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Author Topic:   Biological Evidence Against Intelligent Design
Modulous
Member (Idle past 103 days)
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 46 of 264 (544413)
01-26-2010 5:32 AM


Teleology
ID is dead, and indeed it never really lived to begin with. It is a religio-political movement designed to get around certain American laws (and the side effect is that it gets past some other nation's laws too) regarding secular teaching. It has been demonstrated to rely on lies, misrepresentation, mathemagics and so on. In this - it is no different from creationism.
Teleology (the argument from or study of design in nature) was dealt a fatal blow with Darwinism where we learned that complicated looking things can arise naturally through certain processes.
And that's the real evidence against Teleology: Awesome things can come about without the need for a plan or design.
Of course, like many philosophical position it can be patched up. Like a philosophical zombie it raises its head. So what if it can all happen without seeming to need a plan....What if that was the way it was designed all along? Yes! It was designed to look undesigned! Of course! *
And with that magic unfalsifiable wand armchair philosophers like to go wild.
It's entirely pointless. "You can't prove it's wrong." is all very fine - but it isn't anyway to conduct an investigation into anything.
The Biological Evidence (tm) against Teleology is in, Darwin figured it out over a century ago. No genius will ever prove the unfalsifiable as false. All that seems to be left is a bankrupt sense of desperation.

* You will also see this stellar reasoning in pubs when it comes to another topic: Conspiracy Theories. Of course there is no evidence that Dodi brought down the WTC - that's exactly how he planned it!

Replies to this message:
 Message 48 by Blue Jay, posted 01-26-2010 10:07 AM Modulous has replied

  
Modulous
Member (Idle past 103 days)
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 67 of 264 (544556)
01-27-2010 2:43 AM
Reply to: Message 48 by Blue Jay
01-26-2010 10:07 AM


Re: Teleology
Isn't this the same logical principle that's used in the Pasteur argument against Abiogenesis?
No. Since biogenesis wasn't talking about the 'ultimate' origins of life, but about the more immediate origins of certain present forms of life. Trying to argue it is a fatal blow against abiogenesis therefore is just equivocation.
However, when an argument says 'this biological entity must be designed because of its complexity.' when Darwin et al comes along and says "Here is how complexity can arise in biology without a pre-planned design or designer' - that's a direct problem for teleology.
Incidentally, we also know that complicated-looking things can be designed by intelligent beings, so this still isn’t evidence against intelligent design.
Teleology had a good point when it says that certain flavours of complicated things can only come about by design from intelligent beings. When this was shown false - that which teleology's argument relied on was taken out back and shot.
The argument will always revert to positive evidence for evolution (e.g. nested hierarchies, conserved features, vestigial traits), with the (perfectly reasonable and justifiable) inclusion of the parsimony heuristic to complete the argument. If we’re not allowed to include parsimony, then RAZD is right. Thus, there is no evidence against the principle of intelligent design.
As I said - if you want to wield an unfalsifiable version of teleology then go right ahead. But don't be surprised when I don't think it very interesting that there is 'no evidence against' it. There is plenty of evidence against Intelligent Design, of course - but as I explained, that's a different kettle of fish.
But, that’s not the same thing. They build their models to incorporate some level of non-design (e.g. microevolution). So, things that look undesigned are undesigned in many, if not all, ID models.
I was specifically talking about the people that retort 'How do we know the designer didn't design the universe to naturally evolve?' and not IDists.
Intelligent Designists get all tied in knots about these things - but Intelligent Design is a religio-political movement not an argument.
Unfortunately, that means that we have to provide evidence that absolutely everything was undesigned before the principle of ID is disproven.
Nope. ID can be said to be disproven, the 'facts' its proponents prattle on about shown to be false. What you are talking about is again, teleology. And yes - you could manufacture an unfalsifiable version of it, and yes - I reserve the right to mock anyone who thinks it is any more than imaginative fun to consider the idea.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 48 by Blue Jay, posted 01-26-2010 10:07 AM Blue Jay has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 68 by Blue Jay, posted 01-27-2010 10:52 AM Modulous has replied

  
Modulous
Member (Idle past 103 days)
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 70 of 264 (544599)
01-27-2010 12:49 PM
Reply to: Message 68 by Blue Jay
01-27-2010 10:52 AM


Re: Teleology
My point was that you can't prove a universal negative.
No amount of observations of life coming from other life will prove that life never came from nonlife.
No amount of observations of complicated things coming from natural processes will ever prove that complicated things never came from non-natural processes.
I'm not suggesting that such an observation is necessary to be able to say that teleology was dealt a fatal blow. Sure - you can create a zombie teleological concept that is unfalsifiable and unverifiable but I don't think it's anymore interesting than any other such concept.
Once upon a time teleology could point at the world and say - "look at the eye! That isn't the kind of thing that just 'happens' that is one of a large class of entities that can only be reasonably explained with the design argument" - and this was a very strong and serious argument. Darwinism showed that the 'only' was not true which seriously undermined what was once a strong argument and is now a weak 'you can't prove it didn't' kind of argument.
My point is that flaws in the human body do not prove that it wasn't designed according to ID, so the thread amounts to beating on a strawman.
Indeed - so I thought I'd put forward actual biological evidence against the design argument.
If you find beating on a strawman to be more interesting, then, by all means, let's continue this thread, but not under the pretenses of it having any sort of logical merit to it.
Which strawman? I proposed that evolution is actual biological evidence that seriously undermined the design argument. I appreciate this wasn't what the OP was hoping for.

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 Message 68 by Blue Jay, posted 01-27-2010 10:52 AM Blue Jay has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 73 by Blue Jay, posted 01-27-2010 1:37 PM Modulous has replied

  
Modulous
Member (Idle past 103 days)
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 78 of 264 (544638)
01-27-2010 4:42 PM
Reply to: Message 73 by Blue Jay
01-27-2010 1:37 PM


Re: Teleology
If the design argument was that things were designed exactly as they are and cannot change over time, you would have a point.
No.
If the design argument is that certain complicated things have only one possible explanation and someone comes up with another one, that undermines the design argument.
If someone has evidence that shows that the alternative explanation is consistent and coherent with all the facts and predicts new facts succesfully, this undermines the design argument.
If someone dreams up an unfalsifiable design argument - then clearly there is no evidence that can falsify it. And I'm not attempting to demonstrate that all possible constructions of teleology have been falsified. Only that there is evidence that seriously undermines the argument to the point that only unfalsifiable variants have any legs at all.
But, that is not the model that most IDists support
Of course not, IDists support a falsified variant and they have no legs at all.
Perhaps IDists used to think that that was the case, but virtually none do anymore.
IDists never existed until the last twenty years. Teleologists may have thought that life was static, but even the ancient Greek teleologists had a concept of a 'great chain of being' suggesting some possible change.
the only evidence here is evidence that supports evolution, not evidence that refutes ID.
ID's whole position boils down to 'evolution can't explain x'. So pointing out that it can serves to falsify it quite nicely.
Teleology, in general, is strongly worded as 'feature x can only be explained by a designing agent'. Showing that feature x can be explained in another fashion serves to weaken the argument to 'feature x can be explained by a designing agent or explanation y'.
Further, collecting evidence for explanation y leaves the teleologist to give up or to word it as 'feature x can be explained by a designing agent for which there is no supporting evidence, explanation y for which there is supporting evidence or explanation z for which there is no evidence'. Which boils down the argument:
quote:
The complexity of the eye can be explained by evolution or something else.
If that isn't the epitome of a destroyed argument: one where the original argument has essentially vanished, I don't know what is.
We can only really refute ID by heuristic.
By heuristic? Why not just systematically show all of its claims false?
Remember, I'm differentiating ID and teleology here. I agree that we can't refute an unfalsifiable teleological idea, and I go further to say that there is no need to bother.
ID - being a religio-political movement using false arguments, occasional lies, misrepresentations and so on, is generally easily refuted. I say generally because it also engages in obfuscation and misinformation which can make a refutation less clear.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 73 by Blue Jay, posted 01-27-2010 1:37 PM Blue Jay has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 84 by Blue Jay, posted 01-28-2010 10:11 AM Modulous has replied

  
Modulous
Member (Idle past 103 days)
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 85 of 264 (544789)
01-28-2010 12:42 PM
Reply to: Message 84 by Blue Jay
01-28-2010 10:11 AM


Re: Teleology
My complaint here is that, even if design were correct, I can’t think of anything that could objectively be considered evidence fordesign without making some sort of presupposition about the methodology, goals, nature and/or psyche of the designer, and thus, ruling out some possible designers by default.
What's the complaint? If you want to reasonably discuss whether a hypothesis is true it surely needs to be verifiable and falsifiable even if only in principle. That means details and specifics are required. The more vague your idea, the less it can be talked about.
This seems to be perfectly in line with what I was saying, so please - what's the complaint?
IDists think complexity has something to do with it, but quantifying complexity is tricky, and drawing lines between design and non-design is impossible, even for things that we know are designed.
Hence why ID is dead. It claims to be able to do something we know it can't!
So, even if design were correct in some way, what evidence would there be? Inevitably, people, such as you, will point out all the positive evidence for evolution, but this only rules out some designer templates, and leaves others untouched
Indeed. It also rules out some pink unicorn templates, and leaves others untouched. It leaves billions of hypothesis untouched indeed. I am not going to try to refute
a) a non-specified hypothesis.
b) an unfalsifiable one.
Now - there is one family of design hypothesis which we can talk about. They are the ones we normally mean when we talk about 'design arguments' which all go along the lines of "it's too complicated to happen without direction, therefore it is directed". My argument is that we can destroy the necessity part of this argument (undermining it in general) by showing that the premise 'it's too complicated to happen without direction' is false.
If you want to discuss another design hypothesis, let me know what it is.
So, even if design were correct in some way, what evidence would there be?
If the designer was an alien - the remains of that alien, and a ruined bio-lab that dates back to 3.8 billion years ago, with blueprints of proto life on earth including stored DNA etc etc.
It kind of depends on what your theory actually is.
And, also, you’re restricting your arguments to feature x, which can work on a local scale for things like mollusc eyes, whose plausible evolutionary sequence we can see in living organisms. However, this argument can only be applied to other features---such as insect wings (which are still unexplained)---by inferential heuristic.
I cannot make a universal claim about 'mollusc eyes' without using induction or examining all possible molluscs. I infer, from the evidence, using induction that all mollusc eyes can be generally explained in terms of the comparatively small number of such eyes that have been examined and documented.
I have no idea what your 'inferential heuristic' is meant to be. I can show that the argument 'complex things in general can only be explained by design' is false. And that if you want to propose some feature (insect wings or flaggela, or blood clotting or whatever) is designed you cannot rely on 'complex things mean design' as a reasoning process since it is not true. This means the burden of proof is very much on the person claiming that x feature (general or specific) must have come about by design. And since nobody has yet met that burden of proof it can be ignored as much as any other claim that has no proof.
I don’t have a problem with using this methodology. But, I do have a problem with calling it evidence.
That complex things can be explained using natural unthinking rules, is evidence against the proposition that complex things require a thinking possibly supernatural entity to explain them.
Agreed?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 84 by Blue Jay, posted 01-28-2010 10:11 AM Blue Jay has replied

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 Message 88 by Blue Jay, posted 01-28-2010 1:37 PM Modulous has replied

  
Modulous
Member (Idle past 103 days)
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 95 of 264 (544833)
01-28-2010 4:41 PM
Reply to: Message 88 by Blue Jay
01-28-2010 1:37 PM


ID uses teleological arguments as a Trojan Wedge
This is kind of the point of my argument: ID is not a single hypothesis.
And I think this is where the confusion rolled in.
ID is an American-based politico-religious movement that uses teleological language as a methodology to giving them a wedge to get their ideologies about the weaknesses of naturalism as a way to usher people back into the Christian Faith.
It relies on misinformation and all those other things I mentioned. It can be refuted by pointing those things out.
Teleology, on the other hand, covers all arguments from design. The strong version of teleology was crushed by evolution. The weak version of teleology is essentially indistinguishable from saying 'or something else'.
I have no idea what your 'inferential heuristic' is meant to be.
A heuristic that governs how one makes inferences.
Oh well, with that cogent explanation I understand the kinds of thing you were talking about exactly

This message is a reply to:
 Message 88 by Blue Jay, posted 01-28-2010 1:37 PM Blue Jay has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 101 by Blue Jay, posted 01-29-2010 10:05 AM Modulous has replied

  
Modulous
Member (Idle past 103 days)
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 96 of 264 (544839)
01-28-2010 4:59 PM
Reply to: Message 93 by New Cat's Eye
01-28-2010 3:18 PM


Designers in general? Falsifying Armani.
When I say that evolution cannot rule out a designer, you go into specifics about a designer that can be ruled out. But you can't extrapolate that to a designer in general.
What do you mean by 'designer in general'?
My uncle is a graphic designer - and I'm sure we'd all agree there is a lot of evidence for the position that designers exist.
So what are these 'designers in general' you speak of? By keeping it vague, you make it unfalsifiable, and thus you are essentially asking for the unfalsifiable to be falsified.
I suspect that in your mind you are thinking of a 'meta-designer':
Clearly, the earth got its spherical shape not from explicity design and intervetnion, but through the laws of physics that also dictate how apples move on the surface of the sphere (and elsewhere!). The eye likewise can be explained through the actions of certain laws. But the laws themselves need to be explained, therefore a designer designed the laws so that they would do the things they do (either on purpose or as an interesting experiment or whatever).
I'm reasonably sure this hypothesis belongs in the unfalsifiable camp. Since you are say you are not making that argument - I'd like to know what you are trying to say.

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 Message 93 by New Cat's Eye, posted 01-28-2010 3:18 PM New Cat's Eye has replied

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 Message 97 by New Cat's Eye, posted 01-28-2010 5:05 PM Modulous has replied

  
Modulous
Member (Idle past 103 days)
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 98 of 264 (544843)
01-28-2010 5:15 PM
Reply to: Message 97 by New Cat's Eye
01-28-2010 5:05 PM


Re: Designers in general? Falsifying Armani.
I'm not asking for it to be falsified, I'm saying that it cannot be.
So you're saying that it is possible to imagine an unfalsifiable designer? Oh.
I'm saying that you can't use evidence for evolution against a designer (unless you get into the specifics of the designer).
Yes - you can't use the evidence for evolution against an undefined something. But that's a trivial point isn't it?
However - I think we can safely use evolution to refute the argument from design, which is what I think we're basically talking about in this thread.
We obviously can't use it to refute a celestial being that designs the front cover of playing card boxes that never manifest in our universe, nor can we use it to refute Armani. I don't think anyone here is under the delusion that we can.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 97 by New Cat's Eye, posted 01-28-2010 5:05 PM New Cat's Eye has replied

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 Message 99 by New Cat's Eye, posted 01-28-2010 5:28 PM Modulous has replied

  
Modulous
Member (Idle past 103 days)
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 100 of 264 (544854)
01-28-2010 6:36 PM
Reply to: Message 99 by New Cat's Eye
01-28-2010 5:28 PM


Re: Designers in general? Falsifying Armani.
I'm under the impression that ID's designer is undefined so any amount of evidence for evolution is not going to be against ID, its not falsifiable.
ID's designer? It is defined enough as being the entity that has directly interceded on various occasions to help evolution bridge alleged uncrossable valleys in the fitness landscape.
Since it can be shown that the valleys are not uncrossable, this refutes the argument that suggests that such a designer is necessary for life to have evolved to its present state and only leaves 'it is possible that a designer interceded...' at which point, if we are including all of those things that cannot be ruled out, means generating a long list:
Life has got where it is because it has evolved, or an intelligent designer did it according to some design, or an intelligent being did it for the lulz and without any plan, or an unintelligent being did it out of 'instinct' or some natural process x that has yet been described, or grand natural process y which evolution is merely a simplification for is responsible, or....
So basically the ID argument (and indeed teleology) boils down to 'evolution did it or something else did'.
I think we all agree it is impossible to prove the non-existence of an undefined entity (and indeed - it is impossible to prove most defined entities as non-existing, unless they are defined to be logically contradictory or 'non existant' is otherwise explicitly or implicitly part of the definition.) But it is possible to refute the teleological argument in general using biological evidence by showing how once the necessity clause is removed (by having a viable alternative) - the whole thing comes crashing down to insignificance.
So if you agree it is possible to refute an argument, I think teleology (and by extension ID) has been successfully refuted. ID can be further refuted by showing how the biological claims it makes are simply false.
I think this thread is a big fail.
In my opinion, the OP is a small fail, and only stylistically. It is in principle setup to be similar to RAZD's Silly Design Institute (I used the url tag ) - or the thread Silly Design Institute: Let's discuss BOTH sides of the Design Controversy... which is a showcase for fail in the world of biology but has the added element of parodying the two model approach which definitely elevates it stylistically.
Still - I think some interesting meta-discussions have spawned off about the principle of refuting ID.
Edited by Modulous, : added 'in my opinion' to the fail comment at the end - it should be implicit from the tone, but it could have been viewed as an absolute claim and attempted refutation of CS's opinion of big fail - which it wasn't intended to be.

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Modulous
Member (Idle past 103 days)
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 107 of 264 (544943)
01-29-2010 4:55 PM
Reply to: Message 101 by Blue Jay
01-29-2010 10:05 AM


Re: ID uses teleological arguments as a Trojan Wedge
It's always been my custom to treat science much more tentatively than most scientists do. I'm always hesitant to consider any "God of the gaps" argument defeated or refuted, particularly when the reason for dismissing it is because there is evidence for another process with which the gap-argument could very easily coexist.
I'm not talking about refutation to mean 'to prove in perfect logic that the claim is absolutely false'. Everything is tentative - even refutations!
A refutation just can just show the argument collapses into pointless meaninglessness as the argument from design does in the realm of biology (and actually, by extension, in other areas too).
If an argument is shown to be special pleading from the set 'something else' - I'm fairly sure that's as refuted as any argument could possibly be. What else do you expect from a refutation?
But, if the argument is only that teleology plays a role in the origin of things, and does not have to be the only process involved, that is an entirely different concept to work with, and does require much more extensive refutation to defeat.
Again - if you construct it to be irrefutable, then it falls into the meaninglessness and by specifying one 'something other' over any other you are special pleading.
If you argument is the stronger one, that certain features can only be explained by design - showing how this isn't true ruins the core of the argument, yes?
By definition a god of the gaps argument is unfalsifiable. Nobody is attempting to falsify it, and nobody is claiming it can be falsified. We're just saying that the argument is rendered as impotent as any other unverifiable unfalsifiable claim a person might dream up: and should be given as much credit.
Naturally, it depends on how much teleology is involved in the particular model being discussed. And, I see no reason why an argument that is 90% stochastic processes and 10% teleology (such as some variants of Old Earth Creationism) couldn't be called "Intelligent Design."
Sounds to me like ID. The concept that evolution does happen but there are certain 'jumps' that are required for life to get here.
Unfortunately no such 'jumps' have ever been identified so the argument is presently useless.
Those 'jumps' that have been mentioned have been shown to not be jumps insurmountable to evolution.
And the final nail in the coffin is that by learning about something so surprising as evolution - it opens the door to the fact that we have to keep an open mind for unexpected, difficult to see, natural explanations for certain things. It then follows that even if a jump insurmountable to evolutionary mechanisms as we know them - it doesn't follow that it IS NOT an un discovered evolutionary mechanism - or any other undiscovered mechanism.
But, I think, in this case, this is a given, though: since the alternative is "stochastic, unguided processes," then "something else" is invariably teleological.
The alternative isn't "stochastic, unguided processes" , it's evolution which is a unintelligently guided (by natural seleciton) stochastic process and completely unguided (drift) and various other things. And of course there are plenty of 'it was done by a being' options that don't involve a design.
I was pretty proud of it myself.
Okay, so I completely misread the intent behind that sentence... My bad.
I was referring to Occam's razor.
I hasten to point out that all proofs and disproofs in philosophy involve these kinds of 'heuristics'. The whole of epistemology is working through them and trying to support them etc.
However, I don't think what we're doing here relies on anything that we wouldn't apply in other situations without second thought. If someone produced an argument that was as weak and unfalsifiable as the teleological argument under any other circumstances we'd just laugh them off as first year philosophy students or something.
"Maybe we're all in the Matrix and porridge actually tastes like steak!"
We can't disprove it - but we can show that it's a crap argument. We can refute the argument "What we see can only be explained if we were in the Matrix and porridge actually tastes like steak", by explaining it in another fashion.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 101 by Blue Jay, posted 01-29-2010 10:05 AM Blue Jay has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 108 by Blue Jay, posted 01-30-2010 2:14 AM Modulous has replied

  
Modulous
Member (Idle past 103 days)
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 111 of 264 (544983)
01-30-2010 8:06 AM
Reply to: Message 108 by Blue Jay
01-30-2010 2:14 AM


Evidence destroys the strong, reason destroys the weak
Again - if you construct it to be irrefutable, then it falls into the meaninglessness and by specifying one 'something other' over any other you are special pleading.
I’m uncomfortable with the way this statement portrays me as having an active role in all this
I meant 'you' in the indefinite sense, sorry. "If one were to construct it..." seemed a little stilted.
If the argument were that life was zapped to Earth via a wormhole, or that some organisms can evolve in a Lamarckian fashion, I would likewise be saying that there is no evidence against this argument, and that this thread would be a waste of time.
Well - if the argument was 'life can only be explained in Lamarckian wormhole fashions' it can be refuted. If the argument was simply that 'you can't prove my unfalsifiable crap I just pulled out of my arse' - it is refuted by your second statement - it's a meaningless waste of time and the fact that it could be said for a billion other things serves as evidence it is a bogus argument. It isn't proven wrong, but it is as refuted as an argument can be.
Imagine if the government stuck with the WMD line and argued 'it can't be proven Iraq doesn't have a large stockpile of weapons hidden somewhere." I'd think we'd all roll our eyes and take the piss.
We could also say that the "jump" between corn and transgenic Bt corn has been shown to not be a jump insurmountable to evolution, based on the same set of evidence used to make the demonstrations you suggest; yet, we know that Bt corn was perpetrated by a team of intelligent designers.
Indeed. And I'm not suggesting at any point, that we have proven intelligent design could not have happened. We can undermine the design argument though, by showing that the once excellent argument 'It can only be explained by design' is in fact not true so that the argument becomes 'It might have been a designer, or it might have been evolution or it might have been something else I guess. I mean we certainly can't rule out a designer that designs things to look evolved'. This is the epitome of a crushed argument, yes?
The point is simply that Intelligent Design is innately an unsupportable and irrefutable concept, regardless of how it is constructed.
And my point is that teleology is a philosophical position and can't be 'proven false' in its entirety because there are always unfalsifiable alternatives conceivable. It can be shown to be an impotent argument, crushed and defeated with nothing interesting left to say.
ID is, more or less, refuted: being as it so often relies on demonstrable falsehoods.
If we're feeling generous and want to overlook the lies, misinformation, ignorance (deliberate or otherwise), spin, quote mines etc., etc, then at it's core we're just dealing with teleology which is a pretty knackered argument.
So again:
I'm not trying to produce biological evidence to falsify that which we both agree is unfalsifiable. We both agree it cannot be done.
I am producing biological evidence to show that the strong argument of design 'this can only be explained by design' is refuted.
I am then engaging in reasoning to show that this produces an argument which is as refuted as any philosophical argument can ever be said to be.
Empiricism + Rationalism. A force to be reckoned with.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 108 by Blue Jay, posted 01-30-2010 2:14 AM Blue Jay has seen this message but not replied

  
Modulous
Member (Idle past 103 days)
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 159 of 264 (545751)
02-05-2010 7:34 AM
Reply to: Message 157 by nwr
02-04-2010 4:30 PM


Re: Omphalism
Okay. So Dawkins is using "agnosticism" as a kind of soft atheism. By contrast, I use it as defined in Wikipedia, as a principled position that is outside the Dawkins scale, and would use "undecided" for position 4 on that scale.
Actually - Dawkins differentiates between 'the evidence could point in one of two directions' agnotsticism (Temporarily Agnostic in Practice (TAP) and Permanently Agnostic in Principle (PAP)). One generally would be PAP for unfalsifiable stuff but Dawkins uses this as a springboard to falsifying the premise of the design argument by arguing we shouldn't consider it PAP.
Staying on topic here, Dawkins also puts forward evolution as evidence against intelligent design. This argument is a variety of the one I made earlier combined with the infinite regress argument. It goes like this:
Either the complex things in this world can be explained by recourse to simpler more fundamental things or they can only be explained in a top-down fashion. But top-down leads us to infinite regress, and evolution has told us that things just don't tend to follow the pattern of complex things being built by more complex things. It's always complex things making simpler things or simple things making simple things or simple things making complex things.
I don't see a need to be on that scale. I think of omphalism is analogous to that old philosophers question about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
Indeed - omphalism or a designer that designs things to look undesigned - would fit into the PAP category of Dawkins. PAP isn't on the scale, the scale only includes things for which argument and evidence can actually have any reasonable contribution to.
On the scale, any non-PAP designer of life (Dawkins argues - a non-PAP designer would include any designer that wanted us to know it did it (or at least had no motivation to hide their deeds)- most worshipped creator deities for example) is low, the dinosaur's killing blow is somewhere in the middle, and evolution is high.

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Modulous
Member (Idle past 103 days)
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 162 of 264 (545796)
02-05-2010 12:07 PM
Reply to: Message 160 by Blue Jay
02-05-2010 9:44 AM


Re: Omphalism
What is the difference between the two parts I bolded?
Technically, none - I was a bit distracted there, looks like I mangled two halves of an argument together when I got back to writing it later. Lemme try a second time,
...evolution has told us that things just don't tend to follow the pattern of complex things being built by more complex things. Even when we seem to find complex things making simpler things it's actually explained by recourse to simple things.
A dam for instance, might be explained by a beaver. But that is only an explanation if we know what a beaver is. If we don't then we have to explain the beaver in terms of...essentially natural selection. So the explanation of the dam is 'natural selection' and the beaver is just part of that explanation.
To anticipate your possible response: Could we have been designed by a designer that is ultimately explained in simpler terms? Sure - Dawkins has explicitly said as much (and ironically got jeered at by IDists at the time for doing so).
His argument is against the design arguments that terminate with a more complex entity than was originally raised. Which, he argues, is not the way the evidence indicates things work around here.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 160 by Blue Jay, posted 02-05-2010 9:44 AM Blue Jay has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 163 by Blue Jay, posted 02-05-2010 2:04 PM Modulous has replied
 Message 171 by Straggler, posted 02-07-2010 3:42 AM Modulous has replied

  
Modulous
Member (Idle past 103 days)
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 164 of 264 (545814)
02-05-2010 2:51 PM
Reply to: Message 163 by Blue Jay
02-05-2010 2:04 PM


*plug*
So the explanation for computers and airplanes is also "natural selection," and humans are just part of that explanation?
That's interesting. It actually makes sense in a roundabout sort of way. And, I wouldn't have a problem with a designer who had evolved through natural selection.
I think there needs to be some type of partitioning in it, though: distinguishing between "proximate" and "ultimate" causes, for instance. Otherwise, it's kind of esoteric.
It's kind of the mind bending thesis of "The Extended Phenotype" - it's quite interesting.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 163 by Blue Jay, posted 02-05-2010 2:04 PM Blue Jay has not replied

  
Modulous
Member (Idle past 103 days)
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 177 of 264 (546020)
02-07-2010 12:49 PM
Reply to: Message 171 by Straggler
02-07-2010 3:42 AM


Re: Complexity
How are we objectively determining complexity? One of the most common ID arguments is that X is too complex to have arisen naturally. Are we not in danger here of making the mirror image claim that Y is not simple enough to have occurred naturally?
How are we objectively assessing complexity/simplicity and the boundary between that which can have arisen on it's own and that which cannot?
I intuitively agree with Dawkins argument. But this concerns me.
Biologists only need to go to the level of simplicity provided by basic laws of chemistry and physics. They can then say 'we can explain biology in terms of chemistry and logic. Chemists say we can explain things in terms of physics and logic. Physiscists are the ones struggling with the fundamentals, the 'simplest' bits.
Most physicists seem to agree that it just keeps getting simpler (and ironically more difficult to understand). What it means to be 'simple enough' for an ultimate natural explanation - is an open question.
One thing is for sure - the Mandelbrot set was created by a rather simple equation - not a painter with a brush of infinite detail.
The overall pattern is simple things giving rise to complex things through a sequence of interactions , each simple individiually but because of sheer numbers and other factors - are rather chaotic and 'complex' and it turns out that complexity and simplicity are actually the same thing. But that sounds like a road that needs a mathematician to go down, which I ain't.
One of the most common ID arguments is that X is too complex to have arisen naturally. Are we not in danger here of making the mirror image claim that Y is not simple enough to have occurred naturally?
If it helps - I don't think these are mirror images. I think they are synonymous claims. "Not simple enough" and "Too complex" are basically the same, right?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 171 by Straggler, posted 02-07-2010 3:42 AM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 178 by Straggler, posted 02-07-2010 1:08 PM Modulous has replied

  
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