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Author Topic:   What is design? Can we not find evidence of design on earth or in the universe?
Deftil
Member (Idle past 3208 days)
Posts: 128
From: Virginia, USA
Joined: 04-19-2008


Message 9 of 185 (485156)
10-05-2008 6:48 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by NOT JULIUS
10-03-2008 7:34 PM


Doubting Too writes:

What is design? Do you agree or disagree with this definition: "To design is to create or execute something--abstract or concrete--in a highly skilled manner with a purpose or goal in mind".


Strictly speaking of "design", that is an ok definition. I'm not a big fan of the phrase "highly skilled" (something can be designed poorly) or the words "purpose" and "goal" (something has to be designed by plan, but it doesn't necessarily have to have a purpose.. something can be designed "just 'cause") though.

This defintion of "design" works for me: "to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to plan".
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/design

But the appearance of design should also be differentiated from actual design. Our minds pick up on patterns and intentions, sometimes when they aren't even there - seeing faces in clouds, hills on mars, and on pieces of toast for example, when, on thoughtful consideration we realize that all these things are the result of chance and our minds tendency to recognize patterns. This is the case of appearance of design, as opposed to actual design.

Richard Dawkins' book The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design discusses the appearance of design particularly in relation to life on Earth and Leonard Susskind's book The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Design discusses the appearance of design more in relation to the universe itself. These books could be recommended reading for any who don't currently appreciate the difference between design and the appearance of design.

Also, I thought Parasomnium's answer was great and addressed the anthropic principle well.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by NOT JULIUS, posted 10-03-2008 7:34 PM NOT JULIUS has responded

Replies to this message:
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Deftil
Member (Idle past 3208 days)
Posts: 128
From: Virginia, USA
Joined: 04-19-2008


Message 41 of 185 (485288)
10-06-2008 8:28 PM
Reply to: Message 35 by NOT JULIUS
10-06-2008 6:24 PM


Re: You Probably Got it Wrong
DT writes:

Premise (p)1: To design is to create or execute something in a skilled manner with a purpose or goal in mind.

P2: If something is made or executed in a highly skilled manner with a purpose or goal in mind, then it is evidence of design.

P3: The right distance of the earth to the sun, and the right conditions on earth is towards a goal--life on earth.

P4: There is life on earth (the goal)

Conclusion: From P1 to P4, we can conclude that the right distance of the earth to the sun, AND the right conditions on earth is by design towards a goal--life on earth.


I'm curious if you actually think this is a good syllogism.

There is a logical fallacy in P3, namely begging the question. If you assume that life on Earth is a goal of someone or something, then obviously you will feel it is desgined. But the point of your argument is to establish this point, not assume it, and therefore the above syllogism is not logically sound. The task you have before you is to logically establish that life on Earth is the result of design, without utlilizing premises that already assume this conclusion.

DT writes:

Wrong analogies: The analogy of the puddle and the potholes, and the "face of man on mars" do not apply. They simply have no goals.


You are correct that they have no goals, in fact, this is the point that is being made by presenting them to you. They have the appearance of being goals though, without having actually been consciously designed. What this proves is that just because something may appear to us as having been designed, doesn't mean that it actually is. The appearance of design is not enough information for us to conclude actual design, we must prove that something has been designed from other premises than its appearance. Therefore, concluding that life on Earth is designed, just on the basis of its appearance, without having other premises to establish this point is faulty logic.

Also, a little FYI on Cydonia Mensae aka the "face on Mars"

quote:
In one of the images taken by Viking 1 on July 25, 1976, one of the Cydonian mesas, situated at 40.75° north latitude and 9.46° west longitude, had the appearance of a humanoid "Face on Mars". When the image was originally acquired, Viking chief scientist Gerry Soffen dismissed the "face" in image 35A72 as a "[trick] of light and shadow". However, a second image, 70A13, also shows the "Face" and was acquired 35 Viking orbits later at a different "sun-angle" than the 35A72 image. This latter discovery was made independently by two computer engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Vincent DiPietro and Gregory Molenaar, who discovered the two misfiled images, Viking frames 35A72 and 70A13, while searching through NASA archives.

The occurrence of an object on Mars with a seemingly human face caught the attention of individuals and organisations interested in extraterrestrial intelligence and visitations to Earth, and the images were published in this context in 1977.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Face_on_mars#The_Face_on_Mars

If you don't see the resemblance to a human face in the image in question, then you are certainly in the minority.
More info on the "face on Mars" - http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2001/ast24may_1.htm

Edited by Deftil, : spelling


This message is a reply to:
 Message 35 by NOT JULIUS, posted 10-06-2008 6:24 PM NOT JULIUS has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 42 by NOT JULIUS, posted 10-06-2008 9:11 PM Deftil has responded

  
Deftil
Member (Idle past 3208 days)
Posts: 128
From: Virginia, USA
Joined: 04-19-2008


Message 69 of 185 (485397)
10-08-2008 2:13 AM
Reply to: Message 42 by NOT JULIUS
10-06-2008 9:11 PM


Re: You Probably Got it Wrong
DT writes:

Re. premise 3. I don't believe this is begging the question. I am not assuming that life on earth is the goal.


Now you're just being dishonest or are confused. The premises in an argument are assumptions. Let's look at P3 again:
DT writes:

P3: The right distance of the earth to the sun, and the right conditions on earth is towards a goal--life on earth.


See that bit in your premise about "toward a goal"? Something that is "toward a goal" must have intention behind it (if it didn't have intention behind it, you wouldn't refer to it as a "goal"). That there is intention behind nature is meant to be your conclusion, but you have assumed it in one of your premises. This is the definition of the begging the question fallacy; assuming your conclusion in your premises. However, if your intention is to be true to logic and reason, and thus to not beg the question in your argument, surely you will not object to your premise being restated in such as way so as to not beg the question. I will do so now to see what effect it has on your argument. (I'll also remove "(the goal)" from P4 which is a carrying over of the question begging, and I'll add "proven to be" in P2 b/c it makes the obvious clearer.)

DT writes:

Premise (p)1: To design is to create or execute something in a skilled manner with a purpose or goal in mind.

P2: If something is proven to be made or executed in a highly skilled manner with a purpose or goal in mind, then it is evidence of design.

P3: The right distance of the earth to the sun, and the right conditions on earth result in life as we know it.

P4: There is life on earth.

Conclusion: From P1 to P4, we can conclude that the right distance of the earth to the sun, AND the right conditions on earth is by design towards a goal--life on earth.


Now it becomes clear that the conclusion is a non-sequitur. This is because it doesn't logically follow from the simple fact that life as we know it exists that it was a goal, that it was intended, and that it was designed. It's entirely possible that it wasn't. These things MAY actually be true, but in terms of your syllogism and logic, your conclusion does not follow from your premises. You haven't logically proven design.

Now a bit more in regards to your defense of P3:

DT writes:

I am proceeding from this observation: (1) right distance, (2) right condition... and then life. Life obviously is the goal for the preceeding two observable facts. If not, what else? Would chance be a goal... Chance is not a goal. It is a happening, or a frequency, I guess.


Life is not obviously the "goal", but is obviously the "result". Your use of the word "goal", which implies intention and design, is the issue here, and why you are begging the question. You must use language in your premises that does not assume your conclusion, if your logic is to be considered sound. When you go with "result" instead of "goal", your conclusion is a non-sequitur.

DT writes:

Here is another proof why premise 3 is not begging. If the distance is right but condition is not, then no life. If distance is wrong, but condition is right life may exist for a while but eventually will die. So? the two must be present to achieve a goal--life.


Again, same thing. Switch the word "goal" out with something else (which you must do so as to not beg the question) that's neutral in regards to your conclusion and you see that your conclusion doesn't follow. Surely you can see that assuming life is a "goal" is making the assumption that life is the result of design, which is supposed to be your conclusion. To make sure you understand the implications of the word "goal" here is it's definition: "the end toward which effort is directed". Effort can only be directed by a conscious being, aka a designer, so this reveals why use of the word in your premises is begging the question.

You make a further plea in Message 51 that P3 isn't begging the question, so I'll move on to that now.

DT writes:

Is this begging the question? It appears only to be so. But, a more detailed analysis will show this is a valid premise.

Here is analysis:
A. Facts first:

- if there is right distance of the earth to the sun, but WRONG conditions life won’t be possible.
- -if the conditions are right, but distance is wrong life will eventually die.

B. Interpretation of the facts:
-Were the above facts brought by random chance? Mathematical probability is not on its side.


I think the "facts" could be more clearly stated, but the issue is really your "interpretation", which a few people have already taken issue with. Is probability on the side of the right conditions for life occurring?
quote:
"... there are at least 100 billion stars with planets in our Galaxy," Lineweaver said. "With about 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe, our result suggests that there are at least 10 trillion planetary systems in the Universe."
http://dsc.discovery.com/news/afp/20030922/universe.html

10 trillion planetary systems, and many of them undoubtedly contain more than one planet. When you think about it, with that many planets it's actually mathematically unlikely that at least one (but probably many more) of them would not have the right conditions for life. The answer to your next question becomes clear...

DT writes:

Then, why should the earth’s distance to the sun be right, and the conditions of the earth be right for life to flourish?


Chance.

As to why we haven't discovered life on any of these other planets, it's because we don't have the means to observe them closely enough yet. There could literally be life on a million different exoplanets in our universe, and we wouldn't even know it. Perhaps in the future we'll be more capable of searching more planets for life, but at the present it's extremely difficult. We're still trying to be certain life doesn't exist on (or in) a planet (Mars) that's in our very our solar system, so you can only imagine how difficult it would be to comb all planets in the universe for life. To give you an idea, there is estimated to be about 70,000 million million million stars in the universe, but the nearest one, Proxima Centauri is 4.2 light years away. That means if you traveled at the speed of light, 186,282.397 miles per second, it would still take you over 4 years to get there. And most stars are much, much farther away than that and space craft travel MUCH, MUCH slower than the speed of light.

DT writes:

Why would Gideon, a cook, take the effort of coming up with the right ingredient, the right temperature, even the right equipment to cook? In short, why these conditions or requirements? Because he wants to achieve his GOAL—the perfect muffin ( or whatever is that dish). So, as Gideon’s conditions / requirements are towards a goal ( the muffin), the Earth’s and Sun’s conditions/ requirements--- the rightness of distance and condition—also has a GOAL: Life !


So if we see a muffin, we can pretty safely conclude that it was baked by someone; that's true. I've never seen a muffin that didn't have an Intelligent Baker behind it, and I've seen more than a few muffins in my time. But are muffins and bakers good analogies for life and potential Intelligent Desginers? Well, we all have direct experience with muffins and bakers, and the intentions of bakers, so we can reasonably make conclusions about them. However, we don't have direct experience with the original creation of life and with gods, so we can't reliably make any conclusions about them. Muffins, not suprisingly, aren't a great analogy for life.

For any who are interested, in David Hume's An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding he addresses the argument about whether intention and design can be concluded from observing nature. (Back in 1748 BTW!) This is discussed in section 11, OF A PARTICULAR PROVIDENCE AND OF A FUTURE STATE.
I agree with the sentiment presented in that argument which states

quote:
While we argue from the course of nature, and infer a particular intelligent cause, which first bestowed, and still preserves order in the universe, we embrace a principle, which is both uncertain and useless. It is uncertain; because the subject lies entirely beyond the reach of human experience.
A summary of the criticism of the argument from design is here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Hume#The_design_argument

2 points from there worth noting due to particular relevance to the current discussion:

quote:
1. For the design argument to be feasible, it must be true that order and purpose are observed only when they result from design. But order is observed regularly, resulting from presumably mindless processes like snowflake or crystal generation. Design accounts for only a tiny part of our experience with order and "purpose".

2. Furthermore, the design argument is based on an incomplete analogy: because of our experience with objects, we can recognise human-designed ones, comparing for example a pile of stones and a brick wall. But to point to a designed Universe, we would need to have an experience of a range of different universes. As we only experience one, the analogy cannot be applied. We must ask therefore if it is right to compare the world to a machine – as in Paley's watchmaker argument – when perhaps it would be better described as a giant inert animal.


Finally, the "face on Mars"...

DT writes:

I saw the link and the picture.I honestly don't see any image of man. What I saw were black dots on greyish spots. Sorry, I guess I'm not superstitous. Or, I see things differently from most.


I find it kind of ironic that you can observe life and conclude a Designer, yet claim not to be superstitious, lol, but that's just my view. Anyhow, seeing something that looks like a human face in that image has nothing to do with superstition, it just has to do with the fact that in the right light, those hills kind of resemble a human face, at least according to nearly everyone that looks at it.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 42 by NOT JULIUS, posted 10-06-2008 9:11 PM NOT JULIUS has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 75 by NOT JULIUS, posted 10-08-2008 10:49 PM Deftil has not yet responded

  
Deftil
Member (Idle past 3208 days)
Posts: 128
From: Virginia, USA
Joined: 04-19-2008


Message 98 of 185 (485740)
10-11-2008 3:45 AM
Reply to: Message 94 by NOT JULIUS
10-10-2008 5:36 PM


Re: Closing Argument: Holiday & Someone lost his cool
Hello again, Doubting Too.

I'm not quite done here so I hope you won't mind if I say a few more things on this subject.

DT writes:

Many of you tried to falsify that premise by giving the right answer to the wrong question! Did you notice that I tried to prove # 3 by a series of WHY questions--not HOw?


In regards to my point that P3 begs the question, I really think you are missing the point. Strictly speaking in terms of Logic, assuming that life is a goal when your intended conclusion is that life is designed and towards a goal is committing the logical fallacy of begging the question. This point transcends subjective opinion, and is simply a fact about Logic. I hope that you'll review some information on begging the question (for some reason the page I linked earlier on this is down) and your own syllogism which contains the following:
DT writes:

P3: The right distance of the earth to the sun, and the right conditions on earth is towards a goal--life on earth.

Conclusion: From P1 to P4, we can conclude that the right distance of the earth to the sun, AND the right conditions on earth is by design towards a goal--life on earth.


See how you used the conclusion in your premise? I put the phrase in bold to make it easy to see. In a logically sound syllogism you simply can't do that. Your conclusion may even be right, but if so, it's only by coincidence because the way you arrived at your conclusion (in terms of how you presented it in your syllogism) is faulty.

DT writes:

I don't expect you really to accept--as of now--this kind of reasoning. But, someday you will--when you realize that science ends ( the how questions) where philosophy begins ( the why's). At that time, you'll say, "Aha! there are lots of evidence for design".


I definitely don't accept this "reasoning" because it's faulty logic. I really don't think it represents any shortcoming on my (or others) part to reject an argument where the conclusion does not necessarily follow from the premises.

One of the arguments against your claims is that just because something appears designed, does not mean that it is. The puddle analogy is simply a vague one to refute anthropic reasoning, and I'd like to ask you to stop thinking about that for the time being. You see, I agree with you that there appears to be evidence for design. Some things seem too orderly and purposeful to be the result of an accident. But it does not necessarily follow that what we perceive as design is really what it first appears. I presented this point in Message 69 with a quote from wikipedia. Here it is again

quote:
For the design argument to be feasible, it must be true that order and purpose are observed only when they result from design. But order is observed regularly, resulting from presumably mindless processes like snowflake or crystal generation. Design accounts for only a tiny part of our experience with order and "purpose".

It's essentially been proven that many things that appear designed with a purpose, are not. Examples are snowflake and crystal generation, the face on Mars, and the Giant's Causeway to name a few. This disproves the validity of your reasoning that observing order and what appears to be design necessarily implies consciousness-directed design on a fundamental level. Things can seem to be designed, yet that's not enough to conclude that they were. We must have direct evidence of design to be able to safely conclude design. Is it possible that Earth's conditions and distance from the sun is the result of design? Sure. But we don't have anything approaching logical proof that it is. Further, considering the fact that there are tens (or hundreds) of trillions planets in the universe, it's virtually inevitable that at least one (but probably many) has the appropriate distance from its star and other planetary conditions to support life.

DT writes:

I'm not going to argue anymore. This is just my wish: that someday, Huntard, you'll find out that there are answers to the "Why" questions of this universe.


It may be good that you are going on vacation (I hope you enjoy your vaca BTW) and won't be able to argue this for a bit. It will give a chance for the arguments presented in this thread to simmer in your mind for awhile. There are indeed answers to the "Why" questions, DT, but the problem is that we don't have sufficient logical proof to be sure that the answers people give are the right ones. There's also the problem of infinite regression of the "Why" questions, which is why many people don't accept the attempts made at answers. "Why does Earth have the right conditions for life? Why are there many trillions of planets in the universe? Why are the laws of physics as they are?" We can say it's because God/an intelligent designer/ the flying Spaghetti monster did it, but the problem is that this doesn't stop the chain of "Why" questions. Why does God exist? Why does God make universes that can have life? Why did God make laws of physics? are then the next questions. The point of positing a god is to stop the regress of "Why" questions, but it really only does so if you turn your mind off once you answer "God", so that answer doesn't turn out to do what you initially think it does, and what you'd like it to.

Ok, that's about it for now. I'm actually currently reading a book that I find fascinating that addresses a lot of this stuff. It's called The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational Universe, and it's by a physicist named Paul Davies. Much of what's in there can boggle the mind at times, but I really recommend you take a look at it. The author is agnostic, and he essentially tries to examine the big "Why" questions from an objective viewpoint.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 94 by NOT JULIUS, posted 10-10-2008 5:36 PM NOT JULIUS has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 105 by Deftil, posted 10-21-2008 11:33 AM Deftil has not yet responded

  
Deftil
Member (Idle past 3208 days)
Posts: 128
From: Virginia, USA
Joined: 04-19-2008


Message 105 of 185 (486492)
10-21-2008 11:33 AM
Reply to: Message 98 by Deftil
10-11-2008 3:45 AM


Re: Closing Argument: Holiday & Someone lost his cool
Deftil writes:

I'm actually currently reading a book that I find fascinating that addresses a lot of this stuff. It's called The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational Universe, and it's by a physicist named Paul Davies. Much of what's in there can boggle the mind at times, but I really recommend you take a look at it. The author is agnostic, and he essentially tries to examine the big "Why" questions from an objective viewpoint.


Now that I've finished this book I just wanted to note that as interesting as interesting as it is (and as relevant to this topic as much of it is) I don't entirely agree with the author on all points. Which is fine of course, it's still a darn good book. He actually tends to believe that there is some purpose in the grand scheme of things, but he is honest in that he points out that this is just his own feeling, and that there is no known rigorous proof to lead to his conclusion, it's simply his personal feeling.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 98 by Deftil, posted 10-11-2008 3:45 AM Deftil has not yet responded

  
Deftil
Member (Idle past 3208 days)
Posts: 128
From: Virginia, USA
Joined: 04-19-2008


Message 178 of 185 (487108)
10-27-2008 5:57 PM
Reply to: Message 177 by Agobot
10-26-2008 12:38 PM


Re: Atheism
Agobot, your defensiveness and appeals to authority are comtemptible. If you were confident that your beliefs were accurate, I don't believe it would be likely that you would resort to such measures.

You've listed some people that have hinted that there may be some sort of god. Ok, so should I now list some intelligent people that don't believe in a god? Where will that get us? Would that even constitute an actual argument?

I also find it ironic that you criticize others atheism as being due in some part to not keeping up with modern physics while you cite Einstein as example of someone who was some sort of theist. If I wanted to act like you, I would simply say something like "that's ironic and if you don't know why, I don't have the time to teach you" but in an attempt to foster productive discussion I will actually tell you. It's because Einstein didn't even accept all the conclusions of the modern physics of his time. But let's not dwell on that because simply stating what you think someone else believes does not constitute an actual argument, and there's another thread on the forum somewhere about Einstein's religious beliefs and anyone who wants to dicuss that can do so there.

The god of the gaps isn't much of an argument for a god/creator/designer and as far as I can tell, that's what you're giving us. Because we can't explain everything, that means there is a god. No, logically, it doesn't. There may or may not be a god, but regardless, it doesn't necesarily logically follow from the fact that our scientific explanations are incomplete that there is one. Like I said earlier in this thread, answering questions with "god" only works if you shut your mind off immediately after giving that answer.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 177 by Agobot, posted 10-26-2008 12:38 PM Agobot has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 179 by Agobot, posted 10-27-2008 6:12 PM Deftil has not yet responded
 Message 180 by Agobot, posted 10-27-2008 6:37 PM Deftil has responded

  
Deftil
Member (Idle past 3208 days)
Posts: 128
From: Virginia, USA
Joined: 04-19-2008


Message 181 of 185 (487120)
10-27-2008 6:50 PM
Reply to: Message 180 by Agobot
10-27-2008 6:37 PM


Re: Atheism
You have absolutely no idea of the implications of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle even by today's interpretations.

I don't? Really? How do you know that?

You really need to slow yourself down with the baseless assertions about what other people know. You're making yourself look pretty silly. No one is going to give any credence to your conclusions if you continually demonstrate that you come to them in an unfounded manner.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 180 by Agobot, posted 10-27-2008 6:37 PM Agobot has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 182 by Agobot, posted 10-27-2008 7:14 PM Deftil has not yet responded

  
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