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Author Topic:   A Designer Consistent with the Physical Evidence
Blue Jay
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Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 1 of 327 (480177)
09-01-2008 10:17 AM


On Cavediver’s Why is the Intelligent Designer so Inept? thread, I attempted to initiate a discussion about the type of designer that would be fully consistent with the physical evidence available to us. There didn't seem to be a great amount of interest in this discussion, but I would still like to give it a shot.

Basically, I would like to discuss the Intelligent Designer who would be consistent with the physical evidence available in terms of the three main qualities generally attributed to the Judeo-Christian style of God: power, intelligence and benevolence.

I have broken the three traits down into 5-point scale bars, each point representing a general appraisal of the Designer’s efficacy.:

Power:

impotent --- incompetent --- neutral --- competent --- omnipotent

Intelligence:

ignorant --- unintelligent --- neutral --- intelligent --- omniscient

Benevolence:

omnimalevolent --- malevolent --- neutral --- benevolent --- omnibenevolent

-----

Most formal discussion has concluded that the evidence is not consistent with a Designer who is omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent on my scale bars (ignoring the possibilities of trickster Gods and paranoid-reclusive Gods). Most would probably also disagree that a Designer who is impotent, ignorant and omnimalevolent also does not fit the available evidence.

I would like to determine, with this discussion, the highest possible set of values we could give a Designer in regards to these three attributes, and in light of the available physical evidence. I argue that a Designer who is competent, omniscient and benevolent is the highest set of values that can be given, and happens to also almost coincide with the God that I believe in.

My arguments for this position are (1) that a God with great power could learn how to engineer something as complex as a human body, but would not be able to make it absolutely perfect; (2) that God has all knowledge that is possible to have, but that “all knowledge” does not include the knowledge of how to do things that physics does not allow; and (3) that God is benevolent because He allows us to appreciate beauty and good taste, etc., but often sacrifices benevolence for practicality (makes us feel pain; allows things to die because it maintains the balance of the ecosystem, etc.).

Do others agree with my assessment? Or, should I raise or lower some of the gauges?

I realize that there are potentially many possible combinations of attributes, but I only want to discuss the maximum (simply because the Designer is generally treated in the superlative).


-Bluejay

Darwin loves you.


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Message 2 of 327 (480527)
09-04-2008 8:52 AM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.

rueh
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Posts: 382
From: universal city tx
Joined: 03-03-2008


Message 3 of 327 (480559)
09-04-2008 11:54 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Blue Jay
09-01-2008 10:17 AM


I believe that you would have to place the scale at neutral for all three qualifiers. My main argument for this is the fact that it is impossible for anyone to know God. I realize that most people will counter that statement by stating that through the bible you may come to learn about God. However, I am addressing the issue on the belief that if there is a God, it is not limited to the restrictions placed upon it by a collection of stories. To state that any God must conform to a preconceived notion based on the preconceived notions of people in the past, to me seems a little ridiculous and very arrogant. No matter how much you study any religion they all come down to placing limits on who, what, why and how of God. If there is a God it is very far above anyone’s ability to place such limitations.

It is possible that God has the ability to create a perfect life form and has done so. However, it is clear that it did not do so in the case of any life here on Earth. There may be underlying reasons why such a God would choose to do so, but to answer that question you would have to know the mind of God. Which no one can do, so neutrality is the most honest answer.

Intelligence and benevolence pretty much follow the same line of reason. In my own life I have seen examples where God appears to be absent in all areas and leaves it up to the person to discern the correct path in life. I have also seen examples where it would appear that God applies a lot of direction however it is still up to the person to choose what is best.

Edited by Adminnemooseus, : Blank lines between paragraphs.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Blue Jay, posted 09-01-2008 10:17 AM Blue Jay has not yet responded

Mylakovich
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Posts: 20
From: Cambridgeshire, UK
Joined: 08-29-2008


Message 4 of 327 (480570)
09-04-2008 12:38 PM


I contend that it is impossible to tell and thus irrelevant. An omnipotent designer that created the natural universe according to some infinite intelligence and with unknowable morality would be identical to an impotent and ignorant designer with no sense of morality. We only have one case study (the known universe) and as it stands it provides no indication that there is even a designer at all, much less specific attributes.

Edited by Mylakovich, : spelling


Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 1019 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 5 of 327 (480574)
09-04-2008 1:33 PM


I appreciate the replies from Rueh and Mylakovich, but I think the point has been lost.

Mylakovich writes:

I contend that it is impossible to tell and thus irrelevant.

Granted. But, my intent is to determine the maximum values attributable to God based solely on physical evidence, so as to set an upper limit on logic-based discussions about Intelligent Design (and, yes, I see the contradiction in terms there).

Frankly, I find it rather impossible to attribute something to "design" when you don't know what the designer is capable of designing. Once we are able to set a reasonable boundary to the relevant attributes of God, we can begin to discuss how the specifics do or do not line up with any Designer that fits within the boundaries.

-----

rueh writes:

There may be underlying reasons why such a God would choose to do so, but to answer that question you would have to know the mind of God. Which no one can do, so neutrality is the most honest answer.

I don't want this to get too theological, so maybe I should add Rahvin's restriction that God's creation here on earth represents an honest attempt to create a workable system, and is not created the way it is for an ulterior motive.

I argue against neutrality, as well. Here is a relevant snippet from a message posted by Percy in Cavediver's thread that I think provides a good argument for at least a fair measure of power and intelligence:

Percy writes:

If we're correct in believing that human beings are intelligent, then quite obviously intelligence is capable of not only non-optimal designs but even piss-poor designs. The quality of a design is a function not only of the degree of intelligence brought to bear on a problem, but also a matter of practical constraints, of existing technology and expertise, and of available resources in both time and materials.

If we are designed, then it seems to me that whoever designed us is pretty darn intelligent. Given the difficulty we're having designing even just a simple cell, technologically they'd have to be far beyond us. And given that they're doing it on the scale of an entire planet, their resources must be far beyond our own.

I think this rather strongly supports the idea that the designer has to be at least above average in intelligence and power (perhaps power should be referred to as the ability to implement one's intelligence?). To me, benevolence is kind of the problem, because "benevolence" is more of a subjective term than the others, and different people view benevolence as having different manifestations.

So, my argument is that competent-omniscient-benevolent is the array that gives the highest overall marks and still could be consistent with the available physical evidence.


-Bluejay

Darwin loves you.


Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by rueh, posted 09-04-2008 3:24 PM Blue Jay has responded

Mylakovich
Junior Member (Idle past 4005 days)
Posts: 20
From: Cambridgeshire, UK
Joined: 08-29-2008


Message 6 of 327 (480578)
09-04-2008 3:18 PM


If the frame of the hypothetical scenario is that:
1. There is a creator.
2. The natural world would not self-organize into systems were it not for the designer.
3. Sentient Life would not develop were it not for the designer.

Then I would contend that the designers attributes would have to be Omnipotent, at least intelligent, and at least benevolent.

Omnipotent, because he created every molecule of matter and every joule of energy from nothing. That by definition is infinite potency.

At least intelligent enough to arrange the potential interactions of fundamental forces so that matter and energy form increasingly complex structures. He would not need to be Omniscient, he could simply be smart enough to make the initial conditions correctly.

Benevolent, because the formation of life in the universe is not a given. A neutral god could have been content with interstellar hydrogen clouds and leave it at that. Life forms could have never advanced beyond self forming proteins, much less single celled organisms or intelligent life. Considering that neurological pathways are developed to the point that we can recognize non-traumatic emotions, a hypothetical designer would be in some way responsible, which elevates him above Neutral. However, considering that decay and death are an inescapable force in the world, he is certainly not Omnibenevolent.

Caviat: All this is pure conjecture with three non-scientific axioms, and should not be taken as a valid reason to believe any of htis as actual facts.

Edited by Mylakovich, : No reason given.

Edited by Mylakovich, : No reason given.

Edited by Adminnemooseus, : More blank lines.


Replies to this message:
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rueh
Member (Idle past 1983 days)
Posts: 382
From: universal city tx
Joined: 03-03-2008


Message 7 of 327 (480579)
09-04-2008 3:24 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Blue Jay
09-04-2008 1:33 PM


But, my intent is to determine the maximum values attributable to God based solely on physical evidence, so as to set an upper limit on logic-based discussions about Intelligent Design (and, yes, I see the contradiction in terms there).

The only problem I see there is where you state "based on physical evidence". No physical evidence of God comes to mind. Are we talking about using the design (probably a bad choice of words) of animals, plants, ecosystems? If so how do we determine what about these things is evidence of God?

I argue against neutrality, as well. Here is a relevant snippet from a message posted by Percy in Cavediver's thread that I think provides a good argument for at least a fair measure of power and intelligence:

Percy writes:
If we're correct in believing that human beings are intelligent, then quite obviously intelligence is capable of not only non-optimal designs but even piss-poor designs. The quality of a design is a function not only of the degree of intelligence brought to bear on a problem, but also a matter of practical constraints, of existing technology and expertise, and of available resources in both time and materials.

If we are designed, then it seems to me that whoever designed us is pretty darn intelligent. Given the difficulty we're having designing even just a simple cell, technologically they'd have to be far beyond us. And given that they're doing it on the scale of an entire planet, their resources must be far beyond our own.

The only problem I see in this, is the assumption that the "design" was for intelligence in the first place. It is possible that we only possesses the minimum intelligence possible for our design, or that intelligence is a byproduct of ever increasing community interactions. Something not origanilly warrrented.

We could attribute any given value for God and still fall short of the mark. Or score too high. When it comes down to it it still falls back on the fact that we don't know. We are attributing natural events, emotions, actions, etc. to a supernatural being. However I do like the idea behind this topic so I will try to keep my doubts to a minimum so we can see how this develops.

Edited by Adminnemooseus, : And blank lines.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by Blue Jay, posted 09-04-2008 1:33 PM Blue Jay has responded

Replies to this message:
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Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 1019 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 8 of 327 (480581)
09-04-2008 4:00 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Mylakovich
09-04-2008 3:18 PM


Hi, Mylakovich.

I find nothing wrong with your scenario. I argue against omnipotent simply because "all power" sounds to me like the designer could negotiate with and even defy the laws of nature. Since I can't think of any physical evidence of the laws of nature being defied, I suggested that the designer is confined within the allowances of those laws, at least in relation to the physical processes of this universe. Thus, the designer would not be omnipotent.

I chose to maximize omniscience because it's possible for the designer to have knowledge that it would be restricted from implementing. So, omniscience could be completely unmanifested, and thus could be limitless, so long as power was restricted. But, I could see the reverse also being true.

I put "benevolent" instead of a lower value just because we were made so that we can "get used to" and "get over" our pains. I see no reason why an omnimalevolent (or possible even a plain ol' "malevolent") designer would give us respite from our pains. I can't argue "omnibenevolent" because there is pain, and because survival of one life usually necessitates the death of another. I still can't decide between "neutral" and "benevolent" (or possibly "malevolent"), so I stuck with the highest of the three values.

-----

But, it seems that we both agree that at least two of the three axes must be below the "omni" value. So, we give Him a maximum score of 13/15. :D Anyone want to argue for a higher value?

Mylakovich writes:

Caviat: All this is pure conjecture with three non-scientific axioms, and should not be taken as a valid reason to believe any of htis as actual facts.

Right, this is all hypothetical work stemming only from what the physical evidence could possibly allow, so I don't think it's necessary to add a disclaimer at the end of every post. :)

The basic idea is to try to frame a legitimate ID hypothesis that could be tested fairly easily. A designer with all "omni-" traits, despite bringing up all kinds of paradoxes, is obviously going to be rather difficult to test, and will generally require some explanation outside of science to succeed. This thread will provide a designer that could be tested, to some extent.

It would take a very long time to think up, formalize and test all the myriad possible attribute combinations for a designer, but this is really the only way I could think of to begin the process. I don't expect it to really make a big splash anywhere, but I hope it could get ID people thinking scientifically.


-Bluejay

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Mylakovich, posted 09-04-2008 3:18 PM Mylakovich has responded

Replies to this message:
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Mylakovich
Junior Member (Idle past 4005 days)
Posts: 20
From: Cambridgeshire, UK
Joined: 08-29-2008


Message 9 of 327 (480582)
09-04-2008 4:28 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Blue Jay
09-04-2008 4:00 PM


Reading what you posted and reconsidering the criteria I am willing to downgrade my Designer from Omnipotent to Competent. We know that the designer is at least powerful enough to be able to create one universe. The universe as far as we know, is probably not infinite, that is, the is a very vast but finite amount of matter and energy. So a Designer does not need to have Infinite Potence to create one finite universe. Also, if he were infinite, he could make new universes every milisecond if he wanted with no detriment. Perhaps that is some kind of quantum alternate realities theory that could account for this, but for now let us consider one finite universe created once.

He could actually be Omnipotent, but for whatever reason not display this power after a single creation event. It's logically possible.

I am also willing to downgrade his benevolence status to Neutral. The reason for this is that when you consider the trillions of forms of life that have lived and died, only an infinitesimal amount of them experience have any meaning to their lives. For billions of years life forms has struggled to survive and only by the crushing weight of dead do any features emerge to help us. On the whole life is a brutish struggle for survival. Would a Benevolent designer design life to be this way? It sounds to me like cold, compassionless Mother Nature instead, where the fit exterminate the weak in a deadly game of kill-or-be-killed.

So after all that I think we can successfully conjecture a god that is not Omni-level in any category.

Edited by Adminnemooseus, : Blank lines.


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Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 1019 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 10 of 327 (480583)
09-04-2008 4:35 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by rueh
09-04-2008 3:24 PM


Hi, Rueh

rueh writes:

If so how do we determine what about these things is evidence of God?

I didn't mean to use only evidence for a designer. I meant it in the reverse: what combination of attributes in the designer are consistent with the physical evidence?

Obviously, I don't think that there is a bit of evidence that inequivocally suggests that there is a designer. But, Cavediver and Rahvin were discussing the ineptitude of the designer in the thread that spawned this one, and they explained why a perfect designer is not consistent with the physical evidence unless the designer is cruel or, for whatever reason, designed Earth below His skill level (let’s ignore this second possibility for the time being, because it manifests pretty much the same as an imperfect designer would).

What I gleaned from that is that it’s still possible that there is a less-than-strictly-omnipotent designer out there, who may still be able to do what we can’t yet understand, and may appear to us to be all-powerful, but who is actually restricted by the laws of nature into producing a less-than-perfect world (perhaps even by evolution: let’s not make this thread into a creation-vs-evolution dichotomy).

I think that Cavediver's thread (linked in the OP) clearly showed that God must be either not omniscient, not omnipotent, or not benevolent. I would now like to find the maximum attribute combination of a designer that created a world that leaves evidence like the evidence we find here on Earth. In way, it's framing the argument to be as favorable to the creationist/IDist belief system as logic allows.


-Bluejay

Darwin loves you.


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Coyote
Member (Idle past 427 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 11 of 327 (480588)
09-04-2008 5:43 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Blue Jay
09-04-2008 4:35 PM


Apprentice designer?
What I gleaned from that is that it’s still possible that there is a less-than-strictly-omnipotent designer out there, who may still be able to do what we can’t yet understand, and may appear to us to be all-powerful, but who is actually restricted by the laws of nature into producing a less-than-perfect world (perhaps even by evolution: let’s not make this thread into a creation-vs-evolution dichotomy).

The designer might be an apprentice, working on a class project (and doing poorly).

The evidence for this scenario is at least as good, if not better, than it is for any other scenario describing a designer.

Edited by Coyote, : Grammar


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.

This message is a reply to:
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Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 1019 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 12 of 327 (480608)
09-04-2008 8:34 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Coyote
09-04-2008 5:43 PM


Re: Apprentice designer?
Hi, Coyote.

Coyote writes:

The designer might be an apprentice, working on a class project (and doing poorly).

I was going to say that myself, but I thought it would be too sarcastic coming from the guy who's supposed to be leading the discussion. It's one of my favorite ID stories.


-Bluejay

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by Coyote, posted 09-04-2008 5:43 PM Coyote has responded

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Coyote
Member (Idle past 427 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 13 of 327 (480614)
09-04-2008 11:38 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by Blue Jay
09-04-2008 8:34 PM


Re: Apprentice designer?
Hi, Coyote.

Coyote writes:

The designer might be an apprentice, working on a class project (and doing poorly).

I was going to say that myself, but I thought it would be too sarcastic coming from the guy who's supposed to be leading the discussion. It's one of my favorite ID stories.

It is also the theme of Heinlein's Job: A Comedy of Justice, 1984.


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by Blue Jay, posted 09-04-2008 8:34 PM Blue Jay has not yet responded

Rodibidably
Junior Member (Idle past 3999 days)
Posts: 15
Joined: 09-10-2008


Message 14 of 327 (481330)
09-10-2008 2:05 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Blue Jay
09-01-2008 10:17 AM


I'd say you could have the designed maxed out at any two options, but then the thirst option must be significantly lower.

Or to put it another way, if all 2 are on a 5 point scale, then I'd say the max total god could have would be 12 (two maxed out and 1 just below max, or else all three a bit below maxed, etc).


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Blue Jay, posted 09-01-2008 10:17 AM Blue Jay has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 15 by Blue Jay, posted 09-10-2008 3:48 PM Rodibidably has responded

Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 1019 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 15 of 327 (481367)
09-10-2008 3:48 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by Rodibidably
09-10-2008 2:05 PM


Hi, Rodibidably.

Welcome to EvC!

Can you give me a reason why you think 12 is the best He could do? Is there evidence that suggests that God could only be, e.g., neutrally benevolent when fully omnipotent and fully omniscient? It doesn't have to be perfectly legitimate, scientific evidence, but there's got to be a reason why you would think that.

-----

For new debaters at EvC:

While posting a reply, you'll see "dBcodes On (help)" on the left-hand side. In that, you'll find what codes you can type in to make quote boxes and other stuff.

If you see an EvC member do some cool formatting in their post, you can push the "peek" button at the bottom of the post, and a window will pop up that shows you the message with the codes they used visible.

Have fun at EvC!


-Bluejay

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 14 by Rodibidably, posted 09-10-2008 2:05 PM Rodibidably has responded

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