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1
on: September 07, 2007, 10:35:06 PM
Started by aiguy - Last post by LeeC
Quote from: aiguy on September 07, 2007, 03:39:39 PM
I think this thread is just about wrapped up; I will summarize the results in case anyone wishes to pick it up again.

...

Anybody have anything else to add, or should we consider the case closed?

Thanks for the summary.

Case Closed... nothing has been added to the debate from the ID camp.

You need to have faith to believe in a designer because there is no evidence for him, and no way to prove (and more importantly) disprove the theory of a designer.

Jason has accused me of following a religion – but a definition has not been given by him. I’m happy that I am not following a religion because my ideas are based purely on the evidence, and as such can be changed by new evidence. Not so with the designer.

So it seems ID is closer to being a religion than a science... (and it is not even close at being a science). The only thing ID lacks as a religion is the need to pray or worship the designer - which will probably be their next step if they could destroy science and its teaching...

Thanks for your input aiguy... it is a shame not many people would enter into debates here. I like a good debate against ID as you may have noticed.

Cheers

Lee

2
Chapter Discussion / Questions about Design / Re: A Simple Refutation of ID
on: September 07, 2007, 03:39:39 PM
Started by aiguy - Last post by aiguy
I think this thread is just about wrapped up; I will summarize the results in case anyone wishes to pick it up again.

1) According to Dembski ID considers "intelligence" to be "directed contingency" or "the ability to choose", which is (as far as I can tell indistinguishable from) what philosophers call "libertarian free will". Of course the existence of libertarian free will itself is a metaphysical speculation without scientific evidence, but here I am willing to grant for the sake of argument that intelligent agents that can plan with foresight do indeed have the ability to choose from among possibilities without being fully constrained by purely physical (or "natural") causation.

2) Obviously not everything has free will; a river does not freely choose its path the sea for example. Likewise, it is clear that animals such as spiders and termites do not manifest free will, since experiments reveal that they are incapable of making choices outside of the blind, instinctive behavioral repertoire they are born with, even when they need to do so. Thus, by ID's own definitions, spiders and termites are not intelligent agents.

3) Since these animals still produce artifacts with CSI, we see that ID's central claim is falisifed: It is not true that all CSI results from the action of intelligent agents. Ergo, ID fails as a scientific theory.

Here are the basic objections Jason has raised, and why they have failed:

1) If we cannot infer intelligence from complexity, then archeology, forensics, and the cognitive sciences are not scientific either
This objection fails because none of these scientific disciplines attempt to infer mind from complex artifacts. In the cognitive sciences, we test (observe the behaviors of) various animals to see if they can solve problems by developing novel solutions using foresight. In archeology and forensics, we find artifacts (either simple ones, like arrowheads or shards of pottery, OR complex ones, like pyramids or Mt. Rushmore) and by using our knowledge of what human beings do, we identify the cause as human beings. Only then can we use our independent knowledge of the mental abilities of human beings to determine that these things resulted from something intelligent. The complexity of some artifact is never sufficient to lead any scientist to conclude that something intelligent was responsible: For example, when we find a complex termite mound, we infer it was made by termites, which are not intelligent.

2) Religious beliefs should be counted as scientific evidence
It would seem, then, that ID has wasted a lot of time trying to transform the argument from design into an empirically-grounded theory if all you needed was the Bible and a dose of faith to begin with. If this is your position, then we have nothing to discuss.

Anybody have anything else to add, or should we consider the case closed?

3
Chapter Discussion / Comments about Chapters / Re: Chapter 13 : Can ID work in Biology ? - Glenn Morton
on: August 29, 2007, 06:21:22 AM
Started by LeeC - Last post by LeeC
Hi Jason,

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Will get back to you in more detail, but the first problem I can see is this.
I look forward to it, but your first problem is that you have not defined God you mentioned in your question as requested.

How can I debate an “unknown” entity? You are not playing fair.

I have outlined a couple of “definitions” for a god – but I do not know which you wish to debate, or if you agree with what I have said.

I personally would have though any god starting with a capital ‘G’, as your question stated, should be able to break the laws of physics – but what do I know – I’m an atheist?

So I hope when you have time to come back to me with more details, you could first outline the type of God we are debating. If not, I could write 5,000 words arguing against a god you do not believe in anyway – so what would be the point?

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Miracles don't break the laws of physics.
Which proves my early point above, I need to know what your God can or cannot do. Please define your definition of a miracle then please.

I think a miracle could break the laws of physics, you say they cannot.

However, you asked me what I need as evidence for the existence of God, and I gave a few examples for any God starting with a capital ‘G’. One being an event that breaks the laws of Physics – this would of course prove the existence of a God that could break the laws of physics? (See, we need a definition of God, and what he can and cannot do – the debate cannot continue without it.)

My definition of a miracle (and God) does seem to have some support from other sources and is not merely my personal definition, it is after all what is written in the bible, and whoever wrote the bible had a clear idea what a god and a miracle should look like. If you have a different opinion, then please tell me for this debate.
(I could quote you examples of miracles from the bible, but since you only claim to be an IDer I have no idea if you take any faith or idea for God from the bible. Also, we should not (and do not need to) move into a debate on a bible, there are other forums for that (unless you want to of course) – I think you like to discuss science, not religion, erm but ID brings in a religion since the fundamental answer in ID is a Designer(God))

Also, if you look closely again at some of my examples of “miracles” (increase the rotation/spin of the moon; move the moon to the other side of the Earth over night…) they do not actually “break” the laws of physics. Merely that Physics has no natural mechanism how these could happen on there own. So if these events happened, something had to “intervene” and caused it – a god. A god could give energy from “some source” to increase the angular moment of the moon – simple no “laws” broken as such – and I have no idea where this source of energy could have come from though, hence it is a “miracle”.

So your argument does not attack this part of “the miracle”.

If you want a miracle to be “simple” that any magician could perform it, then it is not, by my definition, a miracle and it would prove nothing.

Remember also, you asked me what I would require for evidence of a god… a simple card-trick is not good enough, my father can do many card-tricks that still amaze me to this day, but however much I love and respect my father, I do not believe he is a god. (And I doubt you would either)

Anyway, on these debates you know my position, I have been open, consistent (at least you have not shown any examples where I have not been on the subject matter of the scientific method, even though you claim I have been inconsistent) and clear (well, this could be debated.)

So Jason, please, can you do the same for this debate.
What do you believe?
What can God (the designer) do (and not do)?
What does God (the designer) do (and not do)?
What did God (the designer) do (and not do)?
What is a miracle (and what is not)?

Simple… Can you answer these simple questions please. It should not be a problem if you believe in god/designer. You must have a definition or you believe in nothing.

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All laws of physics implicitly have the caveat "all things being equal".

Sorry? Which laws are these? I cannot think of any laws of Physics that state this.

So this is just your opinion, but you are stating it as “fact”.

Back up this claim, or retract it.

Of course, maybe when I completed my degree in Physics and Astrophysics I missed the small print that stated “all things being equal” – it was a while ago now, so please, educate me.

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God's action breaks this precondition.

God acting in the world is not more a "violation of the laws of physics" than you catching a ball thrown too you proves that objects thrown in an arc don't transcribe parabolas until they hit the ground again.

So are you saying that God can bend the laws of Physics however He wants? He is the law so cannot by definition break the law?
Maybe this is a little like certain states in America that have the death sentence for murder. The state “terminates” the murderer’s life, but this is not “seen” as murder by the state (or the state’s believers in this action).
The state (e.g. God) is law, so they can define it however they like.


This is good; maybe I am learning your definition of a god?

I have, I feel, addressed the “breaking the law” issue you have just mentioned now – that is, this is merely my definition or how I would describe such an event.

Of course, if God just formed a new large moon around the Earth with a click of his fingers, this would not be breaking the law of physics for god (he is the law you say) but I personally would see it as a volitation of the laws of physics (Man, who is governed by God’s laws of physics, could not do it – hence a miracle, hence proof/evidence for the existence of God – it is that simple)

Thanks Jason - look forward to your reply. I like a debate I can get my teeth into. I hope also you have time to read my other responses in the threads. I would not want this new debate to distract us from our other issues

Lee

4
Chapter Discussion / Comments about Chapters / Re: Chapter 13 : Can ID work in Biology ? - Glenn Morton
on: August 28, 2007, 03:09:05 AM
Started by LeeC - Last post by Jason Rennie
Will get back to you in more detail, but the first problem I can see is this.

Miracles don't break the laws of physics.

All laws of physics implicitly have the caveat "all things being equal".

God's action breeaks this precondition.

God acting in the world is not more a "violation of the laws of physics" than you catching a ball thrown too you proves that objects thrown in an arc don't transcribe parabolas until they hit the ground again.

Jason

5
Chapter Discussion / Comments about Chapters / Re: Chapter 13 : Can ID work in Biology ? - Glenn Morton
on: August 27, 2007, 05:53:02 AM
Started by LeeC - Last post by LeeC
Quote from: Jason Rennie on August 24, 2007, 01:35:04 AM
Quote from: LeeC on August 16, 2007, 08:26:40 AM
Glenn claims he debates atheists down with his "knowledge" - erm... any idea where he "debates", I would love to chat.
http://theologyweb.com

Thanks... I will have a look there shortly - see if it is any fun.

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What would you consider evidence for the existence of God?

Oh… that’s easy – it would take a miracle, plain and simple – if God has a capital letter, then I need a miracle.
(No point having an event that can be explained by known physics (or indeed look like it could be answered by “future” physics) since God would not be required to answer it.)

So what do I mean by a miracle?

An observed event, seen under as close to “scientific conditions” as possible, that breaks the known laws of physics (where they are applicable).
(Physics accepts that some theories are not complete (e.g. No Quantum gravity) however any new theory will have to answer what we currently observed plus a new phenomenon – what I mean is physics has “unknowns” in the extremes, but not in the “middle ground” (everyday events) so if you break physical laws here you are into “miracle” territory.)

An example of just such a miracle I have given before is to move the moon (over “night”) to the other side of the Earth, or reverse the orbit of the moon altogether, or change the spin of the moon so it is no longer tidally lock (and so we could finally see the dark side of the moon from Earth). Physics could not explain any of these events happening naturally. It would therefore “break” known physics. It would take a “god” to perform such tasks – a miracle.  (Maybe an alien race could come along and do it, but that will still be pretty amazing – and I do not believe any alien will be able to come over and do this anyway – so my belief will be change on something.)

Aside: The bible, for example, states many “miracles” performed by God yet the only account we have for these “miracles” ever happened is the bible itself (or other Christian works, tainted either by the bible ideas or were the source of the bible stories themselves) – all written by believers in order to prove their God is great.

It is not independent evidence.

(I know we are not debating the bible, so just run with me for the moment, I am merely giving an example of miracles). If the miracles listed in the bible could be verified by either non-Christian writings or any hard physical evidence (which would be expected for events such as a global flood) then I will start to believe the bible is on to something. I will start to believe maybe God had a hand in all this.

OK – I’ll get back on track - I’m sure I have written my required “evidence for God”  somewhere on this forum before (certainly I have written on several other threads/forums I wander onto.)


Is this the place to do it again or should it actually come under a new thread?

I will write my words here if you like (since you asked the question and it is only you and me at the moment anyway – I wonder why the “new members” sign-up but do not join in? – come on, it is easy).

Anyway, it probably should come under a thread called something like “Required evidence for the existence of a designer or God”.

Stating the question as I just did means it is actually becomes two questions – the “designer” for the ID-ers out there, and God or god for the theists. The problem answering either is someone’s definition for designer or God maybe different (God and designer for some might be precisely the same thing – who knows? This will then become just one question; however people’s definition of god could vary greatly, so this question then increases for each distinct definition of god. History has shown that many thousands of gods have “existed” in the mind of man but I hope this debate could be focused on just a couple of types of gods/designer here or it will take all day to debate).

So obviously this creates a problem for me since I could be accused of “building a straw man” – I could state a definition of a god or designer, then logically attack that definition and highlight where it breaks-down.

This would not be “clever”, and I wish to avoid it, but since I do not believe in either a god or a designer, an “agreed” definition for both will be required (“Agreed” if this debate was to a larger audience, since their could be a wide variety of definitions, but it is just you and me at the moment – any definition you like can be debated)

OK Jason, if you want to continue this debate then the question/task is with you to define God (and the designer)

I will give it a go to show you how I think each could be defined.

Firstly, God and designer to me are one in the same - two words describing the same thing. If you have a designer who created life, the universe and everything – I would call him a god. How you definite this god, how he interacts with the universe, or purpose god has for man and mans “requirements” for worship etc could differ greatly.

The simple approach I suggest taking here is to use words already in common usage for our debate, so we are able to describe the particular god or believer.
(The “general” descriptions I will state below are what I have “gained” from reading Richard Dawkins, so of course you could debate the words, but since ultimately I want your definition, this is merely being suggested as a starting point – I am happy to used whatever definition of god or designer you wish to use.)

The “theist” god
Theist – a believer of a god (a “supernatural intelligence”). This god not only created life, the universe and everything, but is still around today affecting and changing the outcomes of life and the universe within. The theist traditional believes that the god is personally involved in human affairs and daily life. God will answer prayers, punish the evil, reward good, intervenes and interacts with the world with miracles – and just like Father Christmas, he “knows if we have been naughty or nice”.

This seems the traditional view for the God of the Bible?

The “deist” god.
Deist – a believer of a god (a “supernatural intelligence”). Similar to a theist, however the deist believes god interaction in the universe are confined to creating the physical laws that govern/control the universe.  Once started, the deist god does not, and will never interfere thereafter. This God has no special interest in man or his daily life. Does not answer prays or have any interest in good and evil.

This is possibly the “designer” in the ID “theory”?

Although the “amount” of work you allow this god/designer to perform could be debated also, so there will be sub-divisions within this description (you see the problem I have?). Does God just created the physical laws, start off the Big Bang and that’s it (A “Lazy God”)? Or does God actually “guide” the evolving universe to ensure it “follows” the correct path (“Manager/Designer God”)?

You tell me?

If we are talking about a “lazy God” (Feel free to invent a better name) – then their will be no evidence you could provide that I can think of that will prove God, since the universe will just look the way it does. All physics works from the Big Bang onwards… so the best you could say is “Well, the universe is here right?” – Which will not be good enough, and what would be the point of such a “lazy god”. Using Occam’s razor I would say that such a God was unlikely (true for any God but especial true for unprovable gods.) Prove me wrong after all.

The “Pantheist” god.
Continuing the lines of using known definitions for “belief” to describe god – there is also “Pantheists”.  These do not believe in a supernatural God, but merely use the word “god” to convey the “miracle of nature” (Richard Dawkins puts Einstein and Hawking into this last camp – but that is for debate, and is not important).

A Pantheist is “so close” to atheist as to make no difference – they do not believe in god, but still use the words as a means to describe the universe – a metaphor if you like. (Lets face it, to describe what you see in the Quantum word in words in almost impossible – our language is not “designed” (or did not “evolve”) to describe an object that is both a particle and a wave at the same time – it is too weird (In Maths the description works great). So maybe some scientists use “god” just because words fail them?)

So Jason – if you would like to continue this debate, just let me know what god (or designer) I am debating against, and I would be happy to continue.

Cheers

Lee
Quote

6
Chapter Discussion / Questions about Design / Re: A Simple Refutation of ID
on: August 24, 2007, 03:47:51 AM
Started by aiguy - Last post by aiguy
Hi Jason,

Quote from: Jason Rennie on August 24, 2007, 01:08:11 AM
I know you have. I am just trying to see how you can do it in a case where you want to but can reject it in another. That is the problem you need to solve.
I've explained this: If we can observe the behavior of something, in controlled or uncontrolled settings, we can draw inferences as to its mental abilities. I've given examples of how this is done. But if we cannot observe the behavior of something, there is no way to discover what sorts of mental abilities it has simply by looking at what we're trying explain (i.e. biological complexity). That is what my argument shows.

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All of the tests AFAICS depend on an assumption that a certian amount of complexity in behavior indicates adaptability and an ability to plan. You seem to agree with this. Am I mistaken ?
These tests look for problem-solving abilities that include the ability to make plans.

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I'm not denying it as such. I think it is a perfectly reasonable inference to make, but you are essentially claiming that it is possible to infer an ability to plan and adapt based on the complexity of behaviors and the artifacts of that adaptive behavior. Am I understanding you correctly ?
No, you are not.

First, it is not "complexity of behaviors" that we consider as intelligence, but rather abilities for problem solving, planning, etc. A honeybee has complex behaviors, but they are capable only of the most rudimentary learning, and incapable of innovation at all - virtually all of their behavioral repertoire is set when they are born. Second, we can tell nothing about mental abilities of unknown entities solely from artifacts without seeing the behavior itself, as I've shown. Seeing a termite mound, without ever having heard about termites or anything like them, we could not tell if whatever built it had used foresight, or if instead the builder was a mindless automaton (like the termites).

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No I follow what you are saying perfectly. You are saying that by examining artifacts (be they behavior or things that are constructed, after all the behavior is essentially an artificat of the activity of the mind) you are able to infer an ability to engage in goal directed purposeful planned behavior.
No, you do not follow what I am saying, so I'll explain it again.

Behaviors are not artifacts; behaviors are what the entity does, and the artifacts are things that behaviors produce. By watching and analyzing behaviors in different situations, we can learn what some entity is capable of (learning, inventing novel solutions, planning, etc.)

In contrast, simply by analyzing the artifacts, absent the entity that created them, we can not learn about the mental abilities of the entity. This is what my argument shows.

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You conceed you have no direct access or ability to determine the existence of the mind at work but instead make a strong inference based on the artifacts in question. I think you can probably see where I am going with this.
No, I have said the exact opposite of this: "In terms of immediate cause, then, ID is incapable of detecting mind by examining designs without knowledge of the designer."

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But i'm not seeking to misconstrue your statements. I'm just pushing you to carefully outline what counts as scientific and why you think this field does.
I have done this repeatedly. I've given you examples, and explained that the simple straightforward requirement for analyzing mental abilities is to observe behaviors. I'm not sure I can make this any more clear than I already have.

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I'm happy for you to claim that inferences to the activity to mind are scientific. You are the one denying it remember not me.
I have never denied it - I've never said anything of the sort. Please either provide a quote of mine that backs it up, or stop saying this.

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Yes I know. The problem I see is that you are making the inference based on observations of artifacts of the mind in question. Whether that artifact be physical objects or behaviors exhibited etc.
No, artifacts are not behaviors. Intelligence can't possibly be studied without reference to behaviors. But we can certainly study about intelligent behaviors without ever mentioning artifacts. Complex artifacts can be made by unintelligent things, and intelligent things can be incapable of producing complex artifacts. I've said this over and over.

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Great. I don't dispute your inference though, that is the part you seem to be misunderstanding. You want to say what you do is science (which I have no beef with) but you want to say that ID when it does the same thing (examines artifacts to infer intelligence) is not science.
No, AI does not "examine artifacts to infer intelligence"! We build machines that perform behaviors. My systems exhibit intelligent behaviors, but I don't happen to build anything that creates artifacts. The most flexible AI systems, able to learn, make inferences, and use world knowledge, might not be able to create any artifact at all. However, the robots that build complex artifacts like cars are, relatively speaking, as dumb as can be, following unchanging and deterministic rules, unable to learn, and unable to perform much reasoning at all. (And no, I did not claim AI was science; it draws from scientific, logico-mathematical, and engineering disciplines).

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You claim you must have "empirical access to the subject" but the subject is the mind, not the external organisim associated with it. We both agree inferring the existence of mind is reasonable from this external empirical evidence, but in no case do you have "empirical access to the subject".
There has never been, and never will be, a scientific study of any mind that does not involve physical behaviors. We must be able to observe behaviors in order to study the mental abilities of things we don't already know about. If we do not describe intelligence in terms of mental capabilities that are evidenced by behaviors, how is it that you propose we describe intelligence? And if we cannot observe these behaviors, how do you propose we study them scientifically?

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What are you observing ? You can't observe the mind only the things is leaves behind.
NO! We study behaviors. We study the behaviors not of a mind, but of a subject (a system, entity, organism) that we can observe. From our analysis of behaviors, we can make inferences about the mental abilities of the subject.

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Brain behavior is external not internal.
By internal "brain behavior" I mean neural activity, which (in my case at least) remains securely in my head. This is in contrast to external behavior, which is what we can observe without opening something up. Scientists analyze both types of behavior when studying mental abilities.

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AIGUY: No, I meant verifiable empirical evidence, which is the foundation for the scientific enterprise. If you disagree, then please tell us what you think distinguishes scientific inquiry from philosophical or theological inquiry.
JASON: We are talking past each other here. I doubt you mean that a theory is something that is subject to verification by evidence.
I did not say the theory was verified by the evidence, I said the evidence was verifiable! Please read what I say more closely - it will save us time and typing Smiley

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Also I don't think scientific inquiry is all that different to philosophical or theological inquiry, especially as science started as a branch of philosophy and theology.
If there is no distinction between science and theology, then why do ID theorists work so very hard to have their ideas accepted by the scientific community? Why not just do theology instead?

The scientific enterprise has achieved an astounding level of worldwide consensus on a huge number of theories and facts by requiring replicable, verifiable evidence. Different religions have never - and will never - reach any consensus about anything, since anybody can believe anything and never has to cite any observable evidence at all.

Honestly, if you think science is the same as theology, we have nothing to talk about.

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So you think that the broad claims of evolutionary biology as a purely materialist account of life are not science then ? They certianly have not been demonstrated.
It depends on what "broad claims" you are talking about, but I will not argue about evolutionary theory here. This forum is "Questions About Design", and the topic here is how ID cannot scientifically infer mind from biological complexity.

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AIGUY: There isn't any empirical evidence for any other intelligent agent in the universe, period.
JASON: How do you know this ? This seems like an article of faith more than something that could ever actually be demonstrated.
What? If you think you have empirical evidence, then I suggest you tell us what it is (perhaps you are referring to studies of ghosts?). Otherwise, my statement stands.

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If you want to do religion fine, but don't call it science.
LOL! Did you not just get through denying there was significant difference between science and religion???

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AIGUY: What evidence do you have, even "inconclusive" evidence? Complex artifacts aren't evidence, as I've shown, unless we already know something about the agent thought to be responsible.
JASON: Fine tuning in the cosmic constants, the big bang itself. You can infer quite a few things about the "big banger" from the evidence.
And I think you can infer nothing - scientifically speaking - at all, and ID theorists agree with me. Here, from the IDEACenter site:

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events like the origin of the first cause are so far in the past that they are not accessible to science. They can only really discuss them using philosophy and religion. Here, essentially, this question is about the "first cause"--and physicists have discussed that when we are dealing with things very early in the universe, or predating the universe, like the origin of the first cause, the normal laws of physics and reality can break down.

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BTW, you haven't shown that complex artifacts are not evidence. Behaviors are just artifacts of mind.
I think I've made this distinction perfectly clear now, if it wasn't already so.

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You conceeded that minds are not directly accessible and can only be examined by the things they do.
Yes, by the behaviors they control. This is absolutely correct, and I did not "concede" this, I have made this point quite strongly all along.

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But you want to make artifical distinctions about what counts as examinable.
It is the most obvious, simple, straightforward distinction imaginable. Nobody thinks that behaviors and artifacts are the same thing (except, apparently, for you).

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And I find it strange that your "the behavior must be observed to infer intelligence at work" would require you to believe that we cannot infer intelligent agents built the pyramids. Nobody saw them doing such behavior it is inferred directly from the artifacts because the builders are presumably long dead. That case would seem to be a problem for you.
Did it not occur to you that we know that human beings lived on this planet at the time the pyramids were built, and that human beings are known to create structures out of stones, and that all sorts of other artifacts that are known to be human creations were found along with the pyramids? Does all of this knowledge not strike you as good reason to think that maybe human beings built the pyramids?

No archeologist ever infers that "intelligent agents" built anything they find. You can look in vain at every paper ever published in the field for anyone who says that a "mind" was responsible. Rather, archeologists always infer that "human beings" built the artifacts, and the inference is based on the knowledge we have about human beings. Likewise for forensic scientists, who use their knowledge of human beings to infer the activity of human beings, and not "intelligent agents".

And in the case of SETI, scientists assume that living things like human beings may have evolved elsewhere in the universe, and so they point their instruments at places in the universe likely to harbor life forms like us. If they ever find a signal that seems like something human beings would send, we would be justified in hypothesizing that something similar to human beings sent it.

Pretending that "intelligent agency" rather than "human beings" is what is inferred by science is an illicit over-generalization. We know about animals (including human beings) based on our vast experience, and we can use this knowledge to identify signs of their activity. We have no (empirically verifiable) experience of other sorts of intelligent agencies, and we have no scientific way of inferring the mental abilities of anything we can't observe. My argument shows that artifacts cannot be used to infer the mental characteristics of a cause when we have no existing knowledge of what the cause might be.

7
Chapter Discussion / Comments about Chapters / Re: Chapter 13 : Can ID work in Biology ? - Glenn Morton
on: August 24, 2007, 01:35:04 AM
Started by LeeC - Last post by Jason Rennie
Quote from: LeeC on August 16, 2007, 08:26:40 AM
Glenn claims he debates atheists down with his "knowledge" - erm... any idea where he "debates", I would love to chat.
http://theologyweb.com

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Update: Just been to this chap?s web site? a lot of interesting stuff. It is great that a Christian is attacking the Young Earther?s. So much to read - I think I may actually like this chap, he just now needs to give evidence for God and he will be great.
What would you consider evidence for the existence of God ?

Jason

8
Chapter Discussion / Questions about Design / Re: A Simple Refutation of ID
on: August 24, 2007, 01:08:11 AM
Started by aiguy - Last post by Jason Rennie
Quote from: aiguy on August 17, 2007, 03:04:03 AM
I have never said that it is not possible to scientifically infer consciousness, and I have said exactly the opposite
I know you have. I am just trying to see how you can do it in a case where you want to but can reject it in another. That is the problem you need to solve.

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I'm really not following you here.  Of course the tests are not identical!  There are all sorts of different tests that reveal the ability - or inability - of animals to plan.
All of the tests AFAICS depend on an assumption that a certian amount of complexity in behavior indicates adaptability and an ability to plan. You seem to agree with this. Am I mistaken ?

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If you wish to deny this, go ahead, but you are denying an entire discipline of science with a huge literature.
I'm not denying it as such. I think it is a perfectly reasonable inference to make, but you are essentially claiming that it is possible to infer an ability to plan and adapt based on the complexity of behaviors and the artifacts of that adaptive behavior. Am I understanding you correctly ?

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Perhaps your confusion derives from refusing to see that I have also - repeatedly - explained that strong inferences based on emprical evidence allow us to draw scientific conclusions with regard to mental abilities.
No I follow what you are saying perfectly. You are saying that by examining artifacts (be they behavior or things that are constructed, after all the behavior is essentially an artificat of the activity of the mind) you are able to infer an ability to engage in goal directed purposeful planned behavior.

You conceed you have no direct access or ability to determine the existence of the mind at work but instead make a strong inference based on the artifacts in question.

I think you can probably see where I am going with this.

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It is not reasonable for you to construe my comments this way, since I have given numerous examples of how scientists make inferences to planning and foresight by observing behaviors, and I have explicity talked about how we can make inferences based on empirical observations!
But i'm not seeking to misconstrue your statements. I'm just pushing you to carefully outline what counts as scientific and why you think this field does.

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This is absurd, and I have never said anything to that effect.  Look at my examples of valid scientific inference to mind, and you will see that you are wrong.
I'm happy for you to claim that inferences to the activity to mind are scientific. You are the one denying it remember not me. I have no problem with it, but you have a problem with certian sorts of it. That is what I am taking exception with.

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1) WE CAN MAKE INFERENCES TO MENTAL ABILITIES LIKE FORESIGHT AND PLANNING IF WE HAVE EMPIRICAL ACCESS TO THE SUBJECT
2) WE CANNOT MAKE THESE INFERENCES IF WE LACK EMPIRICAL ACCESS TO THE SUBJECT
3) WE CAN MAKE INFERENCES TO CONSCIOUSNESS IN WAKING HUMAN BEINGS AND (LESS STRONGLY) SOME OTHER ANIMALS
Yes I know. The problem I see is that you are making the inference based on observations of artifacts of the mind in question. Whether that artifact be physical objects or behaviors exhibited etc.

Hey no problem with me. But you lack direct empirical access to the mind. We agree on this, we only have access to its externally realised behavior or artifacts that it contructs.

No problem from me. I agree such a thing is perfectly reasonable.

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Since I am a scientist who investigates intelligence, this comes as rather a surprise to me, as it will to all of the psychologists, ethologists, and cognitive scientists in the world, whose work I have been citing with my examples.
Great. I don't dispute your inference though, that is the part you seem to be misunderstanding. You want to say what you do is science (which I have no beef with) but you want to say that ID when it does the same thing (examines artifacts to infer intelligence) is not science.

You claim you must have "empirical access to the subject" but the subject is the mind, not the external organisim associated with it. We both agree inferring the existence of mind is reasonable from this external empirical evidence, but in no case do you have "empirical access to the subject".

That is what I was trying to get you to see.

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We can ONLY infer anything about the mental abilities of a subject by observing it at work.
What are you observing ? You can't observe the mind only the things is leaves behind.

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We can NEVER infer mental abilities of anything simply by finding the artifacts it leaves behind UNLESS we have some knowledge of what the subject might be.
But you have said we can, as I would contend that behaviors are artifacts as much as anything else when it comes to examining mind.

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1) WE CANNOT OBSERVE A MIND DIRECTLY, BUT WE CAN OBSERVE EXTERNAL BEHAVIOR AND INTERNAL (e.g. brain) BEHAVIOR
Brain behavior is external not internal.

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4) OBSERVING ARTIFACTS IS NOT OBSERVING BEHAVIOR
Clearly I disagree with this claim.

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No, I meant verifiable empirical evidence, which is the foundation for the scientific enterprise.  If you disagree, then please tell us what you think distinguishes scientific inquiry from philosophical or theological inquiry.
We are talking past each other here. I doubt you mean that a theory is something that is subject to verification by evidence. This is what the logical positivists tried and it was shown to be a dismal failure as a project.

Also I don't think scientific inquiry is all that different to philosophical or theological inquiry, especially as science started as a branch of philosophy and theology.

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Are you joking?
Not in the slightest.

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Is the existence of Thor and his hammer a "data point"?
What are you advancing as evidence of Thor and his hammer ? I was referring to the existence of followers of Thor and any claims made to his interactions with the physcial world.

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Which religion do you advocate that we teach as science?  (let me guess...)
None. The problem is that metaphyscial naturalism is a religious position that is taught in science classes.

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Yes, I agree we cannot assert that anything is sufficient to explain any phenomenon if it has not been demonstrated of course.
So you think that the broad claims of evolutionary biology as a purely materialist account of life are not science then ? They certianly have not been demonstrated.

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There is a huge amount of empirical evidence for the actions of intelligence in nature, of course, as I have been illustrating.  However, the only intelligent agents that we can access for scientific investigation are animals (including humans).  There isn't any empirical evidence for any other intelligent agent in the universe, period.
How do you know this ? This seems like an article of faith more than something that could ever actually be demonstrated. If you want to do religion fine, but don't call it science.

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What evidence do you have, even "inconclusive" evidence?  Complex artifacts aren't evidence, as I've shown, unless we already know something about the agent thought to be responsible.
Fine tuning in the cosmic constants, the big bang itself. You can infer quite a few things about the "big banger" from the evidence.

BTW, you haven't shown that complex artifacts are not evidence. Behaviors are just artifacts of mind.

You conceeded that minds are not directly accessible and can only be examined by the things they do.

But you want to make artifical distinctions about what counts as examinable.

And I find it strange that your "the behavior must be observed to infer intelligence at work" would require you to believe that we cannot infer intelligent agents built the pyramids. Nobody saw them doing such behavior it is inferred directly from the artifacts because the builders are presumably long dead. That case would seem to be a problem for you.

Jason

9
Chapter Discussion / Questions about Design / Re: A Simple Refutation of ID
on: August 24, 2007, 12:37:31 AM
Started by aiguy - Last post by Jason Rennie
Quote from: LeeC on August 16, 2007, 05:55:20 AM
My understanding of science is simple ? if you cannot test it, it is not science ? it is something else. Good science theories also give testable predictions that are falsifiable (how many times have I written this ? you must be bored reading it?)
So astrology is scientific ? You can certianly test it.

But astronomical theories about distant stars is not because you can't really test it is a meaningful fashion ?

What do you mean by "test it"? I ask because I don't think this principle works as well as you hope.

Is evolution testable ? Certianly its broad claims can be tested in any sort of repeatable fashion, although you might be able to test its specific limited claims to varying degrees.

And of course the principle you are putting forward as the basis for science is not itself scientific because you can't test it for relability you can only assume it is. Not that this is necessarily a problem unless you want to claim that science is the only reliable way of gaining knowledge and that all other knowledge is suspect.

But there are even things you are going to want to say are not science that are testable and even falsifiable.

I could summise that water boils by the activity of small faeries that cast the atoms of H2O off the surface of the water and a bunch of other things that makes predictions identical to a kinetic theory in physics.

It would be just as testable and make the same predictions as a kinetic model of boiling. So you would not be able to prefer one theory to another as they are equally testable and equally predictive.

And there are an infinite number of potential theories that make the same prediction and are just as testable.

Are they all scientific ?

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Oh, of course this means you have to provide testable and falsifiable observations for ID ? if not, then it is not a science, which is my point.
Multi-level coding exists in DNA at multiple levels with deep error correction going all the way down. This will exhibit behavior that mirrors what we see if human designed codes.

Is that a prediction that is testable or not ? I will freely admit it is pretty rough and would need to be refined but what is wrong with it as a first place to start ?

Jason


10
Chapter Discussion / Questions about Design / Re: A Simple Refutation of ID
on: August 17, 2007, 03:04:03 AM
Started by aiguy - Last post by aiguy
Jason,

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I have no problem with chimps being able to plan and adapt, but I would contend that they have minds and are consious and that it is entirely scientific to conclude that this is the case.
And I agree.

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But you are saying that to infer consiousness is not scientific.
Jason, I have explained this over and over and over again, and you persist in building this straw man argument. I have never said that it is not possible to scientifically infer consciousness, and I have said exactly the opposite, and I have said so explicitly and repeatedly, and I would like it if you stopped attributing to me things that I have not said.

I will quote myself for the third time:

"We cannot empirically and objectively demonstrate consciousness - that is correct. We can however support a comfortably strong inference to consciousness in waking human beings, based on objectively observable behavior, both internal and external. (External behavior being reports of consciousness, and internal behavior being similarities among humans in neural structure and activity). Obviously these sorts of evidence do not extend to all other animals, much less things like flying spaghetti monsters, of which we have no knowledge at all."

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No that wont work. You are assuming (without grounds) that the conditions in all tests are identical. But they cannot be completely identical and this may result in different pre-planned paths being taken.

Nothing that is observed will let you make the distinction you want to make. So either your definition of science is too narrow (my bet) or else such claims are simply not scientific. Which is it ?
I'm really not following you here. Of course the tests are not identical! There are all sorts of different tests that reveal the ability - or inability - of animals to plan.

I have made perfectly clear how ethologists and cognitive scientists study mental abilities. Through experiments, they can discern when animals create and execute novel plans, and distinguish instinctive from learned or independently developed behaviors. I have given you a number of examples. If you wish to deny this, go ahead, but you are denying an entire discipline of science with a huge literature.

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No that wont work. The only empirical things you can observe are behaviors and maybe brain states etc. But that will not let you make the distinction you want to make. There is the problem of underdetermination of theory by data going on. It is unavoidable. If science must only be limited to the evidence as you keep saying over and over, then you cannot make claims that go beyond the evidence as this one does.
Perhaps your confusion derives from refusing to see that I have also - repeatedly - explained that strong inferences based on emprical evidence allow us to draw scientific conclusions with regard to mental abilities.

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And yes, your idea of science is ideosyncratic as it is overly narrow compared to science in the real world. As you are discovering with all of these claims you want to make that go beyond the evidence.
If you do not believe that science requires empirical evidence, then please tell us what is it that you think distinguishes scientific inquiry from philosphical or theological inquiry.

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Yes, we lack access to minds, but if we have access to the subjects of inquiry, we can infer lots of things about mental abilities by observing behaviors. Those inferences are not scientific though because they go beyond the empirical observations.
I have consistently been saying that scientific inferences require empirical evidence, and you are trying to construe this as "science means we can admit nothing except raw sense data"! It is not reasonable for you to construe my comments this way, since I have given numerous examples of how scientists make inferences to planning and foresight by observing behaviors, and I have explicity talked about how we can make inferences based on empirical observations!

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AIGUY: And where do you think I have suggested that strong inferences from repeatable, independently verifiable observations do not constitute scientific evidence?
JASON: Because all of these claims you make about chimps and people showing inventive behavior go beyond the evidence of simple empirical observation.

1) I say that inferences from empirical evidence are valid science, and I give examples
2) You claim that I have denied the these inferences are valid
3) I say no, I have not, and please show me where I have ever said these inferences are not valid
4) You respond that the examples I give "go beyond the evidence of simple empirical observation"!!!

Again, by inserting the word "simple", you try to make it sound like I am attempting to restrict scientific inference and observation to nothing but our sense data. This is absurd, and I have never said anything to that effect. Look at my examples of valid scientific inference to mind, and you will see that you are wrong.

I'm not sure I can make this any more clear, as I've said it over and over again, but please read this carefully:

1) WE CAN MAKE INFERENCES TO MENTAL ABILITIES LIKE FORESIGHT AND PLANNING IF WE HAVE EMPIRICAL ACCESS TO THE SUBJECT
2) WE CANNOT MAKE THESE INFERENCES IF WE LACK EMPIRICAL ACCESS TO THE SUBJECT
3) WE CAN MAKE INFERENCES TO CONSCIOUSNESS IN WAKING HUMAN BEINGS AND (LESS STRONGLY) SOME OTHER ANIMALS

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Actually i'm arguing that your definition of what counts as science is defective because it can't investigate intelligent agents.
I have said exactly the opposite over and over again. Since I am a scientist who investigates intelligence, this comes as rather a surprise to me, as it will to all of the psychologists, ethologists, and cognitive scientists in the world, whose work I have been citing with my examples. Jason, this really is a preposterous misattribution of my position - a complete straw man. You need to argue against what I am saying rather than making up ridiculous positions and pretending that is what I think.

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I have no problem with the idea that we can infer the act of an intelligent agent at work by its actions and artifacts that it leaves behind.

We can ONLY infer anything about the mental abilities of a subject by observing it at work.

We can NEVER infer mental abilities of anything simply by finding the artifacts it leaves behind UNLESS we have some knowledge of what the subject might be.

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But you insist you must have access to the agent in question, but the problem is that empirical observation of an intelligent agent wont give you the observations you need without assumptions and reasoning that goes beyond the empirical observations.
I hope you can finally see that of course we make inferences from our observations (that is what science is all about!) but we cannot make any inferences if we cannot make observations! And here you will try to misconstrue what these observations are supposed to be, so I will again explain it:

1) WE CANNOT OBSERVE A MIND DIRECTLY, BUT WE CAN OBSERVE EXTERNAL BEHAVIOR AND INTERNAL (e.g. brain) BEHAVIOR
2) BASED ON OBSERVATIONS OF INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL BEHAVIOR, WE CAN MAKE INFERENCES TO MENTAL ABILITIES
3) WE CANNOT MAKE THESE INFERENCES WITHOUT OBSERVING THE BEHAVIOR
4) OBSERVING ARTIFACTS IS NOT OBSERVING BEHAVIOR

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AIGUY: As long as we have empirical access to an agent, we can assess its mental abilities. Without empirical access, we can't. This is a very simple idea, and I don't see how you can misconstrue it so consistently.
JASON: I'm not misconstruing it. Your empirical access can't tell the difference between a mindless zombie and a mindful conscious entity if they both exhibit the same external behaviors.

1) WE CANNOT PROVE WITH CERTAINTY CONSCIOUSNESS IN OTHER MINDS - THAT IS A PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEM
2) WE CAN MAKE STRONG INFERENCES TO CONSCIOUSNESS IN OTHER MINDS BASED ON OBSERVATION OF INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL BEHAVIOR OF HUMAN BEINGS OR THINGS VERY SIMILAR TO HUMAN BEINGS
3) WE CANNOT MAKE INFERENCES TO CONSCIOUSNESS WITHOUT OBSERVATIONS OF BEHAVIOR
4) WE CAN MAKE INFERENCES TO OTHER ASPECTS OF MENTALITY, SUCH AS FORESIGHT AND PLANNING, BY OBSERVING BEHAVIOR OF THINGS EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT VERY SIMILAR TO HUMAN BEINGS

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AIGUY: My "hidden" premise is not at all hidden: It is that scientific inquiry is constrained by the requirement for verifiable empirical evidence, and that is not a controversial premise.
JASON: But it is not limited to that.
I never said it was limited to that! You are just pretending that I said that! I said exactly what I meant, which is that it requires empirical evidence!

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And actually "verifiable emprirical evidence" is quite controversial and actually extremely problematic. I suspect you mean falsifiable.
No, I meant verifiable empirical evidence, which is the foundation for the scientific enterprise. If you disagree, then please tell us what you think distinguishes scientific inquiry from philosophical or theological inquiry.

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AIGUY: Now you are saying that religious testimony to the existence of gods constitutes scientific evidence too?
JASON: I don't see why they don't count as data points.
Are you joking? Is the existence of Thor and his hammer a "data point"? Shall we drop the requirement for replicability in scientific data? Which religion do you advocate that we teach as science? (let me guess...)

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Sure. So you agree it is unreasonable to assert that blind material forces are sufficent to explain many phenomena when it has not been demonstrated ?
Yes, I agree we cannot assert that anything is sufficient to explain any phenomenon if it has not been demonstrated of course.

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Do you really want to claim there is no empirical evidence for the actions of intelligence in nature ? None what so ever?
There is a huge amount of empirical evidence for the actions of intelligence in nature, of course, as I have been illustrating. However, the only intelligent agents that we can access for scientific investigation are animals (including humans). There isn't any empirical evidence for any other intelligent agent in the universe, period.

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Are you sure you don't want to tone that claim down to something like, "there is only inconclusive evidence" perhaps ? I suggest this because your claim of no evidence is going to be hard pressed to survive.
What evidence do you have, even "inconclusive" evidence? Complex artifacts aren't evidence, as I've shown, unless we already know something about the agent thought to be responsible.


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