Thursday, March 27, 2014

Should scientists who believe in ID be excluded from science positions?

Jerry Coyne thinks so.

In a funny sort of way, these sorts of statements support one of the claims made by ID supporters. For example, the lack of peer reviewed science articles is supposed to be a reason for rejecting ID. But if all the peer reviewers are going to lose their jobs if they approve articles supportive of ID, then the lack of peer reviewed articles has an easy explanation that doesn't undermine the credibility of ID at all: namely, even if there were good evidence for ID, no peer reviewer would allow such articles for fear of losing their jobs.

Let me play back to you what Loftus just said about keeping an open marketplace of ideas.

In fact, it's this kind of democratic freedom which is the undoing of your faith. For without state sponsored censorship or social pressures against minority viewpoints the believing majority cannot stay uniformed about the evidence against their faith. We know atheism will win in the marketplace of ideas, and if not, we know that only with these freedoms can we ever know the truth. So it stands to reason we would want to grant everyone these rights in a democracy.


OK, then let's show a little trust in the marketplace of ideas, and stop behaving like such a control freak when ideas like ID are put forward in that marketplace. If ID really is the bollocks that Coyne thinks that it is, then why is he so afraid of it? 

157 comments:

John Moore said...

Scientists who believe in ID? There's no such thing.

The whole point of science is to test and reject ideas that don't stand up to the tests. "Believing" in something is not part of science.

If someone wants to challenge the theory of evolution, that's great. Scientists are doing that all the time, in peer-reviewed journals and everywhere.

But again, if you want to be a scientist, you've got to eventually reject ideas that don't pass careful tests. The whole point of science is to reject things, not to believe in things.

LadyAtheist said...

You're linking to the Discovery Institute rather than Jerry Coyne's blog where he will have said what he means, and your readers can judge his statements within the context.

Ever hear of primary sources? It's hard to take you seriously if you're going to do that. A true scholar knows better. And a true scientist wouldn't waste time trying to prove the existence of god, because faith doesn't require proof anyway.

im-skeptical said...

Coyne is talking about professorships in science. This is about what is taught as science to students who are (or should be) learning about science. ID is not science, and its adherents reject science, so it stands to reason that those people would not be teaching science. Students have a right to learn real science from people who understand science. I agree with Coyne.

Victor Reppert said...

The DI posts link directly to Coyne.

Dave Duffy said...

" 'Believing' in something is not part of science."

My goodness! Vic, as a philosopher, you do have your work cut out for you. Good luck.

WMF said...

People believe in philosophy shouldn't teach science, because philosophy is not science.

LadyAtheist said...

The DI post is dishonest (as are all of their posts). As a scholar you can do better, like read what Coyne wrote for yourself, and write your own post and not even mention the inflammatory post of the DI.

Ilíon said...

some 'Science!' fetishist: "The whole point of science is to test and reject ideas that don't stand up to the tests. "Believing" in something is not part of science."

Which, of course, explains why 'Science!' fetishists get so bent out of shape that anyone dare disbelieve evolutionism or any of the other pseudo-scientific materialistic/atheistic shibboleths.

im-skeptical said...

"Which, of course, explains why 'Science!' fetishists get so bent out of shape that anyone dare disbelieve evolutionism or any of the other pseudo-scientific materialistic/atheistic shibboleths."

Your rejection of science is irrelevant to the truth of the matter.

planks length said...

Ilion brings up a good point, which has nothing to do with anyone's alleged "rejection of science". If "believing in something is not part of science," then why indeed is there such a visceral reaction to anyone doubting evolution? Why the refusal to peer-review? (The only reason I can see for ID papers lacking peer review is groupthink.) Why not just hear the argument out dispassionately? One thing Loftus and I agree on is that Truth will triumph in the free marketplace of ideas. (We just disagree on which "truth" will triumph.) So if ID is "wrong", you're certainly not going to prove that by simply banning all discussion on the subject.

And by the way, I have yet to see Ilion ever "rejecting science" - at least, not on this website. What he rejects (as do I) is scientism.

RD Miksa said...

Dear John Moore:

You said:

Scientists who believe in ID? There's no such thing.

Leading off with the “No True Scotsman” Fallacy, eh…not a promising start.


The whole point of science is to test and reject ideas that don't stand up to the tests. "Believing" in something is not part of science.

At times like this, it is good to remind everyone of that little slip-up that Richard Lewontin once had:

“Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

Looks like “believing” is a big part of science. And that is not even mentioning all the assumptions that scientists simply believe on faith, which is a whole topic in and of itself.


But again, if you want to be a scientist, you've got to eventually reject ideas that don't pass careful tests. The whole point of science is to reject things, not to believe in things.

So the hyper-skeptic, who rejects a whole lot of things and does not believe in much, is the ideal scientist? Who knew!

Take care,

RD Miksa
www.idontgiveadamnapologetics.blogspot.com

im-skeptical said...

planks,

"If "believing in something is not part of science," then why indeed is there such a visceral reaction to anyone doubting evolution?"

It's not the fact that they doubt evolution. It's the fact that they represent themselves as scientists, ant try to pass off their pseudoscience as real science in the public schools. This is what I find bothersome. You can believe whatever you like, and I don't give a fig about it. But leave the public schools alone. You don't have the right to to impose your superstitions on children who are there to learn. ID IS NOT SCIENCE.

planks length said...

"You don't have the right to to impose your superstitions on children who are there to learn."

Sounds like a good argument against ever using the words "blind" or "unguided" in a public school science class on evolution, since those are completely a-scientific concepts, but are rather pure philosophy. (As is ID - I agree with you there.) Can we have a deal here? No ID, no blind or unguided. OK?

RD Miksa said...

Dear Skep,

Please define science.

RD Miksa
www.idontgiveadamnapologetics.blogspot.com

im-skeptical said...

"Can we have a deal here? No ID, no blind or unguided. OK?"

No. It is at the very core of evolution theory. I offered some reading material that might help you to understand how it works, and you don't want to learn about it. That's not my fault.



"Please define science."

"knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation" - Note that the latter part of this definition implies scientific method. The ID community does not follow scientific method. And that's precisely why the scientific community rejects their work.

RD Miksa said...

Dear Skep,

Please define the scientific method. And, does the scientific method include abductive (inference to the best explanation) reasoning?

RD Miksa
www.idontgiveadamnapologetics.blogspot.com

RD Miksa said...

Skep,

Given your comment to planks, please enlighten us: how has science determined that evolution is a blind and unguided process? What experiments or observations were made to establish that fact? What peer-reviewed papers demonstrate, via the scientific method, that evolution was blind?

RD Miksa
www.idontgiveadamnapologetics.blogspot.com

planks length said...

" I offered some reading material that might help you to understand how it works, and you don't want to learn about it."

I'd read both of them (and others as well)long before you ever linked to them. I understand perfectly what's written by Dawkins and Coyne - probably far better than you do. And I also understand that when you apply either of those adjectives (blind or unguided) to a description of how evolution works, you have departed the realm of science and are squarely within the philosophical realm, where questions such as why things behave as they do are answered.

So, im-not-at-all-skeptical (sorry, Ilion), you cannot have your cake and eat it too. As long as people like you continue to foist a-scientific notions on unsuspecting children under the guise of learning, be prepared to get pushback from others who understand what your true agenda is in doing so.

Now I offered you a reaonable truce - keep your philosophy out of biology classes and I'll keep mine out as well. You refused. But don't expect unilateral disarmament on the part of people who don't buy into atheist materialist philosophy disguised as science (which it most definitely ain't).

planks length said...

Miska,

Note that we're discussing science with a person who doesn't even understand what the word means. He writes that it is "knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation" (my emphasis). Science is not based on facts. It's based on data. Two very different things.

And this is not some random, inconsequential word slip. It indicates a fundamental, indeed fatal, lack of understanding about how human beings know things.

planks length said...

Sorry for the typo. I meant "Miksa".

Victor Reppert said...

How can design denial be science, and design affirmation be non-science? It seems to me you can't have it both ways. If "the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design", and it is science to say so, then it must also be science to say that evidence concerning evolution reveals a universe with design. If, on the other hand, it is impossible for biological evidence to support design, then it is impossible for biological evidence to support design. The question of design becomes a matter outside the scope of science.

im-skeptical said...

"Please define the scientific method."

Why don't you define it for us. Hint: there is a wealth of material available on the web, and I have discussed it at length in this forum before.

"how has science determined that evolution is a blind and unguided process? What experiments or observations were made to establish that fact? What peer-reviewed papers demonstrate, via the scientific method, that evolution was blind?"

Please read the material I suggested.

"I'd read both of them (and others as well)long before you ever linked to them. I understand perfectly what's written by Dawkins and Coyne - probably far better than you do. And I also understand that when you apply either of those adjectives (blind or unguided) to a description of how evolution works, you have departed the realm of science and are squarely within the philosophical realm, where questions such as why things behave as they do are answered."

If you read them, you clearly didn't understand them. The question of guided vs unguided is discussed at great length in both of these books. And it has nothing to do with 'why'. It has everything to do with 'how'. You want to keep philosophy out of it? Fine. Learn some science.

"And this is not some random, inconsequential word slip. It indicates a fundamental, indeed fatal, lack of understanding about how human beings know things."

Notice the quotation marks? That came from Merriam-Webster, not from me.



RD Miksa said...

Skep,

Obviously, I am asking for your definition of the scientific method so that we can get it on the record, and then I can use your very own words to demonstrate that ID is science.

However, if I define it, then my obvious worry is that I will present my demonstration that ID is science, but you will then simply challenge my original definition, and around and around we will go.

So rather than wasting my time, and since the burden is on you given your claim that "ID IS NOT SCIENCE", I ask again: what is your definition of the scientific method? Given that you stated that your definition of science includes the scientific method, and yet you did not define that aspect of it for us, this is an entirely legitimate question.

Frankly, I don't give a damn if you answer it or not, but I will not proceed without a clear definition from you given that I want your definition clearly stated before I use that very definition to show that your view is mistaken.

RD Miksa

RD Miksa said...

To be honest, the whole "Is ID science or not?" is a rather lame question when compared to the question of whether ID is true or not.

But the simple fact is this: if archeology, forensics, and SETI are "scientific" disciplines, then ID is a scientific discipline.

And any attempt to deny this is, essentially, anti-ID ideological spin.

RD Miksa
www.idontgiveadamnapologetics.blogspot.com

im-skeptical said...

Victor,

"How can design denial be science, and design affirmation be non-science?"

Science is all about evidence. The evidence of lack of design is plentiful. If the DI people think there is evidence for design, they need to show it, not just make a theistic argument for it. They talk about CSI. Great. Let them show us how they measure it, how they use it to make predictions, and then show us that those predictions are borne out by observed facts.

Again, I think you misunderstand the whole argument about why ID is not science. It has nothing to do with what they believe. It's because they don't follow scientific method.

John W. Loftus said...

For your information Vic, this is the marketplace of ideas. Scientists know evolution is the case. There is no reason to have an ID theorist teaching science for if the evidence is against it there is no reason to allow it. This is not done by brute force. That you will not acknowledge. It's because ID doesn't have a lick of evidence for it. All ID theorists do is to show there are unsolved mysteries. Everyone knows that.

Ilíon said...

"(sorry, Ilion)"

Why? Be happy.

Victor Reppert said...

But what a scientist believes is, strictly speaking, irrelevant to the science he does.

Ilíon said...

VR: "How can design denial be science, and design affirmation be non-science? It seems to me you can't have it both ways. If "the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design", and it is science to say so, then it must also be science to say that evidence concerning evolution reveals a universe with design. .."

Or, as I point out from time to time, if it is true (as materialists disingenuously assert) that methodological naturalism doesn't philosophical naturalism, then likewise methodological designism doesn't philosophical designism.

So, given what they are asserting in the first place, why do materialists get their panties into such a bunch over methodological designism?

Also, since modern science isn't even about truth, and increasingly -- due to the need to protect evolutionism and the science-is-applied-atheism paradigm -- it isn't even about logic, both 'A' and 'not-A' are scientific statements. As I've asked before, how far is the Perseus Arm?

David Brightly said...

RD, can't we read Lewontin as a strongly worded commitment to methodological naturalism? As for defining 'science', how about Popperian falsificationism plus methodological naturalism?

Planks, 'Blind' and 'unguided' are perfectly sensible terms to apply to the combination of variation and natural selection that Darwinism (the theory) hypothesises to explain evolution (the fact). And science is based neither on facts nor data. It's based on guesses.

Im, ID is scientific in so far as it consists of informed criticism of Darwinistic explanations. It is unscientific in so far as it hypothesises design. We just don't know whether evolution was blind/unguided. It's an unanswerable historical question. Arthur C. Clarke's '2001' scenario might be right. On the other hand, Darwinism reckons it could well have been unguided. My vote is with Darwin.

Victor, design lies outside science, surely? It's a philosophical issue. Science has no need to deny design. It gets along quite happily within its naturalistic methodology. Hence it has no need to assert design either. Far from wanting it both ways, science wants it neither way!

Should scientists who believe in ID be excluded from science positions? Of course not. How illiberal is that? What is Coyne thinking? I'm sure he's in favour of diversity.

Ilíon said...

a lying liar: "Scientists know evolution is the case."

Holy Talk Origins begs to disagree "Evolution[ism] is the cornerstone of modern biology. It unites all the fields of biology under one theoretical umbrella. It is not a difficult concept, but very few people -- the majority of biologists included -- have a satisfactory grasp of it. ..."

Victor Reppert said...

Well, is it outside science? I think if you keep to a "narrow" definition of science, then yes, I can be happy with that. But I think people like Dawkins started making the question of design part of scientific theory by claiming that science had proved that science is not there. There is a sense in which Dawkins is one of the founding fathers of ID. If scientists could stick to saying "We're science over here, so we can't answer that question," I think ID would never have gotten off the ground.

im-skeptical said...

"If scientists could stick to saying "We're science over here, so we can't answer that question," ..."

But they CAN answer that question. The principle of unguided evolution has been demonstrated, and used to develop functional systems.

Cale B.T. said...

"[ID] adherents reject science, so it stands to reason that those people would not be teaching science. Students have a right to learn real science from people who understand science."

@im-skeptical

Consider the case of somebody who earns a doctorate in genetics from one of the world's top universities, and now leads a research team at a university. This person is also sympathetic to Young Earth Creationism and Intelligent Design.

Just to clarify, do you sincerely believe that think he should be dismissed for his beliefs?

(btw, this is not a hypothetical person I'm talking about)

Papalinton said...

"The arguments for God's existence have stood for hundreds of years with the waves of unbelieving criticism breaking against them, never totally discrediting them in the ears of the faithful, but on the whole slowly and surely washing out the mortar from between their joints." William James American psychologist/philosopher.

The incipient and general trending of progressing humanity over time, from supernatural superstition to methodological naturalism is the greatest and existentially most important process. Regardless of that which once had been a given, religious claims shielded by and enjoined under theological fiat, which now stand naked, prudently and empirically exposed by the sciences as little more than pious mythos and unsubstantiated assertion, has been without exception a singularly unidirectional process. Should this claim be characterized as scientism, then happy I am to be an acclaimed advocate for scientism. The comparative explanatory power of scientism simply dwarfs that of theism. Scientism to theism, respectively, is at it were, analogous with astronomy to astrology and chemistry to alchemy.

The more german question to ask here is: Should scientists working in Christian colleges be required to sign a statement of Christian belief as a condition of employment?

Ilíon said...

I-pretend-to-be-functionally-rational: "But they CAN answer that question. The principle of unguided evolution has been demonstrated, and used to develop functional systems."

ROTFLMAO

planks length said...

Thanks for going first, Ilion. My sides were hurting too much from laughing to respond for a while there.

Let's unpack this a bit. "The principle of unguided evolution has been demonstrated, and used to develop functional systems." Demonstrated... how? Oh, yeah. By Intelligently designing, constructing, and maintaining algorithms, functionalities, software, hardware, power supplies, etc. to demonstrate a "principle". So I now see - it's finally so very clear! An intelligently designed, intelligently constructed, and intelligently maintained computer simulation demonstrates that intelligent design, construction, and maintenance are not present in the real world.

Now how could I have missed that?!?

Ilíon said...

I-pretend-to-be-functionally-rational: "But they CAN answer that question. The principle of unguided evolution has been demonstrated, and used to develop functional systems."

Translation: Some guys wrote a computer program. When the data upon which the program operates is set to an initial state 'A', and its inputs are given as the set 'A'', it generates some result, which we'll call 'A*'. Further, if either the initial state or the input set differs, the result set also differs -- thus we can see that the result isn't determined by the code-logic, that is, that the programmer didn't pre-program the result.

But, here's the really amazing thing, (whispering: the program uses a (pseudo) random number generator, and) it turns out that two (or more) consecutive executions with the initial-state 'A' and the input-set 'A'' with generate the result-set 'A*' only the once (whispering: unless the user uses the input value programmed to over-ride the (pseudo) random number generator).

Therefore: 'Darwin!' (PBUH) ... and you are evil, Evil, EVIL to doubt the ridiculous lies that we DarwinDefenders love to peddle.

==============
Does the reader see the lie being peddled here? It is this: those (pseudo) random numbers that the program accepts outside the explicit choosing of the user are *also* part of the input-set, but the DarwinDefender pretends that they are not, and lies about the fact that they are. Thus, when the (pseudo) random number generator is not over-ridden, the result-set is different because the input-set was different. But, if the (pseudo) random number generator is over-ridden OR it is "seeded" with a specific "seed" value, the result-set is always the same because the input-set was the same.

There is another lie being peddled: "thus we can see that the result isn't determined by the code-logic."

But, in truth, the output of *all* computer programs is fully determined by the code-logic acting upon the initial data and input data. Which is to say, the result is *always* pre-programmed by the programmer. This particular lie plays upon the truth that the programmer doesn't know when he writes the code-logic just which sets of initial data and input data any particular user may choose to employ for any particular execution, and therefore doesn't know beforehand which particular result-set will be (invariably) generated for any particular execution of the program. But, execute exactly the same code-logic operating on exactly the same sets of initial data and input data, and the program will *always* generate exactly the same result-set.

There is no mystery here, and computers would be totally useless if this were not the case. Who would use a shreadsheet program if it told them that they have $500,000 in their checking account one instant, but -$10,000,000 the next, using the very same beginning balance and check amounts?

im-skeptical said...

Cale BT,

If someone believes in YEC and ID, I would have to seriously question his understanding of genetics. I'm not saying he should automatically be fired from his job, but if it involves research in genetics, I would want to examine and review the work he has dine to verify that it reflects scientific standards. Furthermore, if he is teaching his superstitions to students, that would be grounds for firing.

im-skeptical said...

planks,

"Now how could I have missed that?!?"

You totally missed it. Here's an example:

http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=553635

Ilion,

"But, in truth, the output of *all* computer programs is fully determined by the code-logic acting upon the initial data and input data. Which is to say, the result is *always* pre-programmed by the programmer. This particular lie plays upon the truth that the programmer doesn't know when he writes the code-logic just which sets of initial data and input data any particular user may choose to employ for any particular execution, and therefore doesn't know beforehand which particular result-set will be (invariably) generated for any particular execution of the program. But, execute exactly the same code-logic operating on exactly the same sets of initial data and input data, and the program will *always* generate exactly the same result-set."

That's right. The world is deterministic. For example, I post in this blog, and you spew idiocy. Like clockwork. That's what your brain is programmed to do.

im-skeptical said...

planks,

Just to be clear about genetic design, these techniques have been employed to solve design problems more effectively that traditional design techniques are able to. In other words, the human designer's mind is incapable of producing systems that work as well as these genetically designed systems do. But this is how natural evolution produces functional capabilities in biological creatures.

With regard to the determinism of computer programs - first, modern RNG algorithms can produce results that no human could possibly predict. Second, so what? It doesn't have any bearing on how a genetic algorithm functions.

planks length said...

"It doesn't have any bearing"

It most certainly does. Any output of a human-designed system, no matter how many steps removed from the original design, is nevertheless still a product of, and dependent on, intelligent design. (It would not exist without the designer setting the whole thing in motion.) In like manner, regardless of the actual mechanics of how evolution functions (even if it seemingly appears to the observer as "blind"), it is ultimately the work of the Creator, Who set it all in motion.

So yes, we are actually in what is called violent agreement. We both believe that philosophy (or theology) has no place in the science classroom. BUT... that does not mean that the materialist atheist has free reign to promote his philosophy under the false guise of science. If ID is to be kept out of of the classroom, then so must be any idea of "blind" or "unguided".

I do not understand why you object to this. Were I an atheist myself (God forbid!), I would still be pushing for the same mutual exclusion.

"What's sauce for the goose..."

Ilíon said...

Ilíon: "But, in truth, the output of *all* computer programs is fully determined by the code-logic acting upon the initial data and input data. Which is to say, the result is *always* pre-programmed by the programmer. ..."

I-deny-that-I-can-reason: "That's right. The world is deterministic. For example, I [spew absurdity and self-contradiction] in this blog ... Like clockwork. ..."

Translation: Arithmetic operations and results are deterministic, and a mechanical system designed to mechanically simulate arithmetic operations is deterministic. Ergo: *everything* is deterministic, and there are no such things as agency or free-wills.

im-skeptical said...

"it is ultimately the work of the Creator, Who set it all in motion."

That's a fallacy. There need not be any conscious entity setting the process in motion. And even of there were, the creator doesn't know what outcome will be achieved from a genetic algorithm.

Regarding philosophy, I have said, and I repeat now that science is a form of philosophy. But it is not theism. There's nothing wrong with teaching philosophy, nor is there anything wrong with teaching theism in a theism class. But theism doesn't belong in a science classroom. The concept of unguided evolution is not theistic or anti-theistic or metaphysical. It is a scientific principle that can be tested. And it has been. And it works. Without this at the core of evolution theory, evolution becomes theism. So if we want to maintain separation between science and theism, we must keep the theory of evolution intact, including the part about how genetic change occurs.

Ilíon said...

I-lie-and-you-are-'rude'-to-notice-it: "With regard to the determinism of computer programs - first, modern RNG algorithms can produce results that no human could possibly predict."

Translation: If the symbolic arithmetic-simulation inputs to a "modern RNG algorithm" are hidden from a human being, and the symbolic-logical rules of symbol-manipulation which comprise the "modern RNG algorithm" are hidden from a human being, then that human being "could [not] possibly predict" the symbolic arithmetic-simulation outputs of the "modern RNG algorithm".

Well, d'oh!

I-lie-and-you-are-'rude'-to-notice-it: "Second, so what? It doesn't have any bearing on how a genetic algorithm functions."

Since I can always lie about this matter (as I lie about almost all matters), and since many people don't presently understand the matter well enough to immediately see my lies, and since many people are strongly averse to having lies exposed and will join me in shrieking about the "rudeness" of someone else exposing my lies and explaining how "genetic algorithms" really work, what does it matter that I am lying through my teeth? If I can deceive the many who do not understand what a computer program is, and can be tricked into believing the lie that a computer program simulation can emulate Darwinism, what is it to you?

im-skeptical said...

Ilion,

There is a concept in software engineering called 'entropy', which, much like physical entropy, is a measure of randomness. Entropy can be accumulated by (for example) taking the precise time of events (down to the millisecond) that can't possibly be predicted, such as the next occurrence of Ilion's rants. There are many ways of accumulating entropy, and it is impossible to predict what outcome will occur. These events need not be hidden from the programmer at all (except that he can't see them before they occur). He still can't predict the outcome. "Well, d'oh!"

It is you who lie through your teeth, pretending to understand things about which you are utterly ignorant.

planks length said...

Give it up, Ilion. With this posting, I've put in my last word to this "exchange". I recall two lines here: the first being "if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet" and the second concerns not casting your pearls before swine.

im-skeptical said...

Hear, hear!

Ilíon said...

There is no such thing as an entropy port. Computer programs do not, and cannot, perform operations upon "entropy" or “randomness”. What they can do, and *all* they can do, is perform simulated arithmetic operations upon number-simulations (*).

I-don’t-pretend-to-lie can spew (cool word) all the lies he wishes about “entropy” and “randomness”, but the fact remains that there is no such number as “random number” and there is no computer program, nor ever will be any, that does not operate upon specific symbols according to specific symbolic rules, producing specific results.

There will *never* be a computer program that, executing on a computer that is functioning properly-as-designed, can ever produce more than one specific result-set for a given initial state and input set.

I-pretend’s lie to deny the above truth looks plausible only to those who do not realize (or who refuse to realize) that he is purposely-and-dishonestly pretending that some of the inputs to a “genetic algorithm” are not inputs.


(*) What I am saying here is that computers do not and cannot *actually* compute, no more than an abacus does or can: a computer is really just a mechanized abacus. Only human beings or other rational beings like us can compute.

Karl Grant said...

Skeppy,

Without this at the core of evolution theory, evolution becomes theism.

So you just admitted, as an atheist, you have an ideological agenda for pushing the idea that evolution is unguided; otherwise, it gives ammunition to your enemies, the theists. And you still expect us to believe that attempts to "prove" evolution is unguided don't have a philosophical underpinning?

These events need not be hidden from the programmer at all (except that he can't see them before they occur). He still can't predict the outcome. "Well, d'oh!"

And that is completely irrelevant to using this as an example against Intelligent Design. Unless that computer assembled itself from sand and oil and raw ore and the lines of code just magically popped into its hard drive, intelligent forces designed the computer (the world) the program exists in. Intelligent forces created that program to serve a purpose (testing evolutionary models) and serve that purpose it did. And intelligent forces maintain the damn program and the computer it resides in. The fact that these intelligent forces can't predict every random occurrence in the system does nothing to the fact they designed, built and maintained it. It is kind of like saying since professional dog breeders have litters with stillborn pups that the evolution of wolves to dogs had no human guidance and intervention.

Ilíon said...

PL, I would never try to convince I'm-a-liar-and-don't-you-forget-it of *anything*: for he is a liar (*). It isn't that he is honestly mistaken about this or that; it isn’t that he simply misunderstands this or that and that reasoning from that misunderstanding reaches incorrect conclusions; it is that he willingly-and-obstinately refuses the truth. He refuses to acknowledge the truth and he refuses to reason properly/logically from known truth.


(*) Specifically, he is that specialization of ‘liar’ that produces the intellectually dishonest man. Most people who are intellectually dishonest are so fairly narrowly, but with I-pretend, there seems to be no limit to the topics about which he is intellectually dishonest. In a way, it makes sense, for what *really* concerns him is to hide from God … and God is everywhere, in all things.

Ilíon said...

Let's see: I am a computer programmer; I have made my living since 1980 entirely by the practical application of the logic of symbol manipulation.

Ergo: I clearly know nothing about what a computer is nor what a computer program can (and cannot) do.

im-skeptical said...

planks,

One more note on the idea that the person who launches a genetic algorithm to create a functional design doesn’t know what the outcome will be. I mean that quite literally. So you think that your God knows what the outcome will be? Fine. Then, by definition, he’s not running a genetic program, which uses random variation. Consider: If God is guiding the outcome toward some desires goal, then the variations are not random at all - they are pre-selected with the goal in mind. But if God wants to choose specific variations, why would he need to bother with the non-beneficial ones that will only be rejected from the gene-pool? Why not just manifest the specific variations that lead to the desired result? Better yet, why bother with genetic variations at all? He could just make DNA to order, right from the start.

Face it: this God theory of yours makes absolutely no sense from a scientific perspective.

Ilíon said...

I-lie-you-decide: "No. [The assertion of non-directedless] is at the very core of evolution theory."

That metaphysical assertion is, in fact, the entirely of 'modern evolutionary theory', aka Darwinism. Everything else that DarwinDefenders assert about "evolution" is entirely negotiable: everything else that DarwinDefenders assert about "evolution" can, and at some point will be, denied by DarwinDefenders, whether others *or* themselves, and its opposite asserted. *Only* the metaphysical assertion that the world is unintended and that "evolution" is unguided-and-undirected will always-and-without-fail be asserted by DarwinDefenders, world without end.

Karl Grant said...

Skeppy,

But if God wants to choose specific variations, why would he need to bother with the non-beneficial ones that will only be rejected from the gene-pool? Why not just manifest the specific variations that lead to the desired result? Better yet, why bother with genetic variations at all?

Yeah, so your idea of a perfect system is a top-down system? Well, you ain't good engineer, assuming you really are one. I am going to let Professor Dutch handle this one again:

Yes, but what if the designer is so intelligent that it could design a perfect system a priori? If Intelligent Design is supposed to be scientific, and not supposed to be making any theological assumptions, then where would you get the assumption that the Designer has perfect intelligence? Why couldn't an Intelligent Designer make mistakes or use trial and error? But even if we assume the Designer is perfectly intelligent, why wouldn't the designer still use complex adaptive design? The Designer might very well see that adaptive methods would yield results as good as top-down design, or might be better for complex, intertwined objectives. You might be able to design a perfect hummingbird suited to a particular flower, but to design an ecosystem of thousands of species all optimized to function together, complex adaptive methods might work more efficiently by anybody's criteria. And if the Intelligent Designer chooses to use complex adaptive methods, who exactly are you to say that's not the best choice?

But obviously you view a system that requires a mechanic or a technician to intervene every five minutes to be superior to one that is self-correcting and self-improving.

im-skeptical said...

Karl, you're a dolt. He's saying what I'm saying. The very next line of the article (and the conclusion he comes to):

""Intelligent Design" is not intelligent design. Evolution is intelligent design."

Victor Reppert said...

Let me clear up some possible confusion about the idea of "unguided" here. Suppose the fine tuning argument is correct, and that the cosmic constants of the universe were fine tuned by God to make intelligent life possible. After that, God does not interfere with the universe throughout the process of speciation. Does this satisfy the definition of "unguided" in this case?

Victor Reppert said...

Such a person, it seems to me would satisfy Jay Richards' definition of an advocate of intelligent design.

ID proponents argue, on the basis of public evidence, drawn from natural science, that nature, or certain aspects of nature, are best explained by intelligent agency.

planks length said...

"ID proponents argue, on the basis of public evidence, drawn from natural science, that nature, or certain aspects of nature, are best explained by intelligent agency."

Sorry, but I simply cannot resist. Im-skeptical himself has said this very thing, above in this conversation. As his one and only example of how we can demonstrate how evolution might work, he introduces the idea of a computer program designed by an intelligent agency (in this case, human beings), built (hmm.. created?) by an intelligent agency, and maintained by an intelligent agency.

So by analogy, and using im-skeptical's own argument, life on Earth is best explained by the activity of an intelligent designer.

As Karl Grant wrote (it's worth repeating): "Unless that computer assembled itself from sand and oil and raw ore and the lines of code just magically popped into its hard drive, intelligent forces designed the computer (the world) the program exists in. Intelligent forces created that program to serve a purpose (testing evolutionary models) and serve that purpose it did. And intelligent forces maintain the damn program and the computer it resides in."

Karl Grant said...

Skeppy,

Karl, you're a dolt. He's saying what I'm saying. The very next line of the article (and the conclusion he comes to):

""Intelligent Design" is not intelligent design. Evolution is intelligent design."


Aww, you're reading comprehension still sucks doesn't it? The entire essay is talking about human usage of the complex adaptive systems based on the evolutionary model; or to put it in terms a dumbass like you understands intelligent designers use evolution when needed. He is talking about how a system like you demanded:

If God is guiding the outcome toward some desires goal, then the variations are not random at all - they are pre-selected with the goal in mind. But if God wants to choose specific variations, why would he need to bother with the non-beneficial ones that will only be rejected from the gene-pool? Why not just manifest the specific variations that lead to the desired result? Better yet, why bother with genetic variations at all? He could just make DNA to order, right from the start.

Is cumbersome, inefficient and maintenance heavy and there is multiple legitimate reasons a designer would pick an evolutionary system over what you claim is the hallmark of intelligent design. But I don't expect you to grasp that the evolutionary model doesn't preclude intelligent design in the universe anymore than I expect you to grasp that just because a computer program that builds and tests evolutionary models has a random number generator built into it's code doesn't mean its output is entirely random. Because it's output is always going to be an evolutionary model when you hit start; it's not going to print out the Manga Carta or fucking solve world hunger. It will create what it was designed to create; minor variances in the product it was designed to create that come off the assembly line are irrelevant. Understand, shithead?

im-skeptical said...

Victor,

To be clear, Behe, Meyer, and Dembski specifically argue against natural evolution, regardless of the starting conditions. They insist that biological organisms exhibit irreducible complexity, which does not result from Darwinian evolution, but from some kind of design, which could possibly be a 'guided' evolution process.

I haven't read much of Jay Richards, but I know that he believes that God can and does violate natural law at will. He believes that the laws of physics are merely generalizations (from his debate with Hitchens).

Ilíon said...

I-m-a-hypocrite-and-you-know-it: "I haven't read much of Jay Richards, but I know that he believes that God can and does violate natural law at will. He believes that the laws of physics are merely generalizations ..."

And so, we're back to cars that just, all on their own, oozing through the garage wall and parking themselves on the street.

God-haters don't object to miracles because they (supposedly) "violate the laws of nature" -- Hell! They don't themselves believe there are any Laws of Nature. It's not the miraculous nature of a miracle that has these hypoctites squawking, it’s the purpose which they can't abide..

planks length said...

Ilion,

I finally have to ask. What is that picture that accompanies your posts? Is that you, or someone I'm supposed to recognize? Just wondering.

Ilíon said...

It's a picture of me (from around the year 2000).

planks length said...

Thanks. For a while I thought it might be a picture of Frank Zappa.

By the way, my new image represents the new me - no more Mr. Nice Guy!

Ilíon said...

Here's a picture without my hand in front of my face. Of course, there is that bushy beard covering most of the face.

Ilíon said...

"By the way, my new image represents the new me - no more Mr. Nice Guy!"

If you hadn't mentioned it, it might have been weeks before I noticed it. My browser doesn't always display the immaged linked to a uder name.

im-skeptical said...

planks,

Since you and Karl can't comprehend what I've saying, I'll try again. The paper Karl linked to was about human use of adaptive design. Clearly, adaptive design works, and can produce results superior to the kind of design he refers to as 'top-down', given that the top-down designer can't create a perfect design.

We can use these techniques to produce better functionality, while applying our own intelligence to eliminate serious flaws in the resulting design, that would likely result if there were no design goal. Indeed this is what we would expect any intelligent designer to do. But natural evolution is an adaptive process that has no intelligence behind it, and no goal. The evidence for this is clear. It achieves functional results adapted to the environmental conditions of the moment, without foreknowledge of what kind of functionality will be required in the future. So we see creatures with vestiges of past functionality, or with ‘hacked’ features, adapted from structures that originally served a different function. These suboptimal ‘hacks’ would not occur if an intelligent designer had a single, consistent design goal. Since these things are so prevalent in nature, we can infer that natural evolution does not have a design goal, nor can it be said to have any intelligence behind it.

When we create a genetic program, it is something created by an agent, and it does have a design goal, but the adaptive process itself is unguided, in the sense that the variations produced are unknown and unspecified, and the result is unknown until it is actually produced. Therefore, the resulting design can’t be said to be the product of what Dutch calls a top-down design, or what we commonly call ID. Ilion’s indignant squeals are mere noise.

Although I would not want to use the term 'intelligent design' in two completely different senses as he does, there is little in Dutch’s article that disagrees with my own position, but Karl, being a dolt, doesn’t understand any of this.

Karl Grant said...

Skeppy,

But natural evolution is an adaptive process that has no intelligence behind it, and no goal. The evidence for this is clear.

Question begging, I'm not Skeptical, whither or not there is a designer behind this world is the question being debated.

So we see creatures with vestiges of past functionality, or with ‘hacked’ features, adapted from structures that originally served a different function. These suboptimal ‘hacks’ would not occur if an intelligent designer had a single, consistent design goal. Since these things are so prevalent in nature, we can infer that natural evolution does not have a design goal, nor can it be said to have any intelligence behind it.

You go into the source code for your average computer program you usually see great big chunks of code commented out (features that were supposed to be implemented but cut for time constraints or budgetary reasons) Now according to you that is proof the programmers who built the program didn't have a plan when they built it or design goals. What a bullshit statement.

And no you can't infer that because you are making an assumption that the Intelligent Designer has a single goal in mind for their project. Most large scale human engineering projects have dozens of design goals and comprises usually have to be made to meet those goals. Yet, we don't say the engineers have no plan because they have more than one goal, now do we?

When we create a genetic program, it is something created by an agent, and it does have a design goal,

Yet, you still want to pretend the product it creates was not brought into being by intelligent design.

Although I would not want to use the term 'intelligent design' in two completely different senses as he does, there is little in Dutch’s article that disagrees with my own position, but Karl, being a dolt, doesn’t understand any of this.

No I understand the article clearly. What you don't understand shit-for-brains is that there would be no genetic program without intelligent design; there would be no genetic evolutionary models being generated period if somebody din't write the damn program to begin with. To get that program to run somebody had to A)design and build the computer B)design build the building and workstation it sits at and supply it with power C) design and build the power station for that D) actually design and write the damn program. Everything from the ground being cleared for construction to the coal being mined for power plant's boiler to the janitor blowing the dust out of the cpu's fans; there are literally thousands of little steps needed for that program become a reality, every one of them being performed by human intelligence but according to your logic none of that matters because one little step at the end has a random variance in it and proves that program's output is not the work of intelligent forces and is proof that life on this planet is not the result from intelligent forces.

Isn't it amazing what your blind faith in atheism causes you to dismiss out of hand? The entire design and production process of modern industrial civilization towards information technology is not indicative of intelligent design and is labeled inconsequential bullshit to a program's output because somebody used a random number generator in said program.

im-skeptical said...

Karl,

You're a dolt.

David Brightly said...

Hello Victor, Yes it would be a wonderful irony if Dawkins himself, with The Blind Watchmaker, had called forth the ID movement.

Regarding '(un)guided', I'd want to say that, strictly speaking, the concept only makes sense where there is a nature versus agency distinction. There has to be some idea of how the world goes if left alone and some idea that it might depart from this if interfered with by an agent, which might be artificial, like an autopilot, or supernatural, like God. It's a manifest image, but not scientific image term. So if our concept of God as agent permits the idea that he can stand back and let evolution take its course, even though he is seen as the creator of nature itself, then we can reasonably speak of evolution as unguided.

If 'guidedness' isn't a scientific image term, then strictly speaking, it has no place in discussing Darwinism, an element of the scientific image. Perhaps 'aguidedness' would be better. I teach physics and I find it hard (and probably counter-productive) to be strict about this. I resort to a deal of 'intentional stance' talk, with quotation mark gestures, to convey what happens in physics and to help students develop a 'feel' for the subject. Our default world-view, after all, is the manifest image. When we get to why it happens, according to physical theory, then I'm more strict. This is the 'selfish' gene issue, in a different context. So I'm not sure I'd want to ban 'unguided' from the classroom when discussing Darwinism as theory. It's a metaphor useful for conveying the implications of the theory. However, to say of the fact of evolution that it has been unguided seems to overstep the mark. What we can say is that if evolution has indeed been unguided, then Darwinism offers a good account of how it occurred that way, and leave it at that.

If people are careful about this then the conversation becomes rather less heated. The kitchen isn't the best place to eat.

planks length said...

David,

As a physics teacher, what do you think of Lewis's ideas in his book The Discarded Image? He points out that in the Classical and Medieval worlds, the agency that was thought to drive the motion and actions of matter was Love. The contemporary world, notes Lewis, simply replaced one anthropomorphic word (Love) with another, namely Law (as in the Laws of Nature). Yet the idea of Law is equally mind-dependent as is Love. So, according to Lewis, even contemporary science still implicitly (even if unconsciously) acknowledges an intelligence behind the Universe.

im-skeptical said...

The only reason that the term 'unguided' is used in conjunction with Darwinian evolution at all is because theists have insisted that evolution, to the extent that it occurs, is 'giuded' by the designer/creator to achieve a specific outcome. This is, of course, an unscientific perspective, but it doesn't change the scientific basis of Darwinian evolution theory, whether or not the term 'unguided' is used to describe it.

Ilíon said...

I-pretend-to-value-reason: "... but it doesn't change the scientific basis of Darwinian evolution theory ..."

True enough (for once), since Darwinism is anti-scientific, and worse, anti-rational.

Crude said...

David,

So if our concept of God as agent permits the idea that he can stand back and let evolution take its course, even though he is seen as the creator of nature itself, then we can reasonably speak of evolution as unguided.

I don't think this works, or at least the qualification is going to absolutely gut what most people (including evolutionary biologists) apparently mean by unguided. In fact, it doesn't seem possible to really square 'unguided' with 'scientific'.

'Evolution is unguided in the sense that it is entirely possible - and, given some philosophical arguments, even likely, or certain - that the entire thing was put into motion with foreseen and preordained operations and end-goals by a mind. It's just that these operations are automatic and not the result of on the spot tinkering.' To who is that unguided? Would Dawkins agree? Coyne? Myers? Hell, would Miller?

If 'guidedness' isn't a scientific image term, then strictly speaking, it has no place in discussing Darwinism, an element of the scientific image. Perhaps 'aguidedness' would be better.

I don't see how that's better. In fact, it seems the most judicious thing to say here is that Darwinism is completely silent on the presence or lack of guidance or design in nature by necessity, because science itself is silent on it. And the same seems to hold true for physics as well.

What we can say is that if evolution has indeed been unguided, then Darwinism offers a good account of how it occurred that way, and leave it at that.

Why? It seems you can just as well say 'if evolution has indeed been guided, then Darwinism offers a good account of how it occurred that way'.

im-skeptical said...

"Darwinism is completely silent on the presence or lack of guidance or design in nature by necessity, because science itself is silent on it."

Bullshit. Here's someone who knows something about the topic:

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/whats-the-problem-with-unguided-evolution/

Crude said...

Bullshit. Here's someone who knows something about the topic:

When Coyne unzips, Skep, you kneel. I do not.

Nowhere does Coyne point to a test, an experiment, any kind of science for his research. The entirety of his view comes down to this: 'It doesn't seem guided to him.'

Period. That's it. He talks about how it COULD look guided to him, but he has nothing to say about the scientific experiments this would entail, or much of anything else. I am not interested in the subjective and personal impressions of a near-phrenologist - and said impressions are not, and never will be, science.

Now, others around here still like to play with you. For me, you're off in Linton's category. So, I'm going to make life easier for both of us.

You claim evolution is unguided? Wonderful: provide the peer-reviewed research, the evidence, the experiment for that claim. If you do, I will enjoy tearing it to shreds before your eyes. But you won't, because it does not exist. It cannot exist, because science is helpless when it comes to that question.

If you can't provide the scientific evidence, my reply to you is simple: piss off. I don't have time for your personal demons and fear of religion.

Papalinton said...

"I don't see how that's better. In fact, it seems the most judicious thing to say here is that Darwinism is completely silent on the presence or lack of guidance or design in nature by necessity, because science itself is silent on it. And the same seems to hold true for physics as well."

And yet, apparently we have known the ultimate answer to this evolutionary process for the past 2,000 years, as plain as the nose on our face; 'goddidit'. Apparently, this known fact was set down in an anthological compendium of 66 [+ the Apocryphal addenda] booklets garnered from across the Middle East at the dawn of recorded history. And because "science itself is silent on it" one is by necessity of tradition mandatorily obliged to apply none other than the god-of-the-gaps axiom.

Can anyone spot the Gouldian NOMA move here?
Indeed how antithetical to science must one go to miss the scientifically-uninformed philosophy at play here?
Can christians even detect the ladled-on irony that heavily saturates the quoted statement?

Dave Duffy said...

Working my way through a degree in chemistry, science was taught as two things:

1.A body of knowledge claims and how those claims were demonstrated.

2.A practice and how to follow the prescribed practice to demonstrate that knowledge.

The concept of “guided” or “unguided,” to my knowledge, never came up. I was interested in those concepts at the time, so I would visit my professors in their office to ask about their understanding of these ideas. They had a wide range of personal beliefs, if they were willing to discuss them at all.

I don’t understand the new atheism hysteria over “heretics” in science. Reading the links in the linked article gave me the impression of the call for a new inquisition. Bizarre.

Crude said...

Actually, my challenge can be extended to everyone in this thread.

If you declare that science shows that evolution is unguided, then I ask you for the experiment, the peer-reviewed research that demonstrates this - where a team of scientists sat down and said 'Alright, Gentlemen. Let us now test for the guidance of God, gods, and/or any other intelligent agents in the course of evolution.'

I am not asking for the meanderings of near-phrenologists. They are welcome to their subjective views and intuitions, but such things are not science.

I am not asking for philosophy or metaphysics. I respect both, but we're talking science here - and they are not science.

Provide me this, and we'll take a nice little look at the research and see if there are flaws. That will be a pleasure.

But fail to provide me this, and the conclusion is clear: there exists no scientific evidence for this claim. In fact, there does not exist even the beginnings of a way to test for it scientifically.

Oh, and let me spell this out for the slower cultists around. The opposite of 'you have no scientific evidence for your claim' is not 'science shows that the opposite view is true'. The onus is not on me to argue that science shows that evolution is guided by God, because I deny that science is capable of showing this in either direction. I even deny that Intelligent Design is science - what power it has, and I believe it does have some intellectual force, is not scientific.

Now, let's see who provides me with the research I ask for. Better yet? Let's see, after the deafening silence, if the resident cultists change their tune and admit that science is likewise silent on the question - or if they return, with conscious dishonesty and/or cognitive dissonance, to the very claim they've made that will at that point have been shattered. All while trying desperately to change the subject.

In the words of Scott Adams: Dance, monkeys, dance!

planks length said...

Crude,

No, Crude, what is going to happen is that, after failing to produce any evidence to back up their claims, they will allow a sufficient amount of time to pass, and will then bring up the same old stale unverifiable a-scientific claims that they are in this conversation, as though none of this had ever occurred.

Watch this space. I'd bet real money on it.

Papalinton said...

Crude: "If you can't provide the scientific evidence, my reply to you is simple: piss off."

What is the scientific evidence for God's guided evolution?

Methinks this christian is truly 'speaking in tongue', not simply with ubiquitous forked tongue but a tongue that does not speak any recognizable language of a consistent measure for 'evidence', demanding from Skep a level of evidence he would never apply to his rusted-on 'god-guided evolution' concept. The evidence for 'god-guided evolution' is so low the bar sits in the dirt.

John Dewey, philosopher, eruditely and eloquently observes:

"Apologists for a religion often point to the shift that goes on in scientific ideas as evidence of the unreliability of science .... Even if the alleged unreliability were as great as they assume (or even greater), the question would remain: Have we any other recourse for knowledge? But in fact they miss the point. Science is not constituted by any particular body of subject matter. It is constituted by a method, a method of changing beliefs by means of tested inquiry .... The scientific-religious conflict ultimately is a conflict between allegiance to this method and allegiance to (any) belief so fixed in advance that it can never be modified."

im-skeptical said...

"Skep, you kneel. I do not."

No, crude kneels to Behe and Dembski. While crude is full of demands to produce evidence, he never produces any himself. I pointed to an article by a scientist who specializes in evolutionary genetics, someone who knows far more about the topic than crude can fathom, and he won't listen because Coyne is an atheist.

planks length said...

im-skeptical,

I read your link, and saw no evidence for "unguided". If I missed it, kindly copy/paste where Coyne spells out the evidence for "unguided" onto this site.

Crude said...

No, crude kneels to Behe and Dembski.

Yeah, what with my 'ID isn't science' bit. They love that, let me tell you. Do you even read what you write?

While crude is full of demands to produce evidence, he never produces any himself.

I'm not the ones making claims here, boyo. I said expressly, I don't believe science shows the universe is designed. I say science is completely silent on the question.

You made the claim. Give me what I want.

I pointed to an article by a scientist who specializes in evolutionary genetics

You gave me a blog entry by a jagoff who himself concedes his field is pretty far down on the totem pole - and he had no evidence to offer beyond subjective 'I don't think it looks designed' talk. And his subjective views are no more valuable than yours or mine.

I asked for the evidence - and you have none. No peer reviewed research, no scientific experiment.

As planks said, go ahead - copy and paste what Coyne provided. Show us his grand and glorious scientific evidence.

Dance, monkey, dance.

Papalinton said...

"The onus is not on me to argue that science shows that evolution is guided by God, because I deny that science is capable of showing this in either direction."

How wonderfully convenient is denialism a protection from scrutiny, the Harry Potter shroud of invisibility.

A bleating denial of science capable of showing this 'in either direction' does not lead by default to theism and Feserite classical scholasticism as the way of finding an answer. Of course I am making the assumption that theism and classical scholasticism forms the basis for much of Crude's reasoning and logic processes that underlies 'other ways of knowing'. Notwithstanding, these simply cannot match the level of explanatory power that methodological naturalism, the fundamental basis on which science is founded, can and does exert. They will largely remain the rejected flotsam and jetsom backwash of the religionist's mantra, 'other ways of knowing'. If science cannot know it then nothing can know it. Theistic explanations are not explanations.

Scientific explanation surges. Thomistic scholasticism, not so much. "Thomistic scholasticism in the English speaking world went into decline in the 1970s when the Thomistic revival that had been spearheaded by Jacques Maritain, Étienne Gilson, and others, diminished in influence. Partly, this was because this branch of Thomism had become a quest to understand the historical Aquinas after the Second Vatican Council. Still, those who had learned Scholastic philosophy continued to have unresolved questions about how the insights of the medieval synthesis could be applied to contemporary problems. This conversation departed from the academic environment and entered internet discussion groups such as Aquinas,[24] Christian Philosophy,[25] and Thomism,[26] and websites such as Open Philosophy,[27] where it continues today." [ And I add edwardfeser.blogspot.com/‎to that list.]

So whatever basis for denying that science is capable of showing God-guided evolution or otherwise, or of 'other ways of knowing' Crude might generally infer in his comment above, it is largely marginal, at the periphery of mainstream philosophy.

No amount of 'Dance, monkeys, dance!' triumphal chest thumping makes his position any less tenuous than it is. His views are rather silly really.

Victor Reppert said...

What kind of a God would God be if he were unable to create effects in the world independent of the laws of nature?

Victor Reppert said...

I think this is an interesting discussion, but my goodness, I wish the tone were better. I don't see how people help to persuade their opponents by insulting them.

Crude said...

planks,

One thing I'm loving here is that the only thing I'm doing is asking for 'science' to back up and justify a supposed scientific claim. I'm asking of the wannabe 'I am a big fan of science, science is great, look at me I watched Cosmos a few times therefore I know a lot about science' crowd.

And it's pissing them off!

Like, how DARE I ask for peer-reviewed research and an experiment to support a given supposedly scientific claim. A blog entry about the subjective judgment call from an atheist activist whose estimation of his own field should be enough!

Victor,

I think this is an interesting discussion, but my goodness, I wish the tone were better. I don't see how people help to persuade their opponents by insulting them.

I'm not trying to persuade Skep or, God help me, Linton. Some people cannot be convinced, so why bother? My entry into this thread was polite but pointed responses to Brightly, and as usual the resident anklebiters tried to bite my ankles. They're not trying to convince anyone either - they are fighting phantoms that haunt their minds. Others are more worth the time.

Victor Reppert said...

Yes, pick those battles.

planks length said...

I really hope David Brightly is still checking in on this conversation. I'm genuinely interested in his thoughts, as a physics teacher, on what Lewis said in The Discarded Image (see my comment at 7:29 AM).

planks length said...

"they are fighting phantoms that haunt their minds"

Very perceptive, Crude. I strongly suspect you are right.

Papalinton said...

Crude: "I'm not the ones making claims here, boyo. I said expressly, I don't believe science shows the universe is designed. I say science is completely silent on the question.
You made the claim. Give me what I want."


Oh! How I love the irony by which crude demands, ""I'm not the ones making claims here, boyo. .... You made the claim. Give me what I want."

"God exists"
Now who is it that monotonously intones this claim or that of a three-day old putrescent cadaver revivifying, over and over and over ad nauseam? And when challenged to provide the evidence, as they are making the claim, the religionist retorts, "Prove that he doesn't/it didn't".

Just another droll and tiring mash of phantasmagoria and an illustration of a christian 'speaking in tongue', the equivocal forked-tongue, unable to intellectually recognise the circular nature of theo-sophist argument.

But I must say I am heartened by the continuing trending patterns in research and surveys of the wider community that clearly demonstrate a significant shift in public consciousness away from the dubious and unsubstantiated claims of theism even those that remotely correspond with or model the realities of life and the human condition. It is a mark of growing up, a maturation of the human mind. But as we know from empirical scientific research we do not all reach maturity at the same rate or at the same time. Some allowances must be made for those of us that remain attached to umbilical cord of theism.

im-skeptical said...

In deference to Victor, I will attempt to avoid going too far off the rail, although you must admit it’s a bit difficult whenever crude is involved in the discussion.

Crude is clever, I must say. He says he doesn’t believe ID is science, and therefore he he has plausible deniability on the claim that he kneels to Behe and Dembski. Yet he still believes everything they write (with the possible exception that it is science).

He also knows perfectly well that he’s safe in making an unreasonable demand, because the scientific literature doesn’t discuss ‘guidedness’. Why not? Because there is no need to. The theory of evolution does describe the mechanisms of evolution, though, and they include RANDOM mutations of the genome and NATURAL selection of the survivable mutations. This is antithetical to any kind if guided selection, and that’s what crude refuses to acknowledge. But Coyne is well aware of these mechanisms, and he has published statements about the ‘natural’ aspect of natural selection. “... That’s why it’s called natural selection, not supernatural selection or simply selection.” The unguided aspect of natural selection is implicit.

“he had no evidence to offer beyond subjective 'I don't think it looks designed' talk”

I also pointed to a couple of books (one by Coyne) that do offer evidence and discuss the issue at great length, providing solid rationale for the theory. Go ahead and read it.

Papalinton said...

Plank
""they are fighting phantoms that haunt their minds"
Very perceptive, Crude. I strongly suspect you are right."


And what phantom would that be? A billion people will tell you Ganesha, the elephant-headed god exists, is real, and is an interventionist force in the world. Is that a phantom? And what makes your jesus-god phantom any more believable than Ganesha? or Shiva, or Brahma, or Vishnu, or Xenu or any other God phantom that you simply wave away as inconsequential?

When you have grown to intellectual maturity with insight and capacity to know and understand why it is that you and I rightly reject every god as phantoms, you will then know and understand why it is that I use the same standard of evidence to reject the existence of a jesus-god as the progenitor of the universe.

The jesus-god phantom is the elephant in the room here. And no amount of Apologetical prevaricating will assuage the reasonable person nor the reasonable mind to think of it as anything other than a fictitious phantom.

Crude said...

Skep,

I also pointed to a couple of books (one by Coyne) that do offer evidence and discuss the issue at great length, providing solid rationale for the theory. Go ahead and read it.

Already did. Do you realize 'An evolutionary biologist saying that he doesn't think X looks designed' isn't 'scientific evidence'? Do you realize 'Biological organism/feature X, I can think of better ways to design it / I think it's inefficient / etc!' is not 'scientific evidence'?

You say you read the book. Okay, Skep - provide the evidence that you insist is there. Quote it. You seem strangely reluctant to do so.

See, once again - I'm not exactly engaging in any tricks here. It's been suggested not only that there is no design in evolution, that there is no guidance, but that this has been established by science. I made a very reasonable request: give me the evidence. What was the research? What was the experiment?

All you've given me is a link to a blog and vague gesturing in the direction of books that you can't even bring yourself to quote. That's not encouraging. You say 'Random mutations! NATURAL selection!', but A) you don't understand what the word 'random' means there. If you say 'there was no foresight, no guidance by God or gods or any designer!', then you're question begging - and I'm right back to asking you for the evidence, and B) 'NATURAL selection' is irrelevant here, since if the acts of selection were foreseen and preordained, then it's in the 'guided' column anyway.

So how do you determine what acts of nature were or were not preordained or foreseen? How do you tell that this or that selection outcome wasn't intended?

What is the test? Where is the research? Why are the two resident wannabe defenders of science shitting their pants and freaking out in the face of these simple questions?

Dance, monkeys, dance.

Crude said...

By the way, another thing to consider about Coyne.

Coyne is making it clear that he is fighting tooth and nail not merely against 'supernaturalists' on this front - but fellow atheists and naturalists. The opposition comes, in part, from men like Elliot Sober, from Massimo Pigliucci, and more.

Yet Coyne never says 'I have an experiment/research that shows I'm right and they're wrong and that evolution IS unguided!' Why doesn't he pull out those big guns and settle the matter?

It's almost as if he can't, because that option is unavailable to him.

But prove me wrong. Give me the research, give me the experiment.

Why are you delaying on this front, gents? Why do you say 'It's in a book somewhere that I can't quote!'? Why can't you give me the science?

Dance, monkeys, dance.

Papalinton said...

Victor
Skeps 'bullshit' comment was not directed at Crude but to the nonsense that he attempted to inveigle with his exegesis on the silence of science on 'guided/unguided' evolution. And Skep was perfectly entitled to robustly refute such nonsense claims with a cite to Coyne, a pre-eminent evolutionary biological scientist.

The tone dramatically fell away immediately Crude threw out the precipitate "Dance, monkeys, dance". Every other comment can clearly be seen to be a response to Crude's sociopathic belligerence and the malignant character of his commentary, "Dance, monkeys, dance".

The date stamps on the commentary is without contention as to which comment fomented this free-for-all race to the bottom.

Your protection of and obsequious supplication to crude makes you no less an enabler and contributor to the promulgation of Crude's bile.


Crude said...

Man, you gotta love it. Crude is a this, Crude is a that, me hate'm Crude!

So much anger, gentlemen. So much hate, and fury, and... worry, perhaps? Fragility?

Yet so very little science.

All I asked for, all I wanted, was scientific research - peer reviewed papers, experiments - to back up your claims. Such a strange thing to count as a sin. A curious thing to cause so much distress.

Am I really dealing with brave heralds of the Enlightenment here?

Dance, monkeys, dance.

im-skeptical said...

Just this one time, crude. Because you're such an ass, it will ever happen again.

"Darwin looked beyond the obvious,
suggesting—and supporting with copious evidence—two ideas that forever dispelled the idea of deliberate design. Those ideas were evolution and natural selection."

(Now watch him claim that I googled it.)

Crude said...

Skep,

—and supporting with copious evidence

Wonderful.

Where. Is. This. Evidence.

Not evidence for evolution. I grant that here.

Not evidence for mutations, not evidence for common descent, not evidence for natural selection, not evidence for this particular bug being related to that particular bug.

Where is this evidence - the scientific evidence, the research, the experiments - that show evolution is unguided?

Do you realize it's not enough to say 'Coyne says it's unguided', especially when Coyne is locked in a struggle with other atheist biologists over that very subject?

I'm not asking for Coyne's say-so. Or Dawkins'. Or, for that matter, anyone else's. I want scientific evidence. Peer-reviewed research.

Why can't you give me it, Skep? Why do you come at me with a single irrelevant quote about Jerry Coyne's feelings? Why does the science never get delivered?

Dance, monkeys, dance.

Cale B.T. said...

Skep, I think some of the difficulties around this issue arise from a conflation of two senses of design.

If somebody rolls a dice 1000 times, and rolls a 3 every time, I would suspect that the dice has been loaded, so there is design or “guidance” in this sense.

Now, if I go to roll a normal unloaded dice, then I have a 1/6 chance of getting a particular side, right?

And, if God, as classically conceived, exists, then He infallibily foreknows and (in some sense) fore-ordained what the outcome will be, even if this event can be represented as the interplay of chance and necessity . And so, there is guidance in this second sense.

I suspect that statements about the allegedly blind and unguided nature of evolution, are often meant to deny design in the first sense. I don't think that genetics and suchlike actually tell us anything about whether “evolution is unguided” in the second sense.

BTW Paps or im-skeptical, I’m quite happy to have a debate on my blog about this topic if you’d like to suggest a format.

im-skeptical said...

Cale B.T.,

"And, if God, as classically conceived, exists, then He infallibily foreknows and (in some sense) fore-ordained what the outcome will be"

I understand, but then you have to ask what is the outcome that was foreseen? Was it literally millions of species struggling for survival and ultimately dieing out? Was it parasites that infest their bodies and eat them from the inside? Or was it ultimately us humans? But we evolve, too. So is it our current form? Or is it something that we have not yet evolved to?

Actually, evolution never stops. Is it all just a game?

Cale B.T. said...

Hold on now. Earlier in this thread, you wrote:

"The theory of evolution does describe the mechanisms of evolution, though, and they include RANDOM mutations of the genome and NATURAL selection of the survivable mutations. This is antithetical to any kind of guided selection"

(My emphasis)

Do you now concede that the strength or weakness of the evidence for RM and NS has no bearing on design in the second sense of the word?

im-skeptical said...

Cale B.T.,

The point I was making is that if God has preordained everything in our world, it is utterly indistinguishable from what is to be expected if the whole thing had no guidance at all. He simply establishes the laws of physics and lets things roll on their own, knowing what will happen? Most of it is absolutely pointless. Is this really the outcome that he desires? The suffering of billions and billions of animals? Just let physics run its course and this is what happens. I should think that if God is in charge, he could manage to do a bit better than that.

Cale B.T. said...

If we have two possible scenarios:
1. I roll my unloaded dice. God exists and infallibly foreknows and fore-ordains the result.
2. I roll my unloaded dice. God doesn't exist.

I think that those two scenarios are indistinguishable scientifically. You're now trying to introduce a new objection, that of animal suffering and extinction, but I'd like you to give a straight answer to my question:

Do you now concede that the strength or weakness of the evidence for RM and NS has no bearing on design in the second sense of the word?

im-skeptical said...

Cale B.T.,

I do not concede that the 'second sense' you refer to is anything but unguided evolution.

Two scenarios:
1. God exists and lets nature take its course.
2. God doesn't exist and nature takes its course.

Both cases are identical. God's involvement is superfluous. He's not part of the equation.

Crude said...

Cale,

1. I roll my unloaded dice. God exists and infallibly foreknows and fore-ordains the result.
2. I roll my unloaded dice. God doesn't exist.

I think that those two scenarios are indistinguishable scientifically.


Exactly. In fact, I think 1 is even worse - it doesn't need to be the God of classical theism. You're still in the situation of having to find a way to detect guidance or the lack of it in evolution - and better yet, do it not just for evolutionary processes now, but historically. Moot, since there is no test on offer for any of it.

All of the talk about 'But evolution is painful! Things have gone extinct!' are irrelevant, and more than that, they aren't scientific objections. They're subjective ones, or at best philosophical ones. And we're not doing philosophy.

I've asked for the science, I've asked for the research. No one is supplying it, because it does not exist - and if it did exist, it would be trivial to take apart and destroy in this combox.

Which is precisely why even numerous atheists point out that claims about evolution being unguided, purposeless, etc are non-scientific.

Dance, monkeys, dance.

Cale B.T. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cale B.T. said...

"Both cases are identical."

In terms of scientific data, yes. Both dice will have the same temperature, velocity etc.

In terms of truth, they are radically different scenarios.

I notice you still didn't answer my question. I'll get that blood out of that stone, though, I swear!

With the qualification that you don't think this is accurately characterised as "guidance", do you now concede that the strength or weakness of the evidence for RM and NS has no bearing on whether God infallibly foreknows and foreordains the biological process that have occurred in our world?

planks length said...

Off topic, but just to put the lie to those who continually predict the imminent end of Christianity, THIS ARTICLE shows how wrong they can be.

Just like Loftus said, the Truth will always win out in a level marketplace of ideas.

Samwell Barnes said...

"I've asked for the science, I've asked for the research. No one is supplying it, because it does not exist."

It cannot exist.

Science can no more settle the question of "guidance" (in the broad, theistic sense) than it can settle the question of the Riemann hypothesis.

This is a category error made by people who understand neither the nature of science nor the nature of philosophy.

Cale B.T. said...

Going back to the topic of the OP, Todd Wood, a YEC biologist who teaches at a conservative Christian University in the United States, recently wrote:

"...the department chair took me aside and shared with me the results from the latest standardized testing of the senior biology majors. The test splits up their scores in four categories: cell, organismal, genetics, and evolution. To my absolute delight, Bryan College students scored in the 99th percentile - in the evolution category! That was their highest category too. Uh oh! Who's been teaching them evolution? Well, that would be me. The class I'm teaching this semester is called "History of Life," which is just a euphemism for evolutionary biology. I teach straight from Freeman and Herron's Evolutionary Analysis, and we read Darwin's Origin of Species during the class. The students know my position on origins, and when appropriate, I bring in creationist commentary. But for the most part, it's straight evolutionary biology. The 99th percentile means they're outperforming most students taught by actual evolutionists."

im-skeptical said...

"With the qualification that you don't think this is accurately characterised as "guidance", do you now concede that the strength or weakness of the evidence for RM and NS has no bearing on whether God infallibly foreknows and foreordains the biological process that have occurred in our world?"

So stipulating that evolution is unguided and life forms are not designed by any intelligent agent, I would say that, in itself, says nothing about whether there might be some God who sets things in motion and even knows what will happen. What it does say is that such a God shows callous indifference toward the creatures of this world.

Ilíon said...

VR: "I think this is an interesting discussion, but my goodness, I wish the tone were better."

It's logically impossible to have a discussion with a dishonest man.


VR: "I don't see how people help to persuade their opponents by insulting them."

"You're stupid" is a pointless insult.

"You're dishonest" is a factual claim, which may or may not be true. If it is false or even unfounded, it is probably a lie, or possibly a pointless insult; if it is true, then it is true.

If it is true, then there can be no progress, no discussion, until the dishonesty is rectified.

At the same time, some of these accusations flying back and forth are rather hypocritical, given the parties making them.

Karl Grant said...

Skeppy,

What it does say is that such a God shows callous indifference toward the creatures of this world.

So the computer programmers that built that evolutionary program showed a callous indifference to whither or not that program worked, even though their jobs were on the line, because it had a random variance built in where they couldn't predict the output to an exact detail? The biologists who commissioned it were callously indifferent to the program getting built, even though it was going to be used to test their theories, because it had a random variance built in it?

Ilíon said...

I'll-say-anything: "What it does say is that such a God shows callous indifference toward the creatures of this world."

Karl Grant: "So the computer programmers that built that evolutionary program showed a callous indifference to ..."

A better way to put this might be: "What it does say is that such a [programmer] shows callous indifference toward the [digital] creatures of [his simulation-]world."

Or, how about this: "What it does say is that such a[n author] shows callous indifference toward the [literary] creatures of [his novel's] world."

Think of all the rational beings whom JRR Tolkien (or Steven King) "murdered" just to entertain you. Think of all the murders of all the rational beings in which you participated by reading Tolkien (or King).

========
God's *purpose* isn't to make his rational-creatures happy -- a cow, chewing its cud, is happy -- his purpose is to make his creatures *real*.

It is though Tolkien had the ability to "pull" characters from Middle-Earth into this world, making them real. It would be one thing for him to make Frodo real, and quite another to make Gollum real. Even if he fails at it, Frodo desires to be good; Gollum does not.

Crude said...

Claims about the character of God on the assumption He did make the universe and/or guide its outcomes are not scientific claims at all - much less are they tests against design. The same goes for the purported inefficiency of this or that natural process, or the pain, or the evil, or much anything else along those lines.

It was claimed that science reveals a world without design. That science - the peer reviewed research, the experiments - was requested. You'd think it would have been easy to supply for how many times it's been claimed that 'science shows' this or that.

What does it say about various defenders of science, or certain evolutionary biologists, when it turns out that the thing they've repeatedly argued or suggested that 'science shows' not only has never been shown by science, but can't be?

Legion of Logic said...

Crude, it's not exactly a huge surprise that atheists consistently fail to show evidence of their claims. They love being on offense, but they completely suck on defense. That's why they avoid the question or change the subject.

Crude said...

Legion,

I admit that I am pointing out the all too obvious here, but really, that's 99% of conversations with gnus anyway. Agreed about the offense/defense thing.

im-skeptical said...

I suppose it doesn't matter what evidence exists or what I say. The superstitious science deniers would reject it on the basis that science can't possibly address the question of supernatural design because they say it is outside the scope of scientific investigation. They fully understand that the moment they let science out of the little cage they have constructed for it, their superstition crumbles away. And they are deathly afraid of that eventuality. But it's coming, whether they like it or not.

You irrational worshipers of science, you haters of God, you gnus - just keep away from our God. We already know the truth. We don't need to hear what science has to say about it. And we're not about to listen.

David Brightly said...

Hello Planks, I'm afraid I haven't read The Discarded Image, but I'm interested in the idea that I get from Sellars and Quine that we each live inside a thought world that we try to keep consistent under the impact of new experience. I see consistency in a thought world a bit like consistency in a novel. It must all hang together even though large parts may be false or ungrounded. I have an old friend who is a professional medievalist (history rather than literature) and he'd be delighted if I were to take an interest in his period!

I have to say I'm rather uncomfortable with the idea of the 'Laws of Nature'. It's a metaphor, of course, but it seems to connote the wrong ideas. But Feynman was happy to talk about the laws of physics and we are stuck with the term now. I think the laws are descriptive rather than prescriptive. Philosopher of science Nancy Cartwright has a book called Why the laws of physics lie, so I guess she rejects the prescriptive view too.

Crude said...

I suppose it doesn't matter what evidence exists or what I say.

We're never going to know if you keep failing to provide the evidence, are we?

Here we are now, day two. Where is the science? Where is the research? Why was the biggest of your big guns - your ace in the hole - nothing more than the subjective, non-scientific nattering from a near-phrenologist on his blog and in his book? Why couldn't you roll out science?

We both know why. In fact, everyone in this thread knows why.

You irrational worshipers of science,

Worshiper of science? You're no such thing. This thread alone helps illustrate your grasp of it and your love of it.

Look at what you're reduced to. Threats and prophecy. Why? Because someone dared to ask you to give scientific evidence for an explicitly scientific claim, and you couldn't deliver? You should be thanking the people of this thread. 'Hey guys, you're right. I thought science showed this, but it didn't. Now I know.' Instead you're just angry.

Behold, the army of the Enlightenment. These are the warriors that shall lead mankind to The Truth. Their weapons are many, but mostly 'petulance, blog comments, and links to unimpressive atheist blog articles'.

But shockingly little science.

Ilíon said...

Cale B.T.: "Going back to the topic of the OP, Todd Wood, a YEC biologist who teaches at a conservative Christian University in the United States, recently wrote:

"... The 99th percentile means they're outperforming most students taught by actual evolutionists."
"

That's actually not all that surprising. DarwinDeniers – including those woefully ignorant and brainwashed YECs – frequently understand ‘modern evolutionary theory’ better than DarwinDefenders.

im-skeptical said...

"DarwinDeniers – including those woefully ignorant and brainwashed YECs – frequently understand ‘modern evolutionary theory’ better than DarwinDefenders."

Here's a more reasonable perspective:

http://www.skepticink.com/smilodonsretreat/2014/03/29/teachers-increase-misconceptions-about-evolution/

By the way, Cale B.T., I applaud you.

Legion of Logic said...

I love all the claims that scientific knowledge will inevitably destroy belief in God. Only someone who is ideologically and emotionally committed to atheism could ever make this claim with a straight face. I'm still waiting to hear this devastating science that will destroy my belief in God, but despite all my reading of biology, physics, astronomy, etc, I have yet to find anything that even remotely contradicts the idea of a creator, let alone makes one unnecessary.

planks length said...

Legion,

It won't stop them from trying. Remember J.R.R. Tolkien's words, "Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again."

Or even better, recall St. John the Evangelist's words: "In [Jesus] was ... the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness has not understood it."

Cale B.T. said...

Thanks for your applause, im-skeptical.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

Legion says, "I love all the claims that scientific knowledge will inevitably destroy belief in God."

Not a chance. Because belief in God is arrived at through emotion and feeling and the salve of psychological comfort. It is not open to rational and dispassionate discourse. It is a state of being, not a state of understanding. And there will always be those to which a Deepak Chopra or a pope will be appealing.

Papalinton said...

Plank: "Remember J.R.R. Tolkien's words, "Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again."
Or even better, recall St. John the Evangelist's words: "In [Jesus] was ... the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness has not understood it."


I'll see your two:
"Religions are like fireflies. They require the darkness in order to shine" Schopenhauer, philosopher

"In dark ages people are best guided by religion, as in a pitch-black night a blind man is the best guide ... When daylight comes, however, it is foolish to use, blind old men as guides" Heinrich Heine, German-Jewish poet; converted to Protestantism in order to teach university, one of the many professions closed to Jews. His leadership in the Young Germany movement [no, not the Hitler Youth movement] led to his books being banned in Germany. In 1933 they were burned.

And I raise you two:
"There is in every village a torch: the schoolmaster - and an extinguisher: the parson." Victor Hugo

"The last superstition of the human mind is the superstition that religion in itself is a good thing." Sam P Putnam, former Congregationalist minister. [The Last Superstition, Hah! Ed Feser, eat your heart out]

And finally:
"God required his son to suffer in order to save the world. That is an image of God as a child abuser, and Jesus is imaged as the perfect victim. He accepts the abuse and does it silently. He is praised in his religious community for accepting abuse as the highest form of love ... If [this is] the virtue of god's son ... how is the victim of the priest's abuse going to find a justification for raising a protest? .... How is the church going to see the perpetrators of abuse clearly if it can't see its own conceptualization of god as abuser?" Rebecca Ann Parker, American professor of theology, Ordained United Methodist and Unitarian Universalist minister.

Cale B.T. said...

Papalinton, if you would like to have a formal debate on the morality of the atonement or the relationship between Christianity and science, I'm happy to engage you.

David Brightly said...

Hello Crude,

DB: So if our concept of God as agent permits the idea that he can stand back and let evolution take its course, even though he is seen as the creator of nature itself, then we can reasonably speak of evolution as unguided.

C: I don't think this works, or at least the qualification is going to absolutely gut what most people (including evolutionary biologists) apparently mean by unguided. In fact, it doesn't seem possible to really square 'unguided' with 'scientific'.

Well, yes, much hangs on what we understand by '(un)guided'. My comment at 5:59 AM (do wish Blogger numbered comments) was an attempt to understand Victor at 4:18 PM, where he supposes that 'God does not interfere with the universe throughout the process of speciation'. I had hoped it would prove uncontroversial! It certainly fits with my notion of 'unguided'. Can you explain why you think it doesn't 'work'?

David Brightly said...

Hello Cale, At 10:42 PM, you said

If we have two possible scenarios:
1. I roll my unloaded dice. God exists and infallibly foreknows and fore-ordains the result.
2. I roll my unloaded dice. God doesn't exist.
I think that those two scenarios are indistinguishable scientifically.


Presumably you think that these two situations are distinguishable somehow, but that 'scientific distinguishing' is a restricted or limited kind of distinguishing that lacks the full resolving power, as it were, of unqualified distinguishing. Could you make this a bit clearer for us?

Crude said...

David,

Can you explain why you think it doesn't 'work'?

When you talk about 'nature taking its course', you're talking about it taking a course that God foreknows, even forewills. Granted, you can say that this happened eternity ago or outside of time, but at the end of that day you're still dealing with exactly that. It's 'guided' in every conventional sense of the word, unless you're stipulating that God has no idea what nature will do next, etc. Which, again, is going to run far afield of what science can possibly hope to test and demonstrate.

I think the problem here is thinking there must be one of two 'stances' that science/a scientist has to take on the subject re science: 'Nature is guided' or 'Nature is unguided'. I think there's a third category: 'We have no idea whether nature is guided or unguided. The entire question is outside of scientific consideration.' This goes equally for physics as it does for evolution.

Talk about God 'not interfering with the process of speciation' has two senses it could be understood in: 'God engages in no proximate, active intervention' and 'God has no idea what the results of speciation will be, had no role in orchestrating them at any level, does not foresee them, etc'. The former could obtain while nature is still ultimately 'guided'. The latter could not, but good luck advancing that claim via science. And yet I think it's clear Coyne, etc, would sooner choke than restrict themselves to the former - because that would mean evolution (insofar as science alone is concerned) is entirely compatible with guidance and ultimately design.

Cale B.T. said...

@Dave

"'scientific distinguishing' is a restricted or limited kind of distinguishing that lacks the full resolving power, as it were, of unqualified distinguishing."

That's what I was getting at, yes.

Papalinton said...

The reality is that nature would take its natural course regardless of and without foreknowledge and fore-willing of any god construct. The superfluity of the god hypothesis is best illustrated by the bewildering array of supernatural hero-warrior archetypes humans have imagined [including jesus-god] matched only by the bewildering variety of cultures out of which these god-like icons were spawned. Which is the right god? The muslims say Allah, the Hindus say Shiva or Ganesha or Brahma, the christian says jesus-god, the Australian Aborigines say the Great Serpent of the Dreamtime, the Egyptians said Osiris and Isis, the Romans said Mithra, and the scientologists say Xenu. The god-hypothesis is an irrelevancy to any discourse on nature.

And people are slowly beginning to understand the nonsense that falls under the rubric of theism, christianity no less so.

Cale B.T. said...

You obviously want to discuss this topic, so how about that debate, papalinton?

Papalinton said...

Cale B T
"You obviously want to discuss this topic, so how about that debate, papalinton?"

Ohh I don't think a debate would be of any value or worth. Your initial premise of the actuality of a jesus-god atonement is mythos with no historical grounding. The leap of faith from the Romans having might executed a disgruntled insurrectionist and dumping his body to a vicarious atonement of all of humanity's 'sins' is a Dan Brown-like saga of immense hubris. You will appreciate and acknowledge my position once you understand why it is that both you and I, equally, reject the fable of Shiva's divine atonement or the veracity of the existence of the Angel Moroni and the Golden Tablets of Mormonism.

Here is the Atonement of Shiva: "Bhikshatana is considered a gentler form of Shiva's fierce aspect Bhairava and a gentle phase between Bhairava's two gruesome forms, one of which decapitates the god Brahma and the other of which murders the god Vishnu's gatekeeper.[4] Bhikshatana is the form of Bhairava that Shiva assumes to atone for his sin of severing Brahma's fifth head. He wanders the universe in the form of a naked Kapali mendicant, begging for alms with Brahma's kapala (skullcap) as his begging bowl, until his sin is expiated upon reaching the holy city of Varanasi."

So which is the truth? The truth of Shiva's atonement or the truth of jesus-god's atonement? And remember just as a billion catholics believe in the jesus-god atonement so too do a billion Hindus believe in the atonement of Shiva, for whom the expatiation continues unfulfilled because He has yet to reach the Holy City of Varanasi. Which of these two strongly and equally reverent and fervently held beliefs should humanity chose as THE correct story, the one and only universal truth?

I've been a Chrisian, Cale, I know it inside out. I didn't lose my faith. I grew up, matured and set aside childish things, the belief in supernatural superheros being one of them. You would do well to face Islam front on and Hinduism and mormonism and attempt to convince them of the truth of Christianity and why it is far superior to all other belief systems that are ..... well, just wrong. Right?




Cale B.T. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cale B.T. said...

As for the question of religious pluralism, I'd love to debate you on this topic. So why not do so? You obviously think that discussing these issues is worthwhile enough to keep on posting about them in Reppert's comments, but, in case you hadn't noticed, few people respond to you anymore. And, it's not as if you don't have the time to do this.

How about it?

planks length said...

Cale,

There's actually a logical fallacy called "The One True Religion" fallacy, in which a person (erroneously) concludes that, since all religions cannot be true, it follows that none of them are. A child could spot the flaw in such reasoning.

To make it crystal clear: Let's say I hide a bean under one of three cups. Reasoning according to the One True Religion fallacy, since the bean cannot possibly be under all three cups, it must therefore be under none of them.

im-skeptical said...

"To make it crystal clear: Let's say I hide a bean under one of three cups. Reasoning according to the One True Religion fallacy, since the bean cannot possibly be under all three cups, it must therefore be under none of them."

Oh, well that proves it. Hinduism is true after all. To make it crystal clear: I've looked at the "cup" of Christianity very carefully, and examined it from many angles. No bean there.

On the other hand, maybe the fallacy is in your dumb little example. You make the assertion that there is in fact a bean. I don't think so.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Brightly said...

Cale, I was hoping you would tell us why you thought scientific distinguishing was limited in this way.

Crude, I think we have moved to discussing the metaphysics of 'guidance', or even, given that our guiding agent is God, the theology of 'guidance'. Now I'm not sure how theological argument is supposed to go but I'll give it a try. Suppose we say that 'nature takes its course' by virtue of God's will, knowledge, and act. In a word, through God's 'guidance'. I think this stretches the conventional sense of 'guidance' too far, but let's accept this as 'guidance', for the sake of argument. My thought is that the conventional sense of 'guidance' necessarily reappears. For part of our concept of God is that he orders the world in a way we find comprehensible. We try to capture this ordering in our notion of the laws of nature. If there are to be miracles then we must see these as exceptions to the laws of nature---else they could be assimilated to the laws and would no longer be miraculous. And so we arrive at the idea of God's 'guiding' the world, in the normal sense of the word, in his working of miracles. Take away this sense of 'guiding' and we lose the sense of 'miracle'.

Secondly, I don't see the connection between guidance and knowledge, that you emphasise. Ordinary guidance can occur without knowledge of what will happen without it. Guidance is usually given when expectations are high of things going wrong if the guidance is not given. How does this square with God's omniscience? What is he supposed to know? Is it the future without his intervention; or is it the future with his intervention; or is it that he knows how the future would depend on his intervention, a kind of if--then--else conditional? But this objection assumes God's guidance is ordinary guidance, of course, so you are free to reject it. Nevertheless, the knowledge connection is unclear to me.

Papalinton said...

"On the other hand, maybe the fallacy is in your dumb little example. You make the assertion that there is in fact a bean. I don't think so."

Perhaps there is a bean under the 'cup' of christianity. I do recall a very similar narrative of a bean thrown out the window only to grow and connect to another dimension, which one could climb, into a world of giants and golden eggs.

Do they come from the same .....?
Naahh. One of them has got to be a myth. To adjudicate, I think I'll raise the question with an African traditional tribal religious believer, someone still practicing a living religion that is much closer to that which was originally practiced by our European ancestors, someone not tainted with the bias of today's concepts.

HERE is a truly enlightening and informative overview of African Traditional Tribal Religions that are as deeply held and reverentially practiced as Christianity to its believers. What makes the christian belief system any the truer and these African traditional tribal religions false or misguided? On what basis? By what criteria?

Two millennia of positivist apologetics does not make christian claims any more valid or substantive or factual than that of African religions. Both are social products of the cultural milieu from which they were spawned.

Cale B.T. said...

Truly, papalinton, I don't know why you wouldn't take this opportunity.

In this thread alone, you've mentioned
-the relationship between Christianity and science
-the morality of the atonement
-religious pluralism
- the nature of truth

The only reason you've given against this proposal is that you don't think a debate would be of any value or worth. Right, so a debate is "unfruitful", but endlessly derailing threads and spamming links in this combox for the rest of your retirement is?

It seems to me that, contra your denials, like you really do want to discuss these topics, so why not do in an extended manner? This is a golden opportunity for you to show just how finely crafted your arguments are.

im-skeptical said...

Cale B.T.,

May I ask, why are you so anxious to have a formal debate? I certainly enjoy discussion in a conversational manner, but I'm not so keen on the idea of procedural restrictions.

Cale B.T. said...

Linton poses his arguments as if they are unanswerable criticisms which no Christian has ever heard before (because if they had, then how could they still be Christians?).

If they really are that powerful, then they can withstand scrutiny. Having a structured exchange on a narrowly specified question prevents one from leapfrogging from topic to topic, mindlessly hyperlinking to the first result from Google.

im-skeptical said...

"Linton poses his arguments as if they are unanswerable criticisms which no Christian has ever heard before (because if they had, then how could they still be Christians?)."

I think there's a lot of that to go around.

Crude said...

Cale,

Since the resident science-haters are also showing themselves to be resident cowards as well, I - part in humor, part in seriousness - will try to help you out.

How would you like to debate me instead?

Granted, we're both theists, etc. But I propose a topic of my own: I will defend the proposition that the Cult of Gnu are not intellectually or ethically worthy of dialogue nor debate. You can - since you really and truly seem to believe otherwise - take the opposite view.

Probably not your cup of tea, and it's certainly far afield from what you were aiming for - but the offer stands. This convo is starting to slide off Victor's front page slowly but surely, so if you accept or are interested, please let me know on my blog.

Papalinton said...

Cale,
"As for the question of religious pluralism, I'd love to debate you on this topic. So why not do so? You obviously think that discussing these issues is worthwhile enough to keep on posting about them in Reppert's comments, but, in case you hadn't noticed, few people respond to you anymore."

I was not able to respond earlier. Indeed I had almost completed a response to you when your God invoked an electrical blackout and my comment was consigned to the aether. Lucky for me God wasn't able to wipe all of it from my memory and I recall much of what He didn't want me to publish. That's if you believe that God caused our regional blackout to prevent me from commenting. I mean, my reasoning seems to comfortably fit with what most believers feel how God influences their lives in managing their day-to-day thoughts and actions.

Religious pluralism?
You misread me terribly. Religious pluralism is a musical score for cacophony in B♭, E#, C major and D♭ combined. Religious pluralism is the most contemporary of apologetical attempts, and retreat from the centuries-long christian held position, that a number of concurrent religious worldviews can equally be valid and/or acceptable. It envisages religious pluralism as more than just tolerance, and that there are multiple paths to God or gods . Religious pluralism is the thwarted attempt to contrast the idea that there is only one true religion or way to know God and to mitigate the reality of 'exclusivism' for which religions are infamously and ubiquitously renowned.
Religious pluralism means in essence Christians believe that Ganesha, the elephant god is as real and as justified a belief as a belief in jesus christ is to christians in knowing god. But which god? Yahwah or Shiva? Allah or Vishnu? Do christians firmly believe this? I say, Hardly. I say, only the rhetoric.

Cont.

Papalinton said...

CONT.
In regard of you comment of few people responding to my contributions, there is history. A cabal of christians collectively decided to play 'no-speakies' with me on the pretense that I was rude and mean, and discourteous to their belief system. When I look up the togas of Gods that is regarded as disrespectful. But then anything I might challenge about their belief system will seem an affront for those that divide their world and lives into the sacred and the profane, a world in which it is verboten, politically incorrect, and out-of-bounds to challenge the sacred. To challenge the sacred is seen as abuse of the believer's own character, their personhood, an 'egregious' personal affront. So strong are the beliefs held believers are unable to and incapable of disengaging their beliefs as a system from their personal identity. When one scrutinizes faith and belief, it can appear to be rough, and disrespectful. Prof David Eller, "When one studies religion, whether historically, sociologically, psychologically, anthropologically, and so on, one can do trivial things like count worshippers in church or evaluate their voting habits. this generates a certain amount and kind of information about religion, or at least religious behaviour. But most influential students or religion have wanted to do much more, namely, provide a theory of religion, give an explanation of religion. What does it mean to 'explain religion'? The one thing it does not mean is to take it at face value - to respect its claims, its authority, its boundaries. If one were to explain scientifically some ritual or ritual in general, what one would not would be explain it as true: "Those people do that rain-making ritual because it really does make it rain.""

Pulling down statues and scriptures to give them a good look over, is appreciated as a disrespectful (and entirely warranted and desirable) thing, but it is not always so easily grasped that explanation itself is a disrespectful thing as well.

I challenge belief systems for what they are, emotional, social, psychological, anthropological, historical and cultural constructs of the most terrestrially-bound kind. Sacred is solely a theological concept that is not part of the vocabulary of the sciences.

I continue to comment here as a reality check and foil to the simulacrum of religious belief.

Cale B.T. said...

"Religious pluralism is the most contemporary of apologetical attempts"

By mentioning it, I wasn't advancing a specific opinion on this subject, but I see that didn't stop you engaging in another bout of free-association.

You clearly do want to discuss this issue.

"A cabal of christians collectively decided to play 'no-speakies' with me on the pretense that I was rude and mean, and discourteous to their belief system"

Funnny, I seem to remember it being largely because you don't actually engage people properly.

And, of course, that whole copying and pasting from the internet and passing it off as your own writing thing. And being caught out wrongly accusing Ed Feser of plagiarism in an utterly idiotic fashion. And the list goes on...

But, here's my offer: be as rude as you like in the debate. Let me have it. Your choice of word count and any length of time to respond.

What's your reason for refusing ?

im-skeptical said...

So Cale shows his colors. Shows us by his own example how to engage people properly. That's how you get someone to debate you.

Papalinton said...

Cale
It seems when one scratches a Cale B T, a Crude morphs from the lesion.

What you assert as 'a bout of free-association' and earlier described as my "endlessly derailing threads and spamming links in this combox" are the clearest and latest of research on religion, religiosity and religious belief, from sociology, anthropology, psychology, history, archeology, biology, and others, as a way of explaining why it is you and believers like you believe as they do, and why it is you practice the rituals and incantations and spells associated with, by way of one of innumerable examples, the cannibalistic exercise of the eucharist, in which the eaters of the rump and the drinkers of the blood of the archetypal superhero will be endowed, infused, with the power, strength of the superhero on which they have feasted. The explanatory power of these diverse disciplines founded as they are on the most rigorous and meticulous methodological and evidentiary-based investigation and research framework yet developed, explains with great eloquence and philosophical depth how the mental, physical, and environmental imperatives of the human condition interplay and function. It is an emergent, multi-faceted, multi-dimensional and congruent narrative that cannot be explained away within the restricted confines of scientifically-uninformed philosophy which is essentially considered by mainstream contemporary philosophy as the spawn of apologetics, a product of the singularly narrow focus of Christian theology.

For you and other believers in superstitious supernaturalism, these are not accepted as credible scientific peer-reviewed findings and evidence, but are characterised as 'free-association', 'thread derailing' and 'spamming'. Why? Because believers do not want to hear the facts, the truth about why there are thousands of religious belief systems and just one universal scientific system, an investigatory tool and system that transcends and simply dwarfs all religious systems in their capacity to explain.

"Funnny, I seem to remember it being largely because you don't actually engage people properly."

No. It was a christian cabal of free speech censors, headed by Crude who sought to have me banned, imploring Victor in the most embarrassingly cringing manner to rid me from the site. Of course he and other religious sycophants will not have the courage, decency, the ethical or intellectual honesty to tell you about the 'Papalinton Challenge'. It was only Bob Prokop, a dyed-in-the wool christian believer, and a man with integrity and honesty and genuine humane fellowship, for which I had great respect, that spoke against the blood-baying Crude to have me banned. And quite frankly, I couldn't be bothered reviewing all the older blogs.

I was wondering when you would fly Crude's 'Jolly Roger', about my accusing Feser of plagiarism. Did you read further down that same commentary at where I admitted to the mistake and that I had 'egg all over my face'. Not only did I lay the charge but I also forthrightly righted the wrong admitting that I had made a mistake and acknowledged that Feser had not plagiarized. For Crude, he doesn't believe in telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth. For Crude, only that half of the story he wants to tell suffices. Of course the act of extending forgiveness among christians of the Crude variety is an unknown.

You would do well to think twice before you append your name to the Crude banner.

Cont.

Papalinton said...

CONT.
"What's your reason for refusing ?"

About debating you on your blog? The backwater of your blogsite does not appeal. Anything you have to say can be said here, mindful of the particular OP that Victor posts. In terms of debating you, the arguments you bring forward come from the same pool of apologetics that has been hashed over for centuries. If I thought you would bring fresh new discoveries or new insights that do not rely on the exegesis of old and tired theological and philosophical arguments, I might be tempted. But I've been there, know the sources. I've been a christian for a good part, some three decades, of my life. I could write your argument as well if not better than you, gleaning over the same corpus of apologetics that you would.