MathGrrl’s CSI Thread (cont.) 3

A further continuation of this thread as it is growing rather long.

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240 Responses to “MathGrrl’s CSI Thread (cont.) 3”


  1. 1 Zachriel June 9, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    PaV: Remember, patterns have to be “specified”. Being a “pattern” isn’t sufficient.

    Let’s assume for the purposes of discussion that we can determine a specification. Presumably the chance hypothesis is independent of the specification, so how do we, in general, choose a chance hypothesis?

    • 2 PaV June 10, 2011 at 2:54 am

      Usually the chance hypothesis is determined to some extent by the circumstances surrounding the specification. So, unless you’ve recognized a pattern, and know something about how the pattern, a chance hypothesis may, or may not, be available.

      An example of that is the ev program. It is a type of a neural network. And establishing an exact chance hypothesis is extremely difficult.

      OTOH, Dembski’s example of the first hundred numbers in binary code is simple, because with binary code the probability of any digit of the string is 50%. So, the chance hypothesis is just 2^-n, where n represents the length of the string.

  2. 4 Onlooker June 9, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Over at UD, Gil Dodgen comments

    [Author Richard Milton] talks of a “global paradigm shift” occurring when “this blinkered dogmatism” [Neo-Darwinism] can no longer continue in the face of overwhelming evidence and a new theory deposing the old one.

    NSFT [Not Seeing the Forest for the Trees] is a symptom of cognitive dissonance that will not be relieved until a global paradigm shift occurs. In the 20 years since Milton’s book was published, we are much, much closer to that occurrence.

    It’s just as I was saying earlier in this thread. The end is closer now than ever. Maybe we wont even need CSI, for when Darwinism falls, ID will be true by default. Darwinism, and this thread, could be wrapped up by next Wednesday!

    • 5 Seversky June 9, 2011 at 10:42 pm

      I predict that in another twenty years ID will still be a fringe group largely ignored by mainstream evolutionary biology; Richard Milton will still be the author of what Richard Dawkins once described in a scathing review as “silly-season drivel” and Gil Dodgen and his ilk will still be triumphantly proclaiming the end of Darwinism to each other – but hardly anyone else.

      • 6 Onlooker June 9, 2011 at 11:09 pm

        If so, in the 40 years since Milton’s book was published, we will be much, much, much closer to the end of Darwinism.

      • 7 PaV June 10, 2011 at 3:04 am

        It was Lorentz that said scientific revolutions happen only when the scientists holding the older and wrong opinion, end up dying.

        I would say another 20 years would be enough for the “blinkered dogmatists” to die and retire.

        So, Seversky, I disagree. Darwinism is dying each and every day. The more that biotechnology employs ever more sophisticated techniques, Darwinism ends up being repudiated. Not the other way around. I’ve been in the ID camp for 6-7 years. I don’t think I’ve seen a single experimental result that has proven problematic for ID; yet, everyday brings about results that Darwinism simply can’t explain.

        Darwinism will simply wither on the vine.

      • 8 Seversky June 11, 2011 at 12:21 am

        As always, this rather depends on what you mean by “Darwinism”. Does it refer to the theory of evolution or is it a catch-all term for anything in biology that you find objectionable on religious grounds?

        If you are referring to the theory of evolution, it should be noted that it has moved some way beyond Darwin’s original conception, to the point where he and his seminal work are now of largely historical significance. You might as well be attacking “Newtonism” in physics.

        In one sense it is appropriate, however, since all you are offering as an alternative is a form of neo-Paleyism, once aptly described (by one who should know) as “just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory”.

  3. 9 Alan Fox June 10, 2011 at 12:05 am

    PaV [commenting in the earlier thread]
    June 9, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Alan:

    Would you like to look at my copy of No Free Lunch and view all of the margin notes, underlining, highlights, and highlights upon highlights it contains?

    It was hard work to come to grips with CSI. No pain, no gain.

    I can’t give easy answers. Easy examples, yes. But not easy answers.

    OK. How can that be arranged? Can you upload a scan of the page(s) where Dembski calculates the CSI of a bacterial flagellum?

    BTW I note Dembski wrote back in 2001:

    The key to this determination, at least in biology, is Michael Behe’s notion of irreducible complexity. Irreducibly complex biological systems exhibit specified complexity.* Irreducible complexity is therefore a special case of specified complexity. Because specified complexity is a probabilistic notion, determining whether a physical system exhibits specified complexity requires being able to calculate probabilities. One of the objections against intelligent design becoming a viable scientific research program is that one cannot calculate the probabilities needed to confirm specified complexity for actual systems in nature. This chapter shows that even though precise calculations may not always be possible, setting bounds for the relevant probabilities is possible, and that this is adequate for establishing specified complexity in practice.

    *my emphasis

    Seems Dembski endorsed Behe’s idea that the bacterial flagellum is “irreducibly complex” though Matke and others have cast doubt on this.

    • 10 PaV June 10, 2011 at 3:52 am

      Alan:

      Can you upload a scan of the page(s) where Dembski calculates the CSI of a bacterial flagellum?

      That’s the easy part. It’s hardly marked up at all.

      I’m talking about the earlier chapters in which CSI is defined.

      But, Alan, what is observable in your response is your extreme reluctance to buy Dembski’s book and work hard at understanding it.

      Should I just write out Einstein’s field equations and say, “There, that’s General Relativity.” No, you take classes and read books to understand it.

      You want knowledge without effort. Which suggests that you don’t really want knowledge.

      This chapter shows that even though precise calculations may not always be possible, setting bounds for the relevant probabilities is possible, and that this is adequate for establishing specified complexity in practice.

      Do you think this is a fault or a failing? If you do, it’s because you don’t really understand what Dembski is saying here.

      He’s saying that when we make simplifying assumptions, the probabilities involved still exceed the UPB. An exact answer is not needed when the improbabilities vastly exceed the UPB.

      • 11 Mark Frank June 10, 2011 at 5:53 am

        Pav

        In his paper “Specification: The Pattern That Signifies Intelligence” Dembski writes:

        This paper reviews, clarifies, and extends previous work on specification in my books The Design Inference and No Free Lunch.

        There is a whole section beginning on page 32 devoted to explaining how this paper supersedes and overcomes some problems in the definition of CSI in The Design Inference and NFL. Should we not take this paper as the definitive account of CSI?

      • 12 Alan Fox June 10, 2011 at 6:05 am

        Interesting! Your reluctance to produce what you claim exists (A definition and a methodology for calculating the CSI of a biological entity) is due to the possibility that Alan Fox won’t understand it? Let me worry about what Alan Fox can understand. Why should you care what one sceptic is capable of grasping?. There are others here who have much greater depth of understanding. And if you can produce what you claim you can, there will be wider interest.

        An exact answer is not needed when the improbabilities vastly exceed the UPB.

        Well, now you are telling me what I suggested earlier; that all this is about is that biological processes are too improbable to have evolved. You have no new insight. This is just the standard argument from incredulity. Thanks for finally confirming CSI is a trivial concept.

  4. 13 Zachriel June 10, 2011 at 1:31 am

    PaV: A “soup” full of nucleotides has much higher entropy than a DNA/RNA strand.

    Which has more entropy, a diamond or a human brain?
    Which has more entropy, a shuffled deck or an ordered deck?

    PaV: What’s your point, exactly?

    Just making sure we are talking about the same thing, thermodynamic entropy. People often confuse human notions of macroscopic order with thermodynamic ‘order’, or the analogy with the thing itself. In any case, the answers to the questions would clarify the situation.

    • 14 PaV June 10, 2011 at 4:47 pm

      Alan:

      nteresting! Your reluctance to produce what you claim exists (A definition and a methodology for calculating the CSI of a biological entity) is due to the possibility that Alan Fox won’t understand it?

      Here’s Dembski’s comment:

      his paper reviews, clarifies, and extends previous work on specification in my books The Design Inference and No Free Lunch.

      Alan, were you asking about “specified complexity”, or about CSI? CSI, as a term, doesn’t appear in the Specification Paper, except as a footnote. If you go back, you’ll see I mentioned something about this along the way. Finally, you’ll notice that his Paper “extends” what he’s done before. It, therefore, assume familiarity with the previous works.

      You’re better off fully understanding CSI, realizing that your objections to CSI are some of those that Dembski addresses in his Specification paper, and then read the paper. That’s the sensible order of things. What Dembski does in his Specification paper is to combine several concepts found in NFL into one, with the result that it is no longer a dangling improbability—something you seem to dislike. Let’s put it another way, Dembski does people’s thinking for them.

      Well, now you are telling me what I suggested earlier; that all this is about is that biological processes are too improbable to have evolved. You have no new insight. This is just the standard argument from incredulity. Thanks for finally confirming CSI is a trivial concept.

      Close-minded as ever, eh, Alan?

      I’ve been explaining how CSI functions. You could have read Dembski’s book and figured it out for yourself.

      I’ve also been generalizing it—just as Dembski does, because CSI is a general kind of concept with applications to other instances of design.

      Lastly, what I wrote was what you quoted. Now, do you see anything in that quote about “biologcial improbability”? I only see “improbability”.

      And, if “improbability” is such a “trivial concept”, then what about “probability”, is that trivial too? And if “incredulity” is such a false premise, then what about “credulity”? After all, the whole SETI project is based on Drake’s Equation, which is none other than an argument of “probability” versus “improbability”. Do you want your cake and to eat it, too?

      • 15 Alan Fox June 10, 2011 at 5:18 pm

        PaV:

        I’ve also been generalizing it—just as Dembski does, because CSI is a general kind of concept with applications to other instances of design.

        Look, PaV, either CSI has some value as a concept, in which case it should be demonstrable as such, or it doesn’t, in which case, exhortations to the contrary will be ignored by rational people.

        The time for arguing about alien life will be when and if SETI has data to work with. The Drake equation is amusing speculation. I hope some real evidence turns up but my head tells me it won’t in my lifetime. My instincts also tell me ID is an empty set. Some evidence to the contrary might persuade me otherwise but like SETI speculation, until the data and evidence is there to see, it is impossible to say anything useful about alien life or CSI

      • 16 PaV June 10, 2011 at 10:11 pm

        Alan:

        Look, PaV, either CSI has some value as a concept, in which case it should be demonstrable as such, or it doesn’t, in which case, exhortations to the contrary will be ignored by rational people.

        Read NFL. Read Dembski’s chapter on “Doing the Calculation.” If it’s not demonstrable, then what was he doing.

        You simply choose to disagree. And why? Because your “instincts” tell you ID is wrong. Why don’t you use your reason?

        The time for arguing about alien life will be when and if SETI has data to work with. The Drake equation is amusing speculation. I hope some real evidence turns up but my head tells me it won’t in my lifetime. My instincts also tell me ID is an empty set. Some evidence to the contrary might persuade me otherwise but like SETI speculation, until the data and evidence is there to see, it is impossible to say anything useful about alien life or CSI

        How opened-minded of you, Alan. But in the meantime, your tax dollars are going to fund this search for aliens, and you do nothing. Yet, with ID, you’re spending time on the internet to dispute it.

        The Drake equation: amusing speculation. So when Sagan used it time and time again, he was just amusing himself and others?

        When it comes to ID, you have instincts. When it comes to the Drake Equation, it’s your “head” that is telling you “it won’t happen in my lifetime.”. Oh, so it will happen at some time. REASON tells you so. It’s just a matter of time. But faced with unimaginable improbabilities for anything found in the cell to have arisen by ‘chance’, reason gets thrown out the window, only to be replaced by “instinct”. Wonderful. You’re a great scientist.

      • 17 Rose June 10, 2011 at 11:08 pm

        PaV, said:

        “Here’s Dembski’s comment:

        his paper reviews, clarifies, and extends previous work on specification in my books The Design Inference and No Free Lunch.”

        And:

        “Finally, you’ll notice that his Paper “extends” what he’s done before. It, therefore, assume familiarity with the previous works.”

        Extends, eh? Haven’t I seen that word here before?

        “Let’s put it another way, Dembski does people’s thinking for them.”

        That is a SCARY thought! Run for your lives!

        “I’ve been explaining how CSI functions.”

        Uh, no you haven’t.

        “’I’ve also been generalizing it—just as Dembski does, because CSI is a general kind of concept with applications to other instances of design.”

        Generalizing isn’t the right word. Lying, fabricating, conjuring, and proselytizing are more accurate.

        “Lastly, what I wrote was what you quoted. Now, do you see anything in that quote about “biologcial improbability”? I only see “improbability”.”

        Okay then, you’re saying that ID, which you and other ID-ists say is based on improbabilities, does not apply to biological things, therefore we can just forget about ID when it comes to evolutionary biology or any kind of biology. I’m glad that’s settled.

  5. 18 Alan Fox June 10, 2011 at 6:15 am

    Thanks for posting the link, Mark.

    I note Dembski uses only “specified complexity” and the methodology is the usual “one in a gadzillion” routine, merely setting an arbitrary threshold for deciding on “design”.

    I think a pattern is forming.

  6. 20 Alan Fox June 10, 2011 at 6:36 am

    PaV addresses a comment to Lizzie Liddle at UD:

    But if ID is about challenging Darwinian orthodoxy, and demonstrating the huge improbabilities involved in simple mutational pathways, (think of Doug Axe’s work here), then I don’t think, as a scientist, you’re entitled to being unmoved by the vast improbabilities.

    Seems to confirm that ID is merely about demonstrating the improbability of evolutionary theory.

    • 21 Rose June 10, 2011 at 6:50 am

      Yep, it’s all ‘evolutionary theory isn’t likely, therefore god-did-it’.

      • 22 Alan Fox June 10, 2011 at 7:19 am

        To PaV’s

        If you think ID’s task is to prove God’s existence, then you’re insistence that huge improbabilities still leave you unpersuaded is understandable.

        Lizzie Liddle responds:

        No, I don’t think that “ID’s task is to prove God’s existence”. I don’t think “ID” has a task – I thought it was a theory, or, at least, an inference!

        And it’s not that the “huge improbabilities” per se “leave [me] unpersuaded”. The “huge imrobabilities” come with three problems, as I see it.

        The first is that I think the idea that huge improbabilities leave us with ID as the default is logically flawed, even if I accepted the huge improbabilities. The second is that I query the priors that result in their calculation. The third is that no scientist is even claiming that the phenomena for which the improbabilities are calculated happened fortuitously.

        See, Pav,

        “One in a gadzillion” is not an argument in support of an ID idea. Just claiming evolutionary theory is unbelievable gets you nowhere on the path of developing a coherent theory of ID

        Your UPB is just pulled out of the air.

        Evolutionary processes work cumulatively. Tornado-in-a-junkyard arguments are missing the point and misunderstanding the process..

    • 23 PaV June 10, 2011 at 9:32 pm

      What a surprise, Alan.

      And if Darwinism is wrong, isn’t ID useful to science?

      • 24 PaV June 10, 2011 at 10:35 pm

        Alan:

        I’ve looked for Liddle’s response. I don’t see it. What thread did you get that from?

      • 25 PaV June 10, 2011 at 10:43 pm

        Alan:

        Your UPB is just pulled out of the air.

        That’s why in his Specification paper, Dembski employs Seth Lloyds’ calculation that the most bit interactions that could occur in the Universe is 10^120.

        But somehow, someway, Nature, using nothing more than chance, can string together a 110 a.a. protein needed for cell division. That’s 20^110, or 10^175.

        But your “instinct” says, “Nah, I just know Nature can do it. I just know.” You’re a man of faith. Faith in ‘chance’.

      • 26 Rose June 10, 2011 at 11:24 pm

        “And if Darwinism is wrong, isn’t ID useful to science?”

        No. Since ID isn’t scientific, it is of no use to science, whether the ToE is wrong or not. Since the ToE is a scientific endeavor and theory, if anything were to replace it, it would have to be a scientific endeavor and theory, not your or anyone elses religious beliefs.

        What is the “Darwinism” thing you keep referring to? Is it an imaginary enemy for your imaginary religious beliefs?

      • 27 Alan Fox June 10, 2011 at 11:49 pm

        For PaV:

        Lizzie Liddle responding to your comment on UD

        If you think ID’s task is to prove God’s existence, then you’re insistence that huge improbabilities still leave you unpersuaded is understandable.

        But if ID is about challenging Darwinian orthodoxy, and demonstrating the huge improbabilities involved in simple mutational pathways, (think of Doug Axe’s work here), then I don’t think, as a scientist, you’re entitled to being unmoved by the vast improbabilities.

        where she responds:

        No, I don’t think that “ID’s task is to prove God’s existence”. I don’t think “ID” has a task – I thought it was a theory, or, at least, an inference!

        And it’s not that the “huge improbabilities” per se “leave [me] unpersuaded”. The “huge imrobabilities” come with three problems, as I see it.

        The first is that I think the idea that huge improbabilities leave us with ID as the default is logically flawed, even if I accepted the huge improbabilities. The second is that I query the priors that result in their calculation. The third is that no scientist is even claiming that the phenomena for which the improbabilities are calculated happened fortuitously.

  7. 28 Rose June 10, 2011 at 6:44 am

    PaV said:

    “I don’t think I’ve seen a single experimental result that has proven problematic for ID”

    What a surprise.

    • 29 PaV June 10, 2011 at 5:02 pm

      Rose:

      Please point one out for me.

      • 30 Rose June 10, 2011 at 11:39 pm

        You’re joking, aren’t you? How can I point out something that would be a problem for your religious beliefs that can find an imaginary justification for absolutely anything? No matter what is pointed out, you would still argue that it fits within your beliefs and ID.

        Another thing is that ID and its parts (CSI, EF, specified complexity, etc.) have no specific definition or evidence, so its vagary allows you to claim whatever you like, regardless of the truth and reality.

  8. 31 Alan Fox June 10, 2011 at 7:00 am

    Indeed.

    No ID proponent has yet formulated a testable hypothesis and then looked for evidence to support it hence any evidence can be claimed as “not problematic” for ID. This is why we are asking for clarification of your claim, PaV. You could advance the cause of “Intelligent Design” immeasurably ( 🙂 ) by delivering on your claim.

    • 32 PaV June 10, 2011 at 5:01 pm

      Alan:

      Pay attention. Look at Behe’s “Edge of Evolution”. Look at his latest article in the QRB. Look at experiments showing that enzyme pathways lie outside of Darwinian mechanisms, etc.

      All of these support ID’s argument against the insufficiency of Darwinian mechanisms.

      And, then, if you had paid any attention at all, you would have known about Jonathan Wells new book on “Junk DNA”, and the history of the argument between Darwinists and IDers, and now fairly clearly won by the IDers.

      But, of course, you don’t accept such results—-because otherwise you might have to change your way of thinking.

      • 33 Alan Fox June 10, 2011 at 8:31 pm

        Look at experiments showing that enzyme pathways lie outside of Darwinian mechanisms.

        Experiments???

        Cites, please!

      • 34 Rose June 11, 2011 at 2:45 am

        You’re telling Alan to pay attention? And you repeatedly tell people to be “current”?

        You keep attacking the strawman “Darwinism” with antiquated arguments based mostly on your 1859 thinking, and you base your religious belief system on ancient fairy tales dreamed up by superstitious goat herders, and pious child molesters.

        Science and the ToE are not “Darwinism” and this is 2011. Who’s not paying attention and keeping current?

    • 35 PaV June 10, 2011 at 9:34 pm

      I’ve already mentioned again and again, that Kimura, faced with experimental evidence that was not in conformity with neo-Darwinian orthodoxy, fashioned his Neutral Theory. It’s not ID that has to wrestle with results that are “surprising”, but Darwinism. Why is that Alan?

      • 36 PaV June 10, 2011 at 10:20 pm

        Alan:

        See Douglas Axe’s papers. He just recently rebutted Arthur Hunt’s criticisms of his 2004 paper at some website. It can be found at UD right now.

      • 37 Alan Fox June 10, 2011 at 10:48 pm

        Cites please! “See Douglas Axe’s papers” is not a citation. You are claiming “expriments showing that enzyme pathways lie outside of Darwinian mechanisms”, remember!.

      • 38 Alan Fox June 10, 2011 at 10:56 pm

        I keep saying I am happy to agree, for the sake of argument, that current evolutionary theory is far short of a complete explanation of the observed diversity of life. It is a work in progress and scientists are working hard at improving aspects of it. ID, as espoused in its various forms depending on who is spokesman de jour is usually wrestling with oily straw men.

      • 39 Rose June 10, 2011 at 11:48 pm

        Alan may have a different answer but I would say that your belief that ‘god-did-it’ will always give you the option of saying that you aren’t surprised at anything you manipulate to fit that belief.

  9. 40 Rose June 10, 2011 at 7:29 am

    An ID-ist delivering on their claim? That’s immeasurably improbable.

  10. 41 Alan Fox June 10, 2011 at 7:32 am

    Rather interesting question question from Dr Liddle, Pav. Please don’t feel you need to keep responding here when Lizzie is asking the same question at UD. We can all read your definitive reply. And maybe some other ID proponent or even Dr Dembski will furnish a killer response.

    Let’s see what happens!

    • 42 PaV June 10, 2011 at 4:57 pm

      Alan:

      Liz Liddle needs to be referred back to NFL. And the whole idea of CSI isn’t that you can identify and calculate exact probabilities for ANY “target” that you can think of. Rather, when it comes to the world of biology, we have functionally specified entities whose probabilities are easily calculated given known chemical and biological processes.

      Liz just needs to shift her “target”. Is that asking too much?

      • 43 Alan Fox June 10, 2011 at 8:09 pm

        She has been at pains to point out that there are no evolutionary targets, for all the good it is doing her. Remind me who is closed minded in this discussion.

      • 44 PaV June 10, 2011 at 10:24 pm

        Alan:

        While Darwinists insist there are no targets—while still talking about ‘directions’, like Dawkins—the word “target” has significance in Dembski’s work, as evidenced by P(T|H). The “T” stands for the ‘target’ pattern.

        But, of course, you would have known this if you had bought and read Dembski’s No Free Lunch book. Tell us again, Alan, why haven’t done either?

      • 45 Rose June 11, 2011 at 1:15 am

        PaV said:

        “we have functionally specified entities whose probabilities are easily calculated given known chemical and biological processes.”

        First, prove that anything in nature is functionally specified. Let’s see the plan, the parts list, the blueprints, the purpose, the execution, and the designer/creator/builder.

        Let’s also see you or any other ID-ist “easily” calculate the improbability (in the wild on the Earth) of a three legged duck, a hermaphroditic dragonfly, an aberrant butterfly (colors/patterns), a partially leucistic American Robin, a Mallard-Wood Duck hybrid, a ‘normal’ T-Rex, and any four legged creature on a planet or planets other than the Earth, taking every planet in the universe into consideration. Do it with, and without, any “known” data, processes, information, or knowledge about those things that is already known by yourself or any other humans. Show your calculations.

        “Liz just needs to shift her “target”. Is that asking too much?”

        Shift it to what?

  11. 46 Onlooker June 10, 2011 at 11:34 am

    everyday brings about results that Darwinism simply can’t explain.

    Excellent! We’ve got them on the ropes. So, one of those results Darwinism can’t explain is…?

  12. 47 Zachriel June 10, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    PaV: Usually the chance hypothesis is determined to some extent by the circumstances surrounding the specification. So, unless you’ve recognized a pattern, and know something about how the pattern, a chance hypothesis may, or may not, be available.

    So Dembski’s contention that, even if nothing is known about how they arose, objects can exhibit features (CSI) that reliably signal the action of an intelligent cause, is in error.

    Thought so, because chaotic functions have highly complex outputs, while being highly specified. A chance hypothesis that doesn’t incorporate the function itself, would yield a false positive for design.

    Really it means that you are actually comparing hypotheses. So when examining this text, you assume someone or something with some knowledge of the English language, then compare it to a uniform probability distribution. But in the case of a dynamical system, a uniform probability distribution gives a false positive for design.

    • 48 PaV June 10, 2011 at 5:10 pm

      Zachriel:

      So Dembski’s contention that, even if nothing is known about how they arose, objects can exhibit features (CSI) that reliably signal the action of an intelligent cause, is in error.

      You need to read more critically. Now I omitted a word by error, but I suspect you figured it out by context.

      I should have written:

      So, unless you’ve recognized a pattern, and know something about how the patternarose, a chance hypothesis may, or may not, be available.

      In the case of cells, they have proteins. They are long-chain nucleotide polymers. We know that there is no chemical preference for any of the four bases as they attach to the sugar-phosphate backbone. They’re independent. Thus, any combination of bases has the probability of arising—within the structure of DNA—of 4^N, where N=length of the polynucleotide. The fact that these polynucleotide chains are “recognized” by ribosomes and transcriptomes means they are carriers of information, and thus “specified”, just as any word in the English language is “specified” from 26 letters.

      So, we have a “specification”. And a “chance hypothesis” affixed to it. CSI can thus be calculated and evaluated.

      Do you know how Sanskrit arose? Do you deny it’s specified?

      • 49 Rose June 11, 2011 at 4:28 am

        PaV, you’re the one who needs to read more critically. Zachriel already added the word you left out: “arose”. His response to you was accurate to what you said. You’re the one missing the point.

        Do you really think that bringing up Sanskrit is going to help your agenda?

  13. 50 Zachriel June 10, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    PaV, these are relevant questions.

    Which has more entropy, a diamond or a human brain?
    Which has more entropy, a shuffled deck or an ordered deck?

    The answers may help you understand the fallacious thermodynamic arguments against evolution.

    • 51 PaV June 10, 2011 at 5:13 pm

      I understand the thermodynamic arguments against evolution. And they have considerable weight. But it’s a whole lot easier to wiggle out of these types of arguments than it is to wiggle yourself out of the rather patently obvious conclusion that DNA is a coded language, and, as such, is designed.

      Now, tell me, Zachriel: do you understand Sewell’s argument. Do you want me to derive his equations for you?

  14. 52 PaV June 10, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Mark Frank:

    Should we not take this paper as the definitive account of CSI?,

    If you take his Paper as definitive, then CSI basically doesn’t exist anymore; only “specified complexity”. I think it’s a shame, because CSI, to me, is a more intuitive framework. But there are the objectors . . . .

    • 53 Rose June 11, 2011 at 4:47 am

      PaV, I see that you don’t want to offend or challenge your prophet Dembski, so if you take his paper definitively you’ve gone along with his elimination of CSI as a “framework” for ID. However, if you can manage to think for yourself, and consider CSI to be a more intuitive framework, maybe you could show us your calculations of the CSI in the things I previously suggested.

      Or you could show your calculations for ‘specified complexity’ in those things.

  15. 54 Zachriel June 10, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    PaV: Do you want me to derive his equations for you?

    You might try to apply the equations to the examples given above. Or, if you prefer, we’ll give you theanswers.

    PaV: do you understand Sewell’s argument. Do you want me to derive his equations for you?

    Yes, and he makes a number of fundamental errors. We’ll start with the most fundamental, a strawman:

    Sewell: “Can anything happen in an open system?”

    No.

    • 55 PaV June 10, 2011 at 9:42 pm

      You might try to apply the equations to the examples given above. Or, if you prefer, we’ll give you theanswers.

      I’ve already applied them. And you don’t seem to understand. So what, exactly, kinds of answers are you going to give me: uninformed ones?

      Sewell: Can anything happen in an open system?
      Zachriel: No.

      I see you prefer ‘yes’, ‘no’ answers. Would you like to elaborate? What does Sewell go on to state? What about his ‘generalization’ of entropy? I await.

  16. 56 Pedant June 10, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    But it’s a whole lot easier to wiggle out of these types of arguments than it is to wiggle yourself out of the rather patently obvious conclusion that DNA is a coded language, and, as such, is designed.

    IF DNA were a language, one could express feelings and observations in it. Can you say, “I’m grasping at straws,” in DNA?

    • 57 PaV June 10, 2011 at 9:44 pm

      Pedant:

      IF DNA were a language, one could express feelings and observations in it. Can you say, “I’m grasping at straws,” in DNA?

      Tell me, can you express your feelings and observations in ‘machine language’?

      If you answer in the affirmative, then show us exactly.

  17. 58 Onlooker June 10, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Do you know how Sanskrit arose?

    Does Sanskrit falsify Darwinism?

  18. 59 Onlooker June 10, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    …Is Sanskrit one of those “results Darwinism cannot explain”?

    • 60 PaV June 10, 2011 at 9:45 pm

      Onlooker,

      I get the impression that you think you’re clever. Disabuse yourself of that notion, please.

      • 61 Onlooker June 10, 2011 at 9:54 pm

        Far from clever. So stupid I don’t know what your point was re Sanskrit.

        But you tease me, you naughty thing. You tell me there are results “everyday that Darwinism simply can’t explain” then you neglect to tell me what even one of these results is.

      • 62 PaV June 10, 2011 at 10:26 pm

        Onlooker:

        Is it that you’re “stupid”, or that you’re “obdurate”? I vote for the second.

  19. 63 Petrushka June 10, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    It would be more to the point to ask if we knew how English arose. Evolution captured in snapshots. What more could you ask?

    Is there any reason to believe that the history of English is significantly different from the history of any language?

    • 64 PaV June 10, 2011 at 10:48 pm

      Petrushka:

      It would be more to the point to ask if we knew how English arose.

      This is a naked attempt to dodge the dilemma you face. We might have a fair idea of how English arose; but probably not much of one for Sanskrit.

      Yet, it functions as a language. The point is established.

      • 65 Rose June 11, 2011 at 3:36 am

        “This is a naked attempt to dodge the dilemma you face.”

        That’s funny coming from a Dembski-ist.

  20. 66 Onlooker June 10, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Should I just write out Einstein’s field equations and say, “There, that’s General Relativity.” No, you take classes and read books to understand it.

    Maybe the problem with CSI is that it’s so clever only three people understand it. That’s why ID hasn’t hit the mainstream yet. Maybe it’s less than three. Maybe it’s one.

    Or, PaV, you could be in a unique position. The Eddington to a man of the calibre of an Einstein. Maybe you could run evening classes.

    • 67 PaV June 10, 2011 at 10:27 pm

      Onlooker:

      How would you like to be third, like Eddington? Why don’t you go out and buy a copy of NFL and read it?

      • 68 Onlooker June 10, 2011 at 10:58 pm

        First I’d like a result that Darwinism simply can’t explain. Just so I know I’m pitching in with the right team.

        Two things you should understand: I am stupid, and I want to be on your side.

      • 69 Rose June 11, 2011 at 1:40 am

        Would jesus approve of selling books? Shouldn’t jesus believers just give everything away?

  21. 70 Alan Fox June 10, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    BTW PaV, do you get commission on book sales of NFL?

  22. 71 Toronto June 11, 2011 at 1:02 am

    Pav,

    ID needs to step up and address the theory of evolution as it exists today in 2011.

    If you keep bringing up Darwin, people are going to assume ID can only address the science of 1859 instead of today.

    I think the term “Darwinist” will not disappear however, so I suggest our side address only the arguments of “Dembskiists”.

  23. 72 Toronto June 11, 2011 at 1:17 am

    Pav,

    Here’s a serious point I’d like to see you address.

    One thing I would like to see is both sides following the evidence.

    I’d like to know your opinion on whether Dembski should have changed his position on the global flood story.

    Based on the science, he did not believe the story was literally as depicted in the Bible but was pressured to change that position by his employers.

    1) Do you believe he should have stood his ground, or changed his position?

    2) Do you believe schools should be pressured to abandon scientific grounds for any position, in order to accommodate religious pressure, as Dembski did?

    • 73 PaV June 11, 2011 at 4:30 am

      Toronto:

      I’d like to know your opinion on whether Dembski should have changed his position on the global flood story.

      I have no idea what you’re talking about. Further, this sounds so ridiculous that I suspect that it is a complete myth—which, of course, is the steady diet of the liberal mind.

      • 74 Rose June 11, 2011 at 5:00 am

        You’re in no position to accuse others of believing myths.

        Your political agenda is showing again.

        You obviously don’t know as much about your prophet Dembski as you should.

      • 75 Toronto June 11, 2011 at 3:19 pm

        ID wants to be taken seriously as a movement without religious bias.

        I want to know if that is your own position.

        1) Dembski’s evidence said no world-wide flood.

        2) Dembski’s employer said the Bible says there was, so Dembski had better agree.

        3) Dembski agreed that the Bible trumped his evidence.

        4) Unlike Dembski,will you follow the evidence?

  24. 76 Rose June 11, 2011 at 2:13 am

    PaV said:

    “While Darwinists insist there are no targets—while still talking about ‘directions’”

    A little bit on directions: Are the directions a tornado travels, directions that are specified by the tornado and/or an intelligent designer? When a bug or bird or a board are caught up in a tornado and spun and thrown in many directions, did they choose those directions? When a person accidentally slips and falls off a cliff, do they choose the direction they fall? Did they choose to accidentally slip and fall? If two butterflies are flying along and the wind blows one east and the other west, did they choose those directions?

    Think about Dandelions. They have many seeds. The wind blows the seeds in various directions. Some of the seeds will land in places where they can successfully germinate and grow to become a Dandelion capable of reproduction. Some of the seeds will not. Do you think that Dandelions choose the directions in which their seeds will blow, and where they will land? Do you think a designer directs every Dandelion seed?

    • 77 PaV June 11, 2011 at 4:32 am

      Rose:

      Dawkins talks about rewarding steps that go in the “right direction”.

      • 78 Rose June 11, 2011 at 5:49 am

        I can’t know for sure what Dawkins meant by that, if he said it, but I have a feeling that’s there’s a lot more to what he said.

        Assuming he did say that, and without further explanation from him, I would assume that “right direction” simply means the direction that turned out to be successful. In other words, like a dandelion seed that went in the “right direction” and ended up at a place where it can germinate and grow to be capable of reproducing. The ‘reward’ is that the organism or its progeny benefit in some way and that enough individuals live long enough to reproduce and maintain or expand the population.

        You don’t understand much about language, do you? Words like right or direction or reward have more than one meaning. Twisting the meaning of what some people say to favor your beliefs and agenda is a lost cause.

        And there you go again, referring to Dawkins as though he is the god or only spokesman of evolutionary theory. Evolutionary theory isn’t about individuals like Dawkins, Darwin, or Dembski. It’s about scientific evidence and scientific theory. The theory of relativity isn’t about Einstein and it isn’t called Einstein-ism. It’s about relativity.

  25. 79 Zachriel June 11, 2011 at 3:00 am

    PaV: I’ve already applied them. And you don’t seem to understand. So what, exactly, kinds of answers are you going to give me: uninformed ones?

    You did? We didn’t see the answer. We searched the page for the word diamond and brain, and you made no mention of them.
    Which has more thermodynamic entropy, a diamond or a human brain?
    Which has more thermodynamic entropy, a shuffled deck or an ordered deck?

    Sewell: Can anything happen in an open system?

    Zachriel: No.

    PaVI see you prefer ‘yes’, ‘no’ answers. Would you like to elaborate? What does Sewell go on to state? What about his ‘generalization’ of entropy? I await.

    The answer is is found in the responses to those questions above. Sewell confuses human notions of macroscopic order and analogies with thermodynamic entropy.

    There is no difference in entropy between a shuffled deck and an ordered deck.

    The strawman is based on Sewell’s claim that because the laws of thermodynamics don’t disallow a particular occurrence, that anything can happen in an open system. But that is not correct. There is nothing in the laws of thermodynamics that precludes shuffling a deck and having it shuffle itself into an ordered deck. Nothing in thermodynamics, but plenty in probability theory.

    • 80 PaV June 11, 2011 at 4:47 am

      Zachriel:

      Sewell confuses human notions of macroscopic order and analogies with thermodynamic entropy.

      I see. He should seek out the opinion of an expert, like yourself.

      Sewell’s point is that if, at a boundary there is an exchange which allows one part of the system to decrease in entropy while the other increases, how does that change the material found in the part of the system that is decreasing in entropy. It doesn’t explain away the improbability of a change in order.

      Again, my example: if you cool a Pentium-3 chip, cool it all you want, but it’s not going to become a Pentium-5 chip.

      Here’s the last sentence of the abstract:

      “Thus, unless we are willing to argue that the influx of solar energy into the Earth makes the appearance of spaceships, computers, and the Internet not extremely improbable, we have to conclude that the second law has in fact been violated here.”i?

      • 81 Neil Rickert June 11, 2011 at 5:50 am

        Here’s the last sentence of the abstract:

        “Thus, unless we are willing to argue that the influx of solar energy into the Earth makes the appearance of spaceships, computers, and the Internet not extremely improbable, we have to conclude that the second law has in fact been violated here.”i?

        As a mathematician, Sewell should know better than that. Picking one sample from a probability distribution doesn’t tell you anything, except about that one sample. If we explore thousands of other planets in the galaxy, and they all turn out to have independently produced spaceships, computers and internets, then there would be something unexpected that needed explanation.

  26. 82 Zachriel June 11, 2011 at 3:02 am

    *bump*

    PaV: Usually the chance hypothesis is determined to some extent by the circumstances surrounding the specification. So, unless you’ve recognized a pattern, and know something about how the pattern, a chance hypothesis may, or may not, be available.

    So Dembski’s contention that, even if nothing is known about how they arose, objects can exhibit features (CSI) that reliably signal the action of an intelligent cause, is in error.

    • 83 PaV June 11, 2011 at 4:50 am

      Zachriel:

      Your objection/observation doesn’t follow from the quote you’ve included. We recognize protein coding sequences in DNA; we know about their chemical properties and their freedom of binding. CSI can, and was, calculated based on what we know of the basic chemistry involved.

  27. 84 PaV June 11, 2011 at 4:54 am

    Ann Coulter has a new book out called “Demonic”. It’s about liberal mobs. That’s how you’re acting now.

    As is typical with liberals, they will first argue with you. When you rebut their arguments, they then try to obfuscate. When that fails, they then attack you personally.

    And why?

    Because, more than anything else, GroupThink must be preserved.

    So, I’ll leave you to your wonderful world of Darwinian GroupThink.

    Ciao!

    • 85 Rose June 11, 2011 at 7:38 am

      Could you be any more two-faced and wrong, PaV? You’ve just described yourself, conservatives/religious zealots, and the gang of Dembski-ists on your favorite echo chamber UD.

      If there appears to be a “mob” here it’s only because your fellow ID-ists are afraid to come here and debate their claims. The real “mob” is on UD and other ID websites where blocking and banning keeps the ‘opposition’ to a very limited number, or no number at all.

      It figures that you would read and promote coulter. That is one screwed up bitch. And what’s with that laryngeal prominence?

      Have you ever had an original thought, or do you always let others do your thinking for you? In an attempt to support your claims, you and other dembski-ists, behe-ists, wells-ists, jesus-ists, god-ists, sewell-ists, ID-ists, creationists, etc., constantly refer to what some other person says or what your imaginary god allegedly says as though just because someone or some imaginary entity says it it must be true. You do the same thing in reverse when someone says something that goes against your beliefs and agenda. If someone isn’t on your ‘side’ you demonize them for whatever they say that you think you can manipulate to your advantage. It doesn’t matter to you if they have evidence for their claims and it obviously doesn’t bother you to ignore evidence or distort what some people say. It only matters to you that they’re not on your side.

      A big part of the reason that some people are unquestioning followers is because they are unable or unwilling to think or act for themselves. They base their entire thought process on the religion, philosophy, opinions, and/or claims of others, even when there’s no basis in reality or truth. They worship a god or gods and the prophets, promoters, dogma, etc. associated with it or them. Anyone who doesn’t go along is seen as the devil and a demon, even when their philosophy, opinions, or claims are based in reality.

      It’s one thing to give someone credit for what they say but quite another to refer to them as though what they say is ‘gospel’, just because they say it, regardless of evidence.

      • 86 Alan Fox June 11, 2011 at 8:01 am

        @ Rose

        Not wanting to play resident tone troll again, but gratuitously referring to a person’s physical eccentricities is rather off-topic.

      • 87 Mark Frank June 11, 2011 at 8:55 am

        Rose. I agree with Alan. It really weakens your case when you get so personal and as a result we have lost Pav’s contribution.

  28. 88 Alan Fox June 11, 2011 at 7:40 am

    Sorry you feel you have been attacked personally. It seems to me most of the comments were directed at the points you raised which tended to be arguments of incredulity against evolutionary theory. ID sceptics were hoping for a defence of the argument that CSI is a concept that is either real or useful. Disappointment can lead to frustration but I don’t see any name-calling.

    Your own insult directed at Mathgrrl has become a classic.

    Anyway, I appreciate you made the effort that you did while having to deal with more critics than you are used to at UD. Farewell, Pav. No hard feelings.

  29. 90 Alan Fox June 11, 2011 at 7:42 am

    Sorry, seem to have messed up the link!

    Go away little girl

  30. 91 Rose June 11, 2011 at 11:13 am

    What are you up to Mark? What kind of game are you playing? Apparently you are an ID-ist in disguise or you have ignored all the personal insults from PaV and many other ID-ists toward specific people and “Darwinists” in general that have been going on for years. You also seem to be ignoring the things coulter has been saying for years, and the title of the new book. I’ll bet it’s just filled with complimentary remarks toward people she doesn’t agree with. Not.

    PaV was “lost” (ran away) before my post that you’re referring to. He, like other ID-ists, dishes it out but can’t take it, so they never leave UD or they run back to it when they don’t ‘win’ the argument.

    My question about coulter’s laryngeal prominence is far from the first time it has been brought up (just google adams apple), and the reason many people bring it up is because it’s very possible that he/she/it is a man fraudulently posing as a woman. Whatever he/she/it is, I don’t feel bad about any questions or insults I may direct toward her/him/it. I also don’t feel bad about directing any questions or insults toward two-faced, pious ID-ists or anyone who uses coulter or her ilk as support for their opinions or claims.

    As a woman, I must say that I’m not impressed with your lack of a backbone.

  31. 92 Petrushka June 11, 2011 at 11:59 am

    This is a naked attempt to dodge the dilemma you face. We might have a fair idea of how English arose; but probably not much of one for Sanskrit.

    No problem. The more we know of the history of a system, the more obvious it is that it evolved incrementally. This applies to every system, whether it be a living thing, a language, or a physical invention.

    Some people would draw a generalization from this.

    The converse is that neo Paleyism thrives on ignorance.

  32. 93 Petrushka June 11, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    I have to agree that bringing up Coulter and politics is outside the scope of this discussion.

    • 94 Alan Fox June 11, 2011 at 1:54 pm

      And to be fair, PaV was the first to mention Coulter and liberals. I don’t know if Mark finds the same but I am often astonished by the level of vituperation that is sometimes taken for granted on US blogs. And I don’t think UD is any better in this regard than, say, Pharyngula. I guess we’re just nannyish old Brit toffs.

      @ Mark

      I also think it’s fair to that PaV announced his intention to fold in his/her last comment and it was this final post that Rose was responding to.

      /OT

  33. 95 Zachriel June 11, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Zachriel: So Dembski’s contention that, even if nothing is known about how they arose, objects can exhibit features (CSI) that reliably signal the action of an intelligent cause, is in error.

    PaV: Your objection/observation doesn’t follow from the quote you’ve included. We recognize protein coding sequences in DNA; we know about their chemical properties and their freedom of binding. CSI can, and was, calculated based on what we know of the basic chemistry involved.

    But we weren’t talking about DNA. We were talking about a pattern for which “nothing is known about how they arose”. The question was how to determine the Chance Hypothesis when “nothing is known about how” the pattern arose.

    PaV: We recognize protein coding sequences in DNA; we know about their chemical properties and their freedom of binding. CSI can, and was, calculated based on what we know of the basic chemistry involved.

    Complex genomes didn’t assemble randomly —they are inherited with modification—, so why do you choose a Chance Hypothesis equivalent to random assembly?

  34. 96 Zachriel June 11, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    PaV (quoting): “Thus, unless we are willing to argue that the influx of solar energy into the Earth makes the appearance of spaceships, computers, and the Internet not extremely improbable, we have to conclude that the second law has in fact been violated here.?

    No. It confuses macroscopic disorder with thermodynamic entropy. They are not the same. The entropy of a shuffled deck of cards is the same as the entropy of a sorted deck. There is nothing in the formation of spaceships or computers that violates the 2nd Law, any more than sorting a shuffled deck violates the 2nd Law.

    • 97 Flint June 12, 2011 at 9:59 pm

      Maybe it would be more illustrative to point out that ALL card decks are in SOME order. Lacking some outside context (like a specific card game), all orders are the same. Similarly, all matter is in SOME configuration. Whether configured as a rock, a computer, or whatever really makes no difference except in terms of some outside context, which is arbitrarily imposed. But conjuring up a context within which some arbitrary order is more useful than another, doesn’t change the entropy inherent in any given ordering.

      There really is no qualitative difference between one lottery ticket and another, UNTIL AFTER the drawing. But that drawing doesn’t somehow “mean” that the winning ticket was filled with CSI beforehand. The CSI, again, is found in the context and not in the ticket. No amount of pre-drawing analysis will be able to measure the “winningness” of any given ticket. Even if Dembski does it.

  35. 98 Zachriel June 11, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Rose,

    Where did you learn to fish? Wal-mart?

    😉

    Now, we’ll never know how to calculate CSI.

  36. 99 Onlooker June 11, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    That’s a shame. I thought he was going to tell us all about those Darwinism-breaking experimental results.

  37. 100 Toronto June 11, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Pav,

    I want to thank you for commenting here and hope that you’ll decide to come back sometime in the future and talk to us some more.

  38. 101 Petrushka June 11, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    I guess PAV joins gpuccio in the graveyard of flouncers.

  39. 102 MathGrrl June 12, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Darn it, darn it, darn it!

    I didn’t realize this conversation was still going on, and PaV has left just as I finished catching up.

    PaV, if you’re still reading this thread, I would like to continue the discussion with you.

  40. 103 MathGrrl June 12, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    PaV,

    To answer your question about my choice of pseudonym, it does derive from the riot grrl scene, although I find the focus on female empowerment resonates more with me than most of the music. The core idea, for me, is that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent, even when they use dismissive terms like “girl” for adult women. Grrl helps reclaim the term and yes, the “grr” is intentional. 😉

    There’s the whole skater culture thing, too, but I can barely stand on a skateboard.

  41. 104 Elizabeth Liddle June 12, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    I seem to be late to the party, but I’m just catching up on where things got to before I arrived!

    It seems to me (as a newcomer) that everything hangs on P(T|H).

    Which is mostly the point at issue. It’s not as though anyone is claiming that something extremely improbable must have happened, but that what have happened was not all that improbable.

    • 105 Alan Fox June 13, 2011 at 7:02 am

      Hi Lizzie (Dr Liddle seems a bit formal as having followed your progress at UD – and your previous visit )

      Your restraint, humour and erudtion which has so far confused the residents at UD is much appreciated. It must involve a considerable effort in time that could be spent more profitably. Maybe KF is impermeable to your whiles but it has been a treat for onlookers!

  42. 109 Seversky June 12, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    More power to your elbow, grrrrrrls, as the saying goes.

    I just wish someone there would disabuse kairosfocus of his tornado-in-the-junkyard fallacy. I am so sick of that widely-separated islands of function in an oceanic search space metaphor.

  43. 110 MathGrrl June 12, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    Elizabeth,

    It seems to me (as a newcomer) that everything hangs on P(T|H).

    From what I’ve been able to glean about CSI from Dembski’s writings, I would agree that the calculation of that probability term is important, as is the whole concept of what is an acceptable “specification”. What I see as the major issue though, after a few months on UD, is rigorous definitions.

    I’m following your discussion with Upright BiPed and I see that you’re encountering the same problem. Identifying exactly what is being claimed is far more difficult than I would expect. My working hypothesis at the moment is that this is a cultural issue — many of the UD regulars don’t have backgrounds in science and so haven’t learned the importance of such definitions.

    The alternative, voiced by many times on the Panda’s Thumb and other venues, is obviously that the ID proponents on UD actually don’t want to subject their hypotheses to testing. I’m not ready to flip the “intellectually dishonest” bit on all of them yet.

    I’m impressed with your patience and I hope it is rewarded by you and Upright BiPed agreeing on how to evaluate his claim objectively.

  44. 112 Mark Frank June 12, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Elizabeth Welcome. I am so impressed by your contribution to UD.

    It seems to me (as a newcomer) that everything hangs on P(T|H).

    There are so many uncertainties – what is H? what is T? what is P(T|H)? and why should you conclude that because P(T|H) is very low that therefore P(H) is low? And if P(H) is low why conclude P(Design) is high?

  45. 113 Seversky June 12, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    The alternative, voiced by many times on the Panda’s Thumb and other venues, is obviously that the ID proponents on UD actually don’t want to subject their hypotheses to testing. I’m not ready to flip the “intellectually dishonest” bit on all of them yet.

    I don’t see it as intellectual dishonesty – not for all of them, anyway – but it’s about religion rather than math. For them, God exists just as surely as the Sun or gravity exists for the rest of us, just not as obviously. Since that is true, anything which contradicts that has to be wrong. Now, given that the scientific data and theories are always provisional but the existence of God isn’t, obviously the science that says He doesn’t is in need of some tweaking.

    I predict that you can juggle equations, redefine terms and vary the variables until the cows come home but it won’t make the slightest difference to what they believe.

  46. 114 Elizabeth Liddle June 12, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    I think it’s math as well. There’s nothing more self-persuasive than the conviction that the math is on your side. It’s too easy to miss that it might be the wrong math!

    It’s something I think all scientists have to be wary of – the lure of “obviousness”.

    • 115 Flint June 12, 2011 at 10:11 pm

      What do you mean by “the wrong math”? We can calculate the probability of a given bridge hand, assuming an essentially random shuffle. That’s the “right” math to use in developing a bidding system or playing tactics. Does it become the “wrong” math if it’s used to support the foregone conclusion that bridge hands don’t happen because they’re too unlikely?

      Seems to me the math is generally correct but used in an effort to support scenarios misconstructed with false conclusions in mind. Math is like bullets – the bullets aren’t “wrong” because you’re shooting at the wrong target.

      • 116 Elizabeth Liddle June 12, 2011 at 10:35 pm

        Well, what I meant, more generally, is that if you’ve done some math correctly, and the answer you get supports your case, it’s tempting to think that you are “obviously” right, and the people who disagree with you are either in denial or can’t do the math.

        However, if the math you did wasn’t the right math (was based on the wrong assumptions, used the wrong pdf, solved the wrong problem), then it doesn’t matter whether you calculated the answer correctly, you will still be wrong (or at least not self-evidently right).

        Which I think is what you are saying more elegantly than I in your last paragraph.

        Cheers

        Lizzie (aka Febble :))

  47. 117 Elizabeth Liddle June 12, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Thanks for the welcome!

    I did follow the early part of the Mathgrrl’s discussion on UD, but then life intervened, so I’m trying to catch up.

  48. 118 Onlooker June 12, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    So I’m wondering if the CSI discussion can be kept alive. The majority of folks at UD are of the opinion that Mathgrrl has been answered and is now just being rude.

  49. 119 MathGrrl June 12, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    Onlooker,

    I’m glad to meet you. kairosfocus keeps addressing comments to you, but I’ve never personally had the pleasure.

    So I’m wondering if the CSI discussion can be kept alive. The majority of folks at UD are of the opinion that Mathgrrl has been answered and is now just being rude.

    The thing is, I keep asking for them to show me where they’ve answered me, and they just keep asserting that they have. One would think that if a question had really been answered, it would be a simple matter to either link to the answer or copy-and-paste it in response.

    This is why I’m very disappointed to have missed PaV here. He seems to understand what Dembski means by CSI. I would very much like to see his calculations for the four scenarios I described in my guest thread at UD.

    • 120 Onlooker June 12, 2011 at 11:32 pm

      Yes, KF inspired my name 🙂

      The thing is, I keep asking for them to show me where they’ve answered me, and they just keep asserting that they have.

      I know. Still, it all seems to have come to an impasse. They will not accept that the question needs answering. Perhaps that is just how they do, and it is time to move onto the next thing (which might be EL and the question of information arising from chance and nessa. Perhaps that might lead back to CSI?).

      • 121 MathGrrl June 13, 2011 at 11:26 am

        I’ve been reading Elizabeth Liddle’s comments on UD with something close to awe for her patience and clarity. I think I’m developing a girl crush on her.

        If anyone can get a testable prediction out of Upright BiPed, it’s her.

    • 122 Flint June 13, 2011 at 2:10 am

      You should understand that according to the Religious Method, SAYING something is true makes it come true. So all they need to do is keep SAYING they’ve answered you, and sincerely believe it, and poof it’s true.

      (And hopefully you also understand that specifications cannot be assigned post facto despite Dembski’s theological requirements. If one doesn’t know WHY you created your scenarios, one can’t determined whether they meet whatever specification you had in mind. The specification inherently precedes the effort to meet it., and as such is entirely external to the object or process derived from it.)

      • 123 MathGrrl June 13, 2011 at 11:22 am

        Flint,

        That’s certainly a problem that needs to be addressed if the discussion progresses beyond “We answered you.” “Where?” “We answered you!” I suspect that several of the UD regulars would find the Texas Marksman analogy insulting, so I’ll have to come up with a gentler explanation of the issue.

  50. 124 Rose June 13, 2011 at 5:16 am

    Have any of you ever caught a child in a lie? Did they make up lie after elaborate lie to cover the first lie and the subsequent lies, even though you pointed out their lies and the evidence against the lies? Have you ever watched a TV show where kids are caught at lying and they did what I just described? Have you ever listened to a child tell really far-out, impossible stories as though they are real? Did they believe their far-out stories or just want you to believe them, or both? Have you encountered adults who do the same things as the children I mentioned? If so, welcome to the world of religious ID-ists/creationists. You are never going to get a straight answer from them. They are children who never grew up, and not questioning and condemning their made up stories and lies just gives them a feeling of relevance and accomplishment (by fooling you or just getting you to listen), and it gives their stories and lies an undeserved aura of respect, truth, and reality.

  51. 125 Mark Frank June 13, 2011 at 6:52 am

    Seversky

    For them, God exists just as surely as the Sun or gravity exists for the rest of us, just not as obviously.

    Yes that is key. And if you accept this premise, then indeed God is the best explanation for life. He is omnipotent and wanted life to be like it is. So P(life|God) = 1 and P(God)=1.

  52. 127 Neil Rickert June 13, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Oops – sorry about that unclosed link.

  53. 128 Alan Fox June 13, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    For Mark, Neil and, most of all, me!

    Comment preview plug in

    • 129 Mark Frank June 13, 2011 at 4:22 pm

      Looks great – but I am a WordPress innocent and cannot find out to install a plugin when using wordpress.com. Have you a link for that? It talks about a plugins directory and an admin interface but I can’t find either.

    • 130 Neil Rickert June 13, 2011 at 4:25 pm

      Thanks for the comment preview suggestion.

      Unfortunately, it looks to me as if that is only useful if you are running your own server with the wordpress software. To use it on a site in the wordpress.com blog would, I think, require that wordpress itself install that plugin at its site.

  54. 131 DrBot June 13, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    MG “I’ve been reading Elizabeth Liddle’s comments on UD with something close to awe for her patience and clarity. I think I’m developing a girl crush on her.”

    I totally agree (apart from the girl crush bit of course!) but I have a feeling that KF is going to have a tantrum soon if Elizabeth continues to disagree with him.

  55. 135 Alan Fox June 13, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Neil is correct, I think. The wordpress package has many more options when running on your own server. If you take the free option on wordpress’s own server it seems there is no choice about plugins. I think we need a five year old child to explain things now!

  56. 136 Seversky June 14, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    My compliments to MathGrrl on raising the issue of the incomplete Lewontin quote with kairosfocous. I pointed out the omission on a couple of occasions while I was still able to post to UD but nowhere near as effectively as you just did. If you have not already done so, you might want to look at the comments following Lewontin’s review of Sagan’s book in the NYRB. Lewontin posted a lengthy comment responding to criticisms from other correspondents which is worth a glance.

    • 137 MathGrrl June 15, 2011 at 10:58 am

      Thanks for the kind words, Seversky, but I don’t think I was particularly successful in communicating with kairosfocus on that thread. Despite what I thought were two very clear and concise comments, he has focused on why he thinks Lewontin is wrong rather than on the core issue that leaving the last two sentences out of the quote materially changes what Lewontin obviously meant to say. kairosfocus really doesn’t seem to understand how he is mischaracterizing Lewontin and why it is important.

      Nonetheless, I’ve planted the seed of my point and will leave it alone to grow according to the Blog Zen of Mark Frank. Namaste.

  57. 141 MathGrrl June 15, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Seversky,

    You provoked him into a 3582 word OP which is more than I ever did.

    I apologize unreservedly.

    • 142 Onlooker June 15, 2011 at 6:23 pm

      I wonder what his school essays were like.

      “What I did on my drumbeat repetition holidays led off to a strawman by ma and pa” by GEM aged 8 1/2

  58. 143 Toronto June 15, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Onlooker,

    You should pitch a sitcom to one the networks based on kairosfocus.

    There could be guest stars every week, like Barbara Forrest, P.Z. Meyers, Richard Dawkins, and maybe even Ann Coulter and Bill Dembski.

    Make room on your mantle for an Emmy.

  59. 144 Rose June 16, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    kairosfocus

    06/16/2011

    9:57 am

    Dr Liddle:

    Where have I said that the design inference is trying to infer to the supernatural?

    Have I not consistently corrected this strawman distortion, by pointing out how since Plato, the contrast that is relevant is nature vs art on signs of design? Is it not the — massively evident — case that the “natural vs supernatural” strawman substitution consistently comes from those who would shut down design theory, and depends for rhetorical and institutional success on demonising and blocking hearing out the other side of the story?

    This can be backed up in case after case. Indeed, look at what Lewontin said again with fresh eyes — is this not just what is going on?

    It is true that in the special circumstance of cosmic origins, the characteristics of the designer in question make a designer beyond the cosmos a reasonable conclusion, but the scientific inference is not to the supernatural but to the causal factor of design.

    Similarly, the censorship and career busting are quite blatant, so please do not indulge in enabling behaviour by suggesting that it is not real.

    Kindly, look back at the original post, and onward to the NAS and NSTA statements.

    Notice how a priori materialism — in the face of otherwise credible alternatives — and censorship are imposed though a strawman distortion of the inference from empirical signs to design as cause, into a snidely projected attempted inference to the supernatural?

    Notice, how the inference to design on signs is then slandered as an irrational inference to the supernatural?

    Notice further that the actual history of the origins of science is distorted, and the actual implications of a theistic view are distorted, as well as the rationality of theists is slandered.

    When I see this sort of thing, standing unopposed, I see where, once the public has been put into a state of crisis-induced hysteria, such slanders can easily lead to horrendous abuses.

    Please, don’t dismiss this as exaggeration or as something that is unimaginable “here” among us decent civilised people; I have — at the risk of my life and limb — personally seen this on the small scale, and have seen the history of what happened across the past century. Indeed,the recent Gaskell case shows how this could ever so easily get out of hand.

    Denial of what is happening till it is too late, is one of the key enablers that the vicious ideologue counts on to get his way. Ask the ghosts of 100+ million victims over the past 100 years.

    GEM of TKI

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    “Where have I said that the design inference is trying to infer to the supernatural?”

    All over UD, and here:

    http://www.angelfire.com/pro/kairosfocus/resources/Leading_Cells/Bible_Study_Skills.htm

    http://www.angelfire.com/pro/kairosfocus/resources/Leading_Cells/Evangelism/Personal_Evangelism.htm

    http://www.angelfire.com/pro/kairosfocus/resources/Mars_Hill_Web/apologetics.htm

    http://www.angelfire.com/pro/kairosfocus/resources/Leading_Cells/MISSION.htm

    http://www.angelfire.com/pro/kairosfocus/resources/Mars_Hill_Web/evolutionism.htm

    http://nicenesystheol.blogspot.com/

    http://iose-gen.blogspot.com/2010/06/introduction-and-summary.html

    http://iose-gen.blogspot.com/2010/06/origin-of-life.html

    http://nicenesystheol.blogspot.com/2010/11/unit-1-biblical-foundations-of-and-core.html

    http://nicenesystheol.blogspot.com/2011/02/typical-bible-based-timeline-reflective.html

    http://kairosfocus.blogspot.com/

    and hundreds more places.

  60. 145 MathGrrl June 18, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    It looks like Elizabeth Liddle has enough details to address Upright BiPed’s claims about codes, symbols, and information. While I think she probably needs to get more explicit agreement from the UD regulars to avoid the possibility of her results being summarily dismissed, I do wish her luck and look forward to seeing what she comes up with.

    • 146 Rose June 18, 2011 at 10:27 pm

      Hello MathGrrl, I’m certain that her results will be summarily and aggressively dismissed and attacked, unless her results are ‘God-did-it’.

      Her requests for definitions and details and agreement on them has shown that ID-ists don’t even know what they’re arguing about. They are the ones who should be testing their claims and all the particulars of those claims. They won’t even agree on how those things should be tested., and it’s obvious that they don’t want their claims tested. Their resistance to defining their claims and their unwillingness to have their claims tested shows the fear they have of being proven wrong. So much for being “confident” in their position.

      No one should have to ask them over and over again for definitions or evidence of their claims or the terms they use (CSI, EF, specified complexity, FSCI, information, specified information, symbols, functional complexity, etc., etc., etc.). They are the ones who say they have a scientific inference, hypothesis, or theory. They are the ones who should specifically define all the aspects of their inference, hypothesis, or theory and they are the ones who should devise and conduct credible tests of their claims.

      I admire Elizabeth Liddle’s patience, but she is playing right into their hands by going along with their evasive games.

  61. 147 Reciprocating Bill June 19, 2011 at 12:16 am

    I think Liz has taken a wrong turn in the discussion. IMO she has been far too accepting of UB’s gas-bag definitions, and would have been better served by sticking to her guns and requiring that UB supply a workable operational definition of information as he construes it, such that both can agree whether her ambitious simulation has either demonstrated it or has not.

    He won’t be able to provide one, nor will any body else. That is a point worthy of demonstration.

  62. 148 Reciprocating Bill June 19, 2011 at 12:17 am

    I see Rose makes the same point.

    • 149 Flint June 19, 2011 at 12:45 am

      Generally, that’s not the approach Febble takes. She instead tries to understand the mental model she’s dealing with, understand what that model rests on, isolate what there is about it that’s valid and where it may be in error. And that approach does seem to work a little bit better than demanding the nonexistent and refusing to engage meaningfully if the nonexistent is not produced. But Mathgrrl’s thread showed the hopelessness of that approach.

      Personally, I like Febble’s more gentle approach. She grants ponts when they are valid, and suggests inconsistencies when they arise. But her goal is very similar – to get them to think about and analyze their questions, knowing that incremental clarification, baby steps at a time, is inherently subversive. This is true because, eventually, some level of detail will require the collapse of the original position, either because it becomes prima facie silly or inconsistent, or because it gets “clarified” into an inadvertent refutation of the initial claim.

      This Socratic process is slow, to be sure, and requires a good faith effort to explain, defend, and clarify on the part of everyone involved. But as we’ve seen, starting out by demanding that someone produce the impossible will be soon met by hostile and belligerent personal attacks, denial, and “we already answered you but we wont’ tell you where” responses.

      Maybe we could say that Mathgrrl’s approach demonstrates to everyone else that ID is bankrupt. Febble’s approach holds out some hope that they themselves can see this. Or maybe I hold out that hope.

      • 150 Seversky June 19, 2011 at 1:09 am

        There is always hope to be sure but I fear both MathGrrl’s and Febble’s approaches are doomed to failure. Intelligent Design is a scientific veneer laid over a religious ‘worldview’. It has no other purpose. Any approach, whether direct or more subtle., which, in the minds of the believers, threatens that underlying faith will be met with the same defensive responses because nothing, but nothing, is going to change that.

  63. 151 Rose June 19, 2011 at 2:18 am

    I agree with Seversky and Bill. I disagree with you on this one Flint. First of all, MathGrrl didn’t demand anything. She asked ID-ists to define their own term, “CSI”, and to apply it to her suggested examples. She gave them every chance to define, explain, or demonstrate their CSI claims, and it really doesn’t matter if she gave them a chance anyway. It’s THEIR inference, hypothesis, or theory and they ALWAYS have the chance, opportunity, and freedom to define, explain, and demonstrate their claims. It is not the responsibility of others to define, explain, or demonstrate their claims for them, and it is perfectly reasonable for people, especially scientists, to question or challenge their claims.

    If their claims are credible, and truly scientific, ID-ists should have NO problem with any questions or challenges. They’re the ones who say they’re “confident” in their position and will openly and honestly face questions and challenges and debate. They’re the ones who say they have scientific evidence and a scientific inference, hypothesis, or theory that can be tested “objectively”. They’re the ones who say that science doesn’t get it and that their claims are the correct ones. They, and only they, have the burden of definitions, evidence, explanations, testing, and/or proof for all their claims. Educating themselves about their own claims and terms, and about all the things where they are wrong, is also only their responsibility.

    • 152 Flint June 19, 2011 at 2:37 am

      Rose,

      Maybe I wasn’t clear. I understand that Mathgrrl gave them every chance to respond. But of course, no such response CAN be forthcoming, because “CSI” is empty noise, a semantically vacuous buzzword polishing the veneer Seversky spoke of. Sure, if there were any substance to it, even conceptually, we’d have had a more interesting discussion. But since there isn’t, we quickly hit the wall – they are convinced the term means something because they are convinced it MUST mean something, because if it doesn’t, they run the risk of being wrong.

      So I agree they have the burden of explanation and demonstration. But as we know, that burden cannot be met, not even in principle, much less in practice.

      And your approach, while rational, leaves us with a Mexican standoff – a shouting and insulting match, which each side strives to belittle and denigrate the other because there’s noplace else to go from here. They aren’t going to learn, or listen, or do anything except dig in their heels and slam their minds even tighter shut. And some folks find this situation unsatisfying.

      Febble’s approach recognizes this danger, and tries to do an end-run around it. Instead of saying “it’s your claim, so pony up some support” and getting shouted down, she’s trying to lead them through their own argument, trying to get them to think about it, asking for clarifications, trying to weed out all the ambiguities and nebulations. The hope is that if she can get them to EXAMINE their claims, we’ll make some progress. This may not work, of course, but it’s worth a try.

  64. 153 Flint June 19, 2011 at 2:26 am

    Different levels of doom, I can hope. As you say, ID is just a scientific veneer. It’s entirely artificial and cosmetic; ID itself is pure religion all the way down. I personally think Henry Morris and Duane Gish and those folks tried to plaster this veneer over their religious doctrine in an effort to piggyback onto the public acceptance and respect science enjoys.

    And that was effective because while most people do respect science, not too many of them understand what it actually is or how it works. People “knew” that goddidit, they knew science has been a cornucopia of near-miracles, therefore their faith MUST be scientific in some way. Both seem to be “right”, so they must overlap a bunch.

    The ID flavor, I think, has not been so much an effort to co-opt the wide public respect science has earned, so much as it’s been an effort to sneak religious preaching into public schools by CALLING it science. Since creationists have demonstrated their willingness to sacrifice their careers, their employers, their families, and everyone else to push their doctrines, enough creationist legislators and judges and this approach might succeed. The current SCOTUS is probably one vote away from deciding that “academic freedom” permits preaching THEIR religion in science class as Truth (but no other religions, of course).

    So I suspect the most Febble can hope for is to reach the “Kurt Wise point” – to concede that their faith is utterly, totally unscientific, stands in direct conflict with all available evidence, and is STILL true because faith trumps reality. I agree nothing will influence the underlying faith, but maybe the scientistical veneer can be peeled off, in at least some minds. But this is, I admit, wildly optimistic.

  65. 154 Rose June 19, 2011 at 7:56 am

    Hello Flint, mostly where we appear to differ is on whether MathGrrl’s questions were demands, whether she engaged the ID-ists meaningfully, and on the way ID-ists, and especially the ones on UD, should be approached. I feel that MathGrrl approached them in a very civil way and asked very reasonable questions, and that by staying on point she didn’t let them lead her astray. They did of course go astray but she didn’t go along. I also don’t think it is meaningful to engage in the childish, dishonest games they play. Doing that just gives them and their claims a sense of accomplishment and relevance, and lets them think that they can set the rules for how science should be done.

    I’ll try to illustrate my thoughts more specifically: Even IF there is intelligent design in nature, anyone who claims that they have a scientific inference, hypothesis, or theory (ID-ists can’t agree on what to call it) to investigate, examine, objectively test, explain, or demonstrate it must be the one or ones who have the responsibility of doing so, scientifically, if they want science or science supporters to pay attention. Giving any inference, hypothesis, or theory any credence, without expecting (or “demanding”) that the inference, hypothesis, or theory be supported by actual evidence and a scientifically acceptable, well defined framework that allows for objective testing and investigation would weaken or destroy science and the scientific method. It would also marginalize or insult all the scientists who have worked very hard to adhere to the scientific method and to the responsibilities expected of reputable scientists.

    Think of the recent bacteria/arsenic claims. The methods and claims are being strongly questioned and challenged, and that’s not a bad thing. The questioners and challengers are obviously not worried about being shouted down. They feel that they have legitimate questions and challenges and that it’s the responsibility of the scientists who used the methods and made the claims to fully support their methods and claims. If people were to worry about being shouted down, and never questioned or challenged anything, science would be a chaotic free-for-all that would never accomplish anything worthwhile.

    I feel that science, and its supporters, must stand up for the integrity of science and must demand that scientists, or anyone else, meet or exceed stringent definitions, methods, tests, and scrutiny, if they want their inferences, hypotheses, theories, or claims to be taken seriously. Otherwise, science and its supporters might as well gladly accept every crackpot idea or claim that anyone puts forth. There’s more than enough slop in science already, without letting ID-ists pollute it with their UN-scientific religious and political agenda.

  66. 155 Zachriel June 19, 2011 at 11:58 am

    The chance of convincing anyone from Uncommon Descent is virtually nil. The idea is to bring light to their arguments to show other readers that they lack merit. There are a number of ways to do this.

    Mathgrrl asked a simple question, and instead of letting them divert, insisted upon an answer. Heh, one of the IDers actually demanded payment before providing the answer. When it ended in acrimony, yet no answer, it showed that there never was such an answer. Of course, they claimed to have provided the answer, but for some reason, no one can find it.

    When Zachriel was allowed to comment, we would enjoy finding particular and relevant facts that could easily shown to be false, then asking for a simple correction. That really annoyed them!

    Elizabeth Liddle is attempting to take one of their claims, make sure they have provided clear operational definitions, then show by experiment that they are false. This is similar to the Word Mutagenation experiments from a previous epoch. If the experiment succeeds, then the operational definitions will be denied, and the whole exercise will be forgotten.

    Remember: There is only one tardicle, that of equivocation. But there are many ways to expose a tardicle.

  67. 156 Rose June 19, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    To show you all, including “onlookers”, what kind of people you’re dealing with when questioning or challenging ID-ists, I’ve been doing a little digging and found some very revealing things about one of the most outspoken and dishonest ID-ists on UD: kairosfocus (real name Gordon Mullings) . And before anyone, especially Gordon, makes a stink about my posting his real name here, take a look at his websites and you’ll see that he has publicly posted his real name.

    Now let’s take a look at some things Gordon has said:

    kairosfocus

    06/18/2011

    8:09 pm

    “MN:

    But, nowhere have I said that ID invokes “the supernatural.”

    You are projecting unto what I have said, the loaded, strawman tactic twisted definitions willfully and irresponsibly or outright deceptively created by opponents of ID to try to falsely characterise it as a science-suppressing religious movement rather than facing on the merits the actual scientific, empirically anchored inference on tested, reliable signs, to chance and/or necessity and/or art.”

    As you read further, keep in mind: “But, nowhere have I said that ID invokes “the supernatural.””

    Gordon goes on to say:

    “It is the a priori materialists who have determined to drive out mind from the cosmos by insisting that mind “must” reduce to chance plus necessity. It is they who have a priori injected worldview level claims and used them to censor scientific, empirical investigations: science may only explain by chance plus necessity acting on matter and energy in space and time.

    That is a philosophical presumption, it is not true to the history of science or to what we can warrant on empirical sign, such as functionally specific, complex information. Such FSCI is a commonplace of our experience, and IN EVERY CASE WHERE WE DIRECTLY OBSERVE ITS CAUSAL SOURCE IT IS INTELLIGENT, E.G. THE POSTS IN THIS THREAD, WHICH ARE SYMBOLIC, CODED LANGUAGE.

    In addition, we know that something so specific from a vast sea of possible configs is utterly not likely to happen by chance even once on the gamut of our observed cosmos, and until we have already arrived at function, there is no basis for rewarding different degrees of function by hill climbing. For ALL cases alike will be non-functional.

    We thus have excellent inductive and analytical warrant for seeing FSCI as a reliable sign of intelligent cause, even where we have not directly seen the cause in action.

    Notice, we have made only an induction and an analysis on circumstances, projecting on inductive generalisation. At no point have we inferred more than something that is observed: intelligence is possible and FSCI is an observed sign of it.

    Sign that points to signified causal process, on an inductive warrant.

    So, we NOW turn to the observation of FSCI in the living cell, with particular emphasis on the digital code in DNA etc, which had algorithmic function. On the induction, we have reason to infer to intelligence as most credible cause per reliable sign.

    Is this an inference to “the supernatural”?

    Not at all, it is an inference on tested sign to art rather than chance and/or blind mechanical necessity.

    As design theorists have consistently and repeatedly pointed out from the very first technical design theory work, TMLO by Thaxton et al in 1985, there is no specific scientific, empirical warrant on the mere sign of FSCI to infer to the locus of the inferred designers as being within or beyond the cosmos. Indeed, as I have repeatedly pointed out, a molecular nanotech lab several generations beyond Venter would be sufficient.

    The assertion that ID theorists infer to supernatural design on the empirical warrant of FSCI in the living cell, is false. Indeed, as it is a falsehood maintained and propagated in the teeth of repeated correction, on the part of the ultimately responsible [as opposed to the many taken in unawares by their willful distortions], it is — sorry to have to say — a LIE.

    That’s a hard word, and one that will be resented.

    But, what else is correct, when the corrective truth has been there all along, from the very FIRST technical ID work, and has been repeatedly pointed out, and just as repeatedly brushed aside in the haste to paint a conveniently demonising caricature?

    Now, there is a related design inference on the fine-tuning of the cosmos that facilitates C-chemistry, intelligent life. That couples to the logic of the observation that the observed cosmos had a beginning, thus is a contingent entity, calling for a root cause — even through multiverse speculations — in a necessary being. A very credible candidate to be that necessary being and intelligent designer capable of building a cosmos, is the God of theism. But, that is a global worldview level inference on the logic of best explanation, not a scientific one, and design thinkers have consistently pointed that out.

    The original post also corrects another distortion, namely it shows that far from being a science stopper, theism was a science starter. There is a long laid up prejudice that needs to be corrected here, not least by pricking some myths that have long passed their sell-by date.

    So, returning to the matter you raised, no, design theory is not about an inference to the supernatural but rather of inferring to causal factors on empirically tested signs, including chance, necessity and choice or design. Similarly, design theory is incompatible with so-called methodological naturalism as it is a form of materialism [as already discussed], but that is not a big problem as materialism is not even consistent with itself.”

    GEM of TKI

    Gordon rants about “a priori materialists” and “methodological naturalism” and chance and necessity and says ” A very credible candidate to be that necessary being and intelligent designer capable of building a cosmos, is the God of theism.” He also says “design theory is incompatible with so-called methodological naturalism as it is a form of materialism”, and ” there is no specific scientific, empirical warrant on the mere sign of FSCI to infer to the locus of the inferred designers as being within or beyond the cosmos. Indeed, as I have repeatedly pointed out, a molecular nanotech lab several generations beyond Venter would be sufficient.”

    So, Gordon argues against material or natural causes or explanations, but proposes a molecular nanotech lab (which would be material) or the “God of theism” (which one I wonder), which would be supernatural. Any god is either natural, or supernatural. Gordon’s god/creator/designer is supernatural, according to his own words (keep reading).

    Still not convinced that HE is the liar? Okay, let’s look at some other things he says:

    “All men live by faith. To see this, take any proof and ask at each stage, “why should I accept this claim?” Sooner or later you will come to basic assumptions accepted without further proof. This is the point of faith. Even science and mathematics work in this way. In short, the question is not whether to believe, but what to believe and why.
    * Many of the things Christians believe are hotly disputed or attacked. Sometimes, the very fact that we admit to working by faith is held against us. At other times, we are full of doubts or questions – a very normal experience in the Christian life. The big question, of course, is what to do about these things.”

    “What can we do…

    * Clarify the basics of our faith. As 1 Peter 1:16 and 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, 12-20 stress, our faith is founded on facts: Jesus, his death, burial and resurrection.
    * Be honest about questions and doubts. They exist. And hard questions are hard because they don’t have easy answers. Every set of answers – every faith – has difficulties, not just the Christian message.
    * Research. After two thousand years, chances are that someone else has asked and investigated the question you have in mind. See how others have dealt with it.
    * Think, pray, discuss, seek the truth.
    * Above all, trust God. If he is real and cares for you, he will help.”

    And:

    “Godly Truth as Salt and Light

    Plainly, the cutting edge of Bible Study is application, whether to our thought lives, or to our relationships and activities, or to the communities where we study, work and live.

    Equally plainly, given a world full of people whose minds are set on the flesh, it is also its most controversial aspect. For, salt stings when it touches our open sores and light exposes the hidden evil of our ever so deceitful hearts. It is thus no wonder that God’s Word will always face resistance in the community: “one man’s renewal will always be another man’s rebuke.”

    However, it is our duty to face, live by and apply “the truth in love” as individuals, in our families and collectively in our communities.

    Of course, this cannot justify oppression or violence to others in the name of truth. Of this, there has been a long, sad, and as yet unfinished history. (On this point, it must also be said that there has also been a long, equally unfinished history of communities rejecting godly truth and persecuting their prophets, to their own ruin.)

    But also, “thy word is truth” seems to be nonsense to many of our educated elites in the Caribbean. To such people, the firing off of a Bible quote has all the impact of breaking wind in public. For, they believe that the Bible is nothing more than an ancient collection of fables and oppressive rules, outmoded by the advance of Science and culture.

    Consequently, they believe that those who want to use the Bible as a guide to life, family, community, governance, law and public policy are a menace to modern society. For, in their eyes, any attempt to raise questions of biblical morality in the community is actually an attempt to impose a right wing, “fundamentalist” power grab.

    Such a power grab, in their opinion, would force gays back into the closet, chain women to the kitchen, impose utterly unacceptable restraints on private and public sexual expression, and fill the minds of school children with discredited, destructive rubbish. They therefore view and respond to biblical Christian faith as a threat.

    Such thinking hinges on two key, but quite problematic, assumptions: (1) the validity of relativism, and (2) the mythical character of the God of the Bible. For, if there is nothing more to truth, rights and morality than what people and communities are willing to accept as true, fair and good, then of course those who think they have a cosmic, God-given standard to judge thinking and behaviour are both deluded and dangerous.

    The problem with such thinking, though, is exactly these same assumptions. First, as we saw above, relativism asserts the self-contradictory principle that it is wrong to assert binding moral obligations. Thus, relativist morality saws off the branch on which it sits, and falls of its own weight.

    Second, evolutionary materialism leads to the logical conclusion that all human thinking is the product, without residue, of accidents of evolution and psycho-social conditioning, undermining the validity of thought itself. That, of course, includes the thoughts that lead to relativism and evolutionary materialism. So, why should we trust the musings of an overgrown monkey brain — one shaped and controlled by its potty training and class conditioning — that can only lead to the recommendations of just another puzzled rat in the cosmic maze?

    In short, relativistic, materialistic thinking is riddled with theoretical and practical inconsistencies. For instance, how can one protest the binding nature of moral principles and in the next breath object to the claim that some races are more highly evolved than others and so may freely exert their power over lesser mortals?

    In fact, there is considerable positive evidence for the God of the Bible. To start with, the highly ordered, complex molecular biology of the so-called “simple” cell strongly demonstrates the sophisticated, mind-bogglingly intelligent design of all living systems. So, while there is room to debate interpretations of how creation has been done and how long it took, it is those who assert that “the Lord Chance made them all” who have yet to advance a sound proof for their claims. That is, belief in an intelligent Creator is eminently reasonable.

    Then, there is considerable evidence that many millions of people across the ages have encountered and thus have come to know just such a Creator, personally. Such encounters have transformed lives and civilisations. Indeed, the Old Testament is the written record of a culture that was based on such encounters with God.

    In turn, the Gospels record how the Messiah promised in the Old Testament came to his people. He loved, taught and did many miraculous wonders among them — only to be betrayed and unjustly put to death by scheming religious leaders and politicians. But, it did not end there, for, with over five hundred eyewitnesses, God raised Jesus from the dead and sent out his disciples to bear witness to the Messiah in the entire world.

    The rest of the New Testament is the record of the first generation of those disciples, as they went out into the world with the gospel, in miracle-working power. Especially important is the record of Saul of Tarsus, who we first encounter as the man who laid waste to the church. But, on the road to Damascus, the Risen and Glorified Christ arrested his man, in person, and sent him out as his chosen messenger.

    As Paul would later say, he “was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,” and so as Apostle to the Nations, he launched on perhaps the most remarkable second career in recorded history. He paid with his life for his work, of course, but he transformed western culture and through his impact on Europe, the whole world.

    However, in our time, many have rejected the foundation on which the modern world was built, and have turned their backs on God. So, they assume that the existence of natural laws proves that miracles are impossible, and on the strength of that assumption dismiss any record that includes the miraculous. In particular, they reject the Bible as a collection of pious myths, and so feel free to deny that the God who speaks through the Bible has any claim on their lives today.

    But, the existence of natural laws proves no such claim, nor could it conceivably do so. For, what Scientists do is to investigate the general operations of the natural world through experiment, observation, modelling, theorising and calculation, and then try to interpret their findings based on their philosophical assumptions about the world. So, Scientific reasoning makes inferences from particular cases to provisional general conclusions, in light of the paradigms held by the Scientists in question. That is, the process is one of open-ended discovery of patterns in the world, rather than one of proof beyond reasonable doubt.

    But, such a reasoning process simply cannot address events that, by definition, take their significance from the very fact that they stand out from the common course of nature[3]. In short, Biblical supernaturalism expects to find a world in which there is order and predictability. In fact, it is this Biblical worldview that led to an intellectual climate that, believing in a nature governed by laws, provided the basis for the Scientific Revolution.

    Further, as C. S. Lewis points out, what makes miracles more or less probable is the existence of a Creator who has an interest in his creatures. If such a Creator does not exist, then of course miracles are highly improbable or impossible; but that is to be established based on the evidence, not smuggled in as an assumed criterion used to assess the evidence. In short, it is not appropriate to beg the question as a basis for investigating it.

    There is another, less polite, word for such question begging: prejudice. So, let us rather open our minds and hearts to the facts of the case, and to the voice of the millions down through the ages and today who have met God in his miracle-working power and glory. And, through the record of their witness, let us listen to the God “who is there and is not silent.”[4]

    As Paul pointed out to the Athenians, God’s message is to all nations:

    The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation . . . and he determined the times for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him . . . . since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone — an image made by man’s design and skill. In the past, god overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he shall judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead. [Acts 17:24 – 31. Emphasis added.]

    Thus, through Bible Study, we return to the four R’s of revival: (1) repentance as we surrender to the truth; (2) transformation of our lives through “the renewing of [our] minds”; (3) revival as God pours out “times of refreshing”; and, (4) reformation as repentance, renewal and revival spread through and fill communities and nations with the light of God’s glory in Christ.

    Thus, this chapter on Bible Study sets the context for the rest of this book, in which we will explore several strategic breakthrough teachings, relating to:

    § Prayer in revival

    § Revival in business, the professions, arts, media and education

    § Revival and community leadership

    May we be blessed with seasons of refreshing from God in our time, across the Caribbean, and beyond as we apply these truths to our lives and communities.

    Pray: “Lord, help us as we seek to rejoice with the Psalmist who sings, ‘the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters,’ (Psalm 24:1-2). And As we confess that we belong to you, help us to serve you well.”

    Still not enough?

    How about:

    “Thus, secularist, materialistic philosophies, science and technology — both Marxist and Capitalist — have proved themselves to be spiritually barren, and too often environmentally devastating, economically impotent, corrupt, unjust and morally bankrupt. Further, as the current fears over environmental degradation, global warming and genetically modified foods and organisms show, science and technology have now lost their heroic stature in the popular mind.”

    And :

    ” Jesus, the Only Way

    Jesus, on the night in which he was betrayed, said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.” [John 14:6.]

    Later, the Apostle Peter, standing on trial before the Jewish High Council, added: “It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this [formerly crippled] man stands before you healed. He is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” [Acts 4:10 – 12; cf. v. 14 and Isaiah 43:10 – 13! Emphasis added.]

    Paul, quoting an early church hymn, concludes:

    Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant . . . he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross. Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. [Phil. 2: 5b – 11; cf. Isaiah 45:22 – 24!]

    However, this historic Christian contention that Jesus is Lord, the only Saviour, the only way to the Father, has always been controversial. In our time, this disinclination to take Jesus seriously has been strongly reinforced by the idea that all religions are equally roads to “God.” Thus, “tolerance” is now often redefined from respect for diversity to the notion that one must never assert or imply that another person’s faith may be in error.

    But, on closer inspection, it turns out that this apparently appealing and open-minded idea is often simply atheism in disguise! For, it quietly assumes that religious beliefs are only true in the sense that those who believe feel that they are true. Granting such cynical relativism, then of course it follows that all religions are equally roads to god: “god” being simply a fairy tale that props up weak hearts and minds.

    In the end, though, this cynical materialism has failed. For, it is unable to even face up to the basic fact of our obvious human frailty — much less provide hope, courage and guidance in a world that so often overwhelms us. Worse than that, it also fails to show us why we should trust the conclusions of human minds.

    For, if all things are “nothing but” the product of random chance acting on matter across time through purposeless natural laws; then obviously our minds and thoughts are wholly caused and controlled by irrational forces.

    In short, materialist theories typically present “objective” and “rational” arguments that undermine (or even deny) even their own objectivity and rationality. Such thinking saws off the branch on which it sits[10]. Thus, it defeats itself, and is a dead end.

    So, gently, but firmly, we must ask such evolutionary materialists: why should we accept the musings of an overgrown monkey brain — one controlled by its potty training and class conditioning — that can only lead to the recommendations of just another puzzled rat in the cosmic maze?

    To many other people, the idea that “all roads equally lead to God” means that there is a common truth in all religious traditions. This leads them to reinterpret — “wrench” is often a more accurate, though less polite, word — the world’s major religious traditions in light of their assumed “common thread of truth.” However, this concept usually forces them to ignore, distort or dismiss the many claims in these traditions that run counter to such “common truths.”

    For instance, one guru has attempted to take “Be still and know that I am God” out of its context of quiet worship before our Creator, the LORD, into the utterly different Hindu context that Atman is Brahman (roughly, “each of us is a little spark of god”). Far from being “tolerant,” such sloppy thinking actually arrogantly disrespects the fact of diversity in those traditions. So, this too is a dead-end.

    Similarly, some are now attempting to rewrite the Caribbean’s religious history. For instance, it is claimed that under the Spanish, Jamaica was largely settled by Islamic Moors, who — as the Maroons — resisted the British invaders, just as Saladin opposed the Crusaders in the Middle East. Further, in the teeth of the overwhelming evidence that most slaves imported by the British were animists, they argue that the slave population was largely Islamic. So, even the 1831 “Baptist War” slave uprising — led by Sam Sharpe, a Baptist Deacon and National Hero of Jamaica — has been reinterpreted as an Islamic Jihad[11].

    The underlying point? That we are to “return” to our Islamic roots. The bloody 1990 radical Islamic coup attempt in Trinidad, the sad fate of women under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, or the ongoing enslavement of black southern Sudanese at the hands of their Islamic compatriots from the north should provide sufficient warning that this is yet another dead end.

    Instead, let us return to our true roots: in God. For, there is a mountain of solid evidence — let us just open our eyes and look around us at the wonders of Creation — that the Living God is our Creator; that he has given us our intelligence and planted a conscience in our hearts; and that he loves us enough that Jesus came, brought healing and deliverance, died for our sins and rose from the dead as victorious Lord, with over five hundred eyewitnesses! [John 1:1 – 18, 3:12 – 21; Rom. 1:18 – 32; 1 Cor. 15:1 – 8; Eph. 4:9 – 24.]

    Moreover, “[God] has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” [Acts 17:31, emphasis added.]

    Now, some of us — like most of Athens’ leaders in the First Century — are unwilling to accept the report of over five hundred eyewitnesses to the resurrection (most of whom were still alive when the record was made). Likewise, too many of us simply dismiss without serious consideration the consistent testimony of millions through the ages who have personally met the risen Christ in his life-renewing power[12].

    However, such responses say more about the strength of our prejudices than they do about the state of the case on facts, evidence and logic. [1 Cor. 15:1 – 20; 2 Peter 1:12 – 16; 1 John 1:1 – 10.]

    Let us thank God, then, that the global wave of unsatisfied spiritual hunger has unlocked the door of opportunity for true, Christ-centred renewal, revival and reformation across the Caribbean, and beyond. That is, our time of crises presents us with a major strategic opportunity for global evangelization.

    Need more?

    Gordon says:

    “We must seize the initiative in the battle of ideas. In spiritual warfare we “demolish [deceptive] arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” [2 Cor. 10: 5.] Let us take the Christian case to the campus, the school, the media, the Internet, business, institutions, the man in the street and people in their homes. The recent issue in Barbados over a proposal to use the Sai Baba Book of Human Values for School Assemblies is only the tip of the iceberg.”

    There’s lots more here, and elsewhere on his sites:

    http://www.angelfire.com/pro/kairosfocus/resources/Leading_Cells/Evangelism/ABCD.htm

    http://www.angelfire.com/pro/kairosfocus/resources/Leading_Cells/Evangelism/College_Evangelisation.htm

    http://www.angelfire.com/pro/kairosfocus/resources/Why_not_Now/3_Not_by_Bread_Alone.htm

    http://www.angelfire.com/pro/kairosfocus/resources/Why_not_Now/7_The_Bible_in_Renewal.htm

    Gordon is right about one thing: those who think they have a cosmic, God-given standard to judge thinking and behaviour are both deluded and dangerous. Trouble is, he doesn’t apply that to himself.

  68. 157 Rose June 19, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    I forgot to add that the bolding is mine in my post above.

    Want to see Gordon’s real motive in pushing ID?

    “A letter to the group leader

    Dear Fellow-worker,

    Jesus has given us a clear, powerful mandate: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

    Clearly no higher authority exists. Equally clearly, we are to work so that men will commit themselves to Christ, be nurtured in obedience to him, and will in turn go out as fellow workers with him in the world.

    In this course, our focus is on the process of consolidating commitment, and upon nurture. But we must keep in mind the objective: the world. Equally, we must bear in our hearts Jesus’ reminder that discipleship largely works by example: the blind can lead the blind – about as far as the nearest ditch (see Luke 6:39, 40).

    As we go, therefore, let us all work together so that we can grow together as disciples of Christ.

    God bless and keep you,

    Gordon.

    January 1990″

    And:

    “Moreover, the dynamics indicate that the first step in succesful evangelism on the tertiary campus is to listen to and analyse the issues that confront the College or University student. An approach to the gospel and evangelism that cannot relate the Christian message to the hard questions asked by Philosophy, Science, History, Sociology, Psychology, Politics and other vital areas has no business being on the campus. Nor will a merely defensive approach do! Instead, we must boldly put forward challenging theses about the human predicament and put forward a Christian agenda for the future. College students, quite literally, embody that future! How else will we be able to fill the future leaders of our region with “the fulness of Christ”?”

    And:

    “As has become clear, our mandate is far broader than just the making of converts; instead, we are expected to disciple the nations, filling every aspect of life in the world with the glory of Christ under his Lordship.

    And:

    We must therefore have a clear and powerful strategy for the evangelisation of college and university students:

    1.) Ideally, a campus ministry should operate as a united expression of the body of Christ on that campus, under the united corporate leadership of the Church in the community or nation within which the campus is located, since it is the unity of the Church which is the ultimate demonstration of the truth of the gospel.19 Sadly, such united corporate leadership, as a rule, does not exist. In its absence, such a ministry should maintain strong links to a broad array of church leaders in the community or nation, and should firmly stand for the visible unity of the Christian community on the campus and in the wider community, without compromising the fundamental truths of the Faith.

    2.) The operations of such a campus ministry should emphasise the WIN, NURTURE, SEND cycle of discipleship, within the framework of the vision that the purpose of the Church is to fill all of life — including the academic, the professional, the socio-political, the cultural, the commercial, and the familial spheres — with the fulness of Christ. This will demand that Bible Study, teaching and training, fellowship, body ministry and nurture, prayer and worship, and evangelistic outreach and missions, receive their due and balanced emphasis.

    3.) The central structural feature of such a ministry should be the cell or small group. Cells are ideal for nurture and training; easily support dyadic sub-groups focussed on specific individual needs; provide exposure and opportunities for developing and expressing gifts, skills and leadership; can be integrated into larger group structures; and are simply the most flexible, handy structures available to us for ministry to students.

    4.) Students involved in the ministry will require basic training in sharing the gospel on campus (and, often, in general) and in handling the challenges to their faith which they are likely to encounter. Support for students going through personal value system crises, as pointed out by Gene Denham, will also be important.

    5.) Most students will only be on campus for a few years, so support staff who provide continuity, training resources and long term planning support are a vital part of the strategy.

    6.) A strong emphasis on student involvement in the wider Christian community, especially attachment to a specific local congregation, helps them to maintain a focus on body life and ministry, as well as support and ready-made outlets for ministry in the post-campus phase of a student’s life.

    7.) This post-campus phase is a vital part of any student evangelisation strategy which aims to reach the future leaders of the community — if graduates flounder, fail to become effective church and community leaders or generally backslide, then the student strategy has failed. Therefore, we must explicitly address the challenges graduates and prospective church and community leaders will face:

    * Marriage, singleness, sexuality and family life are the single most important challenges students will face in life.
    * Graduates will have to learn how to become positive change agents in the family, congregation, workplace and community.
    * As the most highly educated Christians in the community, they must be able to lead the church as it struggles against the forces which seek to secularise and/or paganise our culture and isolate the Church to a narrow religious ghetto. In particular, they must deal with issues in the media, professional ethics, law, education, the arts, government and politics.
    * Finally, they must view themselves as bound to obey the mandate to disciple the nations and fill the world with the fulness of Christ under his Lordship.

    Scary, isn’t it?

    My bolding.

  69. 158 MathGrrl June 20, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Flint wrote:

    Generally, that’s not the approach Febble takes. She instead tries to understand the mental model she’s dealing with, understand what that model rests on, isolate what there is about it that’s valid and where it may be in error. And that approach does seem to work a little bit better than demanding the nonexistent and refusing to engage meaningfully if the nonexistent is not produced. But Mathgrrl’s thread showed the hopelessness of that approach.

    Personally, I like Febble’s more gentle approach.

    I agree. I’m deeply impressed by Elizabeth Liddle’s patience. Even when she challenges the aspersions cast by some UD regulars she does so with the gentleness you note.

    This Socratic process is slow, to be sure, and requires a good faith effort to explain, defend, and clarify on the part of everyone involved. But as we’ve seen, starting out by demanding that someone produce the impossible will be soon met by hostile and belligerent personal attacks, denial, and “we already answered you but we won’t tell you where” responses.

    Maybe we could say that Mathgrrl’s approach demonstrates to everyone else that ID is bankrupt. Febble’s approach holds out some hope that they themselves can see this. Or maybe I hold out that hope.

    I share that hope, but I’m starting to fear that I may be simply naive. It seems to me that Elizabeth Liddle needs to get at least one more round of clarifications and agreement from the ID proponents involved in that thread, otherwise she runs the risk of having her work dismissed with “That’s not our definition of information.”

    And from a later comment:

    Instead of saying “it’s your claim, so pony up some support” and getting shouted down, she’s [Elizabeth Liddle] trying to lead them through their own argument, trying to get them to think about it, asking for clarifications, trying to weed out all the ambiguities and nebulations. The hope is that if she can get them to EXAMINE their claims, we’ll make some progress. This may not work, of course, but it’s worth a try.

    It’s well worth a try. However, it requires not only the patience of a monk but confidence in the rationality and intellectual honesty of the other participants in the discussion. I must admit that one significant reason I meditate is to get myself into a state where I can see the best in others. Elizabeth Liddle seems to be naturally more charitable than I.

  70. 159 MathGrrl June 20, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Reciprocating Bill,

    I think Liz has taken a wrong turn in the discussion. IMO she has been far too accepting of UB’s gas-bag definitions, and would have been better served by sticking to her guns and requiring that UB supply a workable operational definition of information as he construes it, such that both can agree whether her ambitious simulation has either demonstrated it or has not.

    Sorry I missed this before writing my previous comment. I could have just agreed with you and saved some typing.

    However, this:

    He won’t be able to provide one, nor will any body else. That is a point worthy of demonstration.

    and this from Rose:

    I admire Elizabeth Liddle’s patience, but she is playing right into their hands by going along with their evasive games.

    represent a core problem (one well described by Flint).

    Based on my interactions with the UD regulars over the past few months, it doesn’t appear to me that they share an epistemology with the scientists and mathematicians of my acquaintance. Several ID proponents have even suggested that the effort to create and agree upon operational definitions is simply a rhetorical device to distract from the discussion. I have trouble getting my head around the idea that anyone might think they can support their claims without the clarity provided by such definitions.

    It seems that Elizabeth Liddle has assumed the burden of articulating the operational definitions for the terms used by her opponents. Given the epistemological differences, that’s probably the only approach with any chance of success. It does require, however, that she solicit explicit agreement on those definitions. I don’t think she’s quite there yet.

    • 160 Rose June 20, 2011 at 10:37 pm

      MathGrrl, the LAST thing religious people (including ID-ists) want is “clarity”. Their entire premise and worldview is based on a blindingly thick fog of delusion and deliberate obfuscation, and the fear that others will see through it. They don’t want their beliefs tested, examined, or clearly defined. As can be seen, they will always try very hard to make sure that they have an ‘out’, an argument in reserve, a safety net, a card up their sleeve, a concealed weapon. If they were to actually open up themselves and their beliefs to well defined, close scrutiny, they would risk exposure, the destruction of their premise/worldview, and having to face reality.

  71. 161 Toronto June 20, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    MathGrrl,

    I believe that regardless of how patient Elizabeth Liddle is, the other side is not. She will do fine until a point comes where the ID’ists feel threatened by her.

    They will then put on a display of heart-felt reluctance as they ban her.

    I predict kairosfocus will sadly say, “And she started off so well.”

  72. 162 MathGrrl June 20, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Toronto,

    I believe that regardless of how patient Elizabeth Liddle is, the other side is not. She will do fine until a point comes where the ID’ists feel threatened by her.

    They will then put on a display of heart-felt reluctance as they ban her.

    So does that imply that I didn’t make anyone feel threatened? You wound me. I’m scary, really! Don’t you see the “grr” in my name?

    • 163 Rose June 21, 2011 at 12:04 am

      I think my husband has a bit of a crush on you. He likes “scary” women. 😉

      On a very serious note, I think the ID-ists on UD definitely feel threatened by you and your questions. It has been apparent in the way they respond to you, and especially the responses from kairosfocus, bornagain77, uptightbiped, chris doyle, pav, etc. They would ban you in a heartbeat except that it would make them look even more petty than usual, unless they have a very obvious reason. The people who have personally attacked you are trying to goad you into responding in a way that gives UD an excuse to ban you and then say something like:

      “SEE, onlookers, we told you so! We knew she was just a trouble making agent from the dark side who came here only to dishonestly misrepresent herself and toss out red herring after red herring led away to a forest of strawman caricatures laced with ad hominems, creating firebrand rhetorical talking points to set ablaze, bitterly
      polarising and poisoning the atmosphere using drumbeat repetitive Hitler-esque lies and slander, even in the teeth of repeated correction of the merits for the record’.

  73. 165 Toronto June 20, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    MathGrrl,

    Just typing your name makes me tremble! 🙂

  74. 166 Flint June 20, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Several ID proponents have even suggested that the effort to create and agree upon operational definitions is simply a rhetorical device to distract from the discussion. I have trouble getting my head around the idea that anyone might think they can support their claims without the clarity provided by such definitions.

    I have no trouble getting MY head around the idea that they recognize that operational definitions are the worst sort of subversive danger. Their entire worldview rests on a constellation of assertions which simply cannot withstand examination.

    Some years ago, I engaged in that kind of process with Febble herself. She started by claiming to be a Christian, and through a process of successive clarification and examination (which, as you say, requires a good faith effort, something Febble overflows with), she got increasingly abstract and hazy, finally deciding that her faith really wasn’t more than personal awe at the profound ramifications of the universe around us, and had nothing to do with biblical tales or any formal religious tradition. And she could be comfortable with this kind of self-examination, but there are few Febbles out there. Or anywhere close.

    • 167 MathGrrl June 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm

      Flint,

      I have no trouble getting MY head around the idea that they recognize that operational definitions are the worst sort of subversive danger. Their entire worldview rests on a constellation of assertions which simply cannot withstand examination.

      Several ID proponents on UD do, however, frequently make the claim that ID is a scientific theory that is testable. No one there seems terribly interested in actually testing it, but I can’t imagine they would come out and say so explicitly. I suspect they honestly don’t think that they are avoiding such testing. Either I’m missing something important about their epistemology or they have more tolerance for cognitive dissonance than do I.

      …there are few Febbles out there. Or anywhere close.

      True, more’s the pity.

  75. 168 Reciprocating Bill June 20, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    There are other issues at play – or that almost certainly will be at play.

    It doesn’t follow from one’s conviction that information came to accrue and to be transposed in biological processes absent agentic intervention that the contingent processes and events by means of which such exchanges emerged were simple and can be easily modeled. Throwing in some parts and shaking the box is not likely to do it. So in aiming to produce a simulation of the emergence of exchanges of information by means of arbitrary mapping, Liz has set for herself a daunting task, IMHO.

    Whatever the outcome of her efforts, I am not optimistic than anything but a pointless contest concerning the significance and applicability of her simulation (or lack thereof) will follow.

    Should she succeed in some measure, it strikes me as toweringly unlikely that any of the regulars there will be able to bring themselves to acknowledge the significance of her success. Recall the ridiculous discussions at UD that surrounded Dawkins’ Weasel (over supposed “latching” and its variants), a transparent demonstration anyone can whip up in an hour using Chipmunk Basic. Given the lengths to which UD regulars went to deny both the didactic intentions of WEASEL’s author and the real (and obviously limited) scope of its significance, it seems impossible to imagine a rational appraisal of Liz’s inevitably much more complex effort.

    And, of course, should she concede failure, it seems unlikely that the possible significance of that failure will be appreciated either. It certainly would not follow that abstract information exchange must have arisen by means of “design,” as there are countless reasons such a simulation may fail. But don’t expect that point to be grasped.

    One way or the other, we now we have a sort of natural experiment vis UD underway, complete with informal predictions regarding the outcome.

    What I want to see is the ID simulation of the process THEY imagine to have occurred. Strikes me that this would be nothing more than a near infinite series of assignment statements. In the syntax of the original BASIC language one used a LET statement (LET X = 1). Not so far from “LET there be light.”

    (And all of this in some strange way calls to mind Updike’s novel Roger’s Version…)

  76. 169 Flint June 21, 2011 at 12:52 am

    I have a strong suspicion that Febble’s simulation is not being written entirely, or even primarily, to have it simply trashed by people who don’t wish to understand it. Usually these things help her in her own research. In the (permanent) absence of any operational definition of “biological information”, and with the theological requirement that whatever that stuff is, it can’t happen naturally, there won’t be much use at UD for any such simulation.

    (And yeah, I was also amused that the WEASEL program was written ONLY to demonstrate the power of selection, and the many criticisms of the program carefully avoided any recognition of its purpose or success at demonstrating that purpose.)

  77. 170 Rose June 21, 2011 at 1:18 am

    kairosfocus and bornagain77 have made some statements that show their extreme unwillingness to look at themselves and their so-called ID ‘theory’. In the thread on UD about the book on multiverses, and the fallacy of fine tuning, kairosfocus said:

    “The first challenge that this sort of speculation faces, is the need for observational evidence for a claim to move out of speculative philosophy to the realms of warranted scientific claims.”

    And bornagain said:

    “Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Search for Unity in Physical Law:
    Peter Woit, a PhD. in theoretical physics and a lecturer in mathematics at Columbia, points out—again and again—that string theory, despite its two decades of
    dominance, is just a hunch aspiring to be a theory. It hasn’t predicted anything, as theories are required to do, and its practitioners have become so desperate, says Woit, that they’re willing to redefine what doing science means in order to justify their labors.” (and a link of course)

    Which he followed up with:

    “‘What is referred to as M-theory isn’t even a theory. It’s a collection of ideas, hopes, aspirations. It’s not even a theory and I think the book is a bit misleading in that respect. It gives you the impression that here is this new theory which is going to explain everything. It is nothing of the sort. It is not even a theory and certainly has no observational (evidence),,, I think the book suffers rather more strongly than many (other books). It’s not a uncommon thing in popular descriptions of science to latch onto some idea, particularly things to do with string theory, which have absolutely no support from observations.,,, They are very far from any kind of observational (testability). Yes, they (the ideas of M-theory) are hardly science.” – Roger Penrose – former close colleague of Stephen Hawking – in critique of Hawking’s new book ‘The Grand Design’ the exact quote in the following video clip:” (and more links)

    Obviously, their ID ‘theory’ is special and doesn’t need or deserve the same scrutiny as others.

  78. 171 Flint June 21, 2011 at 2:11 am

    Well, this discussion of string theory is basically correct, if incomplete. String theory is based on observation to the extent that its mathmatical implications do not conflict with observations. And while it does make predictions in a sense, these are not useful because there is no way to make the necessary observations right now.

    So string theory has really been kind of a mathmatical toy, something that looks elegant, and all fits together nicely, and describes aspects of a universe which might even be true, though we can’t know that. String theory is not (yet) science.

    From this post, though, it sounds oddly like they recognize that ID theory is very much like string theory in that it makes untestable claims, and provides an underlying “explanation” of the universe that might be right for all we can know. And they’re entirely correct that in this way, ID is not science and never can be, because observational support is simply not possible.

  79. 172 Rose June 21, 2011 at 4:23 am

    I think that string theory is more scientific than ‘ID theory’, but it’s still not deserving of the “theory’ moniker. My point in my post above though is that ID-ists have a HUGE double standard when it to comes to scrutinizing, accepting, condemning, or promoting theories, inferences, or hypotheses. I have to disagree with you again Flint, on the following: I re-read the original post and the thread and don’t see where they even begin to “recognize that ID theory is very much like string theory in that it makes untestable claims, and provides an underlying “explanation” of the universe that might be right for all we can know”. (my bold)

    From everything I’ve seen on UD, including that post and thread, I think that ID-ists see their so-called ‘theory’ as the one and only comprehensive, ‘right’ theory, and that it and its alleged evidence are predictive, observational, and testable (even though they won’t agree on how to define or test it). In fact, I think that they totally believe that they know all they need to know and that ID ‘theory’, and the religious beliefs that are behind it, are the only absolute truths and explanation, in or out of the universe.

    • 173 Flint June 21, 2011 at 8:41 pm

      Rose,

      I was talking about your post, not any of theirs. And that was what I read there.

      And ID theory is a lot like string theory in the sense that there’s no way to falsify it. ID theory is a lot like “Last Thursday Theory” – it might be right for all we know.

      As to the claims that ID theory predicts or explains anything or is based on observations or tests, of course that’s silly. And there we have real difference. String theorists will readily admit they’re playing games with math, and that there isn’t and perhaps can’t be any scientific substance behind it. ID theorists simply lie. Indeed, if the ID folks make any positive claim about anything relevant to their faith, you’re safe in assuming it’s a lie even before you start any due diligence in checking it out.

      • 174 Rose June 22, 2011 at 8:29 am

        Hi Flint, as I’m sure you’re aware, communicating in writing only can be problematic. In this case, it seems that we are probably just misunderstanding each other a bit. I can tell though that we agree on most things, and especially things like this:

        “Indeed, if the ID folks make any positive claim about anything relevant to their faith, you’re safe in assuming it’s a lie even before you start any due diligence in checking it out.”

        🙂

  80. 175 Petrushka June 21, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    There’s a serious obstacle to modeling biochemistry, and it is that chemistry is hard to model. Protein folding, for example.

    It would seem intuitively obvious that molecules know how to fold, but we don’t seem to have the magic insight that allows us to model folding in anything approaching real time.

    That’s one dimension of the problem. Chemistry is smarter than we are. Reducing biology to chemistry does not simplify things to the point where obvious conclusions can be drawn about search spaces and the prevalence or rarity of function.

    It seems to me that any calculation of probability would have to begin with a level of knowledge about functional space that we simply don’t have. In the mean time, we observe evolutionary adaptations in nature and in the lab. We observe that a significant percentage of random sequences produce useful products.

  81. 176 Seversky June 22, 2011 at 2:01 am

    I see two problems here. The first is the accessibility of scientific knowledge and the second is the origin of life, the universe and everything.

    Many moons ago, Nature had a discussion about research into the accessibility of scientific knowledge. The article noted that, at the turn of the twentieth century, the average scientific paper could be understood by anyone who could read and understand one of the serious broadsheet newspapers of the day. By the time of writing, however, it was judged that some scientific papers had become so technical that they were incomprehensible even to experts in neighboring fields let alone lay readers. The article went on to quote one of the leading experts on string theory to the effect that there could be no popular science book on the subject as you needed to have mastered some pretty abstruse mathematics in order to really understand what it was all about.

    The danger should be obvious. If science continues along that path then it becomes increasingly vulnerable to the accusation that, to outsiders, it has become much like a religion itself. There is a body of esoteric knowledge, concentrated in the hands of a small band of initiates and opaque to all but the few who have undertaken the long and arduous training that is needed to gain admission to this ‘priesthood’. The rest of us must be content with whatever crumbs of knowledge they see fit to toss down to us.

    The second problem is even more intractable. No one has any idea what the Universe was like before the Big Bang. No one has any real idea why it went ‘Bang!’ when it did. If you had been able to observe it a little while later, assuming you weren’t instantly vaporized, there would have been nothing but this incredibly hot “quark soup”. Give it some time to cool down and you would have found that what had ‘condensed’ out was atomic hydrogen and the fundamental forces.

    The point is that, if we had been able to observe the early Universe at any of those points, could we have predicted the emergence of the incredible complexity world, including us, that we see around us now? Were the seeds buried in there from the very beginning or was it added from somewhere else later? How did we get from hydrogen to human?

    This is where Intelligent Design steps in , or tries to. By dressing up good old creationism in a crisp white lab coat (plus “Don’t mention God! I did but I think I got away with it”) it offers an explanation of real problems that is ‘sciencey’ –sounding but not so much like real science that no one can understand it.

    Fortunately, the Debacle at Dover exposed ID as scientifically vacuous. Not only did that make it much more difficult to recruit new converts from the uncommitted but it lost support from within the religious community which was hoping for something with a little more scientific ‘clout’ than proved to be the case.

    The problems remain, however. Science is, in some ways, becoming less not more accessible to the ordinary people on whose support it ultimately depends. And those people want to be re-assured that their concerns are taken seriously and that science recognizes that there are extremely difficult questions out there which are not answered with breezy talk about “quantum fluctuations”.

    • 177 Flint June 22, 2011 at 3:01 am

      You don’t propose any steps toward solving either of the issues you raise.

      I doubt that scientists have any desire to be priests over arcane or abstruse scientific matters. I think the many years of education are required because these matters ARE complex and based on centuries of development. Even pre-digested versions in Scientific American or Science News are either so simple you can’t be sure what they’re saying, or complicated enough to make you realize how much you don’t know and NEED to know to really understand even the simplified Readers Digest versions.

      So I’m not sure how science is to simultaneously dig deeper into any of the various fields and build on what’s already known, AND become more accessible to people utterly unfamiliar with anything already known. At best, I could hope for better science education starting early.

      I don’t quite see the second problem you raise. As we delve back toward our universe’s early history, we have little choice but to extrapolate from what can be observed. We also have little real need to do so, beyond idle curiosity. So I frame your second issue as a matter of how people, curious and insecure as we are, deal with matters where difficulty of observation keeps us much more ignorant than we care to admit to ourselves.

      If some people solve this essentially psychological problem by Making Stuff Up, we should hardly be surprised. We are imaginative, and we HATE to admit ignorance, so what would you expect?

  82. 178 Toronto June 22, 2011 at 3:09 am

    Seversky:

    “The problems remain, however. Science is, in some ways, becoming less not more accessible to the ordinary people on whose support it ultimately depends.”

    That’s a very good point.

    How do we make today’s science relevant to the average person when the sciences themselves require an above average education to even begin to understand?

    This is a hole that the ID crowd can exploit.

    We have to have our bottom-line arguments ready as a rebuttal for when they submit theirs to the law-makers.

  83. 179 Toronto June 22, 2011 at 3:19 am

    Flint:

    “So I’m not sure how science is to simultaneously dig deeper into any of the various fields and build on what’s already known, AND become more accessible to people utterly unfamiliar with anything already known. At best, I could hope for better science education starting early.”

    It’s not the science that has to change, it’s the people that want to protect science that have to alter the way they present it to to the public.

    There’s a huge danger that if people’s access to scientific information is handled by the Dembski crowd, then ID and Flood Theory is going to be presented as real science to the general public.

    • 180 Rose June 22, 2011 at 8:46 am

      Your points are good. I often feel that science needs a lot better PR. Just look at what good PR (organization, determination, many publications, many churches, Sunday schools, TV and radio shows, door to door campaigns, bibles in hotel rooms, missionaries, and a lot more) has done to promote and spread religion. Religion is essentially all PR. It has no foundation in the scientific method, experimentation, tests, verification, falsification, reality, or anything else that good science is based on, yet religion is pretty much everywhere and doing pretty well overall. It just goes to show that anything can be sold if the sales pitch is good enough and thorough enough.

      Having a good product (like good science) isn’t enough. To be successful and popular, it has to be ‘marketed’ well.

  84. 181 Toronto June 22, 2011 at 3:31 am

    A new post on UD:

    “On Friday, Michele Bachmann (R-MN) — incredibly, a Presidential front-runner for the Republicans — said this:
    I support intelligent design […] What I support is putting all science on the table and then letting students decide. I don’t think it’s a good idea for government to come down on one side of scientific issue or another, when there is reasonable doubt on both sides.”

    I checked UD right after my comments to Seversky and Flint, …..and look what I find.

    • 182 Flint June 22, 2011 at 4:29 am

      Toronto:

      Now you know what science looks like to a lawyer. I’ll bet Bachmann sincerely believes that ID is science. After all, the ID folks SAY it is, and to a lawyer, this is simply a swearing contest, to be resolved by assessing testimony from competing scientists. I don’t think she’s capable of understanding the concept of UNreasonable doubt. She sees a dispute between equally valid views, and she’s correct that government shouldn’t take sides in such cases. She has no clue what science IS, though.

      Now, getting science properly presented to the public is a challenge. As Einstein said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler!. And unfortunately, simplifying what science is doing as much as possible is STILL not simple enough for even halfway-decent science reporters. I’m interested, I’m well educated, I read simplified biology articles, and my eyes glaze over.

      Combine this with people’s natural tendency to root for underdogs, and consider all opinions equally valid, and present “both sides” in the interest of “fairness” (and the complementary problem of not being able to tell science from shinola), and the strong desire to have science ratify their religious beliefs, and we see what happens.

  85. 183 Rose June 22, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Hi MathGrrl, you said:

    “Thanks, Rose. I’ll behave. ;-)”

    which cracked me up, in a good way. 🙂

  86. 184 Rose June 22, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Seems to me that PaV has put his foot in his mouth:

    He said: “If there is no evidence of “a Prime Mover within the Moved”, then you cannot claim that the “Moved” moved. So where does that get you?”

    How about a little rewording:

    If there is no evidence of a designer within the designed, then you cannot claim that the designed was designed or that a designer designed. So where does that get you?

    Or:

    If there is no evidence of a God within the designed, then you cannot claim that the ‘designed’ was designed by a God. So where does that get you?

  87. 185 Rose June 22, 2011 at 10:34 am

    I thought of another one:

    If there is no evidence of a supernatural or transcendental being or entity within the designed, then you cannot claim that the designed was designed by a supernatural or transcendental being or entity. So where does that get you?

    Of course I’m thinking of the oft used argument by ID-ists that they don’t have to have any evidence of who or what the designer is (or even mention it) to show that the allegedly designed is designed.

  88. 186 Toronto June 22, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Rose:

    “Having a good product (like good science) isn’t enough. To be successful and popular, it has to be ‘marketed’ well.”

    I fear that this is where we will lose the cultural war, by not recognizing the need to properly present our better product, which is, “The World We Live In”.

    To think that it is simply science is going to cost us a lot of effort focusing on things that are very difficult for even specialists in their field to understand.

    Our focus should be in selling the reality that we live in as opposed to versions of “reality in a book”.

    We live in a natural world governed by physical laws and we should promote it as a good place to be “as it is”.

    This means showing the errors of “Team Dembski’s” global flood as well as promoting evolution.

    The other side can have their after-life, but this one should be free of interference from anyone’s holy book.

  89. 187 Zachriel June 22, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Seversky: If science continues along that path then it becomes increasingly vulnerable to the accusation that, to outsiders, it has become much like a religion itself.

    That’s been true since Einstein, or even Maxwell. The solution is science education. Though much of modern science is esoteric, many of the fundamental findings are available to laypersons. Tracing the history of science can help people understand how the process works. What we take for granted today was far less intuitive in the past.

    Seversky: The second problem is even more intractable. No one has any idea what the Universe was like before the Big Bang.

    That’s fine, and people can dress it up in their metaphysics. As long as they don’t confuse it with science, it’s not a problem. And if they understand the scientific method, then most people should be able to tell the difference.


    There is only one tard; equivocation.

  90. 188 Petrushka June 22, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    A lot of things that require higher math to fully understand can be presented visually.

    One of my favorite attempts is “Donald in Mathmagic Land,” a Disney animated film you can watch on Youtube. Doing this correctly requires a deep collabation between artists and scientists, and alas, the science and learning channels seem to have dropped the ball in recent years.

  91. 189 Flint June 22, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    The general model here seems to be, that science is not wel presented in US public education. This leaves the general population unprepared to distinguish between scientific and nonscientific claims. And that, in turn, allows untrustworthy (or deluded) people to continue to make nonscientific claims while CALLING them scientific. The poorly educated and therefore defenseless public accepts it.

    But there is ample evidence that what’s key here is theological preconceptions. Even highly educated people suffer from them. Many of the Discovery Institute shills have PhDs, some of them in appropriate fields. And studies show that of all those who get college biology degrees, 80% who entered as creationists are STILL creationists. And over 50% of Americans tell the pollsters they believe humans were created in their current form, fairly recently.

    The bottom line is simple: Education does not cure creationism! Education, properly presented and properly timed (that is, very early in life) can immunize someone against creationism. But once the cancer has set in, not even lobotomy can cure it. The problem is bad parenting, not poor education.

    • 190 Rose June 25, 2011 at 1:05 am

      “The bottom line is simple: Education does not cure creationism! Education, properly presented and properly timed (that is, very early in life) can immunize someone against creationism. But once the cancer has set in, not even lobotomy can cure it. The problem is bad parenting, not poor education.”

      And that’s why religious zealots have worked so hard to indoctrinate children at as young an age as possible. The parents you speak of were also mostly indoctrinated at a very young age. Once started, and implanted, the cycle goes on and on and on.

      Children are also exposed to religious BS from birth even if their parents aren’t religious. Religious beliefs, images, claims, stories, slogans, and pressures are ubiquitous in society.

      Children rarely learn anything about science before they go to school at the age of about 6, and even then they get little to no science education. By then, they are likely to be already exposed to, or indoctrinated into, religious programming. It’s pretty much too late, in most cases, for them to be “immunized”. The disease has already taken hold.

      I’m not sure exactly how science or its supporters could immunize children before they catch the religion disease, but using the same methods as religious zealots might work well. More focus and effort on children’s books and videos, TV programs, board games, jigsaw puzzles, games, children’s websites, day and summer outings and camps, toys, etc., wouldn’t hurt, and more effective marketing aimed at adults and parents would be a good idea too. Why can’t good science and reality be marketed in a similar way to religion (but without all the lies and BS)?

      No matter what is done, big changes aren’t going to happen overnight. The religious anti-science disease has had a long time to spread and grow. The ‘cure’ will take a long time and a lot of effort.

      • 191 Toronto June 25, 2011 at 1:41 am

        Rose,

        Flint: “The problem is bad parenting, not poor education.”

        I think Flint has identified the problem.

        Not all religious people have a problem with science, it’s only those who fear the unknown so much that they will do anything to appease it.

        Parents and religious leaders promise salvation to those who obey and that is what the children are taught.

        I’ve been reading UD for many years and can see that there are people there with more brains and education than I have but it doesn’t save them from toeing the line.

  92. 192 Rose June 23, 2011 at 10:06 am

    I see that vjtorley has upheld the incredibly low standards of a typical catholic godbot. As if it isn’t enough to be a proud member of a murderous religious cult that condones lying, child rape, and other atrocities, he is now accusing MathGrrl of fraud. In his article on UD, he obviously thinks that by accusing her and allegedly ‘outing’ her, he and his fellow religious nutcases will be safe from having to define and apply CSI to any real tests. Is there anything an ID-ist won’t stoop to to get out of having their claims examined?

    torley is just another self-righteous hypocrite and liar, who doesn’t live by his own words, like these:

    “If you want to accuse someone of fraud, you should first make sure you can convict them if it, in court.”

    And: “Let me add that casting baseless aspersions on people’s characters by calling them “fraudulent” and accusing them of “selling out” does little to enhance your credibility.”

    From this thread: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/12/latest-on-id-and-thomism.html

    So much for torley’s credibility.

    Hey vince, don’t you just hate it when the tracks you leave on the internet can be found and ‘outed’ by people like me? Do you really believe that no one can dig up your long trail of bullshit?

    MathGrrl, don’t hold your breath while waiting for kairosfocus or anyone else at UD to point out torley’s wrongful behavior. It’s perfectly okay for any of them to do whatever they want, even when it’s exactly the same things they constantly bitch about other people doing, or allegedly doing. They’re ‘special’ because god is on their side. LOL!

  93. 193 Reciprocating Bill June 23, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    Vincent seems to have experienced some remorse. He goes beyond notpology, and actually apologizes to “the individual concerned” (not exactly the soul of warmth, there.)

    His application of the Golden Rule seems a bit rudimentary, but we can let that pass.

    • 194 Rose June 24, 2011 at 4:43 am

      vjtorley probably read my post above, where I ‘outed’ his hypocrisy and absence of credibility, and now he’s just trying to cover his ass.

  94. 195 Reciprocating Bill June 23, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    The following exemplifies the problem I have with Lizzie’s approach:

    Sayeth Upright Biped:

    “Well, as it happens, Dr Liddle and I were just discussing an operational definition of “information” in connection to a simulation she intends to design in order to falsify ID. The latest iteration of that definition is as follows:

    Information is a representation of a discrete object/thing embedded in an arrangement of matter or energy, where the object/thing represented is entirely dissociated from the representation, but where the association of the two can be established by means of a protocol instantiated in the receiver of the information.

    Of course, this bears no resemblance to an operational definition, as no operations, measurements or procedures for deciding whether/how much information is present are present in this definition. UB obviously has no idea what an operational definition is, and I don’t see any purpose served in allowing him to sustain the illusion that he and Liz have found common ground in an “operational definition” from which she can proceed.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/he-said-it-prof-lewontins-strawman-justification-for-imposing-a-priori-materialist-censorship-on-origins-science/#comment-385797

    • 196 Neil Rickert June 24, 2011 at 12:26 am

      That definition of “information” seems quite reasonable to me.

      Shannon’s theory of information was actually called a theory of communication. Shannon does describe the idea of encoding (or meaning), of communication, then of decoding. Shannon’s theory just happens to be mainly about the communication, and measurements of information content are important in communication, since the amount of content becomes a requirement for the capacity of the communication channel. UB’s definition is oriented more to the meaning aspect than to the communication aspect.

  95. 197 Reciprocating Bill June 24, 2011 at 1:40 am

    It may be reasonable, but is it operational? I see no guidance regarding how one might operationalize it’s terms such that they may be investigated empirically or by means of a simulation. Have Liz and UP agreed by what means they will determine whether a given configuration of matter or energy has embedded within it a “representation?” Or, more to the point, whether the computational proxy for “matter or energy” within their simulation has embedded within it a representation of a proxy for a “thing?” Have they agreed how it will be decided whether the simulated representation is “independent” of the thing represented within the simulation? And so on and so forth, through the terms “protocol” and “receiver.”

    I’m not saying the task is impossible, or claiming that all terms within a theory must be amenable to operational definition (that ship sailed decades ago) – But UB himself claims to have attained an operational definition of information as he construes it. He has not. Not even close.

  96. 198 Zachriel June 24, 2011 at 1:52 am

    Reciprocating Bill: It may be reasonable, but is it operational?

    Agreed. Consider a simple example, stellar spectra, which encodes the composition of stars. Is that information? We would certainly use the term and say that spectral lines provide information about the content of stars. But does it meet the definition? It’s hard to tell as there are so many vaguely defined terms.

  97. 199 Neil Rickert June 24, 2011 at 2:42 am

    Reciprocating Bill:

    I see no guidance regarding how one might operationalize it’s terms such that they may be investigated empirically or by means of a simulation.

    But we operationalize it all the time, from TV to cell phones, to the Internet. We don’t seem to have a problem with that.

    Zachriel:

    Consider a simple example, stellar spectra, which encodes the composition of stars. Is that information?

    In my opinion, no, that is not information (at least on the UB definition). But when we record the spectra or measure it, those are information.

  98. 200 Reciprocating Bill June 24, 2011 at 3:35 am

    Operational definitions replace abstract theoretical terms with descriptions of the specific operations performed to measure them. UB’s definition isn’t short on abstract theoretical terms – it is short on a description of the specific operations used to measure those terms.

    Neil: But we operationalize it all the time, from TV to cell phones, to the Internet. We don’t seem to have a problem with that.

    The fact that we daily cook steaks doesn’t alone provide us with an operational definition of temperature (although with some work a steak could be pressed into service for that purpose). Neither does a statistical description of molecular kinetics. To operationalize the notion of temperature such that it can be measured we need a thermometric variable that changes in response to changes in temperature – coil pitch in a bimetal spring, the volume of mercury in a tube, the voltage output of a thermocouple, etc. We can then all agree as a matter of convention on the operation that yields a value for temperature – read the angle of the needle, the height of the column, the value on the voltmeter – and scale and translate the quantity as needed.

    By analogy, UB needs to specify the operations that give his terms empirical significance. He hasn’t done that.

    • 201 Rose June 24, 2011 at 4:29 am

      “…UB needs to specify the operations that give his terms empirical significance. He hasn’t done that.”

      It ain’t gonna happen. 😉

      And it isn’t ever going to happen with all the other terms that ID-ists use. They can’t allow it to happen, because all their claims could then be specifically tested and refuted. ID-ists have to remain vague and evasive, to protect their dishonest claims.

  99. 202 Rose June 24, 2011 at 4:08 am

    Calling someone (MathGrrl) “a buffoon: utterly unresponsive, nowhere near as clever as he would have us believe and deeply dishonest. You are not remotely at fault for exposing this man for what he really is: someone with really disturbing issues.” obviously isn’t a “nasty personal remark” in chris doyle’s hypocritical ‘christian’ mind.

    Chris Doyle

    06/23/2011

    6:14 pm

    “Hello vjtorley,

    I disagree with you on two points, one of little consequence, the other much more interesting.

    First of all, Patrick May aka ‘Mathgrrl’ was never “one of our more intelligent critics”. The man is a buffoon: utterly unresponsive, nowhere near as clever as he would have us believe and deeply dishonest. You are not remotely at fault for exposing this man for what he really is: someone with really disturbing issues.

    Secondly, and much more interestingly, I am uneasy with your point about privacy. More specifically, the desire for anonymity. There is absolutely no justifiable reason why the likes of Patrick May need to conceal their identity. Nobody is forcing the likes of Pat to participate. Every word he posts is of his own free will. Nothing he has said can possibly damage his interests apart from the nasty personal remarks he has made. And even though those nasty personal remarks deserve to be punished, in reality, people like Pat can be quite confident that they won’t be. If people like Pat want to hide their identity, then it can only be because they have something shameful to hide. Further, by hiding their identity, they feel liberated to act much more shamefully than they otherwise would. Cowardice in the evolutionist ranks is to be expected, but it should be criticised on a regular basis.

    Naturally, this criticism of anonymity extends to everybody who participates in this debate. At the same time, Kairosfocus is quite right to point out that:

    “Darwinists do not face career harrassment or busting if they are publicly identified, design theory activists or even those interested in a giving a fair hearing do. That is a crucial asymmetry in the situation.”

    However, I feel like an opportunity is being missed by every believer who posts anonymously. And it is this: stand up and be counted. Post your comments and sign them with your real name. If you truly have faith and trust in your Creator, then you must have courage in your convictions. One day, the Creator may ask you: why did you conceal your true identity when you spoke of Me?

    Will your answer be, “I chose convenience over allegiance: I didn’t want to be inconvenienced by junk mail or even loss of earnings so I withheld my real name whenever I referred to you”?

    Whatever the inconveniences would be, and no matter how much of a burden they are, they are certainly worth bearing to openly declare your allegiance to the Creator. And no soul is given a burden too great to bear.

    We should not seek persecution in the name of the Creator, but we shouldn’t be afraid of it either. If you are persecuted in this life for openly declaring your allegiance to the Creator, this will serve you better in the Final Reckoning than persecution-free convenience and anonymity.”

    Hey doyle, show us the nasty personal remarks that MathGrrl made.

    One thing you don’t have to show us is that you’re a two-faced, dishonest coward. That is already an established fact.

    By the way chrisy, why didn’t you criticize all the ‘anonymous’ ID-ists on UD and elsewhere a long time ago, in the same manner in which you’re criticizing MathGrrl? Why aren’t you jumping all over bornagain77, kairosfocus, uptightbiped, News, mung, ilion, nullasalus, and all the others, on a regular basis? After all, there is absolutely no justifiable reason why the likes of them need to conceal their identity. Nobody is forcing the likes of them to participate. Every word they post is of their own free will. If people like them want to hide their identity, then it can only be because they have something shameful to hide.

    And what about all your nasty personal remarks and all the ones from your ID cohorts on UD and elsewhere over the years? How should you and they be punished? An eternity in ‘Hell’ perhaps?

    UD should be renamed to: Double standards and dishonest proselytizing ‘R’ us.

  100. 203 Rose June 24, 2011 at 7:14 am

    Is vjtorley saying that MathGrrl is also Seversky? And does anyone know what Jammer means by the “original post”?

    Jammer

    06/23/2011

    1:23 pm

    Is exposed fraud Patrick May also the former poster known as Seversky, as was alluded to in the original post? I’m unsure if that was meant as a joke or not.

    vjtorley

    06/23/2011

    3:52 pm

    Jammer,

    I wasn’t joking.

    • 204 Seversky June 24, 2011 at 12:22 pm

      I’m assuming Jammer is referring to the original post by vjtorley at the top of the thread. Apparently the humor of my allusion to the famous scene from the movie Spartacus was too subtle for vj.

      If anyone’s interested, the comment is on Page 384 of the “Uncommonly Dense Thread 3” under After the Bar Closes on http://www.antievolution.org

  101. 205 Zachriel June 24, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Zachriel: Consider a simple example, stellar spectra, which encodes the composition of stars. Is that information?

    Neil Rickert: In my opinion, no, that is not information (at least on the UB definition). But when we record the spectra or measure it, those are information.

    Here’s the definition again.

    Information is a representation of a discrete object/thing embedded in an arrangement of matter or energy, where the object/thing represented is entirely dissociated from the representation, but where the association of the two can be established by means of a protocol instantiated in the receiver of the information.”

    The association can be established by means of a protocol instantiated in the receiver of the information. So according to the definition, it is information before its decipherment, as long as it can be deciphered. For instance, if we sequenced a genome and discovered the text of Hamlet, we would consider that information was already existing in the genome waiting to be deciphered.

    • 206 Seversky June 25, 2011 at 1:37 am

      The definition begins by asserting that information is a “representation” which, to me, implies that it is the product of intelligent agency. In other words, someone has to chosen to represent something by a language or code or some other system of symbols with the ultimate purpose of communicating that something to a third party or parties.

      What then of the dendrochronologist who obtains what we would call “information” about the history of a tree from the growth rings in its trunk? By the definition quoted above that is not information, although many people, including me, would say it is.

      • 207 Reciprocating Bill June 25, 2011 at 2:58 am

        You underscore a very important point: to describe the role information plays in the cell in the terms UB specifies does nothing more than smuggle the conclusion he wishes attain in with his definitions.

      • 208 Rose June 25, 2011 at 3:59 am

        At the risk of sounding dumb, but in the interest of ‘informative’ and healthy discussion, and not necessarily to say that anyone is right or wrong, I have some questions and comments about information.

        The definition Zachriel posted seems to me like an argument an ID-ist could use to support ID claims. As Seversky said, representation sounds like the product of intelligent agency, or at least the will or purpose of intelligent agency. Here’s the definition reworded to demonstrate what I mean:

        Information is a representation (a direct act or purpose by an intelligent designer/god) of a discrete object/thing embedded (by an intelligent designer/god) in an arrangement of matter or energy, where the object/thing represented is, seemingly to non-ID/god believing humans, entirely dissociated from the representation, but where the association of the two (the thing, and the intelligent designer/god) can be established by means of a protocol (ID ‘theory’) instantiated in the receiver of the information (humans, or at least humans who practice ID ‘theory’).

        Am I way off? 🙂

        Now some questions:

        Is information informative, discoverable, detectable, noticeable, apparent, obvious, decipherable, knowable, understandable, understood, useful, usable, beneficial, neutral, or detrimental only to humans? (take your pick or add your own)

        Is information used only by humans?

        Would information exist if humans didn’t exist?

        Is there information in tree rings that is informative, discoverable, detectable, noticeable, apparent, obvious, decipherable, knowable, understandable, understood, useful, usable, beneficial, neutral, or detrimental to the tree, or the non-human environment?

        Is any information in the tree rings used by the tree?

        I’ll probably have more questions but these will do for now.

      • 209 Neil Rickert June 25, 2011 at 4:12 am

        The definition begins by asserting that information is a “representation” which, to me, implies that it is the product of intelligent agency.

        That seems reasonable.

        What then of the dendrochronologist who obtains what we would call “information” about the history of a tree from the growth rings in its trunk?

        With the definition we are discussing, the tree rings are not information. But what the dendrochronologist gets from them is information.

        There are several different concepts of information around, and it can get confusing. When physicists use the term, they are talking of physical information such as fundamental particle states, and they might count the tree rings as information. When you go to representations, you could say that you are talking about intentional information.

        In my opinion, DNA is physical information, but not intentional information. But the creationists and ID proponents want to treat it as intentional information so that they can say that an intender is required.

      • 210 Reciprocating Bill June 25, 2011 at 1:23 pm

        The lengthy discussion at the link that follows, which concerns (in part – it veers off into quantum physics and causality) inappropriate analogizing between the exchange of information in human language and the transcription of information from DNA, makes it clear what several regulars at UD are striving to demonstrate. The tactic is the same as now being employed by UB: define terms such that one is compelled to attribute intention and intentionality (in both senses) to the process – then cite the process as evidence of “design.”

        My favorite line? “Here’s the thing, we either live in a “Jesus universe” or we do not.”

        http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/the-odds-that-end-stephen-meyers-rebuttal-of-the-chance-hypothesis/#comment-343274

        (I am Voice Coil. Mark, Zachriel, Seversky and ROb also participate. Peeler, StephenB and UB play for UD, with a cameo by Torley. Seems to me this is where Voice Coil went into moderation and was banned.)

  102. 211 Rose June 25, 2011 at 12:18 am

    To Elizabeth Liddle, you’ve posted here, and I hope you will see this post from me. I have some questions and comments for you:

    Why are you still posting on UD? Why are you trying to explain anything to people who will never listen, and treat you with such disrespect and malice? It has gotten to the point where your participation there looks masochistic.

    Take for example the way bornagain77 talks to you. He is a raging religious lunatic who will never see or agree to anything but his psychotic worldview. He and other ID-ists accuse and insult you daily and you often make apologies as though your communication skills are the problem. It doesn’t matter how you say something. The only thing that matters to them is whether you agree or disagree with them, and they absolutely require that you agree with them in every way. If you don’t, you are the evil enemy and must be persecuted and cast out. They would stone you to death if they could get away with it. Trying to reason with them is a complete waste of time and effort. Taking their abuse just makes them feel stronger, and as though they have ‘won’ the ‘debate’.

    So, why do you subject yourself to the abuse on UD?

    I would really like to know.

    • 212 Elizabeth Liddle June 25, 2011 at 2:09 pm

      Because I honestly don’t mind abuse, I honestly enjoy trying to understand why people think the things they do (especially when those things seem clearly wrong to me), and because I do, in fact, think that there is an underlying serious point that ID raises and which people opposed to it (and I include myself in that number) sometimes ignore, which is the nature of intelligent processes, and how they arise. I actually think that the fundamental ID mistake is a very interesting mistake! I think CSI is a potentially valid concept, and the signature of something interesting, just not the signature of intentional design.

      Also because I have a butterfly mind, and often have 5 minutes twiddling my thumbs while waiting for something to process, boil, or arrive, and arguing on the internet is kinda fun 🙂

      But abuse, meh.

      • 213 Rose June 28, 2011 at 3:28 am

        If you don’t mind abuse, I would respectfully suggest a rethink of your accepted standards.

        By the way, it’s clear that the ID-ists on UD are all crazy, but you act as though you can’t figure out mung. It’s obvious that he just likes to play games and push buttons, simply for the sake of playing games and pushing buttons. He argues for the sake of arguing, and will try anything to keep his childish games in play. He is strictly an agitator, and is only concerned with keeping things stirred up. He has no interest in settling anything, learning anything, or coming to any understanding. He’s playing with you and getting a kick out of it. He even plays with and manipulates some of the ID-ists, but he doesn’t have to try as hard because they’re easily manipulated and already stirred up, and their militant lunacy just works to help him play his games. He feeds on fucking with people.

  103. 214 Rose June 25, 2011 at 2:14 am

    As you’re all aware, ID-ists regularly say that ‘some’ things in nature contain and exhibit CSI, specified complexity, irreducible complexity, functional complexity, dFSCI, FSCI, or other terms that all mean the same thing or nearly the same thing. The arguments for ID rely on those terms and their veracity. ID-ists are constantly asked to define and demonstrate those terms and they never do so in a coherent way, but they do say some things that I think show a huge weakness in their argument for ID.

    For instance, they like to use the term “inanimate matter” and they use it as a way (a comparison) to claim that animate matter (e.g. an organism or cell) has CSI, SC, IC, FC, dFSCI, FSCI, etc.

    Here’s a statement by vjtorley:

    “A lump of inanimate matter lacks intelligence altogether. Since the angel possesses (in some fashion) a perfection which belongs to God and a lump of inanimate matter does not, the angel is more like God than the lump of matter.”

    According to him (and other ID-ists) “inanimate matter” lacks intelligence altogether, and I don’t recall them ever using what they would call “inanimate matter” as an argument for ID, CSI, SC, IC, FC, dFSCI, FSCI, etc.

    Now, keep in mind that ID-ists really like to argue about ID and evolution and everything else at the atomic or molecular level. They base their claims mostly on what is going on at those levels (besides all the religious BS of course).

    Are molecules or atoms ‘inanimate? Is there such a thing as “inanimate matter”? Isn’t all matter ‘animate’, at least at the atomic/molecular level?

    If there is no such thing as inanimate matter, what does that do to the ID claims?

    I hope my questions aren’t stupid. Atoms and molecules aren’t my specialty. 🙂

  104. 215 Zachriel June 25, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Rose: If there is no such thing as inanimate matter, what does that do to the ID claims?

    They’re trying to reanimate the concept of élan vital, or life-force. It’s that extra special something that distinguishing living from non-living matter. The concept has been long retired, and according to modern science, there is no difference between the molecules in an organism and those in a beaker. That’s the basis of modern pharmacology. The new incarnation is “functional information” or CSI, but it’s simply a placeholder and no more specific than élan vital.

  105. 217 Zachriel June 25, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Let’s try that again.

    They’re trying to reanimate the concept of élan vital, or life-force. It’s that little extra special something that distinguishes living from non-living matter. The concept has been long dead, and, according to modern science, there is no difference between the molecules in an organism and those in a beaker. That’s the basis of modern pharmacology. The new resurrection is “functional information” or CSI, but it’s simply a zombie with no more life than élan vital.

  106. 218 seversky June 27, 2011 at 12:16 am

    Reciprocating Bill

    Thanks for that link to the UD thread. Not only was it very interesting but I found a post of mine which saves me the bother of writing something, which I had intended throwing on the table here, about whether or not it is misleading to think of information as a property of biological systems. That thread also enabled me to track the post from Dembski here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/jeff-shallit-leveling-the-charge-of-incompetence-incompetently/

    where he refers to a list of upwards of forty separate definitions of information and complexity. It highlights the problem that information is far from being a single, uniform concept. Anyway, on to my previous post:

    tgpeeler @ 155

    Clearly, biological information exists. If it does not, then modern biology is hopelessly lost even more so than I think it is.

    Biology got along very well before information theory came along and no, it is not at all clear that biological information exists.

    Calling everything information is massive projection, or even anthropomorphism. It takes something that exists as a semantic or cognitive property and projects it out to all that exists. It makes observers the sole reality. In biology, the concept of information has been abused in just this way, but it’s a peculiarly twentieth century phenomenon. And that’s not coincidental – in 1948, Shannon and Weiner both presented radical and influential conceptions of information – one based on communication [1], and the other on control [2]. Previously, in the 1930s, Alan Turing had developed the notion of a computer, and in 1950 [3] he started the ongoing interest in computation as a form of cognition. So, three senses of “information” got conflated in popular (and technical) imagination, and shortly afterwards, the term was applied to genes, but (and this is often forgotten) just in terms of causal specificity – genes “coded for” proteins by a physical process of templating.

    But people have gotten all enthusiastic for “information” (bearing in mind the etymology of enthusiast as “in-godded one”), and as a result lots of rather silly claims has been made – not all by physicists by any means – about information in biology.

    It is even less clear what you mean by “biological information” since you have consistently avoided giving us the definition you are using. Is it Shannon’s, Kolmogorov complexity or one of the forty-odd other meanings listed by Seth Lloyd?

    First let’s point out that what is information depends very much on the model of information that you employ – Shannon, Weiner or Turing. That is, do we mean communication (in bits) or control, or computation? Each of these has a useful sense in which we can talk about genes. We can say genes are transmitted (with error rates, or mutations) because we can apply the Shannon model with some degree of fit. We can say that genes are cybernetic (the sense in which “evolutionary gene” was proposed by George Williams in 1966 [4]) because to some extent they control phenotypes in a feedforward way. We can say the genes are “computers” in… well in what way at all? Turing showed, for example, that with a gradient of diffusion you could explain patterns in development, but the fact that he did this on a computer (if he did – he might just have done it by hand, the smart bugger) doesn’t mean the embryo computes. The embryo just does what its genes, environment and epigenetic properties “tells” it to, that is to say, causes.

    But merely because we can employ a model or a formalisation doesn’t mean that the system we are modeling or formalising is a formal system itself. Consider game theory – nobody thinks that genes rationally assess their interests and then make choices in interactions with other genes. It just happens that the math is useful to model the evolution of fitnesses irrespective of the cognitive abilities of genes and organisms. So we had better set up some close and clear criteria before we start projecting to ensure we do it legitimately.

    As for this:

    If biological information exists then there must be a biological language. And indeed there is.

    Is there?

    What most non-specialist people think of as information is the semantic information we are exchanging on this blog. That involves intelligent agents who send and receive information about subjective mental concepts and constructs via a shared language of symbols.

    Whatever is in the genome is not like this. There are no intelligent agents talking back and forth in GATCs and those biological molecules are not symbols for anything, they are functional.

    Nor is there any need for a language to convey or acquire information. Since the blogs are full of Climategate, think of tree-rings. I can look at the rings on the cross-section of a tree-trunk and see – tree-rings. A dendrochronologist can look at those same rings and learn a great deal from them. Is the information in the tree-rings themselves or in the change of mental states produced by them in the mind of the observer?

    If anything, information theory is useful as an analogy or model for some of what happens in the genome but to argue that information is an intrinsic property of genes is arguably a map/territory conflation.

    If you want another analogy think of keys on a keyring. In old heist movies, the bad guys would sometimes need to copy a key to get into some building or a safe. One of them would manage to take an impression of the original key in clay and a copy would be made from the impression. That’s what happens to our genes. An RNA “impression” of the DNA original is used to make copies.

    So, do we get rid of the “watchmaker” analogy and think of the designer as a master locksmith?

    Or are the watchmaker, locksmith and information models just that: useful analogies in their way but not the same as what is actually happening at the genetic level which is functionally distinct and unique to itself?

  107. 220 seversky June 27, 2011 at 12:31 am

    I just noticed that, for some reason, I failed to attribute the long passages quoted in that post. They come from posts by Australian philosopher John S Wilkins to his blog Evolving Thoughts which were worked up into a paper now entitled A Deflation of Genetic Information.

    • 221 Neil Rickert June 27, 2011 at 1:23 am

      Thanks. Good quotes. I follow the Wilkins blog, and I mostly agree with him about information. Unfortunately, the ID people muddy the waters if they think that helps them in their apologetics argumentation.

  108. 222 Neil Rickert June 27, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    A quick note. Thread “Why there is no scientific explanation for evil” was posted by O’Leary. Comment #4 to that thread was posted by News, and clearly claims authorship of parts of the original post.

    I think this is the definitive evidence that “News” and “O’Leary” are one and the same (not that there was ever any doubt).

    • 223 Rose June 28, 2011 at 3:58 am

      And there’s also this:

      “Which people are evil? That’s God’s business, not mine, along with what to do about it.”

      o’leary constantly denigrates and condemns Darwinists, evolutionists, materialists, atheists, etc., and certainly implies (if not directly states) that they are evil. Apparently, she thinks is IS her business to do “God’s” business. She’s certainly a member of the appropriate religion for her two-faced, sanctimonious behavior: catholocism.

      So much for judge not, lest ye be judged, and all the other jazz along those lines in the bible. All o’leary ever does is judge and condemn people. The people who don’t agree with her or fall for her insane religious beliefs.

  109. 224 Patrick June 27, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    I took some time this weekend to compose MathGrrl’s autobiography, which turned into a bit of a rant. Since you may not want to read the whole thing, I want to make sure the people here see at least this part:

    Public Apologies

    Mark Frank has been very generous to MathGrrl on his blog, throughout her tenure at Uncommon Descent. He even removed the two posts made solely due to my mistake, at my request. I shouldn’t have asked him to do that. Mark, I apologize publicly for asking you to help preserve MathGrrl’s pseudonymity. I should have simply raised my hand and admitted my mistake then. I also apologize if I misled you in any way by my actions.

    I extend that second apology to Seversky, Flint, Rose, Zachriel, Reciprocating Bill, Petrushka, Toronto, Alan Fox, and any other members of the reality-based community who feel that my choice to use the MathGrrl persona was in any way disrespectful to them.

    Thank you for all your support.

    • 225 Toronto June 27, 2011 at 9:50 pm

      Patrick,

      MathGrrl was a great crime fighter!!

      Think about it, her own comic!!!

      Arch-enemies could be the evil “Count Dembski”, (that’s right, a mathematician), and his highly unlikely sidekick from the Caribbean,, “Improbability Mon”.

      Thanks for getting some great responses from the whole crowd over there.

    • 226 seversky June 27, 2011 at 11:42 pm

      No apology necessary as far as I’m concerned. As Mathgrrl you made one of the most effective attempts I’ve yet seen to elicit precise definitions and calculations of CSI. That you failed – just as I suspect Elizabeth Liddle will – is simply because there are none to be had. If it were possible, I have little doubt Dembski would have done it long ago. Well played, that man!

    • 227 Rose June 28, 2011 at 2:48 am

      My husband is a bit disappointed. His crush on you has been crushed. LOL

      To describe how I feel about your impersonation, I guess I’d say that I feel a small amount of irritation due to your secrecy regarding your impersonation, but I also realize that you couldn’t clue any of us in without outing the impersonation. And, I don’t blame you for the impersonation itself.

      The massively hypocritical and dishonest ID-ists on UD make it virtually impossible for ID challengers or questioners to have an open and honest discussion or debate with them. An impersonation, and especially one of a young woman (for the reasons you’ve stated) is perfectly reasonable.

      Because of their overall paranoia, and deep-seated but un-admitted doubt about their beliefs, ID-ists suspect everyone of being an agent for the devil who was sent to dishonestly and sneakily destroy their beliefs. Passing yourself off as a young woman who just has some questions gave the ID-ists every possible chance to define and apply their CSI and other ID claims, since your persona was about as non-threatening as possible. Of course to ID-ists, even your MathGrrl persona was threatening, but not nearly as threatening as your real identity would have been.

      I find it fascinating that they are so incredibly paranoid and are so worried about WHO is asking questions or challenging their claims. Why does it matter who it is?

      You got it right about the misogyny, and I’ve noticed that women rarely post on UD. O’leary doesn’t count, as she is clearly not a woman. 😉

      When all is said and done, your unanswered questions on UD amply demonstrate that ID-ists have no reasonable or coherent answers. All they have is bluster, evasion, hypocrisy, drumbeat repetition of rhetorical talking points, red herrings, strawmen, ad hominems, etc., and absurd religious fairy tales.

  110. 228 Pedant June 27, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    We are all in Patrick’s debt.

    • 229 Patrick June 28, 2011 at 1:09 am

      No, not at all. If Elizabeth Liddle succeeds in nailing Upright BiPed down to a useful operational definition, though, I definitely want to buy her a pint or three.

  111. 230 Petrushka June 27, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    If Mathgrrl is our Patrick, then who is UD’s Patrick?

    I’m curious because I once asked UD’s Patrick a question about Behe’s Edge and was banned within minutes. Not put in moderation, but banned.

  112. 232 Reciprocating Bill June 28, 2011 at 3:14 am

    Patrick –

    You’re far too apologetic. All involved understood that Mathgrrl was a pseudonym. Pseudonyms that invite the projection of a gender other than the author’s own are objectionable, in my view, only if that gender misdirection is actively used to manipulate others in some way, particularly sexually, or to gain trust for other unethical purposes. I saw absolutely nothing in the content or intentions in your posts that was objectionable in this way. Rather, you did a great job challenging UD regulars to produce the goods on CSI. However counterfeit your persona, the emptiness and mean spiritedness of their responses were genuine, 24-carat UD. Eliciting a demonstration of same by means of such an innocuous indirection is an ethical, public good. So I say, Brava!

    (I too have a confession to make: I’m not really a green exponential horn.)

    RB

  113. 233 Rose June 28, 2011 at 7:27 am

    Speaking of “information”, here is a post from kaorosfocus on UD. I realize that it’s a long post (typical kairosfocus rambling) but I think the whole post needs to be seen. I will have some comments at the bottom:

    kairosfocus

    12/18/2009

    11:28 am

    Hi Mustela Nivalis:

    Try the UD Glossary and the Discussion of weak arguments and their correctives (top of the page, RH column).

    From the Glossary:

    Information: Wikipedia, with some reorganization, is apt: “ . . that which would be communicated by a message if it were sent from a sender to a receiver capable of understanding the message . . . . In terms of data, it can be defined as a collection of facts [i.e. as represented or sensed in some format] from which conclusions may be drawn [and on which decisions and actions may be taken].”

    So-called Shannon Information is in reality a measure instead of information storage or carrying capacity; bearing in mind the relative frequency of symbols, noise and the related probabilities.

    In the functional sense of messages, information indeed involves:

    1 –> symbols [such as ASCII and alphanumeric characters used in this post], where per Wiki again (quoting the opposition to show inconsistencies in their thinking as well as set a good baseline for communicating never hurts . . . ):

    A symbol is something such as an object, picture, written word, sound, or particular mark that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for “STOP”. On maps, crossed sabres may indicate a battlefield. Numerals are symbols for numbers. All language consists of symbols. The word “cat” is not a cat, but is an arbitrary symbol representing the idea of a cat. A certain symbol might represent a town, city or a village of some sort.

    2 –> The physical expression of such symbols by modulating a contingent phenomenon [air pressure, frequency of light, patterns of light and darkness or colour on a sheet of paper of computer screen, voltages etc]

    3 –> Rules of patterning the symbols for syntax and semantics . . . i.e. good grammar or the equivalent and meaningfulness.

    4 –> Difference-making, i.e. the particular state of the signals makes a difference to some activity or process. [e.g. this message responds to a context of discussion and carries a meaning that makes sense to both the machines involved in the internet at one level and at the human level it is a meaningful English language communication.]

    It is a well demonstrated point that the only known observed source of functionally specific complex information [FSCI, the relevant subset of Orgel’s Complex Specified Information (1973)] is intelligences. On grounds discussed above, it is an inductively strong inference that FSCI is a signature or characteristic sign of intelligence.

    So, on seeing FSCI manifested in the DNA of life forms, and digital, algorithmic and data structure information, we have excellent reason — apart from Lewontinian a priori materialism (and read the rest of what Phillip Johnson had to say!) — to conclude that life is designed. Moreover, there is related excellent reason to infer from the empirical evidence of FSCI increments to get to the basis for the major body plans, these too are designed.

    G’day.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: TGP, thanks for the kind words. You have raised a significant emphasis in pointing to the nature of information as embracing symbols and associated rules that facilitate communication.

    PPS: MN, I use examples due to the clarifying power of concrete examples; i.e I am appealing to the power of significant family resemblance [definition by example], and onward to the relevance of analogy to all serious human reasoning; never mind selctively hyperskeptical huffing and puffing against such analogies when they are inconvenient to evolutionary materialists. Cf Wiki’s discussion of analogy.

    PPPS: Onlookers, I trust the above shows some of why I have usually taken time to develop remarks in some details, to anticipate and address common misunderstandings and objections.

    ================================================================

    Okay, from what I see there, information is a language that is based on symbols, that are sent, received, and understood, according to gordon.

    I also see that gordon suddenly and inexplicably changed information to FSCI, and jumps to the conclusion that FSCI, and therefore language (sent, received, and understood symbols), is in DNA and is the indicator of design.

    Of course his premises are not substantiated, and especially the conflation of “information” and “FSCI”, in part because he doesn’t coherently define or substantiate “FSCI”. Like CSI, it has no coherent definition and no basis in scientific testing or evidence.

    If information is language, and is based on symbols which are sent, received, and understood, and is “sensed in some format] from which conclusions may be drawn [and on which decisions and actions may be taken” then there are a LOT of languages (with information) in our world, that have absolutely nothing to do with humans or computers. Animals and plants, for instance, ‘communicate’ with each other, and animals and plants also “sense” information in the environment.

    Is it reasonable to say that the sun sends a message to a flower in the form of a language to tell the flower when to open or close its blossoms? Is it reasonable to say that a butterfly sends a message in the form of a language to other butterflies of its species by releasing pheromones into the air? Is the butterfly consciously sending its scent (pheromones) into the air (to attract a mate)? Is it reasonable to call whale songs language? How about wolf howling, cat meowing, cow mooing, bird singing, fish clicking, reptile hissing, and elk bugling?

    What about ‘body language’ or other behaviors such as an elk thrashing bushes to get a bunch of plant debris to hang on its antlers, or rolling in its own urine, or a person cocking their fist, or a wink, or a smile, or a frown, or a yawn, or the wagging tail of a dog or a pig, or the many postures and other ‘body language’ of animals?

    Would you try to get away from a nearby Grizzly Bear, even if it didn’t see you and didn’t adopt any threatening posture or make any noise? If so, Why? What message would it be sending to you? If you had never seen or heard of a Grizzly Bear, and had no knowledge or experience with any bears of any kind, would you still be leery or afraid of a Grizzly Bear? If you think you would, why? What message would the bear be sending? What ‘particular state of the signals would make a difference to some activity or process’ that you were engaged in at the time. Would there be “signals”? Would they be sent by the bear, or anything else?

    Is it a receipt and understanding of language when birds leave an area before a hurricane hits? If it’s the drop in atmospheric pressure that causes the birds to leave, is the information about the drop in pressure sent to the birds in the form of a language? If so, who or what sends the message to the birds?

    Is the scent of a deer, that is sensed by a cougar, sent to the cougar by the deer? If not sent by the deer to the cougar, the only sender could be the wind, or the scent could be in still or nearly still air that the cougar happens to walk through, or the scent could be on the ground or an object that the cougar sniffs. Is the ground or the object or the air or the wind sending the scent?

    Is sending always a conscious, deliberate act? If something is sensed, but not consciously or deliberately sent, was it sent at all?

    My answers to the questions above would be yes for some and no for others, and for some I may not or just plain don’t have a definite answer. I’m sure that many, if not most or all, animals or plants ‘communicate’ with each other in some ways and that some of those ways are conscious and deliberate, at least with many animals. I’m also sure that some of those ways are not conscious or deliberate.

    If gordon believes that sending is defined as a conscious and/or deliberate act, then I would say that information (language) is not a given in all aspects of nature. If, however, information can be ‘used’ without it necessarily being sent by its source, then I would be more inclined to agree that information is present in all aspects of nature. I’m not necessarily comfortable with calling information language, except in some cases.

    Notice that gordon uses a definition of information that says “from which conclusions may be drawn [and on which decisions and actions may be taken”. Conclusions and decisions are conscious and deliberate, aren’t they? Actions may be conscious and deliberate, or not. I wonder if he believes that DNA makes conscious and deliberate conclusions, decisions, and actions.

    If what I’ve written seems a bit scrambled, I’ll blame it on being tired and preoccupied. If further explanation is desired, just ask. 🙂

    Comments are also welcome of course.

  114. 234 Toronto June 28, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Mark,

    How about calling the next extension of this thread, “Patrick’s CSI Thread”?

    That would be a nice way of letting UD know, “We won that round!”.

  115. 236 Petrushka June 28, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Information jargon is just the latest in a long line of equivocations.

    Sciency sounding jargon is an effective public debate tactic because it takes time, effort, and a broad understanding of real science to untangle the misdirection.

    It all makes me think of the business of audio “tweaks,” the endless parade of homeopathic electronics that passes for discussion on audiophile forums.

    Speaker wire with arrows indicating which end goes to the amp and which to the speakers; Teflon tape wrapped around the AC power prongs; $300 power cords; etc. Religion pales by comparison.

    The simplest cut for the Gordian knot is to stop back and ask if anything postulated by evolution actually violates known laws of physics and chemistry. This is the tactic taken by Stanley Miller, Lenski, et al. The project has taken decades, and it will take more decades, but it is the only way to drive the stake through the heart of the undead.

    Simulations are a great way to study evolutionary theory, but they will never convince anyone about the history of life. For that you need troops on the ground. You need more and better laboratory demonstrations.

    • 237 Reciprocating Bill June 28, 2011 at 10:36 pm

      PetrushkaIt all makes me think of the business of audio “tweaks,” the endless parade of homeopathic electronics that passes for discussion on audiophile forums.

      Speaker wire with arrows indicating which end goes to the amp and which to the speakers; Teflon tape wrapped around the AC power prongs; $300 power cords; etc. Religion pales by comparison.

      Skeptic.

      I sell AudioAir products, which use polished nitrogen atoms and balanced O2 for perfect impedance matching between speaker and AudioAir, as well as AudioAir and tympani. Each bottle is play tested and broken in for 100 hours with a variety of program materials. Yields a a coherent soundstage, higher resolution, superior speed, and prompt activation of the recently discovered musimami receptor. Our promise: No concentrators, humidification, or pulse regulators stand between you and the music, as is the case with with lessor airs. $395/10 liters. Optional tiptoes for your bottle of AudioAir, $95. Requires sealed listening room.

  116. 238 Petrushka June 29, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    You are one scary dude. I’m tempted to post your advert on the Teflon tape thread.

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