Nov 072005
 

I have the utmost respect for Mike Gene at Telic Thoughts but I am compelled to offer my disagreement with his recent 2 postings on his characterization of Christians and ID, here and here. Although this blog is not as popular or prominent as Telic Thoughts who by Mike Gene’s own acknowledgement is mostly ID evolutionists. This blog is mainly ID Creationists. So this posting will be my response to Mike and Collins’ comments.

Yet Collins can speak to dozens, even hundreds, of churches and I’m afraid the payoff will remain quite meager. The reason is simple; the notion that science and faith conflict is not housed solely within the Church. On the contrary, this is the war cry of those who seek to advance an agenda of secularism.

I agree Collins’ message will not be popular to Christians but not for the reason that Mike thinks. I will explain in a minute. There is a culture war between people of faith and the secularists. However, this is not the reason why Christians reject Darwinism. It is not even because of the jaundice views of Dawkins lending support to Darwinism.

The problem with Collins and TE’s messages is the missing teleology. There are some Christians who would not even accept ID simply because it does not affirm the God of the Bible. Then there are those like myself (Biblical literal fundamentalists) who find common ground with all those who allow teleology in biology. I can coexist with other IDists although we disagree with the evidence for common descent. The problem with Collins and TE is that the message they are pushing is EXACTLY the same as those from secular Darwinists.

This is what makes design an inherently teleological process. ” And unfortunately for Collins’, he quickly forgets this point.

Mike is bull’s-eye on this point. Ken Miller states” The existence of a supreme being simply is not a scientific question. A supreme being stands outside of nature. Science is a naturalistic process and can only answer questions about what is inside nature. Beyond that it’s a matter of personal belief.” I don’t know if Collins agrees with Miller’s statement or not, but I have not heard him dispute it.

The problem with Miller and Collins is that their message is the same as the secularists. There is no indication that God is involved in evolution. They claim to be Christians and invoke the right Christian terms like “believer in Jesus Christ” . These are vacuous terms for Christians when he leaves God out of the process. His professed faith is not the faith of the Bible or that of historic Christianity. He wants Christians to embrace a blind faith, the Kantian faith of blind allegiance without any empirical basis. Contrary to popular belief historic Christianity is not a faith based on credulity. It is a rational faith. Christians and this one in particular is willing to follow the evidence wherever it leads. If he wants to convince Christians on the merits of Darwinian science then make his case based on the evidence alone. But please, please, do not ask us to accept Christianity on blind faith as he does and Darwinism on the argument from authority. Collins as a Christian should cut his fellow believers in Christ some slack when they challenge and dispute his own evidential acceptance for Darwinian evolution.

So in conclusion, while I agree with Mike that a Collins’ smack down of Dawkins would be nice, but it still will not make his Darwinian message any more palatable to Christians. The only acceptable message from TE is the allowance for teleology into the process of evolution such as those held by Behe. Collins has to choose sides in this battle. He can’t come to Christians as a Trojan Horse and claim that he is one of us while promoting the exact same message as a secular Darwinists. If he wants to be accepted by the secularists as a great and intellectually powerful scientist by allying with their view of science, that is fine and more power to him. However, don’t pretend that his view is in concert with the Christian faith, as we understand it for the last 2000 years.

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Benjii
Benjii
14 years ago

I agree. Salvador, does the fossil record continually defy darwinian expectations. What about the emergence of mammals? How are evolutionists coping with such fossils. I heard that these fossils are regarded as the crown jewel of evolutionary theory. What’s your take on this?

doctor(logic)
doctor(logic)
14 years ago

So, if it is convincingly shown that the mainstream evolutionary account is valid, then presumably your faith as a fundamentalist Christian will be lost. Are you saying that, should that happen, you would not consider deism a viable backup option for you?

Benjii
Benjii
14 years ago

“So, if it is convincingly shown that the mainstream evolutionary account is valid, then presumably your faith as a fundamentalist Christian will be lost. Are you saying that, should that happen, you would not consider deism a viable backup option for you?”

When did I ever bring in my christian faith? How does deism and all that stuff come into the mix. All I asked was, if the fossil record for mammals and reptiles showed some type of convergence. I doubt it does, since like all fossils, mammals and reptiles appear quite suddenly and different from one another in the fossil record. If the evolutionary hypothesis fails, will this undermine your atheism?

doctor(logic)
doctor(logic)
14 years ago

Sorry, Benjii. I should have been more explicit. My question was asked of teleologist.

To answer your question anyway…

My atheism is based on two things: Logical positivism and my view of divinity.

As a logical positivist, I don’t believe that a supernatural God (as in the omnipotent, omniscient, universe creator) is literally meaningful. That is, I think that propositions about God are not about the world, they are just linguistic confusions.

Secondly, if God is a naturalistic phenomenon, then I don’t see compulsion to worship it. That is, I don’t think that power is deserving of worship. It may be deserving of respect (as are Polar Bears), but it is not divinity. I recognize divinity based on other criteria.

So, if we find your Precambrian rabbits, we can all be confident that someone or some thing interfered in Earth’s evolutionary process. But I will still be an atheist.

Benjii
Benjii
14 years ago

My fault, I thought you were asking me. Well, God makes sense out of the origin and complexity of the universe. He also makes sense of moral values, personal intimacy and last of all, Jesus Christ. The complexity of about every single constituent of this universe begs for a designer. Without God, we are nothing but modified apes who are useless and have no free will or sense of moral values. The moral values that we see are nothing but evolved outcomes of chance and necessity. So, in essence, they’re just apparent values.

Think about it!
If Anthony Flew did it, why can’t you?

scordova
14 years ago

Hi Benji,

This is Salvador. First of all there are 3 authors at Teleological. Me, Teleologist, and fdocc. This thread was written by teleologist, not by me. πŸ™‚

Regarding the fossil record, Darwinian expectations are not really even well defined so as to be refuted.

The fossil record is mostly an embarrassment to Darwinian evolution, but arguing over the fossil record is not my primary means of attack. I prefer to explore the case against abiogenesis. I feel more comfortable in that domain.

A lot depends on the audience one is addressing. If one is addressing engineers, it’s generally a piece of cake if they’re open minded. They understand the problem of information.

If I’m talking to chemist, I focus on origin of life chemistry.

If I’m talking to a biologist, well I on physiological problems in evolution such as evolving a heart, or the transitionals between eukaryotes and prokaryotes, unicellular and multi-cellular, asexual versus sexual.

Glad to hear from you,
Salvador

scordova
14 years ago

So, if it is convincingly shown that the mainstream evolutionary account is valid, then presumably your faith as a fundamentalist Christian will be lost. Are you saying that, should that happen, you would not consider deism a viable backup option for you?

I have said I would have no reason to be a Christian if Darwinian evolution were true. I’ve taken flak from Christians for saying so, to which I responded, “If Christ is not raised, then our faith is in vain.”

The position I would take, if I were not a Christian, would be more like Michael Denton, who used to be an Old Earth Creationist, then became a Darwinist, then rejected Darwinism in favor of some sort of strong teleology in nature.

For myself, I was not always an Evangelical Christian, was generally a theist prior to becoming an Evangelical Christian, had little problem with evolution, but eventually became a Creationist because it made more sense scientifically.

However, I am a Christian in part because I think the scientific facts point toward special creation. Contrary to popular claims, the hierarchically described similarities seen in creatures resist Darwinian interpretations more that it affirms it.

Salvador

doctor(logic)
doctor(logic)
14 years ago

Salvador,

You are certainly not alone in your position. I saw a talk by Hugh Ross a few months ago, and he said something similar about certain empirical results being caustic to his faith.

doctor(logic)
doctor(logic)
14 years ago

Well, God makes sense out of the origin and complexity of the universe. He also makes sense of moral values, personal intimacy and last of all, Jesus Christ.

I do not see that it does this. Here’s what I see. Humans want to learn about the world in order to better know what to do in life. Based on knowledge of the world, we might decide how to live better lives. However, your theology tells you to lead the life you want, so the science becomes irrelevant.

As an atheist, I believe that this one and only life is what we humans make of it. I want me and everyone I love to be happy, so I want to build a world where that can happen. Fairness dictates that everyone on the planet must have similar opportunity to live a good life. The universe isn’t as cold a place as you might think, even when there are no supernatural beings watching over us. Indeed, it’s much warmer than a universe governed by a God who sentences good, rational people to a fate worse than death.

The complexity of about every single constituent of this universe begs for a designer.

Emotionally, I’m sure it does. Unfortunately, the science doesn’t back it up.

Without God, we are nothing but modified apes who are useless and have no free will or sense of moral values. The moral values that we see are nothing but evolved outcomes of chance and necessity. So, in essence, they’re just apparent values.

Yes. But isn’t that enough? If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.

teleologist
14 years ago

Great answer Salvador. My sentiments are very similar let me elaborate on this following question.

So, if it is convincingly shown that the mainstream evolutionary account is valid, then presumably your faith as a fundamentalist Christian will be lost. Are you saying that, should that happen, you would not consider deism a viable backup option for you?

doctor, there is no backup option. I do not know any serious fundamentalist who has a backup option. My answer would be similar to the Apostle Paul’s answer to those skeptical of resurrection.

14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Co 15:14-19)

If it is proven that Darwinian evolution is precisely as the secular Darwinists claims then IMHO, Christianity will have to be changed completely as we know it.

So, if we find your Precambrian rabbits, we can all be confident that someone or some thing interfered in Earth’s evolutionary process. But I will still be an atheist.

This is also a significant difference between Christians and Atheists. Atheism is a construct of a self centered human creation and it derives its’ authority from the individual. Christianity is not based on human invention or narcissism. Our authority comes from God as in the preamble to the U.S. Declaration of Independence “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” Christians have no backup to the revelations from God because that would be a human invention.

This blog is not meant to debate different worldviews but if you are interested in my view on Atheism is here and here. Similar arguments can be made against Positivism as well.

doctor(logic)
doctor(logic)
14 years ago

teleologist,

I’m not sure I follow your statement about there not being a backup plan. On the one hand you claim there is no plan, then you quote 1 Co 15:14-19 which says you would appear foolish for having chosen the wrong side, then you say Christianity would have to be changed if Darwinian evolution were correct. That sounds like a backup option. Would it be fair to say that deism is a backup option, but that atheism isn’t?

I read your pieces on atheism and they seem to argue for your theology on moral grounds.

You say: IOW, from a mindless collection of molecules, you cannot derive an objective (universal) moral value.

I agree wholeheartedly. I just think morality is subjective. Not that certain behaviors aren’t mutually beneficial.

Your arguments are founded on the claim that morality must be universal, yet the Nazi’s thought they were doing good. So did the slaveowners. And the 9/11 hijackers. Clearly, morailty isn’t so universal.

Christianity is not based on human invention or narcissism.

Funny. I see things exactly in the reverse. Christians would say that we’re special, designed in the image of a deity, living in a universe designed just for us. πŸ™‚

teleologist
14 years ago

doctor,

I apologize for being obtuse. There is no backup plan. Any equivocation on my part is precisely because I have no idea what my view would be in your hypothetical scenario. I will have to weigh all the evidences at that time and make my determination then. However, that will not be necessary because I see no evidence of Darwinian evolution of being a viable theory.

Benjii
Benjii
14 years ago

“I do not see that it does this. Here’s what I see. Humans want to learn about the world in order to better know what to do in life. Based on knowledge of the world, we might decide how to live better lives. However, your theology tells you to lead the life you want, so the science becomes irrelevant.”

But that is purely subjective! What kind of life can we live in a godless universe. If meaning can come from us, then, maybe rape, slaughter and indecency was acceptable millions of years ago. You see, if there is no moral lawgiver, then, the moral laws that emanate from us are just the outcome of chemical/biological evolutionary processes that have been evolving through time. In other words, our morality is fake and useless. So a rapist or murderer is not really that guilty since his or her actions are just a chemical/biological outcome that changed over time.

“As an atheist, I believe that this one and only life is what we humans make of it. I want me and everyone I love to be happy, so I want to build a world where that can happen. Fairness dictates that everyone on the planet must have similar opportunity to live a good life.”

What might be fair to you might not be fair to someone else.

“The universe isn’t as cold a place as you might think, even when there are no supernatural beings watching over us. Indeed, it’s much warmer than a universe governed by a God who sentences good, rational people to a fate worse than death.”

The universe is a very cold place. 3 genocides, 2 world wars and dozens of terroist attacks are more than likely to make someone feel ashamed of the human race. Since when does God sentence “good and rational people” to hell? Maybe you should say that God sentences people who reject him and want to live their own way to hell. I mean, if you murder and steal and don’t conform to the standards of the U.S law, is it unfair to send you to jail? The same thing applies with God.

“The complexity of about every single constituent of this universe begs for a designer.Emotionally, I’m sure it does. Unfortunately, the science doesn’t back it up.”

Scientifically it does as well. Tell me what is the probability of forming a information-rich universe by chance?

Think about what you’re saying. If you consider yourself a “good and rational” person, then I think you can make sense of what I just said.

With Respect,
Benjii

doctor(logic)
doctor(logic)
14 years ago

Benjii,

You see, if there is no moral lawgiver, then, the moral laws that emanate from us are just the outcome of chemical/biological evolutionary processes that have been evolving through time. In other words, our morality is fake and useless. So a rapist or murderer is not really that guilty since his or her actions are just a chemical/biological outcome that changed over time.

Four points here.

1) If I am right, then our morality is neither fake nor useless. It is useful to us, as has been proven by our Western tradition of law and order. Suppose there is no God. It would not matter what reasons (or delusions) caused us to make up the rules, we like them, and they make us happy. Hence, they’re not useless, and we didn’t need a God to give them to us.

2) People aren’t moral because of religion. People choose a religion that they find compatible with their morality. (When they’re not shoe-horned into the family religion, that is.) If this were not so, we should expect religion to be correlated with reduced social ills, and that isn’t the case.

3) If a child is raised in a bad environment, physically and verbally abused, desensitized to violence, and with minimal parental oversight, is it the child’s fault that he becomes a monster? Does he deserve punishment? No. He doesn’t. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t punish criminals. The justice system exists to stabilize society, deter crime and reform abusers. It cannot be the ultimate measure of universal justice, because there’s no such thing.

4) You are arguing for an absolute lawgiver because, if there were no such lawgiver, then the outcome would be bad. But, for your argument to work, we must agree on what “bad” is before you reach your conclusion. So, we agree on what is right and wrong ahead of time. In that case, there’s no need for absolute morality, ultimate lawgivers, or any other metaphysics.

What might be fair to you might not be fair to someone else.

The world isn’t perfect. We have to compromise. That’s what being a liberal is all about. I’m not fond of guns, but as a liberal, I must allow some gun ownership. It’s only fair if I want to keep my free thought, my lifestyle, my music, my movies, reproductive chioce, and so on.

Maybe you should say that God sentences people who reject him and want to live their own way to hell. I mean, if you murder and steal and don’t conform to the standards of the U.S law, is it unfair to send you to jail? The same thing applies with God.

I have exceptionally good reasons for rejecting God as a nonsensical confusion. My reasoning and logic are impeccable. And I consider myself a seeker of truth. If there were undeniable evidence for God (it would have to be naturalistic, not that we could tell the difference), only then might I be guilty of rejecting him for emotional reasons. However, my rejection is based on a commitment to truth and reason. But don’t I still go to hell in your theology? Just for being honest and not having faith? And what about people who have never heard of your God, or who have comparable evidence for other Gods?

Furthermore, shouldn’t “jail” terms be proportionate to the crime? An eternity in torture seems a little harsh for any finite crime spree. It’s a ridiculous punishment for honesty and good behavior.

Scientifically it does as well. Tell me what is the probability of forming a information-rich universe by chance?

There’s no question of chance or probability. We don’t have an ensemble of universes to pick from. We are in the one universe we’re in. The “probability” is 1.0. What’s the probability that I am my father’s son? Again, 1.0.

We may ask only what is the probability that we will find Y given X, P(Y|X), e.g., given a coin with two sides, what is the probability it lands heads?

P(heads | heads or tails) = 0.5.

You ask what is the probability that, given we are in an information rich universe, we find our selves in that universe. P(U|U). That answer must be unity.

edarrell
edarrell
14 years ago

This is the sort of evidientiary or ethical lapse — we’d hope it be the former — that exposes intelligent design as an enterprise unworthy of serious consideration by Christians: The fossil record is mostly an embarrassment to Darwinian evolution, but arguing over the fossil record is not my primary means of attack. I prefer to explore the case against abiogenesis. I feel more comfortable in that domain.

First, mammalian fossils vindicate Darwinian evolution at every turn. The Karoo fossils clearly show the rise of mammals, and spectacular series show evolution of elephants, whales, horses, camels, rhinoceroses and apes. Claims that these fossils are somehow an embarrassment are simply disconnected from reality. We Christians believe in the supernatural, but not in the false.

Second, abiogenesis is not a part of Darwinian evolution theory. The repeated attempts to claim that it is are simply dishonest. Worse, the work on abiogenesis is almost always misrepresented by Darwinian critics, because it, too, is quite well developed, and it does not support anti-evolutionists in any significant way.

Alas, the probability of science critics mischaracterizing evolution and its evidence also approaches unity, a century and a half after Bishop Wilberforce was called to task for such misrepresentation.

Most people understand these issues of ethics. That is probably the greatest driver of the voters to turn out the school board in Dover, Pennsylvania, a few hours ago — even stronger than the voters’ commitment to good science.

Benjii
Benjii
14 years ago

“If I am right, then our morality is neither fake nor useless. It is useful to us, as has been proven by our Western tradition of law and order. Suppose there is no God. It would not matter what reasons (or delusions) caused us to make up the rules, we like them, and they make us happy. Hence, they’re not useless, and we didn’t need a God to give them to us.”

This debate can go on forever and ever. If there was no god, then, indeed our morality would still be rendered useless in the eternal perspective. You say morality is beneficial to those who live by it. Of course it is, but that might not be what Jeffrey Dahmer, Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin believe. Convince them that morality is important and beneficial, and they’ll tell you the same thing I told you. Moreover, they thought they were doing society a benefit by exterminating their victims. At any rate, your atheism devalues human life in the sense that were just part of an evolutionary outcome that didn’t have us in mind. If we’re just as unimportant as a rock on the sandshore, then, who’s to say what the meaning of life really is? With christianity, are meaning is useful, and comes from an ultimate lawgiver. Not from one that evolved and has no mind whatsoever.

“You ask what is the probability that, given we are in an information rich universe, we find our selves in that universe. P(U|U). That answer must be unity.”

Think again. Check out this assessment by theologian/philosopher William Lane-Craig:

“On July 22, 1985, the New Jersey Supreme Court suggested that county clerk Nicholas Caputo institute new procedures for determining the places of candidates’ names on county election ballots, since out of the last 41 drawings conducted by Caputo Democratic candidates had won the coveted top line on the ballot an astonishing 40 times. Observing that the odds against such results are 50 billion to 1, the Court remarked that few reasonable persons would think that blind chance was responsible for the results of Caputo’s drawings.

We all recognize the wisdom of the Court’s recommendation. But why? We are tempted to say that the results of Caputo’s drawings were simply too improbable to be attributed to chance. But that answer cannot be the whole story, since any result of a random drawing is as equally improbable as any other. What is it in addition to the improbability of the result that warrants our intuitive inference to design rather than chance?

This is the question which mathematician and philosopher William Dembski seeks to answer. The solution– which Dembski develops with great precision and detail– may be roughly summarized by saying that chance is ruled out when the highly improbable event conforms to a discernible pattern which is given independently of the event itself. A pattern is given independently of an event if we can formulate this pattern without any information concerning the event itself. Dembski calls a probability conjoined with such a pattern a “specified” probability and formulates the Law of Small Probability: specified events of small probability do not occur by chance.

In the Caputo case, knowing that Caputo was a Democrat and that he had control over the drawings, we can formulate various cheating patterns which would emerge if Caputo were rigging the drawings. Inquiring what pattern characterized the actual series of drawings, we find– lo and behold!– that the actual pattern of drawings is included in the set of pre–formulated cheating patterns. Therefore, we know that the pattern was not due to chance, but to design.

On the basis of his analysis, Dembski outlines a ten–step Generic Chance Elimination Argument:

One learns that some event has occurred.

Examining the circumstances under which the event occurred, one finds that the event could only have been produced by a certain chance process (or processes).

One identifies a pattern which characterizes the event.

One calculates the probability of the event given the chance hypothesis.

One determines what probabilistic resources were available for producing the event via the chance hypothesis.

On the basis of the probabilistic resources, one calculates the probability of the event’s occurring by chance once out of all the available opportunities to occur.

One finds that the above probability is sufficiently small.

One identifies a body of information which is independent of the event’s occurrence.

One determines that one can formulate the pattern referred to in step (3) on the basis of this body of independent information.

One is warranted in inferring that the event did not occur by chance.

This is a simplification of Dembski’s analysis, which he develops and defends with painstaking rigor and detail.

Dembski’s analysis will be of interest to all persons who are concerned with detecting design, including forensic scientists, detectives, insurance fraud investigators, exposers of scientific data falsification, cryptographers, and SETI investigators. Intriguingly, it will also be of interest to natural theologians. For in contemporary cosmology the heated debate surrounding the fine–tuning of the universe and the so–called Anthropic Principle will be greatly clarified by Dembski’s Law of Small Probability.

Consider the application of the above Generic Chance Elimination Argument to the fine–tuning of the universe:

One learns that the physical constants and quantities given in the Big Bang possess certain values.

Examining the circumstances under which the Big Bang occurred, one finds that there is no Theory of Everything which would render physically necessary the values of all the constants and quantities, so they must be attributed to sheer accident.

One discovers that the values of the constants and quantities are incomprehensibly fine–tuned for the existence of intelligent, carbon–based life.

The probability of each value and of all the values together occurring by chance is vanishingly small.

There is only one universe; it is illicit in the absence of evidence to multiply one’s probabilistic resources (i.e., postulate a World Ensemble of universes) simply to avert the design inference.

Given that the universe has occurred only once, the probability of the constants and quantities’ all having the values they do remains vanishingly small.

This probability is well within the bounds needed to eliminate chance.

One has physical information concerning the necessary conditions for intelligent, carbon–based life (e.g., certain temperature range, existence of certain elements, certain gravitational and electro–magnetic forces, etc.).

This information about the finely–tuned conditions requisite for a life– permitting universe is independent of the pattern discerned in step (3).

One is warranted in inferring that the physical constants and quantities given in the Big Bang are not the result of chance.

One is thus justified in inferring that the initial conditions of the universe are due to design.

Dembski emphasizes that in attributing an event to design, he is not characterizing it as a product of intelligence. For he defines “design” to mean “neither regularity nor chance,” that is to say, if something is not explicable in terms of natural law or chance, then by definition it is due to “design.” To say that something is due to “design” is just to say that it exhibits a certain kind of pattern. Nevertheless, Dembski thinks that proving that something is due to neither regularity nor chance is the logical pre–requisite for proving that it is due to intelligence. He makes the move from “design” to a bona fide designer or intelligent agent by means of a three–step schema of actualization–exclusion–specification; that is to say, one finds that a certain possibility has been actualized (and therefore presumably requires a cause), one excludes accounts of the event based on natural law explanations (thereby showing that the event is physically contingent), and finally one specifies that contingency so as to show that it conforms to an independently given pattern (thereby distinguishing choice from mere chance as the cause of the event). Since the hallmark of intelligent agency is choice, one has thus shown that the best explanation for the occurrence of the event is an intelligent agent. Obviously, this three–step schema simply retraces the steps of Dembski’s design inference, so that it turns out that one is getting to genuine design (a previsioned product of intelligent agency) after all. Thus, if the initial conditions of the universe are due to “design,” as argued above, then the inference to a Cosmic Designer is warranted.”

Benjii
Benjii
14 years ago

doctor(logic),

When you convince me that morality can be better achieved without God or that high specifity can be accounted by chance, then, maybe, I’ll give you the better advantage. So far, your arguments are long shots that have little substance. I don’t mean this in a derogatory sense. What I mean is, that you have to do a lot to back up your claims.

Best Wishes,
Benjii

doctor(logic)
doctor(logic)
14 years ago

Examining the circumstances under which the Big Bang occurred, one finds that there is no Theory of Everything which would render physically necessary the values of all the constants and quantities, so they must be attributed to sheer accident.

There is only one universe; it is illicit in the absence of evidence to multiply one’s probabilistic resources (i.e., postulate a World Ensemble of universes) simply to avert the design inference.

Dembski is admitting to the flaw in his own logic. If you only have one event that has already happened, and which is necessary for the observation, you don’t have probabilities at all. This violates his own rule:

…highly improbable event conforms to a discernible pattern which is given independently of the event itself

We are not independent observers of a universe when we are reliant on that universe for our very existence. (A similar failure occurs in the Doomsday Argument – a non-metaphysical misapplication of statistics – see Wikipedia).

Suppose you lost your cat in Boston, and the cat somehow made its way back to your home in Chicago. What is the probability that you had a cat when you were in Boston? It must be 1.0, for otherwise you could not have lost it there. It may be improbable that cats deposited in Boston find their way home to Chicago, but that’s not what Dembski is talking about. Your travel to Chicago, and your cat’s travel to Chicago are totally independent. That you deposited the cat in Boston is not independent of the story. The tuning of the universe is analogous the deposition of the cat. It had to happen as the premise of the story. We are not independent of the universe, in some sense, we are the universe.

The reason that forensics and historical research are reasonable is that they propose specific theories about what did happen, e.g., Col. Potter, in the Dining Room, with the Candlesticks. Or at least, a small male who entered the house through a small window, etc.

It is thoroughly impossible to substantiate magical acts using science because any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

When you convince me that morality can be better achieved without God or that high specifity can be accounted by chance, then, maybe, I’ll give you the better advantage. So far, your arguments are long shots that have little substance. I don’t mean this in a derogatory sense. What I mean is, that you have to do a lot to back up your claims.

Rest assured, convincing others to become logical positivists is not my primary motivation. Generally, debate helps me learn more about philosophy.

As for your claims about morality, let’s zoom in on this a little. You are saying that if I could show that behavior you intuitively regard as good could be better achieved through atheism (or shall we just say materialism), then you would grant me an advantage. This is a very reassuring statement, from my perspective. It means that outcomes matter to you. I blogged about this today:
http://doctorlogic.blogspot.com

At any rate, your atheism devalues human life in the sense that were just part of an evolutionary outcome that didn’t have us in mind.

Again, I don’t see the devaluation. This one and only life is what I regard as important. Why value this life if there’s an eternal afterlife?

If we’re just as unimportant as a rock on the sandshore, then, who’s to say what the meaning of life really is?

We are. This is our choice. Your choice.

With christianity, are meaning is useful, and comes from an ultimate lawgiver. Not from one that evolved and has no mind whatsoever.

How is this an answer? Why is there a God? Why does he treat us worse than we treat livestock? Why does he make the universe look as if he doesn’t exist. What do I do in the afterlife? Are my thoughts independent, or are we all part of a Borg collective, but less interesting? Why did God make the laws he did? What does God do with his time (if time exists for him)? Are we here just for his entertainment? Can an omniscient being be entertained? If God is evil, do we still have to follow his laws?

I don’t find the uber-lawgiver argument compelling.

Benjii
Benjii
14 years ago

This debate is great. I have great respect for you, doctor(logic). I hope you can say the same about me. You have been respectful and kind to me all along.

“Suppose you lost your cat in Boston, and the cat somehow made its way back to your home in Chicago. What is the probability that you had a cat when you were in Boston? It must be 1.0, for otherwise you could not have lost it there. It may be improbable that cats deposited in Boston find their way home to Chicago, but that’s not what Dembski is talking about. Your travel to Chicago, and your cat’s travel to Chicago are totally independent. That you deposited the cat in Boston is not independent of the story. The tuning of the universe is analogous the deposition of the cat. It had to happen as the premise of the story. We are not independent of the universe, in some sense, we are the universe.”

You say that we are the universe. No, the universe is the outside reality that, as humans, we can observe. The probability of the cat finding your home is low. If, indeed, nil. You also totally misinterpreted Dembski on his analysis.

“How is this an answer? Why is there a God? Why does he treat us worse than we treat livestock? Why does he make the universe look as if he doesn’t exist. What do I do in the afterlife? Are my thoughts independent, or are we all part of a Borg collective, but less interesting? Why did God make the laws he did? What does God do with his time (if time exists for him)? Are we here just for his entertainment? Can an omniscient being be entertained? If God is evil, do we still have to follow his laws?”

Your musing about God is philosophical red herring. You’re pointing to something I didn’t even talk about. Understand what I’m saying?

doctor(logic)
doctor(logic)
14 years ago

This debate is great. I have great respect for you, doctor(logic). I hope you can say the same about me.

Yes, of course! I love it when a debate is an honest attempt to discern truth, even if neither side gets convinced by the other.

You say that we are the universe. No, the universe is the outside reality that, as humans, we can observe. The probability of the cat finding your home is low. If, indeed, nil. You also totally misinterpreted Dembski on his analysis.

No, the cat analogy was correct. There are two questions being asked:

1) What is the probability that a cat will find its way home from Boston to Chicago? (very small)

2) What is the probability that you dropped that cat off in Boston before the cat made its way home? (1.0)

The analogies with the universe are, respectively:

1) What is the probability that, given the laws of physics, you end up with humans on Earth instead of, say, Klingons on Chronos, or Smartrons on planet Tharg? (very small)

2) What is the probability, that given humans on Earth, the universe has laws of physics compatible with humans? (1.0)

If we were separable from the parameters of the universe, then we would be outside observers, but we’re not. Change the graviational constant, or the fine structure constant, and humans don’t exist. Possibly, no observers exist.

Suppose naturalistic evolution is correct. Then we must evolve according to the laws of physics, and we must evolve into beings that are well-adapted to our universe. Natural selection guarantees that we are well-adapted. It doesn’t guarantee what our morphology is, or where in the universe we grow up, but it guarantees our compatibility with the universe. (I wonder whether we might have been smart velociraptors had that meteorite not clobbered us 65 million years ago. πŸ™‚ )

Now suppose we change the fundamental constants of the universe by a tiny amount. Say that this makes Sulphur-based life simpler than Carbon-based life. Then, if live evolved in that new universe, it would be Sulphur-based. The Suphur life forms would be asking themselves, “what are the odds that the universe would be perfectly tuned to make Sulphur-based life forms?”

The nature of life in a naturalistic system is that life itself is dependent on the fundamental constants of the universe. They are not independent.

Benjii
Benjii
14 years ago

Well, I don’t think there is enough evidence for this naturalistic universe. What we see from every angle of the universe is something deeply encoded with information. If you want to tell me that it is a product of some fluke, then, try to convince me that Rosetta stone is a product of happenstance. I don’t think you can. Unless, you throw some weird round-about analogy, which you just did. In any case, you can’t argue high specificity and low probability from chance.

Benjii
Benjii
14 years ago

Enough said!