Saturday, June 19, 2010

My Kind Of Discussion

Just stumbled across a philosophy forum in which precisely the points I generally try to make are being made.

You seem immune to the point that "complexity", by itself, being generated by non-ID forces is not challenged by ID theorists. ID theorists fully recognized that ID is not necessary to generate virtually limitless amounts of complexity. Complexity is not the same thing as functionally specified complex information (FSCI). You can have many universes full of complexity, but never achieve over 1000 bits of FSCI unless a teleological force is involved.

No evolutionary biologist that I know of agrees with you about natural selection; natural selection cannot create anything; it only kills things off. Without random mutation, epigenetics, genetic drift and other evolutionary mechanisms that supposedly generate new information, natural selection has nothing to work with.

If natural selection is such an algorithm, then please direct me to the mathematical model which demonstrates that it can produce what you claim it produces.
Exactly. Death is not a creative force, and all other sweeping scientific theories (Newtonian physics, qunatum mechanics, relativity, grand unification) are backed up by very strong mathematics (calculus, wave equations, tensor analysis, group theory, respectively) that either preceeded or were coincident with the science. As it stands, there is absolutely no mathematical theorem in existence that establishes that specified information can be generated via stochastic algorithm. Curious, then that the Darwinists run around pretending it is possible.

Belinda wrote:
Meleagar, nobody has time to read everything. Everybody has to be selective. If I had been told by authoritative and impartial people that Dr Behe and Dr Demski would increase my understanding, I would read them as original sources. But what I have learned against them, especially about the political partisanship of their arguments, makes me instead read secondary sources and criticisms.
IOW (and correct me if I am wrong), you have not taken the time to read any ID materials by ID proponents, yet feel completely comfortable making "arguments" based entirely on the hearsay of ID critics. Why are you arguing against something you won't even bother to honestly inform yourself about?

Is this how reputable people of good character pursue a rational debate? By smearing the reputations and character of a whole group of people without even bothering to investigate the matter personally, empirically, when it is very easy to do so? You would condemn them without even knowing what they have actually said on the matter?
As for the maths of the relative numbers of life friendly planets in the universe, I also have to take this on trust.The facts and stats are comparatively well known to scientists and a good many lay people who read quality newspapers.
IMO, you haven't read anything of the sort from any source whatsoever; you have never in these forums supported via source and reference anything you have claimed. Your vague, hearsay appeals to implied authority isn't a debate - it's not even good rhetoric.
Do you study chemistry and physiology before you take a paracetamol tablet for a minor pain?
No. What does that have to do with your admittedly uninformed smearing of scientists and other educated professionals in the ID community based on nothing more than hearsay?

Belinda wrote:

I could accuse you of not reading the books that I have read, but ad hominem is no use to man or beast.
It is not ad hominem to point out that you are maligning and smearing the reputations and character of ID theorists based on nothing more than hearsay. It is not ad hominem to point out that your characterizations of the ID argument are not based on any significant reading of ID materials written by ID proponents, but rather simply on hearsay - especially when you insist on your negative and false characterizations even after your errors about ID have been pointed out and corrected, and even after you have been directed to sources and provided with quotes in the attempt to clear up your misconceptions.

My "not reading the books you have read" is entirely irrelevent to the point; I have criticized Darwin, but then I have read Darwin's books. I have not made wide, sweeping dismissals and smears of evolutionary biologists; I have not mischaracterized any argument of biology or mainstream evolutionary theory to my knowledge.

In fact, I've had to correct you as you have misrepresented the current state of evolutionary theory by erroneously claiming that "natural selection" is a complete explanation for the origin of all species; no evolutionary biologist that I know of makes that claim. Natural selection does not create new genetic information; it therefore cannot be a complete explanation of the origin of any species.

It is my habit, and I hope the habit of most who would engage in a debate about any particular subject, to only debate to the degree that I have qualified myself to debate by my own investigation. If I am going to argue about Darwin, or what Darwin says, or what he did, then it is incumbent upon me to read Darwin's works and not rely on the hearsay of third parties. To argue from hearsay is just bad debate form.

If I am going to argue about intelligent design, then I cannot reasonably do so unless I read intelligent design materials from intelligent design proponents. Otherwise, my argument will be based on nothing more than hearsay and assumptions; such arguments would likely be little more than straw man, motive-mongering, and red herring because I would not have a meaningful grasp on the actual subject material itself.

Why argue about something that you refuse to educate yourself about? Why continue insisting upon mischaracterizations even after someone who is familiar with the material has pointed out your errors? Why smear the reputations and character of a whole group of people that you refuse to even give a fair reading?
I hope that you will now continue with the argument proper and accept that while my knowledge is not encyclopaedic, my point of view is not only valid, but also repeats the learned opinions of most scientists and educationists.
Your "argument" is about as improper, insubstantial, and willfully (by your own admission) ignorant of the subject matter as arguments get. If I had as little knowledge of a subject as you admit have of ID, I certainly wouldn't run around making erroneous and unsupported claims against and about it, and smearing the reputations and character of the proponents of that subject.

This wouldn't be an issue if, when corrected and offered quotes and sources to demonstrate your erroneous, hearsay-based characterization of ID, you'd accept the correction and amend your argument - but you do not. You keep insisting that the ID argument is something other than what it is - that is a continuation of a straw man fallacy. That would be like me insisting that evolutionary theory claims that humans evolve from apes and reiterating that claim even after it has been pointed out, sourced, and quoted that it is not the case; that would be willful ignorance on my part.


IOW, if one cannot take a few minutes of one's time to read up on a subject they are arguing about, after they have been repeatedly corrected via legitimate quote and source, but rather insist that one's uninformed repetition of hearsay is a more valid description of ID theory, position and claims than the quoted and sourced statements of all of the main ID theorists themselves, then one is not engaged in reasonable debate at all.

At that point, all one is doing is parroting hearsay and rhetoric, and appealing to some false authority they cannot even be bothered to provide a source for.
Indeed. Examples of such behavior on the part of Darwinists are legion. Witness the comments on Amazon to any positive review of an ID-friendly book or all of the one-star reviews written by those who haven't read the book. My attitude is: read Dawkins et al. Read the ID guys. You'll see who's right. Their attitude is: Read Dawkins, but don't read the trash published by the science-hating Christian morons!!!!

Based on such attitudes, who is more likely able to handle the truth here?

Unrealist42 wrote:
If the universe was created by some outside actor, where did that come from? You claim that everything had to begin from something else but if we keep on that path we end up in an infinite regression of origins, a trap.
No, I didn't make that claim. What I said is that everything that begins, or has an origin, must have logically been caused by something else. This is why Aristotle described the need for an uncaused cause, an immovable mover, an eternal God.

Since the big bang evidence indicates that the universe began about 15 billion years ago, we can infer that something other than what we now call nature caused the universe to exist. Somewhere upriver in the system of causation there must be an uncaused cause, an eternal god.

Furthermore, the only system of "cause and effect" that we are aware of is that which occurs in our temporal, physical universe; that which is outside it is not necessarily bound by such mechanisms.
There is more of a logical necessity for nothing to have existed before the big bang because to assume otherwise quickly becomes logically unreasonable.
The existence of an uncaused cause, a final orgin, is a logical necessity; otherwise, you must have a thing that causes itself, a thing caused by nothing, or infinite regression. The only logical choice is that all things ultimately caused by the uncaused cause - what one can call "god".
Your maxims and axioms are not reasonable as I explained above. If you have another line of logic and reason available please describe it.
You explanation was about a straw man. I never said everything must have been caused - that is the folly of materialists and determinists. I said everything that has a beginning must have been caused by something else, or else you have an inescapable and unsolvalbe logic problem. The only way to avoid the causation problem is by referring to an uncaused cause - a thing that is eternal and had no beginning.

This is why the big bang evidence was so disconcerting to cosmologists; they wanted an eternal universe or a steady-state universe because of the problem of causation. The big bang theory was ridiculed as being creationist (the name "big bang" was one applied first out of ridicule) because it scientifically necessitated a supernatural (or extra-natural, or non-natural) origin of the universe.
In any case this is not a debate but a discourse of discovery.
What it is to you is up to you. Logically, one must eventually refer to an uncaused cause or else one faces infinite regression, a thing causing itself, or a thing being caused by nothing. The need for an uncaused cause is absolute, logically speaking.

Unrealist42 wrote:
What I do not see is any logical necessity to go beyond that, especially if doing so requires the invocation of mythical beings, like an eternal god.

Because the evidence and logic requires it, the argument for which I have already presented, and which I will present again in this post.
Besides, invoking god just brings us back to the conundrum of infinite regression. The only way to solve that is to say that god came from nothing.
No. "God" is the term that refers to the "final cause", the eternal being that is the source of all causation. It invokes no "infinite regression" or "causation from nothing" because it is the eternal uncaused cause.

A deliberate being is required to be the causeless cause, or else how did it generate the universe? The only useful description of a causeless cause that creates things is that it is an intentional agency - or else one is back to irrational explanations of origin.

Furthermore, that the universe is so orderly that continuous, living beings can exist with rational minds which can deliberately discern truthful statement about the world to the point of being able to manipulate materials and forces to generate virtually infinite amounts of specified complex functionality, directly implicates a final cause, a purpose, what Aristotle called the "good" of all things.

A purposeless, happenstance universe cannot generate an encyclopedia, a computer, a space shuttle, a battleship. There must be incredible heirarchical order imposed from a systems management and development perspective in order for everything to exist in just the right states (strong anthropic argument) so that anything cohesive and significant can exist, much less self-replicating, cognizant life that can reason and generate marvels of entropy-defying order and complexity and functionality.

This necessarily means - logically - that the final cause that generated the universe did so with deliberate purpose from a systems development perspective. IOW, there had to be a teleological final goal or purpose in mind.

The conclusion is: the final cause must have been an eternal, uncaused, deliberate, intelligent agency that created the universe for a purpose. IMO, that description meets the fundamental requirements for the term "god" to be an appropriate label.
Would it not be more logical to leave mythical gods out of this and just say that the universe came from nothing?
If you wish to argue that the idea that something can come from nothing is rational, we don't have anything left to debate, because things can just pop into existence from nothing and rational observation and orderly inference based on cause and effect is destroyed.

Unrealist42 wrote:
I was really wondering how long this was going to go on before you had to admit that Intelligent Design is really just belief in god.
You are apparently conflating two different discussions. I'm not talking about ID in the above posts. I'm making a philosophical argument about the logical necessity of the existence of a god.
If god can just pop into existence from nowhere why can't a universe? The only reason you would need to invoke god in this scenario is if you have a need for god to exist in the first place.
God isn't proposed to have "popped into existence"; god is the proposed eternal uncaused cause from which other events that have a beginning are ultimately caused by, and without which one is fored into irrational positions concerning cause and effect.
It has become apparent from our discussion that Intelligent Design is based on a position of divine creation.
It is not.

What can one say about the almost total philosophical obtuseness that considers the need for a first cause to prevent infinite regress to be something that implies infinite regress? This is another bit of uncomprehending sophistry that I run across all the time. All of the good thinking above was posted by someone with the handle Maleagar. I like the cut of his jib.


Jason said...

Great discussion there. Why is it that those who profess great philosophical understanding always fail when presented with a philosophical argument?

DavidD said...

So evolutionary theory does not claim that humans evolve from apes?

Can you give me the quotes for this or would I have to ask Maleagar?

Matteo said...

I think that Maleager was referring to evolutionists irritation at the question, "If we evolved from apes, why are there still apes?" and also the simplistic statement that humans evolved from apes when it is more accurate to say that we share a common ancestor with apes. In that respect it would be correct to say that evolutionary theory does not claim that humans evolved from apes.

DavidD said...

Thanks, Matteo.

And to think that evolutionists get it so close. All they'd have to do is to change one word--to say that we share a common creator with apes...