bolding) since it didn’t suit the context of my comment, and was in any case close at hand in the original.)

As you may note, Popper’s Ghost discovered/didn’t repeat my incredibly inept spelling of Plato, and I am still commenting. :-) So if there was any correction made, inadvertently or not, you aren’t alone.

Oh, and your english is fine. (Except perhaps above where I don’t see if “the quotation from you” is me quiting you or you quoting me. But that is the singular case I can see.)

I too look forward to more blogging - seems you, me and PG are emphatically agreeing on the problem of “reality”, while emphasizing slightly different contexts where it pops up.

Comment #186656

Posted by Moses on July 8, 2007 6:33 PM (e)

As for the last word … please, take it. I’m through. When somebody spews stuff like “I daresay that Professor Emeritus Stenger has a far better understanding of science than you do”, I know from long experience that my time would be more profitably spent conversing with a two-by-four than continuing the exchange. And more pleasantly spent by banging myself with said two-by-four. As it happens, I’m quite sure I don’t know as much science as Professor Emeritus (oo-o-o-o-h! emeritus!) Stenger, but I’m not an absolute science virgin either (PhD in Engineering Science, Dartmouth, 1995, biomedical dissertation). So what? And if I hadn’t graduated from grade school, so what? How long is your stream of urine?

Larry

Goodbye Cruel Blog says the Engineer-Who-Is-Not-A-Scientist-but-is-Extremely-Full-of-Himself.

Point is sparky, if you tried to tell the Court you were an expert and could give a qualified expert opinion, you’d be laughed out after cross. Fact is, you’re just a layman. One who, apparently, has a poor idea of science, what it does and what it can and can’t do.

You can’t “do science” on God. If it could be done, people would be doing it. But no body’s doing it. Just like they aren’t doing science on pixies, fairies, mermaids, unicorns and other items out of mythology.

And, BTW, wasn’t Larry Farfarman an engineer? Aren’t most of the worst evolution deniers guys with PhD’s in Engineering? What is it with Engineering and the delusion that you’re a frickin’ expert on everything?

Comment #186658

Posted by harold on July 8, 2007 6:42 PM (e)

Torbjörn Larsson -

I’m sure that last message wasn’t meant to refer to me.

I found your views on “reality” surprisingly similar to my own, overall, although we seem to have had trivial differences of opinion about rarified philosophical issues in the past. Perhaps our differences were mainly semantic and cultural artifacts.

I am a native speaker of English.

Comment #186660

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson, OM on July 8, 2007 6:49 PM (e)

Larry Gilman wrote:

He is outraged at a Science letter-writer’s charge that The God Delusion should not be called a “work of science.”

Books which are reasonably based in science could reasonably be called work of science, without being as much a priori peer-reviewed in the strong sense of papers. This hasn’t anything directly to do with methodological naturalism.

Larry Gilman wrote:

he implies that IDers are also doing science,

Funny. My interpretation is that he implies that they aren’t, since he asks for it in the face of a long standing lack. And I think it is the most reasonable interpretation.

Larry Gilman wrote:

Dawkins is not just doing jiujitsu on ID, turning its own attack against it: he’s claiming that science tells him something definite about the supernatural.

AFAIK you are overinterpreting, and PG’s interpretation is on the money. Dawkins means that religion as practiced (for example ID) implies that gods are improbable.

Larry Gilman wrote:

methodological naturalism has featured explicitly and prominently in several major US constitutional cases on creationism in the classroom

Of course it has, as a means to define science as it is now practiced. If science would abandon MN (which is accepted only because it works), something else would be used.

But this has nothing to do with ID’s lack of empirical evidence, MN’s applicability in science or ID being pushed into the science class room. For some reason you are using a false dichotomy to make a stink, a rant that is not going anywhere what I can see. Except perhaps into a discussion of urine.

Comment #186661

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson, OM on July 8, 2007 6:52 PM (e)

harold wrote:

I’m sure that last message wasn’t meant to refer to me.

So sorry, harold! No, it was directed to Eric Finn entirely. Too bad, because we were already discussing if I was misquoting him. Well, now I was, implicitly. :-(

Comment #186663

Posted by Eric Finn on July 8, 2007 7:13 PM (e)

Torbjörn,

It was me making the fuss.
You have done absolutely nothing that I find wrong in any way what so ever.
Let’s forget it, shall we?

Torbjörn wrote:

I too look forward to more blogging - seems you, me and PG are emphatically agreeing on the problem of “reality”, while emphasizing slightly different contexts where it pops up.

Yes, I think we all three agree on the scientific method.

There is a saying ”one should not argue about matters of taste”
Well, what should we argue about? Should we argue about facts?
It is very interesting to hear and discuss different points of view, even though no disagreement exists in principle.

Regards
Eric

Comment #186666

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson, OM on July 8, 2007 7:23 PM (e)

Streen wrote:

just what was the “big bang”? I mean specifically.

Not that it has anything to do with evolutionary biology, but since it is a science blog we could discuss it fairly.

The big bang is a process which the universe has always participated in - it is observable right now.

The easiest observation is if you look out from your window. You will note that the brightness and temperature is far lower than the light and temperature of our sun’s surface. This would be expected if the universe is nearly or truly infinite as we can see in simple telescopes.

Because if we look in any direction we would sooner or later see a star surface, and conversely stars light and temperature would be transmitted to us in an equilibrium situation. This is Olber’s paradox, and it got its resolution when astronomers discovered that the universe is expanding.

That expansion is the Big Bang, specifically.

Streen wrote:

What equations decribe the event itself?

Big bang cosmologies describe the big bang, obviously.

The currently accepted cosmology is the Lambda-CDM model. (Lambda stands for the constant signifying the cosmological constant, and CDM stands for Cold Dark Matter; both important and verified new parts of modern cosmologies. Well, actually the “constant” in “the cosmological constant” is still much an assumption, though a good one.)

Lambda-CDM has been modeled from the red shifts of stars (supernovas in particular), from primordial nucleosynthesis, from the microwave background radiation (CMBR), from the CMBR finestructure, et cetera.

It has only six adjustable parameters, yet it predicts all of the above and more which is currently under observation, such as galaxy formation, the just recently observable dark matter, the finetuning of nearly perfect flatness of the universe, and more.

As theories goes, I think it is incredibly elegant. Look it up in Wikipedia, it has a really nice article on it, as on Big Bang and other things in cosmology.

Streen wrote:

clear up string theory

String/M theory is a proposal for a broader theory than todays, incorporating gravity in a quantized theory. It is stimulating physicists with such implications as the holographic principle and a finite landscape of vacua.

But it is far from giving definite predictions within reach of the experiments we can do today. So I wouldn’t lie sleepless over if it will be verified or not.

Comment #186774

Posted by Carol Clouser on July 9, 2007 12:36 PM (e)

There has been quite a bit of chatter here about how ID leads to no predictions. Well, would the community of dedicated evolutionist care to predict, on the basis of the principles of evolutionary theory of course, what life on earth and humans in particular will evolve into over the course of the next few thousand years? We can then put said prediction in a time capsule for future generations to see just how well those predictions held up.

Too complicated you say? Well, then you ought to grant the same excuse to the ID advocates.

Or let us talk about the Big Bang. What were the cause and effect relationships that produced that? What existed before? Anyone care to pontificate on the basis of the scientific method and not on mere speculation?

Too obscure you say? Well, then you ought to grant the same excuse to the ID advocates.

Or, let us consider the origin of life. Need I go on…?

Comment #186775

Posted by PvM on July 9, 2007 12:43 PM (e)

Carol wrote:

There has been quite a bit of chatter here about how ID leads to no predictions. Well, would the community of dedicated evolutionist care to predict, on the basis of the principles of evolutionary theory of course, what life on earth and humans in particular will evolve into over the course of the next few thousand years? We can then put said prediction in a time capsule for future generations to see just how well those predictions held up.

An interesting logical fallacy. Note that I am not asking for ID to predict the course of evolution over the next few thousand years but rather to provide a non-trivial explanation for the observed data. For starters, what is the mechanism(s) involved?

Carol wrote:

Too complicated you say? Well, then you ought to grant the same excuse to the ID advocates.

Your strawman argument has been rejected.

Or let us talk about the Big Bang. What were the cause and effect relationships that produced that? What existed before? Anyone care to pontificate on the basis of the scientific method and not on mere speculation?

Assuming for the moment that we do not know what caused the Big Bang, or what the cause effect relationships may be, we do have countless predictions based on the theory.

Nice try though but I suggest you focus on the issue at hand, it’s too easy to distract by using strawmen like yours.

Comment #186779

Posted by Glen Davidson on July 9, 2007 1:06 PM (e)

There has been quite a bit of chatter here about how ID leads to no predictions. Well, would the community of dedicated evolutionist care to predict, on the basis of the principles of evolutionary theory of course, what life on earth and humans in particular will evolve into over the course of the next few thousand years?

You seem not to understand what scientific prediction is—or how to understand the Bible, Hebrew, you know, anything you claim to understand.

Why don’t you predict what a turbulent system will produce down the road, you know, like the weather on Jupiter? A real scientist, unlike yourself, understands limits to prediction, and predicts what is predictable.

Now with humans, barring intelligent interventions (which are even more unpredictable than past evolution, so of course I’m saying we’d have to go back to pre-civilized culture), will evolve in the same manner as in the past, accumulating neutral mutations at about the same rate as in the past, with beneficial mutations becoming fixed according to environmental and cultural changes, and will diverge or merge according to the limits of evolutionary capacities. Were we to speciate or go beyond that, the familiar hierarchies would appear.

Of course this really illustrates that we can’t predict human evolution, since evolution has changed with technology and civilization. This is the kind of strawman that we’d predict from the egregious Clouserbot.

We predict other evolutionary change better, like the changes happening due to global warming. An honest scientist asks for reasonable predictions, not demanding that those uppity weather forecasters tell us what will happen to the Little Red Spot on Jupiter over the next 20,000 years.

We can then put said prediction in a time capsule for future generations to see just how well those predictions held up.

Just what we’d expect from someone who can’t even understand Genesis, even with some (not too much, I’ll wager) knowledge of Hebrew.

Too complicated you say?

Far too dishonest.

Well, then you ought to grant the same excuse to the ID advocates.

You know very well that we want predictions of the known regularities in evolution from the IDiots, not some stupid predictions involving the unknowns. We have very strong predictions regarding evolution involving the cladistic patterns, neutral evolution, and what could happen under normal evolutionary processes, like bird wings evolving from legs (and not bird wings evolving from pterosaur wings). These predictions are fulfilled. Your stupid demands are not fulfilled, because they’re IDiot/religious apologist demands uncleverly selected precisely because they are unfair.

Or let us talk about the Big Bang. What were the cause and effect relationships that produced that? What existed before?

Wow, science doesn’t have all the answers. I guess that’s why they get grants. Too bad Clouserbot can’t follow that very simple causal relationship.

Anyone care to pontificate on the basis of the scientific method and not on mere speculation?

To you? Get real. You claim to be a kind of scientist, yet you spew the typical IDist garbage.

Too obscure you say? Well, then you ought to grant the same excuse to the ID advocates.

Dear stupid woman, compare the explanatory ability of physics and biology to the vacuous nonsense of ID, as well as to your vacuous claims about the Bible. That’s the difference between honest scholarship and mindless repetition of apologetic cliches.

Or, let us consider the origin of life. Need I go on…?

You need not go on, for you have no comprehension of what science is as an ongoing enterprise. It is not the eternal vacuousness of literal religion that you demand of science, it is the work of honest intelligent folk who recognize what is still not known, as well as what is unknowable. Which leaves you out.

Glen D
http://geocities.com/interelectromagnetic

Comment #186784

Posted by Raging Bee on July 9, 2007 1:48 PM (e)

The last time Carol showed up here, she made a complete ass of herself by claiming that polytheists never did any real science, then tried to lie about what she had said, then tried to lie about what others had said in response. Unable to recover from that self-inflicted pratfall, she now seems to be trying to join the creationists (most of them practitioners of what she had called “crap theology”) in attacking those of us who remember her disgraceful silliness.

Give it up, Carol – or at least find a better book to shill…

Comment #186797

Posted by ben on July 9, 2007 3:41 PM (e)

Need I go on…?

Please don’t. This line of “reasoning” is even more moronic than your hyenas using Nazi tactics vs. zebras spiel.

Comment #186804

Posted by Carol Clouser on July 9, 2007 5:36 PM (e)

The point of my previous post was not to invite a litany of reasons as to why some types of predictions are not to be expected or demanded. I readily granted that by saying “Too complicated you say?” and “Too obscure you say?”.

Nor was it intended to entice the roaches out of the woodwork to regurgitate their silly, false and tired old invective which is symptomatic of their utter inability to deal with the substance of my post.

I will rephrase my point for those who found the original formulation far too subtle to wrap their brains around it. It was that one theory cannot as an argument against a competing theory demand something that it cannot itself provide. If science does not have all the answers, them science cannot demand demand of ID that it provide all the answers. If science cannot provide certain predictions, them ID is entitled to claim that there are reasons why it cannot do so.

PvM, your point is well taken and my post was not directed at what you wrote but at the commenters here.

Comment #186806

Posted by ben on July 9, 2007 5:59 PM (e)

…one theory cannot as an argument against a competing theory (blah blah blah)…

Theories don’t argue with one another. Well-informed proponents of evolutionary theory don’t tell us their theory is correct because some other theory is wrong. A valid scientific theory stands or falls on its own merits–the evidence and the logical soundness of the provisional conclusions drawn from it. Whatever any individual might say in the ID/evolution tit-for-tat, the fact is that any evolution proponent can easily point anyone to a thousand places to start picking up on the evidence and the arguments, and evaluate them on their own merits. ID, as it happens, refuses to state its ideas in anything approaching the form of a scientific theory, or even a logically valid argument, and its argumentation is solely grounded in logical fallacy, misdirection, and outright lies. If you follow the evolutionary argument, you find more and more supporting evidence and more promising lines of inquiry; ID gets you goddidit and intellectual dead ends.

Your dishonest false dichotomy is anti-scientific at its core and emblematic of only one side of the debate over the scientific status of ID. I think even you aren’t too dense to tell which side that is (hint: it’s the side you’re acting as a flack for in today’s post). There would be no need for any “evolutionist” to ever point out the endless flaws in ID’s non/anti-scientific pretensions to “theory” if ID’s supporters would just admit the obvious: There is no ID theory. Without a theory, there is no scientific discussion to be had, and your ID pals (and you, today at least) are just blowing smoke about whatever side topics might arise while they spin their theocratic wheels in the thick, gooey mud of complicated reality.

Comment #186811

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson, OM on July 9, 2007 6:53 PM (e)

Carol Closer wrote:

Or let us talk about the Big Bang. What were the cause and effect relationships that produced that? What existed before? Anyone care to pontificate on the basis of the scientific method and not on mere speculation?

Since I was so facetious to in my answer to Streen and you really asks the question in a pertinent way, I feel obligated to answer. Though note, this has nothing what so ever to do with biology, which is the science ID claims to replace wholesale, species with kinds and all.

As noted, we are still in the mostly speculative stage. But we have started to make some headway in eliminating alternatives, so testing has started.

First, your description as “cause and effect relationships” is philosophical, not physical. In physics we have processes and boundary conditions. I think I have pointed you to this reference before, but it is highly pertinent:

Sean Carroll (the physicist, not the biologist) wrote:

the correct formal structure, patterns, boundary conditions, and interpretation

The reason I go into this is that one class of cosmologies are “no boundary” proposals. There the universe literary pops into existence from nothing (or a prespace), and causality over spacetime (which doesn’t exist before) is not a consideration.

The initial condition is not relevant here, and the dreaded “chance” (random tunneling) becomes the answer and “necessity” (the laws of nature) becomes the question. Which turns out to be answerable by chance again, in the guise of environmental or anthropic principles on the landscape of string theories.

Second, you ask for observational evidence and tests, to find out which cosmology is correct and if physical laws are uniquely constrained or simply a coincidence. As I noted, this has started. I described the current Lambda-CDM model above, where inflation explains all the major finetuning of our universe. (Its volume, its flatness and the primordial fluctuations that enabled galaxies to coalesce.)

Now, AFAIK inflation isn’t tested to the usual certainty within physics, beyond 3 sigma, as of yet. IIRC it is something like above 2 sigma. It is feasible that the upcoming european Planck probe will enable the sharp test.

But already some of the more contrived inflationary cosmologies possible are impossible or impossibly finetuned, while the simplest one looks to be on the money. That one leads naturally to multiverses, where the initial condition of our pocket universe were just a local end of eternal inflation.

[One can also note that multiverses are natural consequences of theories like string theory, which leaves a landscape of vacua instead of picking a unique one. Nature is in all probability trying to tell us something about herself.]

If the CMBR and other data can pick out one or a narrow class of inflationary models with eternal inflation as the natural solution/ground state, I believe that many or most physicists will seriously entertain that we live in a multiverse. Because that model would have passed a test.

[If the landscape, say of string theory, is confirmed later on it would pretty much be an independent test AFAIU. Wouldn’t that be cool? I think so.]

Comment #186812

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson, OM on July 9, 2007 7:02 PM (e)

Carol:

First, excuses for misspelling your name.

Carol Clouser wrote:

It was that one theory cannot as an argument against a competing theory demand something that it cannot itself provide.

Second, you wrote this while I pointed out in another comment that:

- ID isn’t a competing theory to any science.
- ID is supposed to concern biology, not cosmology. (And in any case, you can’t show us any design of the universe, can you?)
- And we currently expect cosmology and theoretical physics to give us an agreeing answer. In any case, it seems cosmology on its own will give a testable answer to the initial conditions of big bang.

Why don’t you read that comment, and come back with a supportable argument next time?

Comment #186816

Posted by Glen Davidson on July 9, 2007 7:22 PM (e)

I will rephrase my point for those who found the original formulation far too subtle to wrap their brains around it. It was that one theory cannot as an argument against a competing theory demand something that it cannot itself provide. If science does not have all the answers, them science cannot demand demand of ID that it provide all the answers. If science cannot provide certain predictions, them ID is entitled to claim that there are reasons why it cannot do so.

Nothing about you is subtle, dimwit Carol. We heard you the first time, answered, and you simply repeated your simplistic trash again.

As is your wont.

Obviously anything of a scientific nature is beyond your decidedly limited repertoire of parroted apologetics.

Glen D
http://geocities.com/interelectromagnetic

Comment #186817

Posted by Glen Davidson on July 9, 2007 7:22 PM (e)

I will rephrase my point for those who found the original formulation far too subtle to wrap their brains around it. It was that one theory cannot as an argument against a competing theory demand something that it cannot itself provide. If science does not have all the answers, them science cannot demand demand of ID that it provide all the answers. If science cannot provide certain predictions, them ID is entitled to claim that there are reasons why it cannot do so.

Nothing about you is subtle, dimwit Carol. We heard you the first time, answered, and you simply repeated your simplistic trash again.

As is your wont.

Obviously anything of a scientific nature is beyond your decidedly limited repertoire of parroted apologetics.

Glen D
http://geocities.com/interelectromagnetic

Comment #186818

Posted by Glen Davidson on July 9, 2007 7:22 PM (e)

I will rephrase my point for those who found the original formulation far too subtle to wrap their brains around it. It was that one theory cannot as an argument against a competing theory demand something that it cannot itself provide. If science does not have all the answers, them science cannot demand demand of ID that it provide all the answers. If science cannot provide certain predictions, them ID is entitled to claim that there are reasons why it cannot do so.

Nothing about you is subtle, dimwit Carol. We heard you the first time, answered, and you simply repeated your simplistic trash again.

As is your wont.

Obviously anything of a scientific nature is beyond your decidedly limited repertoire of parroted apologetics.

Glen D
http://geocities.com/interelectromagnetic

Comment #186819

Posted by Glen Davidson on July 9, 2007 7:25 PM (e)

Whoah, I didn’t even know that three posts could be duplicated like that. It used not to be possible, but I guess this thing evolves in unpredictable ways (Carol didn’t manage to predict its evolution, or well, manage to write anything of value at any time that I can recall).

Glen D
http://geocities.com/interelectromagnetic

Comment #186822

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson, OM on July 9, 2007 7:37 PM (e)

TL wrote:

That one leads naturally to multiverses, where the initial condition of our pocket universe were just a local end of eternal inflation.

The observant reader will notice that I glided over the question if we can have a description of the initial period of the local bigbang itself.

This in spite of the opportunity in having a decent description of the initial condition of our local bigbang and (as some like Linde and Boussou thinks) for the whole shebang by simple continuation backwards.

[When did the she bang become larger than the big bang? This is the real mystery here, I think. :-)]

But it doesn’t seem necessary, beacuse the situation is then that it is a “mere detail”.

So, come to think of it, one could possibly hope that a full theory of quantum gravity (for example, string theory again) would actually yield a third independent test of the full cosmology.

Um, would that be doubly cool, big bang cool, or shebang cool?! Cosmology puts some difficult questions. But the answers looks fun. ;-)

Comment #186823

Posted by Glen Davidson on July 9, 2007 7:39 PM (e)

Well, what I meant was, I didn’t know that a post could be repeated three times within a minute.

But really, what is the case with these bots? Are they really too dull even to read a response, as Carol evidently did not? Or are they so taken with their fallacies and biases that they just don’t care, and so ape the big IDiots and each other because they think that their “truth” is so grand that no response is worth paying attention to?

Obviously neither is exclusive of the other. I tend to think that generally the Carols of this world neither have enough understanding of science and writings associated with science that they really don’t know what scientific prediction entails, and they’re so full of themselves, and, well you know, that the fact that they don’t understand means that they can repeat their grand truths since they’re told that it is their opponents that don’t understand.

They wouldn’t be what they are if they weren’t both ignorant and bigoted against anyone who can see through them. Ignorance can be cured, unless prejudice stands in the ignorant one’s way. Increasingly, we don’t get the honestly ignorant here any more (Hausam is a great example of this), but are stuck with those so prejudiced that they can delude themselves into believing that ignorance is knowledge, dullness is intelligence. And so we have Carol with us.

Glen D
http://geocities.com/interelectromagnetic

Comment #186824

Posted by Glen Davidson on July 9, 2007 7:40 PM (e)

Well, what I meant was, I didn’t know that a post could be repeated three times within a minute.

But really, what is the case with these bots? Are they really too dull even to read a response, as Carol evidently did not? Or are they so taken with their fallacies and biases that they just don’t care, and so ape the big IDiots and each other because they think that their “truth” is so grand that no response is worth paying attention to?

Obviously neither is exclusive of the other. I tend to think that generally the Carols of this world neither have enough understanding of science and writings associated with science that they really don’t know what scientific prediction entails, and they’re so full of themselves, and, well you know, that the fact that they don’t understand means that they can repeat their grand truths since they’re told that it is their opponents that don’t understand.

They wouldn’t be what they are if they weren’t both ignorant and bigoted against anyone who can see through them. Ignorance can be cured, unless prejudice stands in the ignorant one’s way. Increasingly, we don’t get the honestly ignorant here any more (Hausam is a great example of this), but are stuck with those so prejudiced that they can delude themselves into believing that ignorance is knowledge, dullness is intelligence. And so we have Carol with us.

Glen D
http://geocities.com/interelectromagnetic

Comment #186825

Posted by David B. Benson on July 9, 2007 7:45 PM (e)

There you go, Glen D. Repeating yourself again…

:-)

Comment #186826

Posted by carol clouser on July 9, 2007 7:55 PM (e)

Torbjorn,

Thanks for the brief overview of where things currently stand in cosmology. Although I am not currently a “working” physicist (and have not been so for 20 years now) I do try to keep up with events in the fields of cosmology and MHD (and to a lesser extent other areas).

Two points:

(1) I agree that ID is not a competing scientific theory. But its proponents appear to be intelligent human beings who claim to be offering an alternative. In the interest of fairness, we cannot argue by making blanket demands that science itself cannot meet. We do not have all the answers, cannot predict all that much, and physics itself has repeatedly demonstrated that apparently outlandish ideas can actually represent reality.

(2) While I look forward to exciting developments in cosmology, I am under no illusion that what I call “cause and effect” and you call “process” will only be pushed to a higher level by those developments. In other words, the questions I posed will still be asked and not be answered, just not with the Big Bang as the target. All the philosophical issues pertaining to cosmological ID will remain in effect, and will do so endlessly until we arrive at the entity that is beyond such analysis, otherwise known as God. You seem to denigrate philosophy as unworthy of consideration. I do not agree with you on that score.

Comment #186828

Posted by carol clouser on July 9, 2007 8:10 PM (e)

Torbjorn,

By the way, I was under the impression that there existed multiple solutions to Olber’s Paradox, not based on the expansion of the universe. Such as a finite universe with non-uniform distribution of galaxies, such that the inverse square decrease in intensity of radiation is not everywhere balanced by the direct square relationship between distance and surface area of solid angles in different directions.

Comment #186831

Posted by Raging Bee on July 9, 2007 9:22 PM (e)

I agree that ID is not a competing scientific theory. But its proponents appear to be intelligent human beings who claim to be offering an alternative.

Have you made any effort or attempt to investigate those claims? Or did you just take the claims at face-value because they were made by monotheists?

Comment #186834

Posted by Henry J on July 9, 2007 10:22 PM (e)

Re “In the interest of fairness, we cannot argue by making blanket demands that science itself cannot meet.”

Oh for Pete’s sake - the demand is that a theory make SOME testable predictions, not that every conceivable question be answered in advance.

Henry

Comment #186835

Posted by David Stanton on July 9, 2007 10:29 PM (e)

Carol wrote:

“It was that one theory cannot as an argument against a competing theory demand something that it cannot itself provide. If science does not have all the answers, them science cannot demand demand of ID that it provide all the answers. If science cannot provide certain predictions, them ID is entitled to claim that there are reasons why it cannot do so.”

AS Glen and other already pointed out, this is a logical fallacy. Basically it is just the old “you can’t explain everything to my satisfaction so I don’t have to believe anything you say” routine. It is a double standard used to dismiss science. It is like saying, “well Einstein, your theory of relativity cannot completely account for ocean currents, so my story about the tooth fairy is just as good as your theory”.

Modern evolutionary theory makes lots of very specific predictions, most of which have already been found to be consistent with all available data. ID makes absolutely no predictions whatsoever, except to note that evolutioanry theory cannot yet explain everything. And every time someone tries to stretch the ID concept to make predictions, they are invariably contradicted by the evidence (often prior to the “prediction”). That is what happens when you claim to have the answer before examining the evidence.

As far as predictions of evolutiionary theory are concerned, Carol is somewhat correct. We cannot predict with any real accuracy exactly what trajectory will be taken by any individual lineage, (or the entire biosphere), in the future. Partly this is because of our lack of understanding. Partly this is because of the random element in mutations and drift. Partly this is because of the fact that evolution involves response to the environment and we cannot predict with arrcuray exactly how the environment will change (unfortunately for those warning of global warming).

However, we can make some very definitive probabilistic predictions based on current knowledge. For example, most would consider it extremely unlikely that the type of life that has come to dominate the planet could ever evolve again, given the way in which life has changed the environment. It is also extremely unlikely that certain combinations of morphological characters will ever evolve (i.e. fill in the empty spots in the tree of life), due to historical contingency and functional constraint. We can predict with some confidence that evolution is not over, for our species or most others now living (the exceptions being those that are doomed to extinction in the very near future).

As for the future of the human speices, that is a matter of considerable debate. We now have the technological ability to control our own evolution, at least to a certain extent. The question is, what will we choose for ourselves? We will have the wisdom to choose a bright future of knowledge, progress and achievement, or will we choose to move backwards or even destroy ourselves? Evolutionary theory does not have the answer to this question, but human beings will answer it, one way or another.

Comment #186838

Posted by Eric Finn on July 10, 2007 12:35 AM (e)

Carol Clouser wrote:

The point of my previous post was not to invite a litany of reasons as to why some types of predictions are not to be expected or demanded. I readily granted that by saying “Too complicated you say?” and “Too obscure you say?”.

Maybe you would kindly clarify, what type of predictions are accessible to the ID-hypotheses.
Perhaps you could give an example of a prediction by ID, either one that has been verified or one that is still to be verified (or to be refuted).

Regards
Eric

Comment #186841

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson, OM on July 10, 2007 1:25 AM (e)

carol:

carol clouser wrote:

Thanks for the brief overview of where things currently stand in cosmology.

Well, I wouldn’t exactly say that this is where things stands. You asked specifically about initial conditions or or embeddings of bigbang (“before”) and what currently seems to be reasonably achievable.

And right now the surge of exoplanets, modeling planetary systems, and the possibilities for observing habitable earth analogs (within 2 +/- 1 year in the latest estimate) is the most exciting IMHO anyway. Totally different area. :-) [And the Planck Surveyor goes up in a year, and first results take about two years. You do the math.]

But there are many things coming together. CDM (as in Lambda-CDM) has been observed directly two times already AFAIK. And that is only stuff I see as a layman in these areas.

carol clouser wrote:

we cannot argue by making blanket demands that science itself cannot meet.

As long as we keep the distinction between unfalsifiable theories without predictions (ID), falsifiable but unverified (string theory latest at Planck scales) and verified theories (most anything else :-), we will be truthful.

ID zero results, science pretty much everything else.

carol clouser wrote:

I am under no illusion that what I call “cause and effect” and you call “process” will only be pushed to a higher level by those developments

I am not sure what you mean.

The existence of multiverses is one thing to verify. See above.

Another thing that creationists like to raise is finetuning. The most serious finetunings were given by inflation, so that too is answerable in principle.

It is true that if the landscape will leave us with an environmental or anthropic solution to answer some of the remaining parameters instead of a unique set of laws, there will be a huge debate. Because it will be a novel situation.

If a solution model picks out remaining parameters naturally as within its probable range, it could possibly be interpreted as a successful prediction. I think this is Tegmark’s et al strategy, and I find it tentatively reasonable.

In any case, what science and its methods is, is constantly developed. And this debate is not answerable to philosophy, but to the needs of science and outmost to the usefulness of it all.

Philosophy that doesn’t care about our hard gained knowledge isn’t interesting, IMHO. If you want a positive view, I think philosophy is the thin shell that explores the boundaries and possibilities of our methods and knowledge. I’m not sure it can lead, but it can anticipate.

carol clouser wrote:

I was under the impression that there existed multiple solutions to Olber’s Paradox

Perhaps. All I claim is that it is an answer - it successfully predicts (well, postdicts in this case) an answer.

(And, though it is superfluous to factor in, universal expansion is much more natural than non-uniform distributions that we don’t even observe locally.)

Comment #186982

Posted by PvM on July 10, 2007 9:06 PM (e)

Cool Rob Crowther from the DI seems to have noticed my posting (see trackback about 4 year old dog). Will respond soon… Woof…

Comment #192077

Posted by George on August 4, 2007 3:22 AM (e)

The entire essence of evolutionism is that creatures mutate into life forms that have a better or at least equal ability to reproduce.

To reproduce, what could be better or equal to splitting yourself in half?

What could be worse than having to care for a baby for many years before it can fend for itself.

The inability to explain the proliferation of male/female reproduction and the requirement of nurturing is the failure of the entire theory. Humans are not “more advanced” than self-replicating bacteria from a survival of the fittest standpoint.

Comment #192176

Posted by PvM on August 4, 2007 10:50 AM (e)

George wrote:

The entire essence of evolutionism is that creatures mutate into life forms that have a better or at least equal ability to reproduce.

Close but not close enough. Life forms evolve by mutation AND selection

George wrote:

To reproduce, what could be better or equal to splitting yourself in half?

To merge your genes with another and produce offspring/

What could be worse than having to care for a baby for many years before it can fend for itself.

Having a baby which gets eaten by the many predators?

The inability to explain the proliferation of male/female reproduction and the requirement of nurturing is the failure of the entire theory. Humans are not “more advanced” than self-replicating bacteria from a survival of the fittest standpoint.

Indeed, bacteria are far more successful in many more aspects. As far as male female reproduction and nurturing, I am sure you are familiar with the relevant literature on these issues? Would you care to share with us where your studies have taken you?

Or should you be more curious George?

Comment #192211

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson, OM on August 4, 2007 1:18 PM (e)

George wrote:

Humans are not “more advanced” than self-replicating bacteria from a survival of the fittest standpoint.

Seems you don’t know that bacteria do the equivalent to sexual reproduction at times, IIRC in three different ways.

Why? Because the descriptive term for a non-sexual reproductive population is “dead end”.

Comment #192217

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson, OM on August 4, 2007 1:30 PM (e)

To be slightly more informative, I think biologists recognize non-sexual populations (loss of sexuality) as heading for extinction.

The other side of the coin is that sexual populations evolve and speciate faster, which is why it is such a common trait in the first place. Go to Talk Origins and learn all about it.

Comment #192221

Posted by David Stanton on August 4, 2007 1:49 PM (e)

George wrote:

“The inability to explain the proliferation of male/female reproduction and the requirement of nurturing is the failure of the entire theory.”

So once again, the argument is that “if you can’t explain everything to my satisfaction, I don’t have to believe anything you say”.

Well, in this case George may at least have a point. One of the biggest challenges to modern evolutionary theory is explaining the ubiquity of sexual reproduction. The question is very complicated, but the answer seems to be that the long-term advantages of sexual reproduction outweigh the short-term disadvantages. And Torbjorn is correct. Most asexual lineages, (with a few notable exceptions), do seem to be doomed to extinction in the long-run. This is perhaps due to the lack of genetic variation on which natural selection can act. If the environment changes rapidly, such lineages may not be able to adapt quickly enough to survive.

However, one important thing to remember is that random mutation and natural selection does not necessarily produce the best possible organism. It simply results in organisms that are good enough to survive under the present conditions, or not. That doesn’t mean that they are perfect, or even as good as they could be. Genetic studies have in fact shown that some organisms reproduce asexually due to intrinsic genetic constraints rather than because it is necessarily the best reproductive strategy. That might work OK for a while, but in the end it might mean extinction. That is the way evolution works. It cannot predict what the best possible solution would be and act accordingly. What happens happens. What survives survives and what doesn’t doesn’t.

As for nurturing, if it is an adaptive trait it should survive. If it is not it should be selected against in competition with alternative systems and should eventually disappear. Either way, the existence of parental care hardly invalidates the theory of evolution, especially if the concept of inclusive fitness is taken into account.

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