Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Evolution Discussion Thread

If anyone from this discussion or anywhere else wants to talk about Evolutionary Science (or creation), you may do that here. Please just remember (1) not to make any personal attacks or (2) link to really lengthy articles or websites you expect us to read. You may be interested in the previous blog conversations from the last few months that took place here.

Thanks!

86 comments:

mark said...

Thanks for doing this Nick.

It’s been implied that Creationism is true and that it’s scientifically supported by factual evidence. I challenge any creationists reading this to make a non-religious case for creationism. Make your case for creationism using only science. If creationists can’t do this, I think it makes it clear that the term “creation science” is an oxymoron. “Creation science” is not my claim, so it should be up to creationists to back it up. Can you?

Anonymous said...

It’s been implied that evolution is true and that it’s scientifically supported by factual evidence. I challenge any evolutionists reading this to make a non-religious (atheism is also a religion) case for evolution. Make your case for evolution using only science. If evolutionists can’t do this, I think it makes it clear that the term “evolution science” is an oxymoron. “evolution science” is not my claim, so it should be up to evolutionists to back it up. Can you?

Mark said...

...atheism is also a religion.

If atheism is a religion, then clear is a color.

Nick said...

I agree with Mark. Calling atheism a religion is a copout, as is posting anonymously.

Hopefully someone will be up for a discussion, rather than an anonymous jab.

Anonymous said...

a religion is merely a system of beliefs. atheism is indeed just that. that i am posting anonymously does nothing to indicate that i do not want to discuss it.

So who doesn't want to discuss??

Anonymous said...

oh, and if you don't want anonymous comments, turn that part off.

mark said...

So, can you make a non-religious case for creationism?

Nick said...

A religion is a set of beliefs and practices often organized around supernatural and moral claims, and often codified as prayer, ritual, and religious law. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and mystic experience. The term "religion" refers to both the personal practices related to communal faith and to group rituals and communication stemming from shared conviction.

Sorry, atheism appears not to be a religion.

Anonymous said...

The term "religion" refers to both the personal practices related to communal faith and to group rituals and communication stemming from shared conviction.

Atheism is indeed a religion.

Nick said...

So where are the rituals, the moral claims, the prayer and the religious law of Evolution?

Nonetheless, you are making a futile argument of semantics. Did you have a point? Do you want to talk science, because it appears not. That is the purpose of this thread. If you dont want to discuss the scientific elements of creation vs evolution, I'd kindly ask you to take your arguments somewhere else. Please don't waste our time.

Anonymous said...

Fine. Who made the primoridal muck that evolutionists say spawned life?

Nick said...

Anonymous, you beat me to the punch. I was going to say that your claim that atheism/evolution was a religion was obviously an attempt to say something negative about it. I wanted to deconstruct what point you were making by calling it a religion (faith without evidence etc.). That would lead us into a scientific dialogue.

But, this is fine too. Mark, you want to respond, as we have covered this topic before?

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

nick you seem angry.

mark said...

"Who made the primoridal muck that evolutionists say spawned life?"

Since your question starts off with the words "Who made..." that automatically makes this a religious question because it implies the supernatural. Your question has nothing to do with science.

Assume Darwin never existed and there is no such thing as evolution. We need a scientific theory to explain why all life is genetically and morphologically similar. Presumably, creationists would say that creation science explains the similarities between species. So, this is a big chance for creationists to show scientific evidence for creationism. Now is your chance to answer some basic questions about creation science like, "What is the scientific theory of creationism?" Just to let you know, "God did it" won't cut it in science.

Anonymous said...

"To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree," (Charles Darwin, Origin of Species).

mark said...

Ya, assume evolution never existed or is wrong or what ever. Make a non-religious scientific case for creation science. What? Cat got your tongue?

Anonymous said...

Actually Mark evolutionists claim that the genetic and biological similarities between species is evidence of common ancestry. However, that is only one interpretation of the evidence. Another possibility is that the comparative similarities are due to a common Designer who designed similar functions for similar purposes in all the various forms of life. Neither position can be scientifically proved.

mark said...

A supernatural designer? Sorry, "God did it" doesn't count as science. Try again?

Anonymous said...

DNA. With the discovery, mapping and sequencing of the DNA molecule, we now understand that organic life is based on vastly complex information code--one that proves life cannot come from non-life. That's science. Using inference, also science, we can infer that there must have been a creator or designer of all things. Naturalistic processes are incapable of the task of creation--that is scientific.

mark said...

"Naturalistic processes are incapable of the task of creation--that is scientific."

No. It's not scientific. It's religious.

Why? Because if naturalistic processes are incapable, that implies that supernatural processes are capable. You're implying a God. God means religion. God did it.

mark said...

Oh, and another reason creationism is not science, and you may as well insert The Flying Spaghetti Monster as the designer.

Nick said...

nick you seem angry

One of the limitations of textual communication like blogs is that its garder to clearly show emotion. I actually was not angry at all, so I'm sorry if it came off that way. i just wanted to steer us to a conversation, which I feel we have arrived at.

And, since we are in a conversation, why don;t you identify yourself? This is a safe place. (Or at the very least explain why you wont identify yourself).

Thanks for the comments! Keep 'em coming.

Em said...

I'll give it a shot Nick. My qualifications for this post come more from studying physics and thermodynamics than biology. I've read some biological arguments against the possibilty o spontaneous life but since I dont really understand them I won't argue them.

My big beaf with evolution and the big bang theory is that they both just delay the question of where life and matter came from. Every physical law that we know will tell you that you can't get something from nothing.


1st Law of Newtonian physics is the conservation of mass. 2nd law of newtonian physics is the conservation of energy, the third is the conservation of momentum. Mass, energy, and momentum can not be created or destroyed. Also please note that the Maxwell equations and Einsteins theory of relative physics do not negate Newtonian physics they just demonstrated that mass and energy are proportionally related by the sqaure of the speed of light.

Evolution is a theory which tries to explain our current state, I also disagree with the premise of evolution because of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Simply stated that law tells us that any system will naturally seek the the lowest state of entropy or a state where all energy is equally disipated unless a force is exerted on the system to maintain a higher level of complexity. All natural systems should decay, the theory of evolution claims the opposite, that undirected energy from the sun or lightening not only created life but that life was capable of sustaining and expanding itself with no other life present. That's not possible.

I've heard of but not actually reviewed meteorological evidence that would suggets that the earth couldn't be as old as the theory of evolution would require because of the natural decay of the atmosphere.

there has never been a documented case of spontaneous mutation which resulted in an improvement in the quality or quantity of life of a living organsim. There isn't sufficient fossil evidence to show a reasonable progression of life from primordial ooze to its current state of complexity. There isn't sufficient time or population to support enough spontaneous mutations to reach our current state of complexity.

These are just some of my thoughts on how evolution and the big bang theory don't work. As far as proof of a creator I would refer back to the proven laws of physics regarding the conservation of mass, energy, and momentum.

Em said...

This is actually Abe, not Emily. She's the only one with a google blogger identity

Em said...

scientific method
Function: noun
Date: circa 1810
: principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses


Mark you are insisting on science to support creationsim. Reviewing the definition of the scientific method I would argue that it is perfectly legitimate in the scientific arena to observe the same set of data and reach a different hypothesis as to the origin of life. Currently no test has been devised to prove evolution so it remains a theory. Likewise no test has been devised to prove creationism, so it too remains a scientific theory.

mark said...

Hi, abe. When you talk about the origin of life, you're actually thinking of something called abiogenesis, not evolution. They're different. Also, science only concerns the natural world, not the supernatural. You can see this implicit in the definition you provided. I don't know why you chose a 200 year old definition from 1810 though instead of going with the modern definition. From Webster's...

knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method b: such knowledge or such a system of knowledge concerned with the physical world and its phenomena

Anyway, I wanted to make an interesting observation about the comments thus far. This thread was supposed to be about creation science and not really evolution. But what I've noticed is that the way creationists support creationism is by attacking evolution. It's like this. Pretend we are playing hangman. The puzzle so far is...

E V O L U _ I O N

The creationists cry out, Oh look there are gaps! Therefore the answer must be, C R E A T I O N I S M.

Obviously, that's the wrong answer.

For arguments sake, we're assuming Darwin and the evolutionary theory never existed. So you guys don't have to prove evolution wrong. What you need to do is replace it with a valid scientific theory that explains why all life is genetically and morphologically similar. Presumably creationists would point to creation science right? So, state the scientific theory of creationism. "God did it" is not a scientific explanation. The mechanism for evolution is natural selection. What's the mechanism for creation science? God magic? What? The point I'm trying to make is that science can only be replaced with science. You can't replace astronomy with astrology, you can't replace medicine with faith healing, you can't replace evolution with religion. If we're being honest with ourselves, we should acknowledge that religion is really what "creation science" is. It's Genesis, which is religion, which is not science.

Nick said...

Perhaps the most common mistake I see made by creationists is to say something to the effect of "Evolution is just a theory. I wish it was taught as just one theory among many."

The mistake comes from the confusion of the common usage of the word "theory" (meaning something like a guess) and the scientific usage of the word, which means something entirely different.

This is the wikipedia article that talks a bit about it, saying, In scientific usage, a theory does not mean an unsubstantiated guess or hunch, as it can in everyday speech. A theory is a logically self-consistent model or framework for describing the behavior of a related set of natural or social phenomena. It originates from or is supported by experimental evidence.

Em said...

First off, I gave the definition of the "scientific method" from www.webster.com, you just gave the definition of "science" (Circa 14th century) lets not critique each others arguments based the age of a particular word. Its hard to have a serious debate using recently invented words like truthiness and brangelina.

Also I didn't mean to attack evolution, maybe I tried to cram too much into one post. Also I never said "I don't know, God must have done it". What I did was list several known physical laws, not theories but laws which have been experimentally validated, and based upon those laws stated my belief that spontaneous generation of life is impossible therefore there must have been a creative force behind the current state of the natural world.

Again the second law of thermodynamics requires an external force be exerted on a system in order for that system to attain a higher level of entropy. I didn't say that the external force is God however in order for it to act on the universe it must be external to it, any force or entity outside of the natural world is by definition supernatural.

Also the mechanism for evolution is not natural selection. Natural selection is how you get a dalmation from wolf, same species but bred in such a way as to exagerate a specific desireable quality. I believe natural selection goes on all the time and the base species is improved by that process, however no amount of controlled breeding will produce a distinctly different species. The trait or characteristic must be present in the larger population in order for selective breeding, natrual or man made, to promote it.

I also feel that it is impossible to separate the genesis of life from its current state of complexity. there are lots of creationist that actually believe in the evolution of the species according to Darwinian theory, they just recongize that no matter how far back you manage to push the genesis of life it still must be explained.

Nick, please don't patronize me. I am a scientist and I know the difference between scientific theory and the kind of theory that Agent Boothe has when he suspects a character to be the perpetrator on an episode of "Bones". If you consider the progression of a scientific hypothesis as described in the scientif method, both creationsim and evolutionism fit squarely within the classification of a theory in that they are both based on a reasanable interpretation of available data and known physical laws but have not been proven using a validated scientific experiment.

Nick said...

Hi Abe. I actually wasn't referring to you at all. It was a point I had been wanting to make for a long time. I honestly hear this all the time from creationsists.

Don't get so defensive, brother :) We're just having a conversation.

Em said...

Sorry Nick, I shouldn't have gotten defensive. I really don't like the intellectual elitism that most evolutionist bring to the debate. I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist but disenting opinions theories on evolutin do exist in the scientific community but are usually stifled by the status quo.

Case in point I had a very good teacher at Southern Illinois University who happened to be a Christian. It was well known throughout the engineering department that he held to creationist theory and he was ridiculed at every opportunity by his peers. The academic establishment does not tolerate dissent. Ironically the same type of thought control and fear mongering was used to excommunicate some of the earliest scientist when they developed theories contrary to the prevailing beliefs.

mark said...

Abe, regardless of which definition of science you use, "knowledge concerned with the physical world and its phenomena" is implicit to both.

"What I did was list several known physical laws, not theories but laws which have been experimentally validated, and based upon those laws stated my belief that spontaneous generation of life is impossible"

Fine. This has nothing to do with explaining why all life is genetically and morphologically similar.

Also I never said "I don't know, God must have done it".

You say "God must have done it" in the very next sentence...

"...therefore there must have been a creative force behind the current state of the natural world."

Translation: There must have been a God behind it all. Further translation: "God did it." This does not fall within the definition of science you provided. It should be obvious to readers that what you mean by "creative force" is really a supernatural God.

...any force or entity outside of the natural world is by definition supernatural.

Well, there you go. Supernatural beings like Gods, demons and pixies, by definition, fall outside the realm of science and in the realm of religion.

Abe, I've noticed you have been avoiding the question. Assuming evolution is non-existent, please state the scientific theory of creation science. What is it's mechanism? Why don't you answer these questions?

Em said...

It feels like we are going in circles.

Your questions itself is totally nonsensical. You have already decided that the conclusion of "God did it" is inherently unscientific. Regardless of the scientific reasoning which concludes that there is a creative force behind our existense you will write it off as unscientific.

I have explained the scientific reasoning which requires the existence of a force external to the observeable realm which caused the existence of our universe. I didn't say "God did it" I said there was an external creative force.

You made a very good point in resoponse to my first post. Creation deals with the origin of life while evolution deals with how it got to its current state. Creationism, by name, deals the question of where life, in any form, came from. To take it a step further creationism also deals with the existence of any matter living or inanimate. Evolution versus creation isn't really the correct framework for this discussion. The correct question would be, "Is there or is there not a creative force?" The answer to that question must be Yes.

Both evolution and the creation of life in its current form both require some presuppositions. If you think the answer is evolution you can find evidence to support that theory. If you think the answer is creation you can find evidence to support that theory as well. The scientific method requires experimental validation of ones presuppositions, creation can't be proven or disproven. In the end one must go on faith that one's assumptions were correct. There is a common saying in the egineering world when discussing an analytical model; Garbage in, garbage out. This means that your answers are only as good as the assumptions upon which you based your analysis.

mark said...

Abe, when you say "external creative force" you obviously mean, God.

"You have already decided that the conclusion of "God did it" is inherently unscientific."

I'm just following the definition of science you provided us. It reads, and I quote, "...the collection of data through observation and experiment..." No data for the supernatural can exist because if it did, then it couldn't be considered supernatural (outside of nature) anymore, could it? What do supernatural creatures such as Zeus, Allah, Yahweh, leprechauns, pixies and The Flying Spaghetti Monster all have in common? Answer: none of them can be measured. And, no data means no experiments. So, on the basis of your own definition, you agree with me that "God did it" is an inherently unscientific conclusion.

"Is there or is there not a creative force?" The answer to that question must be Yes.

Translation: Is there a God? Your opinion is, yes. First, "Is there a God" is a question for priests and philosophers, but not scientists. Second, that's just your religious opinion.

"It feels like we are going in circles."

I'd say you have only yourself to blame for that because you continue to obfuscate. Readers should take note that you have failed, once again, to answer the questions put before you.

1. Can you please state the scientific theory of "creation science?"
2. What is the mechanism of creation science?

"Garbage in, garbage out. This means that your answers are only as good as the assumptions upon which you based your analysis."

Indeed. That's why creationism is considered most unscientific.

mark said...

Abe, here is why "God did it" is not valid science.

As an engineer, you should know this.

Anonymous said...

I think Em has made it pretty clear in several of her posts why it is more scientific to believe in creation rather than evolution. Especially when she writes: What I did was list several known physical laws, not theories but laws which have been experimentally validated, and based upon those laws stated my belief that spontaneous generation of life is impossible"

Then you switch the question with your response: "Fine. This has nothing to do with explaining why all life is genetically and morphologically similar." Who's obfuscating?

mark said...

Then you switch the question with your response: "Fine. This has nothing to do with explaining why all life is genetically and morphologically similar."

If you read the post marked Friday, March 14, 2008 2:40:00 PM you'll find I didn't switch the question at all. I said...

"Assume Darwin never existed and there is no such thing as evolution. We need a scientific theory to explain why all life is genetically and morphologically similar. Presumably, creationists would say that creation science explains the similarities between species. So, this is a big chance for creationists to show scientific evidence for creationism. Now is your chance to answer some basic questions about creation science like, "What is the scientific theory of creationism?" Just to let you know, "God did it" won't cut it in science."

...prior to abe/em entering the conversation. You're mistaken, anonymous.

Who's obfuscating?

abe/em, is.

Chip Burkitt said...

Mark, I'm curious to know what you would consider as valid evidence for the existence of a creator. You have already excluded all natural phenomena. If being supernatural really means being unable to affect natural phenomena, then there doesn't seem much explanatory power in positing a supernatural realm at all.

Explaining why all life is genetically and morphologically similar is easy: it was all designed from the same basic building blocks. Design implies a designer, someone intelligent enough to produce the variety of living things in existence today. There is no need to suppose that this designer is supernatural, merely intelligent. The evidence for design is pervasive. It is in the vast amount of data encoded in DNA. It is in the unexpected and sudden appearance of new species in the fossil record. These are facts inadequately explained by natural selection but adequately explained by intelligent design.

mark said...

"Mark, I'm curious to know what you would consider as valid evidence for the existence of a creator."

I would consider a miracle as valid evidence of God. But I'm not speaking about everyday miracles like the Cubs winning the World Series or 1 person out of 300 surviving a plane crash. A real miracle would be something that defies the laws of physics. Something that can't happen. I'd like to see limbs instantly grow back on amputees, the dead of 1000 years ago come back to life, water being turned into wine, or feeding 1000's with 2 loaves of bread.

"There is no need to suppose that this designer is supernatural, merely intelligent."

Like aliens? Well, that raises the question of who designed the aliens? More aliens or something supernatural? You can also insert anything for the supernatural designer like the Flying Spaghetti Monster. It's not as if you can distinguish between TFSM, Allah, or Zeus if a real miracle occurs.

"The evidence for design is pervasive."

There's no evidence of a designer at all. We already discussed this with William Paley's false and unscientific watchmaker analogy.

"It is in the vast amount of data encoded in DNA. It is in the unexpected and sudden appearance of new species in the fossil record."

You've already learned from the video (evolution is a blind watchmaker) that complexity does not necessitate a designer.

"Explaining why all life is genetically and morphologically similar is easy: it was all designed from the same basic building blocks."

How?

Anonymous said...

"I'd like to see limbs instantly grow back on amputees, the dead of 1000 years ago come back to life, water being turned into wine, or feeding 1000's with 2 loaves of bread."

The Bible says "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign". If you read the OT you will see exactly the same thing. God showed many signs and the people still fell away in unbelief. So you could see these miracles and you'd likely be the same way.

"There's no evidence of a designer at all." That's about the most ridiculous thing you've said yet.

mark said...

So you could see these miracles and you'd likely be the same way.

When people who have been dead for thousands of years come back to life, I'd probably take notice.

"There's no evidence of a designer at all." That's about the most ridiculous thing you've said yet.

You say it's ridiculous and at the same time you provide nothing to back up your assertion.

Anonymous said...

What's left to be said? You disagree that DNA proves there is design as well as the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics that Em pointed out. Check out the book "I Don't Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist".

mark said...

You disagree that DNA proves there is design as well as the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics that Em pointed out.

Um... What does the second law of thermodynamics have to do with intelligent design?

Check out the book "I Don't Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist".

Why? The title itself is erroneous. Atheism is actually a lack of faith in a God or Gods. Presumably, you don't believe in Zeus, yet it doesn't take faith on your part to not believe in Zeus does it? You simply lack a belief in Zeus, correct?

Em said...

Anonymous, This is actually Abe, the guy lucky enough to be married to Em.

Mark, I've already explained why the conservation of mass and energy require a creative force. This does not imply there is a God. A creative force doesn't have to have a will, conscience, or even be animate. We have destructive forces such as friction which act on a body to change its level of energy. The necessity for a creative force is summed up in the 3rd law of newtonian physics, the conservation on momentum. Otherwise stated, objects at rest stay at rest while objects in motion will remain in motion unless acted on by an outside force. For any system there is a control volume or system boudnary and there are boundary conditions. The laws of conservation must be satisfied. Your control volume can be as minute as an atom or could encompass the entire universe. We live in a finite universe, every astro physicist agrees whith that statement, because it is finite there is a total mass and energy in existense. No natural force can create or destroy mass and enery therefore there must be a supernatural force which caused the universe to exist.

Your cartoon does not rebutt my arguments, I am not using a miracle to reach a conclusion, I am using the scientific method to reach the conclusion that miracle ocurred. Thats no different than all the examples you gave as acceptable miracles. There is no natural explanation for a 1000 year old corpse to rise from the dead any more than there is a natural explanation for the existense of matter.

Once you can bring yourself to admit that there must indeed be a creative force in existence that is heretofore unexplained by natural science then you can begin to discuss wether we are here by hapenstance or intentionally, and then you can begin to discuss the moral and religious implications.

I brought up the second law of thermodynamics prematurly. that law proves that there is an intentional directive from the creative force to sustain and advance life. I think we have to reach a mutual agreement of a creator before we can move the need for an active and intentional creative force.

Em said...

"We have destructive forces such as friction which act on a body to change its level of energy."

I probably should have left that sentance out as it didn't really relay what I meant it to. I was trying to illustrate that a force acting on a body doesn't have to be animate. Destructive force is actually a misnomer, the proper term is actually non conservative forces because the energy isn't destroyed it is it transferred into unproductive losses to the systems total energy. For example, a pendulum would swing indefinitely if no non conservative forces like friction and wind resistance (air friction) acted on it. Like I said, all mass and energy must be accounted for in all systems at all times.

Em said...

BTW, what video are you referencing Mark? I didn't see a link to it.

mark said...

"A creative force doesn't have to have a will, conscience, or even be animate."

Alright. Inanimate, without conscious thought, and without a will. This sounds like a natural process. This sounds scientific. Now we are making progress!

"No natural force can create or destroy mass and energy therefore there must be a supernatural force which caused the universe to exist."

Doh! You're no longer being scientific because you aren't positing a natural process, but instead, a supernatural force as your cause. As in the cartoon, when you posit a miracle in step one, I think you should be more specific.

"Your cartoon does not rebut my arguments, I am not using a miracle to reach a conclusion, I am using the scientific method to reach the conclusion that miracle occurred."

You've reached the conclusion that "God did it." "It" denotes a miracle.

"There is no natural explanation for a 1000 year old corpse to rise from the dead any more than there is a natural explanation for the existence of matter."

Well, here's the difference. I'd first assume a natural explanation before I accept a supernatural one. That's why we don't fall for card tricks and magic tricks. Just because we can't explain the magicians magic doesn't mean his magic is real.

I don't agree with you that there is no natural explanation for the existence of matter. I think there is. Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Einsteinian physics break down at the quantum level? Science doesn't know what the answer to "how the universe came to be" is, yet. But, neither do theists or anyone else. So, why assume there is a supernatural explanation when there's far more likelihood of a natural process?

"BTW, what video are you referencing Mark?"

Evolution IS a Blind Watchmaker It's from a 6 part conversation about evolution I had with Chip. You can find a link to it above, in the original post. I've already discussed evolution at great length. I'm a little tired of it so if you are a creationist, just assume, as usual, that's evolution is a conspiracy. :) I'd rather talk about "creation science" and why the term is an oxymoron.

Chip Burkitt said...

Mark, the blind watchmaker video offers an intriguing visual representation of how random processes with just a few constraints can lead to complexity. But it doesn't demolish Paley's argument. The program requires a programmer. The artificial constraints imposed by design are responsible for the way the primitive clocks evolve into more complex ones. All the video succeeds in doing is in showing that for evolution to produce intelligence (for example), intelligence must be a design goal of the process.

I actually agree with you that there is no creation science. But critics of evolution are not obligated to suggest a better scientific explanation. Natural selection and survival of the fittest are the acknowledged mechanisms that drive evolution. The trouble is that these mechanisms are inadequate drivers for explaining the complexity and diversity of life. The problem is not that evolution does not occur. It is that its occurrence does not adequately explain the observations it is supposed to explain. I can acknowledge the inadequacy without proposing some other mechanism to make up what is lacking in the theory's explanatory power.

However, it is not ridiculous or "unscientific" to suggest that apparent design is the result of an intelligent designer. Even evolution's most ardent proponents admit that living things appear to be designed. They then go to great lengths in an effort to show that the appearance of design was in fact the result of natural, unguided processes. These efforts fail because, like the blind watchmaker video, they depend on a designer and then pretend he's not there. It requires no great leap of faith to say, "Living things look designed because they are designed."

mark said...

But it doesn't demolish Paley's argument.

It does. Furthermore, if you look up "False Analogy" in Wikipedia, here is the example provided: Paley's argument...

* The following is an example of a false analogy:

- The universe is like an intricate watch.
- A watch must have been designed by a watchmaker.
- Therefore, the universe must have been designed by some kind of creator.[1]

While the universe may be like a watch in that it is intricate, this does not in itself justify the assumption that watches and the universe have similar origins. For this reason, most scientists and philosophers do not accept the analogy, known as the argument from design, with this one specifically known as The Watchmaker Analogy.

By changing a term, the fallacy becomes apparent:

- The universe is like an intricate watch.
- Many early watches were designed by locksmiths.
- Therefore, the universe may have been designed by some kind of locksmith.

Even evolution's most ardent proponents admit that living things appear to be designed. They then go to great lengths in an effort to show that the appearance of design was in fact the result of natural, unguided processes.

That's because the argument from design is a completely fallacious argument. Scientists need something better, more scientific.

Em said...

Natural selection and survival of the fittest are not the mechanisms for evolution on a macroscopic scale such as we see in the current state of life on Earth. Evolution occurs on a microscale within a population causing geographically distinct subset of the population have different qualities. Its the mechanism that gives us different breeds of dogs or horses. It is not however the mechanism that produces an entirely new species. In order for natural selection to alter a population the characteristic must be present in the larger population to begin with.

The presumed mechanism of evolution of different species is spontaneous mutation. One of the flaws of the watch video is that the number and frequency of mutations compared to total population is by far greater. Also, the only reason the population would ever progress from jumble to watch is if the population was directed to do so. The only way the population would naturally favor its mutated member is if it provided some advantage over the rest. Mutations are rare in the natural world. The watch video assumes the mutation is successful and it results in 1% of the total population having this advatageous mutation present. It also requires a directive to become more complex. Such as, breed with this more complex watch then that other one.

mark said...

Abe, I know you want to change the subject and attack evolution instead of supporting creationism but I've already been there and done that in six long posts. As I said before...

Anyway, I wanted to make an interesting observation about the comments thus far. This thread was supposed to be about creation science and not really evolution. But what I've noticed is that the way creationists support creationism is by attacking evolution. It's like this. Pretend we are playing hangman. The puzzle so far is...

E V O L U _ I O N

The creationists cry out, Oh look there are gaps! Therefore the answer must be...

C R E A T I O N I S M.

Obviously, that's the wrong answer.

For arguments sake, we're assuming Darwin and the evolutionary theory never existed. So you guys don't have to prove evolution wrong. What you need to do is replace it with a valid scientific theory that explains why all life is genetically and morphologically similar. Presumably creationists would point to creation science right? So, state the scientific theory of creationism. "God did it" is not a scientific explanation. The mechanism for evolution is natural selection. What's the mechanism for creation science? God magic? What? The point I'm trying to make is that science can only be replaced with science. You can't replace astronomy with astrology, you can't replace medicine with faith healing, you can't replace evolution with religion. If we're being honest with ourselves, we should acknowledge that religion is really what "creation science" is. It's Genesis, which is religion, which is not science.

Now, we really are going in circles and we will be until creationists can step up to the plate and support their own views scientifically.

Abe, may I ask if you are young earth creationist? Do you agree with estimates of a 6,000 - 8,000 year old Earth? How old do you think the Earth is?

Chip, what you've said differs from Abe. Maybe we should reprise our previous conversation?

Em said...

Mark,

I can't argue with any conviction what the age of Earth is. To be honest I've pretty well stretched my knowledge of physics to get to where I am in this thread already so I wouldn't feel comfortable trying to guess the age of Earth. I understand the science behind carbon dating but there have been documented cases where what turn out to have been a hoax was actually carbon dated to be much older than it actually was.

One problem with carbon dating is the propogation of measurment error. Each half life of Carbon is ~6000 years for very old specimen you would measure very minute amounts of carbon and the compounding effect of even a small measurment erro would result in significant uncertainty in your calculation. The fact that the mathematical relationship is exponential means that after a couple generations you are dealing in hundres of thousands or even millions of years being spanned in your instrument accuracy.

Its a long way of saying, "I don't know" thats probably a cop out but its the truth.

Em said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mark said...

Its a long way of saying, "I don't know" thats probably a cop out but its the truth.

Hi abe, thank you for your candor. I asked because views about the age of the earth differ greatly among creation scientists. Some go with the biblical estimate of 6,000 - 8,000 years. Others like Chip believe the Earth is much older or appears to be so. Still others agree with the hard scientific estimate of around 4.5 billion years.

Regarding your concerns about the veracity of carbon dating. I think carbon dating only works with organic materials. It doesn't work with rocks, for example. Also I think there is an age limit of about 50k years. So, your concerns about the accuracy of carbon dating regarding the Earth's age are unfounded. Basically, because scientists don't use carbon dating to estimate the age of the Earth.

What I wanted to say though is that believing the Earth is less than 10,000 years old is impossible. Here is why...

Why Young Earth Creationists are WRONG

There is no way to reasonably deny the inescapable conclusion. I guess one can say that God made the Earth to look as if it's older than 6,000 - 8,000 years. But, then that raises the question of why God would want to deceive people. If there is a God, I'd like to think He is not a deceptive one.

Matt Brinkman said...

I'm sorry I missed this thread when it first started. On the other hand, it is probably for the best because I am well and truly sick and tired of entropy arguments. Just once, I would like to see a person putting forward an entropy argument to demonstrate a minimal understanding about what entropy actually is.

mark said...

Hi Chip, I didn't want to you to think I was ignoring your post. It's just that we've been over the watchmaker video before. You had the same objection and I had already responded to it. I'll address you main argument again though.

"Living things look designed because they are designed."

Living things don't look designed. There are so many design flaws in the human body. I hope you don't mind if I use a little humor but please listen to Neil deGrasse Tyson on Stupid Design The ending is the best part.

Chip, I also wanted to point out that even things that look designed are not necessarily so. A snow crystal looks very much like it was designed. It's incredibly complex and has a myriad of geometrical shapes. But, snow crystals are really soil particles that have been dressed up in ice. They are the result of an unguided natural process. I guess one can say that God designs each and every snowflake but I think that the natural explanation is far more elegant and reasonable.

Chip Burkitt said...

Mark, to get back to the question: Is there a "Creation Science?" I think it depends on what you mean. If you mean, "Is there a science that demonstrates that the universe was created?" then I think the answer must be "No." However, if you mean, "Is there a science that does not contradict the assumption that the universe was created?" then I think the answer is "Yes." Since science is all about the empirical world, it cannot make claims about the nonempirical, unseen world. But if it cannot make claims about the nonempirical world, then it also cannot contradict such claims.

mark said...

"Since science is all about the empirical world, it cannot make claims about the nonempirical, unseen world. But if it cannot make claims about the nonempirical world, then it also cannot contradict such claims."

Chip, There is a huge problem with this. By your rationale, a claim that Puff the Magic Dragon is the creator of the universe is scientific. This just won't do.

Harris said...

I just came across this site and I would like to get in on this if the participants don't mind. Also, I haven't read all the discussion so this may have been addressed before.

I think one of the problems is in trying to differentiate knowledge under science and religion. We have come into the world and what we should be interested in is asking questions about the world and how we got here. It shouldn't matter HOW we get this information by examining the world through a scientific process or revelation or intuition or some other means. Knowledge is what we should be after - science in fact means knowledge in the original definition. We simply divide knowledge into different categories as we learn more. Religion, science, geography, history, philosophy etc are major categories that have been subdivided as we have learned more. So my point is it is meaningless to say science only deals with natural phenomena and if an intelligent designer is suggested it should not be considered. After all if in the SETI project we get a signal that appears to have come from an intelligent source we are not going to say that we are not going to follow through with that because it is not naturalistic.

Mark, I would like to ask you if you are walking on the beach and see something that looks like a sand castle what criteria would you use to determined whether it was naturally caused or if if was made by an intelligent child or adult?

mark said...

So my point is it is meaningless to say science only deals with natural phenomena and if an intelligent designer is suggested it should not be considered.

Speculation about supernatural designer beings certainly shouldn't be considered scientific. Why? Because anything can be posited as the designer without a shred of evidence. One can posit that Puff the Magic Dragon is the designer of all creation with just as much supporting evidence as positing Yahweh, Allah, or Zeus. It's arbitrary. Thus, any speculation about supernatural beings takes the discussion firmly out of the realm of science and into the realm of religion and philosophy.

Mark, I would like to ask you if you are walking on the beach and see something that looks like a sand castle what criteria would you use to determined whether it was naturally caused or if if was made by an intelligent child or adult?

The criteria I would use is my knowledge of certain facts. It's a fact that intelligent children and adults make sand castles on the beach. Already knowing this, I would assume that is the most reasonable explanation for the sand castle being there. I don't give any credence to the notion that a supernatural being designed and placed the sand castle there for my benefit.

Harris said...

Mark, you are missing my point. I purposely avoided using the term “supernatural” because you seem to have a problem with it. What about my analogy of the SETI project – you didn’t address that. If the signal indicates some meaningful pattern then we will posit an intelligent being or beings. Why can’t we do that with living things? There is certainly the appearance of design – the cell has been described as a factory that contains an elaborate network of interlocking assembly lines, each of which is composed of large protein machines – and even Dawkins says that living things has the appearance of design.

You are missing my point on the sand castle too. I said if you find something that LOOKS LIKE a sand castle – maybe it isn’t, maybe it is just a sand hill that is formed by the wind and the waves. My point is what criteria would you use to determine whether it is just an undesigned small sand hill formed by natural causes or whether it has been designed by a child or adult?

mark said...

Mark, you are missing my point. I purposely avoided using the term “supernatural” because you seem to have a problem with it.

Harris, I don't have a problem with it, but the scientific method does. What you did mention was an "intelligent designer." Now when you say "intelligent designer" in regard to the existence of the universe what you really mean is God. "Supernatural" is implicit to "intelligent design" when you're talking about God as the designer of the universe. So, though you avoided actually saying the word "supernatural" you implied it. If I am mistaken about saying that the supernatural is implicit to an "intelligent designer" of the universe please tell me how.

If the signal indicates some meaningful pattern then we will posit an intelligent being or beings.

Not necessarily. It could be a natural pattern like the signal pulsars emit. What do you mean by "meaningful?"

Why can’t we do that with living things?

I already addressed this above. Living things don't look designed. If they are designed, then the designer was a very bad one. I can go into detail if you like.

My point is what criteria would you use to determine whether it is just an undesigned small sand hill formed by natural causes or whether it has been designed by a child or adult?

First, show me a picture of exactly what you mean. Do you mean this? Like I said before, the criteria I'd use to determine if the sand castle was made by man or by nature would be that of anyone else, my knowledge. Knowing that children and adults make sand castles on the beach I would assume thats how the sand castle got there.

You are using a variation of William Paley's false watchmaker argument but just replacing the watch with a sand castle. Harris I didn't miss either of your points. They are the same points I've heard already on this thread.

Which of these pictures of Jesus were designed and which are natural? How can you tell the difference?

Jesus Appears in a Spoon
Florida Couple Finds Moldy Image Of Jesus In The Shower
Water Vapor Image Of Jesus Listed On eBay
Jesus Appears in an Altar Cloth

Now I'm not trying to be blasphemous with all the Jesus images, I'm just trying to show you why your sand castle argument fails by showing you an analogy.

Nick said...

I'm glad this thread got going again.

Excellent point with the pictures of Jesus, Mark. We certainly dont take it as blasphemy, but we appreciate your sensitivity to consider that.

Harris said...

“Now when you say "intelligent designer" in regard to the existence of the universe what you really mean is God.”

It really does not matter what name you give to this intelligence, does it? The point is, is there an intelligence behind this universe that brought it into being or did it happen purely by natural causes just like the sand castle example. If someone is hypothesizing that an intelligence was behind the sand castle it does not matter – at least for the purpose of answering the first question – whether it was a child, an adult or a supreme intelligence.

“It could be a natural pattern like the signal pulsars emit. What do you mean by "meaningful?"”

The whole question on the SETI project is whether these patterns are natural. Have we observed patterns like this before or is it different enough - from the patterns we have observed before –to warrant further investigation? For example, if we see signals that resemble the first five prime numbers scientists working on the project will get very excited and look into this further to see whether it is coming from some intelligent being(s) out there.

"I already addressed this above. Living things don't look designed. If they are designed, then the designer was a very bad one. I can go into detail if you like."

This I think is the crux of the matter. Do living things look designed or don’t they? Design ultimately cannot be proven but need to be seen. I think the overwhelming majority of the people would look at any living thing and easily acknowledge design. I mentioned the description of the cell – a description from Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences – that I think most people will see design in. As I mentioned, even the diehard atheist, Richard Dawkins, acknowledges it appears to be designed. Another, skeptic Michael Shermer (president of the Skeptic Society I think) says it is ridiculous to say that living things are not designed. Do you know of anything else in the world that is designed by us that works at least 1% as well as the human body or any living thing works?

Regarding “bad design”: How do you know it is bad? Just because we cannot see the purpose of a specific portion of the system that does not mean it is bad design. Just to give an example: My Ford Taurus has the gas cap on the passenger side and the driver has to park the car on the left side of the pump and go round car to pump gas. This appears to me to be bad design but I am confident that if I speak with a Ford engineer s/he will give me the reason behind it. (By the way , does anyone know the reason for this?) Even if it is bad design can I conclude from that, that my entire car was not designed? Before we conclude something is bad design we have to know the mind of the designer. A software program that self destructs after a certain time doesn’t mean that it was designed badly if that was indeed what the designer intended.

One can always maintain that a system was not designed. Even the beautiful sand castle picture you had cannot be proven to be designed. A stubborn person who is not willing to admit to intelligent causes can make a mathematical model to show how that sand castle was formed by the right combination of natural causes. However, it does take an incredible faith in natural systems to maintain this.

“First, show me a picture of exactly what you mean. Do you mean this? Like I said before, the criteria I'd use to determine if the sand castle was made by man or by nature would be that of anyone else, my knowledge. Knowing that children and adults make sand castles on the beach I would assume thats how the sand castle got there. “

Mark, I am sorry but your answer above indicates to me that you are still not seeing my point. This is not your problem but mine as I was not specific enough. So let me be more specific. I am talking about a small sand mound that has some appearance of design but not enough for everyone to conclude that it has been designed quite the opposite of the picture you sent. Let me suggest the answer that I was looking for – it is probability. What you – or anyone else for that matter – will do is figure out, in your mind, the probability of such a formation occurring naturally by the action of wind, waves, etc. The smaller the probability the more confident you are that is was designed. Each person will conclude design at a different probability number but if someone maintains that a sand castle, like the picture you showed, was formed naturally then we question their honesty. This is, I suggest, the case in living things. The design and organization in living things is so incredible that we have to have implicit faith in natural processes to create these things.

By the way, the pictures of Jesus you sent are perfect examples of what I am talking about. I should have used that instead of the sand castle analogy! The probability of nature making those pictures naturally is not that small and most of us can conclude they were, or at least can be, naturally formed!

mark said...

"The point is, is there an intelligence behind this universe that brought it into being or did it happen purely by natural causes just like the sand castle example."

Translation: Did God create the universe or did the universe come about through a natural process? The former is unequivocally, a religious question. The latter is a scientific question by definition. It's time to put this issue to bed. Any fair minded reader should be able to conclude Intelligent Design proponents have lost this particular point. I think it's time they showed the good grace of conceding it.

"The whole question on the SETI project is whether these patterns are natural."

Didn't Jodi Foster star in that movie? Contact? Anyway, this is completely irrelevant. Even if it is aliens who made the signal, the aliens themselves are "natural" as opposed to "supernatural" beings. Scientists would indeed speculate that a sequence of prime numbers could indicate intelligence. But any scientist who speculates that the signals are of supernatural origin (Zeus, Tinkerbell, Allah, Jesus, etc.) is a quack. I hope you agree.

Do living things look designed or don’t they?

No, I don't think they do. Consider the male scrotum. That seems to me a stupid design. I can explain why but it might already be obvious to you.

"Before we conclude something is bad design we have to know the mind of the designer."

This is a blatant example of begging the question. You assume the universe was designed when that's actually the very question you are trying to answer with your car analogy; "Does the universe have a designer?" Car design and the universe are not the same though. We know people design cars. Scientifically, it's automotive engineering. We don't know if God exists and if you claim God does, it's a purely religious assumption, not a scientific one.

Mark, I am sorry but your answer above indicates to me that you are still not seeing my point.

Harris, I see your point very clearly. Like I said before, it's William Paley's argument from design repackaged with a sand castle instead of a watch. Another common substitution for the watch is a painting. This has already been debunked as a false analogy in my previous comments.

What you – or anyone else for that matter – will do is figure out, in your mind, the probability of such a formation occurring naturally by the action of wind, waves, etc.

There exists a probability, however small, that Elvis is still alive. However, because the probability is so low, we effectively treat it as zero. It's the same thing with a supernatural designer who created the universe for man's benefit. It's the same thing with the virgin birth. "Which is more likely: That the whole natural order is suspended? Or that a Jewish minx should tell a lie?" - David Hume

The killer is, I give a far greater probability for Elvis being alive than I do to the notion of a supernatural intelligent designer. And, let's call a spade a spade, when creationists say intelligent designer of the universe, they are really talking about a supernatural God being. Religion.

By the way, the pictures of Jesus you sent are perfect examples of what I am talking about.

Well, they give the appearance of design but appearances are deceiving. They are not designed. In my opinion, only the gullible would claim they were of divine origin. I happen to think they look more like John Lennon than Jesus. :)

Harris said...

Mark, I am sorry but you are just not seeing my point. If you did you would not say what you did such as the pictures of Jesus example. I am not saying those pictures were of divine origin. I perfectly agree with you that they most likely were naturally caused. Please read my previous response carefully. I am asking you what criteria do you use to determine whether something is designed or not? Is it not probability? If the probability of something forming naturally is extremely small would you not conclude that it was designed?

“Translation: Did God create the universe or did the universe come about through a natural process? The former is unequivocally, a religious question. The latter is a scientific question by definition”

There are no religious questions and scientific questions. Questions are just questions and answers need to correspond to reality not a scientific reality or a religious reality. Nature is what it is and we ask questions to find out what nature is all about. Please look at my original e-mail.

“Even if it is aliens who made the signal, the aliens themselves are "natural" as opposed to "supernatural" beings”

Again, you are not seeing my point. My point is scientists will use probability to determine whether the signals are naturally caused or by an intelligent agent. I am not talking about supernatural beings – I am talking about INTELLIGENT beings. You can give them any name you wish – that is irrelevant to the argument.

“No, I don't think they do. Consider the male scrotum. That seems to me a stupid design. I can explain why but it might already be obvious to you. “

Again, just because it appears stupid to you it doesn’t mean it is. The gas cap in the passenger side of my car appears stupid to me too but at least I am not stupid enough to think that just because it APPEARS stupid to me that it is stupid!

”This is a blatant example of begging the question. You assume the universe was designed when that's actually the very question you are trying to answer with your car analogy;”

This is another example of you not seeing my point. I am not ASSUMING the universe was designed. Where did I say that? I am CONCLUDING that the universe was designed from the extremely small possibility that it could have naturally formed. I said, “Before we conclude something is bad design we have to know the mind of the designer” in response to you claiming that if it was designed then it is a bad design. My response was to show that you cannot make a “bad design” conclusion without knowing the mind of the designer. This does not ASSUME a designer. Please note the word “if” in the sentence.

mark said...

"The gas cap in the passenger side of my car appears stupid to me too but at least I am not stupid enough to think that just because it APPEARS stupid to me that it is stupid!"

Just because the gas cap on the Ford Taurus appears like a design flaw it might not be. Just because the scrotum appears to be a design flaw, it might not be... DOH! ...and now you're begging the question by assuming the scrotum has a designer. Harris, do you understand now?

I am CONCLUDING that the universe was designed from the extremely small possibility that it could have naturally formed.

Oh? Designed by who or what? Let me take a wild guess. Could it be... God? God beliefs are religion, not science.

Harris said...

“Just because the gas cap on the Ford Taurus appears like a design flaw it might not be. Just because the scrotum appears to be a design flaw, it might not be... DOH! ...and now you're begging the question by assuming the scrotum has a designer. Harris, do you understand now?”

I am sorry Mark this is not begging the question. Have you taken a course in logic? If you did, I think you will see what I mean. I’ll repeat what I said before. I am not the one who introduced “design flaws.” You did. I am simply responding to show you with - the gas cap analogy – that your argument is not correct. In fact you cannot talk about design flaws without first assuming design! Again, just because it appears TO YOU to be a design flaw it does not mean it is. Appearance and reality are not the same.

“Oh? Designed by who or what? Let me take a wild guess. Could it be... God?"

I answered this twice before. Let me repeat them again.
“It really does not matter what name you give to this intelligence, does it?” (see April 5, 12:40 pm response)
And with respect to the sand castle… “If someone is hypothesizing that an intelligence was behind the sand castle it does not matter – at least for the purpose of answering the first question – whether it was a child, an adult or a supreme intelligence.” (also in the April 5, 12:40 pm response)

“God beliefs are religion, not science.”

We are not in a science class here. We are discussing what is true!

Harris said...

Mark, sorry I missed this. I also answered the question in the April 5 11 pm response. Here it is:

I am not talking about supernatural beings – I am talking about INTELLIGENT beings. You can give them any name you wish – that is irrelevant to the argument.

mark said...

"In fact you cannot talk about design flaws without first assuming design!"

Please do so then.

"I am CONCLUDING that the universe was designed from the extremely small possibility that it could have naturally formed.
"


Who or what designed the universe?

"I am not talking about supernatural beings – I am talking about INTELLIGENT beings."

Give them a name so that we all know exactly what you are talking about.

mark said...

"In fact you cannot talk about design flaws without first assuming design!"

That's my point, BTW. To do so would be begging the question. That's why making an analogy between a Ford Taurus and the universe is fallacious. We know the Taurus is designed by Ford. We don't know if the universe was designed.

You've already concluded the universe was designed. By what means? Magic means? Magic is so improbable an explanation for the beginning of the universe that it's superstitious. Harris, you are conflating what you believe with what you know.

harris said...

“Give them a name so that we all know exactly what you are talking about.”

OK, if you really want names here they are: For the sand castle – “Mark”!; for the SETI project – “Little Green Men”; for the creator of the universe – “I AM”

“That's my point, BTW. To do so would be begging the question. That's why making an analogy between a Ford Taurus and the universe is fallacious. We know the Taurus is designed by Ford. We don't know if the universe was designed.”

What does it matter who designed the Taurus? It didn’t have to be Ford. It could be GM, Chrysler or Toyota. It is completely irrelevant to the argument I am making. Again, you brought up design flaws and I am simply saying that you cannot conclude flaws in design until you know the intent of the designer and it does not matter who the designer is.

mark said...

"OK, if you really want names here they are: For the sand castle – “Mark”!; for the SETI project – “Little Green Men”; for the creator of the universe – “I AM”"

Is "I AM" your God? Seriously?

"It didn’t have to be Ford. It could be GM, Chrysler or Toyota."

It's doesn't matter. We know all cars are designed by people, no matter what the brand. Not so with the universe, right? They aren't analogous.

"I am simply saying that you cannot conclude flaws in design until you know the intent of the designer and it does not matter who the designer is."

You are begging the question by assuming (concluding) there is a designer in the first place. I think it's highly improbable that the universe came into existence through a magical designer rather than some natural process.

harris said...

Is "I AM" your God? Seriously?

“I AM” is a name given to the creator in the Old Testament.

“It's doesn't matter. We know all cars are designed by people, no matter what the brand. Not so with the universe, right? They aren't analogous.”

Right, the universe is not designed by people. The universe requires an intelligent far greater than human intelligence. However, the principle is the same. If the chance that natural systems producing a functioning machine is extremely small then we conclude an intelligent agent did it.

“You are begging the question by assuming (concluding) there is a designer in the first place.

Where did I assume this?

I think it's highly improbable that the universe came into existence through a magical designer rather than some natural process.”

Actually, it has been demonstrated that it is highly improbable that living things came into being by natural systems. Why are you assigning the adjective “magical” to the designer?

Mark, let me see whether I can summarize your argument here. You are saying we know that sand castles, computers, cars etc are made by people. Therefore, the only criteria we use to determine whether something is made by intelligence or not is whether we have seen an intelligent agent make similar things before – is this correct?

mark said...

"Where did I assume this (a designer for the universe)?"

You said it yourself when I asked you who the designer of the universe is. You said, "I Am" which is a name given to the creator in the Old Testament. Also known as God. That's a religious belief which has no place in science. I'm sorry Harris, but you should have the good grace to concede a point you've clearly lost.

"Why are you assigning the adjective “magical” to the designer?"

Because if the universe didn't come to be through natural means, by process of elimination, that leaves only supernatural means. Magic.

"Mark, let me see whether I can summarize your argument here."

No, you've got it wrong. When I come across a sand castle on the beach there are two explanations for how it came to be there. Either it was formed by natural process such as wind and waves or it was formed by people. I find the notion that the sand castle was designed by a magical supernatural being like a God or a leprechaun to be so improbable that I don't even consider it. Ergo, when it comes to the universe, there is only one possibility I consider: through natural means. Why? Because, I don't consider a person or green alien as a viable explanation for how the universe came to be. I don't consider a magic supernatural beings like Zeus, or "I AM" or the Flying Spaghetti Monster to be a viable explanations either. That leaves only some natural process as the last alternative.

harris said...

“You said it yourself when I asked you who the designer of the universe is. You said, "I Am" which is a name given to the creator in the Old Testament. Also known as God.”

You asked me for a NAME of the designer after I concluded from the argument that the world had a designer. How is this an assumption? Besides you mentioned I was begging the question even before I mentioned this.
________________________________________________________
“When I come across a sand castle on the beach there are two explanations for how it came to be there. Either it was formed by natural process such as wind and waves or it was formed by people.”

So how do you decide whether it was the wind and the waves or whether it was done by people?
________________________________________________________
"Ergo, when it comes to the universe, there is only one possibility I consider: through natural means. Why? Because, I don't consider a person or green alien as a viable explanation for how the universe came to be."

Why don’t you consider an intelligent being as a viable explanation of how the universe came to be especially since some great minds in science have come to this conclusion? And why do you consider natural systems to have created living things when that is so improbable?

BTW Mark, how do you put my comments in italics? I am new to posting blogs so bear with me.

mark said...

"You asked me for a NAME of the designer after I concluded from the argument that the world had a designer. How is this an assumption?"

And, what was your argument again? Ah yes, "I am CONCLUDING that the universe was designed from the extremely small possibility that it could have naturally formed." First, that extremely small possibility is orders of magnitude greater than being designed by your magical, "I AM." Second, you need evidence to reach a conclusion. You don't have any evidence a supernatural intelligence created the universe. So, what you're actually doing is making an assumption and begging the question.

"So how do you decide whether it was the wind and the waves or whether it was done by people?"

Harris, I think this is the third time I've answered this for you. Simple, I decide by my knowledge of what sand castles made by people look like compared to my knowledge of how wind and water shape sand. Please, maybe you should accept my answer instead of repeating the question over and over again.

"Why don’t you consider an intelligent being as a viable explanation of how the universe came to be..."

Because, I don't believe in magic. If the universe didn't come to be through natural means, by process of elimination, that leaves only supernatural means. Magic.

...especially since some great minds in science have come to this conclusion?

They might believe in a God (I AM) who is the designer of the universe, but obviously none of them have reached that assumption through scientific means. It just means that there are theists who are scientists. There are also atheists who are scientists.

"BTW Mark, how do you put my comments in italics?"

Put this <*i*> before your quote. Put this <*/i*> after your quote. Don't include the asterisks. No spaces.

harris said...

<*i*>First, that extremely small possibility is orders of magnitude greater than being designed by your magical, "I AM."<*/i*>

How do you know this?

<*i*>You don't have any evidence a supernatural intelligence created the universe.<*/i*>

Evidence is design. We do not see natural systems creating functioning machines. Intelligence is required for this. When scientists looked at Stonehenge they concluded that intelligent people made them because of the inherent design. If you get a signal from outer space where the probability is extremely small it formed naturally, like I mentioned before, we will conclude we got it from an extra terrestrial intelligence even though we have never seen such "magical people!" It is the same thing with living things. Because the probability is extremely small that living things came into being naturally we conclude that living things came into being from an extra terrestrial intelligence, the "magical I AM!"

<*i*>Because, I don't believe in magic. If the universe didn't come to be through natural means, by process of elimination, that leaves only supernatural means.<*/i*>

If by magic you mean supernatural means why are you excluding this as a possibility? Do you consider extraterrestrial intelligence also magic? If not, why are you considering the I AM extraterrestrial intelligence, magic.

<*i*>They might believe in a God (I AM) who is the designer of the universe, but obviously none of them have reached that assumption through scientific means<*/i*>

With all due respect Mark, isn't this a little arrogance for you to say this? Many scientists have said that the fine tuning of the universe they see from the recent scientific data is what led them to accept a designer for the universe.

<*i*>Put this <*i*> before your quote. Put this <*/i*> after your quote. Don't include the asterisks. No spaces.<*/i*>

Thanks for the tip but it didn't seem to work for me. Maybe when I press "Publish your comment" it will show up correctly. When you say "Don't include asterisks" I am assuming you meant quotation marks.

Nick said...

No Harris, he means remove the asterisks inside the <>. That's why it didnt work.

mark said...

"How do you know this?"

There exists a probability, however small, that Elvis is still alive. However, because the probability is so low, we effectively treat it as zero. It's the same thing with a supernatural designer who created the universe for man's benefit. It's the same thing with the virgin birth. "Which is more likely: That the whole natural order is suspended? Or that a Jewish minx should tell a lie?" - David Hume

"Evidence is design."

Just because something looks designed doesn't mean it is. A snow crystal looks very much like it was designed. It's incredibly complex and has a myriad of geometrical shapes. But, snow crystals are really soil particles that have been dressed up in ice. They are the result of an unguided natural process. I guess one can say that God designs each and every snowflake but I think that the natural explanation is far more elegant and reasonable.

"If not, why are you considering the I AM extraterrestrial intelligence, magic."

For the sake of argument, assume "I AM" was not a magic supernatural being. "I AM" creates the universe. Yay! Um... now who created "I AM?" See? "I AM" needs to be supernatural (not part of the natural universe) in order to design the universe. If the designer is not supernatural, I can always ask, "Who designed the designer?" Infinite regression.

"Many scientists have said that the fine tuning of the universe they see from the recent scientific data is what led them to accept a designer for the universe."

Then who or what is the designer? The only possible answer is some supernatural magic being. Supernatural magic beings, AKA God's, have nothing to do with science. Science can't say anything about the supernatural since science only deals with nature. Therefore, none of them have reached that assumption through scientific means. I'm not being arrogant for pointing out this fact. It's more arrogant to deny facts in favor of beliefs. Some people mistakenly believe ID is science. It's NOT! It's religion dressed up as science. This was clearly evident in the Dover trial.

harris said...

There exists a probability, however small, that Elvis is still alive. However, because the probability is so low, we effectively treat it as zero.

This is not the question I am asking. I am asking how do you know that the probability of there being a designer to the universe is much smaller than the probability of natural systems creating living things which is what you asserted in the previous post.

Just because something looks designed doesn't mean it is.

What criteria do you use to determine design if not by looking and considering the probability of things forming naturally which is what I asserted in the beginning?

For the sake of argument, assume "I AM" was not a magic supernatural being. "I AM" creates the universe. Yay! Um... now who created "I AM?" See?

This is an age old question which I think is easily answered. Something had to exist for eternity. If nothing existed in the "beginning" nothing will exist now. So either non-intelligent matter and energy existed for eternity or I AM existed for eternity. Therefore there is no need for the creator of I AM.

Then who or what is the designer?

I already answered this many times. Give any name you want to. I already gave you my favorite. Think of it this way Mark. Suppose we get these signals from outer space and a scientist says this is a meaningful signal that is coming from an intelligent being and someone asks this scientist who is this person who is sending this message. The scientist will say that is a meaningless question...give it any name you want to, it is irrelevant to the finding and the conclusion.

The only possible answer is some supernatural magic being. Supernatural magic beings, AKA God's, have nothing to do with science.

I hope my answer in the previous paragraph addressed this. Also, as I said before it doesn't matter whether it is science, religion or philosophy. What matters is whether it corresponds to reality.

Science can't say anything about the supernatural since science only deals with nature.

Science can conclude whether it is designed or not just like in the case of signals from outer space.

You didn't address this point of mine. "If by magic you mean supernatural means why are you excluding this as a possibility? Do you consider extraterrestrial intelligence also magic? If not, why are you considering the I AM extraterrestrial intelligence, magic.

Nick, I removed the asterisks. Let's see if it worked!

mark said...

"I am asking how do you know that the probability of there being a designer to the universe is much smaller than the probability of natural systems creating living things which is what you asserted in the previous post."

The same way we determine the probability of this scenario, "Which is more likely: That the whole natural order is suspended? Or that a Jewish minx should tell a lie?" - David Hume Here is an example of the two scenarios I am weighing when I consider the probability the universe and living things were designed vs. through a natural process. I can't make it any clearer.

"What criteria do you use to determine design if not by looking and considering the probability of things forming naturally which is what I asserted in the beginning?"

See above video. Or, are you asking me the sand castle question for the 4th time, just reworded?

"Therefore there is no need for the creator of I AM."

Exactly my point. That means "I AM" must be supernatural. A God. God is religion, not science. Science only deals with the natural not the supernatural. You really need to concede this point. It's getting old.

"Also, as I said before it doesn't matter whether it is science, religion or philosophy. What matters is whether it corresponds to reality."

Agreed. Supernatural God's, fairies, Santa, easter bunny, flying spaghetti monster, ghosts, goblins, demons, vampires, angels are not reality. Those are assumptions and beliefs. The empirical is real. Again, you are conflating what you believe with what you know.

"Science can conclude whether it is designed or not just like in the case of signals from outer space."

Sure. Science can conclude design by material beings but not by supernatural beings like your "I AM." I can assert Puff the Magic Dragon created the universe not "I AM" and there is nothing you could do or say scientifically to show otherwise. As I said before, any scientist who speculates that the signals are of supernatural origin (Zeus, Tinkerbell, Allah, Jesus, etc.) is a quack. I hope you agree.

"You didn't address this point of mine. "If by magic you mean supernatural means why are you excluding this as a possibility?"

This is why. The supernatural has no place in science. I don't deny the possibility of the supernatural and "I AM" existing, I just assign it the same probability as Thor.

harris said...

"The same way we determine the probability of this scenario, "Which is more likely: That the whole natural order is suspended? Or that a Jewish minx should tell a lie?" - David Hume Here is an example of the two scenarios I am weighing when I consider the probability the universe and living things were designed vs. through a natural process."

Nobody is suspending the natural order of things. The natural order is one of degradation. The whole world and the universe is going down hill. Natural order doesn't build things up; at best it can only maintain order. The probability of creating a cell from its components has been calculated.
It is extremely small equivalent to someone winning the California lottery successively thousands of times. The probability of an intelligent being creating the universe cannot be calculated. It is inferred from the data with the knowledge that you need intelligence to create functioning machines.

"See above video."

Sorry Mark. Your video does not answer the question. It may be good for ridiculing the opposition but is not a rational argument. I ask you again if the natural explanation has extremely low probability do you not conclude intelligence behind it in every case (except the creation of the world)?

Or, are you asking me the sand castle question for the 4th time, just reworded?

You brought up the sand castle in the previous post and I wanted to drive home the point!

"Exactly my point. That means "I AM" must be supernatural. A God. God is religion, not science. Science only deals with the natural not the supernatural.

Mark, you are just bringing in the term "supernatural" to confuse the issue. I showed you that I AM doesn't have to be created an issue you raised. Do you mean by "supernatural" a thing or person that existed for eternity. Science is interested in what is true about our universe and would be interested in a thing or person that existed for eternity.

"Supernatural God's, fairies, Santa, easter bunny, flying spaghetti monster, ghosts, goblins, demons, vampires, angels are not reality. Those are assumptions and beliefs. The empirical is real. Again, you are conflating what you believe with what you know"

Sorry Mark. You cannot declare things not real and thus make it so! Natural systems creating living things is an assumption and a belief. It has never been shown to be so. In fact Louis Pasteur gave evidence that natural systems do not create living things. Think about who is conflating belief and knowledge here!

"Sure. Science can conclude design by material beings but not by supernatural beings like your "I AM." I can assert Puff the Magic Dragon created the universe not "I AM" and there is nothing you could do or say scientifically to show otherwise. As I said before, any scientist who speculates that the signals are of supernatural origin (Zeus, Tinkerbell, Allah, Jesus, etc.) is a quack"

Mark, why do you keep bringing this up when I have answered this over and over? For the nth time it does not matter what name you give. The question is, is there an intelligence behind the universe or not. You are avoiding this issue.

mark said...

"Nobody is suspending the natural order of things."

When you posit a miracle, you most certainly are suspending the natural order. Did you see the designed creatures popping into existence? Did you know, that doesn't normally happen in nature?

"Your video does not answer the question."

It does for me. I find magic more improbable than natural laws. You're welcome to believe in magic if you want. I'll stick with science.

"I wanted to drive home the point!"

Yet ironically, you ended up only supporting my point :)

"Natural systems creating living things is an assumption and a belief."

Indeed, I also assume and believe that gravity works because of natural causes and not magical causes. The same applies to life.

"The question is, is there an intelligence behind the universe or not."

ROFL! And I keep telling you. Science can't say. It's a religious matter. Until you accept facts, this conversation will go on in circles forever. That's fine with me though. I'm pretty good at cutting and pasting. I'll just repeat my answers when you repeat your questions.

harris said...

Mark, you are correct we are going in circles and it is time to stop. Besides you have not addressed any of the questions I asked in my last post. Also, I do feel that I have finally got my point across to you eventhough you are trying to argue against it.

Just some parting thoughts...Try and look beyond what you are currently used to thinking. If naturalism is true then we are helpless beings completely controlled by the forces of nature and your beliefs and mine will also be determined by these forces. So if we do have a choice in what we believe it is foolish to accept naturalism.

Thanks for your time.

mark said...

"Also, I do feel that I have finally got my point across to you even though you are trying to argue against it."

Harris, you made it clear that you are a theist who is trying to insinuate that personal faith in God is scientific. It's not. All I've done is point out that you can't have your cake and eat it too.

"If naturalism is true then we are helpless beings completely controlled by the forces of nature and your beliefs and mine will also be determined by these forces."

That's only if you think of people as being machines. We're not. Human beings have a conscience and a will. If I choose to think, and act, I am free to do so.

"Just some parting thoughts... Try and look beyond what you are currently used to thinking."

I'd give the same advice to you. Don't superstitiously posit "God did it" for things you can't explain. There is a natural explanation for all magic. Look beyond the illusion.

"Do not all charms fly
At the mere touch of cold philosophy?
There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
We know her woof, her texture; she is given
In the dull catalogue of common things.
Philosophy will clip an angel's wings,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine -
Unweave a rainbow...."


- John Keats

spiritualbrother said...

Evolution is a fairy tale. Why are there no transitional fossils?