Scientists and believe beyond ourself

Discussion in 'Religion' started by timojin, Apr 27, 2016.

  1. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    That can be valid if taking the expression "intelligent design" at face value without prior commitments in terms of definition; or outright creating a general category likewise called ID for subsuming specific examples of the concept under. But usually it's the narrow "covert creationism" version of ID (which apparently combines cosmology and biology, if going by FAQs and papers of some of its "scientist" backers) that receives the attention from both critics and proponents. And thereby gets treated as if having property rights for the label.

    Intelligent design arguably re-entered public discourse as a force in the late 20th century via Charles Thaxton's publications, but it's winding-road ancestry takes it back to the teleological argument of Medieval times and antiquity. Which variously had a similar aura of either Abrahamic theism or the earlier "creator-ish" thoughts of the Greek / Socratic era surrounding it. Thus that ancestry may also contribute to the bias which makes center-stage that particular species of ID which the Discovery Institute and any other think-tanks advocate (while trying to mask its religious provenance).
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  3. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Sounds a tad reminiscent of the attitude that pre-colonialism China had toward the developing West. If one buys into the historian theory that Chinese inventiveness eventually closed down or became stagnant due to the strangling effects of excessive bureaucracy and an over-matured philosophical smugness that "everything truly significant had been learned, discovered, tried, etc". [Just consult the completed knowledge stored in the libraries now.]
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  5. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Here's a rather non-technical discussion of Dembski's Complexity-specification-criterion/explanatory filter (do any technical descriptions exist?) that supposedly provides us with a criterion for determining what is and what isn't an example of intelligent design. I haven't read all of it yet. But from just skimming it, my initial impression is that it's based on vague intuition and isn't a formal criterion at all.

    It has three steps:

    1. Is the appearance of the candidate for design contingent (as opposed to necessary)?

    2. Is it sufficiently improbable?

    3. Is it "specified" or not?

    My initial responses:

    1. Judging contingency and necessity is no trivial matter. It suggests that the problem of causal determinism has been solved, since (classically) no physical process is contingent if initial conditions and applicable laws are specified to sufficient accuracy. And the randomness that quantum mechanics injects into events on the microscale doesn't seem to leave much scope for intelligent design either. But let's accept this criterion for the sake of argument.

    2. Apparently if the result of an event happening 'by chance' is intuitively judged to be highly improbable, then it must be evidence of design. My counter example would be me picking up a glass and throwing it to the floor, shattering it. The results of that will be a very specific pattern of glass fragments, each with its own particular shape. Given the probability space consisting of the number and shapes the fragments might have taken and all the different places they might have been found on the floor, the observed pattern of debris would seem to be very unlikely and presumably must be evidence of design. Dembski seems to acknowledge this kind of objection and it's what motivates his #3, specification.

    3. I'm not sure what Dembski means by 'specification'. I'm guessing that it's a reference to 'teleology', the observation that parts of systems perform functions in furthering the function of the system as a whole, like the gears in Paley's watch mechanism contribute to the watch telling time. Again, natural selection seems to address that one quite well in my opinion.

    Maybe I missed it, but I didn't see much discussion of seemingly unlikely teleological systems appearing not as the result of one exceedingly unlikely event, but rather as the result of a whole series of more-likely events combined with a principle of natural selection. I don't think that any theory of biological evolution imagines that complete organisms or fully-formed organ-systems in their contemporary form just popped into existence as the result of a single 'chance' event.
    Last edited: May 2, 2016
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  7. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    A matter which Dawkins seems to address in the quote at bottom.[*]

    Another issue concerning the ID term itself: Doesn't the everyday meaning of "design" already imply intelligence, which would make "intelligent" a redundant modifier? This "constructal law" that Adrian Bejan is peddling around might seem to either introduce or support an already existing human / ET / god independent definition of "design" which could be respectable in physics and biological evolution. But it didn't surface until after the rise of contemporary ID (couldn't be appealed to because of that). Plus, the claim made by the Wikipedia entry that "The constructal law is receiving increased acceptance within the scientific community" lacks a reference footnote to support it (granting that it would be yet tentative or controversial regardless of such popularity). So it's still not clear that there is a special meaning of "design" available in science which avoids association with intelligence or is not a metaphor like Dawkin's "blind watchmaker", that could justify "intelligent" not being an unneeded add-on to "design".

    About "Design in Nature": This groundbreaking book takes the recurring patterns in nature—trees, tributaries, air passages, neural networks, and lightning bolts—and reveals how a single principle of physics, the constructal law, accounts for the evolution of these and many other designs in our world. Everything—from biological life to inanimate systems—generates shape and structure and evolves in a sequence of ever-improving designs in order to facilitate flow. River basins, cardiovascular systems, and bolts of lightning are very efficient flow systems to move a current—of water, blood, or electricity. Likewise, the more complex architecture of animals evolve to cover greater distance per unit of useful energy, or increase their flow across the land. Such designs also appear in human organizations, like the hierarchical “flowcharts” or reporting structures in corporations and political bodies. All are governed by the same principle, known as the constructal law, and configure and reconfigure themselves over time to flow more efficiently. Written in an easy style that achieves clarity without sacrificing complexity, 'Design in Nature' is a paradigm-shifting book that will fundamentally transform our understanding of the world around us.

    - - - - - - -

    [*] Richard Dawkins: To this day, and in quarters where they should know better, Darwinism is widely regarded as a theory of 'chance'. It is grindingly, creakingly, crashingly obvious that, if Darwinism were really a theory of chance, it couldn't work. You don't need to be a mathematician or physicist to calculate that an eye or a haemoglobin molecule would take from here to infinity to self-assemble by sheer higgledy-piggledy luck. Far from being a difficulty peculiar to Darwinism, the astronomic improbability of eyes and knees, enzymes and elbow joints and the other living wonders is precisely the problem that any theory of life must solve, and that Darwinism uniquely does solve.

    [...] To say that an object like an eye or a protein molecule is improbable means something rather precise. The object is made of a large number of parts arranged in a very special way. The number of possible ways in which those parts could have been arranged is exceedingly large. In the case of a protein molecule we can actually calculate that large number. Isaac Asimov did it for the particular protein haemoglobin, and called it the Haemoglobin Number. It has 190 noughts. That is the number of ways of rearranging the bits of haemoglobin such chat the result would not be haemoglobin.

    In the case of the eye we can't do the equivalent calculation without fabricating lots of assumptions, but we can intuitively see that it is going to come to another stupefyingly large number. The actual, observed arrangement of parts is improbable in the sense that it is only one arrangement among trillions of possible arrangements. Now, there is an uninteresting sense in which, with hindsight, any particular arrangement of parts is just as improbable as any other. Even a junkyard is as improbable, with hindsight, as a 747, for its Parts could have been arranged in so many other ways. The trouble is, most of those ways would also be junkyards. This is where the idea of quality comes in. The vast majority of arrangements of the parts of a Boeing junkyard would not fly. A small minority would.

    Of all the trillions of possible arrangements of the parts of an eye, only a tiny minority would see. The human eye forms a sharp image on a retina, corrected for spherical and chromatic aberration; automatically stops down or up with an iris diaphragm to keep the internal light intensity relatively constant in the face of large fluctuations in external light intensity; automatically changes the focal length of the lens depending upon whether the object being looked at is near or far; sorts out colour by comparing the firing rates of three different kinds of light-sensitive cell. Almost all random scramblings of the parts of an eye would fail to achieve any of these delicate and difficult tasks. There is something very special about the particular arrangement that exists. All particular arrangements are as improbable as each other. But of all particular arrangements, those that aren't useful hugely outnumber those that are.

    Useful devices are improbable and need a special explanation. This is another way of saying that objects such as these cannot be explained as coming into existence by chance. As we have seen, to invoke chance, on its own, as an explanation, is equivalent to vaulting from the bottom to the top of Mount Improbable's steepest cliff in one bound. And what corresponds to inching up the kindly, grassy slopes on the other side of the mountain? It is the slow, cumulative, one-step-at-a-time, non-random survival of random variants that Darwin called natural selection. The metaphor of Mount Improbable dramatizes the mistake of the sceptics quoted at the beginning of this chapter. Where they went wrong was to keep their eyes fixed on the vertical precipice and its dramatic height. They assumed that the sheer cliff was the only way up to the summit on which are perched eyes and protein molecules and other supremely improbable arrangements of parts. It was Darwin's great achievement to discover the gentle gradients winding up the other side of the mountain.
    --Climbing Mount Improbable
    exchemist likes this.
  8. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    This, however, does not rule out the SD {Stupid Designer}. For a couple of examples of the SD's work, consider:

    1: A nerve which originates in the face of a giraffe and then travels more than 7.5 feet down the neck to pass under the heart before turning around to travel greater than 15 feet total to get back to the brain, instead of going only about 6 inches from its origin in the cheek to brain is strong evidence for either:

    (a) Evolution (as the quote suggests}
    (b) A very stupid designer. The SD idea.
    And this is strong evidence against the ID idea.

    2: More support for the SD idea is found in the design of the human retina, which has the photo sensitive cell behind the numerous retinal blood vessels, behind the network of nerve fibers collecting signals from the photo sensitive cells. These nerve fibers come to one central point in the retina and become the Optical Nerve, which leaves the eye. That concentration of fibers there makes 100% blockage of light trying to reach the photo sensitive cells behind it. That is the cause the "blind spot" each eye has.

    Perhaps the SD realized his mistake before making eyes for the octopus as their retinas are correctly designed. The photo sensitive cells are "up front" - the first thing the light comes to, will all the blood vessels, data collecting nerve fibers and other support structure behind the photo sensitive cells.
    Last edited: May 3, 2016
  9. timojin Valued Senior Member

    It is interesting how you consider yourself so intelligent, From your standpoint apparently you and others consider it was a bad design. But you really don't know why was it design in this manner , but righaway you are making a judgement . I winder if some of you smart people would redesign on the computer the giraffe or human retina and see how it would work .
  10. Hapsburg Hellenistic polytheist Valued Senior Member

    If and when a you are a scientist, you are able to make the best judgements if you assume the null. Belief has no bearing on this. Whatever you believe or don't believe in, the important thing is to not assume things unless they can be demonstrated.
  11. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Yes this is a classic explanation of why creationists are wasting their time to attack their favourite Aunt Sally, or straw man, of things arising by "chance", when in fact they are sidestepping the central insight of evolution, which is natural selection.
  12. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

    It's obviously not the best solution, it's one of the compromises made by natural selection. It only has to work good enough.
  13. timojin Valued Senior Member

    You believe into something because you have some experience or someone related to you their experiences . Why do you believe in an author of a book and use him or her as your evidence ?
    You are speaking generality , We all assume before we act . We assume because we have some associative evidence , then we proceed .
    you demonstrate, when you have proved the condition in question .
  14. timojin Valued Senior Member

    One thing I might say the giraffe lives , According to National Geographic, the average lifespan for a giraffe in the wild is 25 years. Giraffes have been known to live longer when in captivity
  15. timojin Valued Senior Member

    I don't think many of us are sidestepping natural selection . Once life in its initial form is created , then natural selection will take place.
  16. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    No. I don't think it was designed. I only noted a couple of really stupid design examples if it was designed, which it was not, as a counter to those who believe life is a product of an ID instead of evolution.

    Yes, in my judgment making a nerve travel a path 30 times longer than is needed is very stupid design, introducing greater neural delays and greater risk of blunt force injury.
    We know the correct design, with the photo cells of the retina the first thing the light strikes, with no blind spot, etc. is a better design, which evolved in the octopus. An octopus lives down where the light is much dimmer than on the surface so needs efficient utilization of the photons. Evolution gave that to them, with much larger eyes too, to collect more of the dim light.

    Evolution is much more intelligent than any designer – selects from minor variations what works best; but can not make discrete steps. I. e. No Giraffe will ever be born with that nerve only ~6 inches long (going from cheek to brain) instead of more than 15 feet long, trapped by its path below the heart.
  17. timojin Valued Senior Member

    " No Giraffe will ever be born with that nerve only ~6 inches long (going from cheek to brain) instead of more than 15 feet long, trapped by its path below the heart." Have such experiment done ? If not what are your bases? Question what do you mean by trapped below his hearth .
    2 ) What information does that nerve carry . ? Does not our nerves go from our feet to the spinal cord then a process take place and the information is carried to the hearth to increase or decrease the pumping rate .
    So my nerves signals are carried not 15 feet but longer the 6 inches if not a total distance more than 4 feet. Since LLama and Alpaca are of the same family have you checked if the ratio " (30 )" times is applicable ?
    I believe design is based on the need, or in this case the design is based on natural selection : therefore I assume the nerve system was properly designed
  18. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

    So what. This example is pointless, since it has become clear to me that you believe giraffes evolved.
  19. H.sapiens Registered Member

    An absence of "belief" is helpful for a scientist, it minimizes preconceptions, the root cause of many errors.

    Theists have more problems answering the classic regression question than a scientist does with the foolishness that you style as “In the beginning nothing created the heavens and the earth.” which is easily and honestly answered with, "I do not know ... yet."
  20. H.sapiens Registered Member

    Dembski's Complexity-specification-requires all three elements. #2 is the easiest to falsify. Walk out into the forest. Pick a leaf on the ground at random. Calculate the odds of that leaf winding up in exactly that spot and orientation.

    Yet, despite those odds .... there it is, and the same may said of every other leaf in the forest. Need I observe that the odds of the forest being arranged in that fashion is the product of the probability for each and every leaf?

    Dembski makes the third grade error of not comprehending the difference between prospective and retrospective statistics.
  21. Michael 345 Valued Senior Member

    Supernatural - above natural - NO

    Unknown YES

    I was working on it

    From age 10 to 16 then got distracted by girls

    Damn you Eve

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    Thank god

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    we have Scientist working on it

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  22. Michael 345 Valued Senior Member

    I'd give it a go

    But with Lego blocks

    Perhaps I would ask Lego to make a special series of blocks to try a few variations

    My Lego Batman turned out OK

    No Giraffe will ever be born with that nerve only ~6 inches long (going from cheek to brain) instead of more than 15 feet long, trapped by its path below the heart." Have such experiment done ?

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    Yes we tried it on 125 giraffes but gave up because it wasn't working and we were running out of giraffes

    Question what do you mean by trapped below his hearth

    That was our biggest problem

    Because the nerve was trapped below the heart many times when we cut the nerve we also damaged the heart

    Goodbye another giraffe

    Those giraffes which survived that part of the operation suffered when we cut the nerve down from 15 foot to 6 inches and reconnected it

    Now the view of the savannah was getting to the brain a lot quicker and they died of exhaustion dodging around trees they hadn't reached

    Thinks how many Poe's does that require?

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    should be enough

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  23. river Valued Senior Member

    The material world is the platform for life .

    Most Scientists hence think that life is material in essence , if that is true then bio-chemistery would not exist .

    My point is that , this Universe is more than just matter , this Universe is also about about the ability of life to exist .

    Souls exist .

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