Science Doesn’t Say Anything– Scientists Do

 

 

             You can’t put honesty in a test tube.

           “Science” doesn’t say anything—scientists do.

            Those are a couple of the illuminating conclusions we can draw from the global warming e-mail scandal.

            “You mean science is not objective?”  No, unless the scientists are, and too often they are not.   I don’t want to impugn all scientists, but it is true that some of them are less than honest.  Sometimes they lie to get or keep their jobs.  Sometimes they lie to get grant money.  Sometimes they lie to further their political beliefs.   Sometimes they don’t intentionally lie, but they draw bad scientific conclusions because they only look for what they hope to find.  

            Misbehavior by scientists is more prevalent than you might think.  A survey conducted by University of Minnesota researchers found that 33% of scientists admitted to engaging in some kind of research misbehavior, including more than 20% of mid-career scientists who admitted to “changing the design, methodology or results of a study in response to pressure from a funding source.”  Think of how many more have done this but refuse to admit it!   (The researchers said as much in their findings.)

            Outright lies and deception certainly seem to be the case with “Climate-gate.”  The exposed e-mails reveal cherry picking; manipulating data; working behind the scenes to censor dissenting views; and doubting what the measurements say because they don’t fit their pre-determined conclusion.   Matt Drudge headlined this yesterday as the “Greatest scandal in modern science.”

            I actually think there is another great scientific scandal, but its misrepresentations are not quite as obvious.  In this scandal, instead of outright lies, scientific conclusions are smuggled in as philosophical presuppositions.  Such is the case with the controversy over the origin of life and new life forms.  Did natural forces working on non-living chemicals cause life, or is life the result of intelligent activity?   Did new life forms evolve from lower life forms by natural forces or was intelligence needed?

            Dr. Stephen Meyer has written a fabulous new best-selling book addressing those questions called Signature in the Cell Having earned his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in the philosophy of science, Dr. Meyer is at the top of the science food chain.  In our August 8th radio interview, he told me he’s been working on his 600+ page book—which isn’t short of technical detail—for more than a decade.  

            What qualifies a man who has a Ph. D. in the “philosophy of science” to write on the origin of life or macroevolution?  Everything.  What some scientists, and many in the general public fail to understand is that science cannot be done without philosophy.  All data must be interpreted.  And much of the debate between Intelligent Design proponents (like Dr. Meyer) and the Darwinists (like Oxford Professor Richard Dawkins) is not a debate over evidence—everyone is looking at the same evidence.  It’s a debate over philosophy.   It’s a debate over what causes will be considered possible before we look at the evidence.

            Scientists look for causes, and logically, there are only two possible types of causes—intelligent causes or non-intelligent causes (i.e. natural causes).   A natural cause can explain a geologic wonder like the Grand Canyon, but only an intelligent cause can explain a geologic wonder like the faces of the presidents on Mount Rushmore.  Likewise, natural laws can explain why ink adheres to the paper in Dr. Meyer’s book, but only an intelligent cause can explain the information in that book (i.e. Dr. Meyer!).

            How does this apply to the question of the origin of life?  Long after Darwin, we discovered that “simple” single-celled life is comprised of massive volumes of DNA information called specified complexity—in everyday terms, a complicated software program or a really long message.  Richard Dawkins admits that the information content of the “unjustly called ‘primitive’ amoeba” would fill 1,000 volumes of an encyclopedia!  

            What’s the cause of this?  Here’s where the philosophy comes in.  Dr. Meyer is open to both types of causes.  Richard Dawkins is not.  Dr. Meyer’s book explains why natural forces do not appear to have the capacity to do the job, only intelligence does.  However, Dawkins and his Darwinist cohorts philosophically rule out intelligent causes before they look at the evidence.  So no matter how much the evidence they discover points to intelligence (as a long message surely does), they will always conclude it had to be some kind of natural cause.   In other words, their conclusion is the result of their philosophical presupposition.

            While Dawkins has no viable natural explanation for life or the message contained therein, he says he knows it cannot be intelligence.  That philosophical presupposition leads to what appears to be an unbelievable conclusion:  To believe that 1,000 volumes of an encyclopedia resulted from blind natural forces is like believing that the Library of Congress resulted from an explosion in a printing shop.  I don’t have enough faith to believe that.

            “This is a ‘God of the gaps’ argument!”  Dawkins might protest.  No it isn’t.  We don’t just lack a natural explanation for “simple” life—1,000 encyclopedias worth of information is positive empirically verifiable evidence for an intelligence cause.  Consider the cause of the book The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, for example.  It’s not merely that we lack a natural explanation for the book (of course we know that the laws of ink and paper couldn’t have written the book).  It’s also the fact that we know that messages only come from minds.   Therefore, we rightly posit an intelligent author, not a blind natural process.

            Why is it so hard for Dawkins and other Darwinists to see this?  Maybe they refuse to see it.  Maybe, like global warming “scientists,” they have their own political or moral reasons for denying the obvious.  Or maybe they’ve never realized that you cannot do science without philosophy.  As Einstein said, “The man of science is a poor philosopher.”   And poor philosophers of science may often arrive at false scientific conclusions.  That’s because science doesn’t say anything—scientists do.

This column appeared on Townhall.com on November 25.

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271 replies
  1. Lloyd O. Roumetha says:

    “This is a ‘God of the gaps’ argument!” Dawkins might protest. No it isn’t. We don’t just lack a natural explanation for “simple” life—1,000 encyclopedias worth of information is positive empirically verifiable evidence for an intelligence cause. Consider the cause of the book The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, for example. It’s not merely that we lack a natural explanation for the book (of course we know that the laws of ink and paper couldn’t have written the book). It’s also the fact that we know that messages only come from minds. Therefore, we rightly posit an intelligent author, not a blind natural process.

    Dr. Turek,

    Is your theory able to distinguish between “cause” that happens in accordance with the laws of nature and “cause” that doesn’t?

    I don’t suppose that in writing his book Dr. Dawkins suspended, say, gravity. Or the strong nuclear force, or fluid dynamics, or thermodynamics. The laws of nature applied. We observe it to be the case that complex things are created without the laws of nature being suspended. You agree?

    Yet you imagine that life could not begin this way. By your theory the “cause” of life lies outside the orderly operation of the laws of nature.

    Different notions of cause, don’t you think?

    Lloyd O. Roumetha

    Reply
  2. Shawn White says:

    Nice article Frank. I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Meyer’s book and have recommended it to several people. Hopefully skeptics of the ID movement will pick it up and read it and make some honest attempt at dealing with his arguments without resorting to ad hominems.

    Reply
  3. Andrea says:

    Genius Mr. Turek. Great article.

    “In other words, their conclusion is the result of their philosophical presupposition. ”

    -Exactly. Since inanimate matter can’t create it is logically reasonable to conclude that there is a Mind i.e. Ultimate Constant behind all that exists.

    Thanks for posting!

    Reply
  4. Toby R. says:

    “Richard Dawkins admits that the information content of the “unjustly called ‘primitive’ amoeba” would fill 1,000 volumes of an encyclopedia!”

    What does this statement mean? You throw it out as proof of something, but don’t really clarify what Dawkin’s is saying. What would fill a 1,000 volumes of an encyclopedia? I’m assuming DNA information. So is this just a single line of base codes filling up these volumes? So what? I could enumerate the number of molecules or atoms in a diaper and it’d fill encyclopedia sets. You, and Dawkins, use this to boggle the mind, but what really are you even saying? Further, how many of these base codes (if that is what you’re talking about) are even used in the function of this microbe? It lends credence to evolution that there would be old lines of code that have been deactivated over time and are still there just taking up space.

    Science is the study of the physical world around us. What you propose is supernatural, immaterial, untestable ideas. Why should science bother with ideas that have no chance of being physically testable?

    What do fundamentalists have against global warming? Why are you so threatened by this? There are always natural fluctuations in temperature on the planet, but can what’s happening now be caused by humans? Possibly? No? The question for you is why should anyone assume no and go on about the business of polluting the planet? Why is assuming no better than assuming yes (hedging our bets) and changing things accordingly?

    Reply
  5. Andrea says:

    Toby,

    The point of the once thought to be “primitive amoeba” that fills 1,000 volumes of encyclopedias with information, is that it is too precise to have come about through mere natural law.

    Science shows us that immaterial entities can’t create ALL that exists and we can definitely observe, test, and repeat this. Nothing makes nothing, and if you find an intricate creation there is a MIND behind that.

    It is most reasonable that there is a Creator behind everything that has been created and is therefore limited.

    God is who holds all of this together. It makes sense.

    We are supposed to be good stewards of what God has provided for us i.e. the earth we live in. But it is not like we can control global warming ourselves, we can’t make the rain stop when it rains. But we are responsible for using our resources wisely because we are accountable to Him who created it all.

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  6. Andrea says:

    “It is most reasonable that there is a Creator behind everything that has been created and is therefore limited.”

    Let me rephrase that. God as the Creator isn’t bound by limits, so as a result what He has created had a beginning and is therefore limited and completely dependent upon Him.

    Creator- Not limited

    Creation- Limited

    Reply
  7. Frank Turek says:

    Hi Toby,

    DNA is a genetic code, mathematically identical to an alphabet or a binary code we use in computers in terms of its ability to communicate a message (i.e. it’s not just atoms you’d find in a diaper). In all our experience, we know that only minds, not natural forces, can create messages. In fact, Carl Sagan’s SETI program (depicted in the movie “Contact”) relies on the truth that messages only come from minds. The way we could know that an extra-terrestrial intelligence is out there is to get a simple message from outer space (like prime numbers from 2 to 101), because we know that only intelligence (not natural forces) have the capacity to do that. SETI, which of course Sagan considered science, relies on a classic design inference (as does archaeology, cryptology and criminal forensics).

    With regard to global warming, that wasn’t the point of the article. It was just an example of how philosophy undergirds all of science and sometimes leads to wrong conclusions.

    However, I am an environmentalist in the sense that I think certain environmental controls are necessary (my undergraduate degree is in Environmental Studies). I just don’t think the science supports man-made global warming as many researchers on the other side of this issue are afraid to admit– they are lying about the data.

    Now, I haven’t studied the issue in depth, so I certainly could be wrong about GM. But I would like someone who believes in man-made GM to answer this question: “Before there were any man-made industrial carbon emissions, why did the climate cycle from ice ages to warm ages?”

    Blessings this Thanksgiving,

    Frank

    Reply
  8. Luke says:

    Dr. Turek,

    Are you saying that DNA is a message? You say that only a mind can create a message, but I just want to make sure I understand.

    I am not convinced DNA is different than atoms in a diaper. DNA is still just a collection if atoms, right? It’s just that when those atoms are put together something rather amazing happens. If a diaper did something amazing, I could see you arguing that the volumes of informaion Toby mentioned to also be a code.

    As far as global warming… Just because things happen naturally doesn’t mean that people can’t also do or affect them. Since forest fires have occured for millenia, does that mean that a person could not start one?

    To answer your question: Climate change has occured for millions of years due to a variety of natural forces some of which we understand, some which we do not.

    I hope everyone who celebrates it has a wonderful, safe and blessed Thangsgiving! I am just about to leave for my sister’s house to meet the whole family.

    Reply
  9. Frank Turek says:

    Hi Luke,

    DNA is a code. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, commented that “DNA is like a software program, only much more complex than anything we’ve ever devised.” Theistic evolutionist Francis Collins, leader of the Human Genome project, calls DNA “the language of God.”

    Moreover, a code or information cannot be reduced to it’s mere chemical makeup. The letters in a book are made of atoms, but the information that is expressed by the letters cannot be reduced to mere atoms.

    I encourage you to read Dr. Meyer’s book if you’re interested in the topic– although it will take a while since it’s more than 600 pages (which was the result of intelligence not natural forces)!

    Certainly man can affect the environment. The question is how much does he affect the CLIMATE? Still waiting for proof that we affecting it at all.

    Hope your family is well here and in Poland,

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  10. Nathan Barley says:

    Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, commented that “DNA is like a software program, only much more complex than anything we’ve ever devised.”

    Bill Gates doesn’t believe DNA was designed by a mind, nor do many mathematicians or biologists. Comparing DNA to a computer code is simply a metaphor.

    “In all our experience, we know that only minds, not natural forces, can create message’

    This seems circular to me – the best example of a ‘code’ not originated by a mind is DNA! Also, you’re stacking the decks by calling it a ‘message’. The rings on a tree could be called a ‘message’ telling us how old it is.

    “Still waiting for proof that we affecting it at all.”

    Remember your abortion analogy of not kicking a bag if you’re not sure if it contains a baby or not? By the time enough evidence is in to convince all the sceptics, it could well be too late to reverse the damage.

    The majority of climate scientists appear to accept the current evidence. If you took the probability they assigned to it being caused by man, and said a city was under the same risk of terrorist attack, you wouldn’t say it wasn’t high enough to take seriously, or say that we needed to wait some more.

    Reply
  11. Lloyd O. Roumetha says:

    Dr. Turek,

    Does your theory distinguish between “cause” that happens in accordance with the laws of nature and “cause” that doesn’t?

    In writing his book Dr. Dawkins did not suspend, say, gravity. Or the strong nuclear force, or fluid dynamics, or thermodynamics. The laws of nature applied. We observe that complex things are created without the laws of nature being suspended. You agree?

    Yet you seem to imagine life could not begin this way. By your theory the “cause” of life lies outside the orderly operation of the laws of nature. Yes?

    Different notions of cause, don’t you think?

    Lloyd O. Roumetha

    Reply
  12. Nathan Barley says:

    Frank, have you read Dawkins’ new book on evolution – The Greatest Show on Earth? Apparently it’s quite compelling on the subject.

    Reply
  13. Tim D. says:

    Creator- Not limited

    Creation- Limited

    If he created anything, then he’s by definition “limited,” because he created something, and that something now exists as an entity separate from himself — thus, there is a border between the creator and the creation; they are not the same thing. Since the creator is now limited by the definition of his creation — i.e. he is “not” his creation, and his creation is “not” him — then the creator is limited.

    In fact, Carl Sagan’s SETI program (depicted in the movie “Contact”) relies on the truth that messages only come from minds.

    That’s a very misleading comment. “Messages only come from minds.”

    “Messages” don’t literally exist as entities or objects; a message is the sum of two things: a subset of information, and a mind to process that information into something that is relevant to that person in a particular “language,” mental or verbal or otherwise. A “message” does not strictly exist, then; what exists is a set of symbols or commands, which a mind like yours or mine then reads and processes based on prior familiarity with said symbols and what information they are most likely to convey.

    For example, you are familiar with English as a language, so you understand the gist of what I am saying to you when I type phrases and sentences in English. But does that message objectively “exist” just because I intended these symbols to portray certain ideas? I think not. It makes sense to us because you and I speak the same language and are thus operating on preconceived definitions of the words we’re using. So if, say, you did not speak English, then you would perceive no message in what I’ve said here, just symbols.

    Likewise….it’s very easy to find messages or symbols where they were not necessarily intended, as well as the other way around — in nature, there are sometimes patterns which look similar to letters or, in rarer cases, complete words, that can not have come from a mind because there was no mind present (such as when a rock is shaped like an object that has significance to a person who observes it, or when a cloud conjures an image of something in a person’s mind).

    I think it would clarify your point VERY much, Mr. Turek, if you perhaps adjusted your wording slightly to convey the following: When thoughts are conveyed through the organization of a medium (such as words, symbols, or some other form of “language”), then it has to be intentional. As it stands, your definition of “message” begs the very question it poses, which makes it impossible to give it accurate acknowledgement.

    The way we could know that an extra-terrestrial intelligence is out there is to get a simple message from outer space (like prime numbers from 2 to 101),

    Complex patterns exist in nature, though….this poses a problem for me. Correct me where I’ve misunderstood you; thus far you have said:

    -) Naturally-occuring patterns (of a certain degree of complexity and beyond) are actually “messages;”
    -) “Messages” require intelligence;
    -) Therefore, such patterns were created by an intelligence.

    You have also said:

    -) We will know if alien intelligence exists if we receive a “message” of sufficient complexity from space.

    Okay, so tomorrow NASA is going to say, “We’ve received a complex message from outer space, a series of prime numbers from 2 to 101.” How could you differentiate this “alien intelligence” from naturally-occuring “messages” such as DNA or other complex patterns of nature?

    Moreover, a code or information cannot be reduced to it’s mere chemical makeup. The letters in a book are made of atoms, but the information that is expressed by the letters cannot be reduced to mere atoms.

    That’s because the information, strictly speaking, isn’t there. The “information” present relies upon two things: 1) the clarity with which the message-writer was able to express familiarity with the material content of the message; and 2) prior understanding of the language in which the message was communicated.

    Before you respond, let me clarify with these examples:

    FIGURE 1. [If you write a message to me with the intent of expressing it in English, but you write sloppily and make many mistakes, then I will not understand it no matter how fluently I understand English.]

    FIGURE 2. [If you write a message to me but I do not understand English, then I will not understand your message no matter how eloquently you write it.]

    A message is communication between two or more consciousnesses; there must be two conscious parties observing the message (although not necessarily at the same time) in order to call it a “message.” Which is to say, there must be a person on one end to send the message, and a person on the other end to receive it. If there is only a receiver, then the message has no meaning because it was not intended, and if there is only a sender, then the message was written with meaningful intent, but that intent cannot be recognized or communicated. More examples:

    FIGURE 3. [While eating Alpha Bits cereal one morning, I find a message in my cereal: “Sit.” And yet I stirred the contents myself as I applied the milk only moments before, so even if someone had arranged the letters in advance, it is unlikely that any such attempt would have survived my alteration. So should I assume this word is a “message” because it is a word that I understand, written in a language I understand? Or should I dismiss it as a coincidence or otherwise irrelevant?]

    I guess a simpler way to phrase all this would be to ask, how much of a message do you believe “exists” on its own, and how much is dependent on the understanding of the individuals sending or receiving it?

    Reply
  14. Andrea says:

    Tim,

    I thought we had clarified how God isn’t limited by the creation, because we are completely dependent on Him. We have to put ourselves in the perspective that we are created, and therefore finite. Whereas God as the Creator, and the One who holds everything together isn’t bound by the boundaries His creation is bound in.

    If one morning you are eating Alpha bits cereal and you find a message that says: Take out the trash- Mom… would you assume that an earthquake shook the house? No right? You would immediately assume that it was put together by a thinking individual with a mind, namely your mom.

    The smallest cell has more info than 1,000 sets of encyclopedias, this is too complex to have come about by chance. Maybe the word “sit” in your cereal could have come to be by chance but as something gets more complicated, then most likely there is a mind behind the message.

    Nature can make patterns, like those the waves cause on the sand, but not messages.

    Reply
  15. Tim D. says:

    I thought we had clarified how God isn’t limited by the creation, because we are completely dependent on Him.

    Dependent or no, if we’re not god, then god is limited.

    If one morning you are eating Alpha bits cereal and you find a message that says: Take out the trash- Mom… would you assume that an earthquake shook the house? No right? You would immediately assume that it was put together by a thinking individual with a mind, namely your mom.

    Well, for one I would think it odd because there is no hyphen in Alpha-bits cereal….but assuming it was just a broken piece of another letter that happened to resemble a hyphen….under the circumstances I outlined, it would be impossible for it to have been assembled by another person because I stirred the contents thoroughly. The point being that, if I encounter what appears to be a message under circumstances that make it impossible for another person to have intentionally phrased that message, then it cannot be a message that was intended by someone, no matter how complex it may be. It is just a coincidence — an amazing one, in the event that it forms something like a complete sentence, but still just that. Like a rock that is shaped ambiguously like an object, or a cloud that reminds me of something else.

    The smallest cell has more info than 1,000 sets of encyclopedias, this is too complex to have come about by chance.

    1) “Come about by chance” is misleading. Nobody — not even evolution accepters like myself — believes that any such thing happened by some kind of random chance. It happened through a process called natural selection, wherein creatures survive because they are fit to survive, be that because they are smarter or faster or stronger or more genetically diverse or more clever or whatever.

    2) I’m afraid it’s not for you or I to decide if something is “too complex to come about” on its own; the fact is that it’s here. There are many ways to approach or explain their presence, but to assume that an intelligence must have created them begs its own question in presupposing that such an intelligence can exist. From a scientific standpoint, it’s a mobius loop to say that intelligence can only come from intelligence; if that’s the case, then intelligence can’t exist, because there had to be a first intelligence, but that intelligence had to come from somewhere. There’s nothing in that proposition alone to solidify the theory that there exists a “timeless” intelligence that has always existed; that is an explanation that was made up after the fact, to explain this theory out of the corner it had painted itself into — the most common and rational response to such a paradox would not be, “Well, if it’s impossible for intelligence to exist because of this infinite loop, we can only assume that some kind of reality-breaking intelligence must exist. That’s the only way our theory can be true.” It would be, “Well, since that theory would result in an infinite regress of intelligence begatting intelligence, it cannot be possible.” Simple as that.

    Now, if you had another unrelated theory that suggested — without referring to this theory of “natural clues” and “messages” and whatnot — which suggested on its own that there existed such a reality-breaking intelligence, then that would be more helpful to your theory because it would coincide with one proposed solution to this one. It still wouldn’t *prove* it, of course, but it would be a step in the right direction. That’s how a lot of science works; if two unrelated systems can produce results that indicate the same or similar conclusion, then it’s more likely that the conclusion is accurate.

    Maybe the word “sit” in your cereal could have come to be by chance but as something gets more complicated, then most likely there is a mind behind the message.

    That’s the knee-jerk reaction, yes, but there’s more to it than that. Our initial experience would tell us, “Wow, that looks like a message from someone!” in the same way that seeing a cloud that looks like an elegant dragon from mythology (even if only vaguely….the odds of it resembling something even distantly are astronomical given the methodology of cloud formation and the sheer number of clouds in the sky at any given moment) would make us think, “Hey, that looks a lot like a dragon!” In the case of the latter, we know that clouds drifting over some random interstate were most likely not just now designed by intelligent life, but rather were produced by natural processes, and while it’s not likely that such a shape arose by itself, the facts are as follows:

    1) Humans most likely did not create the cloud;
    2) We know of no other creatures with the technology to write or draw on clouds;
    3) The cloud exists and has a unique, complex shape;
    4) Therefore, the cloud’s unique shape most likely occurred naturally.

    It’s the same case with the alpha bits:

    1) Humans cannot have assembled the message beforehand because I stirred the contents thoroughly (and in such a way that any message that had been assembled would very likely have been torn apart) before ever checking for a message;
    2) I am not aware of any method other than “deliberate assembly by an intelligent creature capable of assembling the letters manually” that could produce such a message (i.e. I know it’s not possible that someone magically assembled them after they had been broken apart);
    3) The “message” nonetheless exists and has a unique format;
    4) Therefore, the message’s unique format was assembled by natural process and a degree of chance.

    This is a bad example regarding the difference between evolution and creationism, though, because it relies upon chance as the only factor that would cause such a message to exist; in evolution, that’s not the case. It’s similar to the “invisible hand” theory of economics in that it refers to a process that acts as a natural consequence of the behavior of a species or individual, not an actual literal line of reasoning or action that is applied to a situation (although it’s important to note that “invisible hand” and evolution are different in just about every other way; the self-serving BS of IH is not universally present in evolutionary theory).

    Reply
  16. Frank Turek says:

    Hi Nathan and Tim,

    I said: “In all our experience, we know that only minds, not natural forces, can create message’

    Nathan said: This seems circular to me – the best example of a ‘code’ not originated by a mind is DNA! Also, you’re stacking the decks by calling it a ‘message’. The rings on a tree could be called a ‘message’ telling us how old it is.

    I don’t think it is circular for the reasons I stated in chapter 4 of “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.” Briefly, using the principle of uniformity (that causes in the past were like those in the present)– which is the key to all historical or forensic sciences– we know of only minds that can create messages. To falsify that, we would only need to observe a natural force today creating a message. Which of the four natural forces has been observed creating a message? There are none. So the principle of uniformity tells us that since we observe minds creating messages today, we should posit a mind in the past. This is where the philosophy of science comes in and it is where I think Dawkins goes wrong.

    The description of DNA as a code is not a metaphor either. The English alphabet has twenty-six letters; the Greek alphabet has twenty-four and the genetic alphabet has only four, but the method of communicating by the sequence of letters is the same. Information scientist Hubert P. Yockey insists, “It is important to understand that we are not reasoning by analogy. The sequence hypothesis applies directly to the protein and the genetic text as well as to written language and therefore the treatment is mathematically identical.” [Hubert P. Yockey, “Self-Organization, Origin of Life Scenarios, and Information Theory” in Journal of Theoretical Biology, 1981, p. 16]. After all, that’s why it is called a genetic CODE and it is why scientists like Francis Collins can map it and call it “the language of God.” It’s why your genes act like a software program to dictate much of your development. If I’m not mistaken, I think even Dawkins refers to it as “computer-like.”

    I have read the “God Delusion” but not his new one yet. I hear that Jerry Coyne’s book is better.

    With regard to GW and my point on abortion. The difference is we know that when we allow a pregnancy to go to term we ALWAYS get a baby. We don’t know that if we allow society to continue without draconian carbon cuts we are going to heat the planet too much. Although, I agree, that it is serious enough question to investigate. Unfortunately, the issue appears to be too politicized to the point that people are lying to find non-existent GW– which is the point of the article. Science is only as objective as the people who do it. Do you know the answer to the question I posed about why there was GW and Global Cooling prior to any man-made emissions? I don’t.

    Hi Tim,

    Great post on SETI. I think you are correct that intentionality is important. However, I think that we can detect a code even if we don’t understand what it is saying. In other words, even if we don’t understand the intentions of the sender.

    The Rosetta stone would be an example. We knew it was made by intelligence, even though for many years we didn’t know what it said. The same is true for codes used in war. The Americans knew the Japanese were communicating even before they broke the code.

    In the movie Contact, James Woods asked Jodie Foster, “If these Aliens are so intelligent, why don’t they just speak English.” Foster shot back, “Because Math is the only universal language!”

    She was right of course. All languages are codes that can be reduced to math. DNA is the same way. You don’t need to know the intentions of the designer to know something is designed. An archaeologist might find some kind of man- made object, but not know what it was used for. Similarly, if we were to find a strange piece of machinery on Mars, we might not know who put it there or what it was used for, but we would be correct in concluding that some kind of intelligence built it and put it there.

    So with regard to your question– “How could you differentiate this “alien intelligence” from naturally-occuring “messages” such as DNA or other complex patterns of nature?”– I think they both require an intelligent source. DNA may be “naturally occurring” in the sense that it we find it in living things, but that doesn’t mean it originated by natural forces.

    With regard to your point about thoughts: I think that thoughts exist even though they are not material– they certainly are correlated with our material brains, but the thoughts themselves are not made of molecules. That’s one reason I think theism explains reality better than atheism.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  17. Tim D. says:

    However, I think that we can detect a code even if we don’t understand what it is saying. In other words, even if we don’t understand the intentions of the sender.

    I think it is a mistake to instantly assume that something is a code under such circumstances, though….

    It’s been said that if something is sufficiently complex, then it is by definition a code because it’s impossible for something that complex to occur naturally. The problem with defining it as such is that it makes it impossible to observe codes that may have occurred naturally. If we automatically assume that something is a code simply because it is complex, then we are ignoring the very real possibility of a naturally-occuring “code” (or even just a natural occurrence that looks like a code), even if it’s a very simple one. That’s a lot like assuming that something was created because it exists; if we consistently assume that, because something exists, it MUST have been created, then we cannot assume that an ultimate creator exists, because that goes against the prior assumption — if a creator exists, then he was created, as well. Likewise, if we assume that because something is complex, it must be a code created by an intelligent mind, then we are leaving a missing link wide open. Example:

    FIGURE 1.
    [
    a) I observe a moderately complex pattern in the placement of a stone outcropping high upon a mountain somewhere.
    b) (This is where you would say, “complexity equals code equals intelligence”)
    c) Therefore, the complex pattern must have been assembled by an intelligence.

    The above statement is faulty because it does not address genuine alternative possibilities — that this really is a coincidence and nothing more (which is possible, even if unlikely), or that it only appears to be a pattern because of some expertise or knowledge that I am personally reading into it, that someone without that knowledge wouldn’t read into it and thus wouldn’t recognize. If a statement flat-out ignores real possibilities as the one above does, then it is not reliable.

    Secondly….it’s possible to “create” a code based on things we want to see, as well. You may know about the “Bible Code,” which takes printed versions of the Bible and retroactively assembles a complex mathematical code in order to align with letters taken from seemingly random places on select pages. There are many such methods that have been used throughout history, both to perpetrate hoaxes as well as to solve genuine problems or create sturdy models for future reference. Given that, it’s possible to make the claim that just about any naturally-occurring process can be a “language” or “code,” so long as we know the right degree of significance to attribute to it. Example:

    FIGURE 2. [If we take all 26 letters of the alphabet and assign each one a numerical value from 100-125 (A=100, B=101…Z=125), and then convert the letters in Hitler’s surname into numbers, then add them together, we get exactly “666.”]

    I’m sure you know the significance of that. But what this “code” fails to answer is, why choose those values for each number? Why choose that “code?” The answer is easy: “Because those are the only numbers we can choose that make Hitler’s name add up to 666.” There is no reason to choose those numbers outside of the fact that they tell us what we want to hear.

    But all that’s beside the point: to say that a code must automatically be attributed to an intelligence because it is complex is not a completely reasonable statement. Yes, all codes spawned by intelligence are codes….but it does not follow from that that all codes are therefore spawned by intelligence. To say that it does is to beg the question.

    The Rosetta stone would be an example. We knew it was made by intelligence, even though for many years we didn’t know what it said. The same is true for codes used in war. The Americans knew the Japanese were communicating even before they broke the code.

    The reason we can recognize such a code under circumstances of warfare or history is because it is then not unlikely for such a code to have been generated by humans or by intelligence. When circumstances make it very, very unlikely that an intelligent source could have produced the code (such as in the alpha bits and cloud examples), then it becomes somewhat more reasonable to say, “this complexity could very well be naturally-occurring, or the product of a natural system that is not controlled by living intelligence” than it does to say, “even if it would require the existence of a reality-breaking being whose nature is completely indescribable and unobservable, we MUST assume that this code was manufactured by intelligence.”

    Reply
  18. Andrea says:

    Tim,

    We can observe for example that the air can’t create a cow. We can observe that a tree can’t make a cat, we can observe that the sun can’t create a rhinoceros. The natural forces that we can empirically observe can’t create all that exists. I say “all” because cats make cats, and dogs make dogs but they are limited to that period.

    Everything has a starting point, which means by definition that it starts there with nothing preceding it. Starting points are reasonable. Constants are reasonable. So a definite starting point for all that exists/Ultimate Constant is reasonable as well.

    Remember the list of fruits and vegetables I gave you a while ago, and you told me that you thought they were neat? Isn’t it obvious that there is a Mind behind this who put food available for us in order to live?

    An apple is outside of the process of natural selection. Fruits and vegetables are not alive. Animals do go through survival of the fittest and all of that, but not fruits or vegetables.

    The question is, where did the fruits and vegetables come from? I could give you an exhaustive list of them to bring to remembrance the amazing detail and taste of them, but I think you get my point…

    Reply
  19. Mark Ducharme says:

    Two aspects of “conventional science”(C.S.) that indicate -to a great extent at least- it is just a tool of politicians and greedy opportunists(see al gore):
    1) The total lack of outrage within the “C.S.” community over the recent revelations that man made GW is in fact an elaborate hoax. Instead, they circle the wagons like all good co-conspirators do when exposed to the painful disinfectant of sunlight.

    2) The total lack of celebration by ANYONE -even the useful idi…um, “foot soldiers” (see Ed Begley Jr.)- over the notion that we are NOT destroying the environment and, in all actuality, can’t.

    You can apply those same basic principles to other “scientific facts” like “second hand smoke kills”/ abortion does not kill a human being / guns kill people / males and females are the same but for their environment / the beauty, majesty and very existence of the WTC towers was the result of millions of years of natural selection and / morality can come about as a result of evolution.

    Oops, sorry if it got all political their in the end. Just wanted to bring it back to the problem w/ C.S. as understood by the column: C.S. establishes an ulteriorly motivated conclusion from which it formulates a cause.

    You see, honest people just do not act like this. Political people do.
    Will there be any apologies from: school teachers? “professors” ? “news” readers? “news” papers? pompous celebrities? other public proponents of this vast white washing of the truth? No. No. No. No. No. And NO! That’s why I love Jesus. He didn’t mince words and, being the truth Himself, he never made a mistake. But, if He did, He would have held Himself accountable. Is it too much to ask that some of us should try and at least follow His example? Even just a little?

    (uh oh. looks like ya lost ’em w/ that last minute flurry of religious hatred there, Marky, old boy. oh well, will try again later…)

    Reply
  20. Tim D. says:

    We can observe for example that the air can’t create a cow. We can observe that a tree can’t make a cat, we can observe that the sun can’t create a rhinoceros. The natural forces that we can empirically observe can’t create all that exists. I say “all” because cats make cats, and dogs make dogs but they are limited to that period.

    I have no idea what you are trying to say by relaying all of these painfully obvious things to me.

    Meanwhile, at this point I cannot trust your explanation with regard to the creation of “all.” Things exist; that much is a fact if nothing else is. Our conclusions need to come from that.

    Everything has a starting point, which means by definition that it starts there with nothing preceding it. Starting points are reasonable. Constants are reasonable. So a definite starting point for all that exists/Ultimate Constant is reasonable as well.

    If an infinite creator exists, then everything does not have a starting point.

    Remember the list of fruits and vegetables I gave you a while ago, and you told me that you thought they were neat? Isn’t it obvious that there is a Mind behind this who put food available for us in order to live?

    I don’t understand the connection you’re drawing here.

    An apple is outside of the process of natural selection. Fruits and vegetables are not alive. Animals do go through survival of the fittest and all of that, but not fruits or vegetables.

    This is incorrect. Fruits, flowers, vegetables and plantlife in general have DNA, reproductive habits, behaviors, and means for survival and defense. I don’t want to be rude, but if you believe that because something can’t move that it is not a part of natural selection, then you have a gross misconception of what it is that natural selection encompasses.

    The question is, where did the fruits and vegetables come from? I could give you an exhaustive list of them to bring to remembrance the amazing detail and taste of them, but I think you get my point…

    Yes, we have established that fruits and vegetables exist and taste good (well, most of them).

    Mark Ducharme Says:
    November 27th, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    That’s all I read, and then I realized it was pointless to keep going….

    Reply
  21. Mark Ducharme says:

    “Mark Ducharme Says:
    November 27th, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    That’s all I read, and then I realized it was pointless to keep going….”

    I hear ya. I never read anything from that date and time either. Seriously though, when you’re out of your depth, don’t you think it better to say nothing? Next time apply the, “Better to be thought a fool…” adage. Now everyone knows your “secret”.

    Reply
  22. Andrea says:

    Tim,

    How does a single celled organism divide itself into food (seeds, fruits, vegetables, etc), into male and female, and other intricacies without there being a Mind behind it?

    I understand that you mean to say that since this is what exists, then it must have come to be by natural means so it doesn’t need a super-natural explanation. What I’m trying to point out is that we can observe that natural forces don’t create. You don’t expect the wind to blow and BAAM! a giraffe appears. There is not one single material thing that creates all things which we can observe. And we know that nothing creates nothing. So consequently it is logical to think there is a Mind behind all that exists, it’s almost as if you can’t quite place your finger on it, but we know that there has to be an Ultimate Constant that holds all of this together.

    Us humans don’t control the Universe. We can’t make the rain stop when it rains, etc. So if we are not controlling the Universe, who is? Who keeps the laws and Universal constants in order?

    Reply
  23. Tim D. says:

    I hear ya. I never read anything from that date and time either.

    Yeah, I know.

    Seriously though, when you’re out of your depth, don’t you think it better to say nothing? Next time apply the, “Better to be thought a fool…” adage. Now everyone knows your “secret”.

    Oh, fudge….and you had such a high opinion of me to begin with, too….

    o-O

    How does a single celled organism divide itself into food (seeds, fruits, vegetables, etc), into male and female, and other intricacies without there being a Mind behind it?

    Through natural selection.

    …see why it helps to know what natural selection is?

    I understand that you mean to say that since this is what exists, then it must have come to be by natural means so it doesn’t need a super-natural explanation.

    That’s not what I said; I said that things exist, and so that should be the starting point for reasoning. As in, “let’s start there instead of somewhere else.” I would ask myself in a given situation, “This is here. I wonder how it got here?” Not, “this is here, it must have gotten here by X method, so let’s set out to prove X method.” My point was that by saying, “It MUST be because of [god, etc.]” based solely on the fact that nature amazes you, I believe you are jumping the gun somewhat — given the information that you say you’ve used to make that judgment, it’s impossible for me to fairly make that judgment. I just don’t have enough information to conclude what you have.

    Of course, you’re free to set your own standard for evidence. But I find it hard to believe that you’re still surprised by my answer to this claim, given how many times I’ve tried to break it down.

    What I’m trying to point out is that we can observe that natural forces don’t create. You don’t expect the wind to blow and BAAM! a giraffe appears.

    Of course not. I don’t think anyone has said that wind can create giraffes….fortunately, neither natural selection nor big bang theory (or any other recent theory regarding the formation of the universe and its subsequent development) says that that is possible. So once again I have to wonder where you’re going with that.

    Us humans don’t control the Universe. We can’t make the rain stop when it rains, etc. So if we are not controlling the Universe, who is? Who keeps the laws and Universal constants in order?

    Alright, the universe is finite. God created the universe and all the laws in it at some finite point so many years back — this includes the law of non-contradiction, laws of logic and consistency, physics, time and chronology (or our version of it, at least), and so on and so forth.

    So what, then, was keeping god from being something other than god before the law of non-contradiction existed? The LNC would have to apply to god in order for his “being god” to actually mean anything; otherwise, “being god” would be the same thing as “not being god.”

    Given that scenario, I find myself forced into the following conclusion: before god created the laws of the universe and of definitional consistency (such as the law of non-contradiction), there was only chaos — nothing and everything, all existing as one. Nothing existed, but nothing didn’t exist, either (because even if something didn’t exist, then it still existed at the same time, because the LNC was not in effect), with no time to measure it (and therefore no possibility of ever changing or becoming anything).

    So basically, there was a kind of blank “nothingness.” And then, suddenly, for no reason (because reason requires an LNC to maintain consistency), this utter, meaningless chaos assembled itself and created the rules that allowed itself to be itself, such as the LNC, and in doing so created “time” and “chronology” (because it has changed and is different from the nothingness and chaos that it was before, and in order for there to be such a difference there must first be some kind of “chronology,” otherwise there would be no difference between “the chaos before” and “the order after”).

    Now feel free to correct me where I’m wrong, but that sounds a lot like what you’ve accused atheists of believing in the past — believing that “something came from nothing.”

    Reply
  24. Andrea says:

    Tim,

    Prior to God creating, He existed. So it’s not like everything came from nothing. Everything came from God.

    Like you say we have to look at what we have i.e. creation and reason how it came to be. We have 2 options either creation came from:

    A. Nothing
    B. Something

    I think we would both find it reasonable that everything came from something. Then this something can only be one of two things:

    A. Inanimate, no mind, can’t think
    B. Has a Mind, can reason, can plan things out

    I think we would both find it reasonable that everything came to be from a Mind because something without a mind can’t create much of anything. That’s why the wind for example doesn’t create giraffes. It can’t, it doesn’t have a mind of its own.

    I have a mind and if you had me set in order all the 200+ bones we have in our bodies, I most likely would not get it right. Much less something without a mind, don’t you think?

    It comes down to the simple question of: What is most reasonable that there is a Mind behind our existence, or no Mind?

    Reply
  25. Tim D. says:

    Prior to God creating, He existed. So it’s not like everything came from nothing. Everything came from God.

    However, he also didn’t exist at the same time, because he hadn’t created the law of non-contradiction which allows him to be himself without not being himself (i.e. to exist while also not not existing).

    Like you say we have to look at what we have i.e. creation and reason how it came to be. We have 2 options either creation came from:

    A. Nothing
    B. Something

    That’s not really the issue. Obviously it came from something — that atheists and/or scientists believe that “something came from nothing” is nothing more than a misrepresentation (at worst, an outright lie) perpetrated by people who are ignorant of science and scientific methods.

    The problem is what that something is.

    A. Inanimate, no mind, can’t think
    B. Has a Mind, can reason, can plan things out

    A mind is not necessary. In fact, introducing a mind as the creator of things like laws of logic and consistency makes the argument even more complex and fantastic, because it introduces several paradoxes that can’t be addressed because they “predate reason.” Before reason, nothing made sense and nothing was what it was; there was just chaos. If god created those laws, then it follows that he was not bound by them, and therefore he could not be himself while also not being himself before they came to exist and allowed him to do that.

    That’s why the wind for example doesn’t create giraffes. It can’t, it doesn’t have a mind of its own.

    Interestingly, I read this on another forum today:

    ARGUMENT FROM DESIGN, a.k.a. GOD OF THE GAPS, a.k.a. TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENT (I)
    (1) Check out the world/universe/giraffe. Isn’t it complex?
    (2) Only God could have made them so complex.
    (3) Therefore, God exists.

    I couldn’t help but think of what you’d said about the giraffe….:D

    I have a mind and if you had me set in order all the 200+ bones we have in our bodies, I most likely would not get it right. Much less something without a mind, don’t you think?

    That’s another long-discredited argument called “argument from personal inability;” it goes something like this:

    a) This happened.
    b) Can YOU do this?
    c) No.
    d) Therefore, god exists.

    Do you see for yourself why that argument is false, or should I explain it?

    It comes down to the simple question of: What is most reasonable that there is a Mind behind our existence, or no Mind?

    That’s less than 0.01% of the whole issue, actually. First we answer that question; I say no, but let’s say ‘yes’ for a minute just to make a point. If we say there is a mind, then we have to explain that mind somehow — if we can’t explain the explanation that we’re using to explain why a mind has to exist, then it’s not a real or useful explanation, it’s just something we made up because we don’t know the answer. Once we decide there was a mind, we need to decide exactly what this mind created:

    -) If it created the physical universe, then how far removed from the process was it? i.e. did it just create the universe straight-up, or did it create the laws and behaviors of the universe first and then set them into motion and allow them to actually “create” the universe? Or did it create some third-removed catalyst that then set off a reaction which aligned into the laws of the universe which then “created” the universe we know? We must answer all of these questions, because all of this has been explored by scientific advance and there are already several strong theories about it.

    -) Did it create the metaphysical “laws,” such as non-contradiction, laws of rationality and consistency, etc.? If so, then we *must* answer this one most important question: how did it exist before the law of non-contradiction was created? It’s not like LNC is a physical thing that god can just step outside the influence of, like physics or reality. LNC is a conceptual “law,” which means that it should apply to anything that *is what it is*, whether that thing is bound by physical law or a timeless, formless thing. If it is something — if we can talk about it in a way that means anything to either of us — then it is bound by the so-called “law of non-contradiction.” So if god is himself, and if god is not not himself, then he is bound by that “law.” So how did he exist before he was bound by that law?

    Reply
  26. Tim D. says:

    Crap, my third part accidentally cut off:

    -) If it didn’t create the laws of non-contradiction and such — the metaphysical laws — and we just handwave it by saying, “those laws are a part of this entity and have always existed,” then we have set up another situation that requires proof and exploration; how do we know that they have always existed?

    The simple answer, of course, is that we don’t; as with the Hitler code I laid out earlier, we are simply retroactively fitting our explanation to show us what we want to hear. We don’t actually have a clue or a real reason to believe that god is equal to (or encompasses, somehow) the laws of rationality and consistency, it’s just something we can make up on the spot, that fits our theory and fixes our loophole. But we can’t just say that because it’s consistent; we need a reason to believe it’s true. What I mean of course is that, while it’s possible, it’s not necessarily true.

    Even setting that aside, though….since we can’t know for sure that the above point is true, if we try to accept the argument in spite of that, what we end up with is a claim that laws of logic are eternal, and an uncertainty as to whether or not they are a part of/connected to a creator. This “proves” in a half-hearted sort of way that logic and reason either (A) have always existed in some way, whether or not god is real, or (B) don’t really exist at all objectively, and are simply methods that humans have discovered that help us organize and direct our thoughts much in the way that mathematics help us organize and direct our interactions with physical reality. This makes a problem for someone trying to prove that reason is the same thing as their god, because it allows for the possibility that reason is eternal but does not automatically equate it with their particular creator; thus, it opens the door to people who want to “worship” (so to speak) reason separately from this creator you call god. It also gives people like me the opportunity to say, “well, reason has always existed in some way,” or, “reason is just a product of consciousness, so it ‘didn’t exist’ until there was some person who was able to think of it and write it down.” With that explanation, there’s simply no need to even consider a creator with regard to laws of logic and consistency.

    Reply
  27. Lion IRC says:

    Hi Mr Turek,

    I am a big fan of yours. As a fellow Christian I love your works and thank you for them.

    I don’t think there would be any “science versus religion” issues if science stopped trying to turn WHY questions into HOW questions. Answering HOW does not explain WHY and I would argue that Occam demands simple complete unified theories. A complicated incomplete theory has the loose unanswered thread (WHY) which, when pulled, causes it to unravel and surely Occams Razor would see that loose thread and want to cut it.

    A scientist trying to recreate life in a test tube is simply proving that you need a scientist – God. Ask the scientist why they would do that type of experiment anyway. Similarly, why the quest for artificial intelligence? Programmers in 3009 may be able to make something AI which would fool their 2009 counterparts but they wont get any satisfaction from doing THAT.

    I completely agree with you that when all the experiments have ended, the why questions will still remain along with the band of theologians at the top of the mountain (who have been there for centuries) saying welcome to the party pal!

    I note your question…”Why is it so hard for Dawkins and other Darwinists to see this?” and I am drawn to consider the way some creatures living in darkness are effectively blind, others detect only light, still others see just black and white (monochrome) and yet others see full glorious color.
    I find it baffling that the single celled organism won’t believe another creature who says that there is more to this world than meets “the eye”.

    To empirically test and measure what form of “sight” a dog has we must observe its behaviour. Is not the “light response” behaviour of theists the best evidence that something IS being detected?

    Lion (IRC)

    Reply
  28. Tim D. says:

    A scientist trying to recreate life in a test tube is simply proving that you need a scientist – God. Ask the scientist why they would do that type of experiment anyway. Similarly, why the quest for artificial intelligence?

    Anything at all can be deconstructed into nothing by continuously asking “why?” over and over again until you have nothing….

    Reply
  29. Letitia (The Damsel) says:

    So many illogical statements, so little time.

    Clarification on the 1,000 encyclopedias controversy: I think Frank Turek omitted something that he probably just assumed everyone would understand. The base-pair sequences of DNA are raw data. It is not this data that Dr. Turek is referring to (I hope). Instead, he referred to the information in amoeba DNA. If you’ve taken any beginner’s course in basic computing, you will know that data and information do not mean the same thing. Data must be processed and interpreted to mean something, which then becomes information. The definition of information is meaningful content. What determines if something is meaningful? A mind. A mind must originate information, and a mind must understand it in order to have a successful transmission of information.

    Those of you who deny that a mind must have originated the information found in DNA should either
    1) explain, then, why humans have minds to understand the information. I will accept any atheist’s admission that he personally doesn’t think he has a mind.

    or,

    2) also deny that there is any information at all transmissible from base-pair codes (which is absurd).

    Someone suggested (Tim D, I think) that the human mind can fabricate information based on a certain familiar medium (say, English) when it is possible no such information really exists. This is option #2, and it is absurd. Like any code, DNA codes for specified complexity (i.e. proteins) that then goes on to have a phenotypic effect, a product. This is the essence of using information—generation of a product. Therefore, to say that human comprehension of this regular, predictable, repeatable phenomenon (a result of information) is nothing but seeing patterns in some kind of illusion is patently false. This objection has failed basic adherence to Correspondence Theory 101.

    This objection fails on an epistemic level as well. If a human mind can dismiss a certain body of data as meaningless not leading to an intended product, as in not information, and one extrapolates that the whole natural world operates similarly in data generation, not information generation, then how can anyone distinguish real information when it presents itself? If we follow this line of thinking, then no real information exists anywhere (including our minds), and thus no one would have the capacity to reference information at all. We wouldn’t be able to know. Well this is patently false as well, and gets very close to admitting #1. If anyone has enough courage to bite that bullet, I will be laughing, but I won’t stand in your way.

    Reply
  30. Letitia (The Damsel) says:

    Tim D. said:
    If he created anything, then he’s by definition “limited,” because he created something, and that something now exists as an entity separate from himself — thus, there is a border between the creator and the creation; they are not the same thing. Since the creator is now limited by the definition of his creation — i.e. he is “not” his creation, and his creation is “not” him — then the creator is limited.

    Wow, that is awesomely bad logic. To suggest that a subject-object distinction between God and anything He creates is a somehow a limitation of God is 1) wrong (or foul) understanding and application of the words “limited” and “unlimited” and 2) analogous the age-old fallacious question “can God create a rock so big that not even He could lift it?”

    It makes no logical sense to say that whatever that exists that is not God entails that God is not those things (a tataulogy), and therefore conclude that since there are things that God is not, then God is limited. That’s equivocation and a major philosophical blunder. A subject-object distinction is not a limitation on God’s nature, power, or existence.

    Reply
  31. Frank Turek says:

    Hi Tim,

    Sorry for the delay– long weekend. Let’s me briefly comment on your post from a few days ago. You identified it as FIGURE 2. You said:

    [If we take all 26 letters of the alphabet and assign each one a numerical value from 100-125 (A=100, B=101…Z=125), and then convert the letters in Hitler’s surname into numbers, then add them together, we get exactly “666.”]

    First, your example assumes an alphabet and language. From where did they come? intelligence.

    Second, you mentioned Bible Codes. I completely agree with you that such supposed proofs of the divinity of the Bible are false. We can find so-called “hidden codes” in all writings long enough, including Moby Dick, the Qu’ran, and I’m sure one of your longer posts. That’s because, as I mentioned before, language and the alphabet is a code that can be reduced to numbers. But a language points to intelligence. That’s how SETI scientists can know if they are getting a message from ET even if they have no idea of who ET is. So I am not surprised that one can find “Hitler” corresponding to 666 by assigning numbers in the way that you suggest. The example, even if it is a false positive, presupposes a framework of intelligence– language.

    Third, ID would be fasified if any of the four natural forces can be observed creating messages. We’ve never observed that, but we have observed minds creating messages. Again, that’s how SETI scientists can know if they are getting a message from ET even if they don’t know who ET is. Likewise, by using the principle of uniformity, we are making the proper inference that DNA requires intelligence.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  32. Luke says:

    Frank Turek said:DNA is a genetic code… In all our experience, we know that only minds, not natural forces, can create messages. (emphasis mine)

    Luke said:Are you saying that DNA is a message?

    Frank Turek said:DNA is a code.

    Dr. Turek,

    I just want to make sure I understand how you see the relationships here. You say that DNA is a code, but seem reluctant to say it’s a message. Yet you only say that messages are the product of minds. You have not directly said this of codes.

    What does the Venn Diagram look like on this?

    Frank Turek said:Moreover, a code or information cannot be reduced to it’s mere chemical makeup. The letters in a book are made of atoms, but the information that is expressed by the letters cannot be reduced to mere atoms.

    What do you mean by this in precise terms? It seems to me the same thing could be said of non-information. For example, I could say that the Grand Canyon cannot be “reduced to it’s mere chemical makeup.” If you do so, you will lose it’s beauty, I might say. Yet I don’t think you would argue that the Grand Canyon, because of such an irreducibility, cannot be the product of natural forces.

    Furthermore (and I think Tim may have mentioned this), but I am not sure that what you say applies to the message itself. I think the part which “cannot be reduced” does not lie in the message itself, but rather is connected to the message’s receiver. Do you know what I mean?

    (For example, for some a Jackson Pollock painting may very well be reduced to it’s chemical makeup and “lose nothing” and for other’s all would be lost. In all such cases which come to my mind any je ne sais quoi lies in the “eye of the beholder.” Many might see a Jackson Pollock painting as simply randomness with no meaning at all.)

    This does bring another question to my mind though. If we were able to come up with a machine that could exactly reproduce the chemical and structural makeup of something (let’s call it an atom replicator), and we used this device on a live amoeba, basically assembled an exact copy of this organism, do you think our duplicate would be alive?

    Frank Turek said:Certainly man can affect the environment. The question is how much does he affect the CLIMATE? Still waiting for proof that we affecting it at all.

    Do you mean proof or evidence? What would your burden of proof be?

    Frank Turek said:In all our experience, we know that only minds, not natural forces, can create message… I don’t think [this reasoning] is circular for the reasons I stated in chapter 4 of “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.” Briefly, using the principle of uniformity (that causes in the past were like those in the present)– which is the key to all historical or forensic sciences– we know of only minds that can create messages. To falsify that, we would only need to observe a natural force today creating a message. (emphasis mine)

    I am still not sure if you consider DNA a message, but let me assume for a second that you do (that you believe all codes are messages).

    Based on that let me ask a question. When my daughter was conceived, her cells contained a genetic code that was different from any that had existed before. It was a new message!

    What non-natural forces do you believe were needed to make this happen?

    Why were the natural forces of which we are aware not enough?

    You could also look at Theodosius Dobzhansky’s experiments and the new genetic codes which were written in an accelerated manner based on his experiments. (Yes, I know these are a favorite of those who dispute evolution, but their criticism does not affect my point here.)

    (If we use the computer code metaphor, this would be like nature, without intelligent input, creating and writing Firefox 3.6 from Firefox 3.5.5.)

    Frank Turek said:The difference [between global warming and abortion] is we know that when we allow a pregnancy to go to term we ALWAYS get a baby.

    This is absolutely not true! Some 25% of pregnancies are miscarried (Wikipedia “miscarriage”).

    Reply
  33. Frank Turek says:

    Hi Lloyd,

    You wrote: “Yet you imagine that life could not begin this way. By your theory the “cause” of life lies outside the orderly operation of the laws of nature.”

    I’m not sure if I understand your question rightly, but if you are asking if I think there are causes outside of the four natural forces the answer is yes. There is a difference between operation science and origin science. The first is empirical and repeatable, the second is forensic and historical. I can explain how a car operates by natural laws, but I cannot explain the origin of a car without appealing to an intelligent agent (say, Mr. Ford).

    Is that what you’re getting at?

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  34. Andrea says:

    Hey Tim,

    God’s creation simply reflects some of His attributes that He has chosen to reveal.

    The LNC is something that we can reason ourselves as human beings, and the point I’d like to make here is that there has to be an ultimate standard that holds this as a constant.

    Whether God created “straight-up” or He let it create or evolve itself in a way, I consider that a Mind is required in order to set this in motion. God serves at the activating agent who got it all going, as well as started it.

    Science shows us, or we can observe ourselves that inanimate matter can’t create living things with minds, brains, bones, and arteries. So since we can see this, it would be reasonable to conclude that something OTHER than inanimate matter created.

    An unembodied Mind that is tremendously powerful and intelligent to create would then be reasonable. Not because we make it up in our minds but because we can observe that inanimate matter CAN’T create all that exists. IF we could observe that inanimate matter could create everything from nearly nothing, THEN we could conclude that a Creator isn’t needed. But since that isn’t the case, it is reasonable to assert otherwise.

    Reply
  35. Luke says:

    Frank Turek said:Briefly, what is the main question of your last post?

    Well, I did kind of jump around a bit and commented on different parts of previous conversations, so I didn’t have a main thesis or anything close to it (which is probably why you couldn’t identify one).

    I assume you’re asking because your time is limited, so I will respond with what I think is the most interesting part of those conversations (based on personal taste).

    I will cut and paste a brief part of my post instead of rephrasing.

    Frank Turek said:In all our experience, we know that only minds, not natural forces, can create message… To falsify that, we would only need to observe a natural force today creating a message. (emphasis mine)

    When my daughter was conceived, her cells contained a genetic code that was different from any that had existed before. It was a new message!

    What non-natural forces do you believe were needed to make this happen?

    Why were the natural forces of which we are aware not enough?

    (To clarify, my daughter’s genetic code is a new message in the way that On the Road was a new book, even though it used ‘old’ words’)

    Thanks a lot,

    Luke

    Reply
  36. Nathan Barley says:

    Frank: “The description of DNA as a code is not a metaphor either.”

    Biologist PZ Myers: “DNA is a digital code and a software program? Nope, that’s a metaphor, and a pretty bad one, actually”

    “Do you know the answer to the question I posed about why there was GW and Global Cooling prior to any man-made emissions? I don’t.”

    I don’t know it off hand, but I’ve read up on it before – the answers are pretty easily google-able. As Luke pointed out, it’s like saying that because people got cancer before smoking was widespread, therefore you get to deny tobacco’s affect on cancer stats.

    The past decade has been the warmest on average since records began, we’ve seen all the increase in extreme weather predicted by scientists 20 or so years ago – everything seems consistent with their predictions. The people with most to gain in lying about the data are the denialists – just like with the tobacco industry.

    Reply
  37. Frank Turek says:

    Hi Luke,

    You asked, “When my daughter was conceived, her cells contained a genetic code that was different from any that had existed before. It was a new message!”

    Yes, it was a new message, but it came from existing life when two human beings came together. The question is one over origin. Where did the original code come from? We only see such messages coming from minds, not natural forces.

    Hi Nathan,

    It wouldn’t be the first time PZ Myers was wrong. If it’s not a CODE, why do they call it a CODE? And if it’s not a CODE, what is it? How does DNA determine many of our developmental differences if it’s not a CODE?

    With regard to GW, there are two questions that need to be answered:

    1) Is the climate warming?
    2) what is causing it?

    If 1) is indisputably true, why were the scientists from CRU trying to hide the data that shows it’s been cooling?

    If it is warming, I’d like to hear how we know man is causing GW since drastic climate change long preceded carbon emissions.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  38. Nathan Barley says:

    “why were the scientists from CRU trying to hide the data that shows it’s been cooling?”

    Out of the past 100 years or so, I think the past 10 years are each in the top 13 warmest temperatures. So it’s a funny kind of cooling you’ve got! Perhaps you are factoring in 1998’s extra warm ‘el nino’ year?

    “If it’s not a CODE, why do they call it a CODE?”

    Again, it’s a metaphor. If Bill Gates calls it a code, and he’s an atheist, how can you say that by ‘code’ he reckons it was originated by a mind?

    This is similar to comparing the brain to a computer. 2000 years ago we compared it to water channels, then to libraries, then a few hundred years ago we thought the brain was like clockwork machinery. Now it’s the brain – we compare it to whatever is the best technology of the time. It’s a metaphor to aid understanding.

    “Where did the original code come from?”

    God of the gaps argument.

    “We only see such messages coming from minds”

    All non-Christian religions come from man’s invention, therefore Christianity must be invented by men. It’s a fallacious argument.

    Reply
  39. Luke says:

    Frank Turek said:Yes, it was a new message, but it came from existing life

    You had said that all messages must come from a mind. My daughter’s genetic code did not come from my mind, nor from the mind of my partner.

    You said before that we “only need to observe a natural force today creating a message.” I gave the example of such a message, and you have acknowledged that this message is indeed “new.”

    As you said it’s a question of origin, so I repeat my question. What non-natural forces were involved in the creation of the “new message” that is my daughter’s genetic code?

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  40. Frank Turek says:

    Nathan,

    If what you say is true, why were they complaining that they can’t explain current cooling? Why are they trying to silence dissenting opinion? Look, if we are causing the world to heat to unsustainable levels, I want to know. I just don’t see the evidence, and haven’t heard anyone explain what caused warming and cooling that preceded man.

    With regard to DNA, if it’s not a code, what is it?

    If it’s not a code why does it act like a code in that it directs processes like a software program?

    No it is not a god of the gaps argument– we don’t just lack a natural explanation. We have evidence FOR intelligence. In all our experience, messages only come from minds.

    You can falsify ID by simply observing any of the four natural forces creating a message. Which one has been observed to do so?

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  41. Luke says:

    Frank Turek said: If 1) is indisputably true, why were the scientists from CRU trying to hide the data that shows it’s been cooling?

    I am not an expert on climate change or this controversy. I only have a passing interest in this, if any. That said, it seems to me that from what I’ve read the climategate controversy is about how these scientists dealt with data on the divergence of what tree rings seem to show (what they show as far as our ability to interpret them) and what we know to be true. Obviously if we see that tree rings “show” something else than we know is true, then our ability to interpret tree ring data must be questioned.

    This is what the infamous Nov 16, 1999 email talks about “hiding.”

    Perhaps there is some new information out there that I am unaware of, but that is my understanding. Nate Silver (most often known as “stat guru” Nate Silver) said of that email: But let’s be clear: Jones is talking to his colleagues about making a prettier picture out of his data, and not about manipulating the data itself.

    (I apologize if my understanding of the controversy is dated. I am just trying to contribute with what I know.)

    Reply
  42. Frank Turek says:

    Luke,

    It’s no secret that we can get life from existing life. You and your wife are existing intelligences. The combination of your existing DNA yielded a new life. While you are instrumental cause of your little girl — the cause through which she came– that does not explain the intelligence that is the efficient cause of your little girl– the cause by which she came.

    While natural forces affect how human beings and their DNA might operate and propagate, they do not explain their ultimate origin.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  43. Luke says:

    Dr. Turek said: Luke,

    It’s no secret that we can get life from existing life.

    Agreed. However, this has nothing to do with what we are discussing. You were asking about the creation of new messages, not of new life.

    Dr. Turek said:You and your wife are existing intelligences. The combination of your existing DNA yielded a new life.

    But this has nothing to do with our intelligences, as I pointed out. You said that new messages must come from a mind, but the fact that I may have a mind had nothing to do with the creation of that new message. Why are you trying to make a connection here?

    Dr. Turek said:that does not explain the intelligence that is the efficient cause of your little girl.

    But the question is, why is intelligence necessary for the creation of her “new message?” You have yet to answer directly these questions:

    1. What non-natural forces were involved in the creation of the “new message” that is my daughter’s genetic code?

    2. Why are the natural mechanisms and forces as we understand them not capable of creating this “new” message?

    Reply
  44. Frank Turek says:

    Luke,

    Go back to the article. Again, we are talking about the origin of the first life, not the propagation of existing life. There is no known natural force that can create a message like DNA from non-living chemicals. That’s the point.

    You seem to want to take my statements and apply them to things that don’t fit the context of what I was saying. I have little time for this. Please try to stay on point or I regret to say that I will not participate.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  45. Luke says:

    Dr. Turek,

    I am very much on point. Or rather, I thought I was.

    You are basing your conclusions on the uniformity principle and the fact that natural forces cannot create new messages.

    You have said several times now that all we need to do is find an example of natural forces creating a new message.

    I think I may have provided you such an example and I put it forth to see what you thought.

    You have agreed that it is indeed a new message, which is what you were seeking, but you haven’t said whether or not natural forces are/were enough to create it.

    Dr. Turek said: You seem to want to take my statements and apply them to things that don’t fit the context of what I was saying.

    You are relying on the uniformity principle, and have said:

    To falsify that, we would only need to observe a natural force today creating a message.

    You can falsify ID by simply observing any of the four natural forces creating a message.

    You have agreed that the message I am discussing is indeed new, so at this point I simply don’t understand how I am not “on point.”

    Perhaps this is simply just over my head and I am not understanding something, but I certainly don’t understand why you think I am somehow straying from the discussion on purpose. I apologize, but that was never my intention. Again, all I have tried to do is answer your questions and challenges.

    Reply
  46. Frank Turek says:

    Luke,

    Natural forces (gravity, EM, Strong and Weak Nuclear forces) are not CREATING the new message. It is the combination of the existing messages (life) that produces it. What caused the message in the first life is the question.

    Of course, natural forces, to a certain extent, govern all processes here on earth. But they are not the SOURCE of the message.

    I can’t say it any other way. That’s all for now.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  47. Tim D. says:

    So many illogical statements, so little time.

    I’m not really sure what you mean; I haven’t actually made a whole lot of statements (at least, not in this particular thread); mostly, I have asked questions. I didn’t get to you already, did I?

    What determines if something is meaningful? A mind. A mind must originate information, and a mind must understand it in order to have a successful transmission of information.

    If that is your gotcha, then I’m afraid you seem to have missed my point altogether; let’s say we follow your train of thought and assume that an intelligent mind was behind DNA. That is only possible if it is possible for a mind to exist that could have created DNA. Is that possible? That is what I called into question; in the cereal and cloud examples, we established that there are times when we see or interpret “codes” that are not, in fact, produced by a mind; we can deduce this simply by pointing out, in those respective situations, that it was very, very unlikely — some might even say “impossible” — for a mind to have assembled such apparent “messages” under the circumstances.

    Those of you who deny that a mind must have originated the information found in DNA should either
    1) explain, then, why humans have minds to understand the information. I will accept any atheist’s admission that he personally doesn’t think he has a mind.

    I don’t see how our possession of minds relates in any way to the presence of a ‘creator mind.’ Perhaps you could further elaborate as to how you think they are related? That would certainly help me understand what you are trying to say.

    Paraphrase: I don’t see how explaining how we have minds would in any way prove (or disprove) either your case or mine on this particular subject.

    2) also deny that there is any information at all transmissible from base-pair codes (which is absurd).

    Not at all. We have to ask, “what exactly is information,” which you have already done….but we can’t stop there if we are going to be truly scientific about this; we must also ask, how does information exist? Is information something that magically exists on its own, independently of a mind (be it yours, mine, or god’s)? Or is it an ordered configuration of natural settings (whatever substance which is rearranged or configured in order to form the data), which we interpret based on understandings that correlate (i.e. languages), which we create?

    Someone suggested (Tim D, I think) that the human mind can fabricate information based on a certain familiar medium (say, English) when it is possible no such information really exists. This is option #2, and it is absurd.

    So you deny the cereal and cloud examples, then? Fair enough, but let me remind you what that entails:

    -) You would be claiming that it is not only possible, but necessary to conclude that, even though I had stirred my cereal thoroughly before inserting my spoon and scooping out the letters, an intelligent mind must have designed those letters to be in that exact order across my spoon, even though it is observedly impossible in that context;

    -) You would also be claiming that, any time I see a cloud in the sky that looks like something I might recognize (say, a fairy-tale dragon, or a human figure), it must have been put there directly by an intelligent mind, even if there were no people within hundreds of miles that could have used technology to create such a complex design.

    Both of the above are cases in which you would be reading significance — based on my own understanding, my own language, or my own perception, not on the intent of a messenger — into something, in spite of the fact that it is clearly very, very unlikely, almost impossible, for such a mind to exist. I can confidently say that in any such scenario, it’s actually more likely, simpler, and easier to explain without leaps of faith, that it happened naturally as opposed to with the aid of an intelligent mind.

    Like any code, DNA codes for specified complexity (i.e. proteins) that then goes on to have a phenotypic effect, a product. This is the essence of using information—generation of a product. Therefore, to say that human comprehension of this regular, predictable, repeatable phenomenon (a result of information) is nothing but seeing patterns in some kind of illusion is patently false.

    I see now. That was not the point I was making at all; perhaps I should have been clearer. I did not, under any circumstances, say that DNA was an example of such a phenomenon. I was using those examples to prove that the assumption that “meaningful code always equals mind/designer” is obviously incorrect. It only takes one counter-example; the rest of my case builds from that. In showing two counterexamples to that statement, I have only just begun to explore your argument.

    Secondly….may I suggest you slow down *just a little?* You’re free to decline, of course, but I think it will save both of us a lot of trouble (and misunderstanding) in the future if you make sure your understanding of my case is clear before jumping off on wild tangents. This paragraph is a good example:

    This objection fails on an epistemic level as well. If a human mind can dismiss a certain body of data as meaningless not leading to an intended product, as in not information, and one extrapolates that the whole natural world operates similarly in data generation, not information generation, then how can anyone distinguish real information when it presents itself? If we follow this line of thinking, then no real information exists anywhere (including our minds), and thus no one would have the capacity to reference information at all. We wouldn’t be able to know. Well this is patently false as well, and gets very close to admitting #1. If anyone has enough courage to bite that bullet, I will be laughing, but I won’t stand in your way.

    For reasons I just explained, this whole paragraph is completely irrelevant to anything I have said at any point. Sorry for making you waste all those words 🙁

    Wow, that is awesomely bad logic.

    Not at all; we explored this to death in another topic and reached a clean resolution already. If you want the details, I believe it was the second “Hitchens-Turek debate” topic.

    To suggest that a subject-object distinction between God and anything He creates is a somehow a limitation of God is 1) wrong (or foul) understanding and application of the words “limited” and “unlimited” and 2) analogous the age-old fallacious question “can God create a rock so big that not even He could lift it?”

    Showing why that is false is as easy as answering these questions:

    1) Are you god/am I god? (I say no, you are not, and neither am I.)
    2) Is god you? (I say, no, god is not you.)

    If the answer to either of those is “no,” then it is settled that you (and/or I) are different from god. We are separate entities from god, correct?

    If you answer “yes” to either of these questions, then you are either saying that (A) we are gods ourselves (which, as a Christian, I believe would connote blasphemy, so I don’t think you’ll agree to that), or (B) god is everything, everywhere, and everyone, which means you are a Universalist. If that’s the case, just say so and I’ll leave it at that (because the Universalist view of god is not inconsistent here, not in the sense that the Evangelical one is). If we adopt a Universalist view, then “god is everyone,” and so god really is infinite….but if we don’t, then god cannot be infinite if anything that is not himself exists.

    Simply put: If you can point to ANYWHERE and say, “That is not god, god is not right there; what is right there is something that is not god,” then god is not infinite. If I am right to point to a tree and say, “that tree is not god; god is not that tree,” then it follows from that that god cannot be infinite. God’s “godness” stops at the edge of my “non-godness.”

    Of course, you may simply adopt Andrea’s conclusion and say, “God doesn’t have limits, that’s all there is to it,” in which case all reasoning to this end is completely null and void; we have already shown that a true, non-universalist god cannot possibly be infinite (because we exist and are separate beings from him, and thus we signify a place where god does not exist — a limit to his infinity), then he is not subject to laws of logic; as explained earlier, an important ramification of this is that god is therefore not bound by the law of non-contradiction, and is therefore both himself and not himself….so on and so forth. You see where this goes.

    It makes no logical sense to say that whatever that exists that is not God entails that God is not those things (a tataulogy),

    Let me make sure I’m reading this correctly before I proceed any further: You are saying that the following is true: that “something” (i.e. man) can exist and NOT be equal to “god,” while “god” is at the same time equal to that something?

    In logical form, it would read like this:

    -) A = B
    -) B =/= A

    Wherein “A = God” and “B = man.”

    There is a very basic, very important rule of logic; if A = B, then B = A. If god is us, then we are god. Equality can not go “one way.” So if that *is* what you are saying, then I’ll stop you right there because it is blatantly false.

    If god does not abide by this rule, then his existence is illogical and this entire conversation is meaningless. It would save me a lot of time if you could let me know which side of that fence you stand on in your next post; do you believe that god’s existence is logical, or illogical? i.e. can his existence be proved logically, assuming he does exist?

    First, your example assumes an alphabet and language. From where did they come? intelligence.

    Exactly — an alphabet and a language that we, humans, made up; the “Hitler code” example was brought up to demonstrate that I, using a code that I have made up from scratch, to draw a conclusion that does not make sense.

    Please note, of course, that the language I am referring to in this case is not English, or numerology, or the alphabet, but the designation that “A = 100” and so on. Without my designation of those numbers, the fact that I used English and numerals would be irrelevant, for it is the correlation of the letters with Hitler’s name that produce the results, not one or the other; the code is a product of two other codes which were created by man, which do not exist in nature. Thus, the result of the code is man-made and not a “message.” If it IS a message, it is a message to me, from myself, as with the cloud example — I see a cloud because my brain makes me see a cloud; someone without the same desires or experiences as myself might not see the same thing. Likewise, someone who was not using the code that I myself had designated for the Hitler example would not see that result of “666.”

    Third, ID would be fasified if any of the four natural forces can be observed creating messages. We’ve never observed that, but we have observed minds creating messages.

    Alright, *that* is a tautology; begging the question. My arrival in this conversation stemmed from the question that was subliminally posed: Is DNA a message produced by nature, or is it a message created from a mind?

    If we accept your hypothesis (that a message is automatically the product of a mind just because we can read meaning into it), then all that is necessary to disprove it is to find one single example of a naturally-occuring message which we can demonstrate to exist in spite of a mind — something we can read “intent” into even though an intended “messenger” is clearly absent. Hence the cereal example, the Hitler example, and the cloud example — all one-sided “messages” that we perceive, in spite of the fact that nobody “sent” them to us.

    That in itself has nothing to do with DNA, you are correct. But it disproves your first hypothesis, which required us (according to you) to define “message” as “something intentionally designed by an intelligent mind.” A true message needs both a sender and a receiver; that is true. But if we are receiving a message, we cannot be certain that it is such a message based solely on the fact that it is a message. Just because I read letters that I understand because they have significance to me does not mean that the letters were organized in such a way by someone else with that same significance in mind; it could be that the letters assembled themselves that way because it was the only natural outcome of the physical process which lead them to appear that way — i.e. because I stirred my cereal the way I did, the letters appeared on my spoon the way they did, and if I had done so differently, the letters would have appeared differently; the cloud appeared the way it did because weather patterns caused it to, and if the weather had been different, the shape and consistency of the cloud would also have been different; the Hitler code appears the way it does because mathematics force it to based on the langauge I built up using the English alphabet and numbers, and if I had chosen different numbers, we would have had a different result.

    Would you like to know how all of this relates to DNA?

    P.S. I don’t know if it was intended, but you *almost* slipped me up and confused me there with your interchangeability of the words “code” and “message;” they have very different subtexts that change the nature of the argument based on which one you are referring to.

    The LNC is something that we can reason ourselves as human beings, and the point I’d like to make here is that there has to be an ultimate standard that holds this as a constant.

    An ultimate standard that exists independently of it? Or equivalent to it? Either way, you’ve said nothing that wasn’t addressed in my last response.

    Science shows us, or we can observe ourselves that inanimate matter can’t create living things with minds, brains, bones, and arteries. So since we can see this, it would be reasonable to conclude that something OTHER than inanimate matter created.

    Your words are misleading; I have never made any statements that “inanimate matter can create living things” etc. etc. In any case, the opposite of “inanimate matter” is simply “animate matter;” atoms are animate matter, but they are not necessarily alive or intelligent. Do you perhaps want to rephrase that in a way that is more consistent with what you’ve said so far?

    (To clarify, my daughter’s genetic code is a new message in the way that On the Road was a new book, even though it used ‘old’ words’)

    I think I’ve realized why Turek’s argument is so confusing to me….he uses the word “message” when discussing the necessity of a mind, then uses the word “code” when referring to the structure of a language; he uses them interchangeably based on that, calling DNA both a code and a message.

    So my Big Important Question to Mr. Turek (assuming he’s still reading anything I write~) would then be: Do you think DNA is a message, or a code? Keeping in mind that a code is the “tool kit” from which a message is constructed, whereas a message is the final result of something made with those tools.

    “why were the scientists from CRU trying to hide the data that shows it’s been cooling?”

    On what are you basing that conclusion?

    Yes, it was a new message, but it came from existing life

    From life, or from a mind?

    If what you say is true, why were they complaining that they can’t explain current cooling? Why are they trying to silence dissenting opinion?

    Where was that part, exactly? I want to read that part.

    …no, serious, I do 0.0

    Go back to the article. Again, we are talking about the origin of the first life, not the propagation of existing life. There is no known natural force that can create a message like DNA from non-living chemicals. That’s the point.

    So your argument is that life cannot come from non-life? Or is it that intelligence cannot come from non-intelligence? Those are very different arguments, so if you could clarify that would be grand; I’d like to know which argument I’m participating in….

    Reply
  48. Mark Ducharme says:

    Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them: for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful: but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creation more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
    Romans 1:19 – 25

    Reply
  49. Lloyd O. Roumetha says:

    Dear Dr. Turek,

    Darwin’s book requires Darwin. Ford’s car requires Ford. Life, by analogy requires a “cause.” The analogy is not apt. The “causes” are fundamentally different.

    Causes of the Darwin Ford sort occur through the unfolding of natural law. Darwin and Ford were made up of atoms and forces. Darwin’s book and Ford’s cars arose through the complex unfolding of atoms and forces working the way they always do. According to the cause and effect of natural law.

    Causes of your Let-There-Be-Life sort are different. There are two cases.

    Case 1: If the hypothesized “cause” is not different — if it is the cause and effect of atoms and forces — you have merely proven that the life you observe arose from some preexisting arrangement of atoms and forces. Molecules fizzing. Maybe so. Not God.

    Case 2: Your origins question gives the answer you want only if there was an intervention from beyond atoms and forces. Life, you imagine, must have arisen from atoms being pushed and prodded to do things they would not otherwise have done. Natural law was suspended, cause and effect quit working, and some force beyond the world pushed molecules into patterns they would not otherwise have had. That is certainly not the sort of “cause” in the Darwin Ford analogy.

    “The laws of nature stopped and the creator of the universe intervened” is not science. It is the God of the Gaps.

    Lloyd O. Roumetha

    Reply
  50. Lion IRC says:

    Pretty Big “Gaps” Lloyd.
    How come physics is allowed to have string theory and 26 dimensions and multiverses and wormholes and dark energy but if a Christian dares mention….”the Kingdom of God” or a type of energy called “the soul” they get howled down?
    There is nothing in the bible which states this is the first universe created by God. There is similarly nothing in the bible which states God was forced to create this universe “just the way it is”.
    He could create a billion different universes and any two of them could appear to us like chalk and cheese.
    You have to get out of the…”God can’t do that” paradigm.
    He can do anything He wants – it’s in His job description.
    Lion (IRC)

    Reply
  51. Mark Ducharme says:

    Also too, how can physics TELL us “facts” like, “the earth is x billion years old” with total authority and Christians can’t say, “He can do anything He wants – it’s in His job description.” ? I’ll side with He who resides within me over a bunch of politically motivated whores (see C.R.U.), any day, thank you very much.

    Reply
  52. Tim D. says:

    He put them there and we can figure out how it all works. Yet it all originated from Him.

    So am I correct in understanding that you do believe God is logical, and/or that his existence can be proved logically?

    Reply
  53. Andrea says:

    Yes Tim, I think that His existence can be proved logically. Umm I think that’s the point of this website bud.

    The three main line of evidences are:

    1) Creation

    2) Conscience- pointing to the Objective Moral Law Giver

    3) Christ

    Reply
  54. Frank Turek says:

    Lloyd,

    You wrote: “Darwin’s book and Ford’s cars arose through the complex unfolding of atoms and forces working the way they always do. According to the cause and effect of natural law.”

    Do you really mean than no intelligence was involved in writing Darwin’s book or Ford’s car?

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  55. Frank Turek says:

    Hi Tim,

    So my Big Important Question to Mr. Turek (assuming he’s still reading anything I write~) would then be: Do you think DNA is a message, or a code? Keeping in mind that a code is the “tool kit” from which a message is constructed, whereas a message is the final result of something made with those tools.

    What is the significance of that distinction, Tim? Do we observe natural forces creating either from non-living chemicals?

    “So your argument is that life cannot come from non-life? Or is it that intelligence cannot come from non-intelligence? Those are very different arguments, so if you could clarify that would be grand; I’d like to know which argument I’m participating in….”

    Tim, how could you write so much and not know what argument you’re participating in> 🙂

    Of course life and come from non-life– we’re here. The question is– given the attributes of life which include RNA, DNA, Proteins and an incredible factory known as the cell–could life have come from non-life without intelligence? It appears not. We observe only intelligence creating things with such attributes. The principle of uniformity tells us, therefore, to look to intelligence as the cause of the first life in the past.

    BTW, if you want more on the deception regarding GW, see the most recent post “Who will ‘Peer Review’ the Peer Reviewers.”

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  56. Lloyd O. Roumetha says:

    Dear Dr. Turek,

    You wrote: “Darwin’s book and Ford’s cars arose through the complex unfolding of atoms and forces working the way they always do. According to the cause and effect of natural law.”

    Do you really mean than no intelligence was involved in writing Darwin’s book or Ford’s car?

    Unless you’ve confused me with double negatives, no I don’t. Intelligence was involved.

    Do you think “intelligence” arises from some source other than natural cause and effect acting on atoms and forces?

    Lloyd O. Roumetha

    Reply
  57. Tim D. says:

    Yes Tim, I think that His existence can be proved logically. Umm I think that’s the point of this website bud.

    Alright. So that brings us back to that problem from earlier:

    FIGURE 1. [If A = god and B = man, if A = B then B = A (if god is us, then we are god, and vice-versa); this proves that only a Universalist god can be truly infinite.]

    Basically; we’ve made room for the claim that god can exist separately from us as his own entity, and we’ve made room for the claim that he can be infinite….but we cannot reconcile the two unless we submit to a Universalist definition of god.

    What is the significance of that distinction, Tim? Do we observe natural forces creating either from non-living chemicals?

    That’s an odd question. On the one hand, I’d say “no,” because if a message is assembled by natural forces (such as the cereal message or the cloud symbol), then it’s not really a “message” because there was no “sender” or “writer.” On the other hand, such messages are messages in that we can read significance into them, just like we would be able to do if there were a sender or writer.

    To simplify; no, intentional messages are not created by nature, by definition. However, natural “messages” are; the forces of nature cause things to exist certain ways based on certain conditions (such as my interaction with the cereal causing it to create a certain message, even though it was not intentional).

    To simplify further: Just because a “message” exists and means something to us, doesn’t mean it was designed by an intelligence. That much has been established, I think; I was expecting you guys to try and tackle the cereal and cloud analogies much sooner, but you still haven’t addressed them yet, so I’ll stick with them for the time being. So yes, nature can assemble messages; no, they are not intentional. That doesn’t mean they don’t mean anything — as meaning is ultimately subjective, like beauty, and so as long as someone can read meaning into it, it “means” something to that person — but it does mean that the meaning is not intentional.

    Tim, how could you write so much and not know what argument you’re participating in> 🙂

    Let’s put it this way: I know what I am talking about. I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page before I proceeded any further.

    Of course life and come from non-life– we’re here. The question is– given the attributes of life which include RNA, DNA, Proteins and an incredible factory known as the cell–could life have come from non-life without intelligence?

    Could it? Of course; it’s not impossible, and the best argument that it didn’t happen is that it seems unlikely at first glance. But did it? I think that’s the question you’re better suited to.

    It appears not. We observe only intelligence creating things with such attributes. The principle of uniformity tells us, therefore, to look to intelligence as the cause of the first life in the past.

    We only observe intelligence creating complex things from apparent scratch, yes. But theory goes that the first life was very (very!) simple, and could have been assembled quite easily from nonliving materials (I’m sure you know that, though); the origin of life is only a problem if we assume that life started complex.

    Reply
  58. Mark Ducharme says:

    //But theory goes that the first life was very (very!) simple, and could have been assembled quite easily from nonliving materials (I’m sure you know that, though); the origin of life is only a problem if we assume that life started complex.//

    Man is cloning things. IVF is common. Nucular physics is old hat. They’re probably already making “super babies” in China and yet, NO ONE has found a way to “create” this, oh so “simple”, life yet!?!

    Come on, man! Next you’ll be trying to sell us on anthropogenic global warming! Get serious, would you?

    Reply
  59. Andrea says:

    Tim,

    “Alright. So that brings us back to that problem from earlier:

    FIGURE 1. [If A = god and B = man, if A = B then B = A (if god is us, then we are god, and vice-versa); this proves that only a Universalist god can be truly infinite.]”

    Who said A=B? A created B. Hence B is finite and A infinite.

    If God is unlimited, why do you think He is limited as in not being able to create?

    If He creates it can be contained in Him, but NOT be Him at the same time IF you put yourself in the perspective of the created thing, which clearly had a beginning marked by the Creator.

    Reply
  60. Letitia (The Damsel) says:

    let’s say we follow your train of thought and assume that an intelligent mind was behind DNA. That is only possible if it is possible for a mind to exist that could have created DNA. Is that possible? That is what I called into question;

    You only need to answer the question you posed yourself. Is it possible for a mind to exist that could have created DNA? Certainly it is possible. However, your following statement,

    in the cereal and cloud examples, we established that there are times when we see or interpret “codes” that are not, in fact, produced by a mind

    you are not answering the question, but rather, trying to use a couple of examples to disprove any possibility of the existence of a mind. This is backwards, for all I need is one example where an intelligent mind is required to originate the information (i.e. that found in DNA) in order to make the possibility valid. You, on the other hand, are on the other side of the equation; you need to prove that nothing, not even the information found in DNA, originates from an intelligent mind. The way you perceive the argument is wrong, as you say here:

    If we accept your hypothesis (that a message is automatically the product of a mind just because we can read meaning into it), then all that is necessary to disprove it is to find one single example of a naturally-occuring message which we can demonstrate to exist in spite of a mind — something we can read “intent” into even though an intended “messenger” is clearly absent.

    This reasoning is faulty. The theistic position is not that “we can read meaning into it.” That is your argument instead. The theistic position is that certain things we encounter (such as the information found in the DNA sequences of amoebas) do have meaning (which is demonstratively evidenced) and we recognize it. I don’t deny that there are naturally occurring patterns that bear resemblance to information accidentally. So that, even if you find one example of a naturally occurring pattern from which someone could mistakenly infer meaningful content, it does not automatically exclude everything else in the universe from containing actual information. Some things have meaningful content (DNA), and some things do not (clouds). You cannot compare two dissimilar things this way philosophically.

    A true message needs both a sender and a receiver; that is true. But if we are receiving a message, we cannot be certain that it is such a message based solely on the fact that it is a message.

    Actually, yes we can. In this argument, you should not be making a distinction between a message (I use “information”) and a true message. If a message isn’t “true,” (I use “actual”) then it is not a message at all. A non-message is non-information.
    1) If we are receiving information, then that information is actual if and only if it originates with an intelligent mind.
    2) We are receiving information.
    3) Therefore, the information is actual and originates with an intelligent mind.

    You suggest that somehow a “message” can also be a non-message that is mistaken for a message. Yet, you are not acknowledging that a message is determined through analysis for meaningful content (information) in order to be seen as a message. Again, this is why you cannot compare DNA and clouds.

    I was using those examples to prove that the assumption that “meaningful code always equals mind/designer” is obviously incorrect.

    Again, your examples are inappropriate. Accidental “meaningful” (which is actually not meaningful) does not always infer a mind/designer, as you put it. Actual “meaningful” does. Cereal and clouds are examples of non-meaningful code, if anyone can really call those things a “code” in the first place…

    1) Are you god/am I god? (I say no, you are not, and neither am I.)
    2) Is god you? (I say, no, god is not you.)
    If the answer to either of those is “no,” then it is settled that you (and/or I) are different from god. We are separate entities from god, correct?
    ….
    Simply put: If you can point to ANYWHERE and say, “That is not god, god is not right there; what is right there is something that is not god,” then god is not infinite. If I am right to point to a tree and say, “that tree is not god; god is not that tree,” then it follows from that that god cannot be infinite. God’s “godness” stops at the edge of my “non-godness.”

    In other words, you are claiming that God must be identical to His own creation in order to be God. C’mon, that’s absurd. No theistic usage of the term “infinite” entails what you are contradicting. This line of argumentation goes way beyond a straw man to a fundamental philosophical misuse of a term.

    I said:It makes no logical sense to say that whatever that exists that is not God entails that God is not those things (a tataulogy),

    Tim D. said: Let me make sure I’m reading this correctly before I proceed any further: You are saying that the following is true: that “something” (i.e. man) can exist and NOT be equal to “god,” while “god” is at the same time equal to that something?

    Let me clarify: you are making the tautology “whatever that exists that is not God entails that God is not those things.” No duh. A tautology does not an argument begin or make, so that when you continue by implying that therefore God cannot be infinite (as Christians claim), you are first making an error on the meaning of “infinite” (but I just discussed that), AND you are also drawing a conclusion that is logically illegitimate. In logical form, you are arguing:

    B is not A. = A is not B. (tautology)
    Therefore A does not have the qualities A has if B exists.

    Even if the conclusion were true (which it is not in more than one way), this is fallacious reasoning of the worst kind.

    (Yawn–I’ll continue this when I have more time.)

    Reply
  61. Nathan Barley says:

    “we know of only minds that can create messages”

    One might equally say ‘we know of only non-supernatual explanations, therefore it’s reasonable to expect non-supernatural explanations’. Can you name one occasion where a supernatural explanation for an event was scientifically PROVED to be the correct one?

    A decomposing body ‘creates a message’ to us that can be interpretted. So do the rings on a tree stump, or tracks in the snow. You could equally claim ‘we know of only minds that can create patterned objects’, but then we observed snowflakes through microscopes, and we understand how snowflakes occur naturally.

    Science has a decent understanding of how the ‘message’ of DNA could have arisen from less complicated DNA messages, which could have arisen from less complicated RNA. You ARE offering a God of the gaps argument. Each time science explains something, you’re forced to retreat a little further in your argument.

    Francis Collins may call DNA ‘the language of God’, but he reached his faith through looking at a frozen waterfall, not while looking through a test-tube. Biologists are LESS likely, not more likely, than the general population to be believers, so I’m not convinced that proof of God lies in DNA.

    You’re complaint about Dawkins seems to be that he’s not willing to stop at some point and say ‘no point in investigating that, it was obviously God’, or at least to say ‘PERHAPS the explanation for that is supernatural’.

    Going back to ‘We know of only non-supernatural explanations for events’. Newton’s theories of gravity failed to account for slight perturbations in the orbit of Mercury discovered in the 19th century. For decades most scientists were happy to put this down to ‘God tinkering’ with the movements of the planets. When Einstein claimed to have come up with a non-supernatural answer, many scientists decried his heresy. But thanks to a diligent Quaker, Einstein was vindicated.

    Reply
  62. Nathan Barley says:

    “Before there were any man-made industrial carbon emissions, why did the climate cycle from ice ages to warm ages?”

    Frank, I told you that the answer was easily google-able, but you made the same claim again afterwards. I have noticed before that you’ll say ‘science has no explanation for x’, and itll be a phenemona for which long, detailed explanations are available. I conclude that you simply mean ‘I haven’t read the explanation, and I haven’t got time to ask a scientist, or get a decent book on the subject.

    The following took me literally 20 seconds of searching to find:

    “Known causes, “drivers” or “forcings” of past climate change include:

    Changes in the Earth’s orbit: Changes in the shape of the Earth’s orbit (or eccentricity) as well as the Earth’s tilt and precession affect the amount of sunlight received on the Earth’s surface. These orbital processes — which function in cycles of 100,000 (eccentricity), 41,000 (tilt), and 19,000 to 23,000 (precession) years — are thought to be the most significant drivers of ice ages according to the theory of Mulitin Milankovitch, a Serbian mathematician (1879-1958). The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Earth Observatory offers additional information about orbital variations and the Milankovitch Theory.

    Changes in the sun’s intensity: Changes occurring within (or inside) the sun can affect the intensity of the sunlight that reaches the Earth’s surface. The intensity of the sunlight can cause either warming (for stronger solar intensity) or cooling (for weaker solar intensity). According to NASA research, reduced solar activity from the 1400s to the 1700s was likely a key factor in the “Little Ice Age” which resulted in a slight cooling of North America, Europe and probably other areas around the globe. (See additional discussion under The Last 2,000 Years.)

    Volcanic eruptions: Volcanoes can affect the climate because they can emit aerosols and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
    Aerosol emissions: Volcanic aerosols tend to block sunlight and contribute to short term cooling. Aerosols do not produce long-term change because they leave the atmosphere not long after they are emitted. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the eruption of the Tambora Volcano in Indonesia in 1815 lowered global temperatures by as much as 5ºF and historical accounts in New England describe 1816 as “the year without a summer.”
    Carbon dioxide emissions: Volcanoes also emit carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas, which has a warming effect. For about two-thirds of the last 400 million years, geologic evidence suggests CO2 levels and temperatures were considerably higher than present. One theory is that volcanic eruptions from rapid sea floor spreading elevated CO2 concentrations, enhancing the greenhouse effect and raising temperatures.”

    etc

    Reply
  63. Tim D. says:

    you are not answering the question, but rather, trying to use a couple of examples to disprove any possibility of the existence of a mind.

    Not at all. I didn’t say it disproved the possibility of a mind; I said it disproved your claim that we are obligated to assume the presence of a mind. In those particular cases, yes, it is most likely impossible, but that was not the point; the point was that, if there is even *one* instance where I can say the intervention of a mind was not possible (or very, very unlikely to the point of statistical incredulity), then it would disprove your assertion.

    That doesn’t mean your assertion isn’t possible, it just means we’re not forced by the facts to assume that it’s true.

    This reasoning is faulty. The theistic position is not that “we can read meaning into it.” That is your argument instead.

    That *is* my argument, you are correct. Meaning doesn’t objectively exist. It exists in two places: the mind of the person arranging the message, and the mind of the person receiving it. However, both are not required for the meaning to “exist” anyway; if one person perceives meaning in something, then it has meaning to that person, even if that meaning was not intended (i.e. “sit” still means something to me when the cereal letters spell it out, even though nobody intended for me to read those letters and see that message).

    So that, even if you find one example of a naturally occurring pattern from which someone could mistakenly infer meaningful content, it does not automatically exclude everything else in the universe from containing actual information.

    Of course it does not. You are correct.

    Some things have meaningful content (DNA), and some things do not (clouds). You cannot compare two dissimilar things this way philosophically.

    Whether you see the meaning or not has nothing to do with whether or not it is there; meaning is subjective in the context of a “code” and a “message.” In the case of the cloud, the meaning may not have been intended by a mind, but I still recognize the shape as something familiar — I see the significance, I can “read” the “symbol” and interpret it as a representation of something.

    Actually, yes we can. In this argument, you should not be making a distinction between a message (I use “information”) and a true message. If a message isn’t “true,” (I use “actual”) then it is not a message at all.

    You could say that. The reason I distinguish between the two, however, is because we can’t know just by the fact that a message exists whether or not it is a “true” message (or “actual,” as you say). The assumption that we can automatically make that distinction as soon as we see significance or meaning in something is blatantly false, as the cloud and cereal examples show — otherwise, we would be forced to conclude that supernatural intervention made that cloud appear in the shape that it did, or made those letters appear on the spoon in that particular configuration.

    1) If we are receiving information, then that information is actual if and only if it originates with an intelligent mind.
    2) We are receiving information.
    3) Therefore, the information is actual and originates with an intelligent mind.

    Not necessarily. It could be that the “information” is not intended and therefore not an “actual” message.

    See, the problem is that intent is necessary to make it a message. We already know that we can read significance into it, we can understand it like we would be able to understand a “message,” but we don’t know if it was intended. That is the important missing link. You seem to be saying that we can conclude that it was intended based on the fact that we can read significance into it, but that is why the cereal and cloud examples are so important — because they show that we cannot, at least not immediately. There are other *possibilities,* which means that assuming so right away is what’s called a hasty assumption.

    You suggest that somehow a “message” can also be a non-message that is mistaken for a message. Yet, you are not acknowledging that a message is determined through analysis for meaningful content (information) in order to be seen as a message. Again, this is why you cannot compare DNA and clouds.

    If you could simply acknowledge that the word “sit” is a real world (and therefore the cereal example is valid — because it is a naturally-occuring “message” written in a language that the forces involved could not have been aware of, i.e. I don’t know any cereals or natural physical forces that speak English), then you would see why it poses such a problem for me in making the same assumptions that you do.

    Again, your examples are inappropriate. Accidental “meaningful” (which is actually not meaningful) does not always infer a mind/designer, as you put it. Actual “meaningful” does. Cereal and clouds are examples of non-meaningful code, if anyone can really call those things a “code” in the first place…

    Exactly! Non-meaningful code.

    You are using the phrase “not actual” or “not meaningful” to mean “code which occurs naturally, but was not intended.” I think that is part of the confusion here; when I distinguish between “natural message” and “true message,” I am making a similar distinction. The problem is that “meaning” cannot be objective; the difference between a code produced by intelligence and a code produced by nature is intent on behalf of the “writer” or “sender” and understanding on behalf of the receiver.

    To simplify: your point was that all codes/messages should automatically be assumed to be the product of intelligence.

    My point was that there are codes/messages that occur naturally and are not the products of intelligence. Hence the cereal and cloud examples.

    I think you have trouble understanding this because of your definition of “message;” you seem to think we can know if something is really an intended “message” or not before we have enough information to do so. To you, the criteria is only that we can read significance into it, and that is (you say) impossible given only natural means, thus we must attribute it to an intelligence. Hence the cereal and cloud examples; we cannot, in every case, make that assumption, therefore the use of that as a universal rule fails.

    In other words, you are claiming that God must be identical to His own creation in order to be God.

    Not “identical to;” encompassing, maybe, but not identical to. Hence the Universalist part. If God is us but we are not him, that means that we are a part of god (but not the whole, see). If that is true, then that means god is made up of everything, which means that god is the Universalist god (“everything is part of god/god is everything”).

    C’mon, that’s absurd. No theistic usage of the term “infinite” entails what you are contradicting.

    So the theistic usage of “infinite” differs from the normal usage? It was my understanding that “infinite” means “never-ending,” or “all-encompassing,” or, “without finite end.” If that is true of god — that he is all-encompassing, or without finite end — then that means his “self” cannot end; anywhere I point, anywhere I look, I should be able to say, “That is god; god is right there.” The only way that is possible is if everything I point to is a part of god’s “self;” trees, animals, the sky, people….everything. This is possible with a Universalist god, of course, which eliminates the problem.

    Let me clarify: you are making the tautology “whatever that exists that is not God entails that God is not those things.”

    That’s not a “tautology,” that’s one of the most basic, introductory rules of logic. Written out, it would appear like this:

    -) A = god, B = man
    -) If B =/= A, then A =/= B (“if B is not A, then A is not B”)

    That’s no more a “tautology” than “up is up and down is down.”

    A tautology does not an argument begin or make

    However, a logical precedent does form the foundation for a case, as mine does here. If god is not man and man is not god, then god is finite — wherever man exists, god does not. It’s not the precedent itself which makes this case, of course; it’s the implications we draw from accepting this precedent. Thus I say “form the foundation of” a case.

    you are first making an error on the meaning of “infinite” (but I just discussed that)

    You mentioned that, but you never really discussed it….now I’m curious. What does “infinite” mean in theistic terms as opposed to mathematical terms?

    Therefore A does not have the qualities A has if B exists.

    Now that is illogical because you’ve made no attempt to show a connection between the qualities of A and B. Infinity is not disproven by the rule because it is a quality of A, or because the rule shows anything with regard to qualities; it shows that, because A is different from B, infinity is impossible because in the case of infinity, god should be endless; which should mean that anywhere I look, god is visibly there, literally (not like “I can see god’s influence everywhere I look,” but more like, “I can literally see god everywhere I look; he’s right there”). In short, infinity is a unique property that directly correlates with this rule.

    If A were infinite, then A would have to equal “everything,” infinitely. Which would mean that everything is an aspect of god, somehow; we are all part of god. Is that what you are trying to say? If so, that is Universalism. There is nothing wrong with that, and if that’s what you are saying then that’s that and we don’t need to be arguing.

    Reply
  64. Frank Turek says:

    Nathan,

    With regard to GW, my point was NOT that no one has any idea what natural causes were responsible climate change– my point was that those natural causes dwarf anything man is doing. In other words, if we’re not causing it by our emissions, we can stop it by reducing our emissions. If someone has reliable data that contradicts that, I’m open.

    I agree that one must not be too hasty lest we jump to a god of gaps explanation. But in the case of life, it is not a LACK in our knowledge but the fact that the gaps actually WIDEN the more we understand about natural forces and the attributes of life. Again, we don’t just lack a natural explanation, but have empirically verifiable evidence for an intelligent cause (just like your post is evidence of intelligent cause). The god of the gaps deserves a post with it’s own thread.

    One interesting result of this discussion is that I think we can all agree with the central point of the article– that one cannot do science without philosophy. When you claim I am committing god of the gaps, and I say I am making a rational inference based on the principle of uniformity, we are both using philosophical principles that cannot be proved by the scientific method. They are indeed philosophical.

    You asked: “Can you name one occasion where a supernatural explanation for an event was scientifically PROVED to be the correct one?”

    Well, now that would rest on your philosophical definition of “science” and “proved,” wouldn’t it? As I have argued elsewhere, I think the creation of all of nature requires something beyond nature (i.e. supernatural) because nothing can create itself. I think that is metaphysically certain. To claim otherwise would deny the foundation of all science– the law of causality.

    You wrote: “Science has a decent understanding of how the ‘message’ of DNA could have arisen from less complicated DNA messages, which could have arisen from less complicated RNA.”

    You should publish that because it would be HUGE news to the scientific community. What does “less complicated” DNA and RNA mean? What is the natural mechanism for the creation of DNA and RNA from non-living chemicals? And how did DNA, RNA, Proteins and the Cell arise all at once together by natural means? Do you have a “nature of the gaps” argument? 🙂

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  65. Luke says:

    Dr. Turek,

    Thanks for your response.

    Frank Turek said:Natural forces (gravity, EM, Strong and Weak Nuclear forces) are not CREATING the new message. It is the combination of the existing messages (life) that produces it.

    Are you saying that because my example requires the input of previously existing information it is not valid?

    If so, why did you not put this very important criteria in what you asked us for repeatedly? Maybe it was just a simple mistake, but it comes of as unfair for you to accuse me of drifting off topic when I provided exactly what you asked for, but your request was unclear!

    Frank Turek said:Of course, natural forces, to a certain extent, govern all processes here on earth. But they are not the SOURCE of the message.

    So what is the source of the new message in my daughter’s DNA?

    And why are the natural forces and all processes we understand not enough to create the new (as you acknowledge) message?

    Let me ask you this — not that it’s possible, but for the sake of argument — if we put two people in a box insulated from G-d and let them grow up and then attempt to reproduce what natural process do you think would fail without G-d’s aid? Would they be unable to produce gametes? Would those gametes be unable to fuse? More importantly, if they could not:why do you think these processes would fail? (I am, of course, assuming that this couple is not somehow sterile and could successfully reproduce outside of the G-d insulation box.)

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  66. Luke says:

    Frank Turek wrote:You should publish that because it would be HUGE news to the scientific community. What does “less complicated” DNA and RNA mean? What is the natural mechanism for the creation of DNA and RNA from non-living chemicals?

    Why the sarcasm, Dr. Turek? :/

    Nathan is exactly right. He did not say Science has a full and complete understanding of all this. He said science has a decent understanding of how it could have come about.

    There has been a lot published in both professional and lay journals which describes many of these processes.

    Frank Turek wrote:What does “less complicated” DNA and RNA mean?

    Not all DNA and RNA chains are of the same length. I believe the common usage is to call shorter chains of DNA and RNA less complicated and longer chains more complicated.

    Frank Turek wrote:What is the natural mechanism for the creation of DNA and RNA from non-living chemicals?

    Again, there is much in both professional and non-professional journals about this. I can recommend a very interesting article which was published in Discover Magazine last year entitled “Did Life Evolve in Ice?”

    Among some of the experiments which provide direct answers to your questions here:

    A frozen vial of cyanide and ammonia “coalesced into the molecules of life: nucleobases, the building blocks of RNA and DNA, and amino acids, the building blocks of proteins,

    The article described bases being frozen in seawater producing RNA chains of 400 (or even 700) bases (with the help of an RNA template), or 30 bases with no template at all (the latter in just a month!).

    I hope that will help you start, but there are literally encyclopedia volumes on these very questions and scientists are able to get more and more amazing and remarkable results simply by putting chemicals in the right environment.

    Two other articles I can recommend from the top of my head. An article in the NT Times which described a great advancement in RNA synthesis. The article was called Chemist Shows RNA Can Be a Starting Point for Life. I believe that Toby posted that here when it was published. Another is titled “From a Distant Comet, a Clue to Life” and describes amino acids, the building block of proteins, being found outside of our planet.

    These are just three articles I’ve read in the past year that I happened to remember when I read your response to Nathan and are by no means intended to provide an exhaustive answer to your questions. They are only a start though, and I can help recommend more in the future, if you are interested.

    While these articles don’t provide all the answers and many questions still remain, what they do show is that Nathan was exactly right in what he said, and that your sarcasm and incredulity were deeply displaced.

    Reply
  67. Luke says:

    Frank Turek said:And how did DNA, RNA, Proteins and the Cell arise all at once together by natural means?

    Sorry I missed this one. I honestly don’t know of anyone who thinks this happened “all at once.” The process is thought to be much more complex than that.

    Reply
  68. Frank Turek says:

    Luke,

    Could you please dispense with the judgments about sarcasm and incredulity? I meant HUGE because the problem is HUGE. It is not sarcasm, and even if it were there are times when it is appropriate to make a point. If you object to my responses (which I try to keep civil, even if I occasionally fail), then you can simply move on to another site.

    Now with regard to your citations: you can always find articles that speculate on a naturalistic explanation of life– Darwinists are trying to find them and investigation and speculation is good. But to paraphrase Richard Dawkins, anyone who says they have a viable naturalistic explanation is lying. No one knows.

    Notice that the articles you cite have to do with “building blocks” for RNA and DNA. So what? Of course you can find biologically interesting chemicals, but that is a long way from DNA and still further away from life. Just because you can find a pile of rocks, doesn’t mean you’ve discovered a natural cause for a building. If you want building blocks, take a living cell now and kill it in a test tube. There you will have all of the building blocks necessary for life. Do you really think that natural forces will resurrect that life?

    The problem is actually bigger than just the message in DNA. There is a HUGE chicken and egg problem between DNA, RNA. Proteins and the Cell. They are irreducibly complex. They could not have arisen individually. They need one another to exist. If anyone has a natural mechanism that can explain how all of this components came together to form life, ID would be falsified for biology. If there was such an explanation, Darwinists would be trumpeting it. Instead, there is only speculation on building blocks, which is why even Dawkins admits there is no explanation. In fact, Francis Crick called the origin of life “almost a miracle.”

    But there is an explanation if intelligence is introduced. The intelligence doesn’t necessarily have to be supernatural (although due to cosmology I think it is). Panspermia, about which Dawkins speculated and Hoyle and Crick endorsed, is ID.

    I had another thought, but I’m getting old. Out of time today.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  69. Luke says:

    Dr. Turek,

    Could you please dispense with the judgments about sarcasm and incredulity? I meant HUGE because the problem is HUGE. It is not sarcasm, and even if it were there are times when it is appropriate to make a point. If you object to my responses (which I try to keep civil, even if I occasionally fail), then you can simply move on to another site.

    I will reply to you privately.

    Reply
  70. Luke says:

    Dr. Turek,

    As far as your larger point.

    Notice that the articles you cite have to do with “building blocks” for RNA and DNA. So what?

    Perhaps I misunderstood the articles, but only one directly dealt with this. The other do did “have to do with ‘building blocks'” but also went far beyond that. At least as I understood them. As far as I’m concerned, an RNA chain of 700 bases (or even 30 bases) is not a “‘building block’ for RNA.”

    I see that you are out of time for today, but maybe tomorrow you can answer my other question about the idea of “messages” which we were discussing.

    Are you saying that because my example requires the input of previously existing information it is not valid?

    I would like to respond further, but want to make sure I am understanding you correctly.

    Reply
  71. Nathan Barley says:

    “my point was that those natural causes dwarf anything man is doing.”

    That’s not what you were saying before – you seemed to be saying that no-one could explain previous temperature variations. I pointed out that such explanations DO exist, and now you seem to have shifted your position. Now you’re saying that we DO understand it, but that this dwarfs anything man is doing.

    Can you back this assertion up please? Do you accept that man’s activities caused massive holes in the ozone layer, or do you dismiss that too? You’re using the ‘false humility’ argument – “I’m not so arrogant to think puny mankind can affect the weather”. It’s not convincing – we destroyed parts of the ozone layer, we’ve successfully wiped out untold species of animals, we’ve set off nuclear weapons that have unleashed untold amounts of energy. There’s good evidence that throwing half a trillion tons of carbon into the atmosphere IS affecting the climate. Not enough to destroy the planet, but enough to make life very difficult for our children and grandchildren.

    “You should publish that because it would be HUGE news to the scientific community.”

    I think you should go first with your evidence for the supernatural – you could buy a lot of bibles with the prize money you’d win for that!

    Reply
  72. Luke says:

    Panspermia, about which Dawkins speculated and Hoyle and Crick endorsed, is ID.

    Panspermia is not necessarily ID. I have not read Dawkins on the subject, but I would feel safe guessing that the panspermia in which he believes is different from what Crick believes.

    Either way, many proponents of Panspermia do not see it as ID in any way.

    Panspermia in general refers to the idea that the seeds of life (organic molecules, amino acids) are present throughout the universe (see NY Times article I mentioned). The abundance of these building blocks of life is what allowed life to begin on earth (and likely other places as well).

    There is a subset of theories within this larger view which is usually known as Directed Panspermia which could be considered ID, except that this only applies to the origin of life on Earth and other places, not the origin of the first life in the universe; so it is only ID when it comes to some, not all life in the universe. (Basically the view is that the seeds of life are everywhere because they were intentionally spread throughout the universe by an intelligent extraterrestrial civilization.)

    This makes it much different from the ID of creationism.

    Nathan, you seem pretty familiar with Dawkins, does he endorse Directed Panspermia?

    Reply
  73. Luke says:

    Dr. Turek said:Notice that the articles you cite have to do with “building blocks” for RNA and DNA. So what?

    I am just reiterating my response to this because I feel like this is a key point in this discussion.

    How is a 30 base chain of RNA a building block of RNA?

    How is a 700 base chain of RNA a building block of RNA?

    I just want to make sure I understand how you see it, because it seems we are understanding at least some of these terms differently.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  74. Letitia (The Damsel) says:

    To simplify: your point was that all codes/messages should automatically be assumed to be the product of intelligence….

    No, that is not my position at all. Rather, information should be recognized as a product of intelligence.

    I said it disproved your claim that we are obligated to assume the presence of a mind.

    I personally didn’t say that, but nevertheless we are obligated to assume the presence of a mind if the conditions meet the criteria for the presence of a mind, as in the information found in DNA. Hence, my argument again:
    1) If we are receiving information, then that information is actual if and only if it originates with an intelligent mind.
    2) We are receiving information.
    3) Therefore, the information is actual and originates with an intelligent mind.

    Not necessarily. It could be that the “information” is not intended and therefore not an “actual” message.

    If you’re going to disagree with it, you must show that either one of the premises is false or that the conclusion does not follow. But you have already agreed with premises 1 and 2, and since the argument is deductive, the conclusion makes no new inference from the premises and logically follows (Logic 101).

    If something is not an “actual” message, then it is a false message (non-information). Of course. The argument states so itself, and you’ve stated as much yourself (“if a message is assembled by natural forces (such as the cereal message or the cloud symbol), then it’s not really a “message”); the syllogism only addresses the case where we are receiving actual information (read the argument again). As long as someone can point to at least one example where this argument is true (which Frank did), it is a sound argument.

    See, the problem is that intent is necessary to make it a message. We already know that we can read significance into it, we can understand it like we would be able to understand a “message,” but we don’t know if it was intended.

    By ascribing “intent” to the issue in this way, you are, in effect, saying that you must know prior to the argument that the information originated with an intelligent mind before you might agree that it originated with an intelligent mind (because only a mind can have an intent). But that is the purpose of the argument—to show that actual information originates with an intelligent mind!

    I think you have trouble understanding this because of your definition of “message;” you seem to think we can know if something is really an intended “message” or not before we have enough information to do so. To you, the criteria is only that we can read significance into it, and that is (you say) impossible given only natural means, thus we must attribute it to an intelligence. Hence the cereal and cloud examples; we cannot, in every case, make that assumption, therefore the use of that as a universal rule fails.

    You are misstating my position again. But here is something you keep saying that you have not defended with argument or evidence: what “enough information” is. You accuse me of drawing a conclusion without enough information, yet you do not specify how much is “enough.” Plus, you’re the one making a universal rule when you say that since we have examples of accidental so-called “messages,” we therefore should not attribute intelligence to actual “messages” either (a conclusion that does not follow at all).

    That is the important missing link. You seem to be saying that we can conclude that it was intended based on the fact that we can read significance into it,

    No, I’m saying that we can conclude that an intelligent mind originates information, because it IS significant, not that we can read significance into it. Actual information is significant. If you want to dispute that, then you’d have to show that information is never significant or indicative of an intelligent mind. Otherwise, the theist is justified in believing that in order for information to exist, an intelligent mind must have originated it. As you yourself said, “A true message needs both a sender and a receiver; that is true.

    So let’s go back to one of your earlier questions: Is it possible for a mind to exist that could have created DNA?

    Logically, yes. I’ve also given a valid (and sound) argument for the existence of a mind that could have created DNA. Don’t you think you should answer this question as well?

    Now, about your unorthodox usage of theistic terms.
    I said: In other words, you are claiming that God must be identical to His own creation in order to be God.

    You said: Not “identical to;” encompassing, maybe, but not identical to. Hence the Universalist part. If God is us but we are not him, that means that we are a part of god (but not the whole, see). If that is true, then that means god is made up of everything, which means that god is the Universalist god (”everything is part of god/god is everything”).

    You are describing panentheism; and the word “identical” is the correct philosophical term for your position (you just may not realize it). That God is identical to His own creation is unintelligible (saying “encompassing” doesn’t help). You will have to make some kind of logical argument to make any sense of this position.

    So the theistic usage of “infinite” differs from the normal usage?

    No, your usage of “infinite” differs from the normal usage when you refer to God.

    It was my understanding that “infinite” means “never-ending,” or “all-encompassing,” or, “without finite end.” If that is true of god — that he is all-encompassing, or without finite end — then that means his “self” cannot end; anywhere I point, anywhere I look, I should be able to say, “That is god; god is right there.” The only way that is possible is if everything I point to is a part of god’s “self;”

    You are confusing what it means for God’s attributes to be infinite with what you perceive to be an infinity of fill-in-the-blank. This line of thinking leads to all kinds of absurdities, like ‘God can be God and not God at the same time,’ and ‘God can go out of existence and come into existence at will” (supposedly if you disagree, then you would be saying that God is limited in some way if He cannot accomplish those things. This is a stupid thought experiment that was dealt with around 800 years ago).

    Of course God has limits, but they are logical limits, like God cannot be something that He is not, make square circles, or grill in a deep fat fryer. Your reasoning that in order for God to be infinite, He must also be the things He creates falls into this logically impossible category.

    I said: you are making the tautology “whatever that exists that is not God entails that God is not those things.”

    You said: That’s not a “tautology,” that’s one of the most basic, introductory rules of logic. Written out, it would appear like this:
    -) A = god, B = man
    -) If B =/= A, then A =/= B (”if B is not A, then A is not B”)
    That’s no more a “tautology” than “up is up and down is down.”

    Actually, that is exactly what a tautology is. Look it up. My point is, you cannot use a tautology as a basis for applying your own illogical use of the term “infinite” to God. Like this statement:

    god should be endless; which should mean that anywhere I look, god is visibly there, literally

    Whatever term you use as a synonym for infinite, it doesn’t mean that unless God instantiates whatever you suggest, like material visibility, He is not therefore infinite. You could then just as easily complain that God is not invisible and is not therefore infinite either. I really, really, really hope you get that this is no way to argue.

    I’ve spent a lot of my time hammering out very basic philosophical arguments to show that you need to rethink your ideas about God and Christianity. Either you do not understand classical theism or are intentionally misusing theistic terms. I don’t know which, but it is something you should correct. Also, I suggest taking a college logic course. I think that would help you out a lot. Regardless of what you do with your time, in the end, you will have to get out of denial about the existence of God and who Jesus is. I will pray for you, man.

    Reply
  75. Nathan Barley says:

    “Nathan, you seem pretty familiar with Dawkins, does he endorse Directed Panspermia?”

    I’m glad to clear this up – no he doesn’t.

    “Stein asked whether I could think of any circumstances whatsoever under which intelligent design might have occurred. It’s the kind of challenge I relish, and I set myself the task of imagining the most plausible scenario I could. I wanted to give ID its best shot, however poor that best shot might be. I must have been feeling magnanimous that day, because I was aware that the leading advocates of Intelligent Design are very fond of protesting that they are not talking about God as the designer, but about some unnamed and unspecified intelligence, which might even be an alien from another planet. Indeed, this is the only way they differentiate themselves from fundamentalist creationists, and they do it only when they need to, in order to weasel their way around church/state separation laws.

    So, bending over backwards to accommodate the IDiots (“oh NOOOOO, of course we aren’t talking about God, this is SCIENCE”) and bending over backwards to make the best case I could for intelligent design, I constructed a science fiction scenario. Like Michael Ruse (as I surmise) I still hadn’t rumbled Stein, and I was charitable enough to think he was an honestly stupid man, sincerely seeking enlightenment from a scientist. I patiently explained to him that life could conceivably have been seeded on Earth by an alien intelligence from another planet (Francis Crick and Leslie Orgel suggested something similar — semi tongue-in-cheek).

    The conclusion I was heading towards was that, even in the highly unlikely event that some such ‘Directed Panspermia’ was responsible for designing life on this planet, the alien beings would THEMSELVES have to have evolved, if not by Darwinian selection, by some equivalent ‘crane’ (to quote Dan Dennett). My point here was that design can never be an ULTIMATE explanation for organized complexity.”

    You can read the whole shameful story by googling ‘richard dawkins aliens expelled’. It’s virtually the first result – ‘Lying for Jesus’.

    Reply
  76. Nathan Barley says:

    Letitia: “By ascribing “intent” to the issue in this way, you are, in effect, saying that you must know prior to the argument that the information originated with an intelligent mind before you might agree that it originated with an intelligent mind (because only a mind can have an intent). But that is the purpose of the argument—to show that actual information originates with an intelligent mind!”

    Quite – so if you define a ‘code’ as coming from an intelligent mind, then you cannot call DNA a ‘code’ UNTIL you have shown it comes from an intelligent mind (unless using the term metaphorically), otherwise you’re begging the question.

    “1) If we are receiving information, then that information is actual if and only if it originates with an intelligent mind.”

    Rain falling on a window sill gives you information, the rings in a tree stump give you information, a decaying corpse can tell you all sorts of things. An intelligent mind is not needed to create this information, and yet the information is still ‘actual’.

    Reply
  77. Frank Turek says:

    Nathan,

    My position has not shifted at all. As I said before, if we are causing GW or GC, I want to know it. I simply have not seen evidence that we are causing it, especially in light of the fact that the climate has been changing for thousands of years prior to our emissions. Is it possible that we have a hand in it? Of course. But how much compared to natural means is the question. When “scientists” fake data to show the climate is warming, hide data that shows the climate is cooling, and muzzle dissent to support man-made global warming, it makes me think the answer to the question is not much.

    Luke, you wrote: How is a 30 base chain of RNA a building block of RNA? How is a 700 base chain of RNA a building block of RNA?

    I haven’t read the article. What are they suggesting is the cause? Are they saying they have a natural mechanism for the development of RNA?

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  78. Nathan Barley says:

    “I simply have not seen evidence that we are causing it, especially in light of the fact that the climate has been changing for thousands of years prior to our emissions”

    Again, you’re indulging in the same fallacy – people getting cancer before cigarettes makes no difference to whether cigarettes cause cancer.

    As for the allegations against a small number of scientists, this is like tossing out the whole of Christianity because someone proves that the Turin Shroud was faked. The evidence isn’t so restricted.

    Reply
  79. Luke says:

    Nathan,

    Frank Turek said:My position has not shifted at all.

    He’s right, I think. Dr. Turek’s rhetoric was reminiscent of the rhetoric used by “climate-change deniers” so when I first read it, I understood that this was his position. I just recognized the rhetoric, so I was able to make some (correct, it seems) assumptions.

    I am not as familiar with the rhetoric where you are, but I do see why it seemed like a shift to you.

    Dr. Turek,

    If your questions are simply about the impact of human action on global warming, then why bring up natural climate change at all?

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  80. Luke says:

    Dr. Turek wrote:I haven’t read the article. What are they suggesting is the cause?

    Why did you dismiss the articles so easily (“So what?” ) if you did not read them? 🙂

    Dr. Turek wrote:Are they saying they have a natural mechanism for the development of RNA?

    Yes, both the NY Times article and the Discover article (in part — it is more wide ranging) discuss synthesis or RNA and RNA chains, not just building blocks of RNA.

    I am not sure what you mean by cause. I suppose the cause would be chemical reactions between chemicals.

    So what of my question about my daughter’s DNA (if you have time). Is it not a valid answer to what you asked for because it relies on previous information? (Either way, do you believe that G-d was needed to arrange the ‘code’ which is now in her cells?)

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  81. Luke says:

    Letitia said:Rather, information should be recognized as a product of intelligence.

    I think Andrew’s point about tree rings, etc containing actual information is a good one.

    Let me add a slightly different example.

    Are last night’s lottery numbers not information because they were arrived at randomly not through intelligence? Or do you believe there was an invisible intelligent hand guiding the choice of numbers?

    Letitia said:Of course God has limits, but they are logical limits.

    Why is universalism illogical?

    Reply
  82. Letitia (The Damsel) says:

    Hello Nathan,

    I said: “By ascribing “intent” to the issue in this way, you are, in effect, saying that you must know prior to the argument that the information originated with an intelligent mind before you might agree that it originated with an intelligent mind (because only a mind can have an intent). But that is the purpose of the argument—to show that actual information originates with an intelligent mind!”

    Nathan said: Quite – so if you define a ‘code’ as coming from an intelligent mind, then you cannot call DNA a ‘code’ UNTIL you have shown it comes from an intelligent mind (unless using the term metaphorically), otherwise you’re begging the question.

    You are admitting as much, but you fail to see that this position is a problem. Again, the purpose of the argument is to show that actual information originates with an intelligent mind—that’s what it is for. It is, therefore, irrational to want the conclusion to the argument before dealing with the argument. It would be like someone first wanting to be convinced that a certain veteran existed before I argued that he served in wartime.

    Begging the question – okay, you want to argue the validity of premise 1. You say, ” An intelligent mind is not needed to create this information, and yet the information is still ‘actual’”. The problem is that your examples do not show the same kind of information that the premise refers to. I’m not saying that we can’t learn anything through studying your examples. Actual information, however, is transmissible, meaningful content. The only way your examples would be valid is if you could say that tree rings spell out instructions for assembling a bicycle. (But if that were the case, I would love to hear how anyone thinks that that came about by purely natural forces.) That is the kind of information that the argument refers to, and you have not refuted it neither through counterexample or by demonstrating that it is begging the question.

    I am reminded about how the whole SETI project is predicated on the idea that if intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe (on technological par with us or greater), then we would be able to detect information coming from it and be able to distinguish it from cosmic noise, rain, clouds, cereal, or Jesus in a tortilla.

    Reply
  83. Nathan Barley says:

    “Actual information, however, is transmissible, meaningful content. The only way your examples would be valid is if you could say that tree rings spell out instructions for assembling a bicycle.”

    Nonsense – the age of the tree is meaningful information. What you mean is that it’s not information that an intelligent mind has transmitted to us – which is exactly the point.

    You need to show that DNA could NOT come about through natural processes. If this is easy to do, one wonders why the best minds of the ID movement were completely unable to make such a case in the Dover trial of a few years back.

    Reply
  84. Nathan Barley says:

    By the way, DNA is nothing like ‘instructions to make a bicycle’. For a start, you need an intelligent mind to interpret such instructions, whereas DNA needs no such mind. For a second, the ‘instructions’ contains a huge number of duff information.

    Snakes’ DNA contains ‘instructions’ to make limbs. It also contains instructions NOT to listen to those ‘limb-making’ instructions. This all came about through trial and error over millions of years, using only natural processes.

    This is how natural selection works. It’s nothing like how instructions to make a bicycle are designed. Obviously if you don’t understand this mechanism then it will look like the supernatural to you.

    But only in the same way that a tribesman in New Guinea might think a flashlight is magic.

    Reply
  85. Frank Turek says:

    Nathan,

    The members of the ID movement and SETI (Sagan’s group) realize that the one-to-one correspondence (not an analogy or metaphor) between a message from a human alphabet and a message from a genetic alphabet points to intelligence. That’s a positive inference, not just the lack of a natural cause. Again, you can refute this rational inference by showing how any combination of natural forces can do so.

    You could also consider the question from another perspective. Namely, if the first life really was designed, wouldn’t thousands of volumes of genetic information be evidence of that design?

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  86. Nathan Barley says:

    Frank, what we observe is more complicated life arising from simpler forms. So the first life forms wouldn’t have had ‘thousands of volumes of genetic information’.

    “Again, you can refute this rational inference by showing how any combination of natural forces can do so.”

    I don’t think the answer to this question would be in a form either of us are qualified to understand. Nonetheless, there seems to be a lot of science available on the web showing research into this question is taking place. I’ll email a link on a separate post, so that this one doesn’t need to await moderation.

    At any rate, if science DOES offer a decent answer to your question, I have no faith the the people on your side of the argument will accept it anyway, given your side’s past track record with evolution. Either the evidence will be rejected, or you’ll just look for a new gap.

    Reply
  87. Nathan Barley says:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090109173205.htm

    “One of the most enduring questions is how life could have begun on Earth. Molecules that can make copies of themselves are thought to be crucial to understanding this process as they provide the basis for heritability, a critical characteristic of living systems. New findings could inform biochemical questions about how life began.

    Now, a pair of Scripps Research Institute scientists has taken a significant step toward answering that question. The scientists have synthesized for the first time RNA enzymes that can replicate themselves without the help of any proteins or other cellular components, and the process proceeds indefinitely.

    The work was recently published in the journal Science.”

    Reply
  88. Frank Turek says:

    Nathan,

    Agreed. Some people will not accept the evidence no matter what it says, which is why the premise of the post is true: science doesn’t say anything, scientists do.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  89. Frank Turek says:

    Hi Nathan,

    In God we trust, all others bring data. So thanks for the sciencenews link. The RNA stuff is interesting, but I think it suffers from the same problem as Dawkins’ computer simulation and the Urey-Miller experiment– the introduction of intelligence and conditions you don’t find in nature. Two scientists intelligently manipulating RNA catalysts is not a natural process.

    Take a look at that part of the article describing the experiment. I’ll put in CAPS the intelligent designed parts or situations that don’t occur in nature:

    “The GOAL was to take one of the RNA enzymes ALREADY DEVELOPED IN THE LAB that could perform the basic chemistry of replication, and IMPROVE it to the point that it could drive efficient, perpetual self-replication.

    Lincoln SYNTHESIZED IN THE LABORATORY a large population of variants of the RNA enzyme that would be challenged to do the job, and carried out a TEST-TUBE EVOLUTION PROCEDURE TO OBTAIN THOSE VARIANTS THAT WERE MOST ADEPT at joining together pieces of RNA.

    Ultimately, this process ENABLED THE TEAM TO ISOLATE an evolved version of the original enzyme that is a very efficient replicator, something that many research groups, including Joyce’s, HAD STRUGGLED for years to obtain. The improved enzyme fulfilled the primary GOAL of being able to undergo perpetual replication. “It kind of blew me away,” says Lincoln.”

    Now there are many chemical details that neither of us understand (see more of them in the link below). But using sound philosophical principles, we can both see that intelligently manipulating, modifying or creating enzymes in lab says little about whether natural forces could do so. Moreover, as admitted in the article, this is not even close to life. In fact, it seems to me that if we ever create life in the laboratory, it will prove ID because it would show that it takes a lot of intelligence to do it. With all our intelligence we can’t do it but blind natural forces can. How does that make any sense?

    If you want to read more about the problems with implications of the experiment, see this http://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/02/origin_of_life_researchers_int.html.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  90. Nathan Barley says:

    “In fact, it seems to me that if we ever create life in the laboratory, it will prove ID because it would show that it takes a lot of intelligence to do it.”

    In other words, nothing would satisfy you! As I said before, what you are trying to demonstrate is the same thing Michael Behe failed to demonstrate in the Dover Trial a few years back.

    Reply
  91. Luke says:

    Dr. Turek,

    You certainly have a point that most of these experiments involve intelligent human input, but I don’t think all such experiments do. (For example, the experiment which simply put ammonia and cyanide in a canister is not, in my mind, a high amount of intelligent interference. Yet this experiment did give some clues as to how these natural processes may have worked) Scientists do realize this problem, but the idea is to guide the experiments in certain ways to test certain ideas, and from that more ideas will be tested and so on.

    No scientist claims to have the answer to all of these problems, but as more natural answers are found the idea of life appearing naturally is farther from being falsified.

    One idea came to mind when I read your response though, especially the last part of your post about proving ID. If I use my intelligence to arrange water, a teapot and heat in such a way as to boil water, does this mean that any time water boils intelligent input is required? Is that what I have proved?

    This is a similar problem that we see with the natural vs. man made global warming. Simply because man can do something does not mean that it cannot happen naturally. Just because something can occur naturally does not mean that man cannot do it.

    So I think it is incorrect to say that creating life in a lab would “prove ID.” At most it would show that life can be helped along. It would not disprove ID. (There is also a difference, I think, between experimenting with chemicals and enzymes based upon some preconceived ideas of what might naturally happen when they are mixed, and coming up with and writing 30 encyclopedias of code and knowing that this code will result in “life.”)

    Luke

    Reply
  92. Luke says:

    That was my best attempt at brevity Dr. Turek.

    If you have a second, I have two interesting questions that I hope can be easily and quickly answered.

    You said that scientists creating life in a lab would simply prove ID (a notion I disagreed with in some ways, but it seems to be your view). Would such a successful experiment make you believe that it now takes even more “faith to be an atheist?”

    Also, have you ever thought about how the discovery of life on Europa (or some other place) might impact your faith? This is an interesting question for many believers and I was wondering if you’ve ever thought about it.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  93. Luke says:

    Nathan said:And no, it doesn’t show that intelligence is required, it shows that supernatural forces are not.

    This seems to be the correct interpretation from a scientific standpoint.

    Reply
  94. Lloyd O. Roumetha says:

    Dear Dr. Turek,

    This is no doubt my failing, but nothing so far in this thread suggests you have thought through exactly what you imagine “intelligence” to be. Or “natural”. Or “ID.”

    Please, so that we may know you are not wasting your life playing medieval word games:

    1a Exactly what are the criteria you apply to an observation to decide whether that observation involves “intelligence”?

    b On what grounds do you believe those criteria to be necessary and sufficient?

    2a Exactly what are the criteria you apply to an observation to decide whether that observation involves events that are “natural” or not?

    b On what grounds do you believe those criteria to be necessary and sufficient?

    Lloyd O. Roumetha

    Reply
  95. Luke says:

    Lloyd,

    I don’t want to speak for Dr. Turek, but here is a basic outline of the position as I understand it.

    Leaving DNA out of it for the moment (since its origin is what we are discussing), we have no examples of messages which did not originate from a mind. (To avoid the double negative, in our experience — messages and codes only come from minds.) Based on this and the principal of uniformity we can infer that when we find a message and/or code — it has originated with a mind/intelligence.

    Unless someone can present a message or code which has clearly been produced by non-intelligent natural phenomena, the conclusion that all messages come from minds is the rational one.

    To return to DNA, which is an incredibly complex ‘message,’ it is therefore rational to conclude that it must have come from a mind.

    I hope that helps a bit.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  96. Frank Turek says:

    Nathan,

    Before we move on, do you agree that the RNA study involved intelligent and goal-directed activity, and therefore is not an accurate simulation of what happens by undirected natural forces?

    If not, why not?

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  97. Lloyd says:

    Dear Luke,

    Unless someone can present a message or code which has clearly been produced by non-intelligent natural phenomena, the conclusion that all messages come from minds is the rational one

    Yes, I’m familiar. The question wasn’t really a question. It was a challenge.

    Unless each term – message, code, natural, intelligence – has a precisely stated and experientially connected meaning, you guys are trading gibberish.

    Lloyd

    Reply
  98. Frank Turek says:

    Hi Lloyd,

    Specified complexity is the key term which serves as the explanatory filter for ID. Dr. William Dembski has written about this extensively in academic and popular terms. The next three paragraphs are an excerpt from a short popular article of his explaining specified complexity.

    “Astronomer Carl Sagan wrote a novel about SETI called Contact, which was later made into a movie starring Jodie Foster. After years of receiving apparently meaningless “random” radio signals from outer space, the Contact researchers discovered a pattern of beats and pauses that corresponded to the sequence of all the prime numbers from 2 to 101. (Prime numbers are divisible only by themselves and by one.) That got their attention, and they immediately inferred a designing intelligence. When a sequence begins with two beats, then a pause, three beats, then a pause … and continues through each prime number all the way to 101 beats, researchers must infer the presence of an extraterrestrial intelligence.

    Why is that? Nothing in the laws of physics requires radio signals to take one form or another, so the prime sequence is contingent rather than necessary. Also, the prime sequence is a long sequence and therefore complex. Note that if the sequence lacked complexity, it could easily have happened by chance. Finally, it was not just complex but also exhibited an independently given pattern or specification (it was not just any old sequence of numbers but a mathematically significant one-the prime numbers).

    Intelligence leaves behind a characteristic trademark or signature-what I call “specified complexity.” (See my book No Free Lunch.) An event exhibits specified complexity if it is contingent and therefore not necessary; if it is complex and therefore not readily reproducible by chance; and if it is specified in the sense of exhibiting an independently given pattern. Note that a merely improbable event is not sufficient to eliminate chance-flip a coin long enough and you’ll witness a highly complex or improbable event. Even so, you’ll have no reason not to attribute it to chance.”

    Here is the entire piece if you care to go further. http://www.4truth.net/site/c.hiKXLbPNLrF/b.2904107/k.E6A/Intelligent_Design_A_Brief_Introduction.htm

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  99. Luke says:

    Lloyd,

    Yes, using precise terms is important, and it only sows confusion when people use the same terms to mean different things. Some of these terms have been discussed above, but I don’t think we’ve settled anything.

    For my part:

    Message – A communication of information sent (in some manner) from one party to another, whether the receiver is known or unknown. (The parties need not be human or alive. For example, a dog barking at his owner when the dog is hungry is a message. A thermometer reading is a message.)

    Code – A message sent through a specific set of signals which are intended to obscure the message from certain parties, whether specified or unspecified.

    (A totally different definition would be a set of instructions intended for processing by a computer.)

    Natural – Operating within understood laws of the universe and not requiring extraordinary or supernatural (violating understood laws) intervention.

    Intelligence – This one is tough to define off the top of my head, but I would say that intelligence is the ability to respond to circumstances with a change in behavior based on an ability to solve problems.

    I haven’t thought about those deeply, so feel free to criticize, but those would be my off-the-cuff ideas.

    Luke

    Reply
  100. Lloyd O. Roumetha says:

    Dr. Turek,

    ID’s chief claim is this: the world contains events, objects, and structures that exhaust the explanatory resources of undirected material causes

    Thunder God stuff. Zeus, Baal, Melquart, Yahweh

    ——————

    I can’t tell whether my challenge was unclear, or whether your theory cannot meet the challenge. Let me ask clear and specific questions…

    You use the term “ intelligent “.

    Does this word derive from any observation?

    If so, specifically what observations?

    Specifically what criteria must I apply to an observation to tell whether what I’m observing is or is not ” intelligent “?

    On what grounds do you believe those criteria do explain the observation?

    Same for “natural”

    Same for “code”

    Same for “message”

    …or shall we agree to ” gibberish” ?

    Lloyd O. Roumetha

    Reply
  101. Frank Turek says:

    Hi Lloyd,

    I’m heading out in a few minutes so I can’t give your question the appropriate treatment right now. But until then, let me just note that your post has obvious signs of intelligence but I don’t think you’re Zeus, Baal, Melquart or Yahweh.

    Talk to you next week.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  102. Lloyd O. Roumetha says:

    Dear Dr. Turek,

    your post has obvious signs of intelligence but I don’t think you’re Zeus, Baal, Melquart or Yahweh.

    Angels unaware.

    I wasn’t clear. Two points. First: God of the Gaps is well pinned on theories that run “I don’t know how it happens, therefore it must be magic.” Which is what the link you endorse admits explicitly.

    Second, your proposed difference between intelligence, unicorns, griffins, and other imaginary inventions. No doubt in due course you’ll let us in on what the necessary and sufficient signs of intelligence are.

    Enjoy your outing,
    Lloyd O. Roumetha

    Reply
  103. Tim D. says:

    No, that is not my position at all. Rather, information should be recognized as a product of intelligence.

    Whichever word you choose, the problem comes from defining it; “information” in this case is defined in such a way that it begs the question. The question is, then, “what is information?” Can it occur naturally, or is it really necessarily caused by intelligence? That is what is being asked.

    I personally didn’t say that, but nevertheless we are obligated to assume the presence of a mind if the conditions meet the criteria for the presence of a mind, as in the information found in DNA. Hence, my argument again:
    1) If we are receiving information, then that information is actual if and only if it originates with an intelligent mind.
    2) We are receiving information.
    3) Therefore, the information is actual and originates with an intelligent mind.

    I am questioning that very assertion, though. I’m asking you how you can make the judgment in the case of (1). You are responding by asserting the case of (1) without defending it. Do you see why that can be a problem for me?

    If you’re going to disagree with it, you must show that either one of the premises is false or that the conclusion does not follow. But you have already agreed with premises 1 and 2

    Really? When did I do that? I do believe I was questioning them. I acknowledged that such conclusions are possible, but I still wonder how you arrive at them — why do you think that we necessarily have to assume a mind if we are receiving “information,” and how do you know that “information” can only exist if it was created by a mind? Basically, how do you know you are using a correct definition of “information?”

    If something is not an “actual” message, then it is a false message (non-information). Of course. The argument states so itself, and you’ve stated as much yourself (“if a message is assembled by natural forces (such as the cereal message or the cloud symbol), then it’s not really a “message”); the syllogism only addresses the case where we are receiving actual information (read the argument again). As long as someone can point to at least one example where this argument is true (which Frank did), it is a sound argument.

    Yes, grand. But how do you know when you are dealing with an actual message?

    It appears circular to me, this line of reasoning — we know it was created by a mind because it’s a message, but we know it’s a message because it was created by a mind. Take those judgments separately: 1) that it’s a message containing information, and 2) that it was created by a mind. Explore them separately. Then you should have some reason to assume either case on its own, which you can then use to infer the other. But it’s an incomplete judgment to make that assertion based solely on those two separate points; without something to hold up at least one of them on their own, neither of them means anything, so trying to prop them up using each other (as you have done here) is fruitless. There is nothing to link them together as a necessity, logically or otherwise.

    It’s kind of like one of those old riddles; When is a message not really a message? Or perhaps, When is information not actually information? Maybe it would help to phrase it to you in one of those ways, given that you have yet to justify the specifics of your definition of “information.”

    By ascribing “intent” to the issue in this way, you are, in effect, saying that you must know prior to the argument that the information originated with an intelligent mind before you might agree that it originated with an intelligent mind (because only a mind can have an intent). But that is the purpose of the argument—to show that actual information originates with an intelligent mind!

    Ah, so you are using circular reasoning. At least, I have no choice but to hold to this conclusion until you can explain to me why you believe that is true.

    But here is something you keep saying that you have not defended with argument or evidence: what “enough information” is.

    That’s a reference to the question I’ve asked twice so far in this very response; how do you know that we must assume that a message is the product of intelligence (simply by virtue of being a “message”), or vice-versa? That is what is needed in order to justify your premise. That is “enough information.” You have thus far refused to explain that judgment to me, and so I have responded by calling it a “lack of information,” or “not enough information.” Simply asserting that premise is not enough to justify it to me.

    Plus, you’re the one making a universal rule when you say that since we have examples of accidental so-called “messages,” we therefore should not attribute intelligence to actual “messages” either (a conclusion that does not follow at all).

    Not quite. Let me fix one word from that and make it an accurate representation of my thoughts:

    you say that since we have examples of accidental so-called “messages,” we therefore should not automatically attribute intelligence to actual “messages” either

    I even admitted to you that it’s still possible that a message can be derived from an intelligent mind….even if you believed I was saying otherwise, it should have been easy for you to point out that this message right here (or the one you posted) is obviously the product of a mind, and therefore the conclusion that we can’t ever chalk a message up to the work of a mind would be “false.” Of course, that’s not the conclusion I drew; hopefully my above correction will make that clear.

    No, I’m saying that we can conclude that an intelligent mind originates information, because it IS significant, not that we can read significance into it.

    What’s the difference? Significance is subjective. Code only means something to a machine that can interpret that code; language only means something to someone who can understand that language. Or do you mean intended significance? Because that’s another story entirely; that’s the case in which I proposed that we must know whether or not it was intended before we can say it’s intended, as opposed to judging whether or not it was intended based on significance that we read into it. Whether you mean to or not, the implication of what you are saying here is that, if we see something as significant, then we must assume that a mind created it — even if we can’t know, outside of that judgment, whether or not such a mind even exists. You would then be saying that we should assume that such a mind exists, solely because we see the message as significant (and therefore containing information). I say we should not.

    Actual information is significant.

    Alright. So what is “actual information?” How is it differentiated from “not actual information?”

    I guess that you will probably say, “Because actual information is intended and the product of a mind.” Correct me if I’m wrong.

    If you do say that, though, I will say, “So then how do you know when information is intended, and therefore actual, as opposed to non-intentional and therefore ‘not actual?'”

    If you want to dispute that, then you’d have to show that information is never significant or indicative of an intelligent mind.

    Not at all. I’d just have to show that information can 1) exist, and yet 2) not be “significant” in the sense that it was intended by a mind. Which I have done with the cereal and cloud examples.

    I’ve said this already, but since you still seem to be missing it: I’m not saying that it’s impossible for information to come from a mind, or be significant. I’m saying it’s also possible for it to not be significant or come from a mind. If I wanted to be really facetious, I could shift the burden of proof to you here and say, You have done nothing to disprove that.

    Logically, yes. I’ve also given a valid (and sound) argument for the existence of a mind that could have created DNA. Don’t you think you should answer this question as well?

    …I’m not really sure which “valid and sound argument” you’re talking about. Maybe you should lay it out, instead of referring to it as such? :/

    That God is identical to His own creation is unintelligible (saying “encompassing” doesn’t help). You will have to make some kind of logical argument to make any sense of this position.

    Not so. The two are actually quite distinct; you’re oversimplifying. Here is what I am saying when I use the term “encompassing:”

    -) If god is infinite, then the following MUST be true:
    -) whereas god = A, N = Infinity, and letters B through infinity are each equal to a unique aspect of god’s creation, A MUST be equal to the sum of all numbers from B to N. Basically, A = B + N, wherein N is everything that is not B.
    -) The reason for this is, if god is separate from any of those things, then he is limited because that thing represents the boundary of an area in which god does not exist, a place where god’s “self” does not reach; therefore, god is “finite” if he does not meet these conditions;
    -) If a god adheres to the above qualities, then he is a “universalist” deity because he is the sum of all things, and all things are part of his “self” or “form.” Literally, God = Everything, wherein Everything = everything that does not comprise god by itself.

    The difference between that and “identical to” would be as follows:

    -) If god is identical to his creation, then A (wherein A = god) is equal to B (wherein B equals an aspect of his creation); separately, god would be equal to C; to D; to E; and so on and so forth, to infinity. God would be individually equivalent (“identical”) to each of his creations.

    A simpler way to put it would be this: A TV is the sum of its parts. Any one of the parts which makes up the TV is not a TV; the TV is not any one of those parts. The TV exists as a sum of those parts. Likewise, such a god would have to be the sum of all things which exist (because that would be the only way for god to transcend the boundaries of individual things which exist, thus becoming truly “infinite”). What you are saying is that a TV would be “identical” to its parts; this is not true. Its parts are not it; when put together and arranged such that they form a TV, the parts are then equivalent to the TV. That definition would render your term correct, but it’s a bit convoluted so I stick to the term “encompassing.”

    No, your usage of “infinite” differs from the normal usage when you refer to God.

    How so?

    Here’s what my dictionary says:

    In-fi-nite
    1. lacking limits or bounds; extending beyond measure or comprehension; without beginning or end; endless
    2. very great; vast; immense
    3. (math)
    a) indefinitely large; greater than any finite number however large
    b) capable of being put into one-to-one correspondence with a part of itself
    4. (n) Something infinite, as space or time

    That is the definition I refer to. Do you accept this definition?

    You are confusing what it means for God’s attributes to be infinite with what you perceive to be an infinity of fill-in-the-blank.

    Actually, no. I’m speaking solely about the infinity of his “self,” or “form” (for lack of a better term); basically, the infinity of the manner in which he exists. Nothing more. My case beyond that is far too lengthy to go into on a message board, I’m afraid.

    Of course God has limits, but they are logical limits, like God cannot be something that He is not, make square circles, or grill in a deep fat fryer.

    All of those things are irrelevant to my point, of course. If god is infinite, then he is the only thing that exists, for three reasons:

    1) if something else exists, then that something else is not god;
    2) if there exists something that is not god, then god does not exist where that thing exists;
    3) therefore, the sense of god’s existence is not truly infinite; it is limited by the forms of the things he creates (in a sense, every time he creates something, he establishes a limit to himself in giving that thing shape and essence).

    If god is the only thing that exists, yet we also exist, then it follows that we MUST be god….but since god is one thing (himself), we must all factor into that, therefore we are all a part of god. Hence universalism.

    Actually, that is exactly what a tautology is. Look it up. My point is, you cannot use a tautology as a basis for applying your own illogical use of the term “infinite” to God. Like this statement:

    Oh, I see. So when you say “tautology,” you are referring to when I define a term and then refer to that definition in my later argument?

    I might take this moment to point out that this is exactly what you are doing with regard to the information argument; you are including in your definition of “information” that it is “the product of an intelligent mind” and defending it based on that prior definition, which completely ignores the question being asked, which is, IS information the product of an intellgent mind?

    But I digress; my point is not a tautology, any more than “up is up and down is down” is a tautology. My dictionary says this:

    Tau-to-lo-gy
    1. needless repetition of an idea in a different word, phrase, or sentence; redundancy; pleonasm (ex: “Necessary essentials”)
    2. an instance of such repetition

    That is what I refer to as a “tautology.” Do you accept this? If so, please explain how saying, “If A = B, then B = A” is a tautology. It follows logically from “A = B” that “B MUST = A.” There is no other possibility. A cannot be equal to B if B is equal to something that is NOT equal to A. That is not a tautology, it is a fact.

    Whatever term you use as a synonym for infinite, it doesn’t mean that unless God instantiates whatever you suggest, like material visibility, He is not therefore infinite.

    It seems that you define the sense of god’s existence differently than I do. Perhaps you could explain that definition? I think that would clear a lot of this up.

    For reference….when I address claims to god’s “infinity,” I am referring to this “presence” that people refer to. People say that god is present in all places at all times; therefore, he exists in some way that corresponds with space and time (even if it is not necessarily bound by OUR space or time; assuming he created those things, then of course he would not be bound by them). Otherwise it would be pointless to note that he exists “everywhere” (which connotes some form) or “at all times” (which connotes a metaphyiscal “location” in correspondence with the existence of time or change).

    All of this has already been explored in that other topic, though….if you’d like to address something specific that was said there, then fine, but it was really quite a long discussion. I’d like to avoid having the whole thing again if possible.

    Regardless of what you do with your time, in the end, you will have to get out of denial about the existence of God and who Jesus is. I will pray for you, man.

    Since we’re doing ad-hominem nonsense, I thought this song quote was fitting:

    “A grizzly scene on my electron beam
    Told a story about human rights
    So all the King’s horses
    And all the Kings men
    Had a riot for two days and nights
    Well, the city exploded but the gates wouldn’t open
    So the company asked him to quit
    Now everybody’s equal – just don’t measure it!

    Well, Hanson did it Hester
    And Mark David did it to John
    And maybe Jack did it to Marilyn
    But he did it to South Vietnam
    For beauty and glory
    For money, love and country
    Everybody’s doing it,
    Don’t do that to me

    I don’t know what stopped
    Jesus Christ from turning
    Every hungry stone into bread
    And i don’t remember hearing how Moses reacted
    When the innocent first born sons lay dead
    Well I guess God was a lot more demonstrative
    Back when he flamboyantly parted the sea
    Now everybody’s praying
    Don’t prey on me.”

    Rain falling on a window sill gives you information, the rings in a tree stump give you information, a decaying corpse can tell you all sorts of things. An intelligent mind is not needed to create this information, and yet the information is still ‘actual’.

    That is a very good point, actually. I hadn’t thought of it from that angle. Thanks; this will be considered 🙂

    You are admitting as much, but you fail to see that this position is a problem. Again, the purpose of the argument is to show that actual information originates with an intelligent mind—that’s what it is for.

    However, it does not accomplish that. (Before you ask “how?”, read my earlier response….it was quite long and I don’t want to type it again or C+P it….).

    The rest of what you said here is irrelevant, as it only applies if the argument proves what it set out to prove, which it does not.

    I’m not saying that we can’t learn anything through studying your examples. Actual information, however, is transmissible, meaningful content

    So what is “transmissible, meaningful content?” There is a language to logic; that’s the formation of the study of logic in those college courses you talked about. So if I can logically deduce something from information given, that counts as “transmissible,” it counts as “meaningful,” and it counts as “content.” So what’s unclear?

    The only way your examples would be valid is if you could say that tree rings spell out instructions for assembling a bicycle.

    That’s just nonsense (and illogical, at that). Why should a tree ring be able to convey information that is impossible for a tree ring to convey?

    Agreed. Some people will not accept the evidence no matter what it says, which is why the premise of the post is true: science doesn’t say anything, scientists do.

    I think that is both ironic and a cop-out. Don’t take that the wrong way, though — I know it’s dangerous for you to approach the limit of what’s covered in your books because it would give someone the chance to argue against it, which would require you to update (and possibly alter) your case….which would not be good for anything you’ve already set in print. So I don’t expect you to really give your full attention to such a debate.

    Two scientists intelligently manipulating RNA catalysts is not a natural process.

    That’s beside the point; the argument isn’t that scientists manipulating catalysts proves how life started, it’s that it’s *possible,* under certain conditions, that such a reaction *can* happen based solely on chemical properties and natural circumstances, regardless of how those circumstances came to exist — something which hardcore creationists often deny. This proves that such a thing IS possible; the next step, of course, would be explaining how it could have happened naturally, if at all. This is just one block in an attempt to explain things, not a “gotcha” answer….unless, of course, one denies that life can exist without an intelligence “creating” it from scratch. In which case it is quite the “gotcha” statement.

    Unless each term – message, code, natural, intelligence – has a precisely stated and experientially connected meaning, you guys are trading gibberish.

    THANK YOU.

    Reply
  104. Mark Ducharme says:

    //…the rings in a tree stump give you information, a decaying corpse can tell you all sorts of things. An intelligent mind is not needed to create this information, and yet the information is still ‘actual’.//

    God created the tree (and the mind of the man who invented the chainsaw, allowing the unscrupulous “scientifical politicist” to intentionally misinterpret its neatly exposed rings) and, the now decaying corpse of, the human being. Having set in motion all creation, it only follows that His intelligent mind is behind every process His creation goes through, even if its “only” to the extent that he gave our minds free will to obey or disobey Him. His eternal nature points up that fact so, given this reality, the above does not include information free of an intelligent mind. Far from it. From start: “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.” John 1:1 – To finish: (Jesus speaking) “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.” Mark 13:31

    As to infinity, it appears as though some are trying to fit Him into their idea of what that means. We can only understand it in the abstract so, how can one claim that He disobeys the laws of His own making? Why can’t He be infinitely small, for instance, if it suits his purpose(s) at any given moment? Or infinitely absent? Or moving? Diverse? Invisible? Present? (Jesus speaking, “…My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness….” 2nd Cor. 12:9 “Blessed are the poor {broken/contrite} in spirit : for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”) In Jesus dwelt, “the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col.2:9) and yet He struggled with His flesh and went to the Cross like a lamb! The lamb of God! Why? Could it be that He is infinitely humble? What the nonbeliever is saying is, in essence, “If God is infinite, He must -according to my finite ability to understand infinity- act ONLY in accordance to what (I comprehend) infinity allows for.” Its all about context. If you were right in your assumption(s) of what infinity is then, yeah, God would adhere to THAT reality but, I don’t think a finite being can know the true meaning of the great “I am” so who are we to presume what “constrains” Him? The pharisees held themselves above Him, and that is why they took up stones against Him: “Because… being a man (He made of Himself) God.” John 10:33

    Don’t ask me, or any other human, what means forever. That may be the crux of it: literal atheists won’t believe in anything they won’t see and believe that, eventually, ALL things can/will be discerned while theists accept that what is readily apparent to the mind, being endowed with a spark of His divine spirit, is sufficient for this life “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” 1st Tim. 3:16 And we are happy for it, not indignant at the very notion that we might not be privy to all knowledge of His creation.
    That is why we worship Him and not it.

    Look at it this way: “For God so loved Tim, that He gave His only begotten…” When the truth in that statement hits you flush in your heart, you will fall in love and spend the rest of your life seeking His will. May God bless you and touch your heart with His love divine.

    Reply
  105. Nathan Barley says:

    Long post Tim, but lots of good stuff in there.

    “This is just one block in an attempt to explain things, not a “gotcha” answer….”

    Quite. People often post questions here that they pretend are simple and should therefore require a line or two to answer. The reality is that they may be asking someone to explain a process that took a billion or so years to happen, several billion years ago. There won’t be any single gotcha answer to how life started. The mystery of Fermat’s Last theorum was posed in a margin in just a few words. When someone finally cracked the answer, it filled a whole book.

    I have noticed a tendency among creationists to ask a question, and then when someone answers, attack the reply for not addressing a different question. Here are some examples:

    1. People arguing that homosexuality is wrong because ‘it’s unnatural’.
    Response: ‘homosexual behaviour is found in uncountable other species of mammal and even birds. There’s no evidence that homosexuality is a pathology, or that it arises in humans in any way differently to heterosexuality.”

    Counter response? “Ah, you’re saying that because it’s ‘natural’, that means it’s allowed – are you saying that rape is allowed? How’s about cannibalism? After all, we see animals doing that, right?”

    In other words, they’ve taken the reply, and pretended it was trying to make a completely different point. See Frank’s ‘Albatross of an argument’ thread for an example of this.

    2. People like Behe have argued there are not enough mutations to allow the full range of evolution we observe – there is an “edge,” beyond which God must step in to help.
    Dawkins answered: “If mutation, rather than selection, really limited evolutionary change, this should be true for artificial no less than natural selection.” He goes on to point out the huge variation in dog breeds, “every one descended from a timber wolf within a time frame so short as to seem, by geological standards, instantaneous.”

    Counter-response? “That’s artificial selection”

    Again, this is pretending that the answer was addressing a different question. The dogs example was specifically addressing the ‘genetic limits’ argument, so it’s irrelevant whether artificial or natural selection falsifies the claim. As RD said: “Domestic breeding relies upon exactly the same pool of mutational variation as natural selection”

    3. “Atheism can’t explain why societies act selflessly, why people would help each other when it doesn’t help themselves. If survival of the fittest was true, then we’d only be helping ourselves”.
    Answer: Societies that help each other will thrive more. A society that operated on a completely cut-throat system would tear itself apart. Hence we’ve developed social mores that benefit the society as a whole.

    Counter-response – “But that doesn’t explain why it’s ‘WRONG’ to murder etc.
    And again, you’ve changed the question!

    4. Claim: “The human body is so perfect it had to be designed. It’s like an expertly rendered painting – it couldn’t come about by chance”.
    Answer: Well how come we’ve got all the ‘junk DNA’, and we’ve got non-functioning genes for manufacturing our own Vitamin C, and we’ve got blind spots in our eyes, and a thousand of other examples of all the problems you would expect in a species that evolved over millions of years from other species.

    Counter-response: We can’t guess at the intention of our creator when he made us this way.
    So now we’ve got a different argument. The balance of proof has subtly shifted. Before it was a body of perfection – God’s intention was clear. Now we’ve got to shrug at inconsistencies and put them down to unknown intentions. So instead of looking at a perfectly rendered painting that we just HAVE to admit would require an artist, now we’ve got a much more random looking work, which you’re claiming is a piece of modern art, whose purpose we cannot guess at.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong, maybe you think the human body is like a Jackson Pollack painting rather than a Van Gogh – but the latter is far less likely to be confused with an accidental paint spill.

    5. “It would be impossible for life to begin without supernatural intervention”.
    Answer: scientists have done various experiments in the lab etc…

    Counter-response: “That just shows that intelligence is required”.

    So what experiment would you like done to show that life can come about WITHOUT intelligence? Presumably the experiment would need to be performed by non-intelligent life-forms! And as pointed out before, the point is that your assertion has been refuted – the supernatural is not required.

    Time and time again we see this. A question is posed, and we take the time to answer it. But there’ll be NO acknowledgment at all that the question has been answered, there’s no learning at all on the side of the creationist/fundie. The only response is ‘but here’s a different question that your answer doesn’t answer’. Or more likely, the response will pretend that it’s the same question they asked all along.

    For this reason, I’ve kind of lost hope that these discussions can achieve much. I remember when Plumb Bob used to post/blog here. He claimed that atheists were just less moral than Christians. I brought up the charitable work of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Rather than give any ground at all on this issue, or acknowledge in any way the billions of dollars these two atheists have set aside for charitable work, Bob replied that Gates and Buffett were nothing like the great Christian philanthropists like Andrew Carnegie.

    I pointed out then that Carnegie was an atheist. At this point an honest person would reply that perhaps they needed to rethink their stance on the issue. But of course cognitive dissonance kicked in and Plumb Bob gave no ground at all.

    That’s why I agree with Frank that providing evidence makes no difference to some people. Generally I think this happens when people give their reasons for believing something, and it’s not the real reasons. That’s why knocking down these ‘fake reasons’ with facts will make no difference to their stance.

    Reply
  106. Nathan Barley says:

    Frank: “Theistic evolutionist Francis Collins, leader of the Human Genome project, calls DNA “the language of God.”

    He also said: “Yes, evolution by descent from a common ancestor is clearly true. If there was any lingering doubt about the evidence from the fossil record, the study of DNA provides the strongest possible proof of our relatedness to all other living things”

    In other words, even without the fossil record, DNA evidence alone is enough to show that evolution is true.

    Frank, do you accept Collins’ authority on this? Or do you think he’s right on the ‘language of God’ thing, but wrong on the ‘evolution is true’ part?

    Reply
  107. Nathan Barley says:

    By the way, the Plumb Bob exchange is on the thread here: Are Atheists really just as Moral as Christians. I don’t know if posting the link will stop it coming up, but just replace the p=129 in this URL with p=67 and it will come up.

    Do a search for the first posting of ‘carnegie’, June 12th, 2008 at 7:45 pm, and read on from there. I just had a re-read and my breath was taken away at my own patience talking to both Bob and ‘That Darned Republican’ (I’m posting under a different name there, but you can work that out).

    So they both make a very simple claim:
    PB: Andrew Carnegie is an example of a good Christian
    TDR: Darwin recanted his theories on his deathbed and became a Christian.

    Regardless of how much evidence is shown them that both claims are very clearly false, neither will give an inch, both continue to bluster and evade. Plumb Bob disappears pretty quickly, but TDR in particular manages to keep it up for literally dozens of posts.

    I’d have had so much more respect for them if they’d simply admitted they were wrong on these simple points.

    Reply
  108. Mark Ducharme says:

    (Son of) Tim, anyone,

    Well, that worked great (my attempt to circumvent moderation is being moderated. very funny, Frank!). Please just click on my name. I promise it won’t hurt. You might actually laugh. Then again…

    Reply
  109. Nathan Barley says:

    Nathan: “Rings in a tree contain information”
    Mark: “God created the tree…”

    And again, another example of shifting the goalposts of the argument.

    The argument starts by saying ‘there are things that carry information that were created by minds, like codes, and since DNA is like that, it must have been created by the mind of God’.

    Then we point out naturally occuring sources of information, and the reply comes ‘yes, well God is behind all those natural processes too’.

    Then why claim in the first place DNA is distinct in containing information? The argument changes from ‘this couldn’t happen through natural processes, therefore there’s a God’, to a blanket assertion that even natural processes themselves are proof of a God.

    It’s like someone saying ‘The apple moved across the garden, so angels must have moved it’. Then when you point out that it actually just fell from a tree and rolled along the ground, the argument moves to ‘Well yes, that’s what gravity is: angels moving things. So my point stands!”

    It reminds me of the Paley’s watch argument that starts off by saying “If a watch was in a forest, it would stand out from the plants and the rocks as being something clearly designed”… and then ends up by saying that the plants and the rocks were all designed by God too. Making a mockery of the original claim that the watch would STAND OUT against those rocks and plants.

    Or is all this just another example of your ‘wacky sense of humor’ Mark?

    Reply
  110. Mark Ducharme says:

    Nathan,

    I’m flabbergasted! You actually clicked and read my post? Thank you. Seriously, you’re the first one this month! I knew there was something very tender and caring about you. You made my day. Now, on to the retort…

    If NASA sends a rocket out into space, isn’t NASA behind whatever encounter that rocket has? Let’s argue from “yes”. If NASA didn’t send the rocket, no encounters. No matter how intended or unintended. Now, in God, we have an advocate who knows all of space and time. Right now. It is all before Him. He already embraced you when you finally reached out for Him. That is, if you did do what I hope you are going to do. How could He not be involved in the apples journey? Maybe it amused Him. Maybe He was messin’ with that lizard in the pile of leaves. And maybe He was revealing Himself to you or anyone with a mind to observe His creation. (“Be still, and know that I am God…”Psalm 46:10 ) In the meantime, can I use your angel reference? I really like it.

    Not familiar w/ the “Paley’s watch argument” but maybe it was to illustrate different kinds of intelligence. Because clearly, the rocks and plants come from a much more complex intelligence than does the watch.

    You also said, “Or is all this just another example of your ‘wacky sense of humor’ Mark?”. The points in my posts are serious and honest. Its just more amusing to mock than it is to ridicule. There is no anger, at you or anyone, behind it. If you have gotten that impression before, please lose it. To the extent that there is anger it is aimed squarely at the “author of confusion”. No, not CNN! They only work for him.

    Reply
  111. Tim D. says:

    Then why claim in the first place DNA is distinct in containing information? The argument changes from ‘this couldn’t happen through natural processes, therefore there’s a God’, to a blanket assertion that even natural processes themselves are proof of a God.

    Now that is a tautology~

    Reply
  112. Nathan Barley says:

    On the stolen emails:

    “By any objective standard the stolen data shows no evidence of any scientific misconduct, but private emails are particularly vulnerable to be taking out of context since the context is all previous communications between the two parties [over 15 years].

    The anti-science campaigners were therefore able to find emails they could misrepresent as proof of fraud. For example, in one email Phil Jones said that he had used a “trick” to “hide the decline”. This was taken out of context as meaning a decline in global temperatures, i.e., that he has dishonestly covered up evidence that global warming wasn’t happening.

    But in science “trick” just means a technique, and other emails make it clear that the “decline” wasn’t a decline in temperatures at all, but in tree ring density, a proxy for temperature. Before 1960 tree density tracks temperature quite well, but after 1960 temperatures go up while tree ring density goes down, so tree ring density stops being a good proxy for temperature. All Jones was doing was trying to avoid misleading readers into thinking that temperatures had declined after 1960 when they had not.”

    http://firedoglake.com/2009/12/06/fdl-book-salon-welcomes-james-hoggan-climate-cover-up-the-crusade-to-deny-global-warming/

    Reply
  113. Nathan Barley says:

    The people talking up the emails of three scientists as a scandal all have ‘dogs in the hunt’ themselves.

    I trust the majority of scientists on the one side more than politicians and big oil on the other. If you were that suspicious of scientists you would never step in a plane or operate anything running on electricity.

    I’d love to believe the deniers, but all their claims seem to collapse under scrutiny. They claim temperatures have been falling in recent years, but it turns out this has been the warmest decade on record. They claim temperatures have only risen 1 degree, but it turns out that this is actually a disastrous rise.

    If they had right on their side, their claims would stack up. If there was a genuine conspiracy to fake climate change, 15 years of emails would yield more than ambiguous references that need to be spun to look bad. At the moment they sound like moon-landing hoaxers.

    Reply
  114. Nathan Barley says:

    “Quite an attractive presentation as well.”

    Frank, if you don’t have time to sort through all the claims and counter-claims, why assume that this one is more reliable than any other? I find it a bit hard to take seriously a report that refers to the ‘unspeakable’ and ‘extremist’ BBC. It goes on to make lots of claims already debunked many times.

    Reply
  115. Frank Turek says:

    I don’t assume one is more reliable. I’m just skeptical (imagine that, me more skeptical than you!) because of the faked data. There’s no reason for that if the evidence is so strong.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  116. Nathan Barley says:

    “the faked data”

    The bottom line for me is that it seems to come down to just three people, and only if you read their emails in a certain way. Why aren’t there thousands of scientists getting ‘found out’? Why aren’t there thousands of scientists coming up with data which completely contradicts global warming? It’s like the moon conspiracy theorists – they’re suggesting the whole of NASA managed to keep something that huge quiet.

    It seems equivalent to me saying you should give up your faith because of a few dodgy TV Evangalists and a couple of guys in New Orleans caught faking a crying Madonna statue.

    The denialists, like the ‘cigarettes don’t cause cancer’ lobby a few decades back, seem to have a lot more at stake, and a lot more reason to lie, and lot less evidence on their side.

    By the way, it’s a real shame that in the US you can’t just write ‘fag’ for cigarette – it’s such a shorter, more convenient word to type! Likewise the insistence among some to write ‘homosexual’ instead of gay. That’s the sub-editor in me – I love that we can just write ‘GOP’ instead of Republican in headlines!

    Reply
  117. Tim D. says:

    I don’t assume one is more reliable. I’m just skeptical (imagine that, me more skeptical than you!) because of the faked data. There’s no reason for that if the evidence is so strong.

    Unfortunately, that only begs the question; what data do you believe was faked, who do you believe faked it, and why do you believe that?

    Reply
  118. Nathan Barley says:

    Tim, he’s talking about those stolen emails. Though these mostly seem to focus on the use of the word ‘trick’, which is quoted out of context.

    Reply
  119. Frank Turek says:

    If it’s simply taken out of context, I don’t know why people are resigning, do you? Why don’t they just clear up the context and move on?

    Agree with you on the PC stuff. It will contribute to the death of the west.

    One funny thing happened regarding the gay vs. homosexual usage. One ministry decided to automatically change every gay reference to homosexual. That meant a reference to the runner Tyson Gay came out as “Tyson Homosexual.”

    🙂

    Reply
  120. Tim D. says:

    Tim, he’s talking about those stolen emails. Though these mostly seem to focus on the use of the word ‘trick’, which is quoted out of context.

    I know, I’ve read them. I want to know what information he thinks was “faked” that the email refers to specifically. Not just an out-of-context quote; what did he read that made him think that, and what did it apply to specifically that he believed was faked?

    One funny thing happened regarding the gay vs. homosexual usage. One ministry decided to automatically change every gay reference to homosexual. That meant a reference to the runner Tyson Gay came out as “Tyson Homosexual.”

    I remember reading about that. Good times XD

    Reply
  121. Luke says:

    And as far as I’m aware there is no faked data. There is no suggestion that data were just made up out of thin air (outside of hearsay on blogs). The “trick” is using data from two different sources (temperatures based on tree ring data for much of the graph, then data from thermometer readings for the last 2 decades or so). I can comfortably say this is unethical — to use data from different sources to make your chart more striking, but that is quite a different thing from ‘faking data.’ Evidence for warming and man’s effect on it is based on much more than what these emails deal with. What the scientists were trying to hide was the discrepency between temperature estimates based on tree ring data and thermometer readings (for the periods they are reliable and available). This was a known problem among climate scientists, so it was hidden in plain sight. In the context of this graph, it certainly looked more striking when the data were subbed — the trick.

    There are numerous misdeeds on all sides of this. I think we can agree that it’s best to judge claims on evidence, not the behavior of those who hold a certain view.

    Reply
  122. Luke says:

    If it’s simply taken out of context, I don’t know why people are resigning, do you?

    I do.

    As I said, their behavior was at times unethical and it broke commonly accepted scientific guidelines.

    Reply
  123. Nathan Barley says:

    Also, sometimes people resign in a ‘it is a far better thing I do today…’ way – because they realise their bad name is tainting their profession, and getting out is the quickest way of restoring its good name, regardless of whether they were guilty or not.

    If a policeman is found acting unethically to get evidence to prove a man’s guilt, he should probably resign. But if hundreds of other policeman also have evidence of the man’s culpability in a crime, I might still consider the man to be guilty.

    Also, if you went through 15 years of lots of people’s emails, you’d probably find stuff their boss wouldn’t like!

    Reply
  124. Nathan Barley says:

    “There’s no reason for that if the evidence is so strong.”

    1. The Heartland Institute is a lobbying group which has received $676,000 from ExxonMobil. In 2007 it published a list of “500 Scientists Whose Research Contradicts Man-Made Global Warming Scares” (pdf). These people, it maintained, supported “the very important view that the Modern Warming is natural and no more dangerous than were the Medieval Warming, the Roman Warming and the Holocene Warming before it.”

    But they didn’t. Kevin Grandia of DeSmogBlog.com started contacting the people the Heartland Institute had listed. He asked them whether they endorsed the views the Heartland Institute said they held. Within 48 hours, 45 people responded, all outraged that they had been traduced.

    If the group had right on its side, why would it have needed to lie?

    2. In 2004 The New York Times discovered that chief of staff of Bush’s White House Council on Environmental Quality Phil Cooney, who is a lawyer with no scientific training, had been imported into the job from the American Petroleum Institute to control the presentation of climate science. He edited scientific reports, striking out evidence that glaciers were retreating and inserting phrases suggesting that there was serious scientific doubt about global warming. When the revelations were published he resigned and took up a post at Exxon.

    Why would he have needed to doctor evidence if the evidence supported a non-warming globe?

    Reply
  125. Frank Turek says:

    Nathan,

    Again you are correct. Science doesn’t say anything, scientists do.

    If you had to present one paper that summarizes the evidence for man-made global warming, what would it be? Would love to read it, seriously.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  126. Nathan Barley says:

    That’s kind of like being asked to present evidence of the holocaust. I could give you evidence of one man dying in a camp, and you could come back with counter-evidence that the man never existed. But it’s the sheer WEIGHT of evidence that is compelling – not any one particular paper.

    George Monbiot writes well on it:

    “Even if you were to exclude every line of evidence that could possibly be disputed – the proxy records, the computer models, the complex science of clouds and ocean currents – the evidence for man-made global warming would still be unequivocal. You can see it in the measured temperature record, which goes back to 1850; in the shrinkage of glaciers and the thinning of sea ice; in the responses of wild animals and plants and the rapidly changing crop zones.

    “No other explanation for these shifts makes sense. Solar cycles have been out of synch with the temperature record for 40 years. The Milankovic cycle, which describes variations in the Earth’s orbit, doesn’t explain it either. But the warming trend is closely correlated with the accumulation of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. The impact of these gases can be demonstrated in the laboratory.

    “To assert that they do not have the same effect in the atmosphere, a novel and radical theory would be required. No such theory exists. The science is not fixed – no science ever is – but it is as firm as science can be. The evidence for man-made global warming remains as strong as the evidence linking smoking to lung cancer or HIV to Aids.”

    Reply
  127. Frank Turek says:

    Nathan,

    I’m not interested in taking an adversarial position. I’m simply asking for a summary of the evidence that you’ve read that convinces you. Where has Monbiot written this? How does he know that man-made CO2 emissions are causing it? Correlation alone?

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  128. Nathan Barley says:

    Monbiot is a British journalist, respected on the issue of climate change.

    The article I quoted from is in today’s Guardian:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cif-green/2009/dec/07/climate-change-denial-industry

    Every journalist I respect and scientist I respect accepts that the evidence is compelling. I’ve been folowing this for 20 years now. The predictions scientists made back in the late 80s for what we’d expect now has come about – the temperature has risen, we see more frequent extremes of weather. And every year since more evidence has come in. So as I said before, it’s not one single piece of evidence.

    However, I’ve already posted links summarising the evidence. There was a good one from the BBC a few posts back. And Monbiot summarises himself in the first para I quoted.

    Another summary here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/jul/26/climatechange

    Meanwhile, I read lots of deniers, desperately hoping to be convinced by them. Unfortunately, to my huge, genuine, disappointment, their arguments always collapse when I look into them.

    “How does he know that man-made CO2 emissions are causing it? Correlation alone?”

    I thought he addressed this in the final sentence of the penultimate para, followed by the final para.

    Reply
  129. Nathan Barley says:

    Frank, I believe that you are being honest here – you’re not dismissing outright, and I believe you are genuinely wanting to get to the bottom of the issue.

    However, I think that many people have cognitive dissonance on the issue because they’ve been conditioned to associate environmental issues with liberalism; they see it as sissy in some way. Also, there has been a highly orchestred and well-documented effort by large vested interests in sowing seeds of confusion and doubt around the evidence, deliberately aiming to have people like you throw up their hands and not know who to trust.

    But if we had this much evidence of a potential terrorist biological-attack, and the potential damage was the same – trillions of dollars, hundreds of millions of lives, mass immigration from South America and Africa to Europe and N America – then everyone would agree that the risk was too high to ignore.

    Even a 20% chance of the scientists being right would be too high to ignore. And the percentages right now do not look so much in our favour.

    Gotta go, spent too much time posting on this issue so I’m afraid I’ll have to let it rest for now. Appreciate the conversation.

    Reply
  130. Luke says:

    Dr. Turek,

    I was writing a longr post, but I was not able to finish it (yet). Perhaps it’s better to be succinct anyway.

    There are two facts that are not in dispute:

    Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere causes the planet to warm.

    Mankind has been responsible for most of the recent increase in co2 in the atmosphere (a 36% increase since the industrial revolution). Humans continue to add more and more co2 to the atmosphere year after year.

    So (to borrow from someone named Frank Turek), based on those two facts, what gives you enough faith to believe that adding even more co2 to the atmosphere will not result in more warming?

    (I will post more detail tomorrow, but I think that is the basic question here.)

    Luke

    Reply
  131. Frank Turek says:

    Nathan,

    “However, I think that many people have cognitive dissonance on the issue because they’ve been conditioned to associate environmental issues with liberalism; they see it as sissy in some way.”

    Agreed. I have degrees in Environmental Studies and Theology (facts about pollution and depravity), so I know the need for a certain amount of regulation. Part of the problem is that environmentalists have been so apocalyptic in their predictions in the past that have failed to materialize, you can understand the skepticism especially when something like Climategate happens. Nevertheless, If you find a link that makes the case really well– and it is not a case of special pleading– please post it.

    Luke, see what I just said above.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  132. Nathan Barley says:

    Frank, I’ve posted numerous links already. Special pleading seems to be on your part not mine – you’ll use modern technology, developed by scientific thinking, you’ll assume most of the tropes of scientific thinking are correct, but you’ll make a special exception when you politicise the scientific findings.

    “Part of the problem is that environmentalists have been so apocalyptic in their predictions in the past”

    Not sure what you mean by this. You mean like the ozone layer? I’ve got dozens of relatives in New Zealand. I remember about 10 years ago that skin cancer rates there were something like 66%. In other words, two in every three adults would get skin cancer at some point in their lives.

    And as I said, the predictions scientists made 20 years ago about climate change are happening right now. Millions of people are already getting the extreme weather conditions, many islands are already being flooded. It’s happening NOW.

    If you ARE going to judge the verifacy of the predictions on past form, you’d have to conclude that the OTHER side has the long history of cover-ups on the issue. eg the Phil Cooney scandal I reference above, the decades-long denials about cigarettes etc.

    Reply
  133. Nathan Barley says:

    And I think Luke makes a very good point, which I don’t think your post answers at all. Although you’re trying to put the ball in his court, Luke’s post very firmly puts it in yours.

    “Based on those two facts, what gives you enough faith to believe that adding even more co2 to the atmosphere will not result in more warming?”

    As I quoted Monbiot above: “To assert they do not have the same effect in the atmosphere, a novel and radical theory would be required. No such theory exists.”

    But if YOU find a link that makes the case really well, please post it.

    Reply
  134. Luke says:

    Dr. Turek,

    I think a good place to start to find information on just about anything is wikipedia, and then following the references that are given. If you’re looking for a place to start, that might be your best bet. It helps one get grounded at least. (I would start with anthropogenic global warming and greenhouse gas.)

    I will post an article for you that cites quite a bit of data but is not overly scientific, which may be a good place to start, outside of Wikipedia. (I will link it in a separate post to avoid any moderation problems.)

    Again though, I posted two facts which (as far as I know) are not in dispute. Those two facts are the basis of the worry about climate change. As I asked, and as the quote provided by Nathan also asks, what evidence are you relying on to expect a different outcome?

    I also wanted to quote from from yesterday’s column by Thomas Friedman (someone with whom I have disagreed strongly in the past, fwiw). I think this states the larger case for action very well. What are your thoughts?

    When I see a problem that has even a 1 percent probability of occurring and is “irreversible” and potentially “catastrophic,” I buy insurance. That is what taking climate change seriously is all about.

    If we prepare for climate change by building a clean-power economy, but climate change turns out to be a hoax, what would be the result? Well, during a transition period, we would have higher energy prices. But gradually we would be driving battery-powered electric cars and powering more and more of our homes and factories with wind, solar, nuclear and second-generation biofuels. We would be much less dependent on oil dictators who have drawn a bull’s-eye on our backs; our trade deficit would improve; the dollar would strengthen; and the air we breathe would be cleaner. In short, as a country, we would be stronger, more innovative and more energy independent.

    But if we don’t prepare, and climate change turns out to be real, life on this planet could become a living hell. And that’s why I’m for doing the Cheney-thing on climate — preparing for 1 percent.

    Reply
  135. Luke says:

    Frank Turek said:Part of the problem is that environmentalists have been so apocalyptic in their predictions in the past

    Nathan said:Not sure what you mean by this.

    I can’t know what he means, but I suspect he is referring to the “global cooling scare” of the 1970s.

    This is part of the rhetorical pushback against man-made climate change in the United States (I can’t speak for the UK, but you may be familiar with it as well).

    The story is that in the 1970s there was a global scientific consensus which saw a coming ice age (global cooling).

    If scientists were so wrong then (i.e. they got it exactly backwards), why should we trust them now?

    The problem is that this line of argument is simply a myth and it is false.

    The 70s were a cool decade, there was research and some theories into this. The centerpiece of this line of argument is a cover story article in a leading national magazine (I can’t remember which one at the moment) that asked something like “are we facing an imminent ice age due to global cooling?”

    (Can you believe that a national magazine would publish a sensationalist cover story not fully grounded in fact? It reminds me of the summer of the shark, when shark attacks were a focus of the media, and a Time magazine cover story. In fact, shark attacks had been down something like 15% from the year before, there just wasn’t much other news being made at the time — so sharks got the sensationalist headlines.)

    The reason I say that this is simply false and a myth (I won’t say it’s a lie, because I think many repeat the “scientific consensus on global cooling” line without realizing it is simply false), is that a review of the peer-reviewed scientific literature of the decade shows that scientists in the 70s were predicting — global warming.

    I will post a link to an article describing this in the following post, but here is a quote:

    There was no scientific consensus in the 1970s that the Earth was headed into an imminent ice age. Indeed, the possibility of anthropogenic warming dominated the peer-reviewed literature even then.

    The paper is by Thomas C. Peterson, William m. Connolley, and John Fleck and is titled: The Myth Of The 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus.

    I am not sure if this is what Dr. Turek was referring to, but this is a common argument from those who deny anthropogenic global warming. If this is what he was referring to, as I suspect, then I certainly don’t feel he was lying or misrepresenting the truth, rather he was lied to.

    Reply
  136. Nathan Barley says:

    Luke, I gave Frank credit in assuming he was NOT referring to the 70s global cooling thing, because that had so little backing by scientists that it would be specious to compare it to global warming. As you say, that was mainly a short-term MEDIA concoction, and therefore not really relevant to a discussion of scientific evidence that has built up over decades.

    If that WAS what Frank was referring to, then I’m a bit disappointed, but at least am assured now that you have provided him with enough information to discard this eroneous comparison.

    By the way, Luke, the first link you post is yet another scary example of the mis-information put about by the ‘sceptics’ side of the argument. To paraphrase Frank yet again: if the truth is on their side, why the need to mislead and dissemble? Surely, presenting the facts would be enough?

    Reply
  137. Nathan Barley says:

    More bad news out today:

    “The world’s oceans are becoming acidic at a faster rate than at any time in the last 55m years, threatening disaster for marine life and food supplies across the globe, delegates at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen have been warned.

    A report by more than 100 of Europe’s leading marine scientists, released at the climate talks this morning, states that the seas are absorbing dangerous levels of carbon dioxide as a direct result of human activity. This is already affecting marine species, for example by interfering with whale navigation and depleting planktonic species at the base of the food chain.

    Ocean acidification – the facts says that acidity in the seas has increased 30% since the start of the industrial revolution. Many of the effects of this acidification are already irreversible and are expected to accelerate, according to the scientists.

    The study, which is a massive review of existing scientific studies, warns that if CO2 emissions continue unchecked many key parts of the marine environment – particularly coral reefs and the algae and plankton which are essential for fish such as herring and salmon – will be “severely affected” by 2050, leading to the extinction of some species.

    Dr Helen Phillips, chief executive of Natural England, which co-sponsored the report, said: “The threat to the delicate balance of the marine environment cannot be overstated – this is a conservation challenge of unprecedented scale and highlights the urgent need for effective marine management and protection.”

    Reply
  138. Mark Ducharme says:

    Nathan said, “Before 1960 tree density tracks temperature quite well, but after 1960 temperatures go up while tree ring density goes down”

    What a fantastic article of faith that is! A one year, complete and total, magical – “No evolution goin’ on here. Just move it along, folks.”- change in the nature of ALL trees, apparently, and this is accepted as the gospel. Yes, very impressive young Nathan. With faith like that, one could surely move mountains so, moving a hockey stick must have been a snap. Or, in your case, believing the “movement” of the hockey stick.

    And before anyone gets there shorts in a bunch over my “attitude”, following is just a sample of how you guys talk to THE MODERATOR/PROVIDER of this here site on a regular -almost post by post- basis:

    “Also, there has been a highly orchestred and well-documented effort by large vested interests in sowing seeds of confusion and doubt around the evidence, deliberately aiming to have people like you throw up their hands and not know who to trust.”

    Condescend much?

    The fact that you call people “deniers” is indicative of a predetermined mind set towards us slack-jawed dimwits what don’t know nothin’ lessen you eggheads draws some perty pictures for us to understands it. Well, I got news for ya: AGW is all lies. And if you’d read any of the links provided (this http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/originals/Monckton-Caught%20Green-Handed%20Climategate%20Scandal.pdf for example) you could see that the proof is in. The proof has BEEN in. AND, the proof aint goin’ nowhere. Monckton lays it out, and it’s been known for years. The e-mails merely (further) substantiated two truths: 1) AGW is an elaborate hoax which, the “leaders of the movement” thereof, will engage in an apparent endless array of deception and corruption in order to achieve there own greedy, twisted ends AND, 2) people who have bought into it are so heavily vested in the fantasy that there is NO amount of proof, under Gods blue sky, that will separate them from the “ideal” of AGW. Hence, every hoaxers’ denial of virtually every fact laid out by us “truthers”.

    The earths’ environment changes CONSTANTLY. Always has. Always will. And there’s not ONE SINGLE THING mankind can do to change that. Get over “ourselves”, we’re not that significant (environmentally speaking, that is. We are, however, still,the proverbial apple of His eye.). Mark

    Reply
  139. Luke says:

    Emily,

    Do you have a source for your claim (the earth is actually getting colder).

    From everything I have read, this year is one of the hottest since records have been kept (mid 1800s), and this decade is the hottest on record.

    I will post a link in the next post.

    Luke

    Reply
  140. Mark Ducharme says:

    I have a question: As a “denier”, it often puzzles, why do the hoaxers cling so desperately to AGW ? I mean, great news comes in all of the time and yet, you can’t make them see it any other way but one. They’re not idiots / They think “deniers” are. — They’re not insincere (outside of their leaders, that is) / They often suspect us to be — Deniers “give” on certain issues of doubt, no matter how small / To the hoaxer, ALL data leads to the same, single, undeniable,inexorable conclusion.

    The only exception(s) to the above trends seems to be in the area of “converts” who, most of which, are going in one direction: The truth (i.e. denier) Which leads to the next question on the horizon: As the hoax unravels, what is it that will keep the faithful hanging on ? Just asking, since I’ve never met a flat-earther. But I suspect they are much like the “9/11 was an inside job” types. Or a John Bircher, perhaps. Mark

    Reply
  141. Nathan Barley says:

    Mark, every time you post a ‘fact’, it turns out to be false. Every time I ask you for a cite on your ‘facts’, you can’t. You are the one condescending, in that you think we’re so dumb we’ll suck up your nonsense like sick puppies.

    Given therefore that your opinions are based on what I’ll charitably call ‘incorrect data’, and uncharitably refer to as ‘lies’, there’s not much point in me engaging with any of your posts on this issue.

    Reply
  142. Tim D. says:

    Mark, every time you post a ‘fact’, it turns out to be false. Every time I ask you for a cite on your ‘facts’, you can’t. You are the one condescending, in that you think we’re so dumb we’ll suck up your nonsense like sick puppies.

    ….please don’t feed the trolls 😀

    Reply
  143. Mark Ducharme says:

    Nathan said: “Mark, every time you post a ‘fact’, it turns out to be false.”

    Uh, “citation” please.

    Tim: No need to call names. I completely understand intellectual bullying. The left has been doing it since Hector was in high school. Just like the “denier” label, it is a tactic created for purposes of intimidation and intimidation only. Correction: It also allows the one throwing out the invective to avoid making their own case. Gee, I wonder why a person would do that ?

    Reply
  144. Nathan Barley says:

    By the way, a quote from Ben Goldacre yesterday, which seems pertinent:

    “Zombie arguments survive, immortal and resistant to all refutation, because they do not live or die by the normal standards of mortal arguments. There’s a huge list of them at realclimate.org, with refutations. There are huge lists of them everywhere. It makes no difference.

    “CO2 isn’t an important greenhouse gas”, “Global warming is down to the sun”, “what about the cooling in the 1940s?” says your party bore. “Well,” you reply, “since the last time you raised this, I checked, and there were loads of sulphites in the air in the 1940s to block out the sun, made from the slightly different kind of industrial pollution we had then, and the odd volcano, so that’s been answered already, ages ago.”

    And they knew that. And you know they knew you could find out, but they went ahead anyway and wasted your time, and worse than that, you both know they’re going to do it again, to some other poor sap. And that is rude.”

    Reply
  145. Nathan Barley says:

    Mark cited Monckton as an authority:

    So who is Lord Christopher Monckton? A former special adviser to Margaret Thatcher on matters ranging from hydrogeology to epidemiology [who] has more recently devoted himself to climatology.” The book “Climate Cover Up” notes, however, that he has NO background in science whatsoever, and he’s studied only classics and journalism. He shows up at events to make his global warming-denying case at the behest of groups funded by dirty energy interests such as Friends of America and The Heartland Institute.

    Despite the fact that he NO scientific training, he’s been called upon twice by Republicans in Congress to testify before subcommittees as a climate “expert”.

    As a vocal leader of the climate change-denying movement, he is currently in Copenhagen calling young environmentally-minded people who are advocating for clean energy jobs, “Hitler Youth.”

    You can easily find this video online, where he further talks to clean energy advocates and refuses to shake hands with a young man he calls “Hitler Youth” who’s grandparents fled Europe to escape the Nazis.

    Sounds like a trustworthy sort of fellow!

    Reply
  146. Tim D. says:

    You can easily find this video online, where he further talks to clean energy advocates and refuses to shake hands with a young man he calls “Hitler Youth” who’s grandparents fled Europe to escape the Nazis.

    Wow. Just watched that video; this guy is completely insane. “There has been no global warming in the last 20 years AND YOU KNOW IT!”

    When confronted with the fact that he called them Nazis/Hitler Youth the night before? “Ah, yes, I did, didn’t I?” And later: “And I am glad for that.” He compared them to Hitler because they were uttering “robotic slogans” — i.e. protesting? In that respect, he basically called all protesters everywhere Nazis.

    Definitely not the arguments of a sane man. He degerates into a complete juvenile when confronted with dissenting opinion, connecting environmental protesters to Hitler Youth in second-third-fourth-removed roundabout ways just because he’s mad that they protested his meeting the day before. Hold a grudge much?

    Reply
  147. Nathan Barley says:

    Indeed. You know an argument is in trouble when THIS guy is supposed to be the voice of reason. Also, notice the irony in people calling climate change activists “elitist”, and then quoting a hereditary peer, LORD Monckton, to back up the denier side. How much more elitist can you get than the 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley!?

    I’m not saying this undermines his arguments – but it’s not me who is using ‘elitism’ as an insult in the first place.

    Again, this man has NO scientific training, and is well funded by large energy interests.

    Google “This is a dazzling debunking of climate change science. It is also wildly wrong” for a good take-down of this man.

    Reply
  148. Frank Turek says:

    Nathan,

    Thanks for the ipcc link above. There’s a lot of technical details, so for now I’m just reading the executive summaries and scanning the rest. I went to Chapter 5 about sea levels. Here’s the first point:

    “The oceans are warming. Over the period 1961 to 2003, global ocean temperature has risen by 0.10°C from the surface to a depth of 700 m. Consistent with the Third Assessment Report (TAR), global ocean heat content (0– 3,000 m) has increased during the same period, equivalent to absorbing energy at a rate of 0.21 ± 0.04 W m–2 globally averaged over the Earth’s surface. Two-thirds of this energy is absorbed between the surface and a depth of 700 m. Global ocean heat content observations show considerable interannual and inter-decadal variability superimposed on the longer-term trend. Relative to 1961 to 2003, the period 1993 to 2003 has high rates of warming but since 2003 there has been some cooling.”

    This is a BIG topic and I’m sure it’s difficult to determine all the cause and effect. With limited time, I have to read further to find out why there’s been cooling since 2003. Have emissions declined or is there some other reason? If you find out why, please post it.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  149. Nathan Barley says:

    “If you find out why, please post it.”

    I’ve given you many links already Frank, you’ll have to do your own homework! I don’t have time to reseach the answers to every question you pose. If for no other reason, you’ll only post other questions afterwards – it’s a never-ending process. Perhaps if you read the IPCC site more carefully you’ll find the answer. If you don’t have the time to do so, perhaps you should hold off blogging here and on Townhall on the subject until you do. Surely you don’t wish to mislead people on a topic you admit you don’t have time to fully read up on?

    Plus, this question for you again: “The impact of these [CO2] gases can be demonstrated in the laboratory. To assert that they do not have the same effect in the atmosphere, a novel and radical theory would be required. No such theory exists”

    Have you any links that attempt to answer this question?

    Finally, we’ve posted links on ocean acidification which show that we need to bring down CO2 levels for reasons completely apart from global warming.

    Reply
  150. Luke says:

    Dr. Turek said:Have emissions declined or is there some other reason?

    Emissions of what, Dr. Turek? Over what time frame? Why would you expect a cut in emissions of anything to result in ocean cooling; what mechanism are you referring to? (Your question seems predicated on the belief that a reduction in some form of emissions, though it’s not clear what, will cause cooling in the oceans. Why do you believe this?)

    If you mean co2, then I assume you’re just posing a rhetorical question. (If not, let me know.)

    There are likely multiple reasons for ocean cooling, and the best thing to do is just keep reading. I don’t really know the reasons fully, and no one understands it fully.

    That said, I think there seems to be a common sense answer (though not necessarily correct) which has some appeal. If you take all of the ice that has recently melted into the ocean, wouldn’t you expect to cool the water down at least a tiny bit?

    Do you have a quick answer to the question I asked you above:

    So (to borrow from someone named Frank Turek), based on those two facts, what gives you enough faith to believe that adding even more co2 to the atmosphere will not result in more warming?

    Reply
  151. Frank Turek says:

    Nathan,

    I have not misled anyone. Perhaps you should read my column again. I didn’t say that global warming is a total fraud. We all admit there has been wrongdoing in climategate, which is an example of the main point of the column– that philosophy and personal agendas often bias scientific conclusions, including GW and particularly macroevolution.

    We all have limited time, and we are all ignorant (just in different subjects). I just thought you may have read something on the cooling since 2003. If not, no problem.

    Luke,

    Man-made CO2 may indeed lead to warming. But many questions remain, such as: how much are humans responsible for warming? Would our C02 reductions do much to reduce the warming? Why is there cooling now? Would reducing our C02 emissions be worth the cost?

    Often there are no perfect solutions– only tradeoffs. In other words, assuming we are responsible, we could reduce our CO2 emissions drastically and hurt developing countries so much economically that it might not be worth it. That could be one reason why China, India and others are balking.

    It could be like banning DDT. Millions still die from malaria. The cure was been worse than the disease.

    Still researching this topic.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  152. Luke says:

    Dr. Turek said:Man-made CO2 may indeed lead to warming.

    The real question is, Do you believe that co2 which is produced as a byproduct of human activity somehow has a different effect on the earth than ‘naturally occurring’ co2? If so, why?

    Dr. Turek said:how much are humans responsible for warming?

    Well, we can do a very basic calculation to get an idea. It won’t be the most accurate model in the world, but I think it will help you answer your question.

    According to various research carbon dioxide is responsible for between 9 – 26% of greenhouse gas effect in the atmosphere.

    It is agreed upon that the greenhouse gases, taken together account for the planet being about 33 degrees warmer than it would be otherwise.

    So we can easily see that c02 would be responsible for between 3 and a bit over 8.5 degrees (Celsius) of warming.

    According to the EPA the concentration of co2 has increased by some 36% (some say more, though this figure is fairly agreed upon), mainly due to human activity since the dawn of the industrial revolution. About half of this increase has been since 1960 (so 18%)

    So based on a very rough calculation, we can roughly estimate that human activity has caused anywhere between 1 and 3 degrees of extra heat on this planet — between .5 and 1.5 degrees since 1960. (I am discounting any lag time in effect simply for the sake of illustration, so that you can see the potential for anthropogenic warming based on widely acknowledged facts.)

    We continue to pump more and more co2 into the atmosphere each year. The increase of emissions since 1960 has been staggering (in my view). If we continue on our current course (note, the world is also deforesting in many ecosystems, losing a natural control over co2, so it’s not just what we’re emitting) the concentration of c02 in the atmosphere will continue to grow significantly. As noted above, we have a pretty good idea of the kind of warming co2 causes.

    The fact is, no one is talking about going back to even 1960. HR 2454, the so-called Cap and Trade bill sets goals of coming off the 2005 levels by 17% in the next ten years. Again, this is not a return to 1850, 1900, 1960 or even 1980, at least not anytime soon.

    Even with such a reduction in yearly emissions, the concentration of co2 in the atmosphere will at best stabilize over the medium term.

    Again, the fact that co2 has a greenhouse and warming effect is undisputed. I have now shown you a bit more about how powerful this effect can be (remember a change of 2 or 3 degrees is significant).

    The impetuous here is on you to show what feedback loops will prevent the planet from warming.

    It’s like saying that if I keep adding water to a cup, the cup won’t become more full of water. There are many reasons that this could happen (the cup has a hole, you are pouring it from such a height that the force pushes all of the water out, etc), but until you show what those reasons are, and how they work, the reasonable assumption is that the cup will become more full of water. Do you not agree?

    Frank Turek said:Would our C02 reductions do much to reduce the warming?

    I feel as though I cannot stress this enough. The proper question, based on widely acknowledged facts is why wouldn’t it?

    I have tried to state this several times and you have not responded. Even though it’s obviously here, I will again repost the quote provided by Nathan, since it makes the same point, but in a better fashion.

    “The impact of these [CO2] gases can be demonstrated in the laboratory. To assert that they do not have the same effect in the atmosphere, a novel and radical theory would be required. No such theory exists”

    If you have such a theory, let’s discuss it.

    Frank Turek said:Why is there cooling now?

    I am making an honest attempt to answer your questions, but I will have to ask you to make them more specific. Questions such as “are emissions lower?” have no meaning. As I said, emissions of what, from where, over what period of time? This question is the same. The best answer for me at the moment is that there is cooling because I am sitting directly below an air conditioning vent. I will assume though that you are talking about a larger context — the earth over the last few years. I’ll also assume that you mean atmospheric temperature.

    The answer to this question seems to be: it’s not cooling, it’s warming. As the links I provided detail. 2009 will likely be the 5th warmest year on record and this decade will clearly be the hottest on record This does not sound like cooling to me. Perhaps my assumptions are incorrect, if so please ask the question more specifically, and I will try to answer.

    Frank Turek said:Would reducing our C02 emissions be worth the cost?

    I think this is an important question. We have to look at both sides of the cost. How many lives are we willing to lose in order to keep our ‘right’ to pollute at will? I think that is a different way to ask the same thing.

    I will quote from an October 2003 Article in the new Scientist.

    Global warming kills about 160,000 people through its effects every year, scientists have warned. And the numbers dying from “side-effects” of climate change, such as malaria and malnutrition, could almost double by 2020, they say.

    “We estimate that climate change may already be causing in the region of 160,000 deaths… a year,” Andrew Haines of the UK’s London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) told a climate change conference in Moscow.

    The study, by scientists at LSHTM and the World Health Organization, concludes that children in developing countries are most vulnerable to the impact of global warming.

    Most deaths would be in developing nations in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia, says Haines. These regions would be worst hit by the spread of malnutrition, diarrhea and malaria as a result of warmer temperatures, droughts and floods.

    (emphasis mine)

    We have no reason to believe that increased warming will reduce its deadly effect.

    It makes me thing of the old starfish story — it would certainly be worth it to the children who don’t die of diarrhea so we can protect our ‘right’ drive Hummers and have 60″ TVs.

    Frank Turek said:Often there are no perfect solutions– only tradeoffs.

    I think this is very true. But we have to start with something. Do you agree with me that the right to life is worth more than the right to pollute?

    Frank Turek said:In other words, assuming we are responsible, we could reduce our CO2 emissions drastically

    As I said above, it is difficult for me to see the cuts that are being proposed as drastic. As I said: this is not a return to 1850, 1900, 1960 or even 1980.

    Would you consider going back to 2005 emissions by 2015 drastic? What would not be drastic in your view?

    Frank Turek said:and hurt developing countries so much economically that it might not be worth it.

    Perhaps this is a good point. Are you willing to argue for more drastic cuts in the US so that developing countries have more leeway for growth?

    Frank Turek said:That could be one reason why China, India and others are balking.

    I think those two countries are far more receptive to what is going on in Copenhagen than or previous administration was. Do you disagree?
    Of course countries want to protect growth. Growth helps people, even if it does not help them evenly. That said there is a serious threat to millions of lives in these developing countries, and we have to take it seriously. I think more developed countries should certainly take the lead and do more than the undeveloped nations. And there is certainly a need for technology sharing as better energy technologies are discovered and implemented.

    Steps that the EU has taken, pledging billions of dollars in related aid are very important. Would you agree that the US should take similar action?

    Frank Turek said:It could be like banning DDT. Millions still die from malaria. The cure was been worse than the disease.

    Have you done much research on this topic?

    I actually heard this claim on AFR some time ago. The claim was similar to the one Mark made here — that “liberals and environmentalists” were responsible for millions of deaths. I begin to read deeply on the subject. Personally, I found it much more nuanced and with many unknowns.

    I personally find such a conclusion simply irresponsible given the facts. It is the conclusion of someone wanting to score points — someone willing to use human life to score points — not of someone who has carefully researched the topic. Perhaps I didn’t do enough research myself and the truly nefarious information was beyond my grasp, but unless shown otherwise, this will remain my conclusion.

    What about the mutations that were taking place which were already drastically cutting the effectiveness of DDT in many places including Africa, for example?

    If you have done a lot of research on this, I would be curious to hear why you’ve come to this conclusion

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  153. Luke says:

    Dr. Turek,

    I have taken the time to answer the questions you posted and I hope you will find the information helpful.

    I also hope that you will be able to answer the question that has been posed to you.

    On December 9th (in case you would like to look at context, though I think that’s unnecessary), I wrote:

    There are two facts that are not in dispute:

    Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere causes the planet to warm.

    Mankind has been responsible for most of the recent increase in co2 in the atmosphere (a 36% increase since the industrial revolution). Humans continue to add more and more co2 to the atmosphere year after year.

    So (to borrow from someone named Frank Turek), based on those two facts, what gives you enough faith to believe that adding even more co2 to the atmosphere will not result in more warming?

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  154. Lloyd O. Roumetha says:

    Dear Dr. Turek,

    As to your earlier posts, I do not understand what you have in mind by “intelligence”.

    Please, if you are able:

    1a Exactly what are the criteria you apply to an observation to decide whether that observation involves “intelligence”?

    b On what grounds do you believe those criteria to be necessary and sufficient ?

    2 Ditto for “natural”

    TIA

    Lloyd O. Roumetha

    Reply
  155. Nathan Barley says:

    “It’s like saying that if I keep adding water to a cup, the cup won’t become more full of water”

    Or ‘if microevolution keeps occuring, the changes won’t eventually amount to macroevolution’.

    “we could reduce our CO2 emissions drastically and hurt developing countries so much economically that it might not be worth it.”

    The projected costs of doing nothing in terms of millions of lives lost and large areas of the globe rendered uninhabitable to humans makes me doubt that.

    By the way, ask Dr Meyers about review copies of his book – PZ Myers recently says he asked by the Discovery Institute if he wanted a copy, and is still waiting 6 months later.

    Reply
  156. Mark Ducharme says:

    Luke said, “According to various research carbon dioxide is responsible for between 9 – 26% of greenhouse gas effect in the atmosphere.

    It is agreed upon that the greenhouse gases, taken together account for the planet being about 33 degrees warmer than it would be otherwise.

    So we can easily see that c02 would be responsible for between 3 and a bit over 8.5 degrees (Celsius) of warming.

    This is incredibly simplistic thinking. To assume that the presumed affect of certain percentages of certain elements stays the same, as those percentages change, is a huge leap of faith for, to have an increase in the percentage of one element necessarily means a change in the effect (exponentially more OR less) all of the elements involved have in relation to each other. Otherwise, “H3O” would just be “wetter” water. (CITATION ALERT – CITATION ALERT!) I know this to be true for, as a “lawn maintenance engineer”, it has become known to me that more fertilizer quite often produces dead grass, while less weed killer can actually produce a more desired affect in that area. (I know that your example, my water one and these last two are not -perfectly- analogous but, that is to the point. There are NO static “rules” regarding the affects of elements on/with each other when you are changing percentages. You really should join me on this one because that might be your out for why scientists can’t “create” life. They simply can’t know what conditions existed when it happened. I’ll still love my Jesus though, if it’s all the same to you.)

    Contrary to your impressions of earlier posts, am not trying to be contentious but, the above is merely a fundamental component of how one “figures thing out” so, you really should know better. Scientist or no, I hope we can all agree on how the truth should be sought.
    (impending opinion advisory – WARNING – WARNING!) The “methods” used by those who fully believe in AGW come equipped with the presupposition of their existing conclusion(s) to the question(s) at hand and that is why they usually come to a predictable “answer”. (redundancy mine) It’s not that they are insincere (again, NOT the leaders but the followers here) but, rather, they are programmed to always find the same conclusion. That is why no change in their ultimate direction. Ever.

    The foregoing was an explanation of why Dr. Tureks’ queries are, virtually, never answered, IMHO, but you can use it to explain why he “doesn’t answer you” if you want. It’s just that you will be wrong. (Just had to get that off my mind. It drives me nuts to watch as good faith reason is “answered” w/ -terminally flawed- thinking, post after post after post. One can only pray that this will bring it to a conclusion. (Yeah right, Mark, dream on!)

    Reply
  157. Luke says:

    Mark said:This is incredibly simplistic thinking.

    You’re absolutely right Mark — it is. It was not intended to be anything else. This is the reason I said the following.

    “we can do a very basic calculation to get an idea. It won’t be the most accurate model in the world, but I think it will help you answer your question.”

    based on a very rough calculation

    I am sorry if I was not clear enough about this. It was simply intended as a basic illustration of the possible power of the effect of increased co2. It was intended to simply give Dr. Turek some idea of what he asked for.

    I will try to be more clear next time.

    I did send links with much more detailed and less simplistic presentations, but I thought this would help illustrate, since Dr. Turek admitted he didn’t have time to read all of this yet. If you seek something deeper then please read the links Nathan and I have provided.

    (Fwiw, the part you quoted in your response was not really based in any way on my thinking, but was just a reproduction of widely acknowledged — even by skeptics — facts about our planet and how it works. I’ll assume though that you were talking about the latter part of my post.)

    That said, your example (was it intended to be an analogy?) of h3o is completely faulty, as we are talking about completely different things. First of all, it’s not correct to say that hydrogen peroxide is less wet than hydrogen dioxide. If it was, then you might have been onto something, but only if there was not a vast difference between a mixture and a molecule.

    But I think you do have a point. You are on the right track to say that: “To assume that the presumed affect (sic) of certain percentages of certain elements stays the same, as those percentages change, is a huge leap of faith.”

    (I wouldn’t call it a huge leap of faith, but it is a very valid point.) Sure, these gases work in complex ways, and some changes could occur. But it is “simplistic thinking” to assume that simply because ratios change effects will (drastically) change — without a mechanism for how this would work.

    Here is the problem. I think it’s a huge leap of faith to say that adding an element which has a certain effect won’t increase that effect, if you are unwilling to propose a mechanism for why this would be.

    To say that “effects change as ratios change, therefore I will just dismiss any possibility that the effect will remain the same” is again… simplistic thinking.

    (To reuse your water example. It’s like assuming that when h101 is added to a bucket of water, the “wet” effect of water will somehow change because you’ve diluted the mixture.)

    Here is the other problem. These effects and these ratios have been studied in depth in the laboratory. So the claims that the effects stay roughly the same is not based on a “huge leap of faith” by me, but rather on experimental science.

    This is why I say that the “huge” leap of faith is saying that these research based assumptions are not true — with no proposed mechanism for why they should not be true! (If you have such a mechanism, please provide it.)

    It’s not enough to say, well the ratios will be different. You need to say something like — the ratios will be different, which will cause this effect, which will in turn lead to this result.

    Your fertilizer on grass example is a good one, but with it we can do two things. We can show in a laboratory that over-fertilizing will lead to dead grass. We can also propose some very accurate theories with strong predictive power about what effect various levels of fertilizer will have on a certain type of grass. Without presenting one of these two things, it is simply not enough to call my thinking simplistic. Do you understand why?

    Mark said:The foregoing was an explanation of why Dr. Tureks’ queries are, virtually, never answered, IMHO.

    Mark, there is a difference between not answering and answering in a way you may not like (not in style, but in substance). They are vastly different things.

    If you find the thinking “terminally flawed” then please critique the thinking and propose a better method. If you are unable to do so and all you can offer is non sequitor, political talking points and insults, then I will likely not engage your posts. (You did begin with a valid critique here, which is why I answered.)

    Reply
  158. Lloyd O. Roumetha says:

    Dr. William Dembski. http://www.ideacenter.org/cont…..p/id/1203.

    Let me know what you think.

    Dr. Turek,

    Yes I’ve seen this. I was hoping to discuss not my opinions but the scheme. Since you ask, so you may see the idea behind my challenge: I think the stuff at the link is updated medieval alchemy — fluxes and butters and calorics. Words that sound real but that turn out to have “meaning” only in the context of an elaborate fantasy. Words that have no actual connection to observable reality. Calorics and fluxes seemed perfectly real to the ancients. We don’t use them now because, when pressed for specifics, they fail to describe real observations.

    So I pick one element of your scheme and challenge you to tie it to observation: How is intelligence connected with observation?

    In what way is “intelligence” observed?

    What are the features of an observation that identify “intelligence”?

    And how and why were those features chosen?

    .
    Or shall we agree the scheme is fantasy?

    Lloyd O. Roumetha

    Reply
  159. Frank Turek says:

    Hi Lloyd:

    Your questions are in “quotes” and my responses follow.

    “So I pick one element of your scheme and challenge you to tie it to observation: How is intelligence connected with observation?”

    This is where the philosophy of science comes in. An effect can be caused by only two possibilities: an intelligent cause (an agent like yourself) or a non-intelligent cause (a natural force like gravity). When a scientist, like an achaeologist, observes sedimentation in the strata, he posits a natural cause. But when he observes inscriptions, he posits an intelligent agent as the cause. Biological entities are more like inscriptions than sedimentation.

    “In what way is “intelligence” observed?”

    In a forensic science (historical science) you never observe the cause directly (unless you’re an eyewitness of the event). You only observe the effects of the cause. The question is, are some aspects of biological entities (which are the effects in question that can be observed) the product of intelligence? In light of thousands of pages of DNA, RNA, protein sequences, and the factory-like structure of the cell, the answer appears to be yes.

    “What are the features of an observation that identify “intelligence”?”

    Specified complexity (see Dembski’s explanatory filter). Your post is an example. It is certainly the product of intelligence, not one of the four natural forces.

    “And how and why were those features chosen?”

    Observation and repetition. We repeatedly observe only intelligence creating specified complexity. We have never observed natural forces doing so. This principle of uniformity (causes in the present are the key to the past) is behind forensic science (including criminal investigations), SETI, archaeology, cryptology, and origin of life studies.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  160. Mark Ducharme says:

    These effects and these ratios have been studied in depth in the laboratory. Is there a lab that can possibly replicate planet earth ? I don’t reject that out of hand it’s just more believable to accept that you can model, maybe, a very small land mass than you can the entire planet. To parallel the dynamics of all of earths’ eco-systems and how they affect each other -which have a, no doubt, dynamically changing “scheme” of their own, in relation to each other- has to be the most daunting task any researcher could undertake. Again, the lab is static. Creation is not. My “citation” for this is the fact that religious, er, scientific dogma is constantly changing and, by definition, not even ultimately conclusive. You guys like to say that the global “cooling” scare of the 70’s was based on a single magazine cover story but, fact is, they launched satellites into orbit because of that, oh so very faulty, theory. NASA uses them to this day to monitor global “warming” ironically enough. There are many more examples past and, you can be sure, many more to come. Bottom line: Science is so sloppy and haphazard that it would seem the height of myopic egoism to take action, in any way that would harm the economy, based on its terrible track record in this area.

    Which leads to: Here is the problem. I think it’s a huge leap of faith to say that adding an element which has a certain effect won’t increase that effect, if you are unwilling to propose a mechanism for why this would be.(emph. mine) 2 problems i have w/ this. 2) Considering the increase of co2 into the atmosphere -since the I.R.- is statistically tantamount to throwing a cup of steaming hot water into a swimming pool (if not less) the “effect” would have to be negligible. Not only that, this planet has remarkable “healing” properties. Remember the Exxon Valdez ? Prince William Sound was supposed to be a desolate waste land for generations after that so, is it ? Uh, no. 1) This one is actually 2 fold. First, you put forth a “fact” (Co2 does -X) that has not been established by, even a reasonable percentage of, the scientific community (talking about those not politically corrupt like the CRU) and then argue that I must propose a working “mechanism” which proves a negative. The earth has built in systems, it is not static as a laboratory, and it always finds its equilibrium. The mere notion that we are having even a modicum of an effect in destabilizing that equilibrium, in any significant or lasting way, is groundless. There have been upheavals of Biblical proportions (please forgive the reference. is there a “separation of church and site” here?) re: the earths’ climate, since before we were but a twinkle in the Fathers’ eye so it is beyond presumptuous to think we can “destroy” it now.

    We are human. We are fearful. Of this we can be certain but, the first motor car to exceed 60 MPH did not disintegrate. The first atom bomb did not result in an endless chain reaction leading to the end of existence. There’s no such thing as a heterosexual AIDS epidemic. And, holding hands w/ a girl does not give you koodies. The people who go forward in spite of their fears do things. Good things. At least when they are working within the ethic of Judeo-Christian belief (as it has been in operation since Americas’ founding) that is what happens. I observe that it is our “greedy capitalism” that has led to a cleaner environment. Not the wimpy, half-baked ideas of limp wristed, European dinks who produce little or no benefit to their fellow human beings.

    America feeds / comes to the rescue of the world and this load of bilge, known (for now, anyway) as “man made global climate change”, is but a device designed to take us down a notch or ten so as to put us in line w/ all of the other useless members of the u.n. who “produce” little more than tyranny or self importance and rarely lift a finger to help the afflicted. At least not to the extent that America does.

    Now, you may complain that I’ve veered off into the political again. So be it. It wouldn’t be necessary, though, if the AGW “agendites” hadn’t already established that particular dynamic into the paradigm. I merely observe and respond.

    Reply
  161. Lloyd O. Roumetha says:

    Dr. Turek,

    An effect can be caused by only two possibilities: an intelligent cause (an agent like yourself) or a non-intelligent cause (a natural force like gravity).

    Sorry, telling me how butters flux doesn’t indicate butters are real. Respectfully, you’re circling through alchemist emanations and calorics. I acknowledge these words have meaning within your thought world. I’m challenging you to connect them to concrete observation.

    What exactly is the rigorous scientific definition of “intelligence”?
    How exactly is it measured?
    How exactly is it quantified?

    Mass comes in pounds, speed comes in feet/sec, temperature comes in degrees. What are the measurement units of “intelligence”?

    If intelligence cannot be measured and has no units, shall we agree it is not real in the sense that mass and temperature and speed and matter and time and location and dirt and sun and sky and trees and force and work and energy and probability are real?

    Is “intelligence” a property or a thing?
    How do you know?

    Where is “intelligence” located?
    How do you know?

    Where does “intelligence” come from?
    How do you know?

    Is intelligence created and destroyed?
    How do you know?

    Does intelligence interact with matter?
    How do you know?

    How does intelligence interact with matter?
    How do you know?

    I observe an event. I measure an event. What measurements must I make that will inform me whether that event involved “intelligence.”

    What rules shall I apply to those measurements to tell me whether or not intelligence was involved?
    .

    .
    A horse breeder picks a winning horse . What measurement shall I make to decide whether intelligence was involved?
    Did “intelligence” direct the act of picking, or did it direct the pick itself? How do you know?

    A gambler picks a winning horse . What measurement shall I make to decide whether intelligence was involved?
    Did “intelligence” direct the act of picking, or did it direct the pick itself? How do you know?

    A computer program picks a winning horse. What measurement shall I make to decide whether intelligence was involved?
    Did “intelligence” direct the act of picking, or did it direct the pick itself? How do you know?

    A coin toss picks a winning horse . What measurement shall I make to decide whether intelligence was involved?
    Did “intelligence” direct the act of picking, or did it direct the pick itself? How do you know?

    A three year old picks a winning horse . What measurement shall I make to decide whether intelligence was involved?
    Did “intelligence” direct the act of picking, or did it direct the pick itself? How do you know?

    A mormon seer picks a winning horse. What measurement shall I make to decide whether intelligence was involved?
    Did “intelligence” direct the act of picking, or did it direct the pick itself? How do you know?

    Same as above— breeder, gambler, computer program, coin toss, three year old, seer — only this time the horse loses. What measurement shall I make to decide whether intelligence was involved?

    A man falls in love. What measurement shall I make to decide whether intelligence was involved?

    A dog gets hungry. What measurement shall I make to decide whether intelligence was involved?

    A bird builds a nest. What measurement shall I make to decide whether intelligence was involved?

    A fly lands on a grape. What measurement shall I make to decide whether intelligence was involved?

    A virus infects a host. What measurement shall I make to decide whether intelligence was involved?

    A thermostat turns on a heater. What measurement shall I make to decide whether intelligence was involved?

    A boulder blocks a river, causing a beautiful lake to form, where fawns and happy children frolic. What measurement shall I make to decide whether intelligence was involved?

    What volcano destroys a civilization. What measurement shall I make to decide whether intelligence was involved?
    .

    .
    Event A precedes event B. What measurement shall I make to decide whether intelligence was involved?

    .
    Lloyd O. Roumetha

    Reply
  162. Lloyd O. Roumetha says:

    Luke

    What are your answers?

    There are no answers. “Intelligence” in the sense Dr. Turek imagines does not relate to observable reality.

    Lloyd O. Roumetha

    Reply
  163. Mark Ducharme says:

    Anyone,

    What is “natural” ?
    Who determines what is or isn’t natural ?

    Is man natural ?
    Can anything/one, borne of this planet, be “unnatural” to its/their home ?
    If so, explain how this can be:

    If man is natural, can he engage in unnatural activity ?
    If so, how does one determine this and who is the “determiner” ?

    Does / has planet earth “adapt(ed)” ?
    If so, can it adapt to whatever activity its natural inhabitants engage in?
    If not, why not ?

    If it is “natural” for an asteroid to impact another celestial body, earth for instance, is it “unnatural” for earths inhabitants to impact the celestial body they inhabit ?

    If it was found that humanity was in peril of extinction by a new form of rays from the sun that only killed it, and the only hope for it was to consume its resources voluminously enough so as to create “nuclear winter”, would it be “moral” to -essentially- reduce all other life forms on earth to no more than livestock and crops ?

    How do humans interact with morals ?
    Should they ?

    Do morals exist ?
    If so, prove it. If not, whatever…

    Were your neighbor to start killing you, is it “okay” to stop him ?
    If so, why ?

    A mold spore forms on a casserole. What measurement shall I make to determine if adequate refrigeration was involved ?

    Humorless twit A precedes insufferable jerk B. What measurement shall I take to determine which one of them said something ?

    Reply
  164. Luke says:

    Lloyd said: There are no answers.

    What do you mean? Can you elaborate? For example, your question:

    A gambler picks a winning horse. Did “intelligence” direct the act of picking, or did it direct the pick itself? How do you know?

    has no answer?

    Somehow a pick was made, correct? So what was involved in the pick? And was intelligence one of the factors? Be it yes or no, how do you know?

    Reply
  165. Mark Ducharme says:

    Luke,

    He is saying that Dr. Tureks concept of intelligence is faulty. If that doesn’t process, try this: Lloyd is so high up in the stratosphere that his life’s travails are strewn with the intellectual wreckage of many mere mushy mandibled, mortal minds that might not have endeavored an attempt to be so prehensile as to even comprehend what he is / was postulating if they could (have) form(ed) an inkling of the magnitude of his grandiose powers to reckon. Savvy ?

    Reply
  166. Lloyd O. Roumetha says:

    What do you mean? Can you elaborate? For example, your question:

    A gambler picks a winning horse. Did “intelligence” direct the act of picking, or did it direct the pick itself? How do you know?

    has no answer?

    Dr. Turek’s theory is, basically: “intelligence creates fancy-stuff. I see fancy-stuff, I infer intelligence.”

    The claim depends on many things, first on the notion that “intelligence” is some sort of property or substance that obeys mechanical, predictable rules of nature like those that mass and time obey.

    Our current ideas about mass and forces and time derive from the success with which mathematical models conform with and predict observation. We believe in the laws of physics because they describe observations.

    We don’t believe in unicorns and griffins and alchemical fluxes because they fail to conform to observations.

    The question arises: Which sort of notion is Dr. Turek’s “intelligence.”

    The test is: does it describe observable reality. In particular, does it model observed events in a precise measurable, predictable, repeatable way. That’s what science does. Science is what Dr. Turek pretends to do.

    So the reason

    ” A gambler picks a winning horse. Did “intelligence” direct the act of picking, or did it direct the pick itself? How do you know?”

    has no answer is, Dr. Turek is unable to state precisely—in terms of quantifiable observation—what “intelligence” is, what it’s properties are, how it interacts with matter and time.

    The question has no relation to observation because the concept “intelligence” has no defined precise relationship to observations. It means whatever is convenient at the moment. It means anything Dr. Turek wants. It cannot be tested. It means nothing.

    College kids leave the church because what they hear in science and religion class describes observed reality. Dr. Turek can’t trump that with word games, no matter how earnest.

    Lloyd O. Roumetha

    BTW Luke, Mark’s spittle flecked frustration about this is typical. Not everyone can see the difference between describes reality in the laws of nature sense of physics and chemistry and describes reality in the sense that “natural” and “love” and “kindness” — and “intelligence” — are useful descriptive concepts that however escape attempts at precise description and prediction. The category overlaps “witch”, “demon”, “UFO” and “Son of God.”

    Reply
  167. Luke says:

    Lloyd,

    I agree that Dr. Turek hasn’t laid out a clear case for determining what intelligence is. He has several times now referred to your posts as evidence that the posts came from intelligence.

    The thing is though, much of this is really subjective when you get down to it.

    By pointing to your posts, it seems to me that Dr. Turek just keeps saying ‘it’s intelligence because we know it is’ without getting around to how we know it is.

    It’s a powerful example, because we “absolutely know” that it’s true.

    So he’s right — I do know that your post has a mind behind it. I think he relies on this intuition, which we see so clearly, to overshadow the lack of a rigorous set of criteria. Dr. Dembski’s decision tree relies on this as well, I think.

    We can’t do science by intuition though, so I agree that something better needs to be proposed. Intuition is in the eye of the beholder and that makes all of these claims subjective and I agree that that’s now good enough here.

    I have read that Dr. Dembski himself acknowledges this in his book, and I quote: “Specification depends on the knowledge of subjects. Is specification therefore subjective? Yes.”

    The other problem, it seems to me, as that this entire theory, both Dr. Dembski’s decision tree and Dr. Turek’s evidence of your posts as requiring intelligence is that mathematical proofs show this to be incorrect.

    While I have good reason to believe that your posts come from a mind — an intelligent mind, I also know and believe that a mind is not absolutely necessary. The infinite monkey theorem is a proof which shows that your post could almost surely have come about through randomness.

    So while I give it that it’s highly likely that there is a mind behind your posts, I’d have to reject the idea, based purely on mathematics, that it’s absolutely necessary.

    If I am misunderstanding or misconstruing something, my ears are open.

    That said, I think intelligence can be a meaningful term, as long as it’s properly defined. I tried to define it above, but I don’t even remember exactly what I said.

    Are you saying, Lloyd that it is a term completely devoid of meaning? Are you saying that one (or you specifically) can never define it?

    It is one thing to criticize Dr. Turek’s understanding and definition of it, but the reason that I am asking you to answer your own question is I’d like to hear your positive contribution. What do you say about it, not what do you say about what Dr. Turek says about it.

    Reply
  168. Tim D. says:

    BTW Luke, Mark’s spittle flecked frustration about this is typical. Not everyone can see the difference between describes reality in the laws of nature sense of physics and chemistry and describes reality in the sense that “natural” and “love” and “kindness” — and “intelligence” — are useful descriptive concepts that however escape attempts at precise description and prediction. The category overlaps “witch”, “demon”, “UFO” and “Son of God.”

    Ah, don’t bother Mark while he’s trolling. If you do he might stop, and then our “comic relief” would be gone 🙁

    By pointing to your posts, it seems to me that Dr. Turek just keeps saying ‘it’s intelligence because we know it is’ without getting around to how we know it is.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought of this. It’s like in his book, where he describes the “scientific facts” of the Bible’s claims, when in fact his definition of “scientific fact” simply means “we can scientifically observe that the Bible said it, and the Bible is (for some scientifically unknown reason) absolutely infallible, therefore it is a fact.” The more you argue with him (and I literally mean *you*, not me, because he so rarely responds to me….I just kind of watch you two), the more apparent it becomes to me that nobody here really does know how they “know” what they supposedly know.

    So while I give it that it’s highly likely that there is a mind behind your posts, I’d have to reject the idea, based purely on mathematics, that it’s absolutely necessary.

    That is the most concisely I’ve seen this idea phrased in awhile. Kudos for that 😀

    Reply
  169. Lloyd O. Roumetha says:

    Luke,

    Are you saying, Lloyd that it is a term completely devoid of meaning? Are you saying that one (or you specifically) can never define it?

    It ain’t my theory, it’s Dr. Turek’s. I don’t know what he means because he won’t say. You’ll have to ask him. That he does not tie his ideas to observable reality is clear by now. And tells us all we need to know.

    The problem is not defining terms. “Intelligence is what brains do when they think” is a definition—and a tautology. The challenge is to define the thing as relating to measurable observation, then measuring and modeling the thing’s behavior.

    Do I recognize intelligence in real life? Of course. I observe things I classify with the word. I have no idea how they come about, or how they work, or what they are or are not necessary for. And neither does anyone else.

    Lloyd O. Roumetha

    Reply
  170. Frank Turek says:

    Hi Lloyd,

    I enjoy interacting, but there is something you should know– I don’t have the time or energy to respond to 30 questions in one post. So if you want to have a discussion, please try to keep your posts to one or two questions or points.

    As I mentioned before, intelligence is implied by specified complexity. Biologically, that is measurable in the thousands of pages worth of DNA is the simplest cell. If you want units, they are A, T, G, and C, and their sequence is not determined by repetitive physical, chemical or biological forces. If they were, then our DNA would not be unique. But it is unique. As Chemist MIcheal Polanyi put it, “The sequence must be as physicially indeterminate as the sequence of words is on a printed page.” The words on a printed page imply an author as do the words of DNA in a cell.

    With regard to Luke’s claim that life is possible mathematically by chance– of course anything is possible. The question is, what is more likely and thus more reasonable to believe. Atheist Sir Fred Hoyle calculated the odds of producing the proteins necessary to service a minimally complex cell by chance at 1 in 10 to the 40,000 (this has been recently confirmed by Doug Axe at 1 in 10 to the 41,000). There are only 10 to the 70 atoms in the known universe, so 1 in 10 to the 41,000 is an absurdly small probability. I think intelligence is a more probable explanation, just like I think that your post is more probably the result of an intelligent being than random fluctuations in my computer.

    By the way, repetition is the principle for empirical science, but uniformity is the principle in forensic science. The origin of life– like archaeology, SETI, etc.– involves forensic science (see my last post). I’m sure you believe in ID when it comes to archaeology. So what units of measurement do you suggest an archaeologist use to determine whether something he finds is designed or the result of natural law?

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  171. lk5632 says:

    Frank Turek said:With regard to Luke’s claim that life is possible mathematically by chance– of course anything is possible.

    Dr. Turek,

    Do you mean someone else? I don’t think I’ve said this.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  172. luke says:

    Frank Turek said:As I mentioned before, intelligence is implied by specified complexity. Biologically, that is measurable in the thousands of pages worth of DNA is the simplest cell.

    What is measurable by the thousands of pages? Intelligence or specified complexity?

    Frank Turek said:If you want units, they are A, T, G, and C,

    How do these ‘units’ measure intelligence? Sorry, but I’m just not getting this.

    (The last comment I an referring to above does not show up at the moment, obviously. Sorry about that.)

    Reply
  173. Mark Ducharme says:

    //Do I recognize intelligence in real life? Of course. I observe things I classify with the word. I have no idea how they come about, or how they work, or what they are or are not necessary for. And neither does anyone else. (emphasis mine)

    Lloyd O. Roumetha //

    Won’t bother w/ sappy displays of sympathy but, as a Christian, knowing that a person can believe that statement is a very sad thing to ponder.

    Question (seriously): Must science explain something before it can be “valid”? Without God, I don’t know how else to attribute value. But then you have made it clear that “values” are subjective concepts without even the slightest basis of proof that they even exist beyond our own imaginings. Which are, by your above statement, also contrivances. Yes, truly sad.

    Still don’t get the, completely devoid of humour, responses though. I’ve known funny atheists. Used to be one myself, a very short time ago. Nice chatting all the same. Hope you didn’t take it as heartfelt as you appeared to. Cheers, Mark

    Just one more thing: if one can not know what intelligence is, one can not know anything. If you can’t even delineate intelligence from non-intelligence, how can anything you say mean anything? To assert that “X” is true -after first asserting that the origin of ones intelligence (ie; from where one perceives and deduces “X”) is not currently known- is to destroy the notion that one can know anything. Otherwise, you must first say “I observe my fancy thoughts. Therefore ‘my fancy thoughts’ exist.” in order to assert anything.

    confections, Mark

    Reply
  174. Tim D. says:

    Otherwise, you must first say “I observe my fancy thoughts. Therefore ‘my fancy thoughts’ exist.” in order to assert anything.

    Something doesn’t necessarily have to exist in order for me to think of it or conceive of it — example. I’m thinking about a cookie right now. The cookie I am thinking of does not necessarily exist outside of my mind. A cookie may exist outside of my mind, but not the exact same cookie I am thinking of.

    A more conceptual example: in my mind, I can conceive of a god that is “evil,” as well as one that is simply a figment of the collective human imagination and therefore no more than an illusion. If what you say is true — if something must exist “objectively” as a real, literal entity before I can conceive of it — then not only are the above things “true” or “real,” but anything I can ever imagine in my mind is automatically real, whether or not it reflects observable reality.

    Reply
  175. Toby R. says:

    “Atheist Sir Fred Hoyle calculated the odds of producing the proteins necessary to service a minimally complex cell by chance at 1 in 10 to the 40,000 (this has been recently confirmed by Doug Axe at 1 in 10 to the 41,000).”

    Could you please post a link to show how this is computed? How does one go about setting up this kind of calculation?

    “There are only 10 to the 70 atoms in the known universe,”

    Not to be annoying, but once again could you please post a link or explain how this was arrived at? Statistics mean nothing unless they can be explained.

    Reply
  176. Mark Ducharme says:

    Tim,

    My explanation must have been faulty. I am not saying that, if one can imagine something, it must necessarily exist (although that is an interesting concept on its own merit*). Rather, I am saying that , if there is no known, scientific, or otherwise acceptable, “proof” that intelligence exists, then how can anything one posits be true ? If the “notion” you are positing is but the result of chemically induced synapses firing in some gray jelly, what makes one notion any more valid than any other ? That is what was being asked of Lloyd. He stated that “I have no idea how they (signs of intelligence) come about, or how they work, or what they are or are not necessary for.” So, that seemed to make it clear to me that, since the source for all ideas cannot be substantiated, it only follows that all activity emanating from that source must be invalid as well. At least until we can in fact prove that intelligence does exist that is. (sorry for any redundancy as this is slightly mind boggling to this old layman) What it all boils down to is: chemicals don’t “know” things, minds do. And I believe that it takes a spark of the divine to create a mind. Our chemical makeup is meaningless. It takes a soul for our lives to have meaning. Our interactions -trading barbs, ideas and such- is not meaningless. (And it’s not just a “higher level” of a cat playing with a mouse…it’s okay, you can think you’re the cat, I don’t mind ) No, you may not be able to “prove” that in a lab, but I know it is true. And no, that is not an argument from incredulity. Some things are perceived on a much deeper level than what is apparent to our material senses. Otherwise, we would mate like animals instead of loving our mates and children the way we do. Of course one can, if one so chooses, live ones life like an animal but that doesn’t seem like much of a “life” to me.

    *As to your first understanding of my, apparently misshapen, point: there is a being who thinks matter into existence. That’s right, you guessed Him! —side note: i always do things like that in my posts because I believe. it is not intended to “mess” w/ you. unless it tweaks you, in which case it is. which leads to the other reason for “tweaks”: I laugh a lot

    Mark

    Reply
  177. Nathan Barley says:

    Frank: “Atheist Sir Fred Hoyle calculated the odds of producing the proteins necessary to service a minimally complex cell by chance at 1 in 10 to the 40,000”

    This is known as ‘Hoyle’s fallacy’, if you want to google that.

    In short though, Hoyle assumes complex structures arise in a single step, which is an argument that no biologist makes.

    “The modern evolutionary synthesis explains how complex structures evolve by analysing the required intermediate steps. It is the intermediate steps that are omitted by Hoyle, which is the cause of the over-estimating of the improbability of the entire process.”

    Reply
  178. Nathan Barley says:

    “Otherwise, we would mate like animals instead of loving our mates and children the way we do. ”

    You draw a false dichotomy between us and other animals – lots of other mammals exhibit the same loving behaviour as humans, both to their mates and to their children. Many animals mate for life, and caring or mourning for young is hardly unique to humans. Try to take a cub away from mommy tiger…

    Furthermore, this attribute is beneficial to the species. One would EXPECT many species to exhibit this behaviour: Couples that stay together and raise their young give their offspring a greater chance of survival. Among animals that produce small litters, natural selection favours those whose brains are high in seratonin.

    Reply
  179. Frank Turek says:

    Hi Nathan,

    The wiki article on “Hoyle’s Fallacy” commits a fallacy itself. It says Hoyle’s fallacy “occurs when the conclusion is drawn that the enormity of the search space implies that natural selection could not have located the solution.”

    This is a fallacy because “natural selection” is only possible in living things (unless this is equivocating on what is meant by natural selection). There is nothing to “select” because nothing is alive at this point. Remember that Hoyle is calculating the probability of just the proteins appearing by chance. There is no cell yet. (The odds for the naturalistic formation of an entire living cell are even worse.)

    Doug Axe, Ph.D. from Caltech, found numbers similar to Hoyle in 2004. All this is laid out clearly in Stephen Meyer’s “Signature in the Cell” chapters 9 and 10 (which took a lot of intelligence to calculate and write).

    Finally, for one to say that Hoyle’s or Axe’s calculations are wrong, one must have some idea of what the right calculations are. What are the right odds that proteins to service a single cell arise by chance without intelligence?

    Unless I’m missing something (quite possible), to say that there were previous steps without identifying those steps and the evidence that supports them is a leap of faith. What am I missing?

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  180. Nathan Barley says:

    Frank, Richard Dawkins covers the subject in depth in several of his books. The answers you seek are there. Hoyle may have been an atheist, and an astonomer. What he wasn’t was a biologist.

    Reply
  181. Nathan Barley says:

    Frank: “For one to say that Hoyle’s or Axe’s calculations are wrong, one must have some idea of what the right calculations are.”

    If you say you’ve got a method of calculating the value of x, and present me with a calculating system with inherent logical flaws, I don’t need an alternative system in order to point out that your system is inaccurate.

    Say you tell me that you can calculate how long it takes a feather to reach the ground when you drop it out your window, but when you show me your calculations they make no reference to wind resistance. I already know not to read much into your figures – it would give the same result for a brick. And it doesn’t matter whether or not I have my own system – I can still say yours doesn’t work.

    By the way, have you ever read Hoyle’s “The Black Cloud”, a science fiction book? I read it as a child and hated it, but Dawkins lists it as one of his favourites!

    Reply
  182. Frank Turek says:

    Hi Nathan,

    Richard Dawkins admits he has no idea how life began by natural forces and says that anyone who says he does know is “lying.”

    If you are referring to Dawkins’ attempt to get specified complexity naturally by means of his “evolutionary algorithm” through a computer program, realize that his simulation is anything but random– Dawkins introduces intelligence into his system by means of the computer program and, more importantly, by specifying a target in advance. In other words, Dawkins knows that it would take on average more than a trillion, trillion, trillion attempts without intelligence to produce a simple line from Hamlet, “METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL.” So what he does is he preserves letters that meet the target and can produce it in only 43 steps. But this is exactly the antithesis of a blind, random process! You don’t need to be biologist to know this, only someone who understands that simple philosophical mistakes yield illegitimate conclusions.

    If you are referring to something other than this from Dawkins, please let me know the citation.

    With regard to Hoyle and your counter example about the wind resistance and the feather– what is the equivalent of the “wind resistance” that Hoyle and Axe left out? What are the naturalistic steps to protein formation that they left out, and what evidence do you have of these steps?

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  183. Mark Ducharme says:

    //lots of other mammals exhibit the same loving behaviour as humans//

    Is that from the famous studies done by the Disney studios ?

    //and to their children ??

    Seriously, Nathan, their “children” ? Attributing unproven qualities to animals is a great leap considering that this (particular part of the thread) started out as a response to Lloyds’ assertion that intelligence can’t even be proved to exist. So, are we now to believe that watching animals “being all cute and cuddly” is a basis for establishing their ability to love ? Awesome! All those years watching Daffy and Bugs certified me an acshul scientist. What a revelation.

    p.s. re: “Try to take a cub away from mommy tiger…” Was that a reference to when “mommy” is raising her “child”, or if you were to try and save it from her hungry jaws ?

    Reply
  184. Nathan Barley says:

    “But this is exactly the antithesis of a blind, random process!”

    Who ever claimed the existence of a blind, random process? Not Dawkins. I don’t think you understood his argument.

    “All this is laid out clearly in Stephen Meyer’s “Signature in the Cell” chapters 9 and 10 (which took a lot of intelligence to calculate and write).”

    And I’d love to know what biologists say about the book. But as I mentioned before, the Discovery Institute invited biologists to receive review copies, then never sent them out. What are they afraid of? Has Meyer or Axe published these calculations in any papers subject to peer review?

    “What is the equivalent of the “wind resistance” that Hoyle and Axe left out?”

    You haven’t addressed what I said, which related to your second claim – that one cannot point out a flaw in someone’s calculations unless you have alternative calculations of your own. This has nothing to do with arguing over what the flaw is, which related to your first claim.

    Reply
  185. Luke says:

    I haven’t read much about Hoyle or his calculations, so I am speaking from ignorance a bit.

    When I read about this though, a problem immediately comes to mind. This is a discussion of life arising by chance in exactly the form that life as we know it takes, isn’t it?

    Doesn’t that miss the point?

    I don’t mean this as an analogy, just an illustration, but it’s like saying that a feather could not have naturally landed on point X, because there are so many variables involved that the chance of the feather landing exactly in spot X is something like 1 in 17 skillion.

    Anyway, I haven’t studied it, but I think any such calculation is pure speculation; for the very reasons you yourself talk about. I will go as far as saying you doing a bit of special pleading here Dr. Turek.

    In order to calculate the chance/probability of life beginning, one would have to know what it takes for life to begin. Correct?

    You are claiming at once that we can calculate the probability, but also that no one knows what it takes for life to start.

    You can’t have it both ways, can you?

    Reply
  186. Luke says:

    By the way, I think it’s really funny that you guys got into this discussion based on something I supposedly said, which I never said. I even skimmed the comments to see if anyone else made such a claim and I did not see it.

    It’s like Nathan’s claim about the flying elephants who lived 11 million years ago. (See, their wings evolved down to just the big ears they have now. The elephants that still had wings would go crazy because their giant ear-wings would hear nothing but loud wooshing sounds when they would fly, so the non-crazy with smaller ear-wings survived more easily.)

    *waits anxiously for discussion of flying elephants*

    🙂

    Reply
  187. Frank Turek says:

    Hi Nathan,

    “Who ever claimed the existence of a blind, random process? Not Dawkins. I don’t think you understood his argument.”

    Is his “evolutionary algorithm” argument the one you were referring to? What did I not understand? Do you see that Dawkins introduces intelligence? There are only two possibilities, either intelligent or non-intelligent. Are you saying Dawkins is an advocate of intelligence?

    Again, natural selection can not account for the origin of life. It may help explain the survival of the species but not the arrival.

    What does whether or not review copies being sent out have anything to do with the content? Buy the book if you want to review it. I did.

    Luke, the calculations are available in the writings of Hoyle, Axe, Meyer and Dembski. They are calculating how proteins could come from non-living chemicals without intelligence even if the whole world was a “prebiotic soup.” It is probability theory. If you want to assume it came without intelligence without specifying the steps and the evidence for those steps, then you have faith.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  188. Nathan Barley says:

    “There are only two possibilities, either intelligent or non-intelligent.”

    Are you saying there’s only two options: ‘intelligent’ or ‘blind, random’? If so, that’s a false dichotomy. There are plenty of processes that are neither intelligent nor ‘blind, random’, natural selection being the best example. If you disagree, then you’ve got the the crux of what you don’t understand.

    The key is that Dawkins introduces selection, not that he introduces intelligence. Feel free to come up with an alternative experiment that simulates selection that you believe to be fairer and more realistic.

    Reply
  189. Nathan Barley says:

    “What does whether or not review copies being sent out have anything to do with the content?”

    Because biologists are best qualified to judge the veracity of the calculations – not you are me, or philosophers or astronomers, therefore I’d be interested in hearing their opinions. From what I can observe, the people best qualified to judge the calculations are not impressed.

    Reply
  190. Nathan Barley says:

    Talk Origins on problems with Hoyle’s Fallacy:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/abioprob.html#Globule

    Small excerpt: “Firstly, the formation of biological polymers from monomers is a function of the laws of chemistry and biochemistry, and these are decidedly not random.

    Secondly, the entire premise is incorrect to start off with, because in modern abiogenesis theories the first “living things” would be much simpler, not even a protobacteria, or a preprotobacteria (what Oparin called a protobiont [8] and Woese calls a progenote [4]), but one or more simple molecules probably not more than 30-40 subunits long. These simple molecules then slowly evolved into more cooperative self-replicating systems, then finally into simple organisms”

    More detailed info here:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/abioprob.html

    Reply
  191. Frank Turek says:

    Hi Nathan,

    Who is doing the selection? Again, THERE WAS NO NATURAL SELECTION GOING ON PRIOR TO THE FIRST LIFE (sorry for the caps, I don’t know html). Dawkins recognizes that, but then introduces a different kind of “selection” with his evolutionary algorithm. That’s intelligence.

    The first life came together by either the blind repetitive forces of nature working on non-living chemicals, or by some kind of intelligence. What other options are there?

    Biologists are the not only ones qualified to judge the veracity of the calculations because the issue is how did biological entities begin, not just how do they operate once they exist. Even if you don’t agree with every conclusion of Meyer, the content and scope is impressive. For someone to disparage the book just because they didn’t get a free copy is ridiculous.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  192. Luke says:

    I am short on time, so I will just briefly comment on what Dr. Turek said above:

    This is a fallacy because “natural selection” is only possible in living things (unless this is equivocating on what is meant by natural selection).

    I have read a bit about this now and it seems that Hoyle’s calculations refer to an organism more on the order of a modern bacterium. This has little connection to what a first cell would have looked like (according to the applicable theories). This adds an imense amount of complexity, which is potentially explained by natural selection.

    Do you see the problem with the calculation in that context?

    It’s as if I constructed a calculation to show that a person who is smart enough to design a computer is impossibly improbable, by ignoring the fact that any such design is based upon earlier simpler designs.

    My calculation would be a faulty and this one is for that same reason, do you not agree?

    You’re right though that natural selection can’t explain everything, but between that omission and the problem I mentioned earlier (the assumption that life could only begin in some certain precise way), Hoyle doesn’t explain much, at least as far as I can see. In light of what I have said (and what you’ve said about knowing how life began in a natural way), do you believe Hoyle’s number is correct?

    I still think that you cannot have it both ways — to calculate a probability one must know what is being calculated (how life begins — all ways it could begin), something you claim no one knows. Unless I am missing something (quite possible; I’m open to ideas), then either you must let go of the probability, or the quotation.

    How high do you guys think those elephants could fly?

    Reply
  193. Nathan Barley says:

    “I have read a bit about this now and it seems that Hoyle’s calculations refer to an organism more on the order of a modern bacterium”

    Quite – read the talkorigins links I posted, they go into this very well. So yes, Hoyle’s calculations don’t precede all natural selection. Dawkins’ point still stands.

    Reply
  194. Tim D. says:

    if there is no known, scientific, or otherwise acceptable, “proof” that intelligence exists, then how can anything one posits be true ? If the “notion” you are positing is but the result of chemically induced synapses firing in some gray jelly, what makes one notion any more valid than any other ?

    That falls victim to the fallacy known as “greedy reductionism,” unfortunately; for me to properly address the full implications of this claim, we would first have to explore the definition of “valuable” (the word ‘valuable’ simply means ‘has value placed in it by someone,’ which is subjective by nature; that value doesn’t really “exist” in the sense that material objects exist, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t feel value and attachment to things/people/ideas) and also the ramifications of the idea that, if something is not purely objective, then it is “completely worthless” or “irrelevant” or “unimportant.”

    For example….let’s say I believe that an idea — say, morality — is completely subjective, not objective. If that is the case, an argument over whether or not it was ‘valuable’ would ultimately be fruitless except from a philosophical standpoint, in which case both of us would be volunteering ourselves to each others’ arguments (i.e. sitting quietly and peaceably discussing morality, as opposed to warring soldiers screaming each other’s moral beliefs at each other on the battlefield). If even one party says to the other, “I don’t believe that,” then that’s it and the other party’s argument has no objective weight. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    So, that seemed to make it clear to me that, since the source for all ideas cannot be substantiated, it only follows that all activity emanating from that source must be invalid as well.

    To be fair, he didn’t say it didn’t exist. He said it didn’t exist in the sense that Turek was describing it — which is to say, in a scientific sense. Really, the point was that Turek wasn’t being specific enough when defining “intelligence.” I think every one of those questions in that earlier post could probably be summated into one: Which observable factors in nature come together to represent “intelligence?”

    At least until we can in fact prove that intelligence does exist that is.

    The argument is that intelligence doesn’t exist in a literal sense; which is to say, it’s not a literal thing that floats around making stuff. It’s an intangible concept — like, say, “grief” — that is based on observable phenomena (i.e. chemical reactions) but whose nature is so complex from a scientific standpoint that it’s easier to slap an umbrella term on it that summates the whole process — thus, we say “intelligence” instead of “quantifiable processes of a developed brain wherein (so on and so forth)”.

    What it all boils down to is: chemicals don’t “know” things, minds do.

    Thing is, all a mind is is a makeup of chemicals and materials, a place to store information. Of course “chemicals don’t know things,” because a brain isn’t a chemical, any more than a computer is a harddrive; a brain is a product of many parts, just like a computer has a harddrive and a processor and an input device and so on.

    Chalk this one up to a difference in definition of the word “mind,” if you want; to me, a “mind” is a functioning consciousness facilitated by a brain.

    Our chemical makeup is meaningless.

    I wouldn’t say that’s entirely true, even if I did believe in god; when I used to entertain the idea of god as a creator of the universe, I imagined him a lot like a video game programmer — I imagined him getting annoyed at the game characters (his “creations”) for paying so much attention to the minute details of the construction of their little universe instead of following along with the story and gameplay (which was what he designed the game for)….on the other hand, I imagined that, without those minute details, none of the characters or environments would be able to really “exist” in the way that they did. If we didn’t have our exact chemical makeup, what meaning would a “soul” or “consciousness” even have? If our souls were in clay jars with no sensory organs or brains, then we would not even really be “alive.” That’s why I don’t believe in a soul; all the qualities that people attribute to a “soul” rely on the facilitation of sensory organs and a brain.

    It takes a soul for our lives to have meaning.

    The way I see it, since meaning is subjective, all it takes is an ability to look at things in a non-literal fashion — that’s all poetry is, for example, and poetry is the foundation of a WHOLE LOTTA art (which people often correlate with “souls” and things), from music to fiction to all sorts of things. But even so, there’s a science (a “logic”) to poetry — you have to understand what the writer wrote, what the words he/she used might have meant given the historical context/time of the writing, alternative meanings that allow for puns, etc. Basically, I think meaning is directly correlated with one’s ability to interpret from alternative perspectives (to consider someone else’s perspective, or to think in a way that one would not normally think in order to seek a solution that one would not normally find, etc.). And that much is explainable from a scientific standpoint, given that all of these functions stem from brain activity, which means (a) a brain is necessary in order for these functions to exist, and (b) even if such a thing as a “soul” *literally* exists, it does not affect the processes of the brain that dictate things like art and poetry and what we call “spirituality,” feelings of transcendence, etc.

    And no, that is not an argument from incredulity. Some things are perceived on a much deeper level than what is apparent to our material senses. Otherwise, we would mate like animals instead of loving our mates and children the way we do.

    I hope I’ve done a halfway decent job of explaining in my above paragraph(s) why I don’t think those are the only two choices.

    Of course one can, if one so chooses, live ones life like an animal but that doesn’t seem like much of a “life” to me.

    A perfect example — it’s possible for someone to “enjoy” even such a simple existence as that, and for that person, it’s valuable and understandable to be able to do that. But for you, it’s not, and you don’t understand it. That doesn’t make you “right” or “wrong,” though (nor does it make the other party “right” or “wrong”).

    Reply
  195. Mark Ducharme says:

    That falls victim to the fallacy known as “greedy reductionism,” unfortunately; for me to properly address the full implications of this claim, we would first have to explore the definition of “valuable”….. and also the ramifications of the idea that, if something is not purely objective, then it is “completely worthless” or “irrelevant” or “unimportant.”

    Tim, again, I have apparently failed in my attempt at clarity. My understanding is that Lloyds’ (and your?) theory is that intelligence (as Dr. Turek understands it), hasn’t even been proven to exist, not that it doesn’t have value. My point would be that Lloyd is the greedy reductionist. When he said, “Do I recognize intelligence in real life? Of course. I observe things I classify with the word. I have no idea how they come about, or how they work, or what they are or are not necessary for. And neither does anyone else., he was reducing quite greedily, i think. It was reduction w/o conclusion, that’s all. “I don’t know, and neither does anyone else.” Which still leads to the ultimate point of this issue: if intelligence is just theory, what are you using in order to find it? Or, “How do you “know” that you don’t “know” ?” How can you, when your hard found “truth” is fj!4^8vvre as perceived by another scientist ?

    To be fair, he didn’t say it didn’t exist. He said it didn’t exist in the sense that Turek was describing it — which is to say, in a scientific sense. In what way do you believe intelligence exists ?

    Which observable factors in nature come together to represent “intelligence?” It is self evident.

    The argument is that intelligence doesn’t exist in a literal sense; which is to say, it’s not a literal thing that floats around making stuff. How do materials become bridges ? Cars? Sky scrapers? How can one look at those things, or beautiful art, or a beautiful (insert reference to sex of a human of your liking here) and not be buoyed by the obvious proof, they represent, that we are more than an assemblage of highly tuned, naturally selected molecules acting “for the furtherance of our species”? Gotta stop right here and thank you for buoying my faith in the Lord. I know that is why He put you in my path. Wish I could be a light to you though. Time to go for now. Take care, man. This is really enjoyable. Mark

    Reply
  196. Tim D. says:

    Tim, again, I have apparently failed in my attempt at clarity. My understanding is that Lloyds’ (and your?) theory is that intelligence (as Dr. Turek understands it), hasn’t even been proven to exist, not that it doesn’t have value.

    Yes, exactly. “Intelligence” as a magical/supernatural/”transcendent”/spiritual phenomenon has not been proven to exist, and I would stand by that if pressed. However, “intelligence” as the product of a chemical mind influenced and sustained by organs such as a brain has been proven, as evidenced to any individual by the fact that they exist and can observe this. That was my understanding of what was said.

    The “value” thing was a side-tangent-response to your comment that, because (X) isn’t objective, it’s therefore “objectively meaningless,” which is a bit of a paradox (if it’s not objective, how can it be objectively anything?).

    In what way do you believe intelligence exists ?

    You can read it where I first explained it here:

    It’s an intangible concept — like, say, “grief” — that is based on observable phenomena (i.e. chemical reactions) but whose nature is so complex from a scientific standpoint that it’s easier to slap an umbrella term on it that summates the whole process — thus, we say “intelligence” instead of “quantifiable processes of a developed brain wherein (so on and so forth)”.

    Or where I just explained it again here:

    “intelligence” as the product of a chemical mind influenced and sustained by organs such as a brain has been proven, as evidenced to any individual by the fact that they exist and can observe this. That was my understanding of what was said.

    Reply
  197. Mark Ducharme says:

    Tim said, “Yes, exactly. “Intelligence” as a magical/supernatural/”transcendent”/spiritual phenomenon has not been proven to exist, and I would stand by that if pressed. However, “intelligence” as the product of a chemical mind influenced and sustained by organs such as a brain has been proven, as evidenced to any individual by the fact that they exist and can observe this.

    Sorry, Tim, but that does not compute. All science can be boiled down to mathematical calculations, right? If this is true then, “the sum of the parts cannot be greater than the whole” to borrow a phrase. Given that, how can one say the things man creates are owing to the sum total of his physical makeup? It seems reasonable, to me, to call that particular assertion part of the “science of the gaps”. I am hoping you will genuinely deliberate on this next point: In light of your statement above, and my belief in God, we both hold our personal perceptions of intelligence, to be “self evident”, w/o any scientific proof. As such, a believers’ mind observes a spectacular creation / act of man (as a sky scraper or beautiful art or an atomic sub or the feeding of millions of hungry mouths) and thinks, “Wow, He really did make us in His image!”. The non-believer looks at the same things and says (in essence), “Those things happen by mans’ efforts. Man is made up of carbon, magnesium, calcium, water, etc., etc., etc. Therefore, carbon, magnesium, calcium, etc. are the basic ingredients if you want to build a bridge. The trick is, waiting long enough for them all to formulate into a functioning system whereby these things can ‘happen’.” I have to side with Dr. Turek on this one: I don’t have enough faith to believe it could have happened the second way. And here is the part that is hard to consider: The crux of what separates the two preceding, scientifically unsubstantiated, view points is thus: pride. It is what cometh before the fall. It is how we put ourselves before God. The prideful are what He resists. And pride is what separates us from Him, eternally. If you doubt this, look at the general attitude of Dr. Turek (a much better example of a Christian than I) as compared to many of the unbelievers who engage him in debate. Prideful he is not, yet he can produce very angry, condescending responses that are not in kind to what he posts. How does he evoke such responses? He hurts their pride. If he was as silly as they say he is, and they were not of pride, they would try to educate him and / or move on to other things once they realized they could “make no progress”.

    After having read the above, I expect you to believe. And if you don’t, I will be greatly disappointed! (end: obligatory tweak of those too uptight to crack…a smile! yes, to crack a smile, of course. 😉

    Reply
  198. Nathan Barley says:

    “The trick is, waiting long enough for them all to formulate into a functioning system whereby these things can ‘happen’.” ”

    Complete strawman of what Tim said. No-one says bridges happen by accident. And Tim didn’t say there’s no such thing as intelligence. Therefore the rest of your post falls apart.

    “If he was as silly as they say he is, and they were not of pride, they would try to educate him ”

    That is exactly what we ARE trying to do. You prove our point.

    “or move on to other things once they realized they could “make no progress”.”

    And that IS the point I’m just about arriving at now.

    Anyway Mark, what if we compare YOUR juvenile posts to the considered sober ones of Luke’s? Or to the intelligent reasoning of Tim’s (and since you seem to consider this of great importance, there’s far more humor in his posts than yours too)?

    You talk about the sin of pride. Perhaps your problem is that you take no pride in yourself, and presumably therefore not in your posts here.

    Reply
  199. Nathan Barley says:

    When I’m a guest in someone’s house, I treat all other guests with the same respect that the host does, in this case Frank. To do otherwise is to be disrespectful to the host himself. You obviously believe otherwise, Mark.

    So if you choose to take my failure to rise to your rudeness as a victory to you, go ahead. If my failure to respond in asinine fashion is humorlessness, fine.

    Reply
  200. Tim D. says:

    Sorry, Tim, but that does not compute.

    Yes it does 🙂

    All science can be boiled down to mathematical calculations, right?

    Strictly speaking, yes; heinously-complex series of calculations. Everything that is based in matter and material computation must correlate with something material.

    If this is true then, “the sum of the parts cannot be greater than the whole” to borrow a phrase.

    Of course. Keep in mind that “greater” in this context would have to have a mathematical definition (as opposed to a metaphysical, spiritual or philosophical one) in order to have any significance — i.e. the mathematical, material sum of the (material) parts cannot be (materially) greater than the (material) whole, to be strikingly redundant.

    Given that, how can one say the things man creates are owing to the sum total of his physical makeup?

    …what?

    Perhaps it will help if you explain what you mean by

    A) “The things man creates” (like inventions?)
    B) “owing to the sum total of his physical makeup” (I’m not really sure what you mean by that.)

    In light of your statement above, and my belief in God, we both hold our personal perceptions of intelligence, to be “self evident”, w/o any scientific proof.

    I think you’re conflating my statement that the definition of intelligence I offered is some kind of end-all solution to the question. It is not. The original comment (Lloyd’s, IIRC) was regarding whether or not intelligence could be scientifically proven. My response is that, if all you are talking about when you say “intelligence” is the functionality of a conscious mind, then yes, it has been scientifically proven that intelligence exists and where it resides — a source of intelligence is wholly dependent on the facilitation of a material “computing” device such as a brain. You may disagree with this. That’s fine, so I will tell you now….all you need to do to disprove this necessary relationship (between a brain and intelligence) is to prove just one example of intelligence (not counting god*) that exists independently of a material computing device like a brain — i.e., prove that, if an object or creature that had no brain or similar organ/device, were to possess a “spirit” or “intelligence” that is defined separately from such a device, that it would still be able to perceive and understand things (and thus be “intelligent”). If you cannot do this, then it effectively proves my point — that a copmputational brain is necessary for intelligence to exist.

    *=the reason I say “not counting god” is, you are asserting that we can infer the existence of an intelligence called “god” based on how we observe intelligence in the natural world — which requires that we have a definition of such intelligence beforehand, from which we infer the presence of a god. The problem is that such intelligence, as observed in the natural world, is always dependent upon material computation devices such as brains. There is no immaterial intelligence in the natural world, possibly aside from god….but even if we assume god *is* real and *is* some kind of disembodied intelligence, it stands that there is no way to rationally infer that much just from the way we observe materially-grounded intelligence in the natural world.

    “Those things happen by mans’ efforts. Man is made up of carbon, magnesium, calcium, water, etc., etc., etc. Therefore, carbon, magnesium, calcium, etc. are the basic ingredients if you want to build a bridge.

    Well, “therefore” implies “…and so it follows from the preceding information that…” I don’t see how “X is required to build a bridge” follows from “some things we see are the result of man’s efforts.” Sure, they’re both basically true, but not really related.

    Reply
  201. Mark Ducharme says:

    (me)All science can be boiled down to mathematical calculations, right?

    (Tim)/Strictly speaking, yes; heinously-complex series of calculations. Everything that is based in matter and material computation must correlate with something material.

    (me) Man is based in matter. And matter alone, according to you. How can his intellectual machinations correlate only with material computations ? Of this, is what I bespeak: you are contending that we are but physical beings, by way of your metaphysical processes. That self defeats. To be consistent this line of thinking would hold that reality is a chemically based perception having no meaning or ultimate purpose at all, rendering our very interactions w/ one another meaningless. And, ultimately, impossible if not, at least, absurd.

    If this is true then, “the sum of the parts cannot be greater than the whole” to borrow a phrase.

    (Tim)Of course. Keep in mind that “greater” in this context would have to have a mathematical definition (as opposed to a metaphysical, spiritual or philosophical one) in order to have any significance — i.e. the mathematical, material sum of the (material) parts cannot be (materially) greater than the (material) whole, to be strikingly redundant.(me) Do you not believe that there is a metaphysical component to mans’ conscience ? That is the sum that is greater than the whole. The phrase “keep in mind”, itself, implies that something greater than physical actions / reactions are occuring within us.

    (me)Given that, how can one say the things man creates are owing to the sum total of his physical makeup?

    (Tim)…what?

    Perhaps it will help if you explain what you mean by

    A) “The things man creates” (like inventions?)(me) Yes. The physical manifestation of his immaginings.
    (Tim)B) “owing to the sum total of his physical makeup”(not sure what this means)(me) Those “inventions”,etc. resulting from the actions of a material based being, whose entire development has come about by natural selection or, who is”spirit free” in the literal sense.

    (still me)Natural selection, by definition, must be materially based. From the very beginning, all life forms would advance (over any others that they compete with) through brute force. In order for the “mutation” of intelligence to replicate itself, in an otherwise physically unfit species (like man), it would have to simultaneously be advancing its physical characteristics to allow for the development of its, as yet, useless intelligence. In other words: with an ever stronger / heartier / survival ready / self sufficient physical being (to be ridiculously redundant) under construction there never would be an opportunity for the “intelligence gene” to replicate after the first time the leader of the pack got annoyed by its curious ways and smashed its brains out against the cave wall. For survival of the fittest to make sense, man would be developing his physical prowess ahead ofhis, slower to develop, mental skills. Which, I still contend, would never be necessary to begin with. (Interesting little side note: all of the “great” totalitarian regimes of the 20th century were atheistic monoliths based on the “ethic” of brute force and subjugation of the individual for “the good of the whole”. Not calling names, merely pointing up the curiosity of how certain world views, virtually always, work in conjunction w/ materialism.)

    Either we are 100% material beings, or we are not. None of these scribblings between us or any other abstracts like art or intelligence, the conversation(s) thereof or even comfort, for that matter, have one single -natural- thing to do with “the advancement of our species”. As 100% useless attributes, the many, many aspects of our intellect would never be allowed to exist under the hardened fist of natural selection. The problem that Darwinists have is not the missing physical link so much as it is the sociological one. Ancient civilizations were just as varied in their level of advancement, philosophically, as are we today. Civilization has advanced technically but there has been no “great leap forward”, for lack of a better term, as to our understanding of the human condition -on the upper end of the scale- for several millennia. You don’t need to find the “missing link”, you need to find the missing “cletus”. (side note re; evolution: Even if one could account for the very unlikely, and unnecessary, development of intelligence, which is the characteristic of the fittest beings, would not all life forms be moving in a more “intelligent” direction? Even just a little?)

    (from prev. post) In light of your statement above, and my belief in God, we both hold our personal perceptions of intelligence, to be “self evident”, w/o any scientific proof.

    (Tim) I think you’re conflating my statement that the definition of intelligence I offered is some kind of end-all solution to the question. It is not. (me)Tim, we both know that, in science, there is no “end-all solution” to any question. The point in the above statement is that your idea and mine, of intelligence, is no more science based than saying, “I observe it, therefore it is.”

    (Tim) The original comment (Lloyd’s, IIRC) was regarding whether or not intelligence could be scientifically proven. My response is that, if all you are talking about when you say “intelligence” is the functionality of a conscious mind (me) Again, the conscience is a metaphysical concept and cannot be produced, solely, from material substance. (Tim) then yes, it has been scientifically proven that intelligence exists and where it resides — a source of intelligence is wholly dependent on the facilitation of a material “computing” device such as a brain. You may disagree with this. (me)No disagreement, when talking within the context of the physical man. God made us to function w/ a brain. (Tim)That’s fine, so I will tell you now….all you need to do to disprove this necessary relationship (between a brain and intelligence) is to prove just one example of intelligence (not counting god*) that exists independently of a material computing device like a brain — i.e., prove that, if an object or creature that had no brain or similar organ/device, were to possess a “spirit” or “intelligence” that is defined separately from such a device, that it would still be able to perceive and understand things (and thus be “intelligent”). If you cannot do this, then it effectively proves my point — that a copmputational brain is necessary for intelligence to exist. (me) Clarification: the human spirit, by definition, resides within the bodies of human beings. don’t know how you came to think that I thought human intelligence was independent of a physical modus operandi.

    (Tim) *=the reason I say “not counting god” is, you are asserting that we can infer the existence of an intelligence called “god” based on how we observe intelligence in the natural world (me) Yes. As opposed to asserting that intelligence exists as a result of materialistic, non-intelligent forces) (Tim)— which requires that we have a definition of such intelligence beforehand, from which we infer the presence of a god. The problem is that such intelligence, as observed in the natural world, is always dependent upon material computation devices such as brains. (me) Built into that statement, it appears to me, is the presumption that man must explain God. Or that man created God. I don’t presume any such things. I observe, and note. It is self evident, to me, that He is the Creator and He alone is responsible for the existence of my “computing device”. You say the brain is the center of all intelligence and science proves it. We already know that the sum of the brains’ components are, potentially, greater than the whole. Else, all men with the same physical make-up within the same environment would produce the same amount of good or evil. If that were true, we could have created a perfect society by now (something that, when tried, always goes horribly wrong for some reason). Or at the very least, very predictable (and uniform) outcomes would occur as a result of natural law, not according to a reality that is based on “non-existent gods”. The faith based code of ethics that liberated hundreds of millions of human souls, formerly shackled by the constraints of godless totalitarianism, is, by definition, built upon the foundational belief in a higher power -That of which was self evident to the founders of the greatest earthly force for liberty that has ever existed. (Tim) There is no immaterial intelligence in the natural world, possibly aside from god….but even if we assume god *is* real and *is* some kind of disembodied intelligence, it stands that there is no way to rationally infer that much just from the way we observe materially-grounded intelligence in the natural world. (me) Again, as with your immediately preceding statement, you establish a faulty construct -“it stands that there is no way to rationally infer that much”- and then suggest that I must argue from within it.

    (me from above post) “Those things happen by mans’ efforts. Man is made up of carbon, magnesium, calcium, water, etc., etc., etc. Therefore, carbon, magnesium, calcium, etc. are the basic ingredients if you want to build a bridge.

    (Tim) Well, “therefore” implies “…and so it follows from the preceding information that…” I don’t see how “X is required to build a bridge” follows from “some things we see are the result of man’s efforts.” Sure, they’re both basically true, but not really related. (me) They are 100% related, especially, if you are beholden to the theory that earths’ current state of existence is related, by random events, to an amorphous, molten ball of gas and dust having been flung here by the BB several billion years ago.

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  202. Tim D. says:

    Of this, is what I bespeak: you are contending that we are but physical beings, by way of your metaphysical processes. That self defeats.

    How so? What exactly have I said or done that is “metaphysical?” It seems to me that it’s more of an assertion on your part that anything “metaphysical” really, literally exists.

    When I say something abstract like an idea “exists,” I don’t mean that literally, any more than I mean that a character in an animated cartoon “exists” when I refer to him or her. As I explained before, if I referred to the idea by its literal, material “name,” I would be describing a chain of processes so ridiculously long that you would tire of the conversation before I had finished properly defining it. Thus, I call it “an idea,” in the same sense that I call a cartoon character by his/her “name” instead of referring to him/her as “a series of rendered frames shown in rapid succession at a stable rate alongside a pre-recorded audio track in order to simulate existence.” What it boils down to is ease of reference; nothing metaphysical about it, the way I see it.

    Perhaps you’d do better to try and show how ideas and thoughts are literally “real;” in what sense do they exist? Where are thoughts before we think them, how do they exist while we think them, and where do they go when we are done?

    (for the record, I don’t believe they literally “exist” in any of the above states at all….I’m just interested in how someone else would answer those questions.)

    To be consistent this line of thinking would hold that reality is a chemically based perception having no meaning or ultimate purpose at all, rendering our very interactions w/ one another meaningless.

    It does not follow that, because something is “meaningless” in a philosophical sense, it is “impossible.” The fact that you (or anyone) don’t/doesn’t like the idea of a world that is meaningless does not mean that it could not exist.

    In any case, that’s only in an objective sense. But of course, “objective” meaning is contradictory by nature; meaning is, by definition, subjective. If there is no mind to attribute the meaning, then the meaning does not exist; if the meaning comes from a mind, then the meaning is subjective, not objective. There is simply no way around this.

    If this is true then, “the sum of the parts cannot be greater than the whole” to borrow a phrase.

    That’s why it’s so important to consider the material aspect of “the whole,” here. You’re using the philosophical variant — you’re implicating the philosophical implications of a material world as being “part of the whole.” That’s not consistent.

    Unless you mean to imply that thoughts are “objectively” meaningful, and that any worldview which doesn’t account for this must automatically be discounted. In which case I would say you’re having the wrong discussion with the wrong person; for my sake, you’d have to back up and explain how you know that thoughts have “objective meaning.” It was my understanding that we were discussing just that, which would make it odd for you to refer back to the very idea that was being questioned as a “proof” for why that idea should not be questioned — that is called “begging the question.” When answering the question of, “How do we know that thoughts have objective value to exist?”, one cannot say, “Because thoughts have objective value.”

    Do you not believe that there is a metaphysical component to mans’ conscience ? That is the sum that is greater than the whole

    I don’t know if there is a metaphysical component to man’s consciousness. I haven’t observed one, either, however.

    The phrase “keep in mind”, itself, implies that something greater than physical actions / reactions are occuring within us.

    I’m not sure which language-dictionary you use as reference, but when I say “keep in mind,” I am saying, “please keep the information I am about to relay to you in short-term memory storage for ease of reference so that I don’t have to repeat it later on.” What about that statement is “greater than physical actions?” It’s actually so simple and precise, you could give the command to a computer (in the proper code context) and it would be able to execute the command easily. What about the command, then, is so unclear that we require a supernatural explanation to justify it?

    Those “inventions”,etc. resulting from the actions of a material based being, whose entire development has come about by natural selection or, who is”spirit free” in the literal sense.

    Ah, so you are saying that if we are solely material beings, we shouldn’t be able to act on our ideas? i.e. we shouldn’t be able to convert information/thoughts/commands into actions?

    In the sense that I used the word “inventions,” I was referring to physical things, like, say, a Television set. When a human “creates” a television set, he/she doesn’t really “create” anything; he/she executes a series of actions (preconceived as a kind of “source code” and pre-“computed” in the brain before being translated — also by the brain — into signals which direct the rest of the body into action based on the direction of that original code) which cause the human’s body to re-arrange existing materials in such a way that they cooperate and react together, producing a desired result. In this case, I refer to the laser-tube-mechanism of a TV set. Every aspect of that set is purely material and is easily explained with basic material observation; every aspect of the process which lead to the creation of that set is also purely material, facilitated by a computing device (the brain) and taken from a microscopic, basically useless ‘source code’ or ‘thought’ or ‘idea’ and translated by that same computing device into a direct (and much *more* useful) action by the body, which is used to rearrange the materials in the aforementioned process.

    What part of that system is “greater than the whole?” Which part of the process cannot be accounted for, materially-speaking?

    all life forms would advance (over any others that they compete with) through brute force.

    Not true. Brute force is not necessary for survival; if a small, weak critter is faster, then it can outrun even the most brutal predators. If the brutal predator cannot become fast enough to catch the prey, then it will die. Thus, physical “weakness” has defeated “brute force” via natural selection. This is a fairly common mistake people make when discussing NS — that the word “fittest” in “survival of the fittest” refers to “strongest.” It does not. It refers to “most able to adapt to circumstances.

    Think of it like this: we start out with simple brutality, one strong critter that takes what it wants by force. Sooner or later, the other critters learn that they can’t kill that big tough critter in a straight-up fight. So they devise a way to get around it, to take advantage of some other weakness it has, whether it’s a lack of speed, a short lifespan, or some kind of periodic necessity like sleep. They outlive the creature by either outlasting it, outrunning it, or killing it while it’s asleep and unaware. This pattern of behavior, naturally, spreads to all the small critters who want to survive, and thus the big tough critters start dying off. Thus, the small but quick and smart critters have overtaken the big tough ones in an evolutionary sense.

    There’s also cooperation; in certain times, it may be beneficial for the small critter to form a relationship with the big critter (you keep me safe from strong predators, I’ll catch things that are too fast for you, etc.). In which case both survive and become ingrained into the ecosystem together. Evolution is not always the thirty-second brutal smash-fest that people like to make it out to be.

    In order for the “mutation” of intelligence to replicate itself, in an otherwise physically unfit species (like man), it would have to simultaneously be advancing its physical characteristics to allow for the development of its, as yet, useless intelligence. In other words: with an ever stronger / heartier / survival ready / self sufficient physical being (to be ridiculously redundant) under construction there never would be an opportunity for the “intelligence gene” to replicate after the first time the leader of the pack got annoyed by its curious ways and smashed its brains out against the cave wall.

    It’s very likely that simple computation devices evolved first (before there was a significantly-advanced body….remember, bodies are made of microscopic computation devices called genes).As the reactions between those simple “forms” proved beneficial, they survived and adapted until either chance or natural systems allowed them to come into contact with other similar systems; this would allow even disconnected, simple systems to become more and more complex with time and experience, and form even more complex systems, which, if able to survive for a significant length of time, could easily form the first simple organisms. Once we establish that this much is possible, the rest is pretty much a foregone conclusion — which is to say, it’s entirely possible and not at all unlikely.

    Either we are 100% material beings, or we are not.

    You seem to be taking great pains to avoid answering that one question that I asked earlier: what part of us is not material, and why must it exist? “Because it would be bad if they didn’t” is not really a sufficient answer.

    None of these scribblings between us or any other abstracts like art or intelligence, the conversation(s) thereof or even comfort, for that matter, have one single -natural- thing to do with “the advancement of our species”.

    I’d argue that art is very pertinent to the advancement of our species; it allows us to channel and otherwise manage emotions that would not be easy to acknowledge in a normal social setting, as well as explore consequences and concepts in abstract settings like video games and movies without actually having to impose those circumstances in real life. It’s much more beneficial to a species with sufficiently-advanced natural intelligence as humans to have something like that than to not have it.

    As 100% useless attributes, the many, many aspects of our intellect would never be allowed to exist under the hardened fist of natural selection.

    I’ve noticed you repeatedly bring up “usefulness” or “meaning.” The problem is, you’re saying that in a material world, we wouldn’t have concepts of “ideas” or “usefulness” and therefore we should automatically discard concepts we consider useless. Do you see why this is a contradiction?

    If the universe worked in such a way that we were required to say, for example, that “life is not objectively valuable, so we should just go around killing people,” then that would imply that life is objectively not valuable. That is *not* the same thing as saying that life is not “objectively valuable.” Note the positions of the words “not” and “objectively:”

    “Objectively not valuable” — it is objective that it has no value
    “Not objectively valuable” — lacking objective value

    The first requires that the second be true, but the second does not require the first to be true. Basically, if there is no objective meaning, then there is no objective lack thereof either, and so the argument that “we shouldn’t waste time valuing life because it has no objective value” could not occur. If it did, that would be asserting that life was objectively “not valuable,” which goes against the supposed philosophy of this imaginary scene — that there is no objectivity, one way or the other. We would have the same situation in that world that we have in this world, right now — there would be no objective weight lent to either argument, and it would be entirely upon the shoulders of those making their respective arguments to present their beliefs as consistently and attractively as possible, so as to sway as many others as possible (thus ensuring the widespread success of a particular social system).

    The point in the above statement is that your idea and mine, of intelligence, is no more science based than saying, “I observe it, therefore it is.”

    If I may be bold for a second, I would say that my view is much more scientific than yours, for the simple reason that I do not profess to “know” one way or the other (because I don’t have enough information to truly solve the problem), whereas you claim to “know” (that’s a quote, italics included) even though you admit to not having enough information to deduce this rationally.

    Again, the conscience is a metaphysical concept and cannot be produced, solely, from material substance.

    How so?

    Clarification: the human spirit, by definition, resides within the bodies of human beings. don’t know how you came to think that I thought human intelligence was independent of a physical modus operandi.

    So what is a spirit, then? If everything that humans do — from intelligence to regulation of bodily functions to emotions — can be accounted for through biological functions, what job is left for the spirit to perform? How would we tell a person who has no spirit from a person who has one? And what about this spirit’s existence keeps a person from dying (I assume you believe a person cannot stay alive without a spirit, that if a person’s spirit is “taken” then they will die).

    Keep in mind….if a person dies and this “spirit” leaves their body, it possesess none of the traits of the body or of the original intelligence — it has no brain, because the brain is in the body and it is dead. It has no memories, no feelings, no senses, because all sensory organs are in the body and thus dead. So what is the spirit? What part of the human essence does it comprise?

    Built into that statement, it appears to me, is the presumption that man must explain God. Or that man created God. I don’t presume any such things. I observe, and note. It is self evident, to me, that He is the Creator and He alone is responsible for the existence of my “computing device”.

    You’ve proven my earlier statement for me here: there is very little about your position that is actually scientific. I have no problem with that, as long as you are comfortable admitting it. If that’s the case, then there’s really not a lot left to say — since your views are not steeped in rational thinking, I could say nothing to sway you even if I said something utterly, objectively true (not that I’m saying I could do that).

    You say the brain is the center of all intelligence and science proves it. We already know that the sum of the brains’ components are, potentially, greater than the whole.

    How so? Is this more unscientific knowledge?

    Else, all men with the same physical make-up within the same environment would produce the same amount of good or evil.

    Oy….getting into some muddy waters, we are. My whole rebuttal here would be quite long and this post is already insanely long, so I’ll just say this: I propose that good and evil as you refer to them here are nothing more than ideas inside your head. You may disagree with that. That’s fine; if you wish to prove otherwise, it’d be necessary to either (A) explain the material structure of “good” and “evil,” or (B) explain the manner in which they exist and how that manner of existence correlates with observable reality in a literal, non-metaphorical fashion.

    Again, as with your immediately preceding statement, you establish a faulty construct -”it stands that there is no way to rationally infer that much”- and then suggest that I must argue from within it.

    Well, if you want to make a point, it helps to be able to argue that point, or at least *defend* it rationally. In any other field of human society, if you were as unable to defend your theory as you are here with god, then your theory would be discarded. This is one reason why the more “hardcore” Christians are so often denounced as unreasonable or mentally unstable — only in defense of god has any man ever successfully employed the argument that “it’s completely irrational and cannot be explained, therefore it’s self-evident and true.”

    Basically….if you can’t argue in defense of it, then I dare say there’s no point in claiming that it’s the one truth.

    They are 100% related, especially, if you are beholden to the theory that earths’ current state of existence is related, by random events, to an amorphous, molten ball of gas and dust having been flung here by the BB several billion years ago.

    You still didn’t say how….

    Reply
  203. Nathan Barley says:

    Nice post Tim. I’d sum up a lot of it thus: survival of the fittest doesn’t mean survival of the strongest or most vicious. In a world where every animal fights over resources, being small, weak or slow can be a huge advantage simply because you don’t need much food to keep going. Tigers and elephants are respectively among the fastest and strongest creatures on earth, but they die pretty quickly if they can’t eat huge amounts of food.

    So saying that evolution wouldn’t account for smarter animals evolving is nonsense. The shame here is that this is actually an interesting subject, and I have zero hope that Mark will actually understand the above or shift his position in the slightest based on it.

    As a side note, for the above reason, relating evolution to totalitarian regimes is nonsense. Furthermore, it should be noted that if you look at the list of books banned and burned by Hitler, among the works of Marxism, Communism and Bolshevism that he hated, and of course anything Jewish, you’ll find any books dealing in ‘Darwinism’.

    But this just goes back to Mark’s earlier attempt at ‘argumentum ad Hitlerum’.

    Reply
  204. Tim D. says:

    As a side note, for the above reason, relating evolution to totalitarian regimes is nonsense. Furthermore, it should be noted that if you look at the list of books banned and burned by Hitler, among the works of Marxism, Communism and Bolshevism that he hated, and of course anything Jewish, you’ll find any books dealing in ‘Darwinism’.

    Interestingly, it’s *because* of evolution/survival of the fittest that most totalitarian regimes don’t exist anymore, or aren’t as powerful as the more well-known ones — a lot of hard fascist governments were simply unable to provide the services necessary to run their country and properly fulfill the needs of their citizens, and so they were defeated or overthrown. They were unable to adapt.

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  205. Nathan Barley says:

    The other irony Tim, is that the closest you’ll find to Darwinism in human societies is free market capitalism, which gets its biggest supporters among creationist Americans. After all, the term ‘survival of the fittest’ was originally coined by an economist, Herbert Spencer, to describe how he thought economies should run.

    And similarly, in the free market, it’s not just the strongest or the best product that sells best and survives, but sometimes the cheapest, or those that can provide the most of a particular product (eg VHS defeating Beta Max). This is similar to what we see in nature, when an animal wins out purely by being able to survive on the least amount of food or by producing the most offspring.

    The opposite of Darwinism in society is socialism or communism.

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  206. Mark Ducharme says:

    “Of this, is what I bespeak: you are contending that we are but physical beings, by way of your metaphysical processes. That self defeats.”

    (Tim)How so? What exactly have I said or done that is “metaphysical?” It seems to me that it’s more of an assertion on your part that anything “metaphysical” really, literally exists.
    Materials produce material things. Thoughts are not material. You say so yourself when insisting that they don’t “exist” in any real way. Read on…

    (Tim)When I say something abstract like an idea “exists,” I don’t mean that literally, any more than I mean that a character in an animated cartoon “exists” when I refer to him or her. As I explained before, if I referred to the idea by its literal, material “name,” I would be describing a chain of processes so ridiculously long that you would tire of the conversation before I had finished properly defining it. Thus, I call it “an idea,” in the same sense that I call a cartoon character by his/her “name” instead of referring to him/her as “a series of rendered frames shown in rapid succession at a stable rate alongside a pre-recorded audio track in order to simulate existence.” What it boils down to is ease of reference; nothing metaphysical about it, the way I see it.
    You just analogized mans’ ideas with a material result of those ideas. It’s a faulty analogy. You are conflating -the definition of- an abstract w/ the material result of making that abstract idea into reality. To be literal, you would have to say “I call Marks “chain of processes so ridiculously long that you would tire of the conversation”, “ideas” just as I call my “chain of processes so ridiculously long that you would tire of the conversation” “ideas”.” Sorry, but there is nothing analogous to the human intellect other than its source. And there is nothing analogous to the sources holiness. Ideas do exist. And they are just as real as the One who gave us the ability to have them.

    (Tim)Perhaps you’d do better to try and show how ideas and thoughts are literally “real;” in what sense do they exist? Where are thoughts before we think them, how do they exist while we think them, and where do they go when we are done?
    As I have said all along, the answer is self evident. You flip the conversation. I never said that I am seeking proof, from His material creation that He exists, other than that it is a testament of Him in and of itself. You’ll remember, this part of the thread started from the following by Lloyd: “Do I recognize intelligence in real life? Of course. I observe things I classify with the word. I have no idea how they come about, or how they work, or what they are or are not necessary for. And neither does anyone else.”, To which I responded, “To assert that “X” is true -after first asserting that the origin of ones intelligence (i.e. from where one perceives and deduces “X”) is not currently known- is to destroy the notion that one can know anything.”,

    (Tim)(for the record, I don’t believe they literally “exist” in any of the above states at all….I’m just interested in how someone else would answer those questions.)
    So, you see?, the query is to you. Not knowing or, more to the point, not believingthat intelligence has any, as yet, grounding in reality how do you “know” anything? You can’t. You don’t even know, by your own terms, what reality is itself so how can you assert things like “facts” or say that mine are “wrong”. The particular chemical make up of my material being “thinks” that X is so. The particular chemical make up of YOUR material being “thinks” that Y is so. By your doctrine, we are both “right” and “wrong” for those concepts only exist, to the extent that they do -which, again, is zero– in our individual “computing devices”.

    “To be consistent this line of thinking would hold that reality is a chemically based perception having no meaning or ultimate purpose at all, rendering our very interactions w/ one another meaningless.”

    (Tim)It does not follow that, because something is “meaningless” in a philosophical sense, it is “impossible.” The fact that you (or anyone) don’t/doesn’t like the idea of a world that is meaningless does not mean that it could not exist.
    If life had no meaning, people would not try to give it meaning nor could they distinguish meaning from non-meaning. Not because the concept is disliked but because that concept, or any concept (other than the most rudimentary survival instincts) would pass muster in the “gene pool” from the outset. In other words: you can’t get here from there

    (Tim)In any case, that’s only in an objective sense. But of course, “objective” meaning is contradictory by nature; meaning is, by definition, subjective. If there is no mind to attribute the meaning, then the meaning does not exist; if the meaning comes from a mind, then the meaning is subjective, not objective. There is simply no way around this. (emph. mine)
    Oops, you did it again! Meaning, just like morals, matter, etc., comes from THE mind.* In the “mind” of a computer, the programmer is an objective “lord” w/ no subjective meaning. Only if it were to have a soul could IT subjectively mangle the meaning of the info it receives. It obeys mathematical commands with a mathematical response. Humans can learn objective truth from the Father. And they can obey or they can mangle it w/ their subjective input / ideas. It’s called moral choice. A purely material being makes choices based solely on its material survival. Man does not always do that (to the good AND the bad). That’s an indicator of Him and the fact that He gave us free will. As I’ve always said, creation itself is a witness to Him. The fact that some don’t like the idea (remember my pride point that was left unanswered?) of God holding us accountable to His ultimate judgment does not mean that’s not how it works.

    “If this is true then, “the sum of the parts cannot be greater than the whole” to borrow a phrase.”

    (Tim)That’s why it’s so important to consider the material aspect of “the whole,” here. You’re using the philosophical variant — you’re implicating the philosophical implications of a material world as being “part of the whole.” That’s not consistent.
    I see man struggling w/ his conscience. That clearly indicates that the sum is greater than the whole of his “parts”. How can there be “philosophical implications (in) a material world” unless man is imbued, by his Creator, with an ability to philosophize in his “computing device” in the first place ? Your explanation that it works within the constraints of evolution just do not wash. You jump to the human level to construct how abstracts would work to the benefit of our survival when there would be no means to “get here” in the first place.

    (Tim) In which case I would say you’re having the wrong discussion with the wrong person; for my sake, you’d have to back up and explain how you know that thoughts have “objective meaning.”
    see above*

    (Tim)I don’t know if there is a metaphysical component to man’s consciousness. I haven’t observed one, either, however.
    How can the concept of metaphysics exist w/o metaphysics? It is not material, by definition, so this conversation serves as proof it exists.

    “The phrase “keep in mind”, itself, implies that something greater than physical actions / reactions are occuring within us.”

    (Tim)… you could give the command to a computer (in the proper code context) and it would be able to execute the command easily. What about the command, then, is so unclear that we require a supernatural explanation to justify it?
    Man is not a computer, nor is he analogous to one, as I illustrated above.

    “Those “inventions”,etc. resulting from the actions of a material based being, whose entire development has come about by natural selection or, who is”spirit free” in the literal sense.”

    (Tim)Ah, so you are saying that if we are solely material beings, we shouldn’t be able to act on our ideas? i.e. we shouldn’t be able to convert information/thoughts/commands into actions?
    No, I am saying that strictly material beings do not have ideas. Ideas come from intelligence which is given by our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. You know? The “first and last”. The Creator of everything.

    (Tim)When a human “creates” a television set, he/she doesn’t really “create” anything; he/she executes a series of actions (preconceived as a kind of “source code” and pre-”computed” in the brain before being translated — also by the brain — into signals which direct the rest of the body into action based on the direction of that original code) which cause the human’s body to re-arrange existing materials in such a way that they cooperate and react together, producing a desired result. In this case, I refer to the laser-tube-mechanism of a TV set. Every aspect of that set is purely material and is easily explained with basic material observation; every aspect of the process which lead to the creation of that set is also purely material, facilitated by a computing device (the brain) and taken from a microscopic, basically useless ’source code’ or ‘thought’ or ‘idea’ and translated by that same computing device into a direct (and much *more* useful) action by the body, which is used to rearrange the materials in the aforementioned process.
    Amazing. In your “reality”, we are machines. Gotta part ways w/ ya on that one. Maybe we’ll agree on this next point….let us see…

    (Tim)What part of that system is “greater than the whole?” Which part of the process cannot be accounted for, materially-speaking?
    Well, don’t know how to account for that description of how a tv set is made. Other than secular public “ed” that is.

    “all life forms would advance (over any others that they compete with) through brute force. ”

    (Tim)Not true. Brute force is not necessary for survival; if a small, weak critter is faster, then it can outrun even the most brutal predators.
    You go straight to the “weak critter” / “brutal predator” scenario and ignore how that would be impossible to arrive at since, from the most basic level, brute force would dictate survival thus, establishing a rule that could not be deviated from w/o a new, equally advanced, life form being spontaneously created.

    (Tim)Think of it like this: we start out with simple brutality, one strong critter that takes what it wants by force. Sooner or later, the other critters learn…
    (Amazing! So you ascribe traits to creatures from millions of years ago that you’re not even sure humans have now! Amazing i say
    (Tim)that they can’t kill that big tough critter in a straight-up fight. So they devise
    (
    Devise? Wow. Your faith is strong, young Slytalker. May this “course” de-myth you.)
    (Tim)This pattern of behavior, naturally, spreads to all the small critters who want
    (Sorry. It just amazes how you, so freely, attribute to prehistoric “critters” what you contend exists even in men. Seriously, this whole line of thinking is so beholden to assumptions, leaps and gaps that I can scarcely believe that even you take it seriously.)…

    (Tim)It’s very likely that simple computation devices evolved first (before there was a significantly-advanced body….remember, bodies are made of microscopic computation devices called genes).As the reactions between those simple “forms” proved beneficial, they survived and adapted until either chance or natural systems allowed them to come into contact with other similar systems; this would allow even disconnected, simple systems to become more and more complex with time and experience, and form even more complex systems, which, if able to survive for a significant length of time, could easily form the first simple organisms. Once we establish that this much is possible, the rest is pretty much a foregone conclusion — which is to say, it’s entirely possible and not at all unlikely.
    It’s just that no actual proof for this exists, i.e. a hard example proving one life form “evolved” into another one.

    “Either we are 100% material beings, or we are not.”

    (Tim)You seem to be taking great pains to avoid answering that one question that I asked earlier: what part of us is not material, and why must it exist? “Because it would be bad if they didn’t” is not really a sufficient answer.
    It’s not that we “must” have a spiritual component, it is that we do. Insisting on “proof” of something that is, literally, “in on” the reality of every moment of every day is not a sufficient question. I know we’re separate for good on that one. Just wanted to confirm it.

    (Tim)I’ve noticed you repeatedly bring up “usefulness” or “meaning.” The problem is, you’re saying that in a material world, we wouldn’t have concepts of “ideas” or “usefulness” and therefore we should automatically discard concepts we consider useless. Do you see why this is a contradiction? No. The key word in that quote is “would”. A material world dictates no meaning and no ideas. You turned it to “should”. Do you see why this is faulty? In a material world, there are no “shoulds”. Because there is no good or evil. There is only, “How would one go about getting from point A to point B, i.e. surviving ?” The tiger needs food, so it kills and eats. The fact that man curbs his own behaviour, to the exclusion of the “advancement of his species”, for the sake of animals and even plant life is, at least, strongly indicative that we are something other than purely material beings. Sometimes very insane ones, but beyond the material of our physical make up to be sure.

    (Tim)If the universe worked in such a way that we were required to say, for example, that “life is not objectively valuable, so we should just go around killing people,”..
    Replacing “woulds” with “shoulds” again, I see. It is already known what happens when people decide that truth is subjective. Most recently with the 20th century socialist states and most famously w/ Pilate when he said, “What is truth?” before crucifying Jesus.

    “The point in the above statement is that your idea and mine, of intelligence, is no more science based than saying, “I observe it, therefore it is.””

    … you claim to “know” (that’s a quote, italics included) even though you admit to not having enough information to deduce this rationally. Don’t recall admitting that. Maybe all of the “devils advocate” arguments have confused the situation. Once more: science is a tool of the believer, not the be all and end all when it comes to the great questions of life. Which can’t even exist in a solely material world. Faith is the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” With faith one can move mountains. And by faith, my great nation was formed. It serves as a beacon to all who labor under, those enforcing, the vain notion that life is futile. Hence, God exists.

    Reply
  207. Tim D. says:

    “Of this, is what I bespeak: you are contending that we are but physical beings, by way of your metaphysical processes. That self defeats.”

    How is it metaphysical? What about it is not physical? Until you can answer that, then I will operate under the assumption that my explanations have been enough to describe these processes (thought, etc.) as “non-metaphysical.”

    Materials produce material things. Thoughts are not material. You say so yourself when insisting that they don’t “exist” in any real way. Read on…

    Neither is a cartoon character. But a cartoon character isn’t metaphysical; it’s a collection of physical traits and arrangements — just like a thought.

    You just analogized mans’ ideas with a material result of those ideas. It’s a faulty analogy.

    Begging the question….

    (recap: the question is whether or not ideas are ‘immaterial.’ You assert here that they ARE material, and you conclude that they must be material based on that. This is circular; hence, “begging the question.”)

    Sorry, but there is nothing analogous to the human intellect other than its source. And there is nothing analogous to the sources holiness. Ideas do exist. And they are just as real as the One who gave us the ability to have them.

    How so?

    As I have said all along, the answer is self evident. You flip the conversation.

    Even self-evident truths can be demonstrated. So how would you demonstrate this “truth” (aside from asserting it, since we’ve already shown that that doesn’t work).

    So, you see?, the query is to you. Not knowing or, more to the point, not believingthat intelligence has any, as yet, grounding in reality how do you “know” anything?

    My understanding of “knowledge” is very different from yours, as I’ve said. Scientific knowledge is open to new developments and ALWAYS observes the possibility that what is currently held as “truth” could, even if only theoretically, be proven “false.” It is open to evidence which contradicts current beliefs, and it requires a reasonable person to change his/her beliefs to act in the most reasonable way given the information available. I don’t believe in true “objective knowledge,” as I have said many times here and elsewhere; I only believe that there is “applied knowledge,” which is to say, “things that we say we ‘know’ that are consistent and that are reliable and helpful to us,” such as acknowledging the effect of a speeding vehicle’s impact, or acknowledging the reaction between two explosive chemicals.

    Your idea of knowledge seems to be some form of telepathy — you believe you can somehow obtain knowledge without actually acquiring it. This is very odd to me. How can you know something if there exist no means by which to learn it?

    If life had no meaning, people would not try to give it meaning nor could they distinguish meaning from non-meaning.

    This is a fallacy called “argument from want for [X];” arguing that something exists based on the fact that people want it to exist. When in fact the two are not related; it’s impossible to conclude that something exists solely based on the given that people want it to exist and/or are looking for it.

    Besides, we’ve already proven how life can’t have objective meaning — I know you said you don’t believe in logical proofs, but it’s a simple fact that significance cannot exist on its own; it’s a concept born in the mind. Without a mind to perceive it, it does not exist. WITH a mind, it becomes subjective. So there can be no “true meaning” to life. That would contradict the definition of “meaning,” which is “subjective significance.”

    Only if it were to have a soul could IT subjectively mangle the meaning of the info it receives.

    …what? If a computer performs an error, then that means it has a soul? …I am truly confused, now….

    I see man struggling w/ his conscience. That clearly indicates that the sum is greater than the whole of his “parts”.

    …how so?

    How can there be “philosophical implications (in) a material world” unless man is imbued, by his Creator, with an ability to philosophize in his “computing device” in the first place ?

    “How can something exist unless god created it?”

    We’ve already been over how computing devices can exist naturally; I don’t have time to repeat myself.

    As for philosophy; basically, I imagine that consciousness is what it “feels like” for a computer to process. When you are thinking, that is the sensation of your brain processing information.

    How can the concept of metaphysics exist w/o metaphysics? It is not material, by definition, so this conversation serves as proof it exists.

    This conversation is an interaction between computing devices, facilitated by third-party software (the PC/internet).

    “The phrase “keep in mind”, itself, implies that something greater than physical actions / reactions are occuring within us.”

    Well, actually it implies that there is a database where you store information in your mind, and that I am issuing a request for you to temporarily store data in short-term memory for ease of access.

    Man is not a computer, nor is he analogous to one, as I illustrated above.

    How so?

    No, I am saying that strictly material beings do not have ideas.

    Clearly they do; you and I have ideas, and we are strictly material (as has been illustrated). You may disagree with this; that’s fine. If you wish to disprove it, all you must do is show what the spirit does. Brain function, thought, emotion, senses, these things are all accounted for by the material body. What is left for the spirit to do?

    Amazing. In your “reality”, we are machines. Gotta part ways w/ ya on that one. Maybe we’ll agree on this next point….let us see…

    Hey, you asked….

    Well, don’t know how to account for that description of how a tv set is made. Other than secular public “ed” that is.

    ???

    In any case, it’s a rough description. I’m no mechanic, but the directions of building a TV set were not the highlight. You can use a different example if you prefer — building a birdhouse instead.

    (Sorry. It just amazes how you, so freely, attribute to prehistoric “critters” what you contend exists even in men. Seriously, this whole line of thinking is so beholden to assumptions, leaps and gaps that I can scarcely believe that even you take it seriously.)…

    (sigh)….your wordplay is tiring at times. In any case, a recap: I’ve explained that thoughts “exist” in the same sense that a cartoon character exists — they are assemblies of material concepts that come together to form something with a unique function that is different from any of its individual parts. They are not literal things that literally exists — as a cartoon character does not really exist anywhere out there in the universe, although we can still refer to a cartoon character by name and have people understand what we are talking about.

    You seem to be making leaps and bounds of assumptions about my beliefs, in stark contrast to anything I’ve actually said….if I may be forward, how much of my postings did you actually read?

    “Either we are 100% material beings, or we are not.”

    Based on my observations, I contend that we are material beings.

    It’s not that we “must” have a spiritual component, it is that we do. Insisting on “proof” of something that is, literally, “in on” the reality of every moment of every day is not a sufficient question. I know we’re separate for good on that one. Just wanted to confirm it.

    The crux of the problem: you refuse to defend your point. It’d feel awfully hollow to claim “victory” over a point that is as defenseless as yours, so I suppose I’ll just leave it at that…

    No. The key word in that quote is “would”. A material world dictates no meaning and no ideas. You turned it to “should”. Do you see why this is faulty? In a material world, there are no “shoulds”.

    It doesn’t matter. In the context I described, “should” or “would” could work; I said “should” in the sense that, based on the fact that there would be no objective standards for such things, it would be reasonable to expect it to work that way (i.e. it “should” work that way).

    Secondly….you seem to think that, in a world without objective morals, people wouldn’t even be able to think or have thoughts about morality. That is blatantly false, for reasons I’ve tried to explain….

    h you admit to not having enough information to deduce this rationally. Don’t recall admitting that.

    You don’t remember where you said you couldn’t deduce god’s existence based on the existence of intelligence in nature?

    Mark: Again, as with your immediately preceding statement, you establish a faulty construct -”it stands that there is no way to rationally infer that much”- and then suggest that I must argue from within it.

    translation: “You said my argument was illogical and then expected me to defend it. That is faulty” (because Mark cannot defend the statement).

    Mark: Built into that statement, it appears to me, is the presumption that man must explain God.

    translation: “you expect me to explain how I learned that god exists — i.e. by what means did I go from a state of “not knowing if god existed” to “knowing that god existed?” I don’t presume any such things.

    The “statement” in question?

    which requires that we have a definition of such intelligence beforehand, from which we infer the presence of a god. The problem is that such intelligence, as observed in the natural world, is always dependent upon material computation devices such as brains.

    translation: “you can’t deduce the existence of god based solely on the way we view intelligence in nature, because it’s grounded in materialism.”

    Once more: science is a tool of the believer,

    Science is not a tool to help you see what you want to see. Science is a way to make you see what is there.

    Reply
  208. Mark Ducharme says:

    Thank you for the response, Tim. It’s been fun but you are right, we are probably headed toward “circle town”. Got one (5?), with supporting arguments, that’s been rattling around my brain for a while. I think they are fair questions. Let me know what you think:

    1 )Were life to occur “naturally”, what “rule” of nature dictates that it would, necessarily, “want” to survive? NS itself implies intent or, at the very least, a singular direction. But before life, there is nothing to suggest that materials compete w/ each other. So, why would life be innately imbued with a “survival instinct” any more than it would a “suicide instinct” when we know it is comprised of material alone ? Non-“survival instinct” material in = non-“survival instinct” “creation”. Not saying it would be suicidal just that it would not be the opposite either, according to my understanding of what you have said thus far, that is. Which would seem to stack the odds even greater against life advancing even if you accept the “miracle” of its “birth”.

    2) You say that the ones who survive advance the species’ survival, i.e. existence. Built into that theory is the assumption life “wants to” exist. If living things are just the sum of their material components (which –or should I say, “who” ?– neither “want to” / “want not to” exist), why are they any more predisposed to “selection” in their newly “evolved” state, than in the state they occupied for billions of years before that one, singular moment ? (reason why I use the word evolved there: Those on your side (you too?) often point out to me that evolution does not attempt to explain how life began. If all existence is material alone, then isn’t ANY change in its form, by definition, evolutionary ?)

    Did life keep failing and “trying” again until it “got it right”?

    Talking about the first life forms here, not critters and predators. Which is my point: CAN you get here from there?

    Late, Mark

    Reply
  209. Nathan Barley says:

    With the first life forms, you can’t talk about ‘want’ in a literal sense, as they wouldn’t have desires in the sense we talk about it. The first life forms would be more describable in terms of chemisty that biology. However, you can talk use the word in a more metaphorical sense to say that water ‘wants’ to find its own level, or that two chemicals ‘want’ to bond together.

    But natural selection explains why creatures would evolve to ‘want’ to survice. If you’ve got six offspring of a pair of creatures, with random variance among their characteristics, the ones most likely to survive are the ones that have the characteristics that enable them to survice. They will then pass those traits onto THEIR offspring.

    Mark, one of the reasons these conversations approach the circular, is that I never see any willingness on the part of creationists to actually learn anything new. You’ll pose a question, and when someone takes the time to answer it, there’s no sign that you now know the answer to the question, or have taken it in.

    Reply
  210. Tim D. says:

    1 )Were life to occur “naturally”, what “rule” of nature dictates that it would, necessarily, “want” to survive?

    Because if it didn’t, it would not survive. There is no way life could evolve or exist without a survival instinct. If anything tried to develop wihout that tendency, then needless to say, it would not survive.

    But keep in mind, such a “want” would probably exist in the form of a programmed tendency or a natural leaning in the early stages of life (given that early computing devices were probably not close to complex enough to perform emotional responses/reactions or have desires in the sense that we do now). That’s not to say that a single-celled creature is able to “think” to itself, “I ‘want’ something.”

    2) You say that the ones who survive advance the species’ survival, i.e. existence. Built into that theory is the assumption life “wants to” exist.

    Because the ones who don’t “want” to survive (assuming any at all even exist), won’t. If a thousand life forms developed, and 999 of them were “suicidal,” then the one would survive and the 999 would eventually die off. It’s a given that if life is going to develop, it is going to need to preserve itself.

    But keep in mind, it’s just as impossible for an early life form to truly “desire” death as it is for it to truly “desire” life; if such a tendency existed, it would more likely exist in the form of a basic programmed tendency or natural leaning.

    If all existence is material alone, then isn’t ANY change in its form, by definition, evolutionary ?

    Evolution refers to the adaptation and change of living things (before you go off on that one, let me say that it is very easy to define “living” without resorting to metaphysics). This is based on the assumption that life already exists, and therefore makes no attempt to explain how life began. So the answer would be no, because evolution only concerns itself with the change and adaptation of living organisms, not just matter in general.

    Did life keep failing and “trying” again until it “got it right”?

    That’s entirely possible.

    Reply
  211. Mark Ducharme says:

    Because if it didn’t, it would not survive. There is no way life could evolve or exist without a survival instinct.

    Okay, so we now know that God didn’t create anything, creation created itself and, in turn, created laws where-by it could sustain itself.

    2 things I have learnt: 0) Man is a machine. -1) Because life can’t exist w/o a survival instinct, a survival instinct came into existence. Of course! It’s so simple, a fool could see it! Why not me ?

    I shall ponder these two revelations while out mowing today AND get back to you after reading the rest (hopefully) tonight. Thank you!

    Reply
  212. Tim D. says:

    Okay, so we now know that God didn’t create anything, creation created itself and, in turn, created laws where-by it could sustain itself.

    We don’t actually know that that’s exactly how it happened. That was just one of several possible scenarios, since you asked me to show how it was possible.

    0) Man is a machine.

    In a sense, yes.

    1) Because life can’t exist w/o a survival instinct, a survival instinct came into existence. Of course! It’s so simple, a fool could see it! Why not me ?

    Almost; it’s more like, *if* life had at any point tried to develop without a survival instinct, it would not have survived. It’s a foregone conclusion that any life that does not invest value in itself in some way will not survive long. So in order for life to survive long enough to adapt and evolve, there *must* be a survival instinct. So if 1000 forms of life developed, and only 100 of them had a survival-instinct mechanism, then only about 100 would survive (not counting the ones later ferreted out by natural selection).

    But as for how such a self-instilled “value” would “exist” in the first place….most likely in the same way that consequence “exists” — in the beginning, it was likely not so much that the creature actively “sought” survival in a direct, conscious manner (because that was not yet possible), but rather because the creatures who lived longest happened to take actions that were most likely to ensure survival. As those creatures survived and established complexity amongst themselves, it could have become patterned behavior, after which a ‘survival instinct’ could be formally born at the genetic level.

    Reply
  213. Mark Ducharme says:

    (re: Tim @ 8:06 am 22 Dec.)

    Because if it didn’t, it would not survive.
    Why “must it” survive? This statement begs the question.

    If anything tried to develop wihout that tendency, then needless to say, it would not survive.

    That statement is absolutely, mind bendingly, bend over backwardsly, begging the questionly, argument from absurdityly, incomprehensible(ly). You have enough faith to manufacture, in your computing device, a completely groundless (and WHOLLY contradictory to your own declared tenet that “the whole can NOT amount to more than the sum”) “tendency” that has NO basis in logic. Within the term “survival instinct” is built the presumption that a pattern of survival has been established. But since this is concerning THE FIRST BORN of creation, the survival instinct must materialize out of whole cloth lest there be no more to follow by the precedent established by this mysterious, reasonless, immaterial “urge”. I realize now that you are unable to see the absolute impossibility of your own theory because you believe, and all arguments are founded in that article of faith. So, let us continue, shall we?…

    //But keep in mind, such a “want” would probably exist in the form of a programmed tendency or a natural leaning(!?!)// (emph./ exclamations mine)

    “Programmed”. “Tendency”. “Natural”. Can you even posit A GUESS as to why the notion that life, in its very first appearance, would display ANY characteristic not found in the materials it is being “assembled” from ? Don’t you get it? You are presupposing that THE FIRST LIFE FORM would feature SEVERAL dynamics that did not exist, did not “need” to exist, and would have no reason to exist unless it is already established that life has a built in survival instinct. How can ANYTHING be “built into” something that has never existed before ?

    2) You say that the ones who survive advance the species’ survival, i.e. existence. Built into that theory is the assumption life “wants to” exist.

    Because the ones who don’t “want” to survive (assuming any at all even exist), won’t. If a thousand life forms developed, and 999 of them were “suicidal,” then the one would survive and the 999 would eventually die off.

    Brilliant. Now we are to believe that life “attempted” to exist countless times before it finally “succeeded” (an absurd notion because -just like playing a game of chance 1,000 times in a row does not increase the chances of winning any one game- you take an astronomically insane proposition and then multiply it by infinity to the elevendy-twelth power (sarc off), all the while presupposing that there is any natural law demanding that life exist in the first place) in THE most dormant state earth has ever been in ? (there was no life -can’t get much more dormant than that) Can you not see how absurd this is ? Before life, there is no “natural” state in which life would presumably exist. There is no “reason” for life to exist other than your own desire to create a scenario to grab a hold of and say, “YES! There IS no God. He’s a fairy tale. Contrary to all probability, I believe that life conceived itself through a series of mathematically impossible “attempts” to exist until it finally did. And then, when that failed an astronomically absurd number of times, it finally “succeeded” and, VOILA!, Eden!”

    It’s a given that if life is going to develop, it is going to need to preserve itself.
    Nothing is “a given” in this context. Other than your faith in this murky theory. (maybe you should fall back on Plato. life doesn’t exist. we’re merely the imaginings of an intelligent being…)

    …a basic programmed tendency or natural leaning.

    I really appreciate your constant illustrations of the concept, “begging the question”. I think I finally got it now -thank you : ) Before life existed, there could be no such thing as “natural” as pertains to life. Along with this totally new form of material existence was created, ALL of the laws of nature concerning life. If not, then, life is not only evolving but, the natural state of life -the “rules” by which it exists- is also in constant evolution. Are you starting to get it now?

    If all existence is material alone, then isn’t ANY change in its form, by definition, evolutionary ?

    Evolution refers to the adaptation and change of living things ….. This is based on the assumption that life already exists, and therefore makes no attempt to explain how life began. So the answer would be no, because evolution only concerns itself with the change and adaptation of living organisms, not just matter in general.

    Then the theory, evolution, is flawed at its foundation. Behold: you have stated clearly that any given life form, man included, is no more than the total of its / his material make-up. (wait for it…this is why I said “we are 100% material or we are not”) If life is material alone then it is, by definition, merely a different form of matter. Why would the change of matter from inanimate to animate be designated as something other than “evolution” ? To be consistent, it would not.

    Did life keep failing and “trying” again until it “got it right”?

    That’s entirely possible.

    To that, I can only paraphrase myself and say, “Your faith is strong, young Slytalker. May dis-course de-myth you!

    Reply
  214. Mark Ducharme says:

    Tim,

    While awaiting my latest comments’ moderation (too much “yelling” i guess), here’s a quicky:

    You said, “But of course, “objective” meaning is contradictory by nature; meaning is, by definition, subjective”

    If this is so, you are saying, it is clear to me, that the only objective meaning known to us is that there is no objective meaning.

    Please explain how the foregoing can work.

    Reply
  215. Mark Ducharme says:

    Oops, meant to quote this one: “I don’t believe in true “objective knowledge,”

    So, again, please explain how that can work. I mean, isn’t the “knowledge” that there is “no objective knowledge” “objective knowledge” ?

    Does this: “The only “real” truth is, is that there is no real “truth”.” sum up what you believe ?

    Reply
  216. Nathan Barley says:

    Marl: “But since this is concerning THE FIRST BORN of creation…”

    Tim already answered that. I don’t think you’re reading his posts properly.

    Tim: “in the beginning, it was likely not so much that the creature actively “sought” survival in a direct, conscious manner (because that was not yet possible), but rather because the creatures who lived longest happened to take actions that were most likely to ensure survival”

    The earliest organisms didn’t have ‘survival instincts’. A bacteria doesn’t have instincts, nor does it need them. Survival instincts are only relevant when you’re talking about creatures that can think and take actions that do or do not lead to their survival. How would a carrot ‘commit suicide’?. So discussing survival instincts is pointless before you’ve got quite advanced organisms.

    Reply
  217. Tim D. says:

    But since this is concerning THE FIRST BORN of creation, the survival instinct must materialize out of whole cloth lest there be no more to follow by the precedent established by this mysterious, reasonless, immaterial “urge”.

    Already answered this:

    But as for how such a self-instilled “value” would “exist” in the first place….most likely in the same way that consequence “exists” — in the beginning, it was likely not so much that the creature actively “sought” survival in a direct, conscious manner (because that was not yet possible), but rather because the creatures who lived longest happened to take actions that were most likely to ensure survival. As those creatures survived and established complexity amongst themselves, it could have become patterned behavior, after which a ’survival instinct’ could be formally born at the genetic level.

    Can you even posit A GUESS as to why the notion that life, in its very first appearance, would display ANY characteristic not found in the materials it is being “assembled” from ?

    These traits *would* be present in the materials they were “assembled” from. DNA is ultimately made up of nonliving matter, after all — things like sugars and proteins, these substances are not “alive” but they produce life when arranged properly and exposed to proper conditions. This has already been resolved through labwork.

    How can ANYTHING be “built into” something that has never existed before ?

    See my above self-quote; the short version recap would be, “it’s not built into it, it ‘builds’ it into itself over time.”

    Now we are to believe that life “attempted” to exist countless times before it finally “succeeded” (an absurd notion because -just like playing a game of chance 1,000 times in a row does not increase the chances of winning any one game-

    Well, first off, we’re not “to believe” anything, that’s just one possibility. I never asked you to believe it, but you *did* ask me to explain it, so I did. Second, no, doing something 1000 times doesn’t increase the odds of getting it “right” any one time, but it does increase the overall odds of getting it right ever. A perfect example would be flipping a coin; if you only need to get 1 heads, then 1000 flips will give you substantially better odds than just 1 flip — you go from a 50% chance to a ridiculously probable chance.

    all the while presupposing that there is any natural law demanding that life exist in the first place

    I don’t believe I ever said that, actually.

    Nothing is “a given” in this context.

    It is a given that life has to place value in itself in order to survive. This is obvious because if a lifeform does not care about survival, then it will act in ways that disregard its own safety/survival and is much more likely to die.

    Along with this totally new form of material existence was created, ALL of the laws of nature concerning life.

    When I said “natural leaning,” I meant a tendency that is the natural consequence of its actions — i.e. a creature at that level of simplicity is most likely bound by simple DNA-driven instinct (or something very similar), so it would only have basic “natural” (i.e. “DNA-driven”) tendencies, which it would operate upon. The organisms with more survival-friendly tendencies would survive, reproduce and adapt, thus carrying on the traits that were most likely to ensure survival.

    If all existence is material alone, then isn’t ANY change in its form, by definition, evolutionary ?

    Already answered this:

    the answer would be no, because evolution only concerns itself with the change and adaptation of living organisms, not just matter in general.

    If life is material alone then it is, by definition, merely a different form of matter.

    “Life” is not a magic spell or telepathy. Life is an unimaginably-complex series of interactions between nonliving particles (DNA and RNA, the so-called “building blocks” of life, are constructed in their most primary states from nonliving particles, such as sugars and proteins. Unless you mean to argue that, somewhere between the act of being nonliving matter and the act of assembling into self-replicating systems, some kind of “spirit” magically entered into the process for no apparent reason, then there is really no basis for the claim that anything is “more than the sum of its parts.”

    If this is so, you are saying, it is clear to me, that the only objective meaning known to us is that there is no objective meaning.

    That’s a horribly fallacy, actually. A lack of objectivity is not a law in itself; this is probably due to your confusion about exactly what a law is conceptually, and how a law is understood by a human mind.

    Does this: “The only “real” truth is, is that there is no real “truth”.” sum up what you believe ?

    It’s not that I don’t believe there *is* objective truth. I’m saying that scientific knowledge is the only verifiable knowledge, but it’s not perfect and acknowledges that it is subject to change — something that your kind of knowledge does not allow, even though it is just as uncertain. Your kind of knowledge (magic Jesus telepathy) is not practical or verifiable; anyone could say, “I know it’s true,” and that would be that and we could never explore it. Your brand of knowledge is useless in a practical sense; if we applied Magic Jesus Telepathy in a court of law, for instance, it would be impossible to truly show innocence or convict criminals.

    Reply
  218. Nathan Barley says:

    Tim, you’re doing good here with your posts. But I don’t think it’s going to get any where. When you’re having to quote your own past posts, it suggests that Mark isn’t going to pick up the answers he wants from them. Not because you’re not GIVING the answers, just because they’re not the ones he wants.

    I’ve not seen a single instance of Mark saying ‘right, you’ve answered one question, and I understand that now, but I have another question’. Instead, we just see an endless process of him asking question after question, many already answered, or based on fallacies already corrected by you.

    So while I enjoy your posts, I fear that if you imagine any kind of resolution is coming, you will be disappointed.

    Reply
  219. Tim D. says:

    I’ve not seen a single instance of Mark saying ‘right, you’ve answered one question, and I understand that now, but I have another question’. Instead, we just see an endless process of him asking question after question, many already answered, or based on fallacies already corrected by you.

    That’s kind of what I was trying to show by arguing with him a little more precisely….once you narrow it down to the basest points, there isn’t really much of a position in Mark’s case — I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, I just mean that, once you clear out the irrelevant side-remarks and get down to the logic of it, there really isn’t much more than an unenforceable, non-demonstrable statement that he believes something and I do not, which was implied by the simple fact that we were arguing. What few points he seems to focus on degenerate quickly under scrutiny. Now I’m sure Mark will feel free to correct me if I’m wrong or unclear about something here, but here are his main arguments as I understand them thus far and my responses to them, as briefly-summarized as possible:

    MARK: We can deduce god (a disembodied intelligence)’s existence based on the way we observe intelligence in nature, because intelligence is immaterial.
    TIM: A disembodied intelligence goes against the way we observe intelligence in nature; intelligence is always grounded in physical material, never disembodied — i.e. thoughts, feelings and actions are rooted in physical chemical reactions — so there is nothing in nature to imply that it’s even possible for intelligence to exist immaterially. If it proves anything, it proves that god has to be grounded in materialism.

    MARK: But intelligence isn’t material — how do you explain the “spirit” inside people?
    TIM: I can’t explain what a “soul” could be (or whether it exists) until you tell me what, exactly, it’s supposed to do. It doesn’t control art or feelings or thought, because these things are all present in the brain (which is part of the body, which the soul supposedly ‘transcends’). So what does a soul do?

    MARK: I don’t have to explain it to you; it’s a fallacy to assume I can.
    TIM: Sorry, I assumed you could explain it because you brought it up in argument form, which is what people usually do when they are ready to defend (i.e. “explain”) a theory or idea. If you can’t defend or explain it, there’s little point in mentioning it in a debate atmosphere.

    MARK: Well, I “know” god is real.
    TIM: How did you achieve this knowledge? i.e. how did you go from a state of “not knowing” to a state of “knowing?”

    MARK: I just know.
    TIM: So you believe that you have been somehow magically “sent” this information? You didn’t achieve it by learning it, you just somehow magically “knew” it? If that’s all you have to go on, then honestly — knowing in advance that I did not possess this Magic Jesus Telepathy, how exactly did you plan to persuade me to believe that you have it, if you cannot demonstrate it to me?

    The REALLY short version, for tl;dr-ers:

    Mark: “God is real, so admit it!”
    Tim: “How do you know that?”
    Mark: “I just do!”
    Tim: “How, though?”
    Mark: “I don’t have to tell you.”
    Tim: “But you had to tell me you thought you were right. Don’t you think it’s only fair to tell me why?
    Mark: “No.”
    Tim: “Very well then, we’ve established a complete and utter stalemate — a statement of belief, that you believe you are right, and a response that this information is meaningless to me unless you can explain how or why.”

    That’s what’s always fascinated me about evangelical ontological arguments; instead of building on a point of its own, like a rational argument would, this kind of argument focuses on deconstructing everything else besides its own point (which is surprisingly small and defenseless) until nothing means anything except for god. Once you figure out this trick, all of them become surprisingly easy to disprove. In fact, I actually blame this trick for the growth of scientific interest in the last few decades, simply because people are forced to research their own ideas even more because of such inconsistent and irrational criticism; in turn, this leads to stronger arguments against Christianity and theism, while Christianity and theism are still using the same deconstructive tactics. It’s a big part of why I got into biology and philosophy~

    Another way of putting it….it’s a lot like saying, “I want to build a building….so I’m going to bulldoze the earth around this spot where I want my building to be until everything else is lower than this spot. Then I’ll have a building that’s taller than everywhere else!” Sure, your “building” is technically taller than the rest of the ones you tore down to make it….but isn’t it a LOT easier to just build a building? If your argument is reasonable, wouldn’t it be easier to just show that, instead of to try and aggressively tear down everyone else’s beliefs (without applying the same level of skepticism to your own) until even your shoddy argument holds up in comparison?

    [/soapbox]

    Reply
  220. Mark Ducharme says:

    TIM: We can deduce life(a form of matter that has no reason to exist that I can reasonably explain)’s existence is based on the way we observe it AS IT NOW EXISTS in nature, because that is what i was taught in school.
    MARK: There is no material reason for life to exist. Assuming it could “self create”, the statement “Well, it HAD to have certain characteristics or else it would not continue to exist.” presupposes that its existence is “necessary”. Before life, there were no natural forces which dictated that material should have any of the characteristics associated with life SO, why would something that is merely material substance, in a new form, suddenly MANUFACTURE OUT OF WHOLE CLOTH a set of dynamics that were completely unnecessary and non-existent -unless you’re claiming that rocks and such have a survival instinct / ability to pro-create / grow, etc.- simply for “benefit” of its newly found form? That is a logical fallacy or an argument from the absurd.

    TIM: But life exists, and all that exists is matter — therefore, those natural forces “just are”.
    MARK: For this to be true, some “thing” had to set those natural forces in motion. Things can’t create themselves, and neither can natural forces.

    TIM: I don’t have to explain it to you; life came into existence as I understand it. The fact that it is mathematically impossible times infinity to the trillionth power means nothing. My professor told me, so it’s obviously true.
    MARK: Sorry. I thought you believed in the scientific method. In order to come to a theory on anything, you must first start out assuming nothing. If you already state that life has a “nature” -that allows it to exist in the first place- upon its very inception, then you are leaving out the whole theory as to how life could come about at all.

    TIM: Well, I “know” life had these tendencies.
    MARK: How did you achieve this knowledge? i.e. how did you go from a state of “not knowing” to a state of “knowing?”

    MARK: I just know.
    TIM: So you believe that you have been somehow magically “sent” this information? You didn’t achieve it by learning it, you just somehow magically “knew” it? If that’s all you have to go on, then honestly — knowing in advance that I did not possess this Magical explanation for how matter had a built in mechanism to continue existing in its 100% new transformation into life, how exactly did you plan to persuade me to believe that you have it, if you cannot demonstrate it to me?

    Reply
  221. Mark Ducharme says:

    Secular theory on the origins of life: incredibly complex proteins, sugars formed for no apparent reason and then: somehow “found” each other in the broad, expansive, as yet lifeless wasteland of planet earth and miraculously, “achieved” the outcome of life in its earliest form. This virtually impossible happenstance was repeated again and again as life “sifted out” the weak links in its chain until it developed (with the assistance of its obviously natural tendencies to survive / pro-create / consume whatever was available to “eat”, etc.) into something easier for us to assign “natural” characteristics to, thank G-, er, um, Mother Gaia!

    The REALLY short version, for pilot fish:

    Tim: “Life is only material, so admit it!”
    Mark: “How do you know that?”
    Tim: “I just do!”
    Mark: “How, though?”
    Tim: “I don’t have to tell you.”
    Mark: “But you had to tell me you thought you were right. Don’t you think it’s only fair to tell me why?
    Tim: “No.”
    Mark: “Very well then, we’ve established a complete and utter stalemate — a statement of belief, that you believe you are right, and a response that this information is meaningless to me unless you can explain how or why.”

    Reply
  222. Tim D. says:

    (a form of matter that has no reason to exist that I can reasonably explain)

    This doesn’t mean anything….

    There is no material reason for life to exist.

    What is a “material reason?”

    Or do you mean to say, the environment which could have produced the earliest life-forms could not have existed? In which case you are incorrect. This has been resolved through labwork, which, nothing personal, but….I have good reason to trust millions upon millions of times more than your Magic Jesus Telepathy.

    “Well, it HAD to have certain characteristics or else it would not continue to exist.” presupposes that its existence is “necessary”.

    That’s not what I meant by “had” to have certain characteristics — sorry, I figured my terminology was obvious. When I say, “has to have certain characteristics,” I am not saying, “there is an objective law that says it has to have these characteristics because life is necessary.” That’s not even close to what I am saying. I am saying, IF life is going to form for *any* reason — in this case, for a biological “reason,” in that the early earth’s environment was probably very suited to the formation of the earliest life, be that because of random coincidence or because of simple persistent reaction on the part of nature — then it would require those traits.

    I do not *ever* argue from “objective necessity.” When I say “necessity,” you can safely assume that there is always a qualifier for that necessity — in this case, it’s “necessary” IF life is going to exist. If life would not have developed, then of course there would be no “objective need” for anything to have those traits, or for life to even begin to exist at all. I was merely saying that IF life were to exist, it would require those traits. If not, it wouldn’t.

    why would something that is merely material substance, in a new form, suddenly MANUFACTURE OUT OF WHOLE CLOTH a set of dynamics that were completely unnecessary and non-existent

    I’ve already answered this. Nothing was “manufactured out of whole cloth;” if instinct came about naturally, then it came about simply, in small, seemingly unrelated parts — micro-micro-microscopic genetic fragments, so to speak — not as a singular, well-defined whole. These tiny, tiny parts would then pass through many generations and eventually cohabit with other similar traits, forming the first simple genetic instincts. This is a very easy explanation for why humans have useless functions in their DNA, or useless body parts (like the appendix) — they could be parts that either had a past use but are now being phased out, or they could be useless “traits” (or a combination thereof) that, for some reason or another, were carried on with the dominant “life-ensuring” traits because they had no apparent negative effect on that organism’s survival.

    Keep in mind….*very simple* life COULD occur in nature, quite easily, as the early-earth experiments prove. In fact, it quite possibly happened frequently. So as far as that goes, the “ultimate starting point” is pretty much a foregone conclusion — there very likely WOULD be “simple” life, although most of it would not survive for the aforementioned reasons. After that, the ones that survive and adapt and cohabit pass on their powerful traits and evolve.

    For example, one theory is that the earliest life-form reproduced simply by falling apart (a sort of mitosis similar to what cells and single-celled creatures use). If that were true (again, for example), then it would be very, very easy to explain how early life came about — it started with simple, disconnected traits, reproduced by splitting its body, and acquired other traits from similar organisms by contact or chemical bonding. Those traits form a sort of “trait ball” that snowballs, gathering successful traits and losing unhelpful ones, until it forms a simple organism.

    TIM: I don’t have to explain it to you; life came into existence as I understand it. The fact that it is mathematically impossible times infinity to the trillionth power means nothing.

    1) I never said “life came into existence blah blah.” I said, “life could have come into existence blah blah.” Big difference between stating a possibility and stating a fact.

    2) It’s not mathematically impossible. It’s actually quite probable, as I explained above in this very posting. Where are you getting your math from, if I may ask?

    TIM: So you believe that you have been somehow magically “sent” this information? You didn’t achieve it by learning it, you just somehow magically “knew” it? If that’s all you have to go on, then honestly — knowing in advance that I did not possess this Magical explanation for how matter had a built in mechanism to continue existing in its 100% new transformation into life, how exactly did you plan to persuade me to believe that you have it, if you cannot demonstrate it to me?

    So wait….are you asking me that now, or are you saying that I said it? I can’t tell if you’re being genuine or sarcastic.

    Reply
  223. Mark Ducharme says:

    Forgot to flip that one. Here ya go:

    Tim: I just know.
    Mark: So you believe that you have been somehow magically “sent” this information? You didn’t achieve it by learning it, you just somehow magically “knew” it? If that’s all you have to go on, then honestly — knowing in advance that I did not possess this Magical explanation for how matter had a built in mechanism to continue existing in its 100% new transformation into life, how exactly did you plan to persuade me to believe that you have it, if you cannot demonstrate it to me?

    Reply
  224. Mark Ducharme says:

    One more time: Why must life (a purely material thing -as you insist) live ?

    Built into the theory, which you state, is the assumption that life, necessarily, has a “direction”. That direction is “pro” itself. Why ? Matter is not “pro” anything. It merely exists. If “life” is but matter in another state of “matterness”, how does it possess (have an innate “tendency” to “do” X) any qualities NOT associated w/ itself in its “non-life” form ?

    You keep saying that Christians arbitrarily assign spirituality to man.
    You do the same when asserting that matter, by way of itself, can reform into a kind of matter that is sentient and self preservational.
    That is fine -but you must first explain how that is possible when you say yourself that all reality is subjective. Unless you are saying that scientific conclusions can exist independent of mans’ -undeniable- reality as a subjective being.

    Reply
  225. Tim D. says:

    Built into the theory, which you state, is the assumption that life, necessarily, has a “direction”. That direction is “pro” itself.

    No, not at all….perhaps I was unclear again. When I say “valuing itself is necessary for survival,” I am not saying that self-value is necessary to exist. Obviously that is not true, or else we wouldn’t have suicidal people today. However, what is the common link between all suicidal people?

    …they die. They do not survive. They do not pass on their traits (unless they breed first, which is not unheard of….again, hence the presence of suicidal people even today). If a creature is to successfully reproduce and pass on traits without self-value, then that could be chalked up to coincidence, because there is no driving force (self-preservation) motivating the organism to do so.

    So, quick recap: Self-value is not necessary for life to exist. Self-value is necessary for life to continue to exist for a long period of time, although a small degree of random chance does occasionally allow for a non-self-valuing organism to reproduce and pass on traits (such as a suicidally-inclined person who marries, has children and then later commits suicide).

    You keep saying that Christians arbitrarily assign spirituality to man.

    I don’t believe I ever said anyone “arbitrarily assigns spirituality” to anything or anyone. I only asked you to provide a rough explanation/estimate of what a spirit does.

    On another note….are you sure you’re not a spambot? I had a similar experience to this one day with an AIM spambot. I asked if it was a bot and it said, “I’m not a bot.” So later I mentioned how I thought bots sucked. The bot replied, “I’m not a bot.” I tried some experiments and I soon figured out that it was coded to reply to *any* usage of the word “bot” with the phrase, “I’m not a bot.”

    How that relates to this is, it’s as though you’re reading my posts, skimming for certain keywords, and replying to those keywords regardless of whether or not they were important to the point I was making. So I’m going to do a little hidden test in my next post (assuming you reply to this one) to make entirely sure you’re not a spambot, k?

    You do the same when asserting that matter, by way of itself, can reform into a kind of matter that is sentient and self preservational.

    I haven’t said much at all about matter reforming into sentient, self-preservational life “by way of itself” or by any other means. The early life as I’ve described it could hardly be called “sentient” or “self-preservational,” nor could it (or any other matter) precede itself in the manner necessary to form itself “by way of itself.” So I’m not sure what you’re referring to, there.

    Reply
  226. Nathan Barley says:

    1. I still don’t see why either of you are talking about self-preservation or ‘willing to live’ when you’re discussing early life forms. The early life forms operated purely in the realms of chemical reactions. To talk about such life forms ‘valuing themselves’ is nonsensical.

    2. Mark, put up or shut up with your ‘trillions to one’ math – where are you getting that figure from?

    3. I’ve not seen any atheist here (or anywhere else actually) saying ‘There is no God, so and so phenomena was produced by secular means’. I don’t know whether there is a God or not. I don’t know whether God produced the first life or not. You asked us how it could happen WITHOUT God, we’ve explained it. In the same way, I can explain what makes the sun rise each morning without God – if you still want to believe God is involved, knock yourself out.

    My objection is not with people believing in God, it’s with the claim that God is the only explanation for any given thing. Such claims always rest on arguments from incredulity or ignorance. YOU don’t understand it, so you assume no-one else does, or you willfully misunderstand any explanation.

    4. “instead of building on a point of its own, like a rational argument would, this kind of argument focuses on deconstructing everything else besides its own point (which is surprisingly small and defenseless) until nothing means anything except for god.”

    Hmm, I never noticed this before, but you’re dead on here. Thanks for pointing that out. We saw this before with the attempts to destroy any non-God basis for morality. The problem was that when you’ve got to that level of asking ‘why’ so many times in a row, there’s no reason to stop when simply told that ‘God = morality’. You can just keep on asking ‘why’ after that.

    Reply
  227. Tim D. says:

    1. I still don’t see why either of you are talking about self-preservation or ‘willing to live’ when you’re discussing early life forms. The early life forms operated purely in the realms of chemical reactions. To talk about such life forms ‘valuing themselves’ is nonsensical.

    That’s kind of what I was saying; only much, much later on in the chain do those basic chemical reactions become complex enough to even begin to resemble true “survival instinct.”

    Hmm, I never noticed this before, but you’re dead on here. Thanks for pointing that out. We saw this before with the attempts to destroy any non-God basis for morality. The problem was that when you’ve got to that level of asking ‘why’ so many times in a row, there’s no reason to stop when simply told that ‘God = morality’. You can just keep on asking ‘why’ after that.

    Yah. In the case of morality, the only criteria is personal satisfaction (that’s the only way one can justify the inexplicable cease of questioning once we arrive at god), which is then masqueraded as “objective truth” with no explanation. I never understood that before, but combined with Mark’s Magic Jesus Telepathy theory that god directly instills knowledge into our brains, I think I’m finally starting to figure out how people think about “objective morality.”

    But also, notice how there was very little mention of — or defense of — the idea of objective morality? It starts out like that, but very quickly degenerates into attacks on “subjective” morality and never looks back. How many times are Hitler and Stalin brought up as scare tactics against a “non-Christian worldview” or paraded as the “natural, logical conclusion” to an “atheist paradigm?” Once we get to that point, the question ceases to be, “does objective morality exist?” and instead becomes the assertion that “objective morality has to exist, because that would be bad if it didn’t.” With no regard for the fact that whether something is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ has no effect on whether or not it exists.

    And now, a list of words:

    God
    Christian
    Evangelical
    Atheist
    Christmas
    Church
    Religion
    Science
    Lab
    Faith
    Homosexual
    Heterosexual
    Big Bang
    Evolution
    Abiogenesis
    Theory

    Reply
  228. Nathan Barley says:

    “and instead becomes the assertion that “objective morality has to exist, because that would be bad if it didn’t.” With no regard for the fact that whether something is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ has no effect on whether or not it exists.”

    It’s worse than that – if you are starting from a world view that considers which scenario is ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than another, then you’ve already got the basis for building a system of morals.

    You can’t say ‘Without God, you’ve got no objective morality, which then leads to objectively bad situations’. If you can explain why the situation is bad, then you can explain the action which leads to that situation is also bad. Either both objective morals AND objectively good situations exists, or neither do.

    Reply
  229. Tim D. says:

    My family celebrated a day early because my mom’s a nurse and she works tomorrow….

    So yeah. Happy Solstice and whatnot to all! I’d post a link to our Holiday EP here for novelty purposes, but something tells me it wouldn’t quite go over well with this audience 🙂

    Reply
  230. Tim D. says:

    P.S. Mark, your blog is written wrong in the website queue. You might need to remove the extra “http” and double-slash after the “www.” Otherwise, anyone who clicks on it gets an error.

    Reply
  231. Mark Ducharme says:

    Thank you, Tim. I knew you were okay. It’s all of those “others” who slander you that you must look out for. What’s a Holiday “EP” ? (must be gettin’ up there. EP means “extended play”, re: those old vinyl records, to me.)

    Reply
  232. Tim D. says:

    ^It’s like a short album (6-7 tracks, usually). A lot of up-and-coming bands are doing them nowadays because they’re cheaper, easier to distribute and need less work.

    Reply
  233. Tim D. says:

    Post the link, Tim, you got my curiosity up.

    I never thought I’d ever hear myself say this, but….this is one of those times when shameless self-promotion just isn’t really a good idea. My band work is where I funnel a lot of my daily frustration (and the recording quality is *abysmal*, at that). Also I’m a terrible singer. About the only song I’ve *ever* recorded (that I can think of) that wouldn’t offend/annoy/irritate/aggravate a deeply-religious person would be the cover of “Goodnight, Good Guy,” by Collective Soul, from our 2009 Christmas/Holiday EP, which would probably have the exact opposite effect. Everything else is pretty much “horribly offensive”~

    ….but, should you feel absolutely *compelled* to find my original myspace account, google “myspace the tim tations” and hit the first result….but I’m warning you now that you guys aren’t exactly my target audience (no offense, just stating fact here)….

    (see, I couldn’t resist the shameless self-promotion after all….)

    And now I am going to disappear for a day or so to go handle the aftermath of the holiday occurrences and whatnot. Ciao~

    Reply
  234. Mark Ducharme says:

    Not my cup of tea but can relate. Used to be a total Zappa head before finding God and my pastor was in “Dead and Bloated”( yes, STP did borrow that for their song of the same name) before his current state of existence. Late, Mark

    p.s. If you saw the inhabitants of our church you would know better than to think you could “offend/annoy/irritate/aggravate” any of us. And we are, by the way, the original “one-God Apostolic, tongue-talking, holy-roller, born-again, Heaven-bound believer(s) in the liberating power of Jesus’ name”. By the way, that is. Come see us some time, Ya hear?
    (and don’t leave the bass at home)

    Reply
  235. Nathan Barley says:

    While my above post is waiting to clear, here it is again without the link.

    There’s an interesting ‘open letter to Stephen Meyer’ here from the developmental cell biologist, and Christian, Steve Matheson:

    Google: “open letter to Stephen Meyer”

    His blog also goes through a few chapters of Signature in the Cell.

    Reply
  236. Frank Turek says:

    Nathan,

    The link you reference provides evidence for the point of my article. Mr. Matheson’s “open letter” is long on accusations and personal attacks and short on an objective look at the evidence. He is condescending to Mr. Meyer and his colleagues rather than spending time dealing with his arguments (the other blog posts you reference take the same tone). I’m sure you can find someone on the ID side doing the same. If science is such a dispassionate, objective search for truth, why is all this emotionalism so prevalent?

    Again, I suggest that you read Meyer’s book for yourself rather than post letters critical of the author that don’t deal with the substance of the book in a charitable way. Anyone who says anything relevant– especially on the subject of origins– is going to have their critics. Sometimes those critics give themselves away by writing letters like Mr. Matheson.

    Have you read Mr. Meyer’s book yet?

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  237. Frank Turek says:

    Jonathan Wells addressed the piece by Matheson and others here today http://www.evolutionnews.org/2010/06/the_factfree_science_of_mathes035521.html#more. Saying basically what I said above (just in a lot more scientific detail), here’s how Wells ends his article.

    “One might think that professors Matheson, Hunt and Moran would address the conceptual issue calmly, rationally, and collegially. But they don’t; instead, they stoop to misrepresentation and ridicule. And one might think that they would address the empirical issue by citing published scientific evidence. But they don’t; instead, they simply proclaim themselves the only authorities on the subject.”

    “Who you gonna believe, them or your own eyes?”

    Reply
  238. Nathan Barley says:

    Frank, thanks for the link to Wells’ piece. While certainly interesting, it doesn’t appear to address or even refer to the link that I posted. Unless I am missing something it seems to deal almost entirely with an argument about introns.

    Matheson’s open letter still speaks for itself perfectly well without me needing to add to it or defend it.

    Reply
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