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[P]
The Pseudoscience of Intelligent Design

By benna in Op-Ed
Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 12:18:45 PM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)
Science

The Dover, Pennsylvania school board recently adopted a policy requiring that high school science teachers teaching evolution tell their students that evolutionary theory, a theory that has been shown to explain the origins of life time and time again, is flawed, and that intelligent design is a valid alternative. The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), along with the AUSCS (Americans United for the Separation of Church and State), and 11 parents, are suing the school board, accusing the board of violating the separation of church and state (Banerjee A16). They are quite right. The sole purpose of "Intelligent Design" is to make creationism look like a scientifically credible theory, so that it can be perpetuated in public schools, among other places. Intelligent Design, however, is not supported by scientific evidence, and is invalid as a scientific theory.


To understand the problems with Intelligent Design, first it is important to understand the theory it is attempting to oppose, evolution by natural selection. The theory is this: If organisms reproduce, offspring inherit traits from their progenitor(s), a variability of traits exists, and the environment cannot sustain all the members of an increasingly large population, then those members of the population that have poorly-adapted traits (to their environment) will die out, and those with well-adapted traits (to their environment) will prosper (Darwin 459). Over a long period of time, this process leads to extreme complexity, and adaptedness.

The premise of Intelligent Design is that the universe is so unimaginably complex and perfect that it must have been created by an intelligent designer. The classic analogy used in this argument is that of the watch and the watchmaker. William Paley wrote in his book, Natural Theology:

"In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there; I might possibly answer, that, for any thing I knew to the contrary, it had lain there for ever: nor would it perhaps be very easy to show the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place; I should hardly think of the answer which I had before given, that, for any thing I knew, the watch might have always been there. Yet why should not this answer serve for the watch as well as for the stone? Why is it not as admissible in the second case, as in the first (1)?"

The watchmaker analogy attempts to show that just as a watch could not come into existence by random events, neither could a human being. All arguments for design are essentially derivatives of this argument, and none of them succeed in lending any credibility to Intelligent Design.

Michael Behe, in his book, Darwin's Black box, puts forward an argument for Intelligent Design which he calls "Irreducible Complexity." In the book, Behe argues that there are certain complex systems which cannot be explained by evolution. He compares these systems to a mousetrap:

"The first step in determining irreducible complexity is to specify both the function of the system and all system components. An irreducibly complex object will be composed of several parts, all of which contribute to the function ...

"The function of a mousetrap is to immobilize a mouse so that it can't perform such unfriendly acts as chewing through sacks of flour or electrical cords, or leaving little reminders of its presence in unswept corners. The mousetraps that my family uses consist of a number of parts (Figure 2-2): (1) a flat wooden platform to act as a base [for the attachment of the other parts]; (2) a metal hammer, which does the actual job of crushing the little mouse; (3) a spring with extended ends to press against the platform and the hammer when the trap is charged; (4) a sensitive catch that releases when slight pressure is applied, and (5) a metal holding bar that connects to the catch and holds the hammer back when the trap is charged. (There are also assorted staples to hold the system together).

"The second step in determining if a system is irreducibly complex is to ask if all the components are required for function. In this example, the answer is clearly yes ... If the wooden base were gone, there would be no platform for attaching the other components. If the hammer were gone, the mouse could dance all night on the platform without becoming pinned to the wooden base. If there were no spring, the hammer and platform would jangle loosely, and again the rodent would be unimpeded. If there were no catch or metal holding bar, then the spring would snap the hammer shut as soon as you let go of it; in order to use a trap like that you would have to chase the mouse around while holding the trap open." (42)

Behe believes that the vertebrate eye, along with several other biological functions, is irreducibly complex. He tries to show that this is a fatal flaw in evolution because there would be no selection pressure for the intermediate steps in the construction of an irreducibly complex function. While this may seem reasonable, there is a clear way around this problem. Behe completely neglects the possibility that the eye, and other irreducibly complex systems evolved in steps in which the function of the system changed. In fact, Darwin anticipated this challenge in Origin of Species and gave a reasonable explanation of how this very thing could have happened with the eye (217).

Experiments with simulated evolution on computers have shown that Darwin's explanation is extremely probable. In an article published in the journal Nature, computer science researchers used a program called Avida, to simulate the evolution of "digital organisms." Digital organisms are pieces of computer code that replicate (Lenski et al. 139). They have a "genome" of computer instructions, which can combine to perform functions. They use "energy" to replicate, and can gain energy by performing any of nine logic functions. The more complicated a logic function was, the more energy an organism would gain by performing it (Lenski et al. 140).

The population in the experiment started as 36,000 identical digital organisms, which could not perform logic functions but could replicate. Even the most simple logic function would take multiple mutations to evolve (Lenski et al. 140). The most complicated function, EQU, appeared in the population after 111 mutations. At mutation 110 the organism actually lost one of its most basic functions, NAND. The researchers found that if NAND had not been removed, EQU would not have appeared. The researchers repeated the experiment 50 times and found that the number of mutations needed to evolve EQU ranged from 51 to 721 (Lenski et al. 141). Five of the 23 populations which developed EQU included a deleterious mutation in the step prior to its evolution (Lenski et al. 142). This demonstrates that parts of an organism can trade off functions, even losing them for a time, while evolving more complex and useful ones.

The EQU function depended on 35 of 60 instructions in the organism's genome. Deleting any one of them would prevent EQU from being performed. The researchers performed the experiment 50 more times, and found that the number of instructions required for EQU ranged from 17 to 43 with a median of 28. The function is clearly extremely complex and fragile.

The researchers came to several conclusions as a result of their experiments. They found that EQU was only evolved when an organism could successfully use simpler functions. There was great overlap in the genetic instructions used in many different functions. Loss of simple functions was often a side effect of gaining complex ones. In agreement with Charles Darwin, they found that complex features evolve through the modification of existing simpler structures. Behe's mousetrap must have had another function while it was in the process of creating its mouse trapping function. This seems absurd as applied to a mousetrap, but this has more to do with the simplicity of the mouse trap, in comparison to actual biological processes than the failure of Darwinism.

Moreover, it has been shown how many of the processes that Behe claimed were irreducibly complex, have actually evolved. He claimed that both bacterial flagellum and the immune system were irreducibly complex, but it has been shown that this is not the case (Matzke; Inlay). Clearly, irreducible complexity does not defeat Darwinism.

Another argument for intelligent design, put forward primarily by the mathematician and philosopher William Dembsky, is the argument of "Specified Complexity." The term Specified Complexity was used originally by Leslie Orgel. Her definition is:

"In brief, living organisms are distinguished by their "specified" complexity. Crystals are usually taken as the prototypes of simple well-specified structures, because they consist of a very large number of identical molecules packed together in a uniform way. Lumps of granite or random mixtures of polymers are examples of structures which are complex but not specified. The crystals fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; the mixtures of polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity." (189)

Dembsky's Specified Complexity can be explained as follows. A series of random characters such as "icmalswejd" has high complexity but low specificity. The character string "aaaaaaaaaa," on the other hand, has high specificity, since it has a distinct pattern, but low complexity, because it can be compressed into "10 a's." The sentence "I hate dogs" could be said to have specified complexity, because it cannot be compressed, and it has a pattern, that of the grammar and syntax of the English language (Wikipedia).

Dembsky argues that for something to be complex, it must have "multiple possible outcomes." He says that if something can be predicted to happen with certainty, it is not Specified Complexity. In this way he precludes any deterministic explanation of Specified Complexity, thus making it require some external designer by definition. Specified Complexity essentially boils down to a tautology. The question then becomes whether Specified Complexity, as defined by Dembsky, exists at all. Dembsky doesn't even seem sure of this, saying "does nature exhibit actual specified complexity? The jury is still out."

A third argument for Intelligent Design is the so-called "Fined-Tuned Universe" argument. If certain physical constants were different, life would not exist, it is argued. For example:

If the strong nuclear force were to have been as little as 2% stronger (relative to the other forces), all hydrogen would have been converted into helium. If it were 5% weaker, no helium at all would have formed and there would be nothing but hydrogen. If the weak nuclear force were a little stronger, supernovas could not occur, and heavy elements could not have formed. If it were slightly weaker, only helium might have formed. If the electromagnetic forces were stronger, all stars would be red dwarfs, and there would be no planets. If it were a little weaker, all stars would be very hot and short-lived. If the electron charge were ever so slightly different, there would be no chemistry as we know it. Carbon (12C) only just managed to form in the primal nucleosynthesis. And so on." (McMullin 378)

If one were to go fishing and catch 50 fish, all of which were more than ten inches long, one might reasonably make the hypothesis that all of the fish in the lake are more than ten inches long. Someone else might make another hypothesis, that only half the fish in the lake are more than ten inches long. It seems obvious that the first hypothesis is more likely. But what if, upon closer examination, it becomes clear that the net being used to catch the fish had holes that prevented it from catching fish smaller than ten inches, and that the fisherman left it in the water until it had caught 50 fish? This new information must now be incorporated into the hypothesis, causing both to have a likelihood of one, thus preventing one from being more likely than the other.

This situation can be directly applied to the fine-tuned universe argument. It may seem on the surface that the likelihood of a universe in which all of the constants are right for life given an intelligent designer is much higher than the likelihood that the constants are right given random chance. When we add in the fact that we are here to observe the universe, however, we find that the likelihood of a fine-tuned universe is one either way. If we are here we must be in a universe which is tuned to our existence. The likelihood of a fine-tuned universe given that there is an intelligent designer and that we live in a fine tuned universe is equal to the likelihood that we live in a fined tuned universe given that it was created by random chance and that we live in a fine-tuned universe.

Pr(Fine-Tuned Universe | Intelligent Design & Fine-Tuned Universe) = Pr(Fine-Tuned Universe | Chance & Fine-Tuned Universe) = 1

This is to say that since we are here we must live in a universe fine-tuned to our existence regardless of whether that universe was created by an intelligent designer or by random chance. Therefore, the fine-tuned universe argument does not, in the final analysis, promote either intelligent design or chance (Sober).

While proponents of Intelligent Design pretend to be scientists, this is not the case. Intelligent design does not meet the accepted standards of the scientific community for being a scientific theory. There is a concept in the philosophy of science of falsifiability. Karl Popper writes of this in his book, The Logic of Scientific Discovery:

"...All the statements of empirical science (or all 'meaningful' statements) must be capable of being finally decided, with respect to their truth and falsity; we shall say that they must be 'conclusively decidable'. This means that their form must be such that to verify them and to falsify them must both be logically possible. Thus Schlick says: '...a genuine statement must be capable of conclusive verification'; and Waismann says still more clearly: 'If there is no possible way to determine whether a statement is true then that statement has no meaning whatsoever. For the meaning of a statement is the method of its verification" (17)

Intelligent Design obviously does not fit this criterion. As should be clear by now, there is little if any evidence for Intelligent Design, but this does not prove it to be false. It is, in fact, impossible to prove it false. However unlikely it is that some form of intelligence created the universe, there is no way to verify or falsify the claim. God is invisible, we are told. He is undetectable. This is in contrast to Darwinism, which could easily be falsified if it were shown that some creature just appeared out of thin air, without any ancestors (though this may be difficult to prove, it would not be impossible). Therefore, Intelligent Design fails the test of falsifiability, and is therefore not a valid scientific theory.

As a result, the scientific community does not take Intelligent Design at all seriously. George Gilchrist of the National Center for Science Education conducted a search of all the peer-reviewed scientific journals published since the idea of Intelligent Design came about, and found no articles supporting it. In contrast, he found many thousands of articles supporting evolution.

So then, one might wonder, what do all of these Intelligent Design people really want? The answer is quite clear, after taking a look at a document titled "The Wedge Strategy," which was leaked by the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, the main group supporting Intelligent Design, and a subsidiary of the conservative Christian think-tank, the Discovery Institute. The document starts:

"The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built. Its influence can be detected in most, if not all, of the West's greatest achievements, including representative democracy, human rights, free enterprise, and progress in the arts and sciences.

"Yet a little over a century ago, this cardinal idea came under wholesale attack by intellectuals drawing on the discoveries of modern science. Debunking the traditional conceptions of both God and man, thinkers such as Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud portrayed humans not as moral and spiritual beings, but as animals or machines who inhabited a universe ruled by purely impersonal forces and whose behavior and very thoughts were dictated by the unbending forces of biology, chemistry, and environment. This materialistic conception of reality eventually infected virtually every area of our culture, from politics and economics to literature and art.

"The cultural consequences of this triumph of materialism were devastating. Materialists denied the existence of objective moral standards, claiming that environment dictates our behavior and beliefs. Such moral relativism was uncritically adopted by much of the social sciences, and it still undergirds much of modern economics, political science, psychology and sociology."

Materialism, here, is a euphemism for modern science. The ironically titled Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture wants nothing less than the destruction of modern science. They even admit this explicitly, saying, "Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies." They further state:

"If we view the predominant materialistic science as a giant tree, our strategy is intended to function as a "wedge" that, while relatively small, can split the trunk when applied at its weakest points. The very beginning of this strategy, the "thin edge of the wedge," was Phillip Johnson's critique of Darwinism begun in 1991 in Darwinism on Trial, and continued in Reason in the Balance and Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds. Michael Behe's highly successful Darwin's Black Box followed Johnson's work."

Intelligent design is primarily a Christian movement, and they admit this as well, writing, "Alongside a focus on influential opinion-makers, we also seek to build up a popular base of support among our natural constituency, namely, Christians."

Just a few sentences after their admission that Intelligent Design is a Christian movement, they say, "We will also pursue possible legal assistance in response to resistance to the integration of design theory into public school science curricula." Now it is all clear. The intelligent design movement is an attempt to bring Creationism back into the schools, something that has been outlawed by the Supreme Court, due to its violation of the separation between church and state.

Intelligent Design would not really be anything of consequence if it were not for its targeting of public schools. There are plenty of people with crazy ideas, conspiracy theories, and the like, who do not cause anyone any trouble. Unfortunately, Intelligent Design's attack on the separation of church and state in our schools is something to be concerned about. It is a slippery slope, from the teaching of a theory with no scientific backing in the classroom, to school sponsored prayer in the classroom. It may seem like a stretch, but as soon as the line is blurred, it is much easier to rationalize each step until an extreme is reached. But it can be stopped now. As long as people are educated about the lack of scientific evidence in support of Intelligent Design, about its lack of validity as a scientific theory, and about the true motives of those who promote it, this religious movement disguised as science cannot gain a hold on the science classrooms of this country.

Works Cited

Banerjee, Neela. "An Alternative to Evolution Splits a Pennsylvania Town." New York Times 16 January 2005: A16.

Behe, Michael. Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. New York: Free Press, 1998.

Darwin, Charles. The Origin of Species. New York: Gramercy, 1995.

The Design Argument. Elliot Sober. 2004. University of Wisconsin Department of Philosophy. Jan. 17 2005 .

Evolving Immunity: A Response to Chapter 6 of Darwin's Black Box. Matt Inlay. 2002. TalkDesign.org. 17 Jan. 2005 .

Evolution in (Brownian) Space: A Model for the Origin of Bacterial Flagellum. N. J.
Matzke. 2003. TalkDesign.org. 17 Jan 2005 .

Explaining Specified Complexity. William A. Dembsky. AntiEvolution.org. 17 Jan 2005 .

Gilchrist, George. "The Elusive Scientific Basis of Intelligent Design." Reports of the National Center for Science Education 17.3 (1997): 14-15.

"Intelligent Design." Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 16 Jan. 2005 23:41 UTC. 17 Jan. 2005 .

Lenski, Richard, et all. "The Evolution Origin of Complex Features." Nature 423 (2003): 139-144.

McMullin, E. "Indifference Principle and Anthropic Principle in Cosmology." Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 24 (1993): 359-389.

Orgel, Leslie. The Origins of Life. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1973.

Paley, William. Natural Theology. London: J. Faulder, 1809.

Popper, Karl. The Logic of Scientific Discovery. New York: Routledge, 2002.

The Wedge Strategy. Center for Renewal of Science and Culture. 1999.

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The Pseudoscience of Intelligent Design | 1284 comments (1273 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
-1, poorly researched. (1.11 / 9) (#1)
by ubernostrum on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 12:48:04 AM EST

At the very least you need to mention Richard Swinburne's dichotomy of 'regularities of co-presence' and 'regularities of succession', which does a decent job of turning the design argument into an application of Occam's Razor.

You also need to be more honest about problems with the anthropic principle; for example, you need to deal with William Lane Craig's demolition of anthropic anti-design arguments.




--
You cooin' with my bird?
Anthropic Principle (2.00 / 2) (#45)
by crustacean on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 01:54:34 PM EST

I hadn't read a mention of the anthropic principle until ubernostrum post. Anthropic principle basically states that the reason the universe appears as it is (globally and locally) is because there is an observer. If there have been a billion "big bangs", where the weak force was too strong, there would have been no observer to complain. If all the rest of the planets in this particular universe are too hot, too cold, or just plain unlucky enough never to have supported the origin of life (unlikely) then there would be noone "out there" to whine about it. The reason that we get to say "look how special we are on this particlar lump of rock" is because we are here. Wait long enough and intelligent life may arise in some other galaxy and they would say "we are dog's chosen" until they reach our polluted little cinder of a planet. etc. etc.
Will take to the forest before the oil overlords annex Canada.
[ Parent ]
elaborate? (none / 0) (#171)
by parrillada on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 09:48:32 PM EST

You also need to be more honest about problems with the anthropic principle

Would you be willing to address this yourself? I have never read a persuasive argument for a problem with the anthropic principle. I looked for some of Craig's essays online, but none "demolished" anthropic anti-design arguments.

[ Parent ]

In particular (none / 1) (#419)
by ubernostrum on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 11:25:36 PM EST

I'm referring to Craig's article "Barrow and Tipler on the Anthropic Principle vs. Divine Design", from The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 39.3 (1988): 389-95.

Craig's claim is that the attempted demolition of design arguments by the anthropic principle rests upon a fallacy of equivocation. Here's how I explained it when I covered this material for my thesis (which dealt with design arguments after Darwin):

When Barrow and Tipler claim that the anthropic principle either provides explanation for or obviates the need for explanation for those features of the universe which have traditionally prompted appeals to design, Craig says, they are committing a logical fallacy. In essence, it appears to be a fallacy of equivocation, an equivocation of the object of our "surprise" in finding the universe as it is. Craig is willing to concede one implication of the anthropic principle (specifically, a consequence of WAP): that "we should not be surprised that we do not observe features of the universe which are incompatible with our own existence." This seems logically beyond reproach, and nearly trivial. But, Craig says, Barrow and Tipler use it as the stepping-stone to claim that "we should not be surprised that we do observe features of the universe which are compatible with our existence.

The two objects of "surprise" in those two statements are not logically equivalent, as Craig is quick to point out. To illustrate this, he provides the example of being "saved" from execution by firing squad; after being dragged before a squad of one hundred expert marksmen who all aim at your heart and fire, you observe that you are still alive. Drawing an analogy to whether we should be surprised to be in a universe conducive to life, Craig points out that while it is true that

  1. You should not be surprised that you do not observe that you are dead. Nonetheless it is equally true that
  2. You should be surprised that you do observe that you are alive.

Since the firing squad's missing you altogether is extremely improbable, the surprise expressed in (6) is wholly appropriate, though you are not surprised that you do not observe that you are dead, since if you were dead you could not observe it. Similarly, while we should not be surprised that we do not observe features of the universe which are incompatible with our existence, it is nevertheless true that

  1. We should be surprised that we do observe features of the universe which are compatible with our existence.

in view of the enormous improbability, demonstrated repeatedly by Barrow and Tipler, that the universe should possess such features.

The full article is a joy to read, and concludes by commenting that John Barrow and Frank Tipler, in their seminal work The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, not only failed to undermine design arguments but actually provided a modern-day equivalent of William Paley's Natural Theology by extensively cataloguing the improbabilities of the universe's construction which imply the existence of a designer.




--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]
Thanks (none / 0) (#432)
by parrillada on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 01:39:47 AM EST

I didn't find Craig's argument persuasive, but thanks--that was interesting and informative.

[ Parent ]
Re: "In particular" (none / 0) (#540)
by crustacean on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 07:43:22 PM EST

I think that this path has one problem. The anthropic principle is in play when a multiplicity of "universes", "worlds" or "situations" are considered and in only one or few, an observer persists. The firing squad result is "surprising" in itself "to the observer", but when the tens of thousands(?) millions(?) of firing squad execution attempts are considered, the surprise disappears.
Will take to the forest before the oil overlords annex Canada.
[ Parent ]
Actually (none / 0) (#556)
by ubernostrum on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 02:00:35 AM EST

Paul Davies wrote a wonderful piece which ran in the New York Times a couple years ago, in which he argued that a many-worlds situation makes design more likely. His reasoning, in short, was that in the oft-postulated situation where all logically possible universes 'exist' in some sense, there would, by necessity, be a large number of them in which intelligent beings developed the ability to create simulated universes, whether in computers (a la the Matrix) or otherwise. And, necessarily, among some number of those simulated universes, entities would arise which could do the same. He ultimately argued that in such a situation, it's more than conceivable that the simulated/created (and thus "intelligently designed") universes would outnumber the "natural" universes, making it more likely than not that we live in a designed universe.




--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]
Perhaps but... (none / 0) (#560)
by benna on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 02:37:20 AM EST

The universe would not then be designed by god, and while they won't admit it now, we all know that the vast majority of ID supporters would find some bullshit reason to dispute that as well, since it wouldn't be the god of the bible.
-
"It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists." -Ludwig Wittgenstein
[ Parent ]
That's their problem. (none / 0) (#562)
by ubernostrum on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 03:45:53 AM EST

Most serious modern design arguments don't concern themselves with reasoning toward the God of some particular translation of the Bible.




--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]
Obviously (none / 0) (#1156)
by tetsuwan on Thu May 05, 2005 at 09:35:44 AM EST

At that point of speculation, there's absolutely no way of quantizing. It's ridiculous to state that 'the number of designed universes are larger' when you have absolutely no idea what so ever how hard it is to design a universe. What's banaly clear, though, is that it would take a universe of computer power to simulate a universe. Unless, of course, you simulate a universe considerably less complex than the one you inhabit. (E g build the universe of indivisible atoms, construct simple mechanisms to emulate fusion, do not allow black holes and so on)

I mean, I guess it would be impossible to be a phycisist inside the matrix, because the simulator would have to cheat and approximate, and show all kinds of discrepancies. They might even be able to tell that the world was running in a computer.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Occam's Razor? (3.00 / 3) (#372)
by cgranade on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 06:20:37 PM EST

I'm sorry, but Intelligent Design is not helped by Occam's Razor due to two points:
  1. Occam's Razor does not specify correctness, but preference. That is, we prefer to deal with the simplest of models for a given problem. It does not say that the simple model must be more correct, though.
  2. Intelligent Design (henceforth, ID), as a model, is astoundingly more complex, as it simply defers questions without answering them. Now, in order to construct a model, we must define what the designer is capable of designing, what created the designer, what motivates the designer, etc. That is, as it stands, ID provides no predicatve value. A model which predicts nothing is useless. In order to modify ID to acutally do something would require making it a very complex hodgepodge, which Occam's Razor would mark as unpreferable. On the other hand, evolution does make concrete predictions which we can and have observed.


[ Parent ]
Swinburne's argument (none / 0) (#416)
by ubernostrum on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 11:13:34 PM EST

In a nutshell:

There are two types of regularities which we observe in nature, and which we term 'order': regularities of co-presence, which have to do with how things are arranged (e.g., books in a library arranged alphabetically within their subjects), and regularities of succession, which are series of events or patterns of behavior which recur or are predictable (e.g., the Earth makes one revolution around the Sun every 365 days and change).

Now, regularities of co-presence, when they occur, are explainable as the consequences of natural laws; for example, the regularity of co-presence observed in the structure of a crystal is a consequence of the laws of physics. Thus regularities of co-presence which occur in nature are reducible to regularities of succession.

What, then, can regularities of succession be reduced to? Often natural laws are explained in terms of other natural laws, but the effect of this is to cause either an infinite regress of regularities of succession or to necessitate an arbitrary 'stopping point' beyond which we choose not to explain regularities of succession (at this point the argument is, as Kant noted, quite similar to the cosmological argument).

But there is a type of cause which explains this: the action of a willing being. This can plainly be seen in certain regularities of co-presence, such as the ordering of books in the library, and in certain regularities of succession, say, in a computer program which always responds in the same way to the same input. Thus there is a single type of cause under which all observed regularities can be subsumed, namely, the action of a willing being.

Swinburne does not, as far as I know, make the direct appeal to Occam's Razor (his most well-known work on design is based on showing the probable correctness of different types of inductive arguments), but the implication exists in his writing on the topic, and the line of reasoning above should make this clear.




--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]
Popper (2.66 / 9) (#4)
by edg176 on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:17:25 AM EST

You really shouuld have led off with a discussion of Popper. How can you prove something that isn't science at all, and isn't amenable to proof? You can't. The reason I say that Popper and falsifiability are the most important issue is because it prevents ID proponents from trying to use a shitstorm blizzard of "evidence" to prove their point. Most people don't understand the difference between science and not-science. If they don't understand that, then they are going to be swayed by the idea that every argument has two sides, and both sides deserve a fair hearing. There's fair and balanced, then there's stupid. Debating ID people as if we should take their evidence seriously as science is stupid. We have to make it crystal clear that this is not science. It took me a while to get my mind around falsification. After, I could see why ID makes no sense, and exactly how to undermine the ID argument.

Depends on the particular design argument. (2.33 / 3) (#6)
by ubernostrum on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 04:34:32 AM EST

Many arguments from design are not incompatible with evolutionary theory. Only the sort which descend from Archbishop Ussher's Old-Testament chronology tend to have problems with evolution.




--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]
Your Popper quote is not ideal (none / 0) (#1236)
by DrH0ffm4n on Tue May 10, 2005 at 06:58:11 AM EST

"...All the statements of empirical science (or all 'meaningful' statements) must be capable of being finally decided, with respect to their truth and falsity; we shall say that they must be 'conclusively decidable'. This means that their form must be such that to verify them and to falsify them must both be logically possible. Thus Schlick says: '...a genuine statement must be capable of conclusive verification'; and Waismann says still more clearly: 'If there is no possible way to determine whether a statement is true then that statement has no meaning whatsoever. For the meaning of a statement is the method of its verification" (17)

That's basically Popper's characterisation of the logical positivist position of Schlick & co which he then went on to demolish by pointing out the lack of verification for their verification principle. Popper's own position drops the criteria of verification.

---

And your example of a possible falsification of evolution is weak too. Spontaneous materialisation of a species of animal would not falsify the theory of evolution by natural selection but only provide an exception. Only if it is claimed that evolution by natural selection is the only way that a species ever could come into existence would the exception prove fatal. We know today that this strong version of the theory of evolution isn't true since we already know of counter examples in selective breeding and GM.

Pushing Popper aside and switching into Kuhn mode, one tends to try and explain exceptions within modifications of the paradigm currently in use. Only when the burden of exceptions is too great for the current paradigm and that an alternative paradigm is preferable do you switch.


[ Parent ]

That's the worst part (3.00 / 3) (#17)
by rusty on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 10:55:11 AM EST

Teaching ID in schools alongside evolution fundamentally undermines the teaching of science itself. It's like studying French texts in an English class, and claiming that French is a valid English. Not only is French not English, but studying French texts will make it that much harder to ever grasp the rules of English grammar.

I wouldn't have any problem with teachers presenting ID as a way to examine the difference between science and faith -- in fact the contrasts between the two are illuminating for both subjects. But teaching it as a science is a serious disservice to education and to the children forced to sit through it.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

At least French is a valid language (2.50 / 2) (#20)
by nkyad on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 11:15:32 AM EST

So learning it, even under the wrong name, would still let you communicate with other French-speaking people.

Don't believe in anything you can't see, smell, touch or at the very least infer from a good particle accelerator run


[ Parent ]
Yeah, and... (3.00 / 5) (#40)
by rusty on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 01:39:32 PM EST

Christianity is a valid belief system. At least as valid as the belief that the universe operates according to predictable and discoverable laws. At their root, both are based on belief without the possibility of proof. I find the scientific belief to be more practically useful and more personally plausible, but I don't make the mistake of believing it to be more inherently true.

The teaching of science is the teaching of the practical methods of applying a belief system. Creationism is based on an entirely different belief system. Teaching creationism and evolution together as alternative theories, without stressing the core differences in belief systems (that is, teaching ID as though it were a science), is as meaningless as teaching the physics of God.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

"Physics of God" would be required (2.00 / 2) (#46)
by nkyad on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 01:55:03 PM EST

Something few creationists notice and the ones who do probably won't tell is that, if their claims are true, all modern Physics and Chemistry goes down to the same garbage can they want to put Biology in. If all dating methods are wrong, how can the basic principles upon which those methods rely be true?

I am aware a "Malicious God" (for the lack of a better expression), that pick and choose singular points where nature's homogeniety fails, may answer this problem, but I fear it won't be a terribly popular view among serious theology students.

Don't believe in anything you can't see, smell, touch or at the very least infer from a good particle accelerator run


[ Parent ]
Deus Deceptor (none / 1) (#62)
by gabban on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 02:40:26 PM EST

would probably be the proper term.

[ Parent ]
Deus Malefactor (2.50 / 2) (#65)
by CodeWright on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 02:56:20 PM EST

Also known as the Demiurge.

The Catholic Church killed 1.2 million people who believed this during the Albigensian Crusade.

--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
I did not know that. (none / 0) (#80)
by gabban on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:36:17 PM EST

Thanks for the pointer. It's intresting to see how different religions have borrowed and reshaped each others myths over time (the possible link between Demiurge and Satan).

We are discussing different things however. Deus Deceptor is a term used, and perhaps coined, by Descartes before reaching his Cogito Ergo Sum conclusion.

[ Parent ]

Gnostic Christianity... (none / 1) (#87)
by CodeWright on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:49:34 PM EST

...was believed and practised by the Albigensians, Cathars, and Bogomils (in varying fashions).

Gnostic Christianity holds that the Creator is basically a fuckup and did a half-assed job with Creation. That we are made in God's Own Image, but God is a demented retard.

Some Gnostic sects believed that it was possible to transcend the fuckedupness of the Demiurge and achieve Godhead, others believed it was our Divine Purpose to suffer in this Hell-on-Earth. Still others believed other wacky things.

For example, one group (the Albigensians) held that Jesus not only Resurrected, but went on to marry Mary Magdalen and found the Merovingian line of Frankish Kings.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is a contemporary resurgence of interest in Gnostic themes... most famously explored recently by Holy Grail, Holy Blood and the Matrix series of movies.

For me, one of the most amusing things to have emerged from the whole mess is the contemporary Special Forces motto "Kill 'em All, Let God Sort 'em Out" -- this was originally coined by Pope Innocent III when directing his Papal army to kill every man, woman, and child in southern France during the Albigensian Crusade -- he said "Kill them all. God will know his own."

You see? He was doing the Faithful a favour. Sending them to God in a State of Grace.

If I were to believe in a Creator, I'd take a certain bit of comfort in knowing he was the Grand Fuckup. It would make sense in context. Only a demented pervert of a God would create us in His image.

--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
As someone who believes in Eris, (2.00 / 2) (#106)
by gabban on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 04:26:06 PM EST

if I have to give chaos a name and the status of The One True Deity, I really respect the gnostics. The gnostics and the mystics of the world are the truly religious people, the churches are just a power structures with the intent of controlling other people. This is undeniably the case with the catholic church, and almost every other church as well. A church, seen as an organization, is the antithesis of religion.

It is both sad and ironic that the core beliefs of more or less any religion stems from their mystics -- a bunch of people tripping on drugs, meditational techniques or just plain old fashioned insanity -- and as soon as a following is founded based on their ideas they are persecuted.

[ Parent ]

The belief in predictability... (none / 0) (#624)
by kcbrown on Sun May 01, 2005 at 02:30:41 AM EST

...isn't really a belief in the same way that Christianity is. It's an observation. One needn't believe without faith that the universe is predictable. One need only observe for a while, and one will see that it is.

It's an observation that all of us have made at one time or another. Someone who hasn't ever made such an observation is someone who isn't capable of using tools, or of anticipating consequences.

The whole idea of "consequences" (something which I might add is central to Christianity) has as its foundation the notion that the universe is predictable, for if it were not, then actions would not have consistent consequences, and one could then throw out the entire notion of morality, since one's actions would always have unpredictable results.

The predictability of the universe (and its interaction with us) is so central to our existence, and is something we rely on so heavily for everything we do, that only the most incorrigibly blind could possibly conclude that it's not there.

Science is merely the formalization of this observation.

[ Parent ]

+1, well done. (1.83 / 6) (#7)
by Russell Dovey on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 04:42:08 AM EST

Another hammer or two to break the head of a creationist eejit is always a good thing.

Anyway, I am mystified by the tendency of people to think too small when it comes to the origins of life. Isn't it more amazing if, as Paul Davies has surmised, there is a fundamental organising principle inherent in the universe which encourages complex systems to evolve from the simplest of origins?

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan

I'm putting money on the longshot, myself. (3.00 / 6) (#12)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 09:14:40 AM EST

We will find out that there is indeed a God, and when we ask him, he'll claim to have not created us, that we just evolved. Atheists and Christians alike will be pissed.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
"We apologize for the inconvenience" (3.00 / 6) (#18)
by nkyad on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 11:08:09 AM EST

"We were just researching emergent properties in very large systems", said the trans-dimensional hyperbeing just before entering the gate back to his Universe. "I am sorry the experiment has to be shut down, but we're on a budget here and we need the space for a new multi-versal chat system".

Don't believe in anything you can't see, smell, touch or at the very least infer from a good particle accelerator run


[ Parent ]
Multi-versal chat? Ugh. (none / 1) (#69)
by Russell Dovey on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:02:40 PM EST

At least replace us with an eleven-dimensional pornoverse! Then I could die knowing it was worth it.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

There is. (1.33 / 3) (#93)
by Trevasel on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:59:22 PM EST

That principle is called evolution.
-- That which does not kill you only makes you stranger - Trevor Goodchild
[ Parent ]
That's amazing! (none / 0) (#277)
by Russell Dovey on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:40:37 PM EST

I sorta meant the emergent thingy that Davies goes on about, supposedly a basic property of the universe that encourages evolution-like behaviour even with simple molecules.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

My favorite way to handle the situation (1.33 / 6) (#14)
by karb on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 10:26:11 AM EST

My 9th grade bio teacher was a Sunday School teacher and also a defender of evolution.

I'm not sure if it was a school board mandate, or just his prerogative, but when we got to the chapter on evolution, we skipped it. It was offered as extra credit for anyone who needed it or was interested.

I thought this was brilliant. High school (at least in the US) is not really about the accumulation of knowledge so much as learning how to learn and learning how to solve problems. So arguing about content is just a pointless distraction.
--
Who is the geek who would risk his neck for his brother geek?

As a history teacher who hates black people... (2.68 / 22) (#15)
by givemegmail111 on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 10:38:33 AM EST

...I couldn't agree more. Whenever I get to the section on the civil rights movement that the God-hating liberals always force on us, I just skip it and offer extra credit to anyone who needs it or is interested. After all, high school isn't about the accumulation of knowledge. It's about learning how to learn and learning how to solve problems. Not everyone agrees that black people have any merit, so arguing about it is just a pointless distraction.

--
McDonalds: i'm lovin' it
Start your day tastefully with a Sausage, Egg & Cheese McGriddle, only at McDonalds.
Rusty fix my sig, dammit!
[ Parent ]
I only assume (none / 1) (#22)
by Morning Star on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 11:52:49 AM EST

that you were trying to use an absurd arguement to contradict the grandparent post; however, merit can be proven, the existence of god cannot.

Ardente veritate incendite tenebras mundi
[ Parent ]
I hope you weren't being serious (none / 0) (#32)
by bgalehouse on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 01:06:28 PM EST

I mean, neither 'merit' nor 'god' is directly applicable to any action that you can take, or object that you can point to. This makes it hard to to define a scientific test of either statement. They aren't technical math terms either.

I daresay though that both statements have been proven. At least, for a sufficiently relaxed philosopher's definition of proof. In the same sense, they have probably be disproven as well. This sort of thing makes western philosophy amusing at times, but also makes it hard for me to take it seriously.

[ Parent ]

Merit is relative (none / 1) (#59)
by Morning Star on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 02:36:38 PM EST

And in being relative it probably won't transfer equally between you and me, but a person can prove their merit to me. This is achieved through their actions (not skin color, nationality, etc.).

The existance of god, on the other hand, is either true or false. It can't be both. ?Fortunatly/Unfortunatly? the truth cannot be proven, so it'll always be up for debate.

The difference between the two may be abstruse, but it is there.

I mean, neither 'merit' nor 'god' is directly applicable to any action that you can take, or object that you can point to.
I agree about god, but merit is certainly applicable; in daily life, even! I just saved myself a few hundred dollars by having a friend fix my car instead of taking it to a shop. Why, you ask. Not just because of the money, but because he's proven himself capable of repairing cars. And then I have friends I wouldn't trust to fill up the gas tank, but I would go to 'em for advice, or allow 'em to fix my computer. See, it's all relative to the task at hand and my judgement of their ability to accomplish it.

This sort of thing makes western philosophy amusing at times, but also makes it hard for me to take it seriously.
I agree. The problem is such abstract philosophy is that it's sometimes hard to determine whether your "missing" something or if the person is just trolling.

Ardente veritate incendite tenebras mundi
[ Parent ]
Applicability (none / 0) (#109)
by bgalehouse on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 04:36:29 PM EST

It seems to me that you find merit to be a handy concept in the organization of your daily life. It makes it easier to understand e.g. what your options are regarding car repair.

I've met people who claim that god is a similarly handy concept. They use it to improve the success of 12 step plans, look towards it when facing death, and apply it to a wide range of ethical decisions.

I have no trouble believing that merit is the more relevent or usefull concept to you. Heck, I think I could make the same statement about myself. However, as soon as I try to look beyond what happens to work for me, the difference between them stops being qualitative. Hence I particularly liked the analogy.

[ Parent ]

I only assume (none / 1) (#111)
by nkyad on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 04:45:27 PM EST

your irony detector's battery has run out...

Don't believe in anything you can't see, smell, touch or at the very least infer from a good particle accelerator run


[ Parent ]
two things (none / 0) (#249)
by karb on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 08:48:41 AM EST

First, the creation vs. evolution issue re. public schools has a very long and contentious history. To suggest that adressing it would set a bad precedent for some other issue you just made up is absurd.

Secondly, you do bring up a good point accidentally when you pretend that religious people were big opponents to civil rights. Religion is removed from high school readings of US history as much as possible to avoid offending people. One good example is the large role christianity played in the civil rights movement.

Skipping the chapter on evolution in a high school bio class (and you're going to be skipping some chapters anyway) is no different.
--
Who is the geek who would risk his neck for his brother geek?
[ Parent ]

My hs biology teacher was fired from a Catholic hs (2.75 / 4) (#168)
by GreyGhost on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 09:31:49 PM EST

For teaching evolution. They told her to stop. She told them to fuck off - she was busy teaching science. They fired her.

The other thing I remember about her is that she had a still-born fetus in a jar of formaldeyhyde (the kid died in 1969) which she used to pass around when we were discussing reproduction.

I thought she brought it with her to whatever new school she was teaching at. I found out later that the fetus predated her. No one knew where the kid came from.



[ Parent ]

Haha, a "zero" rating (nt) (none / 1) (#248)
by karb on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 08:37:18 AM EST


--
Who is the geek who would risk his neck for his brother geek?
[ Parent ]
What a small, sad worldview (2.71 / 21) (#16)
by rusty on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 10:49:44 AM EST

"'Debunking the traditional conceptions of both God and man, thinkers such as Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud portrayed humans not as moral and spiritual beings, but as animals or machines who inhabited a universe ruled by purely impersonal forces and whose behavior and very thoughts were dictated by the unbending forces of biology, chemistry, and environment.'"

Looking beyond the vileness of their actions in trying to force educators to teach children a totally incorrect concept of science, I have to feel sorry for someone who could write the above sentence. In their mind, humans are either created by God as moral and spiritual beings, or are simply gurgling bags of inert chemicals carrying out complicated processes.

How much of the real wonder of evolution is missed when you don't realize that those bags of chemicals in fact are moral and spiritual beings? The fact that we evolved from simpler organisms is amazing in and of itself, but the fact that we evolved an ability for self-reflection, moral choice, and spiritual belief -- that we evolved the ability to consider and even recreate the processes that created us -- is just stunning. That so many people live in a mindset that denies that miracle and posits that the only way everything could come to be is if there was a big ineffable Daddy in the sky is the greatest tragedy here. All that clever thought and human intelligence, put to the service of arguing that the universe is actually simple and dumb and under someone's control is like using a 747 to hammer nails.

____
Not the real rusty

evolution... (2.50 / 2) (#23)
by kpaul on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 11:58:57 AM EST

it's not evolution i have a problem with, it's the 'big bang' bit - the start of it all. that is, i believe God created the earth (not sure how long the 'days' were, though) and that which He created evolves over time.


2014 Halloween Costumes
[ Parent ]

So, you push one step back (3.00 / 2) (#26)
by szo on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 12:36:36 PM EST

the point where you declare: I don't understand what's going on. That's no shame, but blaming on a "god" all the things that lies beyond your understanding is essentially the same what the cavemen did. It's lame. Even if you have a thousands of years old book to cite.
--
I guess it wasn't the dove...
[ Parent ]
Gotta a better superstition? (none / 0) (#31)
by nkyad on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 01:00:23 PM EST

Because the point where he declares "I don't understand what's going on" is exactly before the point modern Physics starts. Everything you, he or anyone else says about anything that happened before Planck time is unprovable and untestable speculation.

Don't believe in anything you can't see, smell, touch or at the very least infer from a good particle accelerator run


[ Parent ]
Precisely (none / 1) (#130)
by szo on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 05:53:14 PM EST

So why pick out the wildest of all: a being that designed and/or controls all the world? Just because it helps our troubled mind rest?
--
I guess it wasn't the dove...
[ Parent ]
no, not blame... (none / 1) (#43)
by kpaul on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 01:53:12 PM EST

it just makes more sense that there's a being controlling everything. does it take faith? you bet. is it worth it? i think so.

we'll find out soon enough


2014 Halloween Costumes
[ Parent ]

control? (2.50 / 2) (#246)
by szo on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 08:08:28 AM EST

Slow down. When we started to talk about controlling? If you're willing to belive that someone controls everything then you can save all the hassle of even thinking about anything: all the science discovered could've been planted by god for us to find, and so on.

On the other hand, if you think the designer just set the stage and let it roll, then we have to ask the question: Who cares? Why should anyone care? What difference does it make? If  god don't interfere, why is it important that he exists at all or not?
--
I guess it wasn't the dove...
[ Parent ]

because we were created for Him (none / 0) (#403)
by kpaul on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 09:09:08 PM EST

i just thought about the Tower of Babel - you know, Nimrod and the tower stretching to the heavens. God said that left to his own devices man could accomplish anything. so He confused the languages. that area (i think) was later Babylon, then even later Iraq, and now it's controlled by mystery Babylon...

it's a strange world...


2014 Halloween Costumes
[ Parent ]

re: because we were created for Him (none / 0) (#774)
by szo on Mon May 02, 2005 at 04:03:07 AM EST

OK, this is clearly preaching now. Nice tactic, you start as if you're interested in thinking and observing, then you get bored/lazy and revert to "faith" (=beliveing whatever your ancestors cooked up on empty hours). It's too big jump for me, sorry.
--
I guess it wasn't the dove...
[ Parent ]
Ever noticed... (3.00 / 3) (#27)
by nkyad on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 12:40:48 PM EST

The Big Bang theory does not, in its present state, excludes God at all, because Physics can't go past just a tiny amount of time after the primordial explosion happened. How and why it happened are "unaskable" questions. Nothing, not even Science, prevents you from proposing an unspeakable (hint to obscure reference:this refers to the Name of God) answer.

Don't believe in anything you can't see, smell, touch or at the very least infer from a good particle accelerator run


[ Parent ]
How and Why (none / 0) (#284)
by gavri on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:15:30 PM EST

How and why it happened are "unaskable" questions.

How is "unaskable" based on current scientific theories. If humans lasts long enough, we may have a Grand Fucking Unified Undisputed Heavyweight Whole Fucking Deal Theory which provides the "How".

As to "Why", that is a necessarily foolish question

--
Blog Of A Socially Well Adjusted Human Being

[ Parent ]
Huh? (3.00 / 2) (#28)
by LO313 on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 12:45:03 PM EST

Why couldn't God have set off the big bang? You know a scientist/priest first proposed the big bang theory.

[ Parent ]
Creationism has exactly the same problem (none / 1) (#29)
by vadim on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 12:48:04 PM EST

Big bang kind of works, until you start wondering where all that stuff came from, and what was before it. AFAIK, nobody knows.

Creationism says that God created the Earth. And God himself was presumably always there, and maybe just got bored and made stuff to get entretained or something.

Creationism, as far as I can see, doesn't provide any more answers. You might as well say that the singularity was always there, and it's not any better or worse than creationism. There's still no explanation of the beginning itself anywhere.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

m-Theory fixes taht. (none / 1) (#36)
by modmans2ndcoming on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 01:19:40 PM EST

at least for what we need to care about.

when two membranes collide a new universe is formed.

[ Parent ]

Very interesting (none / 1) (#70)
by vadim on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:09:40 PM EST

Will take a look at that, thanks a lot :-)

And this is precisely why science is a much better approach. It actually tries to provide answers.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

math isn't science (2.00 / 2) (#175)
by Battle Troll on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 09:53:03 PM EST

Gosh, I thought that Eastern European technical education was supposed to be rigorous, not like the pandering baby-sitting we get over here.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
you don't understand theology very well (none / 0) (#57)
by Battle Troll on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 02:28:51 PM EST

There was no time prior to the Creation, because time itself is logically antecedent to God.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
So where did God come from? [n/t] (none / 0) (#60)
by vadim on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 02:37:24 PM EST


--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]
He is standing on the back of an elephant... (none / 1) (#67)
by CodeWright on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:00:45 PM EST

...which is standing on the back of a turtle.

And it's turtles all the way down...

--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Four elephants, actually. (nt) (none / 1) (#110)
by nkyad on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 04:38:40 PM EST


Don't believe in anything you can't see, smell, touch or at the very least infer from a good particle accelerator run


[ Parent ]
No, Pratchett got it wrong, (none / 1) (#113)
by gabban on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 04:47:57 PM EST

it really is just one elephant. I've seen it.

[ Parent ]
no, that's an argument for infinite causality (none / 0) (#116)
by Battle Troll on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 04:57:28 PM EST

Not uncaused causality.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
He Didn't (3.00 / 4) (#78)
by Run4YourLives on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:35:05 PM EST

The idea of "comming from" something is directly related to time, which the Creator is not subject to.

Therefore, God did not "come from" anywhere.

It's really irrelevant though, because you're either arguing in favour of infinate matter, since it cannot be destroyed or created (See law of conservation of matter) or an infinate Creator that exists beyond said law.

Either way it is equally astounding, which is why this whole argument is stupid.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

I find the infinite creator more compelling myself (none / 0) (#357)
by Battle Troll on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 05:18:15 PM EST

Because infinite matter = meaninglessness, mechanism, anomie, pointlessness, and the illusory nature of free will, all of which contradict the psychological and existential reality of my own experience.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
An infinite creator (none / 0) (#363)
by vadim on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 05:32:06 PM EST

Is just as meaningless to me.

But yes, I suppose that existence without a god can be said to be meaningless. And it is. There's no heaven, or hell, or ultimate purpose for the universe, we're all just an interesting consequence of the interactions of stuff in it.

In fact, I fail to see why there has to be a purpose at all.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

for one thing (none / 0) (#366)
by Battle Troll on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 05:44:24 PM EST

If you are a consequence, your opinions are completely conditioned, and no more 'meaningful' than the sputtering bits in your computer's memory card. This means that they are not a credible source or basis for evaluating reality one way or the other.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
Not that simple (none / 0) (#370)
by vadim on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 06:09:24 PM EST

Not that simple. Even if everything in the universe is 100% determined, it doesn't mean that anything I say has no bearing on reality.

And I didn't saw it was. There is randomness at the quantum level.

But even if what is going to happen is determined, how I act would be dependent on the rest of the universe - that is, it actually affects me, so I don't see why I couldn't make observations about it.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

The game of life (none / 0) (#1144)
by curien on Thu May 05, 2005 at 03:37:21 AM EST

John Conway's Game of Life is simplistically deterministic. It has a rigid set of rules, allowing one to determine what the board will look like at any time given any starting setup. It doesn't even bother to use a randomization factor.

And yet, it creates surprisingly beautiful images. It inspires us to create pictures, tools, etc. It's fun to watch.

Frankly, I find the whole question of "meaning" to be meaningless itself.

--
This sig is umop apisdn.
[ Parent ]

In a universe taht is infinite (2.00 / 2) (#34)
by modmans2ndcoming on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 01:18:22 PM EST

Mathematically, every probability happens.

it may be improbable for life to form on earth, but when you consider how much life failed before earth, and that we are simply aware of our existence because we are alive, one can not draw a conclusion that we were designed by god.

when you discuss this with a fundamentalist they end up just huffing off.

[ Parent ]

not the life on earth - (none / 0) (#42)
by kpaul on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 01:50:36 PM EST

but the source of everything. how did it start?


2014 Halloween Costumes
[ Parent ]

Daddy did it. n/t (none / 0) (#64)
by drone on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 02:51:37 PM EST

Daddy did it. n/t

[ Parent ]
yes. Father == Yahweh == God == Creator ;) /nt (none / 0) (#165)
by kpaul on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 09:03:51 PM EST


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[ Parent ]
Easy (none / 0) (#172)
by modmans2ndcoming on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 09:49:05 PM EST

Two membranes collided which causes out universe to spurt to life due to the enormous energy release.

[ Parent ]
where did the membranes come from? /nt (none / 0) (#256)
by kpaul on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 09:48:35 AM EST


2014 Halloween Costumes
[ Parent ]
that questionis irrelivent (none / 1) (#450)
by modmans2ndcoming on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 02:57:43 AM EST

it does not matter where it came from. it could just be the nature of the realm of existence. I mean if 20 billion years ago, out membrane collided with another and the energy reflected into our membrane causing an increased local level of energy which lead to the development of matter and galaxies and such, you think that a god had anything to do with it? I mean.. at what point does a god become meaningless? how far away can you abstract a god before you conclude that it is not a god due to the fact that he/she/it is so far removed from your local system that he/she/it could never have meant to interact with you.

regardless.. out bodies are tied to this brane because the subatomic particles that make up out bodies are constructed of the type of super-string that is open ended. open strings (like a shoelace looking thing) are tied to the membrane and cannot move between them.. it is believed that particles called gravitons are closed strings so they are not attached to a brane and can there fore move between them at will.

[ Parent ]

re: not the life on earth (none / 1) (#369)
by HDwebdev on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 06:03:48 PM EST

but the source of everything. how did it start?

It didn't start. It never ends.

I lean towards the Many Worlds Theory.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qm-manyworlds/

If the cat is dead here, it's alive somewhere else and vice versa. This could also be read as 'God is not cruel' and would fit in well with those that believe in God(s). For example: I watch someone die a horrible death that from my viewpoint they did not deserve at all. But, that person is alive and well in other worlds. So, is God being cruel or is there a larger scheme (Many Worlds) that cancels this out?

[ Parent ]
so you do have faith... (none / 0) (#400)
by kpaul on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 09:04:38 PM EST

just not in the creator. that is, you have no proof that the world started the way you think it did.

as for the innocent dying - there are no innocent, not since the garden of eden. we're all lame in God's eyes. He gave us an out, though, a gift to go back to Him.

i'll try to check out your link if i get the chance. i was reading something the other day that said the world is really just a big hologram because of these molecules (or something small) could communicate with each other no matter how far apart they were. the guy explained it as looking into an aquarium (SP) from different sides - you see the same fish but from different angles. it was kinda fascinating. i'll try to dig up the link if you want...

and yes, linear time is a kinda fascinating thing. ;)

thanks for commenting (and for the link)...


2014 Halloween Costumes
[ Parent ]

innocent? (none / 0) (#1214)
by dannym on Sun May 08, 2005 at 02:18:23 AM EST

> as for the innocent dying - there are no innocent, not since the garden of eden. we're all lame in God's eyes. He gave us an out, though, a gift to go back to Him.

I think he meant "innocent" in the sense of
"5a) Not exposed to or familiar with something specified; ignorant", that is he couldnt see it coming, he wasnt participating in preparation of his own death.

But for completeness I use the notion of "innocent" the garden of eden uses, which you are referring to:

Ouch! Someone who most probably doesnt exist thinks we are all guilty for wanting to know stuff (guilty since birth, which goes against about any morals that I know of) ?
Give me a break.

And you _do_ know the garden of eden is mythology, I hope.

And just for the sake of completeness, let's say God exists and cares about humans circling around Sol in the middle of nowhere. Further say he knows our Psyche. Then do you think he would ever had such "if you want to talk to me at all, admit that you guilty guilty bastard" attitude? That was obviously added by authorities to keep the commonfolk submissive and manipulateable and shouldnt be sustainable nowadays.

[ Parent ]

infinite donesn't mean every possibility. (none / 0) (#530)
by A Born Loser on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 04:54:15 PM EST

lets say I chose all the integers that exist except for 4 7 and 3. That set of integers I chose is infinite, but It isn't the set of all integers. And I say infinite not infinity, so don't confuse them.

[ Parent ]
you are arguing wrong (none / 0) (#1243)
by modmans2ndcoming on Thu May 12, 2005 at 08:45:41 AM EST

an infinite set of numbers is one thing.. an infinite set of probabilities is another.

[ Parent ]
Infinity goes both ways (none / 0) (#541)
by wildclaw on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 07:51:58 PM EST

Mathematically, every probability happens. It is nice to see infinity argued correctly. The counter argument to this is of course to ask the following question. Is there a zero percent chance of life in the universe, without divine intervention? You can't use the probability argument against that, since if there is a zero percent chance, it doesn't help if the universe is infinitly large.

I am personally a supporter of Darwin's theories and have observed it personally programming genetic algorithms. Intelligent Design followers however, will argue that the first step from non-living matter to living matter without a creator is impossible and as long as we can't disprove them, we have two options. Either we can ignore them and try to keep them as far away from our schoolbooks as possible, or we can try to further our scientific understanding and find out exactly how the creation of living matter from non-living matter could happen, preferrably in repeatable manner. Even that won't convert them, but it should shut some of them up. :)

[ Parent ]

Is your god lame? (none / 1) (#291)
by Russell Dovey on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:58:43 PM EST

If your god was so weak that he could only create the Earth in an already-existing universe, why would you bother worshipping him?

A God who could, by simply setting the numbers on certain fundamental physical constants to the right values, create us and all that we see, exactly how he wanted; THAT would be one KICK-ASS deity.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

the reason I became atheist is the pattern. (3.00 / 2) (#303)
by xutopia on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 03:03:47 PM EST

1) disease - It used to be that you got sick because an evil spirit entered your body. You became ill, couldn't have kids or your house went on fire meant that you had done something God disaproved.

This isn't just middle age christianity who professed such worldviews. Lots of tribes in Africa, Canadian aborigines (inuits, Micmacs, Malecites, Mohacks, etc...) believed that evil spirits inhabited a body to make it sick or make it take stupid decisions (dream catchers come to mind).

For many of these religions or spiritual beliefs came another belief often attached to it, that if you did bad deeds good spirits would leave doors opened for bad ones to take over and your luck would change. The old testament is full of such examples. Spill your seed on the ground pisses off God so you die. Seeing your father naked pisses off God so you die.

We couldn't see germs, understand appendicitis and other forms of diseases in that time. All we could do to explain or *accept* a malady or string of bad luck was to use some form of God to explain it. I don't know about you but if I were seriously ill with some pulmonary malfunction limiting my life span by 30 years I'd like to know that it's part of a bigger picture. A bigger plan would make my pills easier to swallow.

Now that we can explain maladies either through genetics or other science we still have very ill people holding on to that same ideas. Many let go of the idea that bad spirits cause the health problem but we still pray to God for him to remove the affliction. Now that we realize (well most of us anyways) that it isn't bad spirits who tamper with our health but bacterias(and other nasties) why do we pray to God to remove the problem? Has he any semblance of compassion?

What pisses me off about that whole thing is that people change their tune to still hold on to the idea of higher things affecting their health. How many people I have hear say that the immune system is a wonderful tool closely tied to your spiritual well being. That when your spirit suffers from personal or affective problems you leave the door open for diseases. Now that germs have been exposed these religious people have found ways to explain things spiritually. Should I listen to these people who change they tune all the time?

2) our place in the universe - God made this whole universe just for us. Not only did He make us in his image but he put us in the center of this whole beautiful place because we are His prized creation. He shines the light for us and puts another one up at night to decorate. Aside from the few discepanties we still held on to the idea that the firmament was a tent-like dome until the middle age.

Now that we have orbits worked out and that the milky way is a bunch of galaxies and stars and that we aren't at the center of the universe, heck we're in a galaxy and not even at the center of that one. Oh wait we have a solar system and wait... no we aren't at the center of that one either. But that's alright because God must have wanted it that way.

Is this some great demotion? Well simply put yes but we don't wait long on such ideas. God must have placed us where we are for a reason because he loves us. Right?

Despite all the changes in our worldview once came the evidence that we weren't at the center of the universe we still went to the same people for our spiritual leadership. These spiritual leaders resisted (read: inquisition) changes in world views but finally adopted the stance that even if the world isn't centered around us it was still built to measure just for us. Though confronted with the idea for some generations the Islamic world finally folded in my life time that we weren't at the center of the world.

These people wrong on evil spirits causing diseases and our place in the universe still influence our lives in very big ways and provide answers to anything we can't readily understand.

creation - God created everything in the perfect form it is today ~10k years ago. How else could you explain something so complex as the universe without some intelligent being making it? The bible allows us to count and it's about 10k years.

What about radiometric dating showing things being much older than that? What about fossil records? What about planets which seem to be moving away from us and are so far away that it must have been way before 10k years ago?

Well then the religious crew adjusted the tune. It's very easy for established religions to fight other misconceptions but very hard to fight evidence. God did create everything but he just created it a long time ago in such a way that it builds itself in what it is today. The simple fact that it's so nice a result (I mean we are so beautiful and awesome and all) that it is evidence of His greatness.

Again plenty of people didn't mind going to the same people who were wrong for guidance on any subject they need help with. What does it take to make them give up in their faith?

Evolution - What is so fascinating about this one is that like creationism it pushes back another bastion of religions. Things of complex nature who cannot easily be explained can be with a little effort and curiosity.

The religious people state that evolution cannot account for the greatness that is man or organs such as the eye or the neck of the giraffe. Clearly people are delusional if they believe some natural process can possibly account for all these things. And how dare they compare us humans with mere animals?

We all share DNA and genes. Chimps share a load of genes and similarities with us (more so than the differences we have). Well that's probably because God used the same components for us than He did for chimps. That's normal cause He's smart. He would be dumb to do the same work over and over again and he only had 6 days!

As we see more and more evidence for evolution (Richard Dawkins is an excellent source of evolution evidence BTW). We see many religions adjust the tune but they are slow in doing so. If they adopt something which isn't evident to everyone they'll cause too much of a stir and risk loosing people.

Now we have people like you who still hold on to the pattern and continue to adjust the tune or accept the new tune as it is easier for you that to completely change your worldview.

I want to ask you a question. At which point do you see too many adjusted tunes that it becomes more evident to you that all religions profess is fallacy?

[ Parent ]

uh, dude (3.00 / 2) (#58)
by Battle Troll on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 02:29:57 PM EST

Check it out: many atheists really do believe themselves to be gurgling bags of meaninglessness. BF Skinner was an actual real person.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
i'm a gurgling bag of asskicking (none / 1) (#68)
by CodeWright on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:01:36 PM EST



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
I feel sorry for them too. [nt] (none / 1) (#103)
by rusty on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 04:21:59 PM EST



____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
dude, I am not impressed (3.00 / 2) (#177)
by Battle Troll on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 10:02:29 PM EST

BF Skinner wasn't some lonely, despised nutbar. He was the kingpin of atheism and behaviorist psychology (for him, one implied the other) in the intellectual culture of his day. He ruled an empire and cast a long shadow. Moreover, he was surrounded by the like-minded; his beliefs defined the mainstream of sophisticated thought until Chomsky popped his balloon. That's one of the main reasons why Chomsky is so famous that he's gotten enough rope to hang himself.

Anyway, the 'meaning' you claim to find in your life is only superficially similar to the transcendent meaning that pre-Nietzscheian thinkers hoped to carve out for themselves. It's really more happiness, contentedness, and a lame gee-whiz wonder that couldn't conceivably make any kind of difference in your life - what Eugene Rose called post-Nihilist nihilism - and your attempt to conflate it with the meaning that the idea of God truly gave to the likes of Dufay and Machaut, of Kant and Rabelais, of Leibniz and T S Eliot, is a testament to your arrant unculturedness, 'prost gust' (idiot's taste,) and bloody-minded superficiality.

HTH.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

When did I claim 'meaning'? [nt] (none / 0) (#213)
by rusty on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 02:40:18 AM EST



____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
not in so many words (3.00 / 2) (#307)
by Battle Troll on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 03:09:47 PM EST

The fact that we evolved from simpler organisms is amazing in and of itself, but the fact that we evolved an ability for self-reflection, moral choice, and spiritual belief -- that we evolved the ability to consider and even recreate the processes that created us -- is just stunning.

So what stuns you about it is the meaninglessness of necessary accidents in the motions of particles in the infinite void? Way to prove the point you are attacking.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Chomsky popped his balloon? (none / 0) (#320)
by NoBeardPete on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 03:55:48 PM EST

Chomsky's notion of Universal Grammar has been well accepted, and this certainly is a big strike against behavioralism. But there are a lot of other scientists in a lot of fields who have done work that has been involved in taking it down, as well. Harry Harlow's experiments with primates were a big blow to behavioralism, and predated Chomsky's work by a bit. Lots of other psychologists were knocking big holes in behavioralist tenets by showing, for example, that rats are better at associating that certain foods make them sick than that stepping on a lever makes them sick.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

you never heard of the famous 1959 paper? (none / 0) (#330)
by Battle Troll on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 04:38:38 PM EST

This finished behaviourism as a theory of language, which went a long way towards finishing behaviourism as a theory of anything.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
One of the bigger nails (none / 0) (#516)
by NoBeardPete on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 03:05:18 PM EST

I think of this paper as being one of the bigger and better publicized nails in the coffin of behavioralism, but it's still one of many. You say that "his beliefs defined the mainstream of sophisticated thought until Chomsky popped his balloon". By the time Chomsky published this paper, a lot of conclusive work had been done to show many of the gaping holes in behavioralism. To say that his beliefs defined the mainstream until Chomsky popped his balloon is overselling it by a lot.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

Here you have one. (none / 1) (#125)
by vadim on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 05:19:26 PM EST

What are we if not bags of chemicals?

Your statement about that we're "moral and spiritual" seems odd to me. Both morality and spirituality are purely human concepts. I don't see them as anything special. They're simply consequences of how our brain works.

I am completely sure that if we could analyze a human, and reproduce all the organism inside a computer, together with a suitable environment, of course, it'd be just as moral and spiritual as its real life version.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

Sure (3.00 / 3) (#127)
by rusty on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 05:36:08 PM EST

I find wonder in the expressions of morality, spirituality, curiosity, love, and a whole bunch of other things that are just expressions of how our brains work. There isn't a conflict for me between believing that they're the expressions of natural processes (and by extension that theoretically they could be duplicated in any medium of similar complexity) and being amazed by them. I'm similarly amazed by a lot of things that science has brought to our attention.

My point, and I think you're demonstrating it pretty well, was that wonder and knowlege are not incompatible. I think it's a shame that so many people on both sides think that if you know how something works, or if it's "just a natural process" that somehow makes it prosaic and uninspiring.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Ahh, I see now. I agree with that. [n/t] (none / 0) (#137)
by vadim on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 06:21:13 PM EST


--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]
IAWTPOV (none / 0) (#216)
by forgotten on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 02:46:15 AM EST

I agree with this point of view.

--

[ Parent ]

yes, just as knowing Newton's laws ... (none / 0) (#240)
by tilly on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 07:15:43 AM EST

... doesnt prevent us from appreciating the beauty of the flight of an eagle ...

[ Parent ]
good lord. (1.50 / 6) (#167)
by the ghost of rmg on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 09:24:58 PM EST

i realize you've spent so much time reading slashdot and this cesspool that you are probably no longer able to appreciate what is that darwin, marx, and freud were putting forth all those years ago, but maybe you ought to reflect, for just a moment, on how many people whose minds were indisputably far greater than your own did appreciate how profoundly radical and how profoundly questionable those things they said really were.

what marx, darwin, and freud amount to is the complete deconstruction of the human being as it was conceived in the nineteenth century and continues to be perceived by anyone unprepared to make the leap of faith you seem to take for granted that newtonian physics and a theorem about ordinary differential equations disprove the existence of god. how is it that you could be so lazy-assed stupid as not to see this -- this that even basest, least educated dregs of american society perceive so easily?

and to your sentimental argument -- eh forget it. you seem to think humans "evolved" a moral capacity. i mean how god damned stupid can you get? what's next? phrenology?


rmg: comments better than yours.
[ Parent ]

You used 'deconstruction' wrong. [nt] (none / 1) (#214)
by rusty on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 02:41:09 AM EST



____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
no i didn't. (none / 1) (#245)
by the ghost of rmg on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 08:07:28 AM EST

if you don't know what you're talking about, you should shut up.


rmg: comments better than yours.
[ Parent ]
Yes, you did. [nt] (1.50 / 2) (#260)
by rusty on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 10:27:29 AM EST



____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
you've never been one to listen to good advice, (none / 1) (#275)
by the ghost of rmg on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:38:57 PM EST

have you?


rmg: comments better than yours.
[ Parent ]
I found a decent link (2.33 / 3) (#24)
by army of phred on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 12:08:04 PM EST

here, although it might be biased one way or another (can't tell quite yet), and I'm going to save it for my own reading later. I have a feeling that if I were to be really convinced one way or another, I would have to be pretty well versed in biological sciences, thats why I wish this article would have had links to check out. One of the devilishly hard problems about the debate is that its impossible to reproduce evolution to a degree thats convincing, and intelligent design by definition lacks the same reproduceability.

The whole issue is just like atheism vs christianity, nobody is even remotely objective, including the writer here. Wheres that leave folks like me, the poor befuddled, well we're left to make our own decisions, and since authors like the above aren't really making good sales pitches, they're sort of preaching to the choir and hammering the slippery slope argument, I return back to the comfort of intelligent design. +1 fp to emphasis this point.

"Republicans are evil." lildebbie
"I have no fucking clue what I'm talking about." motormachinemercenary
"my wife is getting a blowjob" ghostoft1ber

Everyone should decide for themselves.... (none / 0) (#39)
by IAmNos on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 01:33:14 PM EST

Wheres that leave folks like me, the poor befuddled, well we're left to make our own decisions

I think instead of feeling like your left to make your own decision, you should be grateful that someone is not trying (too hard) to push a particular view on you. I'm a firm believer that everyone should make up their own mind on issues like religion, evolution, and so forth. Its unlikely that at least in our lifetimes, any of these will be "proven" one way or the other.

Creationism vs. evolutionism is unfortunately a very touch subject in most circles. I say unfortunate because its a wonderful topic that welcomes a wide variety of views and beliefs. However, it seems that the folks that are hardcore on either side get far too emotional when their view is questioned. Personally, I would want my children to be taught both, to ask questions, do some reading, and decide for themselves which they believe is correct.

Its hard for anyone who believes strongly about a subject to teach or write about it unbiased. I've tried hard so far in this comment to not even hint at my views, but I've probably failed. I personally believe in the theory of evloution. I have yet to make up my mind about God, but I know I don't believe in any religion I'm at all familiar with (I draw a very big distinction between God and religion). I acknowledge the possibility of creation, and of a combination of both.

The best thing about an intelligent discussion about these types of things is that if its kept intelligent, and without too much emotion, then its almost a guarantee that at least one participant will learn something. And if someone learns something, then its not a waste of time.


http://thekerrs.ca
[ Parent ]
true (none / 0) (#41)
by army of phred on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 01:42:19 PM EST

The best thing about an intelligent discussion about these types of things is that if its kept intelligent, and without too much emotion, then its almost a guarantee that at least one participant will learn something. And if someone learns something, then its not a waste of time.

Real discussions are pretty rare. I admit that much fault lies with the Christian half of the argument, and is probably a great source of the emotional discourd.

"Republicans are evil." lildebbie
"I have no fucking clue what I'm talking about." motormachinemercenary
"my wife is getting a blowjob" ghostoft1ber
[ Parent ]

Belief in science (none / 1) (#86)
by jobi on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:47:41 PM EST

Personally, I would want my children to be taught both [creationism and evolutionism], to ask questions, do some reading, and decide for themselves which they believe is correct.

Only trouble with that is that it's only one of the two that is a question of belief. The other has nothing at all to do with belief, faith etc. You can not 'believe' that science is 'correct', either you accept that it is correct or you reject it, but you do so on scientific grounds.

The only somewhat valid reason to reject science is if your faith erroneously forces you to do so. That however does not invalidate science.

In keeping with that, there are only two reasons to reject evolutionary theory: Either your faith tells you that evolution is wrong, or you can point to something that falsifies evolutionary theory. And that something had better be provable and repeatable. And, incidentally, coming up with a theory (e.g. intelligent design) that's not verifiable or at least falsifiable does not falsify evolutionary theory

Sorry to rant on you, but I have a hard time with people confusing belief with science. They are each other's antithesis.

---
"[Y]ou can lecture me on bad language when you learn to use a fucking apostrophe."
[ Parent ]
I believe in science (none / 0) (#120)
by IAmNos on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 05:07:42 PM EST

You can not 'believe' that science is 'correct', either you accept that it is correct or you reject it, but you do so on scientific grounds

Its the theory of evolution, that life, as we know it know, evolved from more primative forms of life over millions of years. That is a theory. Because it is a theory, that means it is not proven and not disproven. As such, I can choose to belive it accurately accounts for the results I see today, or I can believe it is not the reason things are the way they are.

Science and belief are not opposites for us. Maybe for Vulcans they are, but as humans, our emotions, point of view, environment and other factors, affect what we accept as truth. Remember, at one time is was accepted as true by the scientific community that the Earth was flat, and that the Sun revolved around the Earth. We "know" now that this isn't true. Of course, for all we know, everything we "see" out there is nothing but a big illusion.


http://thekerrs.ca
[ Parent ]
It is _not_ "just a theory" (none / 1) (#135)
by jobi on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 06:11:54 PM EST

Because it is a theory, that means it is not proven and not disproven.

Oh come on now... Have you had any scientific training at all? Please refrain from playing the old sawhorse "It's just a theory". With about a century of research, and hundreds, if not thousands of papers, experiments, tests and studies giving evidence in favor of the theory, and in practice none giving evidence against it, I think we can safely say it's not "just a theory". Do you want to play the "Gravity is just a theory"-card now?

As such, I can choose to belive it accurately accounts for the results I see today, or I can believe it is not the reason things are the way they are.

Sure you can choose to believe it's not the reason, if you have the stomach to ignore about a hundred years of research into the matter.

Science and belief are not opposites for us. [...] as humans, our emotions, point of view, environment and other factors, affect what we accept as truth

Ah, the relativism card... Well, just remember, what you accept as truth may have nothing in common with what is provably true. And wishing doesn't make it so.

[...] at one time is was accepted as true by the scientific community that the Earth was flat [...] We "know" now that this isn't true.

Yes, indeed. And this proves my point rather elegantly, thank you. How would this change have come about if it was a matter of belief or faith? It would not. But since it was scientific theories who didn't stand up to scientific scrutiny, the theories were revised, and because of that we have advanced our understanding of the universe. Evolution works like that too, you know. Disprove it, and no one will believe in it any more. Since it hasn't been disproven, it is still the by far most likely candidate for truth we have.

Of course, for all we know, everything we "see" out there is nothing but a big illusion.

Down that road lies solipsism, you don't want to go there, take my word for it. Everyone who tried that road failed to get anywhere.

---
"[Y]ou can lecture me on bad language when you learn to use a fucking apostrophe."
[ Parent ]
No (3.00 / 2) (#269)
by DavidTC on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:09:59 PM EST

That is a theory. Because it is a theory, that means it is not proven and not disproven. As such, I can choose to belive it accurately accounts for the results I see today, or I can believe it is not the reason things are the way they are.

No, that's not how science works. You can either believe in a theory, or you can believe in another theory that explains the same things, but better.

For example: Newton's gravity. For quite a long time, we went with it. Then (To simplify.) along came Einstein, and he said 'No, it actually works like this. And, incidentally, this explains Mercury's orbit, and the weirdness of the speed of light.'.

A competing theory, that was better, so we went with it.

Likewise, evolution had a competing theory, called Larmarckianism or something like that, that said that children get traits from what their parents did. I.e., if a girafee stretches its neck, it will have a child with a longer neck.

There is nothing inheritly illogical about that theory...it's just not true, that's not how genetics works. A competing theory, but was demonstrated wrong, so we dropped it.

The intelligent design people have almost figured this out, and try to position ID as a competing theory. The problem is, it's not a scientific theory at all.

To be a competing theory, there would have to be an actual flaw in the current theories of evolution, and ID would have to fix it. In fact, it's even okay for ID to have some flaws, as long as it fixes existing flaws. The problem is that there aren't that kind of flaws in evolution, and ID doesn't explain anything better.

In fact, ID doesn't explain anything at all, it just says 'God did it', which is no more an explanation than 'a wizard did it'. To postulate that 'God did it' either requires measurement of this 'God' or a good theory about why he would exist.

Just like if I use, say, neutrons to explain different isotopes of the same element, I need to explain what neutrons are and how they can exist, or have some sort of measurement of them. 'Faking it' is okay for a while...sometime people can't invent entire theories out of thin air. We first got Special Relativy, which only works if you ignore gravity, and then we got General Relativity, which has gravity. We didn't tell Einstein, 'No, you fool, the real universe has gravity.', we said 'Cool. How does it work with gravity?' and he said 'I'll get back to you.'.

Or, a better example: If your theory about the expansion of the works perfectly...except it needs 'dark matter' that we can't see. Okay, well, there could be matter in the universe we can't currently see, we'll start working on that.

But them inventing an extra intelligent entity that (according to them) we can't observe, and has no apparent explanation forthcoming is just insanity, especially when there's no indication we need such an entity, as evolution seems to operate fine.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

Really? (none / 0) (#619)
by kerinsky on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 10:43:03 PM EST

DavidTC, I'm completely off the topic of evolution here and into meta-science, but then again, so are you.  I'm also not suporting the position of the grandfather poster here, I'm just being disagreeable and arguementative with you.

Honestly I think this sort of blanket approach is stupid, arrogant and thickheaded.  Sometimes... You. Just. Don't. Know.  Basically you're saying that it's part and parcel of modern science that all scientists must have a theory on every single valid question that can possibly be asked, and furthermore they must profess an addirmative belief in certain/many of these theories, no matter how insane, demonstrably wrong or even useless, as long as they can't come up with anything better.  Also remember that unless you're willing to say that Einstein wasn't a scientist, you can't really make the arguement that all scientists must conform to this method you've espoused.  From what I know of his life he strongly believed several theories he had developed before reasonable proof was available, and firmly held other theories to be false even when they were the best explination for observed results.

Remember too that many people are incredibly hard pressed to come up with an actual disproof to the theory of gravity that "the earth and everything on it are constantly growing and the celestial bodies are a (near) infinite distance away" without resorting to an appeal to outside authority (e.g. "I read x in a book", "My science teacher told me" or "Everyone knows, the earth just sucks")

In conclusion, my basic arguement:

It seems not only perfectly reasonable, but in fact admirable to reserve judgement and not accept an affirmative belief in a theory simply based on the fact that you can't find a more accurate one.

-=-
A conclusion is simply the place where you got tired of thinking.
[ Parent ]

I didn't say anything like that. (none / 1) (#975)
by DavidTC on Tue May 03, 2005 at 05:17:52 PM EST

Scientists need either a theory or documented proof of something before they can use it as part of other theories.

For a long time, we didn't know how bumblebees flew. (Despite some people still lagging behind, we do know how they do it now, it's due to turbulence) However, the law of pressure that allowed other kinds of flight, like airplanes, clearly worked, and the bumblebees certainly could fly.

But there's a difference between saying 'Bumblebees can fly despite the science, and here's a new theory to explain that.', and 'There might exist something that can fly in violation of science, and thus forty-foot long dragons exist, and here's a new theory to explain that.'.

One of them is an area were we know theory had failed, because we could observe it, and the other is just making crap up because you like dragons. Unless we find dragons, scientists will not accept the new theory.

I think that's where 'failure to understand' is coming from. Scientists don't ignore things that obviously exist when making theories. (In fact, if they did, we'd have no science in the first place.)

Things that we can observe are called 'facts' in science. (I don't want to get into the metaphysical discussion of whether or not we can observe anything at all, or if our senses just make stuff up. That's not a scientist's job.) As time has progressed, some theories have turned into facts, like the existence of atoms...we have observed that matter is actually made of very small things using electron microscopes. Before that, it was technically a theory.

Everything that hasn't been observed, and that includes God, needs an explanation before you can start using it. Granted, this explanation can be 'We need it to exist', which is basically how the strange and charm quarks came to be, IIRC. (Maybe it was the top and bottom quark instead?) We had no evidence of them, we just needed them mathmatically, so we postulated them and found them later, one of them in the last decade or so, a long time after it was accepted in science.

Including God in a scientific theory is not disallowed. There's no rule against 'Someone might have done that on purpose'. (If so, scientists would have fun explaining the pyramids.) Unless this is needed (Or facts pointing towards it.), however, it's a last result.

And, postulating the existence of God is a might big step, especially when he's not needed. And it turns the existence of God into a scientific question, and I don't think proponants of ID are quite udnerstanding what that means. If God is part of science, we immediately need theories about him (scientific theories) and whatnot, because, frankly, something that can do anything he wants would rewrite all the rules.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

Paradox (none / 0) (#620)
by kerinsky on Sun May 01, 2005 at 12:34:53 AM EST

Actually if, as you've stated, you accept the scientific approach based on scientific grounds you've committed a fallacy of circular logic.  You've taken a priori that the scientific approach is the appropriate decision making methodology for making the very decision of what the appropriate decision making methodology should be!  

You state that no religious belief makes science "invalid", but in this case that's only true if you assume that using a scientific scale for measuring validity is itself valid.  There's nothing in science that makes ANY religious belief "invalid" as long as you chose the right religion to help you determine what validity is either.  Basically you seem to be saying "there's nothing in your belief system that when judged through the methods of my belief system make my belief system invalid", but the opposite can also be said and you CANNOT blithely assume that the scientific belief system is the appropriate arbiter for deciding between scientific and religious viewpoints if you want to remain self consistent.  Of course this restriction is only a proscription on logical viewpoints that inherently hold that begging the question is an invalid method to reach a conclusion, religious viewpoints do not necessarily suffer from such a restriction.

Sorry to rant at you, but I have a hard time with people who can't see the connection between faith science. Any way you cut it the latter rests on the former.

If you feel inclined to argue, try this.  Justify your scientific and logical approach to the world without assuming ANYTHING in your arguments.  Any hypothetically logical argument logic is the correct choice fails because it begs the question.

Postulate is just another word for faith.

PS - This post is intended to be about science/logic and the naive and simpleminded abuse of the concepts.  I you think you can guess my positions on religious practice, evolution, or the origin of life on this planet feel free to guess, wrongly most certainly, but please realize that they're separate issues from those I raised in this post.  

-=-
A conclusion is simply the place where you got tired of thinking.
[ Parent ]

Science has always been an inductive process (none / 1) (#637)
by JetJaguar on Sun May 01, 2005 at 10:17:17 AM EST

I believe in science because it works. It's a recursive, self building process not a circular one. At any point along that line, if the process breaks down then the scientific method is broken and invalid, so far no such thing has happened.

The process isn't perfect. Sometimes it goes down wrong paths and dead-ends. But it always seems to eventually result in something the useful that builds on what came before.

This isn't faith, it's a proof by induction. It's worked before, and I have every reason to believe that it will work tomorrow until something comes along to disprove it. Do you see how science can be self-justifying with out being circular? Now if you can't accept an argument from induction as the foundation of the scientific method, you've got bigger problems.

Science does postulate certian things without having good evidence for them, for example: All physical laws of the universe are the same everywhere at any given time. We don't have any evidence that this statement is universally true, but it does seem to be true everywhere we've tried to look. Is that a faith based statement? Perhaps, but it is a very different kind of faith than the religious kind.

Using science to decide between science and religious view points is a stupid idea, unless science can be used to justify a particular brand of religion. On the other hand, if a religion makes predictions that fall under the realm of science... well then we have trouble, because you have a process based on evidence versus a process based on faith, which are pretty much mutually exclusive processes. One of them is going to be right, and one of them is going to be almost certianly wrong. But making the decision about which one is right, isn't going to be a scientific decision, it will almost certainly be a philosophical one.... unless of course one position leads all of it's adherants to die off... then the other one will win by default.

[ Parent ]

Who convinced you? (none / 1) (#56)
by nkyad on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 02:27:07 PM EST

Who convinced you Quantum Mechanics is even remotely possible? What about microbiological agents (virii, bacteria), who convinced you they exist and do what the doctors claim they do?

The point is, science is not done by decree. What give us a reasonable confidence in a scientific theory is both the body of supporting data and the peer review. Evolution has a large body of supporting facts, collected all over the world in the last 120 or so years, and has been refined under the scrutiny of thousands of very bright scientists for the same period.

All competing ideas fall short of providing a comparable record and a better explanation for the facts compiled so far. For that reason, evolution represents the best answer we devised so far for the existence and diversity of Earth's life.

Don't believe in anything you can't see, smell, touch or at the very least infer from a good particle accelerator run


[ Parent ]
comments (none / 0) (#61)
by army of phred on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 02:40:06 PM EST

I learned just a bit about quantum mechanics from a bit of text re tunnel diodes. Obviously the tunnel diodes behave the way they do because of something, but everyone agrees here that quantum mechanics is a theory explaning how they work.

Virii and bacteria are observable.

Evolution has a large body of supporting facts

Well thats my point, I guess I've never seen the facts, and they weren't in this article. I've seen pictures of Virii and actually seen bacteria in microscopes. I've never seen a new species appear, or the missing link species linking man to apes for example.

I have seen traits bread into existing species, like dog breeding for example. Nobody's convinced me of evolution however, not in the way that they have of virii, bacteria. Don't worry, I'm just relating my experience. For instance, in one of my diaries I even attempted to game out the origion of life, so its not like I haven't considered these issues.

"Republicans are evil." lildebbie
"I have no fucking clue what I'm talking about." motormachinemercenary
"my wife is getting a blowjob" ghostoft1ber
[ Parent ]

Viruses (none / 1) (#112)
by benna on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 04:47:17 PM EST

Interesting you should mention viruses.  They are a very good example of evolution in action.  HIV can evolve to become resistant to antri-retroviral drugs.  Many other viruses do the same.
-
"It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists." -Ludwig Wittgenstein
[ Parent ]
the missing link of course (none / 0) (#132)
by army of phred on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 06:01:12 PM EST

is when non living minerals evolved into living germs.

"Republicans are evil." lildebbie
"I have no fucking clue what I'm talking about." motormachinemercenary
"my wife is getting a blowjob" ghostoft1ber
[ Parent ]
Intelligently designed humans? (2.61 / 13) (#25)
by szo on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 12:19:17 PM EST

I'm always surprised when I hear someone actually belives that he/she has been designed. If I was designed, the one who designed me better not meet me in a dark alley. Are those men so perfect that they can seriously think they flawless? Don't they have appendix? Their noses never run? Don't their teeth ever go bad? Don't they fart? If they do and still belive they've been designed, they must have an enormous sense of humor :)
--
I guess it wasn't the dove...
thanks. (none / 1) (#73)
by Run4YourLives on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:24:12 PM EST

For the grade 3 logic in you argument.

I was beginning to forget where I was.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

logic? (3.00 / 2) (#131)
by szo on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 05:59:13 PM EST

Do you really expect logic in an argument involving religion? What for?
--
I guess it wasn't the dove...
[ Parent ]
Funny thing (none / 0) (#30)
by Benny Cemoli on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 12:56:36 PM EST

The google ads down the left side of the page are all for various sites shilling intelligent design.

If I demonstrate that software programs implement an evolutionary approach - iteratively modifying, simulating, and selecting - also produce systems that appear to be irreducably complex, would that make these religious zealots shut up?

No, I didn't think so.

"the fabric of space quivers at the touch of even a microbe."

If it weren't for science...... (3.00 / 4) (#33)
by LO313 on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 01:10:00 PM EST

...I would still believe that thunder is angels bowling in heaven.

And rain... (none / 1) (#38)
by nkyad on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 01:33:02 PM EST

Peter washing the entrance to the gates...

hehe

Don't believe in anything you can't see, smell, touch or at the very least infer from a good particle accelerator run


[ Parent ]
Whew (3.00 / 2) (#94)
by Cro Magnon on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:59:47 PM EST

For a moment I had a different thought about where rain came from. I'm glad THAT theory was wrong!
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
That would be acid rain (none / 1) (#128)
by nkyad on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 05:39:13 PM EST

But it only falls on the wicked.

Don't believe in anything you can't see, smell, touch or at the very least infer from a good particle accelerator run


[ Parent ]
so true (none / 0) (#202)
by ShiftyStoner on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:47:52 AM EST


( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
[ Parent ]
But wind is definitely trees sneezing. (none / 0) (#208)
by dn on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:44:09 AM EST

Calvin's dad told me, it must be true.

    I ♥
TOXIC
WASTE

[ Parent ]

My few thoughts on the subject. (2.83 / 6) (#35)
by mindstrm on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 01:18:37 PM EST

1) Faith is not about science. Science is not about faith.  

2) If your faith could be scientifically proven, then it would no longer be faith, it would be science. Anyone who talks about "proof" of their faith is missing the point. Faith is about things you can't prove.

3) Us wondering why everything in the world seems to fit together perfectly down to a minute scale is like a puddle wondering why it seems to fit so perfectly into it's depression in the ground. We are a natural result of the universe, as is everythign else in it. If it didn't all fit together, it would not exist.

Mmmmmm close. (3.00 / 2) (#71)
by israfil on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:11:55 PM EST

I would re-state your three points a bit, but generally agree:

1.  Faith and Science are orthogonal.  If faith makes a propositional argument that is falsifiable and that evidence has falsified, then science is more true.  If science makes an unfalsifiable claim that faith counters, then clearly there is no reason to believe science in that case.  However, in the main, there is no necessary opposition between the two, because they describe different things. (yes, this is an elucidation, not a contradiction of your point)

2. I disagree.  Mostly because of point #1.  Often religion and science say the same thing, and more often they don't.  But when they do, it's not that faith is suddenly transformed into knowledge.  Faith is confirmed by the knowledge of the evidence.  But again, this assumes point #1, so most literalist religious types wouldn't really accept this.

3. True, and whether that universe was created by an omnipotent creator is beside the point, or rather is a seperate issue.  Common conceptions of this divine are also not falsifiable, so are irrelevant to scientific discourse of cosmology.  However, on can (see point #2 and #1) see implications of the divine in the patterns of the universe.  But that's a matter of faith and aesthetic.

Of course, my faith instructs me that #1 is the case, and that while truth is absolute, our perceptions of it are relative.  "True science" and "true religion" are not in disagreement, though that is ideal, and in practice we never personally get to "true science" or "true religion."  They are both journeys towards an ideal.   And they both describe distinct aspects of "truth" that are often not related in any direct way.
i. - this sig provided by /dev/arandom and an infinite number of monkeys with keyboards.
[ Parent ]

Science versus faith (3.00 / 4) (#212)
by dn on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 02:27:08 AM EST

1. Faith and Science are orthogonal.
No! Science is a particular faith: that there is an objective universe, that it is governed by discoverable laws, and therefore that what happens is in part predictable.

The universe need not be that way. It can be as capricious or ordered as it was created to be. Its apparent order could arise by chance, by the unknowable whims of a Creator, or by a perverse law that says "things will be capricious except where needed to create the illusion of a well-ordered universe". The point is that the foundation of science is not falsifiable. Sure, it makes some pretty darn impressive predictions that are usually correct, but a favorite saying of science itself is that correlation does not imply causation.

    I ♥
TOXIC
WASTE

[ Parent ]

Science (none / 1) (#622)
by kcbrown on Sun May 01, 2005 at 01:20:26 AM EST

Science is a particular faith: that there is an objective universe, that it is governed by discoverable laws, and therefore that what happens is in part predictable.

Um, well, not quite.

Science is the formalization of an observation that pretty much everyone in existence has made at one time or another: that the world around them appears to behave with some consistency and predictability. People use some flavor of the "scientific method" pretty much every day, because all it requires is that one observe the world, then formulate a predictive rule, and then attempt to apply that rule to the world to see if it holds up (and discard the rule if/when it doesn't).

Someone who had not made such an observation about the world (even if only subconsciously) would probably not live very long as anything other than an utter dependent on someone else.

Mankind is a tool-using species, creator or not. His abilities are largely determined by the quality and capabilities of the tools he wields. And since a tool almost by definition is fashioned based on rules determined via some flavor of the scientific method, it should come as little surprise that the rate of improvement in his tools is strongly related to his willingness to use the scientific method to observe and learn about the world he lives in.

[ Parent ]

Heh. (none / 1) (#74)
by creaothceann on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:32:03 PM EST

And the puddle enjoyed its life until it was drained by the sun.

[ Parent ]
then... (none / 1) (#173)
by APL on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 09:50:27 PM EST

"2) If your faith could be scientifically proven, then it would no longer be faith, it would be science. Anyone who talks about "proof" of their faith is missing the point. Faith is about things you can't prove."

Then the next question should be "Is it desirable or usefull to have faith in things of which there is no evidence?".

(if "yes" then "which things?")

[ Parent ]
er (1.28 / 7) (#37)
by balsamic vinigga on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 01:31:34 PM EST

psuedoscience is commonly taught in schools.

Psychology, economics, sociology are all psuedoscience.  Not to mention philosophy.

I see no harm in educating people about intelligent design theory, as long as evolution and arguments for and against both are also discussed.  Let the people be critical thinkers and decide for themselves.

Is intelligent design theory created out of the bias of creationists?  Probably, but that's beside the point.

Banning cirriculum because of some slippery slope argument of teaching religion in school is abs-fucking-surd as are all slippery slope arguments.

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!

pseudoscience (2.75 / 4) (#49)
by slashcart on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 02:08:03 PM EST

The word "pseudoscience" means a body of doctrine which claims to be scientific, but is not. Thus, philosophy is not pseudoscience because it does not claim to be science. Furthermore, some parts of psychology, sociology and economics are based on refutable empirical research and are therefore genuinely scientific.

[ Parent ]
eh philosophy is (none / 0) (#51)
by balsamic vinigga on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 02:15:37 PM EST

a superset of science

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]
I recommend you read up before posting. (none / 0) (#72)
by xutopia on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:21:12 PM EST

Even philosophers have a hard time explaining what philosophy is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/philosophy

I'm glad you figured it out though cause I was wondering myself.

PS: some sciences have superceded philosophy to become their own field of study so I would be feeling weird saying that philosophy is a superset of science.

[ Parent ]

Just what are you suggesting I do? (none / 0) (#100)
by balsamic vinigga on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 04:09:49 PM EST

Read up on definitions of the term "philosophy" so that I can be confused on what it is so that I can't make statements like i did two posts up?

What good does that do?

From your own link:


Philosophy (from a combination of the Greek words philos meaning love and sophia meaning wisdom), as a practice, aims at some kind of understanding, knowledge or wisdom about fundamental matters such as reality, knowledge, meaning, value, being and truth.

I'd say science falls well within that, as does most psuedoscience, religion, and K5 wankery.

I rest my fucking case.

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]

check it out you might learn something. (1.33 / 3) (#185)
by xutopia on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 11:07:25 PM EST

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science

Philoshopy isn't a process, it's a passtime.

[ Parent ]

how? (none / 0) (#642)
by drunkincharge on Sun May 01, 2005 at 12:45:01 PM EST

PS: some sciences have superceded philosophy to become their own field of study Examples?

[ Parent ]
Psychology n/t (none / 0) (#651)
by benna on Sun May 01, 2005 at 04:11:53 PM EST


-
"It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists." -Ludwig Wittgenstein
[ Parent ]
If there were a designer ... (2.71 / 7) (#44)
by tilly on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 01:54:20 PM EST

then who designed the designer?

Duh (2.33 / 3) (#50)
by thankyougustad on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 02:13:32 PM EST

the designer's designer. Jesus what a dumb question.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Christ... (none / 0) (#178)
by evilway on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 10:08:36 PM EST

But come on now. Who designed Jesus?

[ Parent ]
in the beginning was the Word. /nt (none / 0) (#205)
by Battle Troll on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:56:35 AM EST


--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
Who knew God listened to CAmeo? (none / 1) (#311)
by spasticfraggle on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 03:18:43 PM EST

When you hear the word you've got to get it underway

Word up!

--
I'm the straw that broke the camel's back!
[ Parent ]

anyway (2.00 / 2) (#329)
by Battle Troll on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 04:36:45 PM EST

The point is that asking 'what came before God' is kind of like asking 'what's heavier than weight' or 'what's brighter than light;' an error of language caused by sloppy thinking.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
Aha! (none / 0) (#408)
by tilly on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 09:30:21 PM EST

Your argument implies that having existence before everything else is a necessary attribute of the nature of God. I will defer to you on that. I have no pretensions of knowledge of the nature of God.

I did not use the word "God" in the original post. I used the word "designer". A word without religious connotations. Because that is how the proponents of Intelligent Design want to dress it up. That is how they can weasel their religious propaganda into school science curricula.

But we all know it is religion. The demonstration was right in this thread. In my original post, I used the word designer - which does not necessarily exclude the idea that the designer itself would have a designer. Yet, during the course of the thread, almost unconsciously, the "designer" became "God".

Once you inject fairy tales into science, science will have no integrity left. That is why we on my side are so concerned about the growing influence of superstition in the affairs of society. If you have a few people believing in fairy tales, well, that is quaint and harmless and part of the color palette in the makeup of the society. But when these grow in number, idiots like Bush get elected; their unscrupulous backers get control.

Next stop is the First Amendment. What will be endangered next is my very ability to write the words I am writing.

This is no idle discussion about esoterica. It is about the future our society.

[ Parent ]

oh go away (none / 0) (#438)
by Battle Troll on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 02:12:34 AM EST

I've stated in many posts to this article that I'm willing to accept an evolutionary account of the origin of life. You say that I'm bad? How about you, seeing Ralph Reed behind every bush?

Next stop is the First Amendment. What will be endangered next is my very ability to write the words I am writing.

This kind of irresponsible hyperbole doesn't impress me any more coming from the Michael Moore crowd than it does from the NRA.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Paging Dr Nathan (none / 0) (#423)
by it certainly is on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 12:28:27 AM EST

Christians have this cute idea of defining their god as the basic frame of reference rather than the secular "Universe". Converting dates between different calendars should alert you to fact this is culturally subjective and thus not suitable for scientific measurement.

Let me get this straight. The polytheistic religions are denounced because their gods are too human-like and fallible. God must be infinite, perfect, the basis of all things! Atheism is denounced because it lacks the compassion and love of a god. To simply have an "Infinity" and a "Universe" with no anthropomorphisation is blatant nihilism, it gives no psychological comfort. We don't want to be "alone", but we desire a perfect leader to guide us. Monotheism, therefore, is "just right" (if you're Goldilocks).

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

I wish nathan would show up (none / 1) (#439)
by Battle Troll on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 02:22:50 AM EST

He's far more fun than me.

Christians have this cute idea of defining their god as the basic frame of reference rather than the secular "Universe".

Considering that this is a fundamental philosophical tenet of Christianity - yeah, we do. At bottom, all monotheistic religions are arguments that the ground of existence is personal, not impersonal. As this is the very point under discussion, it's hardly fair to ask me to concede it in advance for reasons of tolerance.

The polytheistic religions are denounced because their gods are too human-like and fallible.

More like they burned themselves out. Anyway, you can be polytheistic without being pagan, which is the basis of much of the West's misreading Eastern religions.

Atheism is denounced because it lacks the compassion and love of a god.

I'm sure someone has said that, somewhere. I can't say that I have any problems at all with atheists who are inconsistent (ie, not nihilists.)

To simply have an "Infinity" and a "Universe" with no anthropomorphisation is blatant nihilism, it gives no psychological comfort.

Being a nihilist doesn't make you tough. It makes you Camus's "Stranger" or some William S. Burroughs horror-show meat-puppet. But anyway. Infinity without internal coherence doesn't give us an ordered, comprehensible universe, it gives us H. P. Lovecraft Azathoth chaos; energy and motion without intelligence or meaning. And that doesn't make sense, because nothing can come from nothingness.

Monotheism, therefore, is "just right"

Monotheism is not a proposition (although it can be defended with propositions.) It is an acknowledgement of the personal encounter with God that is human life. If you want comfort, new-age pantheism is a safer bet, with its best-of-all-worlds-everything-is-a-learning-game pot-smoke wash.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

He's in the hizzouse (none / 1) (#1084)
by it certainly is on Wed May 04, 2005 at 04:26:37 PM EST

As this is the very point under discussion, it's hardly fair to ask me to concede it in advance for reasons of tolerance.

I'm not asking you to concede it, but rather to acknowledge that is Christian doctrine, as opposed to undisputed truth.

I'm glad you have no shame in your own beliefs and are willing to proselytize. I wouldn't respect you as a Christian if you didn't.

However, you are not the person proposing that "Intelligent Design" be taught as science to schoolchildren. I have faith that your missionary would be less condescending and underhand.

Science has amassed respect and reputation based on its adherence to the basic principles of falsifyability and empirical measurement. These are the keystones of its authority. In doing so, it cuts itself off (or makes it prohibitively difficult to study) a number of subject areas. Good! Leave that to the epistemologists, the theologians and the poets. Science is not an ideological battleground. Science cares only for material, verifiable findings, let's keep it that way. Fuck Dawkins and fuck the creationists. If the proponents of "Intelligent Design" want children to learn that YHWH"a designer" created the world, let them teach it explicitly as theologyphilosophy.

While I'll admit that many atheists take more from the theory of evolution than they really should, because it fits their worldview of complex entities arising from simpler entities, without central coordination, the science with shouldn't be conflated atheist dogma.

Being a nihilist doesn't make you tough.

I didn't say it did. If anything, it makes you emotionally detached and unstable (and personally, I'd prefer "Bringing Out The Dead" and "Fight Club", as examples of nihilist cultural material) - what happened to Nietzsche's 56th birthday, anyhow?

Anyway, as I believe the universe has already shown you, there is a minimal level of "internal coherence" necessary, which brings both the recklessly unimaginable and the perfectly controlled, as it iterates through all possibilities, endlessly.

Monotheism is not a proposition.

I'm glad you agree. IMHO, Christian faith can only be genuine when backed by personal revelation. Anything less is just going through the cultural motions.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

more (none / 1) (#1113)
by Battle Troll on Wed May 04, 2005 at 07:56:25 PM EST

Science is not an ideological battleground. Science cares only for material, verifiable findings, let's keep it that way.

The scientists don't have such a great track record either, as far as humility and philosophical clear-headedness. But I'd be willing to leave science (as a social institution, not a process) alone were it not for the "scientificists," who can't be expected (as tkatchev loved to point out) to find their "biological motivation" with both hands and an anatomy textbook. If it weren't for Pinker and Dawkins, I wouldn't feel the need to defend anyone for counterattacking with ID.

I'm not asking you to concede it, but rather to acknowledge that is Christian doctrine, as opposed to undisputed truth.

Sure, that's fine, but I'd say it's a little bit more common that the converse is assumed around here. I'm insisting on the legitimacy of my reasoning as a starting point for debate. Many Christians, for that matter, have been co-opted into a materialistic (not scientific) worldview unawares, and this is also meant for them.

While I'll admit that many atheists take more from the theory of evolution than they really should, because it fits their worldview of complex entities arising from simpler entities, without central coordination, the science with shouldn't be conflated atheist dogma.

If some eminent scientist, edified by a lifetime of disinterested study and contemplation of the marvels of the natural world, came to the conclusion that there was no God, and posted about it here, I can't imagine that I'd see fit to argue with him. I don't see that happening right now. The situation on this site is typical of contemporary discourse on the subject; science is appropriated by people generally cursorily and shallowly educated in it if at all (kitten comes to mind as an example,) and misused a stick to beat the religion which they hate.

However, you are not the person proposing that "Intelligent Design" be taught as science to schoolchildren.

While I would not go out of my way to get ID taught in schools, I can't get all that upset that some people want it. Where are the anti-ID cadres while our schools are graduating myriads of utter illiterates? These kids can't multiple two two-digit numbers; I'd say ID is the least of their worries.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Hello. (none / 1) (#1151)
by it certainly is on Thu May 05, 2005 at 08:51:24 AM EST

If it weren't for Pinker and Dawkins, I wouldn't feel the need to defend anyone for counterattacking with ID.

That's pretty fucked up thinking, if you don't mind me saying. Why not be consistent and lambast anyone who dares to sully science's reputation for neutral empiricism in order to boost the standing of their own less than fact-based theories (e.g. Dawkins, Pinker, Chomsky, John Gray "PhD"). The same goes for "Intelligent Design" proponents. It's not science. Stop calling it that!

I'd say it's a little bit more common that the converse is assumed around here.

I can't speak for the other people on K5, idiots or otherwise. They don't speak for me. The only undisputed truth is that our origins are beyond truly knowing. We can accept a number of worldviews, each flawed, each completely at odds with the next. Can we rationally measure the accuracy of each worldview? No. That is the tragedy of the human condition. That doesn't stop the human desire to know. But we are too limited. We cannot step outside spacetime and observe it impartially. The written word can profess to do this, but through the same power of abstraction, you can write "black is white" on the page. Only faith can move this abstraction to unshakeable reality. I like the web metaphor myself, but I can't give you anything more than circumstantial evidence of its veracity.

misused a stick to beat the religion which they hate

You have to ask yourself why they hate it so much. Are you willing to take on the burden of the collective guilt from those who hurt kitten with "religion"? If so, you're a better man than me. I'm willing to correct any misunderstandings that the scientificists have perpetuated, but I won't accept responsibility for their actions.

I can't get all that upset that some people want ["Intelligent Design" taught]

Why not? I thought you were against all measures that destroyed education. Or is it because you believe that public education is unredeemable, lost to the people who want it purely for indoctrination, and you'll let those people fight with each other to get their pet projects into the curriculum?

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

everyone wants money (2.14 / 7) (#54)
by Battle Troll on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 02:25:28 PM EST

That's why they call it 'money.'
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
Let me elaborate ... (2.66 / 3) (#82)
by tilly on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:37:01 PM EST

You solve a problem by

(i) by breaking it down to simpler problems which are easier to solve

(ii) by transforming it to another problem which may be just as difficult but it may give you another angle at the whole matter

(iii) The third approach, transforming the problem to one even more difficult is not a valid approach UNLESS that other problem has already been solved.

Now, when you find a watch in the woods, the assumption that there is a watchmaker would not be a solution at all to the problem of the origin of this object if you did not already know of the existence of watchmakers. Similarly, saying that there is a designer - which necessarily has to be more complex than the object He has designed - does not solve anything; it leaves you with an even more difficult problem than the one you started with, the question I expressed in the comment.

UNLESS: You think you already know the answer to the more complicated problem. If you have Faith and you believe that the Designer has already revealed Himself to you via the Bible or whatever, then the problem is solved.

Hence, the deception of presenting the "theory" of intelligent design as a non-religious supposition. This theory makes sense only from the religious point of view. And of course we all know that is where it comes from.

By contrast, the scientific theory of evolution along with the Big Bang theory - with the acknowledgement that whatever the hell was b4 the Big Bang is simply not available to us to know - is the best we've got for now on the question of where we all came from.

Another point to make is that the theory of evolution is a work in progress. It has already been adjusted in two major ways:

1) We have switched from the organism-based approach to a gene-based approach: It is not the fittest organism that survives but it is the gene that can reproduce most successfully. We are machines made for the propagation of genes. That is why our bodies are not perfect; they were not made for our happiness but for the propagation of genes

2) Genetic drift has played as significant a role in the changes of gene pools as natural selection. For example, a natural catastrophe that wipes out a species except for a few individuals has a perpetual effect on the constitution of the gene pool of the species.

Other refinements may be proposed to the theory of evolution so that it does a better job of explaining what we have but it is basically Darwin's work we have to stand on.

[ Parent ]

History (2.57 / 7) (#47)
by slashcart on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 01:59:31 PM EST

The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built. Its influence can be detected in most, if not all, of the West's greatest achievements, including representative democracy, human rights, free enterprise, and progress in the arts and sciences.
The religious right often makes statements about history that could be refuted by a second grader. All it would require is a basic timeline of the development of western civ.

For example, the emporer Constantine converted the Roman empire to Christianity in AD 312. Thus, the belief that man is made in God's image, was absolutely not one of the "bedrock principles upon which Western civ was founded." Western civ was founded ~1,000 years before, and it adhered to paganism during its development.

oops, meant to say... (none / 0) (#52)
by slashcart on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 02:16:05 PM EST

"adhered to paganism during its early development."

[ Parent ]
perhaps these people (2.50 / 2) (#55)
by Battle Troll on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 02:26:42 PM EST

Don't esteem the savage Achaean culture as much as they do the peaceful, prosperous Eastern Empire. I know that the actual Greeks in question certainly don't.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
Anthropic Principle (2.88 / 9) (#48)
by Kasreyn on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 02:07:57 PM EST

This is to say that since we are here we must live in a universe fine-tuned to our existence regardless of whether that universe was created by an intelligent designer or by random chance.

It gets worse than that. If the planets of our solar system didn't experience surprisingly stable orbits, the Earth would have been plastered by extinction-level meteors too frequently to develop life as highly evolved as us.

But there's already a name for this, and it's generally called the Anthropic Principle. Some consider it dubious, I consider it eminently reasonable.

It works like this: the reason the universe seems so amazingly suited for human habitation is because we are alive and observing it. If it were not, we would not be around to notice. There could be millions of other universes that have no life, and we would still see the same universe here. Or Earth could be the only planet in our universe with life. We can push the improbability of life to whatever staggeringly low number we care to imagine, and it doesn't make a lick of difference. The universe only seems improbable because *this* time, *this* place, we happen to be observing it; all the uncounted billions of other planets and universes we could imagine, have no observers on them to notice how small the ratio is.

In general, you're correct, but I'm only able to agree wholeheartedly with your point on falsifiability. I may have time to comment on other things after work.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
Makes sence. -nt (none / 0) (#85)
by Mylakovich on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:47:07 PM EST



[ Parent ]
yes (3.00 / 2) (#287)
by Chairman Kaga on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:25:05 PM EST

This is the gist of why statistical arguments are always bound to fall flat. There is no reason to assume that this universe is all 'there is'. There could be 10^50 other universes with constants that were out of whack. Those are all empty and our universe won the lottery. It has stars and such.

The universes could be concurrently existing (perhaps part of the super-universal quantum wave function), or perhaps sequential (big bang, big crunch, big bang, and so on).

Same with earth. Billions upon billions of solar systems are terrible for life. Their planets are gas or dead rock. But say one solar system out of every 1 million happened to have a nice planet. Life arose on (at least) one of those and so here we are.

[ Parent ]
I'd be interested to see your response (none / 0) (#422)
by ubernostrum on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 12:14:28 AM EST

to my comment further down the page, referencing William Lane Craig's assertion that anthropic arguments against design rest on a fallacy of equivocation.




--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]
Your argument is clearly wrong (none / 1) (#443)
by Kasreyn on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 02:28:56 AM EST

because I don't understand it!!

just kidding. ^_^ I wanted to try it on for size, so many people in this debate seem to enjoy it so much... (not meanin' you, ya understand)

Seriously, I'm not well-grounded enough in (formal logic?) whatever Craig's discipline is, even to be certain I understand his jargon correctly, so I think I'll resist commenting stupidly on it!

However...

The thing is, I consider intelligent design to be an extraordinary claim and that the burden of proof lies on its proponents to prove, not its opponents to disprove. Do I think the anthropic principle disproves Intelligent Design? Of course it doesn't. Intelligent Design was intelligently designed to be un-disprovable, after all. :P

To my point of view, proponents of Intelligent Design basically say, "you must accept ID because of the surprising complexity of the universe", but as per the anthropic principle, I see no reason why the universe's complexity should be surprising, so they need to find another way to convince me. If this were a less surprising universe, we wouldn't be here to be unsurprised by it. :P

As I said, since Intelligent Design isn't falsifiable, I don't waste my mental effort trying to show it to be false. Evolution by natural selection is falsifiable, but afaik it hasn't been yet, despite a great deal of scrutiny. That doesn't prove it, either, of course. In fact, I've never seen why people think the two should be mutually exclusive. Perhaps the initial spark that changed amino alphabet soup into vigorously swimming protozoa was intelligently designed, and everything since has been the result of evolution. Given omniscience, it wouldn't be beyond god to know exactly which amino acids to jazz with divine juice to ensure that the second plane wouldn't miss the WTC.

What bugs me aren't people who are for Intelligent Design, it's people who are for Intelligent Design and rabidly against evolution by natural selection, which was discovered by the same reasoning process that gave us the technology to make The Donald's toupee. Accepting as given (although also not 100% provable) that all things die, that reproduction occurs before death and not after, and that the more environmentally-adapted tend to survive longer, there's no way to NOT come to the conclusion that "more fit" creatures will tend to replace "less fit" creatures. So you tell me which of those givens evolution-bashers are denying, if you wish me to believe that they're being rational.

But that's really not what this is about. This is about pride (a sin, if I do believe). This is about not wanting to admit to monkeys being relatively close family members, despite extremely statistically significant similarities. If Darwin had published a bit of small print in his book saying "all species except Man, which was divinely created", I can guarantee you that all these conservative evo-basher pundits would be flipping burgers for a living, because there would be no controversy. No one cares if the red-headed duck-webbed warbler finch evolved from the red-beaked duck-headed shrieking finch. All they care about is not looking at monkeys in the mirror. :P


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Craig's argument, simplified (2.00 / 2) (#456)
by ubernostrum on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 03:38:57 AM EST

Basically says that the anthropic retort to design requires us to start from "we should not be surprised to observe that we're not dead" and reason to "we should not be surprised to observe a universe capable of sustaining us", relying on the notion that these are essentially equivalent statements. The problem, as Craig points out, is that they aren't; thus we have what logicians call the fallacy of equivocation.

In the first case, we're not surprised to observe that we're not dead, because it would be impossible for us to observe that we're dead. Essentially, we're observing the fact that a logical contradiction cannot be, and so we're not surprised.

But in the second case, we're not dealing with a logical contradiction; in fact, it's extremely unlikely that a universe such as ours should have come into being, out of all the logically possible universes, and though we can deduce from our existence that such a universe did come into being, this has no bearing on whether it was logically necessary, before the fact, for such a universe to have come into being. Thus we are appropriately surprised that such a universe did, in fact, come to be, and the question of how and why it came to be is appropriate.

A simpler argument was once made by Martin Gardner, who parodied one version of the anthropic principle (the Weak Anthropic Principle, or WAP) by arguing that, rather than saying he had been born because his parents met, he should say that because he'd been born his parents must have met. Stripped of the equivocation, this sort of anthropic reasoning becomes nothing more than trivial after-the-fact observations.

Of course, there are other versions of the anthropic principle, some of which are downright insane; read Barrow and Tipler's book on it sometime if you're interested.

And I'm with you on people who are pro-design as a means of being anti-evolution; my thesis was concerned with showing that arguments from design are not incompatible with the theory of evolution; in fact, there's almost more talk about design these days among physicists than among philosophers...




--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]
How unlikely? (none / 1) (#538)
by tgibbs on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 07:21:58 PM EST

But in the second case, we're not dealing with a logical contradiction; in fact, it's extremely unlikely that a universe such as ours should have come into being, out of all the logically possible universes

However, we cannot in fact say that it is extremely unlikely that a universe such as ours should have come into being, because a key piece of information is missing: out of how many tries? Throwing a coin heads ten time in a row out of 10 throws is extremely unlikely, but out of a million throws, it is virtually certain that there will be 10 heads in a row. So to estimate the likelihood of our universe, we have to know how many universes there are. Absent that information, no meaningful statement can be made either way.

[ Parent ]

That's the fallacy... (none / 1) (#539)
by ubernostrum on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 07:31:37 PM EST

of the Gambler's Ruin. The odds of a given event happening aren't reduced by the number of trials.




--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]
Statistics and Gambler's Ruin (none / 1) (#550)
by tgibbs on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 01:24:30 AM EST

That's the fallacy of the Gambler's Ruin. The odds of a given event happening aren't reduced by the number of trials.

Wrong. If the probability of an event happening in one trial is p, then the probability if it happening at least once in n trials is

1 - (1 - p)^n

a little calculation will show that this approaches 1 as n increases for any value of p greater than zero.

What doesn't change, of course, is the probability of the event happening in any single trial.

Gamblers ruin is a bit different, and is not based on a fallacy, but merely a basic principle of probability. In a gambling game, which can be modeled as a 1-dimensional random walk, the amount of money in the gambler's stake will always eventually intersect zero. Since a gambler cannot continue to play once he has lost all of his money, a gambler will always be ruined if he plays long enough, no matter what the odds (so long as there is a nonzero probability of losing in any given trial).

[ Parent ]

Which is what was being said, (none / 1) (#551)
by ubernostrum on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 01:35:04 AM EST

Namely, that if there are a bunch of trials then it's more likely that this time around you get a universe hospitable to life. No matter the number of trials, the odds of any given trial being hospitable stay at $HUGE_NUMBER against. To argue otherwise is to fall for the Gambler's Ruin.




--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]
Anthropic principle (none / 1) (#559)
by benna on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 02:34:30 AM EST

Sure, but the likelyhood that the universe should be hospitable to life give nthat we are here is 1.  We would obviously never find out about the failed trials.
-
"It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists." -Ludwig Wittgenstein
[ Parent ]
See all the other comments I've posted (none / 1) (#561)
by ubernostrum on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 03:45:04 AM EST

For why that doesn't really work as an argument. "We shouldn't be surprised to observe that we're not dead" and "we shouldn't be surprised to observe a universe conducive to life" are not equivalent statements.




--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]
anthropic principle (none / 1) (#611)
by tgibbs on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 08:25:45 PM EST

You have based this claim on the following argument

But in the second case, we're not dealing with a logical contradiction; in fact, it's extremely unlikely that a universe such as ours should have come into being, out of all the logically possible universes, and though we can deduce from our existence that such a universe did come into being, this has no bearing on whether it was logically necessary, before the fact, for such a universe to have come into being.

Your objection collapses if in fact it is not "extremely unlikely that a universe such as ours should have come into being". However, the likelihood that a universe such as ours should have come into being depends upon the number of universes, so we can make no judgment as to whether it is likely or not. Note that we are not talking about the probability of any randomly selected universe being one in which intelligent life evolves, because we do not inhabit a randomly selected universe, but only one of the subset of universes in which intelligent life is possible. So your misconception of "gamblers ruin" is irrelevant, because the relevant probability is that there should be, out of all of the universes, any universes in which life like ours can form.

[ Parent ]

No. (none / 1) (#625)
by ubernostrum on Sun May 01, 2005 at 03:43:58 AM EST

The likelihood does not depend on the number of universes. If the odds of any given trial producing a hospitable universe are, say, 500 million to one against, then doing 500 million trials has no influence whatsoever on the odds of getting a hospitable universe from trial #500,000,001. If you believe otherwise, you've fallen for the Gambler's Ruin.




--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]
But... (none / 1) (#626)
by benna on Sun May 01, 2005 at 04:04:01 AM EST

THe individule trial may be 500 million to one against, but all the trials togeather could have a proboblity approaching one of producing a universe hospitable to life.  Now, since we only see the universes that ARE hospitable to life per the anthropic principle, we have no idea the proboblity of the whole system producing a life-friendly universe, and so can say nothing of our surpise at such a universe existing.
-
"It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists." -Ludwig Wittgenstein
[ Parent ]
No. (none / 1) (#632)
by ubernostrum on Sun May 01, 2005 at 06:58:51 AM EST

I don't think you understand probability at all. Also, you're assuming many-worlds as a given, which is a huge assumption since even John Wheeler, who was one of the strongest proponents of many-worlds, has now backed away from it.

And again, this rests on an equivocation of 'surprise'; the first statement -- we should not be surprised to observe that we are not dead -- is true, and trivially so, but the second -- we should not be surprised to observe a universe conducive to life -- is not its logical equivalent and does not follow from it by any rule of inference of which I am aware.




--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]
Look (none / 1) (#650)
by benna on Sun May 01, 2005 at 04:11:08 PM EST

For one thing, I am not saying that many-worlds is a certainty, I am saying that it is a possiblity.  I'm saying it means we just don't know the probablity.  Also, if we are not dead, we MUST live in a universe that is conducive to life right?  If that is the case, then I don't see why we cannot extend our lack of surpise to the universe having the right constants.  I am not arguing we should not be surprised that any universe exists.  This would obviously be an unfounded jump.  But we really can't seperate our being alive from our universe being right for life.  Without the latter we could not have the former.  This is really such a simple concept.
-
"It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists." -Ludwig Wittgenstein
[ Parent ]
What I would like to see (none / 1) (#663)
by ubernostrum on Sun May 01, 2005 at 07:08:58 PM EST

Is a cogent and valid argument which deduces "we should not be surprised to observe a universe conducive to life" from "we should not be surprised not to observe we are dead".

I know for a fact that this deduction is not supportable by any valid rules of inference or logical equivalence, so I'd like to know what the reasoning is which supports it.

As it stands, I think Craig is spot-on in saying there's a fallacy of equivocation at the heart of anthropic anti-design arguments.

And if you don't assume some form of multiple-worlds hypothesis, then the entire argument falls apart. And given that multiple-worlds hypotheses are, so far as I can tell, not empirically falsifiable in any fashion, such an assumption is uterly unscientific.




--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]
another formulation of the question (none / 1) (#652)
by tgibbs on Sun May 01, 2005 at 04:28:53 PM EST

I don't think you understand probability at all. Also, you're assuming many-worlds as a given, which is a huge assumption since even John Wheeler, who was one of the strongest proponents of many-worlds, has now backed away from it.

I associate the theory primarily with Hugh Everett, but in any case, the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics is hardly the only suggested basis for multiple universes. There are also multiple cosmological models which allow a large number, perhaps even an infinite number of universes to come into being. There is certainly no known physical principles that prohibit there from being multiple universes, and in physics, it seems that "everything not prohibited is compulsory." So clearly, we do not know how many universes exist, nor can we answer that question by appealing to authority, whether Everett or Wheeler. This means that we cannot come up with any meaningful estimate of the likelihood of there existing universes suitable for life.

Perhaps a better way to phrase the question, which gets around the difficulty of trying to calculate the probability of something that we already know to be true, is to not make it about ourselves. So we can ask the question: "What is the probability that there exists a living observer in some other universe who finds that his universe is suitable for the formation of intelligent observers?"

Well, clearly, if the observer exists, his universe is suitable for him, so that part doesn't affect the probability. So all that we need to consider is the probability that out of all of the universes that exist, there is at least one such universe in addition to our own. This can be calculated as follows.

p = probability of intelligent life forming in a randomly selected universe.

Probability of an intelligent observer in some universe observing a universe suitable for life = 1 - (1-p)^(n-1),

where n is the total number of universes that exist (subtracting one to exclude our own.



[ Parent ]

So show me (none / 1) (#665)
by ubernostrum on Sun May 01, 2005 at 07:10:21 PM EST

How you arrive at the value of n, or provide some evidence for assuming n > 1.




--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]
That's the whole point (none / 1) (#670)
by tgibbs on Sun May 01, 2005 at 08:19:42 PM EST

How you arrive at the value of n, or provide some evidence for assuming n > 1.

I don't arrive at a value of n. Remember, my point is that we cannot calculate the probability of existence of a universe that supports life, because the probability depends on n, and we do not know n. So if you want to make an estimate of the probability, you must provide a way of determining the value of n.

[ Parent ]

Or... (none / 1) (#676)
by ubernostrum on Sun May 01, 2005 at 10:31:12 PM EST

You can note that the existence of universes other than ours is, pretty much by definition, not empirically verifiable or falsifiable, and dismiss many-worlds hypotheses as outside the realm of science. Next question.




--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]
verfiability (none / 1) (#697)
by tgibbs on Sun May 01, 2005 at 11:17:29 PM EST

You can note that the existence of universes other than ours is, pretty much by definition, not empirically verifiable or falsifiable, and dismiss many-worlds hypotheses as outside the realm of science. Next question.

And on the same basis, we can dismiss statements about whether a universe suitable for life is or is not probable, since any such estimate is dependent upon a critical piece of information--the number of universes--which cannot be empirically verified.

[ Parent ]

No. (none / 1) (#753)
by ubernostrum on Mon May 02, 2005 at 01:00:48 AM EST

Such estimate is dependent on the number of possible values each important constant may take, which is to say the number of logically possible universes. Which is another beast altogether.




--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]
universal probability (none / 1) (#787)
by tgibbs on Mon May 02, 2005 at 10:24:47 AM EST

Such estimate is dependent on the number of possible values each important constant may take, which is to say the number of logically possible universes. Which is another beast altogether.

The probability that any given universe has a set of constants such that intelligent life will evolve is indeed dependent on the number of possible values that each constant may take. This is included in the constant

p = the probability that a single randomly selected universe will give rise to intelligent life.

However the probability that some universe gives rise to intelligent life = 1 - (1 - p)^n, where n is the number of universes (replace n with n-1 for the probability that some universe other than our own gives rise to intelligent life). Thus, this probability--depends both on the number of logical values that each constant may take and the number of universes.

[ Parent ]

Are we lucky to exist? (none / 1) (#649)
by tgibbs on Sun May 01, 2005 at 04:10:34 PM EST

The likelihood does not depend on the number of universes. If the odds of any given trial producing a hospitable universe are, say, 500 million to one against, then doing 500 million trials has no influence whatsoever on the odds of getting a hospitable universe from trial #500,000,001.

Of course not! But that is entirely irrelevant. I agree that (at least based on current understanding of physics )it is is unlikely that any single randomly selected universe would be suitable for life. The likelihood that a single randomly selected universe is suitable to life would be the appropriate statistical measure if the question were, "If suddenly transported to a randomly selected universe, could I survive?" But that is not the question, because we do not inhabit a randomly selected universe--we inhabit one that is suitable for life. If there are any universes at all in which living observers will evolve, then all of those living observers will observe that they are in a universe suitable for life, no matter how rare such universes might be. The latter part is tautological and therefore certain, so any improbability must reside in the "If there are any universes suitable for life" part.

So the relevant question is not, "How likely is a randomly chosen universe to be suitable to life?" but rather, "How likely is it that out of all the universes that there are, there would be any in which intelligent life evolves?"

Or to put it another way, we should only consider ourselves remarkably lucky to reside in a universe suitable for life if we know for certain that there are only a small number of universes.



[ Parent ]

Oh, so it's just ad-hoc reasoning then. (none / 1) (#664)
by ubernostrum on Sun May 01, 2005 at 07:09:40 PM EST

I shouldn't be surprised that my parents met, even though the odds were against it, because I'm here.

Good to know. Now justify the assumption of multiple universes.




--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]
burden of proof (none / 1) (#669)
by tgibbs on Sun May 01, 2005 at 07:48:10 PM EST

Now justify the assumption of multiple universes.

I think that you have lost track of my argument, which is as follows: It is impossible to make any meaningful estimation of the probability of existence of a universe such as ours, because we do not know how many universes exist, or even whether it be one or many

So I am not assuming the existence of multiple universes, I am merely stating that I have no basis to rule them out. So to refute my argument, you must prove that we are not ignorant of the number of universes that exist.

[ Parent ]

Nope. (none / 1) (#678)
by ubernostrum on Sun May 01, 2005 at 10:33:01 PM EST

Until you provide evidence which would give a multiple-universe hypothesis warranted assertibility, I'll choose not to multiply entities needlessly and operate on a single-universe hypothesis.




--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]
occam's razor (none / 1) (#717)
by tgibbs on Sun May 01, 2005 at 11:57:17 PM EST

Until you provide evidence which would give a multiple-universe hypothesis warranted assertibility, I'll choose not to multiply entities needlessly and operate on a single-universe hypothesis.

You cannot draw conclusions based on an unsupported hypothesis, however. Neither can Occam's Razor be used to draw conclusions, because Occam's Razor is not a law of nature, but merely a "rule of thumb" empirical method of ordering hypotheses for investigation. Occam's Razpr does not assert that the simpler hypothesis is in any sense more likely to be correct (indeed, the history of science suggests the contrary), but merely that it is more efficient to eliminate the simpler hypotheses before proceeding to more complex ones.

So we once again end up at the same point--there is simply no basis to estimate the probability of existence of a universe suitable for life, because any such estimation ultimately relies upon an assumption that cannot currently be tested.

A better way to express it is as follows, explicitly acknowledging the assumption: "IF the universe is singular, then it is surprising that the physical constants are such that life can form."

Of course, with equal validity, we can turn it around: "BECAUSE most imaginable sets of physical constants do not yield a universe in which life can form, it would be surprising if our universe is not one of a large number of universes."

[ Parent ]

As I see it (none / 1) (#756)
by ubernostrum on Mon May 02, 2005 at 01:08:16 AM EST

We have evidence for the existence of only one universe, namely the one in which we live. We certainly could choose to reserve judgment on the number of universes, and state that there might well be more, many more, "out there" in some sense, but the simple fact is that we do not have and likely never will have the means to test for their existence. As such, any speculation on their existence is utterly and completely unfounded, and until such time as their warranted assertibility can be demonstrated it is only logical to stick to a theory which accounts for our observations while postulating only such entities as are necessary to account for those observations. Namely, a single universe.




--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]
other universes (none / 0) (#811)
by tgibbs on Mon May 02, 2005 at 02:04:02 PM EST

We have evidence for the existence of only one universe, namely the one in which we live. We certainly could choose to reserve judgment on the number of universes, and state that there might well be more, many more, "out there" in some sense, but the simple fact is that we do not have and likely never will have the means to test for their existence.

Science has often progressed by the willingness of theorists to speculate about things that could necessarily be observed at the time. Very often, such speculation leads to ways of observing them, as we can now observe atoms by the atomic force microscope. And in fact, some physical theories do allow for interactions with other universes. See, for example, the article on quantum black holes in the current Scientific American.

As such, any speculation on their existence is utterly and completely unfounded, and until such time as their warranted assertibility can be demonstrated it is only logical to stick to a theory which accounts for our observations while postulating only such entities as are necessary to account for those observations. Namely, a single universe.

However, given that physical theories allow for the potential existence of multiple universes, we cannot draw any kind of conclusions dependent upon the arbitrary assumption that they do not exist.

Historically, theories that assume singularity have not fared well. The notion that our planet occupies a singular position in the center of the universe, the notion that our sun is the only one, and the notion that our galaxy is the only one have all turned out to be wrong. Singularity seems to be rare in nature, perhaps even nonexistent, so it is hardly surprising that multiple universes seem to arise naturally in many cosmological models. So while we have no current way to test the question, both history and theory warn us to be skeptical of the assertion that there is only one of something. I would agree that we cannot assume the existence of other universes without evidence, but we likewise cannot assume their absence. You may prefer to hypothesize one or the other, but that is individual preference, not science, and certainly cannot be used as a basis for drawing conclusions.

[ Parent ]

Sure, (none / 0) (#874)
by ubernostrum on Mon May 02, 2005 at 08:40:33 PM EST

Heliocentric theories turned out ot be wrong. But they were also, by and large, astoundingly accurate models for prediction. And a large measure of a scientific theory's worth is its utility for that purpose, wouldn't you say?




--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]
the heliocentric solar system (none / 0) (#931)
by tgibbs on Tue May 03, 2005 at 12:26:48 AM EST

Heliocentric theories turned out ot be wrong. But they were also, by and large, astoundingly accurate models for prediction. And a large measure of a scientific theory's worth is its utility for that purpose, wouldn't you say?

No. Prediction is a test of a scientific theory, not its value. The utility of a scientific theory is its ability to stimulate and guide research that advances knowledge and understanding.

And in fact, the heliocentric theory were not particularly accurate for prediction. Simple heliocentric theories were terrible for prediction. The only way to get them even close was to add epicycles, and every time more accurate measurements were made, more epicycles had to be added. So the model was really only accurate for retrodiction, not prediction. Which is one reason why people became dissatisfied with the heliocentric model and willing to consider the Copernican model, even though in its initial form (with circular rather than elliptical orbits) it was not able to fit the observations as well as the full Ptolemaic model with all its epicycles.

[ Parent ]

What's the difference (none / 0) (#938)
by ubernostrum on Tue May 03, 2005 at 01:01:53 AM EST

Between these two situations:

  1. We have a geocentric model which doesn't accurately account for all the motions of the planets. Someone's suggested epicycles, and we find that if we factor them in most of the inaccuracies go away. The more epicycles we add, the more accurate the model becomes.
  2. We have a heliocentric model which doesn't account for all the motions of the planets. Someone's suggested elliptical orbits, and we find that if we factor them in most of the inaccuracies go away. The more elliptical we make the orbits, the more accurate the model becomes.

Or, in other words, why is (2) scientific and (1) not?




--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]
heliocentric vs. geocentric (none / 0) (#963)
by tgibbs on Tue May 03, 2005 at 12:53:54 PM EST

Or, in other words, why is (2) scientific and (1) not?

Both are scientific models. If you are asking why the geocentric model was ultimately abandoned by scientists, the answers are as follows:

1) New observations did not require structural changes in the model (i.e. additional epicycles) to improve the agreement of the model with the data.

3) The number of free parameters was less--i.e. it was a simple model.

3) A simple theoretical model of gravity was discovered, from which elliptical orbits emerged naturally, rather as an ad hoc feature. Nobody ever came up with a similar model in which epicycles are not ad hoc. Moreover, the model has only one free parameter (G), with all of the other parameters being simple physical properties (mass, velocity, distance from the sun) that can be independently measured.



[ Parent ]

ugh (none / 0) (#1065)
by tetsuwan on Wed May 04, 2005 at 11:11:32 AM EST

Planck value of 1097 kilograms per cubic meterYeah right, this like, the density of water!

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

probabiliity (none / 1) (#566)
by tgibbs on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 08:30:11 AM EST

Namely, that if there are a bunch of trials then it's more likely that this time around you get a universe hospitable to life. No matter the number of trials, the odds of any given trial being hospitable stay at $HUGE_NUMBER against. To argue otherwise is to fall for the Gambler's Ruin.

Nope. If there are any universes hospitable to life, then the probability that a specific living observer is in one of them is 1. So the probability of there being a living observer in a universe hospitable to life reduces to the probability of there being any universes hospitable to life. And that depends upon the number of universes.

[ Parent ]

That's not what was said. (none / 1) (#603)
by GhostfacedFiddlah on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 04:24:58 PM EST

Gambler's Ruin applies to any single "roll of the dice".  The argument is that there have been numerous "rolls" for the outcome of a universe.  Gambler's Ruin does not apply, since adding more trials does increase the probability of a desired result (flipping a coin twice is more likely to produce at least one heads than flipping a coin once).

Since we don't know the number of trials, any attempt at calculating "probability" is useless.  As I said - the probability of a result happening at least once is a function of the number of trials.  Until we know that, the probability is essentially unknown.

[ Parent ]

OMG Life is weird! (1.50 / 2) (#53)
by thankyougustad on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 02:18:30 PM EST

I've asked erudite K5 before, and I'll do it again : why am I here?

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

You... (3.00 / 8) (#81)
by creaothceann on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:36:51 PM EST

... probably followed a dodgy link. But the important question is, why didn't you leave?

[ Parent ]
Why yo uare here (none / 1) (#146)
by Persistence of Penguins on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 06:39:39 PM EST

Ask your parents. They chose the actions that led to your self-consciousness.



"Serve hot... with lashings of butter."
[ Parent ]

still doesnt make sense (none / 1) (#176)
by thankyougustad on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 09:53:04 PM EST

am i conscious because i have a brain or do i have a brain because i needed a vessel for my consciousness?

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Consciousness (none / 1) (#189)
by Persistence of Penguins on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 11:14:44 PM EST

I'd suggest the former. Your brain is sufficiently complex to allow consciousness.



"Serve hot... with lashings of butter."
[ Parent ]

bummer. . . . (none / 1) (#348)
by thankyougustad on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 05:04:53 PM EST

n.t

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Evolution vs. Origin of Life (2.69 / 13) (#63)
by mopslik on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 02:45:17 PM EST

evolutionary theory, a theory that has been shown to explain the origins of life time and time again...

<pedant>

Tsk tsk, author.

Evolution explains changes over time. It can never be used to explain the "origins" of life. To discuss the "origin" of life, you have to go back to God vs. Big Bang vs. Other.

</pedant>



RE: Evolution vs. Origin of Life (3.00 / 3) (#77)
by xenoputtss on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:34:28 PM EST

Evolution explains changes over time. It can never be used to explain the "origins" of life. To discuss the "origin" of life, you have to go back to God vs. Big Bang vs. Other. I have to agree, evolution doesn't solve the question 'where did we come from'. . completly. It only allows us to trace our existance further into the past. I think the current 'creationism' rebranding is still ridiculus because it try to resolve any unanswered questions. If they (who ever is pushing this old theory again) would simply update thier beliefs to be more reflective on what we have learned recently life, then i feel it could be a viable theory. What I mean by update their theory would be to try to answer questions similar to "How did this ball of 'matter' come into existance in the first place?" or "Why does this 'evolution' process work so well?" But still, even if it was to be updated to answer these question, it still would be considered a religeous idea and should not be allowed in public schools.

[ Parent ]
Abiogenesis (3.00 / 3) (#83)
by John Thompson on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:44:30 PM EST

mopslik wrote:

Evolution explains changes over time. It can never be used to explain the "origins" of life.

Fair enough...

To discuss the "origin" of life, you have to go back to God vs. Big Bang vs. Other.

You're talking about the origin of the universe here; not the origin of life. The origin of life can be discussed independently from the origin of the universe. E.g., the universe could have come into existence spontaneously via the "big bang" and coincidently have brought into existence a supreme intelligence which subsequently created life. Or the supreme intelligence could have existed outside the universe (yeah, I know, but this is something the ID folks take for granted), and brought the universe into existence constrained by natural laws that would inevitably lead to the spontaneous appearance of life (abiogenesis) without further intervention. Or the supreme intelligence could be continually involved in the universe, tweaking laws and stirring the pot with supernatural interventions of one type or another (this is the biblical literalists' position) to create life and all its accoutrements. Or the universe could have come into existence spontaneously, with natural laws derived from the characteristics of its consituent parts, which just happen to allow for abiogenesis to occur -- this is the accepted scientific position, becuase following the principle of Occam's Razor excludes consideration of the unnecessary complexity of an unknown, undetectable, supernatural intelligence responsible for directing the origin of life.



[ Parent ]
Evolution does explain life's origin (2.75 / 4) (#166)
by parrillada on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 09:06:14 PM EST

The theory of evolution is trivially generalized to all physical phenomena, not just biological phenomena. Stable molecules are found to exist, for example, because if they weren't stable, then they would 'die out'. My point is that the 'theory of evolution' in one form or another can certainly be used to explain the "origins" of life. Of course, the theory of evolution can obviously only be applied after the start of the universe (if it has a beginning), and so it breaks down at this point.

As for the start of the universe, the use of a "God" is a non-explanation because it just pushes the mystery farther onto "where did the God come from?" Therefore it is rather elementary to deduce that the least arbitrary solution is for the universe itself to be God, and to have created itself, thereby bypassing the infinite regress of "who is God's creator?..."

[ Parent ]

no it doesn't (3.00 / 2) (#378)
by tgibbs on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 06:57:02 PM EST

Evolution presupposes reproducing organisms with heritable, mutatable traits. So to account for the initial appearance of such organisms, you must go outside evolutionary theory. There are theories of the origin of life, but they are separate from evolution.

[ Parent ]
your being pedantic (none / 0) (#381)
by parrillada on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 07:15:28 PM EST

Like I said in my post, the theory of evolution can be generalized to all physical phenomena. The analog goes like this:

'organism' --> atomic/molecular structue 'heritable' --> self-heritable (this works because of conservation of energy, ie unlike organisms atoms do not re-produce, there are fixed numbers of them, so therefore reproduction in terms of survival is analogous to stablility of current configuration) 'mutable traits' --> mutable atomic/molecular structure

The evolution of certain types of atoms (higher atomic numbers don't 'evolve' because they are not stable), of chemical structures, all the way up to life is contained inside this definition of evolution, and the transformation to 'organism' from 'lifeless matter' is continuous, perspicuous, computationally modelled, and beautiful.

[ Parent ]

Uhmmm (none / 0) (#386)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 07:43:19 PM EST

unlike organisms atoms do not re-produce

Making your analogy deeply flawed from the get go. Reproduction is an essential condition for the process described by the theory of evolution by natural selection.

the transformation to 'organism' from 'lifeless matter' is continuous, perspicuous, computationally modelled, and beautiful.

And thoroughly unscientific.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
more pedantic? (none / 0) (#390)
by parrillada on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 07:56:24 PM EST

Making your analogy deeply flawed from the get go. Reproduction is an essential condition for the process described by the theory of evolution by natural selection.

Then you completely don't understand the analogy. I should also have provided:

"natural selection of offspring's traits" --> "natural selection of own-traits"

The anaolgy works perfectly, and, as generalizations go, contains darwinian evolution as a natural subset.

And thoroughly unscientific.

Since you didn't argue anything, your statement makes no sense whatsoever.

[ Parent ]

Science does not proceed by analogy (none / 1) (#394)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 08:11:28 PM EST

So no matter how apt your analogy may be, and it happens to be pretty poor, analogies do not represent scientific hypothesis.

"natural selection of offspring's traits" --> "natural selection of own-traits"

There is no transmission of traits outside of reproduction (organic or otherwise), and evolution by natural selection is a theory which purports to explain the process of speciation through the transmission and mutation of heritable traits over time. If your eliminate the underlying phenomenon of reproduction, you're no longer in territory appropriate to the theory.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
theories do (none / 0) (#397)
by parrillada on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 08:26:01 PM EST

Science does not proceed by analogy

Actually, the generalized theory of evolution is a scientific theory , and a pretty well established one at that. It explains the ratio of types of atomic structures, as well as the existence of types of molecules, and furthermore it is entirely falsifiable. Of course, you won't be able to falsify it, because it is quite frankly so obvious: "existing paterns have been naturally selected for through the process of non-existing patterns being unstable."

and it happens to be pretty poor

Your comprehension of it is pretty poor, as it is one of the great unwritten (because it is so obvious) scientific laws.

There is no transmission of traits outside of reproduction (organic or otherwise), and evolution by natural selection is a theory which purports to explain the process of speciation through the transmission and mutation of heritable traits over time. If your eliminate the underlying phenomenon of reproduction, you're no longer in territory appropriate to the theory.

I didn't eliminate the underlying phenomena. The transmision of traits is simply to itself, through a form of asexual reproduction in which the 'parent' 'organism' dies once it gives birth, thereby conserving mass/energy. Traits are heritable just as before, but heritable to itself, or if you prefere you can pretend its asexually reproducing as above.

Truly, I think you are missing the core idea and beauty of evolution if you don't understand how every physical phenoma is a generalization of it.

[ Parent ]

You're flat out wrong (none / 0) (#401)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 09:05:41 PM EST

generalized theory of evolution is a scientific theory

That is simply false. There is no such theory. If you wish to continue in this vein, you'll have to provide documentary evidence demostrates your claims. Cites to a respectable journal will do.

The transmision of traits is simply to itself

A thing cannot transmit traits to itself. This is a logical impossibility.

I think you are missing the core idea and beauty of evolution if you don't understand how every physical phenoma is a generalization of it.

I'm relatively certain that you are conflating your own poetic reveries for the scientific theory of evolution by natural selection.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
boy are you dense (none / 0) (#429)
by parrillada on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 01:26:17 AM EST

That is simply false. There is no such theory.

Yes it is a scientific theory. Look up the definition of 'scientific theory.' It will say nowhere that a scientific theory must be in a journal. 1) It explains observations. 2) It is falsifiable. As I already explained, this is a generally unwritten theory because it is so obvious. I'm still pretty darn sure you don't understand it, however.

thing cannot transmit traits to itself. This is a logical impossibility.

I provided an explanation for that just in case you were too dense to grasp the concept. The 'organism' 'reproduces', then dies, with the ostensible effect of transmitting traits to itself. Technically, traits are exchanged all the time via the exchange of force mediating particles. A form of natural selection occurs all the time as unstable configurations decay and more force mediators are exchanged until over time more and more stable configurations build up because they have traits that are more likely to survive. A similar generalized approach covariant to the other can be made with regard to enzymes.

I'm relatively certain that you are conflating your own poetic reveries for the scientific theory of evolution by natural selection.

I'm not much of a poet. As a graduate student in Physics, I have pretty much a cold-hearted and strict rationalist approach to everything.

[ Parent ]

RFC (none / 0) (#511)
by cr8dle2grave on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 02:38:57 PM EST

As a graduate student in Physics

Then you shouldn't mind my asking you to clarify your position, eh?

Thus far you've given us a lot of handwaving and a very rough sketch of how your analogy might be fleshed out. Let's see if you can't spell out more clearly the following things:

  1. What, precisely, corresponds to individual organism? The phenotype? The genotype?
  2. How, exactly, does this proposed "selection" mechanism work as regards "stable atomic/molecular configurations?"
  3. What do "force mediating particles" have to do with heritable traits?
  4. What does the conservation of energy have to do with treating an atomic structure as an "organism" which "dies," and then somehow passes along "traits" to itself? What is the specific mechanism for this transfer of "traits?"  
  5. You suggest that a generalized evolutionary theory explains the observed distribution of atomic structures, yes? Please sketch out how we might test your hypothesis?
I think you'll find that I do, in fact, know what I'm talking about. I'm willing to pay you the courtesy and extend to you the benefit of the doubt, but I must reassert that I find your claims highly dubious and very far fetched. With what you offered up so far, the best I can make out is that you are likening to the evolutionary process to the fact that atomic structures are only stable within particular ranges of conditions, such that environmental conditions could be said to "select for" the atomic structures which are stable within it.  

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
here goes... (none / 0) (#544)
by parrillada on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 10:02:42 PM EST

1. What, precisely, corresponds to individual organism? The phenotype? The genotype?

When Darwin proposed natural selection, he did so before even knowing about the internal mechanisms for inheriting traits. He did not use "genotype" or "phenotype" in his language. He famously did not read Mendel's letters to him.

The point is that the internal mechanisms for inheriting traits are completely beside the point. As far as Dawinian evolution is concerned, it doesn't matter. While it is incredibly interesting and helpful to know reproductive biology, evolution can be scientifically examined without it. Evolution's emphasis is on the selection process, not on the reproduction step. Theoretically all that is necessary is that the offspring must carry on some stronger than random percentage of the traits of the parents, the mechanism of how is irrelevant.

With that long introduction, I will finally answer your question:

Any physical structure corresponds to the organism. The internal structure corresponds to the genotype. The external interactive structure corresponds to the phenotype.

How, exactly, does this proposed "selection" mechanism work as regards "stable atomic/molecular configurations?"

A stable atomic or molecular configuration, is a structure that has been naturally selected for. They have the physical structures most likely to survive, since less stable physical structures by definition are selected out. Likewise, a naturally selected for organism has a physical structure most likely to survive, since organisms that die are selected out. The only difference is that, since organisms are structures that are inherently unstable, they must do this silly thing called 'reproduction' in order to continue the existence of their structure. If organisms didn't die, and so didn't have to reproduce, then the form of natural selection would be the same as the generalized type i'm refering to. The 'reproduction' step, would be gone, but 'organisms' could still evolve. An example of this type of 'organism' is a crystal, or a planet, or any stable structure. Of course, we do not call these organisms; they are less complex and the don't reproduce; the evolutionary dance has not needed to select for odd ritualistic structural behavior as it needs to do for reproductive structures. But the main point is that both are naturally-selected-for structures. It's just that the selection rules are more complicated for reproductive strucures.

In the end, we KNOW that a generalized natural selection process occurs, because while we may like to think of 'organisms' as above the laws of physics, we know that they are ultimately deterministic, obeying the same rules as atoms do. You see, darwinian natural selection is an emergent selective process, a 'meta' process if you like, built on top of a more fundamental selective process, just as 'memes' in social evolution obey a process built on top of the reproductive selection process. Similarly, us humans may be neuronal signal carriers in the brain of some intergalactic species with its own meta-meta-meta evolutionary process. Likewise we can think of the smaller parts of our body going through an evolutionary process of their own.

I'm busy but, I'll continue answering later...

[ Parent ]

more... (none / 0) (#658)
by parrillada on Sun May 01, 2005 at 05:39:30 PM EST

3. What do "force mediating particles" have to do with heritable traits?

So in my last post I described how for the study of evolution "all that is necessary is that the offspring must carry on some stronger than random percentage of the traits of the parents, the mechanism of how is irrelevant." Perhaps you see now that, even though atomic [or any other physical] structure does not have a genotype in the strict reproductive biological sense, it nonetheless has the ability to asexually "reproduce" and then immediately die, by the simple act of what physicists call "time evolution." In other words, any physical structure that changes with time (say it erodes, or its internal structure permutes) is technically equivalent to the product of infinetesimal asexual reproductions and death steps (in QM this is what we call the "propagator"; basically the infinite product of infinitesimal time evolution operators expanded in some basis). Therefore, time evolution, by virtue of the first quoted sentence in this paragraph, is all that is necessary for an evoltionary theory of matter.

Now, the exchange of force mediating particles is the source of random "genetic" [ie internal structural] variation in the above evolutionary process. Once the random variation has occured, it may either increase stability, or decrease stability. If it decreases stability, then the trait is "selected out" when the structure decays. If it increases stability, the the trait survives. Natural selection.

4. What does the conservation of energy have to do with treating an atomic structure as an "organism" which "dies," and then somehow passes along "traits" to itself? What is the specific mechanism for this transfer of "traits?"

OK. So I pretty much answered this in my answer to the last question. An interesting observation is that for natural organisms, reproduction means an increase or decrease in number of the organisms. But in physical processes, energy is conserved, so while we have evolution, the evolutionary process is constrained by the necessity that either the parent dies upon reproduction, or that the parent decays into smaller parts (a form of reproduction all its own, aka fission), or that two parts come together (fusion). It is different, but you shouldn't let your anthropomorphic prejudices get in the way--it is still an evolutionary process (that happens to be almost a perfect analog to the kind you are predisposed toward).

4. You suggest that a generalized evolutionary theory explains the observed distribution of atomic structures, yes? Please sketch out how we might test your hypothesis?

In the exact same way we test any evolutionary theory. We look for the historical records that connect the dots between two different structures. We note that the structures that are still around have traits that have adapted to their surroundings.

This is easily done in our case. Lets think test it right now. Take two apartments, one has carpeted floors, the other has hard wood floors, and both apartments start out with a random assortment of glasses/cups. A year later, the apartment with the hardwood floors has only plastic cups in its cabinet, while the carpeted apartment still has both. What happened? Well the types of cups in the apartment have adapted to their surroundings... the wine glasses tended to break on the hard wood floor when dropped, so were selected out, while the plastic cups were best suited for the environment, and so survived.

Similarly, given an initial random assortment of fundamental particles in the universe, such particles will inevitably combine and decay, and the stable atomic configs will survive.

That was the best example I could come up with on the fly, and it neglected all the beautiful atomic processes going on that involve constant variability and permuting of internal structure and combining with other structures to form more stable structures et cetera, but I still hope it illustrates the point. This evolutionary process is quite beautifully able to encompass not only the process by which stable mocecular configurations form, but also how "life" began and then evolved, since all "life" still obeys the same more fundamental physical-evolutionary process.

Anyways, that was hastily written, and perhaps I didn't do the phenomena justice, but I did my best given my time constraints.

[ Parent ]

Thanks for thorough reply (none / 1) (#799)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon May 02, 2005 at 11:55:33 AM EST

I'm remain unconvinced that its anything other than a very weak analogy, which I still maintain falters fatally at the point of reproduction and heritable traits, but I do at least better understand the construction of your analogy. What I'm most perplexed by is your motivation. As far as I can tell, "generalizing" the evolutionary process in the manner you spell out adds nothing to our understanding of either purely mechanical physical processes or to biological processes, correct?  

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
I only remain quizzical as to... (none / 0) (#1044)
by parrillada on Wed May 04, 2005 at 12:38:34 AM EST

...why you form this intellectual dichotomy, in which you feel the need for the 'generalized theory' to in some sense 'live up' to the classical organic theory. It is as if I have to prove to you that 'it is like' or 'it is analogous to' the theory you are familiar with. But the fact is that it should not be this way. These two ideas are exactly the same. Classical organic evolution is an extremely simple concept, so much so that it is now a cliche that scientists so often wondered "why didn't I think of that? It is so OBVIOUS!" after darwin introduced the theory. And indeed it is obvious. As far as I can tell, in all the sincerity and humility and scientific objectivity I can muster, the theory I have outlined is no less ostensible, and is in simplicity and in spirit, one and the same. It does not require discussion of force-mediating particles or internal structures, just as darwinian evolution does not require discussion of reproductive biology -- all that is required for both is the incredibly simple concept of 'survival of the fittest'. The key differences between the two are strictly academic--the rest is described by the same basic evolutionary principle. Perhaps I suggest to you the possibility that you are over-thinking it?

As far as I can tell, "generalizing" the evolutionary process in the manner you spell out adds nothing to our understanding of either purely mechanical physical processes or to biological processes, correct?

Well, even the classical evolution adds little other than 'conceptual' understanding to reality. It is a well-worn fact that evolution's predictive capabilities are for naught other than for academic interest, as 99.9% of the predictions have long already been cataloged by taxonomists/zoologists. I personally think one of the most interesting applications is to evolutionary psychology, but again in this area the predictions are unpresuasive scientifically, as the predictions could be argued to be fitting observations, since the observations about human behavior have already been made. In the same way, the motivation for generalization is one of more conceptual interest than of scientific, just as the classical theory is.

I guess the main point of all this is that, whether you agree with me that the analogy is a good one (to me it is not so much as an analogy than that the two theories are ostensibly and perspicuously the same), you certainly do agree that at least in a vague sense the physical universe evolves in a darwinian sense. You agree that the consitution and evolution of ANY kind of physical structure is subject to a 'survival of the fittest' when put up against other structures that compete for physical stability. The point is that it is obnoxious to hear some argue against the theory of evolution, when it is a process intrinsic to the existence of matter itself, so obvious and fundamental, that no atom could exist without it.

[ Parent ]

some help (none / 0) (#1104)
by speek on Wed May 04, 2005 at 06:25:04 PM EST

Maybe a simpler way to make the point is to suggest that continuing to exist is just a really, really accurate form of self-replication.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Yes, that was my intention... (none / 0) (#1118)
by parrillada on Wed May 04, 2005 at 08:39:22 PM EST

...when discussing the time evolution operator in QM a few posts ago...

[ Parent ]
Sorry for the delayed response... (3.00 / 2) (#1163)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu May 05, 2005 at 01:18:46 PM EST

I don't currently have a lot of time, so if my reply seems a bit cryptic, please feel free to ask for clarification.

My objection to construing ENS (evolution by natural selection) in such a highly generalized scheme as the one you present is that the generalization comes at the expense of the most salient features of ENS, all of which depend upon the fact that biological organism replicate themselves. I've seen convincing demonstrations that ENS describes a process which has more than an analogical relationship with similar processes observable within informational systems, but those systems all possess functional isomorphs of organic reproduction (replication). Physical systems, such as those you've desribed, lack this such a functional isomorph (a thing changing over time isn't isomorphic to either a thing replicating itself or the hybridization process of sexual reproduction).

Perhaps it would help to understand that I understand ENS to inherently be a functionalist  concept? Were ENS truely a species of functionalist description, it would be, at least in theory, subject to multiple instantiation, which means that we shouldn't be surprised to discover the ENS occurs in material processes other than biological reproduction. But multiple instantiatiability would give rise to strong isomophic relations, not weak analogies.

Coming back from the realm of abstract theory, your analogy seems apt for "survival of the fittest," but that isn't the whole of ENS, nor even it's most distinctive feature. ENS describes a process which occurs when survival is strongly correlated with reproductive success, and the consequences of that correlation in a breeding community over time. In other words, "selection" never occurs within a single generation (survival of the fittest), but over the course of many generations.

If I understand the analogy you're making, we could say that the environment at the center of the Sun 'selects for' heavier elements such that we shouldn't be surprised to not find hydrogen there, yes? What is lacking, in contradistinction to ENS, are the processes of replication, and without a replication process any use of the term 'selection' remains at best a weak analogy.

In any case, I'm glad we've gotten beyond the namecalling phase and are now discussing the issue rather than the mano-e-mano posturing this thread began with. And again, I'm sure my account is lacking here, so please feel free to enquire further. This subject actually touches on a numbers of areas I'm deeply interested in.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
speaking of pedantry... (none / 1) (#487)
by tgibbs on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 10:16:26 AM EST

Like I said in my post, the theory of evolution can be generalized to all physical phenomena

You are proposing some sort of "generalized theory of evolution" which satisfies your pedantic desire for neatness and economy. As a scientist rather than a philosopher, I tend to be more interested in what theories are good for. To me, a theory is a tool to guide research. So you'll have to demonstrate that your "generalized theory of evolution" makes useful predictions that cannot be made from standard evolutionary theory or standard theories of particle physics.

[ Parent ]

Standard evolutionary theory... (none / 0) (#671)
by parrillada on Sun May 01, 2005 at 08:25:09 PM EST

...makes few predictions that have not already been observed.

Similarly with this one.

As a scientist rather than a philosopher...

So am I. And I attempt to not make faulty assumptions about other people, because doing so exposes one's ignorance.

And yes, I suppose I am being pedantic, if you think arguing against ID is pedantic.

[ Parent ]

you don't have to go back to big bang (none / 1) (#184)
by xutopia on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 11:04:27 PM EST

and actually if God is needed to create the big bang then who created Him? I mean if everything needs a causation why doesn't God need one? And if something can exist without a creator why can't that thing be the universe? Cut the middle man out.

[ Parent ]
Statistics, Universes, and Life (2.50 / 4) (#75)
by full plate on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:32:51 PM EST

Statistics meets Science: Some things that are scientifically possible are statistically improbable. An example would be that one day you get to flipping a coin. Now every time you flip a coin it lands head. Every single time, no matter how many times you flip it. A million, a hundred trillion, makes no difference (eventually the delimitating factor would be your thumb, but that's neither here nor there).

Scientifically there is no reason for this not to happen, no equation governing the electromagnetic force that says for example "now wait just a minute". But, and this a big but, a reasonable person would use statistics to conclude that this probability is so remote that something else must be at work.

The same could be said about our universe. The four fundamental forces are a overly simplified explanation of the comings and goings of our universe, but serve as a good gedanken experiment. If any of these were off by a tenth of one percent our universe would be "an awfully big waist of space". Just alternating them would make it extremely hard to create a life generating universe. That being said, there are far more fundamental constants that come into making a universe though, such as the speed of light, Planck's constant, and the gravitational constant just to name the biggies.

Now were just getting started here so let's say that everything is open for discussion. The number of fundamental constants, the dimensionality of the universe, space/time dependence, the matter/antimatter ratio, the amount of energy, the existance of virtual particles, the interconnection between some forces/matter and no others, the matter/darkenergy/darkmatter ratio, or simply the existence of matter/darkenergy/darkmatter at all! Try as you like, but you would be hard pressed to change these variables to make a universe more apt for life.

ASIDE: I once tried to invent a board game like chess only different. Being a very good chess player and player of all kinds of games, I figured I would be well prepared for such an endeavor. I also initially envisioned it to be quite easy to develop and I would sell it, retire at 24, and not waste anymore of my time posting on K5. But what I found out is that systems that appear simple (a few rules, some pieces, a board) are amazing complex to solve if everything is left as a variable. In "solve" I mean make a game that is dynamic, fun, quick, and difficult to master. I tried combination after combination but all the games were duds. Finally I figured out what I was doing wrong. I was only one man with only a small amount of time, whereas chess took thousands of years and countless man hours to develop into its final form. If you doubt the difficulty of developing said game I challenge you to make one (and have actual people actually buy it!), when you fail you will know what I am talking about.

So getting back to the discussion of the many variable universe producing life intelligent enough to ask such questions...I would say it would be "extremely" unlikely to produce a universe from a random generation of said universal constants. Much in the same respect that it would be "extremely" unlikely via a computer program and only one shot to randomly generate w number of pieces, with x kinds of pieces, each with y number of movement rules, each with z number of capturing rules, on a random board, in a random configuration, and with a random victory rule and still have people like playing it. Maybe if you had the program run a million billion permutations and combinations, one would be playable...but you don't...you got one shot, like our known universe.

Well that is to believe that there is only one universe or that our universe has not taken other forms previous to this big bang. I would argue that the our existence only has three possible fathers. First, that there is only one universe, it was generated in a truly random way and we just lucked out. Second, that their are an infinite number of universes or our universe has had an infinite number of big bags each time changing the constants, but still random. And third, that there is only one universe and that is was created by "something intelligent" inorder to produce life.

I personally enjoy the thought of a God interfering with my daily life so my "something intelligent" would be hands off, simply creating and watching. But I suppose if you are to argue that there is a God out there, why wouldn't he be able to "tweak" the experiment in particular cases. Although I do think ID trying to disprove evolution is laughable due to the large amount of evidence to the contrary. And I actually feel that it is somewhat of an insult to any God in is saying that He needs to intervene from time to time to make things better. If that were the case then He wouldn't be very "all knowing" would he now (i.e. the perfect car does not need to be brought in to the dealer because the head gasket leaks after 50000 miles).

In conclusion, there is nothing in science right now that can prove* or disprove any of the three possibilities, but statistics can rule out the first one.

*You might argue that multiple universes can be proven by science...and some scientists already believe in the multiverse due to the quantum effects, but the jury is still out of that one. Perhaps in the future more will be known on the subject...hopefully the jury doesn't find OJ innocent again.
Space is like ______, it can only be ______ in its absence.

Trying to reinvent go, eh? ;) <nt> (none / 1) (#88)
by gabban on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:50:43 PM EST



[ Parent ]
A few nitpicks (none / 0) (#90)
by Mylakovich on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:55:59 PM EST

You assume that ours is the only 'universe' (dimention, reality, etc.) and given only one iteration to "get it right". You also underestimate infinity.

[ Parent ]
Disregard above. Didn't read enough. -nt (none / 0) (#91)
by Mylakovich on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:58:04 PM EST



[ Parent ]
a reasonable person (3.00 / 2) (#98)
by emmons on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 04:07:49 PM EST

"a reasonable person would use statistics to conclude that this probability is so remote that something else must be at work."

A reasonable person would use statistics to conclude that if you flip a coin often enough, eventually you'll hit a winning streak only getting 'heads' for X flips in a row. It's just a matter of how many times you flip it.

All of the components just randomly lining up at just the right moment to start life is indeed extremely unlikely, but like the coin, one could say that it's just a matter of time until the extremely unlikely happens.

---
In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]

And reasonable persons are said to exist (none / 1) (#122)
by nkyad on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 05:12:29 PM EST

So it is somewhat safe to conclude our particular Big Bang was the one who eventually got the damn coin to land heads up the few trillion times it needed to win.

Don't believe in anything you can't see, smell, touch or at the very least infer from a good particle accelerator run


[ Parent ]
Analogy (3.00 / 2) (#101)
by niom on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 04:14:25 PM EST

Think of a lottery where a million tickets are sold, each to a different person. Only one of them wins the lottery, is it reasonable for him to conclude that pure randomness couldn't have made him win, because it is too improbable?

[ Parent ]

Nobody wins in the lottery, ever (none / 1) (#121)
by nkyad on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 05:07:46 PM EST

The people you see on TV are actors hired by the sponsors to play the winners.

Lottery is, as always, a special tax the government impose on people who doesn't know math.

Don't believe in anything you can't see, smell, touch or at the very least infer from a good particle accelerator run


[ Parent ]
There is no government (1.50 / 2) (#141)
by niom on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 06:28:12 PM EST

So-called "government" is just a fiction perpetuated by rusty and other media moguls to attract readers and viewers. They're stretching the limits of plausibility with the current administration, though.

[ Parent ]
We know nothing. (none / 1) (#142)
by GhostfacedFiddlah on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 06:28:56 PM EST

We know nothing of the universe.  How did it start?  What are the driving factors behind the fundamental forces?  Exactly how were constants "chosen"?

Without this information, we can't make a good statistical model.  We have no other universes to compare it to, no decent theories on the most basic workings of the universe itself (not the results of the workings such as F=ma, but the fundamental mechanisms by which they happen)

We aren't flipping a coin.  We're being told through one-off observations that an object has been flipped, and certain values popped out - with no knowledge whatsoever of that object.

[ Parent ]

A Break in the Rails (none / 0) (#286)
by virg on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:24:43 PM EST

> Now were just getting started here so let's say that everything is open for discussion. The number of fundamental constants, the dimensionality of the universe, space/time dependence, the matter/antimatter ratio, the amount of energy, the existance of virtual particles, the interconnection between some forces/matter and no others, the matter/darkenergy/darkmatter ratio, or simply the existence of matter/darkenergy/darkmatter at all! Try as you like, but you would be hard pressed to change these variables to make a universe more apt for life.

This statement is the lynchpin of your argument, and it's completely unsupportable by logic. Sorry, but your last word should be "terrestrial life as we understand it right now", not just "life". By what reasoning do you say that life based on something else wouldn't exist in a universe with different rules? Sure, we can't comprehend life working if the nuclear strong force was 50 percent stronger, but then we can't comprehend why gravitation works, and I find it irrational to believe that life must be life as we know it and nothing else. Therefore, your statement of three possibilities is limited because it rules out the possibility that we didn't "luck out" in getting a universe that suits us, but that we developed as a result of the universe we got. Because your logical train doesn't stop at any stations that provide a good reason to reject the "we fit the universe, not the other way around" argument, it fails to proceed from that point.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
statistics (none / 1) (#377)
by tgibbs on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 06:54:20 PM EST

You might argue that multiple universes can be proven by science...and some scientists already believe in the multiverse due to the quantum effects, but the jury is still out of that one. Perhaps in the future more will be known on the subject

The problem is that this is a key piece of info that you must have before making any kind of statistical argument. For example, if somebody asks me, "I threw 10 heads in a row, does that prove that the coin is not a fair one?" I cannot answer until he gives me one additional piece of information: out of how many tries?

If it is 10 out of 10, then yes, the coin is almost certainly unfair. If it is 10 out of a million, then it proves nothing.

So to answer the question of whether this universe is improbable, you absolutely have to know how many universes there are. If you don't know the answer to that question, then you cannot make any meaningful estimate of its likelihood.

Similarly, to estimate the probability of life forming by chance, you have to know how many places there are in all of the universes in which some kind of intelligent life could possibly have formed. Absent that information, all probabilistic arguments are invalid.



[ Parent ]

It's 'waste.' (none / 1) (#495)
by glor on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 11:37:46 AM EST

Though "an awfully big waist of space" is an entertaining mental image.  

With love from glor the spelling nazi.

--
Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
[ Parent ]

The Source Doesn't Necessarily Matter (2.62 / 8) (#76)
by EXTomar on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:33:41 PM EST

In the cases of Evolution vs Creation, I firmly stand on the side of Evolution. Evoltuion is a theory but it seems to stand up to many tests and predicts certain outcomes. Creation is a statement of faith that tries to explain why we are here today. There is no evidence (no a tautology isn't evidence). There is no way to test this. Exactly what is a teacher supposed to teach a class with using Creation? How one religion believes the world was created? Great topic for theological disucssion but lowsy for a science class.

It should be noted that Evolution only indirectly indicates things about the origins of life itself. Evolution is a pretty good "forward looking" model but can only assume certain things looking backwards. Evolution doesn't explain how early hominids figured out speach but it does tell us once they did they were 'selected' and had the advantage in survival.

The idea of "Intelegent Design" seems to be a grasp at straws. People want to see patterns in things that are random or by chance because that is how our brains work. There maybe no other explaination how life ended up this way on Earth other than "it just happened" instead of some mythical invisible hand guiding it. Once again Intelegent Design is not good science since there is nothing here to test. This is a great topic for philosophy or theology but rotten for science.

In a culture that seems to enamured with new age mumbo jumbo, trying to drive eduction with religious pretexts seems dangerous. Science class should be about science not about how a religion interpets events. That is entirely another class with an entirely different focus.



I've always thought ID to be rather hubristic. (none / 1) (#108)
by Fon2d2 on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 04:33:34 PM EST

And Creationism as well.

[ Parent ]
spelling.. (none / 1) (#282)
by xutopia on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:10:36 PM EST

man you make a really great point and all but it's "intelligent" not "intelegent" and "enamored" not "enamured" and careful about missing letter typos :)

Sorry just had to say it. Kills the point when you have too many mistakes.

[ Parent ]

Crackpot theorists (2.33 / 9) (#79)
by slashcart on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:35:39 PM EST

I've recently noticed a major upswing in the prevalence of crackpot theorists among adherents of the right. For example:

Jude Wanniski, the crackpot economist who claims all those Ph.Ds in econ know nothing about the subject, that gold is the only real currency, and that the NASDAQ was undervalued at 5,000 and would go up much further.

Scott Lively, co-author of that hilarious fraud book, The Pink Swastika, which claims that the Nazi party was not a nationalist/racist organization, but rather a gay group founded by gays for the purpose of promoting homosexuality; and furthermore, that mainstream historians are conspiring the suppress this truth.

Dr. Judith Reisman, author of various "studies" in opposition to gay rights, one of which claims that 72% of gay personal ads have explicitly Nazi content.

Pat Robertson, former candidate for the Presidency and author of The New World Order, a book about a cabal which secretly runs the world.

Michael Behe, author of Darwin's Black Box which admittedly isn't as ridiculous as the others on this list, but which is still easily refuted by anyone with elementary critical thinking skills and which was refuted almost immediately after its publication, but Behe still persists.

...and innumerable other crackpots on various other subjects (mainly history, economics, evolutionary biology, and psychology) whose names are less well known, but whose theories are no less ridiculous.

Normally, I wouldn't give crackpot theorists much attention. But I'm genuinely concerned about the sudden prevalence of crackpot theory, and its sudden widespread influence on American political life. Although these crackpot authors may appear ridiculous, they're taken quite seriously by many people on the right; and their crackpot contentions are treated (by rightists) as if they were basic and well-established facts. Thus I can find, in online discussion forums and in live discussion groups, nearly universal assent on such notions as, the recent origin of the Earth, the falsity of evolution in the eyes of most scientists, the responsibility of gay people for causing the fall of the Roman empire and the rise of the Nazi one, the historical view that both capitalism and the u.s. constitution are derived from ancient Judeo-Christian sources, and the allegation that Professors are all moral relativists and are trying to impose that view now.

I'm not meaning to be an alarmist, but the prevalence of crackpot theorists in prior eras has been a harbinger of extremely unpleasant episodes. So goes the saying, "if you can make people believe absurdities, you can make them commit atrocities."

I'm becoming convinced that we need a foundation for the public refutation of crackpot theory. Such a foundation would be as beneficial to mankind as foundations which benefit the arts and humanities. If such a foundation existed earlier in the century, then perhaps the Protocols of the Elders of Zion wouldn't have been so influential; and perhaps if we had the foundation now, the Protocols wouldn't be undergoing a resurgence.

What would the foundation do? (3.00 / 2) (#107)
by Fon2d2 on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 04:31:18 PM EST

People honestly believe this stuff. Evolution is false. The US is a Christian nation. We should have prayers in school. Gays are going to hell.

And these people are all around you. Your friends, neighbors and family members. I'm centered in a pretty liberal worldview and like to think my friends are fairly liberal, but I still see it everywhere: "evolution is absurd", "I voted for Bush because he stands by his decisions", "we need to help the gays from themselves".

Any "foundation for the public refutation of crackpot theory" would only be as effective as its public image, and seeing how bad the left has done in that area in recent years, what makes you think this foundation would do any better?

[ Parent ]

It could be popular. (none / 1) (#322)
by slashcart on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 04:13:16 PM EST

Any "foundation for the public refutation of crackpot theory" would only be as effective as its public image, and seeing how bad the left has done in that area in recent years, what makes you think this foundation would do any better?
The foundation should not be confused with leftist political groups which have failed to present a compelling case. The foundation would be apolitical, meaning it would be devoted to refuting crackpot theories regardless of where on the political spectrum those crackpot theories stand.

The foundation would be an adjunct to academic institutions. The difference would be in the intended audience of the literature: whereas academic institutions talk to themselves, the foundation would be devoted to interacting with the public. And unlike the "popular" science books that exist now, the foundation would show up in the places where people actually get their information: talk shows, radio shows, online forums (free republic, etc), shopping malls, etc.

[ Parent ]

Wow, that's true (none / 1) (#358)
by saskwach on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 05:18:58 PM EST

While watching CSPAN yesterday, I noticed a senator from Washington(D) (I think he was a senator, I flipped between house and senate a couple times) stand up and proclaim that the United States of America was founded on strong Judeo-Christian principles and proceded to read to the Senate from Deuteronomy. That's right, he read directly from a purely religious text to a major legislative body in the US. Not only that, but he read about one or two of the 613 commandments from that text. I don't know if Christians see it this way, but as I understand it, the Torah is a legal document. It gives a huge list of laws (that 613) that are to be followed by the Jews in Israel, when it was called Canaan.
Don't get me wrong, it's my personal opinion that this senator stood up and read from Deuteronomy with the intent of pointing out some of the hypocrisies being perpetrated by the republicans in Congress. However, if his argument had any merit, we have serious church and state issues and may as well just replace the constitution with a bible, do away with the legislature, and install theologians in the judiciary.

[ Parent ]
What did you expect? (none / 0) (#666)
by Dyolf Knip on Sun May 01, 2005 at 07:12:24 PM EST

Nearly every single child in this country for the past 50 years has started every day by claiming that this is a Christian country.  That sort of pervasive, nonstop propoganda has a seriously powerful effect.  That the only thing the Bible has to say about government is "Obey thy master" doesn't stop people from claiming that it's the basis for democracy.

On good days I think of the '00 and '04 elections as the last gasp of a dying drive for religious rule.  On bad days I make sure my passport is up to date and my finances ready to be converted to the currency of whatever country I run to as fast as I possibly can.

---
If you can't learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly.

Dyolf Knip
[ Parent ]

WoW! You are Right! (none / 1) (#628)
by xnixman on Sun May 01, 2005 at 04:26:40 AM EST

And the left only has Michael Moore, Michael A Bellesiles, and Dan Rather!

Time to catch up!

Dan

[ Parent ]

it exists (none / 0) (#942)
by b74 on Tue May 03, 2005 at 01:33:52 AM EST


There are organizations that do this.  Some of the issues are taken up by individual groups (e.g. there are scientists who go after the creationists).  Of course, once they start talking, the "true believers" write them off.  I think it was Modern Science who debunked a bunch of 9/11 conspiracies recently.  They got a bunch of nasty letters about how they were either obviously controlled by the government powers that be, or are themselves deceived.

You might want to look up Skeptic magazine sometime.
http://www.skeptic.com/


[ Parent ]

I can't help but think (2.50 / 6) (#84)
by TheGreenLantern on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:44:59 PM EST

...of that Futurama episode where Bender meets "God" God's message to Bender was "When you do things right, people won't be sure you did anything at all."

At the risk of getting my philosophy from a television show, I've always thought God kind of worked in this way. Big Bang, setup your variables the way you want, and off it goes. You check back in every couple billion years or so and see what's happening.

I really don't see why everyone gets bent out of shape about this so much, when it's clear (to me at least) that these two theories can be resolved. Is it really so hard to believe that God could create evolution if he wanted to? OK so it doesn't jive with Genesis, and I suppose that's where the religious get hung up, but the Bible is full of parables. Couldn't it be that the story of Creation is a parable as well, designed more to teach us about where we come from, not how we came to be. After all, the key lesson of Genesis is the "Created in Gods Image" thing. Meaning, of course, that we don't look like God, but that we have the spark of the divine in us, giving us the ability to reason, think, feel, and love.

Whether we evolved from a monkey or God carved us out of clay by hand personally, I think the message should be the same: We're special. We're God's chosen. He saw everything in creation, and put us above it all in his favor, higher than even the angels in his service. Arguing amongst ourselves about how we were created is, I think, missing the point entirely.

It hurts when I pee.
Cool (none / 1) (#89)
by nollidj on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:52:03 PM EST

I really liked your essay where you pretended to converse with the Gout.

muahaha. MuaHaHA! MUAHAHAHAHAHAAAHAHAHAA!!!!
[ Parent ]

I don't know what that means (none / 0) (#126)
by TheGreenLantern on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 05:24:20 PM EST

But Gout is a funny word, so +3.

It hurts when I pee.
[ Parent ]
Sorry. Oblique allusions should be fun... (none / 0) (#169)
by nollidj on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 09:38:54 PM EST

...for everyone.

I was making a crack about how your stated view sounded a lot like Deism and pretending that you had a lot in common with a famous Deist (Benjamin Franklin) who wrote, amongst other things, a dialog between himself and the gout. (Bonus Gutenberg read-aloud).

muahaha. MuaHaHA! MUAHAHAHAHAHAAAHAHAHAA!!!!
[ Parent ]

Wow (none / 0) (#217)
by dn on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 03:12:38 AM EST

That was truly obscure. Color me impressed.

    I ♥
TOXIC
WASTE

[ Parent ]

On those 6 days... (3.00 / 3) (#92)
by vhold on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:58:21 PM EST

God was writing the methods, defining classes and so forth.  On the 7th day he kicked back and watched it run.

I don't generally tell most people how I wrote the programs that I write, I just tend to tell them that I did the things my programs do when explaining my job.


[ Parent ]

Then I believe we are just an early test run (none / 0) (#119)
by nkyad on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 05:01:14 PM EST

And a very bugged one at that, full of syntax errors and infinite loops.

Don't believe in anything you can't see, smell, touch or at the very least infer from a good particle accelerator run


[ Parent ]
You're not special (2.40 / 10) (#105)
by The Distinguished Reginald T Sackworth on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 04:25:08 PM EST

You're not chosen. You're a sack of meat. Deal with it.

[ Parent ]
no, we are special (2.60 / 5) (#232)
by circletimessquare on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 04:48:16 AM EST

strictly from a scientific standpoint, we're pretty amazing

language, fire, wheels, gunpowder, sailing ships, airplanes, the internet, even toilet paper:

we made that dude, that's pretty amazing

we're special, we really are

we even built this thing called the telescope, and we've looked around the neighborhood, and we can't see anyone else like us for a long, long ways

that means we're special, at the very least, in the statistical sense


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

We're Special (none / 1) (#290)
by gavri on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:54:09 PM EST

Whether we evolved from a monkey or God carved us out of clay by hand personally, I think the message should be the same: We're special. We're God's chosen.

"We're special": Makes torturing, killing and eating other animals morally not so bad......

I'm pretty sure that a significant thrust to the emergence of religion was our need to accomodate the fact that we were killing other animals, yet had to restrict the members of our society from doing the same to each other.

--
Blog Of A Socially Well Adjusted Human Being

[ Parent ]
Darwinian evolution is a philosophy not a science. (1.09 / 11) (#95)
by WillEddy on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 04:00:18 PM EST

What about the initial origin of anything at all? What about the holes in the fossil record? What about DNA which IS A LANGUAGE?!?!?! Read this: http://posh.roundearth.net/informat.htm Go ahead and keep on knee jerkin, "skeptics." Darwinism sure fits into capitalism and manifest destiny, doesn't it? Can anyone here say "propaganda!?!"

Propaganda!?! (2.40 / 5) (#96)
by Mylakovich on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 04:03:55 PM EST

Please don't distribute yours.

[ Parent ]
jerky jerky (1.00 / 6) (#99)
by WillEddy on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 04:08:23 PM EST

*splat*

[ Parent ]
If not Darwinism... (none / 1) (#104)
by Mylakovich on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 04:23:15 PM EST

What do you propose?

[ Parent ]
Understand (none / 0) (#114)
by WillEddy on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 04:55:53 PM EST

Darwinism and intelligent design are not answering the same quesiton, and thus they are not mutually exclusive. Because of the problem of initial life and holes in the fossil record, Darwinism is not a scientifically complete answer. The fossil evidence points to Darwinism among created life: "catastrophic" darwinism, in which we have most of the species destroyed every 65,000,000 years followed by "spontaneous" evolution/arising of new species on an alarming scale, with a slower "survival of the fittest" evolution acting at all times.

[ Parent ]
Understand yourself (none / 0) (#124)
by nkyad on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 05:19:15 PM EST

Because of the problem of initial life and holes in the fossil record, Darwinism is not a scientifically complete answer

The fossil record is a dead horse, get over it. And the evolutionary theory never proposed to deal with the origin of life, just with its development after it first appeared.

Don't believe in anything you can't see, smell, touch or at the very least infer from a good particle accelerator run


[ Parent ]
Or, alternativelly, don't read it (3.00 / 2) (#115)
by nkyad on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 04:57:19 PM EST

More of the same, as always. But I am surprised, shouldn't link read http://posh.flatearth.net/informat.htm? You mean you people came around to accept the planet is actually round and the Sun does not circle it? How does it fit with the Sun stopping in mid-air so a battle could be concluded?

What about the initial origin of anything at all?
Evolution does not deal with it.

What about the holes in the fossil record?
Dwindling as we speak, a little bit smaller everyday, thank you for asking.

What about DNA which IS A LANGUAGE?
What about it? Have you read what it says?

Don't believe in anything you can't see, smell, touch or at the very least infer from a good particle accelerator run


[ Parent ]
Switch to decaf... and quick! (none / 1) (#160)
by MrMikey on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 08:41:01 PM EST

Humans look at the lifeforms on this planet, and note that, morphologically (and now genetically), they fall into a pattern indicating a twin, nested hierarchy. We look at fossils, and find that pattern as well. We look at how the molecular "machinery" of life functions, and how living things reproduce, and we see mutation and selection giving rise to new species.

The question of "the initial origin of everything" is a matter for cosmology. The question of "the initial origin of living things" is a matter for theories of abiogenesis. Evolutionary theory deals with the patterns of change exhibited by imperfect replicators. Evolutionary theory was created to help us understand and make sense of our observations concerning current and past organisms. First came the evidence, then came the theory.

The fossil record is very spotty, because it takes particular conditions to turn a dead lifeform into a preserved fossil. Nevertheless, the fossil record is consistent with evolutionary theory, and this is not surprise... the record was one of the motivations for that theory in the first place.

DNA is a language in that it is an information storage medium. This does not necessarily imply that a sentient being created this "language"... indeed we have plausible hypotheses as to how DNA arose without the need for an intelligent actor doing the creating.

I looked at the site you referenced: William Dembski's work is well known... and well refuted. Here you will find a critique of Dembski's book, "No Free Lunch", along with links to related information.

Finally, evolutionary theory is about how life changes over time, and has nothing to do with capitalism, or manifest destiny, or the (mis-named) "social darwinism" that was popular a while back.

Evolutionary theory helps us make sense of how life changes over time. What you choose to do with that information is up to you.

[ Parent ]

Don't Censor Him, Debate Him. (2.33 / 3) (#271)
by anticensor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:30:17 PM EST

Don't just zero him because you disagree (or even because he's wrong)!  Take the time to show what he says for what it is.

This site isn't fun if you just disappear all the opinions you disagree with.

[ Parent ]

Maybe some people (none / 1) (#294)
by Sesquipundalian on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 02:16:41 PM EST

want the entire internet to "just shut the f*ck up", so that they can go back to regaling their 15 "fundamentalist home schooled" wives with tales of Joseph Smith and God's interplanetary kingdom.


Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
[ Parent ]
Theory (3.00 / 10) (#97)
by John Thompson on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 04:04:53 PM EST

Evolution is "only" a theory in the same sense that gravity is only a theory. Both seek to explain observable phenomena, and both have been shown to be incomplete. That does not mean that evolution and gravity do not exist, for they are both directly observable (Creationists and IDers do conceed that evolution occurs and is observable; they simply declare an arbitrary and undefined barrier between "microevolution" and "macroevolution"); or that evolution and/or gravity are unscientific, and does not mean that "intelligent design" (ID) is a plausible alternative to evolutionary theory.

To be accepted as a plausible scientific alternative to evolution, ID must show itself as explaining (in a scientific manner) everything the accepted theory does and possibly more. ID fails miserably here. It does not really explain anything -- anything not fully understood can be glossed over as god -- sorry; "the intelligent designer" -- did it. This is not scientific, and the arguement from personal incredulity ("life is far too complex for me to believe that it could spontaneously arise from non-living material") is logically and fatally flawed.



Gravity is a theory (1.75 / 4) (#158)
by Coryoth on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 07:56:59 PM EST

It is worth noting that you can apply similar arbitrary barriers on observability for gravity.  "Macrogravity" is fine, but "microgravity" (gravity at the quantum mechanics scale) hasn't been reliably observed to be occuring in anything resembling our understanding of gravity.  If a person wishes to reject evolution simply because "macroevolution" hasn't been observed, then they also should reject gravity as microgravity hasn't been observed.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

Prepare your kids. (3.00 / 3) (#102)
by Mylakovich on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 04:21:36 PM EST

Speaking to the issue of what can and can't be taught in schools, this demonstrates that instilling within your children an objective, dicerning capacity to learn will prepare them for partisan twinkery of the education system by politix. Let the schools be the storage tanks, and see that they become literate, social, and aware of acedemic areas of knowledge. As long as they get these minimums, you as a responsible parent can follow up with literature, society, and opportunities to study whatever they end up being interested in. Proactive parenting should let the kids get what they need out of school, while preparing them for responsible citizenship. There may be no hope for the dumb kids or those who have ineffective parents, but take care of your own, at least.

Darwinism is not the only answer (2.00 / 3) (#117)
by WillEddy on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 04:57:56 PM EST

Darwinism and intelligent design are not answering the same quesiton, and thus they are not mutually exclusive. Because of the problem of initial life and holes in the fossil record, Darwinism is not a scientifically complete answer. The fossil evidence points to Darwinism among created life: "catastrophic" darwinism, in which we have most of the species destroyed every 65,000,000 years followed by "spontaneous" evolution/arising of new species on an alarming scale, with a slower "survival of the fittest" evolution acting at all times.

Intelligent Design as a valid science (1.33 / 3) (#118)
by zhynn on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 04:59:13 PM EST

After studying this topic for a while in school, I came to the conclusion that Intelligent Design (ID) wasn't the *best* theory to describe (and predict) the proliferation of complex organic lifeforms. Evolution works better in this capacity.

However, I also noted that ID was a valid field of study, when applied to other things. For a couple of examples: Detective work. The process of sorting through the data of a person's death and trying to determine whether it was accidental or planned is in essence trying to determine whether the situation was caused by an intelligence. Also, SETI. The attempt to find data that looks as though it was created by an intelligence is the primary focus of this project.

So, as a field of science, ID is totally valid. The process of determining whether a state of affairs was created or influenced by intelligence, or not.

I see people on both sides of the fence getting caught up in language. Creationists will denounce evolution without understanding what it means, and non-creationists will denounce ID without understanding what it means (only how it has been applied, however poorly). It is important to not get caught up in name-calling and to really examine the theories and how they are applied.

Yes, evolution (both the gradual and punctuated equilibria models) is the best way to describe and predict how organisms are the way they are. But just because ID was used to prop up the arguments of creationists, doesn't make ID itself an invalid scientific field.

Well sure (none / 1) (#123)
by benna on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 05:18:24 PM EST

Nobody would argue with you there, but when I, and most other people, use the phrase "intelligent design" we mean the theory relating to the origin of life.  That application of "intelligent design" (by your meaning) is scientifically invalid because it is not falsifiable.  The other examples you give are falsifiable, so they are scientific.
-
"It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists." -Ludwig Wittgenstein
[ Parent ]
Falsifiability vs. Utility (none / 1) (#129)
by zhynn on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 05:48:43 PM EST

It's true that disproving the ID theory of organisms would be practically impossible. But theories aren't judged solely on whether or not they can be disproved (however difficult it may be). Another important characteristic of a theory is its utility. ID doesn't predict much of anything, so its utility is limited. But that doesn't mean it is false, it just means it's not useful.

As far as falsifiability goes... To falsify ID, lets look at other places where ID is used. For SETI, we start by looking at data that we know does not come from intelligence. From that, we create a negative set. Then we look at data that intelligence produces and create a positive set. We then sift through the rest of the data and look for things that resemble the positive set, but aren't in the negative set.

For organisms, as far as I know, we don't have a negative set. We don't have a set of organisms that were certainly made by random events (possibly everything), AFAIK. We also don't have a set of organisms certainly made by intelligence (also, possibly everything), AFAIK. This makes the ID a poor choice for determining the origin of organisms, as ID is best applied when you have some definite positives and negatives.

On another note, if ID is true, so what? We still have to come up with a theory to describe how things will change from now till whenever. Whether we got here slowly, through eons of gradual and rapid change; or if we just poofed into existence 6000 years ago, we still want to be able to predict how the environment will affect organisms. So far, evolution is the best theory to do that.

[ Parent ]

Theory vs. Not-A-Theory (none / 0) (#714)
by Western Infidels on Sun May 01, 2005 at 11:52:37 PM EST

...theories aren't judged solely on whether or not they can be disproved...

That's even truer than you know, it seems.

Theories aren't judged on the basis of falsifiability at all, because they are all falsifiable by definition.

If an idea is thought to be true, but can't be falsified, the honest thing to do is to call it a conjecture, i.e., a guess. Because it definitely is not a theory in the scientific sense.

[ Parent ]

Pro Argumentum (1.42 / 7) (#133)
by nymia_g on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 06:02:50 PM EST

ID can be defended with the undeniable fact that in the beginning (in principio) there was the observer. An observer existed when the first cause occured, such that the cause was observed by the observer. Whoever this observer was, that is subject to debate, but it is undeniable that one existed before the first cause.

Since there was one who exist before the first, a case be made whether the One had influence over the first cause. We can look for answers in the present time since we know what is around us. From there one can connect the dots, going backward attributing what this influence was.

I'd like to write more, but I have to go. I really enjoyed reading the article. Have to go.

why? (none / 0) (#134)
by benna on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 06:10:35 PM EST

I'm not quite sure why there HAD to be an observer?  Am I to take that a priori or do you have some sort of proof?
-
"It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists." -Ludwig Wittgenstein
[ Parent ]
bad reply (1.16 / 6) (#136)
by nymia_g on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 06:18:28 PM EST

sorry, your inquiry doesn't deserved to be answered. Go find the answer yourself.

[ Parent ]
Is that an a priori then? n/t (none / 0) (#138)
by benna on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 06:21:41 PM EST


-
"It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists." -Ludwig Wittgenstein
[ Parent ]
Geez (1.00 / 3) (#139)
by nymia_g on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 06:23:59 PM EST

really, man.

[ Parent ]
Ignore him... (none / 1) (#144)
by moocha on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 06:33:58 PM EST

He's either deliberately trolling, or he's a solipsist. Not sure which one is more hopeless :).

[ Parent ]
Not paying attention (none / 1) (#147)
by nymia_g on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 06:53:56 PM EST

The reason why this is not worth answering is simply because I invoked the argument of First Principle termed as In Principio. Which means there was none before it, then an argument came along insisting there was something before it. But then, even if there was something before it, who could that be? Was there no observer during the first movement? Of course not.

[ Parent ]
Oh, we're paying attention, all right... (1.50 / 2) (#148)
by MrMikey on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 07:04:21 PM EST

and we can see that the Emperor Has No Clothes!

Your argument is nothing more than a long-winded way of saying "The Universe had an Observer because I say so."

If you have evidence to support your position, let's see it. Otherwise, you're just another philosopher who offers up his custom-drawn menu, and insists it's really a banquet.

But, it's not... it's just paper with pretty pictures.

[ Parent ]

Sure (none / 0) (#150)
by nymia_g on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 07:20:23 PM EST

"If you have evidence to support your position, let's see it."

Imagine an unmoved before time.

[ Parent ]
That isn't evidence... (1.50 / 2) (#153)
by MrMikey on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 07:27:34 PM EST

So far as we can tell, time began when the universe began. It doesn't even make sense to use the phrase "before the Universe", because the concept of "time" doesn't apply to the left of the "t = 0" point.

Besides this, an observer isn't needed for anything. The atoms comprising this desk would do what they do whether they were observed or not (assuming you think "wave functions collapse as a result of their interaction with an observer" is an untenable position, and I do).

In addition, "an unmoved before time" isn't very good grammar. An unmoved "what"? How do you apply the concept "move" without (or "before") time? Did you mean perhaps "imagine motion occurring without time" (which doesn't make any sense, either)?

[ Parent ]

Nonsense (none / 0) (#140)
by vadim on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 06:25:13 PM EST

There couldn't have been an observer.

See? I can make assertions with no proof behind them too. Now please tell me why my statement is wrong.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

motion exists (none / 0) (#143)
by nymia_g on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 06:31:20 PM EST

Time exists because of motion as everything is subject to motion. Now, the question of what caused the first motion can be attributed to someone, somebody who existed before the first. An observer, perhaps.

[ Parent ]
Where did your observer come from? [n/t] (none / 0) (#149)
by vadim on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 07:06:58 PM EST


--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]
Unmoved (none / 0) (#151)
by nymia_g on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 07:20:50 PM EST

From the unmoved.

[ Parent ]
Huh? (none / 0) (#154)
by vadim on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 07:39:41 PM EST

That made no sense. Please elaborate.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]
clearly, from the turtles back. [nt] (none / 0) (#152)
by Frequanaut on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 07:26:41 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Denying The First Principle (none / 0) (#155)
by nymia_g on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 07:43:47 PM EST

I've seen this argument before. It only shows the rejection of the first principle. Anyway, nice to be here.

[ Parent ]
How is this "First Principle" (1.50 / 2) (#157)
by MrMikey on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 07:52:49 PM EST

not an unsupported assertion being used as the basis for your argument? Why should we assume that the "First Principle" is indeed true?

[ Parent ]
Physics Exists (none / 0) (#211)
by nymia_g on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 02:18:43 AM EST

OK, let's try a different view.

Physics allowed the cause of first movement to occur. How can a law so old as time can be regarded as false? But then Physics cannot start on its own. It has to be initiated. If it were random, then the laws would not hold and the universe could've collapsed long ago or collapse in the future.

[ Parent ]
well... (3.00 / 3) (#215)
by parrillada on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 02:44:59 AM EST

But then Physics cannot start on its own. It has to be initiated. If it were random, then the laws would not hold and the universe could've collapsed long ago or collapse in the future.

This is not necessarily true. As someone working on a graduate degree in physics, I can attest that your logic surrounding randomness and physical law is flawed. I honestly do not mean any offense, but it sounds like you probably do not have the requisite background to truly understand the ins and outs of the type of argument you are trying to make.

Quantum mechanics, for example, is an example of a successful physical theory in which randomness plays a pivotal role. Theoretically a physical theory could presuppose only complete and utter randomness, randomness of every imaginable and unimaginable kind, and still physical laws could naturally evolve from it. Moreover, modern formalisms involve movement back backward and forward in time... which further complicates any argument about "initiation." Furthermore, there is no philosophical necessity for the universe to even have a beginning, and if so, the idea of a "creator" is unhelpful because the creator itself then needs a creator. If you refuse to worry about the creator's creator, then why worry about a creator in the first place? Why not call the universe God and say it created itself?

[ Parent ]

Universe (none / 0) (#426)
by nymia_g on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 01:12:51 AM EST

The universe in which we are contained does not have the power to create itself. I suppose that was your argument, but it seems unlikely the universe started with itself. Now, that's really a contradiction.

Lemme tell you this: you can't claim the universe created itself. That would be absurd.

[ Parent ]
I'm noticing a trend here... (none / 1) (#430)
by parrillada on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 01:32:51 AM EST

Intelligent Design proponent: The universe can't create itself. That's absurd. But God can create himself. That makes perfect sense.

Evolutionist: What the f*ck???

[ Parent ]

You just don't get it (none / 0) (#431)
by nymia_g on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 01:36:54 AM EST

Sorry if that is how you feel, but that's the way my research for the truth turned out to be.

Creator Ex Nihilo Non Est

[ Parent ]
you wiggle worm... (none / 0) (#433)
by parrillada on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 01:43:37 AM EST

In all good spirit, I sincerely wish the logical contradiction could be confronted by you instead of backed away from.

[ Parent ]
Appeal To Science (none / 0) (#445)
by nymia_g on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 02:36:09 AM EST

has its limits, amigo. You can go as far as the first movement to explain it. Logos isn't everything.

[ Parent ]
But that is the contradiction I'm refering to... (none / 1) (#447)
by parrillada on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 02:52:15 AM EST

...that you on the one hand appeal to science in explaining that the Universe's existence necessitates a creator, and yet you insulate your other arguments with regard to that creator from any scientific argument. You can't have it both ways.

[ Parent ]
Reality exists. (none / 1) (#312)
by MrMikey on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 03:22:13 PM EST

Physics is the study of that reality.
Physics allowed the cause of first movement to occur.
"Physics" didn't and doesn't "allow" anything. There is no entity that allows or disallows, so far as we can tell. You haven't established that "the cause of first movement" existed, much less its properties.
How can a law so old as time can be regarded as false?
You have not established that such a law actually exists. Laws, as we use the word, are observed regularities of our reality that appear to exist without exception. That said, the laws of the early universe need not look the same as the laws we see today. Note that I said "look" the same.
But then Physics cannot start on its own. It has to be initiated.
Unsupported assertion. You're assuming causality, which may or may not apply when dealing with the origin of the Universe.
If it were random, then the laws would not hold and the universe could've collapsed long ago or collapse in the future.
With what sense are you using the word "random"?

[ Parent ]
Agreed (none / 0) (#159)
by blackpaw on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 08:07:13 PM EST

The first principle being everyone gives me bags of money of course.

Where's my check ?

[ Parent ]

Some interesting assumptions. (none / 0) (#156)
by Coryoth on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 07:51:50 PM EST

You assume that there was necessarily a first cause, and then in turn, that that cuse must have had an observer.  I see no reason to require a first cause - there is nothing precluding an infinite causal chain.  Likewise I see no reason to assume that any such proposed first cause requires an observer - observing the first cause requires something to cause the observation to occur.  By  definition the first cause occurs before all other causes.  Thus the cause of the observation must occur after the first cause.  Thus the observation must occur after the first cause, which is contradictory.

Your arguments are specious and don't even represent a quality trolling effort.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

Pathetic Argument (1.00 / 3) (#299)
by nymia_g on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 02:43:03 PM EST

Jeez, Jedidiah. Educate yourself.

[ Parent ]
Before? In what context? (none / 0) (#283)
by eatbolt on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:11:58 PM EST

"...but it is undeniable that one existed before the first cause" You've just unraveled your argument. "Before" implies passage of time. Cause and effect. How can the word "before" apply to a place where there is no time? It's an invalid argument. Don't confuse this with a new idea, the same refutation is used by Schopenhauer, Mills, and Bertrand Russell to deny Aquinas's this aspect of Aquinas's Cosmological Argument, which you are paraphrasing.

[ Parent ]
Before Time (none / 0) (#444)
by nymia_g on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 02:32:30 AM EST

Who do you suppose was there when the first movement began? Things in the universe had to be put to motion, initiated, if you will. As what caused all these movement can be traced back to the first movement, which was initiated by someone or somebody.

Moreover, time is measured by distance between periods, which implies motion. Hence time began during the first movement.

[ Parent ]
No before time (none / 0) (#801)
by azurensis on Mon May 02, 2005 at 12:07:01 PM EST

>Hence time began during the first movement. Exactly. There was no time 'before' this. Nothing caused it, because there was no possibility of anything preceeding it.

[ Parent ]
Events do not require an observer (none / 0) (#410)
by crustacean on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 10:23:11 PM EST

to exist. Anybody hear a tree fall in the forest lately? Just dumb.
Will take to the forest before the oil overlords annex Canada.
[ Parent ]
Bad Example (none / 0) (#425)
by nymia_g on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 01:09:10 AM EST

The environment you presented doesn't even lend merit to the argument. How can you claim a event like tree falling doesn't require an observer to be a valid case? You are using a wrong example. Bad example.

[ Parent ]
How about this then? (none / 0) (#542)
by crustacean on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 08:10:40 PM EST

When you leave a room, do you believe that other people stop moving and talking? :-)
Will take to the forest before the oil overlords annex Canada.
[ Parent ]
Materialist Theology (none / 1) (#145)
by Persistence of Penguins on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 06:35:51 PM EST

As someone who thinks and practises theology within a materialist framework, the article made for pleasant reading. What concerns me, however, is not your article, but the insistance of pseudo-Christian thinktanks on pursuing a false and pagan idea of creation. Any genuine Christian theology would not pay attention to the physical creation of the universe because it would realise that such a thing doesn't matter. To paraphrase the apostle Paul, "For neither Creationism nor Darwinism is anything; but a new creation is everything."

The gospel does not concern itself with matters such as the origins of the universe. Instead, it concerns itself with the positive transformation and redemption of the universe and the people therein. Arguments which try to use God to establish anything about the origins of the material universe are decidedly un-Christian and a distraction from the crux of the gospel.



"Serve hot... with lashings of butter."

What are you talking about (1.50 / 2) (#164)
by sellison on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 09:00:00 PM EST

Surely a Christian is one who follows Christ, and Christ clearly accepted a literal account of the creation of Adam and Eve at the `beginning of creation' (Matthew 19:3-6, Mark 10:6) and a global flood (Luke 17:26-27).

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush
[ Parent ]
The crux of the matter (none / 0) (#186)
by Persistence of Penguins on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 11:10:01 PM EST

Consider this, if you will.

Paul was the first NT writer. His documents pre-date the Synoptics by at least 15 years. If that's the case then Paul's messages about Jesus must be very central to not only his mission, but to those of us who are the handiwork of his mission. Thus, it is will great interest that I note that Paul's account of Jesus ignored all miracles and teaching. Instead, Paul insisted that the single most important aspect of Jesus' life was his death and resurrection. It is the crux of the Christian life and message.

The other things, while interesting, do not generally bring about redemption in any way, shape or form. The only part of the Christian faith that redeems people is the gospel. Don't waste your time (or the time of people that you're trying to love) by arguing about the unimportant details.



"Serve hot... with lashings of butter."
[ Parent ]

There are no 'unimportant details' (1.25 / 4) (#200)
by sellison on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:20:31 AM EST

in the Bible.

most important aspect of Jesus' life was his death and resurrection.

One might expect his birth was the most important, as it lead to all the other things he did.

Likewise Genesis, without it there would be no death, and no Resurection.

Without the Fall, Jesus's sacrifice that we sinners have a chance at Salvation, has no meaning.

This is why evolution is anathema to a believing Christian, your anti-genesis of unthinking randomness is a direct attack on the core of Christianity: the Fall of Man, from which Christ gave us a chance at Redemption.

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush
[ Parent ]

The crux of the matter (none / 0) (#1009)
by Persistence of Penguins on Tue May 03, 2005 at 09:35:15 PM EST

Thank you for the discussion. However, I can see that you and I clearly have differing ideas on what is central to Christianity.

You appear to say that the Fall (so-called) is the "core of Christianity." That is, humans left behind some kind of divine ecstacy in favour of a sinful life. Your defining event is this rejection of Eden.

I, on the other hand, say that the "core of Christianity" is Christ, his death and resurrection. My defining event is nothing other than that death and resurrection. It can be demonstrated (in a much longer discussion that is inappropriate here) that this event doesn't need the Fall.

We appear, however, to have strayed a long way from the original article. I leave my comments on this issue unchanged.



"Serve hot... with lashings of butter."
[ Parent ]

And? (none / 1) (#199)
by Coryoth on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:19:19 AM EST

Christ also specifically said (at least 3 times) that the end of the world and his Second Coming would occur before the generation he spoke to in person died out.

If you believe Christ then the world has already ended, the good souls have already been taken to heaven, and this is the aftermath of the final battle.  God and Satan have had their way and left us to fend for ourselves.  Isn't it time we actually believed what they said and start looking to ourselves for salvation rather than a God that has left us behind?

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

He speaks to me now (1.33 / 3) (#201)
by sellison on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:22:02 AM EST

I pity you that He does not to you.

Yet if you accept Him into your heart, perchance He will...

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush
[ Parent ]

If he's so powerfull, (1.50 / 2) (#293)
by Sesquipundalian on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 02:02:37 PM EST

How come he falls silent when your mommy makes you take your medication?


Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
[ Parent ]
There is an alternate explanation (none / 1) (#302)
by NoBeardPete on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 03:03:16 PM EST

There may be a poor 2000+ year old sap still walking the earth. This could be construed to be consistent with the second coming having not yet happened, but Jesus's claim still being correct.

This implies an interesting solution to those who would hasten the second coming. All one needs to do is find this man and mortally wound him. Presto, instant second coming.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

It is already too late (none / 0) (#1175)
by Hillgiant on Thu May 05, 2005 at 04:41:03 PM EST

Armageddon happened centuries ago. We are decended from the poor schlepps who were not transported to heaven.

Sucks to be us.

-----
"It is impossible to say what I mean." -johnny
[ Parent ]

yes, but no (none / 0) (#204)
by Battle Troll on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:54:21 AM EST

"For neither Creationism nor Darwinism is anything; but a new creation is everything."

As a devout-as-I-can-manage Orthodox Christian, I endorse this message - but you must be exceedingly careful lest you find yourself subjectivizing Christianity in some sort of sub-Kierkegaardian way, like TJJ Altizer.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Subjectivised Christianity (none / 1) (#1012)
by Persistence of Penguins on Tue May 03, 2005 at 09:42:17 PM EST

There is a tension in Pauline theology between the subjective experience (a new epistemology, c.f. 2 Cor 5) and the objective experience (eschatology, c.f. 1 Cor 15). I think that some of what has been said about the Christian Subject is important. Most recently I've been plugging through Badiou's book on Paul (The Foundation of Universalism) and have to say that he makes a lot of sense.

Thanks for the comment, though. Nice to see that I'm not completely alone out here.



"Serve hot... with lashings of butter."
[ Parent ]

be careful (2.55 / 9) (#161)
by transient0 on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 08:45:50 PM EST

the real reason that Intelligent Design theory is not scientific is because it has already decided what the right answer is and is trying to find a way to get there.

asking questions such as how the human eye or the bombardier beetle could come to exist without an intelligent designer is not an inherently bad thing. in fact, these very challenges to evolutionary theory have in the end bettered our collective understanding of evolution.

just remember that the idea of an intelligent designer is not an impossibility and that if you reject it outright as a potential hypothesis you are being no more scientific than the ID people.
---------
lysergically yours

the bombardier beetle (3.00 / 2) (#235)
by circletimessquare on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 05:08:22 AM EST

anti-evolutionists love to use the bombardier beetle as an example of why evolution doesn't work

a beetle that sprays a burning explosive fluid?

how can such a thing evolve, when evolution requires trial and error, and any trial of such a system would invariably lead to exploding beetles?

and the anti-evolutionists opposition to evolution on this basis would be 100% sound... if such a beetle existed

you see, the bombardier beetle just sprays a noxious smelling fluid

no bombs, no burns

so sorry dear anti-evolutionists, but you've taken the beetle's name too literally

;-P


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

you've taken the beetle's name too literally (3.00 / 2) (#371)
by nkyad on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 06:13:06 PM EST

Force of habit.

Don't believe in anything you can't see, smell, touch or at the very least infer from a good particle accelerator run


[ Parent ]
ID "Hypothesis" (none / 0) (#643)
by Western Infidels on Sun May 01, 2005 at 01:13:01 PM EST

...the idea of an intelligent designer is not an impossibility and that if you reject it outright as a potential hypothesis you are being no more scientific than the ID people.

No, that's wrong. The hypothesis of an intelligent designer isn't falsifiable, and so isn't scientific. It's not really a matter of rejecting it as a hypothesis - it simply doesn't qualify as a scientific idea in even the most basic way. It's not scientific in the same way that a television set isn't natural.

It's one thing to say that ID is possible, but it's quite another to consider it as a scientific hypothesis.

[ Parent ]

nice (1.00 / 4) (#162)
by ShiftyStoner on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 08:50:12 PM EST

I learned something, and it got me to think. It's pretty rare somone other than myself gets me to have an original thought.

There were several points that while reading i wanted to say something about, they've sliped my mind and I dont want to read it again.

I have an argument for god. Not the god in the way the bible describes. Or in the way any religion I know of does. I consider life to be a system of systems. Well, that's what a living living body simply is, a system of sytems, it's not really an opinion. With the knowledge of only one man, or, with the naked eye, we can not see all these systems working to create this one system, ourselves. Because we can retain knowledge abtained hundreds even thousands of years ago, thus keep ading upon it ussualy not having to start from scratch, we know what we know about biology, about electronics, we know what we know about everything because of it. What I consider "God" is something that you can see. A far more complex, more advanced system of systems than ourselves. A system made up of us. You might call it government. Why I prefer to call it god is I consider this system to be , in a way alive.

It has memories of it's own, not possesed by any one man, but possesed by man as a system. Thoghts of it's own. It is reasposible for new ideas, new inventions, new realizations. THings that obviously no one man, no one family could accomplish. Of course, this does not support inteligant design. Because this is a system created by, made up of us. Thus came after us. Also, why I call it god, is because it is given the personification of god. Millions believing in god, millions working for this god, makes this god a real system, with real power and real control and a will all of it's own. Though this probably sounds bizare.

Were I do support the inteligant design theory, but not the christian theory, is there is an ultimate system. A fractal system made up of all other systems. The system that came first and continualy gets more and more complex.

If there was only one thinking being in the universe, and that being could not see outside of itself, it would be the universe. Each of us is a universe all of our own. We are designed by the universe, weather the universe has  thought or not. We were created by the system of the universe. Im trying to explain my thoughts without sounding foolish and insane, that's probably not possible when not in person. I'm sure somone else has allready said what im trying to say comprehensabley and given it a proper name, i dont know who or what it is. I'd probly disagree with it.

But basicaly, what I'm trying to say is, this system of the universe has to be conciouse. It has to be thinking because any complex system of systems is thinking. Just, in a way we cant comprehend or see, for one it has a lifespan of eternety.  

Answer me this, why is our system, this system of systems thinking, but the systems we make up not? Is it because unlike us, it does not appear to be physicaly conected? The conection from person to person even seperated by thousands of miles is obviouse. It's a real conection, the actions of one can effect all of us. It's obviouse  than via this system history is stored, memories are made, some fade some last thousands of years, much like some of our memories fade, weaken and some are more concrete. Via this system new ideas are formed, inventions and ideas that no one man can call his alone. Not that each indevidual can't have original thoughts. The system, and really there is more than one, like everything, there is positive and negative, good and evil. I say, mankind as a whole creates to thinking, in a way living beings, gods if you will. Within that, are many other systems built whith men that lead up to the to most complex and powerful systems.

Each corporations, each franchise, down to even each family. Your family is one system, a thinking lving system all of its own, with thouths, with memories, passed on and on, families make up more advanced systems, and it keeps going. But I say, their was thought before what we call life. I say, and am not the first that everything in the universe is conected weather it appears that way or not. Created system upon system, to form one, not 2, but one thinking being. Not evil nor good, because it is the system of destruction and creation both in one.

If this is in fact an existing belief, which im almost certain it is, inform me would you. Maybe itd help me explain the unexplainable thought is have on this. Not so much for your sake, but thoughts that cant be put into words tend to fade into nothing, thought ive held them for a while.

and hay, im not playing devils advocate, this is the shit i really believe now.    
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler

lol (none / 1) (#170)
by white light on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 09:48:21 PM EST

It's pretty rare somone other than myself gets me to have an original thought.

Why do you so denigrate yourself?




..do you really want to help foster this type of laziness?
[ Parent ]
Panentheism (none / 0) (#188)
by Persistence of Penguins on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 11:12:34 PM EST

That sounds a lot like panentheism to me. That is, God is the soul/consciousness of the universe.



"Serve hot... with lashings of butter."
[ Parent ]

okay (none / 0) (#196)
by ShiftyStoner on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 11:58:02 PM EST

needed a search word

but

God = system of man made up of and partialy created by man/ conciousness of man/thinking being, living body were men are the cells

Satan = Natural Order, System of the universe/conciousness of the  universe

Other Gods/Lesser Gods = smaller groups of people creating one larger system/thinking being, OR, one man who transforms the minds of men creating a larger system/thinking being of his mantality

I call it satan, because i believe natural order, the universal system aposes gods order, rather god aposes satan.

anything more on the lines of that?
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
[ Parent ]

"Satan" means... (none / 0) (#1123)
by Persistence of Penguins on Wed May 04, 2005 at 10:22:07 PM EST

The title "satan" actually means something in combination of "opposer" and "accuser." So in your analogy, Satan opposes the gods.

As for the rest of your system, I really couldn't say. It's so far removed from my own understanding of things. Sorry to not be more help in clarifying your system.



"Serve hot... with lashings of butter."
[ Parent ]

God did not create the universe (none / 0) (#259)
by dollyknot on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 10:24:47 AM EST

God *is* the universe, this is the view promoted by Spinoza, he received death threats for having this view. A brave philosopher, unlike his contempary Descartes who sold out by stating animals did not have souls, he said this to get the catholic church off his back, who did not like his idea that the only thing he could be sure of was, I think therefore I am, this left no room for God.

God is the universe, is known as monism or pantheism.

Philip K Dick once stated "reality is that which does not go away when you stop believing it" I suspect many people of a conventional religious persuasion are solipsistic.


They call it an elephant's trunk, whereas it is in fact an elephant's nose - a nose by any other name would smell as sweetly.
[ Parent ]

The Religion of Evolution (1.00 / 19) (#163)
by sellison on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 08:55:41 PM EST

Honest biologists have said that evolution is bunk for years now. For instance:

One of the greatest European zoologists, Pièrre-Paul Grassé held the Chair of Evolution at the Sorbonne University, Paris, for decades. He openly admitted that he did not know how particles-to-people evolution could have happened, and attacked Darwinian ideas as naïve. In his 1973 book he wrote:

    `Through use and abuse of hidden postulates, of bold, often ill-founded extrapolations, a pseudoscience has been created. ... Biochemists and biologists who adhere blindly to the Darwinist theory search for results that will be in agreement with their theories. ... Assuming that the Darwinian hypothesis is correct, they interpret fossil data according to it; it is only logical that [the data] should confirm it; the premises imply the conclusions. ... The deceit is sometimes unconscious, but not always, since some people, owing to their sectarianism, purposely overlook reality and refuse to acknowledge the inadequacies and the falsity of their beliefs.'

And even prominent anti-Creationists admit that evolution is a form of religion, not a science:

Ruse said this (emphasis added):

`at some very basic level, evolution as a scientific theory makes a commitment to a kind of naturalism, namely that at some level one is going to exclude miracles and these sorts of things, come what may.'

He went on to defend this unprovable assumption by the fact that, in his view, it works. Nevertheless, said Ruse,

`evolution, akin to religion, involves making certain a priori or metaphysical assumptions, which at some level cannot be proven empirically.'

Further on, he said that one can't just say that evolution is science, creation is religion, period. One has to have some other

`coherence theory of truth, or something like that. I still think that one can certainly exclude creation science on those grounds'.

Law professor Phillip Johnson has severely criticized Ruse's anti-creation testimony at the 1982 Arkansas trial at which the sorts of admissions above failed to surface. Johnson quoted Ruse as stating that it is OK to say different things on this subject to different audiences:

`I mean I realize that when one is dealing with people, say, at the school level, or these sorts of things, certain sorts of arguments are appropriate. But those of us who are academics ... should recognize ... that the science side has certain metaphysical assumptions built into doing science, which--it may not be a good thing to admit in a court of law--but I think that in honesty that we should recognize, and that we should be thinking about some of these sorts of things.'

Many people do not realize that the teaching of evolution propagates an anti-biblical religion. But that is what it does, evolution is the anti-god gospel used to gain entry into our schools and convert our children to the religion of Secular Humanism.

The First Amendment demands that Intelligent Design be given equal time in our schools to the religiou fantasies of the evolutionists, or better that neither should be taught in our publically funded schools, and children should let their parents help them understand how the glorious world was formed.

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush

+3 (2.00 / 2) (#234)
by circletimessquare on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 05:00:57 AM EST

the best way to defeat idiots is to let them speak unimpeded and thereby fail solely because of and for no other reason than the lack of merit in their own words

we need to hear you, lots more of you

so that you can bury yourself

please post more and more, i'm not joking


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Trolls can destroy a community. (none / 1) (#243)
by Another Scott on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 07:56:11 AM EST

Do you apply the same argument to a precocious 4 year old who wants to dominate a conversation among adults?

Moderation is the key in many things, including deciding whether or not to let trolls disrupt conversation.

As Colbert King said recently in an OpEd:

The Christian right counts on the religiously timid to keep their mouths shut. So why not exploit religion for their own ends? They will if we let them.

And that's just it. Americans of faith -- and those lacking one -- ought to vigorously resist attempts by power-hungry zealots to impose their religious views on the nation. That means standing up to them at every turn.

It means challenging them when they say of Americans who support a woman's right to choose; the right of two adults to enter into a loving, committed, state-sanctioned, monogamous relationship; the right to pursue science in support of life; the right of the aggrieved to launch aggressive assaults against racism, sexism and homophobia, that they are not legitimate members of the flock. Where do those on the religious right get off thinking they have the right to decide who is in and who is out? Who appointed them sole promoters and defenders of the faith? What makes them think they are more holy and righteous than the rest of us?

They are not now and never will be the final arbiters of Christian beliefs and values. They warrant as much deference as religious leaders as do members of the Ku Klux Klan, who also marched under the cross.

He's got a point...

My $0.02.

Cheers,
Scott.

[ Parent ]

the power of the freedom of speech (none / 1) (#305)
by circletimessquare on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 03:06:51 PM EST

if you censor someone for saying something stupid, you've just given an idiot power: for if the words the moron says are powerful enough to move authorities to act, then whatever the idiot is saying means something, and so the idiot has become important

however, if you just let people say whatever they want, and let the idiot mouth off as much as he wants, then the quality of his words are the only merit on which he rises or falls

so to try to actively control words for their quality is the surest way to reduce their quality

just let it all flow out, and the real truth will rise to the top

the democracy of truth

your problem is that you have toruble accepting how ugly free speech can be

you would rather sacrifice truth for the sake of things being well-behaved

what you would get is a very well-behaved sterile uninteresting snore

life is ugly

sometimes the turht is ugly

get used to it, because to proceeed according to your recipe is the most certain way to destroy truth and destory anything interesting being said


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Yes we know you leftists (1.00 / 4) (#407)
by sellison on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 09:24:40 PM EST

would like to herd us up and put us into a re-education camp.

That is one of the main reason the Christian Right is so active in politics, we know you little Robespierres are just itching to get the upper hand.

But we won't let you, we'll take our One Nation Under God back, one school and courthouse at a time.

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush
[ Parent ]

LOL [NT] (none / 0) (#478)
by Hatfield and the North on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 09:21:42 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Well (3.00 / 2) (#723)
by Western Infidels on Mon May 02, 2005 at 12:11:14 AM EST

All math, science, and engineering "makes a commitment to a kind of naturalism." Heck, cooking does, for crying out loud. Are the fundies trying to tell me my chicken pot pie is just a figment of my imagination?

[ Parent ]
Not based on facts, eh? (none / 0) (#933)
by b74 on Tue May 03, 2005 at 12:30:55 AM EST


Here you go.  Read my articles and decide for yourself if I'm maintaining a commitment to the facts:
http://www.turbulentplanet.com/Writings/Evolution/evolution.html


[ Parent ]
who cares? (1.10 / 10) (#174)
by the ghost of rmg on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 09:52:55 PM EST

there is, first of all, little reason to believe that humans evolved from any kind of lower form other than the scientific elegance of the idea, which is not a reason at all in the scientific worldview. indeed, christianity has a great deal more to offer on an existential level -- it would be preferrable for most well-adjusted people, at least broadly, to operate within its framework.

but the net.atheist cannot have that. it is not good enough for the talk.origins kook to simply leave well enough alone -- after all, it doesn't really matter where we came from in fact, only what models of that origin are useful in the study of biological problems. this, by the way, is the standard of truth a responsible scientist will give you: does the model produce correct or at least useful results? -- but again, the talk.origins kook is interested no more interested in science than the creationist or intelligent design evangelist. they want a negative response to christianity -- that is the existential drive behind the millions of pages of vapid commentary internet users have written on this matter and continue to even now.

ultimately, this is a failure of western theology. the conception of god as a juridical figure whose primary function after the contested creation is to deal out hot bowls of creamy justice to the sinning masses demands a strong reaction from many, particularly from the embittered sort you'll find on the internet. the tragic fact is, the catholic theologians got this completely wrong, or so it is argued in some quarters.

i will now call on literacy few of you are likely to possess. the following essay, if you are prepared to read it -- and you probably are not -- may very well cure what ails you. for myself, i found my readings of existentialists, particularly nietzsche, and of course western theologians, particularly augustine, critical to my reception of the piece. even so, in the spirit of liberal education, here it is: The River of Fire.


rmg: comments better than yours.

There are few things more silly in this world (1.71 / 7) (#203)
by MrMikey on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:52:05 AM EST

than someone who thinks their philosophy trumps Reality.

The evidence is consistent with life having evolved without the aid of an Intelligence, Divine or otherwise. Sure, the Great Unicorn could have waved Her Magickal Horne some time Last Tuesday, and created the Universe exactly as we observe it, complete with memories and photons in flight, but that possibility is as useful as the possibility that we are all just brains floating in vats... which is to say, not at all.

I took a look at that "River Of Fire"... and I wasn't impressed. Rattle your bean-filled gourds, and cast your chicken bones, and tell us of the wonders of your Invisible Friend if you wish... but I daresay most of us won't be impressed by that, either.

[ Parent ]

James Randi in Skeptic magazine (1995): (none / 0) (#210)
by parrillada on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:54:03 AM EST

"I hereby state my opinion that the notion of a god is a basic superstition and that there is no evidence for the existence of any god(s). Further, devils, demons, angels and saints are myths; there is no life after death, no heaven or hell; the Pope is a dangerous, bigoted, medieval dinosaur, and the Holy Ghost is a comic-book character worthy of laughter and derision. I accuse the Christian god of murder by allowing the Holocaust to take place -- not to mention the 'ethnic cleansing' presently being performed by Christians in our world -- and I condemn and vilify this mythical deity for encouraging racial prejudice and commanding the degradation of women

[ Parent ]
what a farrago (none / 1) (#304)
by Battle Troll on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 03:04:22 PM EST

A (Jewish) child, ca. 1946, could quite clearly see that Germans, not God, were the authors of the Final Solution.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
technically he said (none / 0) (#316)
by parrillada on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 03:32:22 PM EST

I accuse the Christian god of murder by allowing the Holocaust to take place

[ Parent ]
yeah (3.00 / 2) (#324)
by Battle Troll on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 04:19:55 PM EST

Which is the only part of his argument that's any good at all, but at that it's a very bad attack on theodicy: the standard Christian retort is that, for God to prevent us from doing evil acts, He would need to destroy our free will. Every single crime calls out to Heaven, not just one particularly brutal one; and, at that, some sixty genocides appear to have taken place in history, and many of them were known to the Church Fathers in antiquity, who nonetheless believed. This ought to suggest to you that what Mr Randi considers an impediment to belief simply demonstrates a lack of imagination and empathy on his part.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
if that is true, then... (none / 0) (#326)
by parrillada on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 04:24:11 PM EST

...the 'standard Christian retort' sounds deist to me.

[ Parent ]
not really (none / 1) (#328)
by Battle Troll on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 04:35:33 PM EST

Deists believe in a psychologically alien god who has no interest in his creation. Christians believe that God is personal, and intensely interested and involved in creation. If we couldn't 'own' our own free will by exercising it, doing evil, and suffering real consequences, we wouldn't be free in any meaningful sense of the word. Moreover, our free choices to do evil are tightly integrated into our personalities, so their forcible removal would be some kind of horrible spiritual rape or lobotomy that would destroy us.

That's not to say that I disbelieve in the possibility of the miraculous, but I do argue that a world in which God censored every evil thought and action before anyone got hurt would be a world in which our actions and choices would be largely coerced and meaningless.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Unfortunately... (none / 0) (#334)
by parrillada on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 04:50:12 PM EST

...the Christian Church oversaw many atrocities over the course of human history, lending it very little credibility in my eyes. Therefore if a God exists, I'm not going to take the Church's version, considering how often wrong and sanctimonious it has been over the years. They were wrong about heliocentricity and showed themselves to be more interested in power and their own blind ideologies than in the truth. It seems no different now with evolution.

[ Parent ]
way to miss the point. (none / 1) (#347)
by Battle Troll on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 05:04:15 PM EST

Therefore if a God exists, I'm not going to take the Church's version, considering how often wrong and sanctimonious it has been over the years.

Thank you for conceding that you have no good argument against the existence of God as such, and that your real problem is with Christianity and Christians.

They were wrong about heliocentricity

Scholasticism's failings as a system of natural science is a pretty poor stick with which to beat all of Christianity, considering that my church broke with the Pope hundreds of years before Aquinas was born.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

I conceded no such thing... (none / 0) (#352)
by parrillada on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 05:09:07 PM EST

I can't prove a God doesn't exist anymore than you can't prove me wrong if I said that I was God, or if I said that the Smurfs created the universe.

The best I can do is show how arbitrary and unnecessary a God is.

Seriously. Try to prove to me that smurfs didn't create the universe, and you will see what it's like trying to argue with a believer in a God. You can always construct a self-consistent framework, no matter how ostensibly ridiculous.

[ Parent ]

heh (none / 0) (#356)
by Battle Troll on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 05:16:21 PM EST

I can't prove a God doesn't exist

I'm not asking for proof, I'm asking for an argument. "The Catholic Church was bad in 1300" is not an argument. See the difference?

You can always construct a self-consistent framework, no matter how ostensibly ridiculous.

I believe I've shown myself eminently reasonable in this thread. It is you that has falled into irrelevancies and argument ad institutionem, while leaping to unwarranted conclusions about my beliefs and motivations.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

main discussion is in other thread (none / 0) (#364)
by parrillada on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 05:33:12 PM EST

I'm not asking for proof, I'm asking for an argument.

The post to which you responded to was in and of itself an argument. Besides, to elaborate on my last argument, I'm God, so you are wrong. Can't prove me wrong? It's infuriating isn't it?

It is you that has falled into irrelevancies

You are absolutely right that this thread is fairly useless. But if you look to it's root you will see that it started with a Randi quote that you misrepresented in your post. All I did was make sure Randi was represented correctly and then continued to write from where he was coming from.

[ Parent ]

no, (none / 0) (#494)
by the ghost of rmg on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 11:21:37 AM EST

I'm God, so you are wrong. Can't prove me wrong? It's infuriating isn't it?

it's just stupid.


rmg: comments better than yours.
[ Parent ]

LOL. Now you see my point!!!! (1.50 / 4) (#512)
by parrillada on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 02:40:59 PM EST

It IS Stupid. Exactly!

And yet you can't prove me wrong, just as I can't prove your wrong about a creator. Since I can't prove iot, I can only show how stupid it is.

[ Parent ]

you should ask your university for a refund /nt (3.00 / 3) (#569)
by Battle Troll on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 08:42:30 AM EST


--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
off-thread-topic question (none / 0) (#585)
by speek on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 11:32:18 AM EST

Something I'm curious about - assuming we believe in an unmoved mover who is necessary to create the universe, is there any reason to stop at just one unmoved mover? If there's one, why can't there be many?

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

just fyi.... (none / 0) (#607)
by gzt on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 05:48:47 PM EST

...Aristotle believed in an unmoved mover, but not "God" as such. An unmoved mover is simply that, there may be more than one. The problem with the unmoved mover is that there is no existential significance [who cares?] and that it doesn't explain why there is something instead of nothing. This is purely metaphysics. Changing it to a Creator answers the question of why there is something instead of nothing, but it does not deal with the existential significance or prove any sort of uniqueness. It's pretty irrelevant to religion and life.

[ Parent ]
fyi is what it's about, so thanks (none / 0) (#614)
by speek on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 09:09:18 PM EST

I was under the impression that your belief builds on some kind of logical argument that begins with a premise about an unmoved mover and then goes on to argue that it must have had certain traits - ie it's a personal Creator and all that. I do not even begin to understand the leap from unmoved mover to personal Creator - I don't even understand: "Changing it to a Creator answers the question of why there is something instead of nothing".

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Well, not *why*... (none / 1) (#616)
by gzt on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 09:30:40 PM EST

...that question really isn't answered by a creator, what i meant was it's an answer to "what made something instead of nothing". the question of "why" is only answered by a personal as opposed to an impersonal creator, but, really, the fact that the personal ground of being created everything or not isn't exceedingly relevant at first.

simply believing in a creator who created ex nihilo is pretty much atheism. an impersonal creator is irrelevant to our lives. but, yes, how to get to a personal ground of being is a bit of a leap. it's not really logical argumentation, but rather from a discussion of our moral intuitions, senses of meaning, etc, in other words, existentialism. it boils down to the fact that we're not meat machines and we know it.

[ Parent ]

it comes from perfection, too (none / 0) (#780)
by Battle Troll on Mon May 02, 2005 at 08:35:35 AM EST

Only a perfect and infinite being would warrant the dignity of the name 'God,' and infinite perfection is indivisible.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
"God" is an ill-defined term, in general (none / 0) (#793)
by MrMikey on Mon May 02, 2005 at 10:44:56 AM EST

You may have very definite ideas as to what the word "God" means, but those ideas are by no means universal. Humans have worshipped (or not worshipped) all sorts of different ideas of "God" over the centuries.

From my perspective, they all have about the same reality as the Tooth Fairy.

[ Parent ]

heh (none / 0) (#800)
by Battle Troll on Mon May 02, 2005 at 12:04:58 PM EST

From my perspective, they all have about the same reality as the Tooth Fairy....Humans have worshipped (or not worshipped) all sorts of different ideas of "God" over the centuries.

That says volumes, absolutely volumes about the merit of your perspective, wouldn't you say?
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Well, yes, ... (none / 0) (#807)
by MrMikey on Mon May 02, 2005 at 01:28:47 PM EST

if your metric for measuring "merit" is a function of how many people agree with you at any given time.

FYI, mine isn't.

So, do you measure the merit of your positions based on how many people agree with you? Somehow, I doubt that.

[ Parent ]

heh (none / 0) (#820)
by Battle Troll on Mon May 02, 2005 at 03:26:13 PM EST

I knew you'd take it that way.

Put it this way: if most people's inner lives and motivations are a closed book to you, is it just because you're so smart and they're so dumb?
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Feh. (none / 0) (#838)
by MrMikey on Mon May 02, 2005 at 05:11:03 PM EST

"I knew you'd take it that way."

If you knew how I'd interpret it, then why didn't you explicitly say something along the lines of "I expect you'll interpret it this way, but what I have in mind is..." rather than waste your time and mine playing word games instead of engaging in honest discussion?

"Put it this way: if most people's inner lives and motivations are a closed book to you, is it just because you're so smart and they're so dumb?"

Who says their inner lives and motivations are a "closed book" to me? Oh, yes... you did, substituting your interpretations of my words in place of what I actually say.

At best, inaccurate, and at worst, dishonest.

Anyway, just because I don't agree with their world view doesn't mean I don't understand it, or even that I don't see some value in it. It isn't a matter of "[I'm] so smart and they're so dumb." That's your (mis-)characterization, not mine.

[ Parent ]

what a riot (none / 0) (#854)
by Battle Troll on Mon May 02, 2005 at 06:31:38 PM EST

Who says their inner lives and motivations are a "closed book" to me? Oh, yes... you did, substituting your interpretations of my words in place of what I actually say.

At best, inaccurate, and at worst, dishonest.

Get it straight - insults need not be either inaccurate nor dishonest. If I call you an idiot, well, maybe it's inaccurate and maybe it's not so inaccurate. HTH.

You just said that, to you, such religious beliefs as were common to most of humanity for most of history seem as stupid to you as belief in the Tooth Fairy. Either you think that most people were and are far stupider than you, or else you are simply missing out on a big part of human life, behaviour, history, and motivation. Neither alternative says anything flattering about you. In one, you're a smug jerk. In the other, you're a naive, semi-autistic shnook. If I were you, I'd go with the smug jerk, because that's the canonical sub-Enlightenment position and it has a certain retro chic.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

I guess we all have our hobbies... (none / 0) (#857)
by MrMikey on Mon May 02, 2005 at 06:46:12 PM EST

"You just said that, to you, such religious beliefs as were common to most of humanity for most of history seem as stupid to you as belief in the Tooth Fairy."

Do you do this in restaurants? "What's the special of the day?" "The special is a fish dish, Sir." "Well, then, I'll have the trout almondine... that's the special, right?"

What I actually said was, "From my perspective, they all have about the same reality as the Tooth Fairy." I said they were not real to me. You characterized my words as me saying religious beliefs were as stupid as belief in the Tooth Fairy. The characterization came from your brain, not mine. Really.

"Either you think that most people were and are far stupider than you, or else you are simply missing out on a big part of human life, ..."

and so on, and so on, and so on....

Do you ever get tired of going off on tirades based on your mistaken impression of other people's words? It really is a lot easier just to ask people what they mean, rather than guessing, as you seem wont to do. You don't even seem to be a very good guesser. Is this all done just for the entertainment value?

[ Parent ]

ok, substitute in 'reality' (none / 0) (#946)
by Battle Troll on Tue May 03, 2005 at 06:14:48 AM EST

So you can't appreciate how anyone could come to believe in God. This is better?
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
Besides... (none / 0) (#336)
by parrillada on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 04:54:20 PM EST

...you folks never seem to be able to answer: Why did God make the appendix? Why did God make wisdom teeth? Did Adam and Eve have Navels?

[ Parent ]
heh (none / 0) (#345)
by Battle Troll on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 05:02:07 PM EST

As soon as you stoop to this level, you fail it, because you're not arguing with me. I'm as far from a Fundamentalist as you can get while remaining a Christian.

Exercise for you: do the Anglicans, Lutherans, and Presbyterians believe in God? Are they Creationists? Ahhh....
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Oh, and Randi was absolutely right... (none / 0) (#340)
by parrillada on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 04:58:45 PM EST

...about God and women. I'm sure you've read the bible, but even Genesis should do to convince anyone...

[ Parent ]
so what's your point? (none / 0) (#360)
by Battle Troll on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 05:22:29 PM EST

The church is made up of flawed sinners, and the Bible is a historical document transmitted (not only in its letter but in its interpretation) through flawed sinners. Women were treated badly in 2000 BC: news at 11.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
You may be more enlightened than Most Christians.. (none / 0) (#362)
by parrillada on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 05:27:17 PM EST

...but in America at least, you are in the minority.

[ Parent ]
No... (none / 0) (#391)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 07:56:57 PM EST

...he's not. At least not on this point, as I rather suspect Mr. Troll is exceptional in most contexts. To wit, Catholicism is the largest Christian denomination in America and it expressly rejects biblical inerrancy (a.k.a. biblical literalism) as well as the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. Actually, Mr Troll's above account could be considered a fairly adequate synopsis of the matter as presented in the Catechism of the RCC.  

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
In my experience... (none / 0) (#393)
by parrillada on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 08:04:01 PM EST

...the majority of Christians in the US would wholeheartedly denounce Mr. Troll's statement that:

The church is made up of flawed sinners, and the Bible is a historical document transmitted (not only in its letter but in its interpretation) through flawed sinners.

But if you are being honest, then by all means correct me; I do not socialize in such circles.

[ Parent ]

Then the problem... (none / 0) (#395)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 08:13:29 PM EST

...is with your understanding of Christianity, not Mr. Troll's account of it.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
You are not addressing my post (none / 0) (#398)
by parrillada on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 08:31:14 PM EST

In my experience, and I have met quite a few, roughly 9/10 of Bible-reading or Church-going "Christians" would denounce what Troll said about the bible and the Church. So in my experience of reality, you are quite mistaken. Also, if you take issue with my only including "Bible-reading or Church-going" Christians, then perhaps you don't understand the fact that if polled, an enormous # of people call themselves Christian because of their ancestry, not because they actually practice the religion in any way whatsoever.

[ Parent ]
Are you disputing... (none / 1) (#402)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 09:08:55 PM EST

...my claim that Catholicism is the largest denomination is America? Or that what Mr. Troll recounted above is a fair synopsis of official Catholic doctrine?

I'm neither prepared nor particularly inclined to deal with the subject of "Christians you personally know."

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
You know... (3.00 / 3) (#421)
by ubernostrum on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 12:10:34 AM EST

The other day I met an anecdote who said you were wrong.




--
You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]
shut up. (1.75 / 4) (#247)
by the ghost of rmg on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 08:17:43 AM EST

you don't believe in science the way, for example, a physicist does. you believe in it the same way a "goddist" believes in revelation, but you're too lazy-assed stupid to step back and look at the intellectual foundations of your belief system because you're afraid of what you'll find.

the way you so casually conflate the notions of usefulness and existential truth just shows how pig ignorant you are.


rmg: comments better than yours.
[ Parent ]

Um..... NO. MAKE ME. (2.00 / 6) (#279)
by MrMikey on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:51:37 PM EST

you don't believe in science the way, for example, a physicist does.
You know exactly fuck all about what I believe and why.
you believe in it the same way a "goddist" believes in revelation, but you're too lazy-assed stupid to step back and look at the intellectual foundations of your belief system because you're afraid of what you'll find.
Wrong again. I don't "believe" in Science. I believe that I live in a Universe whose nature is, however imperfectly, transmitted to me via my senses, and that Reality exists outside of my perception of it or my existence in it. I also believe that my senses aren't the result of an outside agency conducting a concerted effort to decieve me. Finally, these beliefs are all recognized as being provisional in nature.
the way you so casually conflate the notions of usefulness and existential truth just shows how pig ignorant you are.
You can have your philosophical wank over "existential truth" if you like, but be sure to wash your hands afterwards. The computer you're using right now is the product of the Scientific Method, which, when it comes to understanding how reality works, is a damn sight more "useful" than Received Wisdom ever was.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: "There are few things more silly in this world than someone who thinks their philosophy trumps Reality."... and I'll "shut up" when it suits me to do so. Oh, and feel free to go ahead and rate this post a "zero", too...

[ Parent ]

oh, i certainly will feel free. (1.20 / 5) (#281)
by the ghost of rmg on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:59:31 PM EST

i hope you enjoy this new zero as well as you did the first.

you've just as much as said you believe in science in the sense that i meant. and i've had the conversation about computers before. you are in no way qualified to make any positive assertions about the nature of your computer.

besides, your capitalization clearly shows you're either a kook or a troll. again, enjoy the zeros.


rmg: comments better than yours.
[ Parent ]

Weak. (1.00 / 2) (#297)
by MrMikey on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 02:30:39 PM EST

you've just as much as said you believe in science in the sense that i meant.
Rubbish. I clearly stated my beliefs, and it has nothing to do with your mischaracterization of my beliefs.
and i've had the conversation about computers before.
Did you dismiss it that time as well?
you are in no way qualified to make any positive assertions about the nature of your computer.
Oh? Then please, tell me, what are your qualifications, and how do they qualify you to discuss "the nature of your computer" in ways that my meager MSEE does not?

[ Parent ]
no, (none / 1) (#315)
by the ghost of rmg on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 03:31:21 PM EST

dealt with the matter in excrutiating detail.

if you have any intelligent questions (unlikely), post them here.


rmg: comments better than yours.
[ Parent ]

excrutiatingly incoherent (none / 0) (#805)
by azurensis on Mon May 02, 2005 at 01:22:33 PM EST

So since science requires some level of faith (in reality, scientists, the scientific method, etc) and religion requires faith (in whatever somebody dreams up), they are eqivalent? Complete Crap.

With science, one *can* verify the facts put forth if one were so inclined. From quantum mechanics (dual-slit light experiment) to evolution (comparing gene sequences of existing animals, fossilized bones of extinct ones), to astronomy (buying a telescope and having a look), anyone can at least verify that the reality that scientists observe is the same reality that we all observe.

With religion, there is no chance of knowing if the god you worship is anything at all like the god that someone else (even in your same religion) does. Sure, you might all be paragons of virtue, doubtful in itself, but you don't need religion for that.


[ Parent ]

point of order: (none / 1) (#893)
by the ghost of rmg on Mon May 02, 2005 at 10:16:11 PM EST

i said intelligent questions only.

and no, one can't verify the facts within the framework of the argument. what you have done is called "begging the question." and no, i will not explain to you how you have begged the question if you don't get it.

the question was not whether you can verify the facts (something that you take on faith), but whether you have which would then reasonably move you out of the realm of mere science faithfuls. and your bit about verifying that we live in the same reality the scientists observe is so stupid it's cute.

and i very explicitly laid out a framework whereby one can judge the truth of christianity without reference to god. you should ask your university for a refund.


rmg: comments better than yours.
[ Parent ]

Holy shit (none / 0) (#280)
by Torka on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:59:01 PM EST

That article is awesome.

[ Parent ]
indeed. (none / 1) (#288)
by the ghost of rmg on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:47:36 PM EST

i found it very enlightening myself. of course, i'm sure most readers here will stop before the end of the first part for more or less the same reason they shudder when they walk into churches.

unless you were just being sarcastic. that'd be pretty lame.


rmg: comments better than yours.
[ Parent ]

No. (none / 1) (#289)
by Torka on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:53:09 PM EST

I meant it. Of course, you being the ghost of rmg, I must wonder whether you actually think it's a good article or whether you're now chuckling to yourself at my idiocy for buying it.

[ Parent ]
not at all. (none / 0) (#292)
by the ghost of rmg on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 02:01:28 PM EST

now, if you want to go the extra mile, i.e. the mile i have not tried myself, go to your local orthodox church and be orthodox for a few weeks, then tell me how it works out. i hear it's the bee's knees.

you could write a diary or something about it. make sure i see it though. and it better be thoughtful, none of this typical kuro5hin crap.


rmg: comments better than yours.
[ Parent ]

isn't it? (none / 0) (#338)
by Battle Troll on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 04:56:44 PM EST

It knocked me for a loop and a half when I first read it in 2002.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
Nah (none / 0) (#932)
by b74 on Tue May 03, 2005 at 12:27:50 AM EST

> there is, first of all, little reason to believe that humans evolved from any kind of lower form other than the scientific elegance of the idea, which is not a reason at all in the scientific worldview.

You should do some more reading on evolution, then you can decide how well evolution is supported by the facts.

Here's a place to start, you'll probably be more interested in the articles on "cytochrome-c" and "Plagiarized errors: The Broken Vitamin C gene" since they deal with human evolution.
http://www.turbulentplanet.com/Writings/Evolution/evolution.html


[ Parent ]

shut up. (3.00 / 2) (#1000)
by the ghost of rmg on Tue May 03, 2005 at 09:08:10 PM EST

you completely miss the point, in true kuro5hin form -- you were born for this place. i am very well versed in this whole business. when you read a post like mine, never assume that the author simply knows less than you. in this case, you've run into the opposite scenario.

i am not interested in the scientific aspects of the debate, except insofar as one can say with absolute certainty that humankind has its ancestry in apes or what have you -- which one cannot. what i think i made very clear in the comment is that i am more concerned with the existential and psychological forces behind the discussion itself.

in short, i don't care where human beings came from. i do not doubt evolution's explanatory power as scientific theory either. i am interested in why people, people like yourself, have such an enormous emotional investment (so much so that your kind can write a thousand comments about it, repeating the same things over and over without ever tiring) in the truth value of a proposition that has no impact on their lives whatsoever. in fact, i know why, as i say in the parent, and i offer a solution: you need a negative response to christianity because you hate god. very simple.


rmg: comments better than yours.
[ Parent ]

Very well done. (NT) (none / 0) (#179)
by Another Scott on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 10:11:34 PM EST



Um (1.88 / 9) (#180)
by trhurler on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 10:25:48 PM EST

You're as much a religious man as any Southern Baptist prick. I say so despite the fact that I think evolution to be correct.

Evolution IS flawed. There are lots of things that we ought to be able to find that we just can't. Nevertheless, we may eventually find them.

Evolution DOES have a hard time explaining the eye. Darwin's explanation, which you trumpet loudly, has been shown to be almost certainly wrong. I'm not saying eyes didn't evolve. I'm saying the evolution camp has some things left to demonstrate before it starts claiming that anyone who disagrees with it must be a religious nutball.

In short, no matter how you slice it, you are a religious evolution theorist. You believe, and you insist that everyone else believe, and you don't care about the truth because you have already decided what it is.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

natural selection may not be perfect (none / 0) (#181)
by benna on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 10:51:03 PM EST

but my intent was to show that intelligent design is definatly NOT a valid alternative.  My primary purpose is to attack intelligent design, not to say that evolutionary theory in its current state is perfect.
-
"It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists." -Ludwig Wittgenstein
[ Parent ]
Well, (none / 0) (#191)
by trhurler on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 11:29:22 PM EST

As a scientific theory, it is much weaker than evolution. That's true. However, it is not fair to blame an argument for the people who advocate it, and you did quite a lot of that.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
That was the last part of my argument... (none / 0) (#195)
by benna on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 11:52:45 PM EST

but I spent most of the article describing how the ID attacks on evolution are mostly explainable, and pointing out that ID isn't even a real scientific theory.  The proponents of ID's obvious motives were only a part of the argument.
-
"It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists." -Ludwig Wittgenstein
[ Parent ]
I disagree with your assessment of his analysis (3.00 / 2) (#182)
by Phil Urich on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 10:55:24 PM EST

The main argument is simply:

(1) Intelligent Design's attacks on Evolution are themselves flawed.
(2) The "scientific" rationals behind Intelligent Design fail the test of being so.

At no point does he say the Theory of Evolution is perfect; the point is that it's scientific, it's refined by scientific methods and is subject to analysis and evaluation by them. On the other hand, Intelligent Design fails at this, and is far more an attempt to dress Creationist beliefs back up in garbs that make it appear to be a valid theory; the article goes on to detail why it isn't.

You, too, have flaws: if it's possible that the article is written by a religious zealot, then it's also quite likely, as the alternative possibility, that you're too quick to read into the writer's beliefs and motives. Which is a kind of zealotry itself, seeing partisanship everywhere one turns, always seeing things as biased and illogical instead of calmly assesing the arguments.

[ Parent ]
So (1.50 / 2) (#192)
by trhurler on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 11:30:17 PM EST

When the author insists that all ID proponents are merely rationalizers and apologists, he is correct, but when I point out that he's on a crusade, I'm too quick to read into his beliefs and motives.

Sure, whatever.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
I'm saying (none / 1) (#236)
by Phil Urich on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 05:26:01 AM EST

that, yes, you're too quick to judge, because he isn't quite saying what you're saying he is.

He goes into quite a lot of detail about the different theories and arguments that prop up Intelligent Design, and then explains why he holds these to be completely inadequate. A mere crusader would hardly give them the chance; he takes all of the arguments, and deconstructs them. He points out that the Intelligent Design argument is set up so that even complete lack of credible evidence isn't considered disproof by the proponents. You may disagree with this asessment, but the logic in this article is quite extended and meticulous; in other words, if he's wrong, it's not in bad faith, he has attempted to approach the issue logically and scientifically. Which is why I accuse you. It strikes me as quite unfair to so quickly dismiss his credibility.

Apologies if I came across as a bit combatative myself; just responding to the tone, but it was a bit imature of me. I do think you're being a bit too hasty, try to read over the article again and dwell less on the resultant opinion that has been reached, concentrate more on his logical arguments. I can't say that the tone the article started with had me entirely unskeptical myself, but in the end I was convinced, despite the strong opinion, that the author is being quite rational. Strong opinions, current societal memes about the subject notwithstanding, are not immediately indicative of a blind crusade, despite how often that may be true.

[ Parent ]
I disagree (none / 1) (#193)
by parrillada on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 11:31:12 PM EST

I'm not saying eyes didn't evolve. I'm saying the evolution camp has some things left to demonstrate before it starts claiming that anyone who disagrees with it must be a religious nutball.

I disagree. For example I've been watching David Blaine's street magic TV show the last week, and I've been amazed at some of his tricks. But I don't conclude that his tricks prove science 'wrong,' or that science "has some things left to demonstrate before it starts claiming that anyone who disagrees with it must be a religious nutball." Clearly anyone who believes that David Blaine defies the laws of physics is wrong. Similarly it goes with evolution. The theory of evolution is, quite frankly, so unbelievably simple and obvious, and it has so much evidence to back it up, that truly it is as valid as the theory of gravity.

Besides, the supposed 'eye' problem with evolution is less controversial in scientific circles that you make it out to be. Pretty clear lines of ancestry showing evolution of light-sensitive skin types has been around a long time.

[ Parent ]

Um (none / 0) (#194)
by trhurler on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 11:35:07 PM EST

There are two problems with your reply.

The first is that "science" and "one particular scientific position" are not the same. You seem to have a hard time with this notion.

The second is that light sensitive skin is not just a strange mutation away from eyeballs. Light sensitivity is a well known phenomenon. We have NO fossil record that shows how eyes could have evolved from it. This is not to say it cannot or did not happen. The point is merely that there is an assertion being made of the form "this is true because if it isn't then my whole theory is fucked," and that's not a very scientific attitude. (In fact, if you ask some physicists, you'll find out that in their field in the last 100 years, such arguments have been wrong far more often than right.)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
wrong (2.50 / 2) (#197)
by parrillada on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:01:33 AM EST

We have NO fossil record that shows how eyes could have evolved from it. This is not to say it cannot or did not happen.

Isn't that something that has been trivially explained (and predicted) due to the fact that eyes, or any water-facilitated-lens development would be incapable of structural-detail-preserving fossilization?

The first is that "science" and "one particular scientific position" are not the same. You seem to have a hard time with this notion.

Then simply substitute into my argument whatever scientific position you prefer in place of the word "science", depending on the type of street magic being performed. For example, David Blaine turned a cup of coffee into change. This violates more than one conservation law. Just because something like this isn't easily explained by non-magicians, does not make it logical to assume the burden of proof be on the shoulder of scientists to prove that the conservation laws still hold. Similarly with evolution. You can always find "gaps" and claim the burden of proof is on the theory, but this is just absurd. A theory can never be "proven"--it can only be disproven (that is part of the definition of a scientific theory). Therefore you cannot put the burden of "proof" on evolutionary scientists. If you want to disprove evolution, go ahead and try. You can't point to a gap, you must show that an ancestry is contradicted by the theory of evolution.

[ Parent ]

What would count as (none / 0) (#218)
by the dead on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 03:14:27 AM EST

Disproving the theory of evolution?

[ Parent ]
What counts (none / 0) (#223)
by parrillada on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 04:07:10 AM EST

First of all, we would have to get two things straight:

Are we refering to: 1) the process of evolution, or 2) the theory that things have evolved from a) to be) instead of being created at b) I will not give an example of diproving (1) because it is so thoroughly accepted, even among religious Christians. The process of evolution is incredibly obvious, and quite truly anyone who disagrees with it doesn't understand it at all.

Proving (2) wrong would be easy. One way of proving (2) would be to find evidence that the earth was created only 5000 years ago. For example, if radioactive carbon dating showed that nothing was moe than 5000 years old, then this would be a disproof of a case of (2). Or, if a large enough "jump" was found consistently (not one fossil in some crazy's garage), in a short enough time scale that evolution could not explain the jump as having non-negligable probablity, then evolution would be disproven. Unfortunately for creationists, found "jumps" do not come close to meeting the above criteria.

[ Parent ]

Nope (none / 0) (#385)
by trhurler on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 07:42:45 PM EST

For a long time, scientists got away with the gaps in the fossil record by saying certain things just don't fossilize. Recently, we've found accurate fossilizations of lots of soft tissues, thereby more or less completely destroying that argument.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
nope^2 (none / 0) (#389)
by parrillada on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 07:50:25 PM EST

Recently, we've found accurate fossilizations of lots of soft tissues, thereby more or less completely destroying that argument.

Give an example, because 'soft tissue' is pretty vague. I would be surprised if there has been accurate fossilization of anything that would allow the type of analysis required for your argument to be valid. And it's not like scientists were trying to 'get away' with something; it is rather rudimentary to predict that soft tissues won't fossilize for detail.

Either way, you completely ignored the most important deconstruciton of your argument, which I provided in the other paragraph of my post.

[ Parent ]

Eyes (3.00 / 11) (#226)
by dn on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 04:19:14 AM EST

Heh. I've been abnormally curious about eyes for quite a while. Prepare to be awed by my superior knowledge. ;-)
Light sensitivity is a well known phenomenon. We have NO fossil record that shows how eyes could have evolved from it.
One thing we do have are chemical analyses and gene sequences. It turns out that higher organisms use one of two types of light sensitive molecule. The genes that create them are remarkably similar across a huge range of species. In fact last year a simple worm was discovered to use the same family of opsins as human rods and cones. That is exactly what we would expect for evolution stumbling across a couple of good ideas and flogging them for all they're worth for the next hundred million years.

Another thing we have are the huge variety of eyes in different species: simple eye spots in flat worms, exquisitely-focused globe eyes in hawks, multifacted eyes in insects, the multiple eyes of spiders, marine organisms of several species where each individual has a multitude of globe eyes, various organisms with simple light-sensitive pits, and so on. The same basic light sensors have been repackaged in zillions of different ways, of widely varying sophistication, all of them useful. That certainly looks like the crazy grab bag of designs that evolution would cook up. The infrared-sensitive pits of the pit vipers also suggest that evolution has no trouble grabbing a sensor and building an eye around it.

Yet another thing we have is the oddball construction of the eyes in a given species. They aren't generally built out of special eye molecules, but rather from molecules that are suspiciously similar to stuff elsewhere in the body. It's exactly what you would expect from a random gene sometimes getting turned on in the eye and ending up being useful. (But there are in fact a few special eye molecules. The immune system is mostly excluded from the eye because even a little scarring would mean blindness, but that means it doesn't get programmed to leave the special ones alone. So if you get one eye ripped open so the immune system can get at it, it sometimes decides the special molecules are invaders and attacks the other eye too. Whoops. Again, the sort of quixotic crap that evolution cooks up.)

The nerves that control the eye are likewise goofy. For a well-designed human eye, there'd be an eye control center in the brain, and it would send a single nerve to control the eye's muscles. But that's not how it works. The eye is aimed by several different cranial nerves that originate from different places. Pupil contraction is activated by a cranial nerve. But for pupil dilation, a nerve exits the spinal cord at the base of the neck, runs up along the carotid artery, and finally makes it to the eye. It's a hideous mess that sort of holds together. Again, exactly what we'd expect if evolution was leaving its sticky fingerprints everywhere.

    I ♥
TOXIC
WASTE

[ Parent ]

great post (none / 0) (#274)
by Chairman Kaga on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:38:38 PM EST

This is exactly the kind of well thought out and informative post that will probably be ignored by ID'ers. Just like sellison up in a nearby thread. He gets four replies to a post, and he chooses to ignore the three that address his post, rather he answers the 'joking' one and cries 'AD HOMINEM".

[ Parent ]
Or... (3.00 / 2) (#388)
by trhurler on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 07:45:15 PM EST

(Remember that I'm in the evolution camp, and am merely arguing that people who take evolution as truth with a capital T are full of it.)

It is entirely possible that the "odd" physiology we find is due to things we don't yet understand. Simply saying "this is weird, so it must have evolved" is as inane as anything any ID nut ever said.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Not exactly what he's saying, though... (none / 0) (#630)
by kcbrown on Sun May 01, 2005 at 04:46:25 AM EST

It is entirely possible that the "odd" physiology we find is due to things we don't yet understand. Simply saying "this is weird, so it must have evolved" is as inane as anything any ID nut ever said.

Sure, but that's not really what he's saying.

What he's saying is, basically, "the theory of evolution predicts that many/most of the mechanisms of life will be hacked together kludges that work 'well enough'". He then goes on to point out quite a number of such mechanisms that are, indeed, hacked together kludges that work "well enough".

But what you say is also true -- the odd physiology we find may be due to things we don't understand yet. I'd argue, actually, that it's almost certainly due to that -- but that what we don't yet understand are the specific circumstances and pressures that caused those particular physiological characteristics to come about the way they did. In short, there's no contradiction with evolution to be found here, and there's some confirmation to be found here as well. Score one for evolution.

Was there an intelligent designer behind all this? Perhaps. But even if there were, that doesn't tell us anything useful. There's no predictive power to be found there, and thus nothing we can test. That's one of the things that makes the whole "intelligent designer" thing unscientific.

Certainly if there was an intelligent designer behind all this, one can reasonably conclude that said designer wasn't/isn't a particularly good one, at least when it comes to designing humans. I dare say that most reasonably intelligent engineering types, if given the basic technology (e.g., self-replicating cells) embodied in most living beings today and told how to put it together, could design a much more robust and adaptable human being than what humans are today. For one thing, cancer basically wouldn't exist (a proper genetic checksum algorithm employed during cell replication would simply make such a thing nigh unto impossible), nor would pain in general as we know it (pain is a reasonable mechanism to inform an unintelligent creature of damage to its body, but is highly unsuitable to an intelligent creature that can make intelligent decisions about what actions to take and the consequences thereof. And furthermore, pain isn't even a terribly informative indicator of what kind of damage exists).

Basically, in my opinion, the human body itself is a real piece of shit (though the technology behind it is sometimes decent). Given the technology behind it, I for one wouldn't want my name to be associated with its "design". And I'm just a lowly human, not an "intelligent designer".

[ Parent ]

Well, (none / 1) (#641)
by trhurler on Sun May 01, 2005 at 12:40:12 PM EST

Obviously religious people could come up with reasons why their "designer" arranged things as they are, but I agree that this requires belief in something that isn't scientific in nature.

That said, there are three problems I see with your position.

The first problem is that unless you know the capabilities and past experiences of any proposed designer, you can't say it should be "easy" to improve on humanity. You say you think you could do a better job. I doubt it very much because I think you're vastly underestimating the sheer complexity of the task(not just getting things like cell replication right, but more generally, just getting any single cell to turn into something like a person AT ALL,) but even if you could do it and do better than the original, it is only because you have seen the original and that original has had time to manifest its flaws. Lots of time.

The second problem is that unless you know the goals and expectations of a proposed designer, you cannot say for sure that we aren't exactly what was intended.

The third problem is that when you say "things we don't understand yet," you are limiting it to "how evolution happened to work." That's begging the question: you assume evolution and then say "see, it still fits!" The problem of course being that there is no ground on which to simply assume evolution.

Ultimately, if you're going to hang your hat on science, you have to accept that it does not produce certainty. That's not what it is for.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
The "designer" is a sadist... (none / 0) (#763)
by kcbrown on Mon May 02, 2005 at 01:30:12 AM EST

The first problem is that unless you know the capabilities and past experiences of any proposed designer, you can't say it should be "easy" to improve on humanity.

Well, no, those two things aren't really related at all. One needn't know anything about the designer to evaluate the design.

With respect to the human body, my claim is simply that if one has access to the kind of basic technology that the human body represents, one shouldn't have much trouble designing a form that is vastly superior in most (if not all) respects to the human body as it is, where "superior" here means that if the designed human and the normal human were put into pretty much any realistic environment, the designed human would fare better.

Can I prove that? To the extent that I can point out glaring flaws in the human body that can be improved on, yes. Can I prove that said improvements are possible with the technologies present in the human body? No, not unless I can find something else in nature that does what I'm looking for.

The second problem is that unless you know the goals and expectations of a proposed designer, you cannot say for sure that we aren't exactly what was intended.

True, but if we are exactly what was intended, then it seems pretty clear to me that the designer wants to see his creations suffer greatly, because the designer built large doses of pain, suffering, and death directly into his creation (that's what "entropy" ultimately implies).

The third problem is that when you say "things we don't understand yet," you are limiting it to "how evolution happened to work." That's begging the question: you assume evolution and then say "see, it still fits!" The problem of course being that there is no ground on which to simply assume evolution.

Ah, but I'm not using the "things we don't understand yet" argument as any sort of support for evolution. Instead, all I'm saying is that it doesn't contradict evolution. As such, it can't be used as an objection to the theory of evolution. The support in favor of evolution comes from the fact that it makes certain predictions, and those predictions seem to be accurate when tested.

As for complete certainty, science doesn't ever provide any such thing. Never has, never will. Its sole purpose is to allow us to model the world around us and make accurate predictions as much as possible. Evolution allows us to do that. "Intelligent Design" doesn't. What more needs to be said about it?

[ Parent ]

Hmm (none / 0) (#771)
by trhurler on Mon May 02, 2005 at 02:48:52 AM EST

Well, no, those two things aren't really related at all. One needn't know anything about the designer to evaluate the design.
You didn't evaluate the design. You evaluated the difficulty of the design and of improving upon it. In order to know that, you do need to know who is designing and with what capabilities. What NASA can do spending petty cash would be impossible for a third world subsistance farmer even if he gave up everything to achieve it.
With respect to the human body, my claim is simply that if one has access to the kind of basic technology that the human body represents, one shouldn't have much trouble designing a form that is vastly superior
Having access to the technology is not the same as being able to use it perfectly. Have you considered the complexity of that task? In principle, you can build a car using existing technology that will never break down before the owner dies. Nevertheless, even though we have the technological capability, the design does not just magically emerge.
True, but if we are exactly what was intended, then it seems pretty clear to me that the designer wants to see his creations suffer greatly, because the designer built large doses of pain, suffering, and death directly into his creation (that's what "entropy" ultimately implies).
The problem of evil has been studied at length. You can look up all the stock arguments by just using that as a search phrase. That notwithstanding, part of "not understanding the motive of the designer" would involve not being able to figure out why he would do what he does. Ascribing motives to a designer you have already decided you don't understand is nonsensical.
Ah, but I'm not using the "things we don't understand yet" argument as any sort of support for evolution. Instead, all I'm saying is that it doesn't contradict evolution. As such, it can't be used as an objection to the theory of evolution.
The problem is, you're trying to say more than this. You are trying to use your argument, even if this IS your argument, to justify the claim that all reasonable people should accept evolution and denounce intelligent design.
As for complete certainty, science doesn't ever provide any such thing. Never has, never will. Its sole purpose is to allow us to model the world around us and make accurate predictions as much as possible. Evolution allows us to do that. "Intelligent Design" doesn't. What more needs to be said about it?
Actually, there are variants on intelligent design that are not alternatives to evolution. In addition, whether you like the solutions in question or not being irrelevant to the point, intelligent design, were it true, WOULD provide solutions to some problems that we cannot presently answer in any way. (Keep in mind that intelligent design was adopted by religious people, but that it got started with people fantasizing that life on earth got its start by alien intervention.)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Perhaps the designer doesn't give a shit... (none / 0) (#830)
by kcbrown on Mon May 02, 2005 at 04:15:22 PM EST

You didn't evaluate the design. You evaluated the difficulty of the design and of improving upon it.

Uh, well, actually I did both.

That notwithstanding, part of "not understanding the motive of the designer" would involve not being able to figure out why he would do what he does. Ascribing motives to a designer you have already decided you don't understand is nonsensical.

Huh? The motives I'm discussing are under very specific conditions: that humans and the surroundings they exist in are exactly what this designer intends. In other words, that every single attribute of humans and their environment is something that the designer in question intentionally put there.

And by noting that the designer is a sick, sadistic bastard in the case mentioned, I'm not claiming to come anywhere close to completely describing the motives of said designer. Only that the designer in question must want humans to suffer if said designer wants that particular attribute of humans and the universe to exist.

Of course, that argument is a little too strong, because I neglected the other possibility: that said designer doesn't give a crap whether humans suffer or not.

But this much can be said: if humans and the universe are exactly the way the designer wants them to be, then said designer cannot care about human welfare, because that would be a logical contradiction.

Ah, but I'm not using the "things we don't understand yet" argument as any sort of support for evolution. Instead, all I'm saying is that it doesn't contradict evolution. As such, it can't be used as an objection to the theory of evolution.

The problem is, you're trying to say more than this. You are trying to use your argument, even if this IS your argument, to justify the claim that all reasonable people should accept evolution and denounce intelligent design.

You appear to be reading more into what I'm saying than what's there. I'm not saying anything at all about whether or not a reasonable person should accept intelligent design. It would be absurd to argue that one either way, because there's no way to determine the truth of it. I am saying that if one accepts intelligent design, then one can draw certain conclusions about the designer, depending on how closely one conjectures the design matches the intentions of the designer.

I'm also saying that intelligent design, even if correct, is not something that falls within the realm of science, because it doesn't make any testable predictions. As such, it's orthogonal to evolution, and anyone who claims otherwise probably doesn't understand what science is really all about.

[ Parent ]

Two things (none / 0) (#899)
by trhurler on Mon May 02, 2005 at 10:38:21 PM EST

First of all, what if the designer in question simply set things in motion, knew roughly where they'd end up(via some evolution-ish process,) but didn't intervene? We could, after all, be an experiment:)

Second, regarding science: when Einstein first published his papers on relativity, it was impossible to disprove. It took years before it moved into the realm of "real science." Nevertheless, he turned out to be right. Discounting something because it doesn't meet a technical requirement that's tied to our present level of knowledge is really foolish.

Personally, I think evolution is pretty obviously real in at least the broadest sense. However, even though I don't believe it, I cannot rule out the possibility that evolution didn't simply "happen," but was given a little shove along the way.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Intelligent Design doesn't predict anything... (none / 0) (#917)
by kcbrown on Mon May 02, 2005 at 11:43:14 PM EST

First of all, what if the designer in question simply set things in motion, knew roughly where they'd end up(via some evolution-ish process,) but didn't intervene? We could, after all, be an experiment:)

Oh, that's absolutely a possibility, but in that case it would be hard to argue that we are exactly what the designer "intended" except perhaps in the broadest of terms. :-)

Second, regarding science: when Einstein first published his papers on relativity, it was impossible to disprove. It took years before it moved into the realm of "real science." Nevertheless, he turned out to be right. Discounting something because it doesn't meet a technical requirement that's tied to our present level of knowledge is really foolish.

Well, there's a fundamental difference between Einstein's theory of relativity and the "intelligent designer" idea. The difference is that relativity has always been possible to disprove in principle, if not always in practice. That difference is due to the fact that relativity makes predictions. It happens that those predictions differ from those of the prevailing theory of the time (Newtonian physics), so it's possible to determine which is more accurate. And measurements prove relativity to be a more correct model of the universe than Newtonian mechanics. The "intelligent designer" idea, on the other hand, makes no predictions at all. You can't test an idea if it doesn't make any predictions, and that's fundamentally what this all comes down to. It's why "intelligent design" isn't science, no matter what its proponents might claim.

However, even though I don't believe it, I cannot rule out the possibility that evolution didn't simply "happen," but was given a little shove along the way.

Sure, that's possible. But how would you test it? How could you possibly tell the difference between evolution simply happening and it being given a little shove? If you can't answer that question even in principle, then you can't call the question one of science.

[ Parent ]

That depends (none / 0) (#1051)
by trhurler on Wed May 04, 2005 at 01:22:28 AM EST

Creationism makes no disprovable claims, but ID might or might not, depending on who the designer is. If the designer is supernatural, claims may or may not be testable(we don't know.) If the designer is natural(aliens, Mother Brain, etc,) then clearly we CAN in principle find out whether it exists. The question of its existence would then be a matter of scientific discovery.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Suppose the designer in question is an alien... (none / 0) (#1058)
by kcbrown on Wed May 04, 2005 at 06:27:27 AM EST

How then, in principle, would you disprove that the designer in question exists? And more to the point, how would you disprove that any designer influenced the forms of life on earth today? What specific, measurable traits of life would distinguish "designed" life from "undesigned" life?

For a theory to be disprovable in principle, it has to make concrete predictions of the form "if you go look at X, you should see Y", where Y is the phenomenon predicted by the theory and is a side-effect of the workings of the theory. The ability to look at X should be possible at least in principle.

Relativity made such predictions. It predicted, for instance, that the path of light would be changed as a result of gravitational influence, as well as how much it would be changed. This prediction was made before any observations of such things were made. When such observations were made a couple of years later, the prediction was confirmed. The prediction itself was testable: if observation showed no such bending of light, or showed an amount different than what was predicted, then relativity would have been disproven.

Are there any such predictions made by any "intelligent design" hypotheses, of the form "go look at X and you should see Y"? I've heard of none. Saying "for the alien ID hypothesis to be true, you should eventually find aliens!" isn't a valid prediction, because (a) it doesn't tell you where to look, (b) it doesn't tell you what particular traits the aliens are supposed to have that would allow you to distinguish them as designers versus non-designer, and (c) failure to find aliens at any given point in time doesn't automatically mean that they don't exist (and so the "prediction" fails the "testability" test).

As I said earlier, the problem with ID is that it doesn't make any concrete, testable predictions. There's nothing about ID that sets it apart from other working theories that would allow one to distinguish between it and other working theories based on the evidence itself, because ID in all the forms I've seen proposed matches every possible set of evidence, as is characteristic of a "theory" that claims to explain something but really doesn't.

[ Parent ]

Well, (none / 0) (#1064)
by trhurler on Wed May 04, 2005 at 10:58:14 AM EST

I would say that the problem is that you want your hypotheses to be disprovable in your lifetime. Face it: given a long enough time, the existence of ANYTHING is disprovable. :)

I see your point, but the problem is that you're trying to use epistemological trickery to dismiss an argument solely because you don't like it. I don't particularly like it either, and where it took several years to reach any kind of evidence regarding relativity, it might take many lifetimes to obtain real evidence regarding any aliens at all, let alone any who might have designed us. There is a difference between "inconceivably difficult" and "impossible," and it is a huge difference.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
You are missing the point... (none / 0) (#1090)
by benna on Wed May 04, 2005 at 04:42:00 PM EST

Its not a matter of whether its practical to test the theory.  It just has be possible in theory.  Intelligent Design is not.
-
"It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists." -Ludwig Wittgenstein
[ Parent ]
Um (none / 0) (#1105)
by trhurler on Wed May 04, 2005 at 06:26:48 PM EST

No, you're missing the point. Depending on the details, intelligent design MAY BE disprovable, or may not be. It is trivial to come up with variations that are or aren't. The former are generally not all that interesting, but might be true anyway. The latter are essentially variations on creationism.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
I don't think you quite see my point... (none / 0) (#1111)
by kcbrown on Wed May 04, 2005 at 07:41:15 PM EST

There's a difference between proving something and disproving something, and the requirements differ for each.

In the general case, existence can be proven trivially by observation, but cannot be disproven except via contradiction (that is, only when the existence of something has certain preconditions that must be met and which are, themselves, testable).

More specific predictions can be disproven by showing that what is predicted does not match what is observed.

I'm not at all attempting to use any sort of trickery here. The methods of science demand that the hypotheses it evaluates make specific predictions that can be tested. Hypotheses must be falsifiable -- it's a prerequisite for the hypothesis to be considered "scientific". Sorry, but that's the way it is. And there's good reason for it too. Without such a requirement, you could claim any idea to be "scientific", and there'd be no way to truly determine the truth or falsehood of it. Science would lose its usefulness as a result.

The reason it would lose its usefulness is that many theories build upon other, well-tested theories. Unless the foundation is solid, what is built up cannot hope to stand. If you remove the falsifiability requirement, many of the "theories" that would be added would not (and could not) be as solidly grounded as the ones that have stood the test of time in the scientific community. And additional theories built upon them would be equally unsound.

Saying that something is not scientific is not the same thing as saying it's impossible! It's important to realize that. "Intelligent Design", of whatever flavor, could be correct. But it's not science, because it's not testable in a way that science requires. If that fact somehow lessens the "intelligent design" notion, well, it's only because of the insanely good track record that science has built up for itself -- precisely because science insists on falsifiability.

[ Parent ]

does it? (none / 0) (#1107)
by speek on Wed May 04, 2005 at 06:40:03 PM EST

"the theory of evolution predicts that many/most of the mechanisms of life will be hacked together kludges that work 'well enough'

Can you show me where someone formally derives such a conclusion from the theory of evolution? It seems rather a big assumption to me. I'm not really sure there are a whole lot of predictions made from the theory of evolution, but there seems to be a lot of "oh, look what I found! And hey, I can fit it in..."

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

I think it naturally falls out of it... (none / 0) (#1203)
by kcbrown on Sat May 07, 2005 at 01:12:05 AM EST

Can you show me where someone formally derives such a conclusion from the theory of evolution? It seems rather a big assumption to me.

I was under the impression that it naturally comes about as a result of the combination of single-gene mutation (which is the most likely kind, I believe) and the fact that not every trait is under the same amount of selective pressure.

Basically, selective pressure eases once the trait in question is "good enough" (which can happen for a number of reasons, such as the environment changing such that the selective pressure in question becomes less important, or the competition from other species that was responsible for the selective pressure suddenly disappearing, etc.) and certain types of selective pressure will cause compromises to be made (see, e.g., sickle cell anemia) that wouldn't be if multiple variables could more easily be manipulated simultaneously.

Also keep in mind that one general consequence of evolution is the "localized maximum" phenomenon. That is, there almost always has to be a path from where you are to where you're going (because single-gene mutation means you take one step at a time, effectively), which means that you'll almost always climb an adjacent mountain to gain altitude (comparative advantage) rather than suddenly jump to a completely different mountain. If the completely different mountain is much higher than it represents more evolutionary potential, but that probably won't do you any good if it's not adjacent to you, because it's effectively unavailable without some relatively low-probability event occuring (the right multiple-gene mutation).

I think Dawkins talks about all this in "The Blind Watchmaker", but I haven't read that book in quite some time, so it'll take me some time to dig up the argument and the references supporting it, assuming I can find the book at all...

While Dawkins may be rather anti-religion, keep in mind that it doesn't make his basic arguments in support of evolution any less valid.

[ Parent ]

pontificating on the brain (none / 1) (#722)
by esrever on Mon May 02, 2005 at 12:08:13 AM EST

For a well-designed human eye, there'd be an eye control center in the brain, and it would send a single nerve to control the eye's muscles.

Really?  Designed a lot of brains lately, have we?  Arranged for sentience in a computer program?  Done anything at all that advances us closer to understanding what consciousnous really is and how it arises from our physical components?  No?  I didn't think so.


Audit NTFS permissions on Windows
[ Parent ]

Now here's something we can sorta agree on (none / 1) (#733)
by benna on Mon May 02, 2005 at 12:25:54 AM EST

I think the mind-body problem is a fascinating one.  Still, I think its more philosophical than scientific.  My best guess (which is philosophical and not scientific in nature) is that physical matter and consciousness are both aspects of some neutral substance (meaning to stand under).  Its really one of the most interesting things a human can think about in my opinion.  You may take me to be a cold atheist, but I'll tell you, what i've learned from meditation and philosophy has been just as useful to me.
-
"It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists." -Ludwig Wittgenstein
[ Parent ]
Oh, we now have to be designers of brains ... (none / 0) (#766)
by tilly on Mon May 02, 2005 at 01:35:27 AM EST

to have permission to comment on human anatomy.

[ Parent ]
don't be a prick (none / 1) (#924)
by esrever on Mon May 02, 2005 at 11:55:30 PM EST

He made a statement of fact:

For a well-designed human eye, there'd be an eye control center in the brain, and it would send a single nerve to control the eye's muscles.

And I called him on it.  Anything else is just hot air.

Audit NTFS permissions on Windows
[ Parent ]

No, jerk, that was a statement of opinion - nt (none / 0) (#969)
by tilly on Tue May 03, 2005 at 04:19:06 PM EST



[ Parent ]
reading for comprehension failing you again? (none / 1) (#970)
by esrever on Tue May 03, 2005 at 05:03:55 PM EST


The nerves that control the eye are likewise goofy. For a well-designed human eye, there'd be an eye control center in the brain, and it would send a single nerve to control the eye's muscles. But that's not how it works. The eye is aimed by several different cranial nerves that originate from different places. Pupil contraction is activated by a cranial nerve. But for pupil dilation, a nerve exits the spinal cord at the base of the neck, runs up along the carotid artery, and finally makes it to the eye. It's a hideous mess that sort of holds together.

He's stating his opinion as if it were fact.

I called him on it.

Moron.

Audit NTFS permissions on Windows
[ Parent ]

looks like the work of humans, actually (none / 0) (#1106)
by speek on Wed May 04, 2005 at 06:36:18 PM EST

Perhaps you're not familiar with the ungodly designs most programmers leave behind?

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

The eye is easy (none / 1) (#229)
by Blarney on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 04:31:08 AM EST

There are some things that intuitively seem difficult to be produced via small changes, but the eyeball is not one of them. It's pretty understandable.

Light-sensitive skin - you admit that as being known. Surely you don't find the idea of a pucker developing underneath the light-sensitive spot too unreasonable? Up to a certain limit, the deeper the pucker the more directional the light sensitivity will become. Similarly, were the edges of the pucker to partially enclose, still more directionality would be possible - and even some limited resolution of images, due to the well-known principle of the pinhole lens.

For this pucker to be covered by a membrane in order that, say, dirt and glop won't get collected in there causing loss of functionality and possibly fatal infection - natural selection can do that.

And finally, for the membrane to slightly thicken in the center to form a crude focusing lens - allowing resolution of a detailed image - natural selection could explain this as a matter of incremental improvements as well.

So it's not difficult to explain by natural selection at all, except to those who deliberately seek to multiply difficulties with the theory of natural selection. What good is half an eyeball? A physically sliced eyeball is useless. But an eyeball with half its components is still something. It's about having "half" the functional pieces, not about actually being sliced into hemispheres as some advocates seem to imply....

SO...., you imply that some contradictory evidence to this model has been found. Where is it? I have full access to thousands of electronic journals from the comfort of my own home. I also have access to a well-stocked academic library with interlibrary loan privileges. I might even have some money to spend on Amazon. So .... where is it?

Yes, there are gaps in the fossil record. This is not at all a means of falsifying evolution - as I'm sure you're aware - and, in fact, is more of a rhetorical trick than anything. It is truly an inexhaustable fount for deniers, as not every single living thing ever has left a fossil.

So we hear "where are the transitional forms?", and perhaps a particular complaint "no transitional form between X and Y has been found!" Now, suppose a transitional form Z is found. Sure enough, we will hear the cry "no transitional forms between X and Z or between Z and Y have been found!" It goes on and on, never stopping, cannot be falsified.



[ Parent ]

Er... (none / 1) (#383)
by trhurler on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 07:32:51 PM EST

First of all, you're vastly oversimplifying the structure of the eye. Take an anatomy text and try and do your step by step again in a believable way. Good luck.

Second, regarding the fossil record: the problem is not so much that we don't have the ENTIRE record of the development of, say, the eye, but that we have NONE of it. We have some primitive light sensitive skin type things, and we have eyeballs, and that's IT. We have all sorts of wildly improbable things, like whole dinosaur eggs with their insides fossilized in perfect detail. If these proto-eyeballs ever existed, where is any evidence at all?

Understand: I think we'll find that evidence. I believe in evolution myself. BUT, I do not think that the people who make the leap from "I believe" to "this is Truth[tm]" can claim that their beliefs are based in science. Science does not do Truth[tm]. That's religion.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
kinds of eyeballs (none / 0) (#418)
by Blarney on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 11:20:30 PM EST

Too bad that I'm not a biologist. I still would welcome any pointers to real, serious work regarding the evolution of the eye. Have you any? I mean, either you just decided that the standard, glib, barnapkin explanation I bullshitted up in my last post is wrong all by yourself - which would lead to a rather neat discussion, and we could just have that while the darwinfishies and crosswavers have at theirs - or you actually read something that totally blew that explanation away, in which case, I want to read it!

It would be awesome if there were creatures walking around with partially-designed eyeballs, but this is a problem with evolution - that we can't just run it over again. Does make it hard to falsify in SOME respects, yes. My personal opinion is that evolution is "just a theory", but that ID/Creationism is even less than that!

So yeah, I was trying to say, no living thing has had less evolution than any other, none is more primitive in any real sense, there is no "ladder of being" as the Victorian biologists would have had it. We don't have anything walking around with partially unevolved eyes, and such soft parts make really lousy fossils... yes, the occasional soft fossil is found. But they are rare. Even the semifossilized "hobbit" bones have pretty much fallen to bits from people playing with them, too bad.

Anyway, we have several types of finished eyeballs which almost certainly are branches of an evolutionary tree, not a linear pathway - the insect eye, as well as the superficially similar mollusk and vertebrate eyes which have completely different layout and ... I guess you might call it wiring. And there are, in fact, varying types of squid eye with different degrees of sophistication that might well match a gradualistic evolutionary theory - and , yes, the common vertebrate eye, all finished and complete and totally missing transitional forms leading up to it, but the vertebrate eye is not the whole truth of eyes.

This makes me hungry. Maybe I'll go buy a frozen squid and look at the eyes carefully before eating it.

[ Parent ]

Postmodernism--everybody's doing it (2.00 / 4) (#183)
by MarlysArtist on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 11:02:48 PM EST

It's sort of interesting how postmodernism's attack on the 'master narratives' of our lives have now been taken up by folks on the 'right.' When sociologists of science, following Thomas Kuhn's work began demonstrating how science was "socially constructed," I'm not certain they envisioned Dover School Board's resolution.

Or should we draw from this that perhaps religion, in oppostion to the systems of scientocracy and technocracy Lewis Mumford called the 'megamachine,' is now migrating to the left? Are Al Queda, the Chechen rebellion, liberation theology, and various red-states grassroots movements(yes, kids, right-wingers can be grassroots too. Not all of 'em are bankers) movements that are now advocating 'down with the meta-narrative!' all examples of a some sort of post-new-left or new-new-left? Are the terms "left" and "right" even helpful anymore? How about local communities, including Native Americans (all over the Americas) who wish to have rights to extract resources in defiance of environmental policy and often laid down by governments, under pressure from national or multinational advocacy groups? These folks all want truth (and power) kept local, not as some supersystem of knowledge that makes either right or wrong, whether you live in Nepal or Naples. Meanwhile, what are we to make of Michael Crichton's attack on 'Global Warming' theory? Wow, and all of us who still say "Go science!" or "Go capitalism!" or "Workers of the world unite!" and "Save the whales!" find ourselves next to each other in the trenches. We defend the idea of a 'big democracy' (or proletarian dictatorship, however you like) supported by a 'big technocracy' of experts?

The Cold War is truly over. Now, it's those who wish to save the house that Louis XIV, Karl Marx, Franklin Roosevelt, and Mao Tse Tung built (The nation-state? The Capitalist World System? International Worker's Movements? Or even meta-states like the EU?), against those who would rather leave, get their own apartment, and live as they damned please. Wow, this is exciting!

Marly's Artist

"Never ask 'oh, why were things so much better in the old days?' It's not an intellegent question" --Ecclesiastes, 7:10

that was really cool. (none / 0) (#353)
by spooked on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 05:10:01 PM EST

like, really cool.

Seriously.
[ Parent ]
So spooked, (none / 1) (#428)
by MarlysArtist on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 01:21:26 AM EST

Start us off. Which side are you on? The producers, consumers and protectors of civilization as the early Mesopotamians (Iraqis) taught us, or the new, 'post-historic' society that rejects the whole 'civilization' project as someone else's idea?

For the record, I'm essentially with the Sumerians. Sure, agriculture, division of labor, and linear time have caused their fair share of disasters, but frankly, systems are neat. Wading through the oatmeal of 'local truths' is like trying to drive across-country off the highway. Sure, it's liberal-chic, and at first the local scenery and getting to pooh-pooh the fast-food megachains seems fun, but by late evening you're tired of every damned stoplight, slow farm-truck and blind corner, and really could go for the mass-produced burger you know.

On a different note, I'm thoroughly underwhelmed by how little discussion on Kuro5hin there is of the 'science wars' and even the newer 'technology wars.' I get the sense that generally most people here feel that science and technology are essentially neutral entities, and contain no 'built-in' politics. It's evil, mustachioed villans who use technology to evil ends. That amazes me. The latest poll contains "Joseph Schumpeter," but not EF Schumaker ('Small is Beautiful), or Lewis Mumford (Technics and Civilization) or Rachel Carson (Silent Spring?) Come on, people, these aren't just academic types. Considering half of Kuro5hin's readership probably reads the 'New Yorker,' (Now why would I think that?) I'm surprised they haven't come up.

Marly's Artist

"Never ask 'oh, why were things so much better in the old days?' It's not an intellegent question" --Ecclesiastes, 7:10
[ Parent ]

As it stands, (none / 1) (#597)
by spooked on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 03:26:24 PM EST

I'm a very torn transhuman. Large parts of my ethos clamor for a fourwave technocratic revolution to solve problems of wealth and class. It would allow everyone to go and build his or her own little cell of culture and insulated it against everyone else. Unfortunately, that's just my own suppressed idealism because wouldn't this next technological revolution end up the same as all the others? With some aristocracy controlling it, things would not change, except that we'd be cursing the patent owners isn't of the land owners and rulers.

What is wrong with living, dying and goat herding? What is so undesirable about living close to the land without subjugating it? Is the last eight thousand years actually progress or are we a civilization in free fall?

I really have no idea but small is beautiful.

Seriously.
[ Parent ]
It's a dilemma (none / 1) (#602)
by MarlysArtist on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 04:00:55 PM EST

While I'm not certain I can call this civilization thing 'progress' either, I guess I must heed the painfully facile yet resilient question that if living close to the land in a hunter-gatherer-semipastoralist nomad mode of production was the better way, why did people depart from it?

After all, tools specialized as weapons predate sedentary agriculture, so war was a fact of life, as it is now. We could say that it didn't have such enormous potential for destruction, but when one's world is as small as a band of people, say, under a hundred in a close clan- and kinship-network, a single raid by an another group can be just as devestating. When one counts natural disasters as another possible devestation, having a resilient infrastructure seems once again attractive.

Is civilization nothing more than an attempt to avoid taking a severe beating, psychosocially and materially? If so, at best it can only claim to have barely fulfilled that goal, and it remains to be seen, given the creation of superweapons, that it won't betray us all in the end.

My other fear about 'localism' is that it is too late to institute it. Ironically, it empowers the very worst in its opposite, globalism. Multinationals have for decades been making something (say, tennis shoes) mean good, prestigious, quality, capability, potency, and freedom in one area, and poverty, subordination, exploitation and pollution in another. When such relativism falls into the wrong hands (as I think it increasingly has), it can be just as dangerous and oppressive as any system built by Pharoah, the Sun King, or Pol Pot. So long as people are local and divided, they can be exploited by those who have formed networks. Further, critics of their networks have little ground to stand on in a relativistic ethical sphere.

Gloomy thoughts. Are we destined to live with systems as the necessary evils that protect us from the systems others would impose on us? Another facile question that refuses to leave us complacent.

Marly's Artist

"Never ask 'oh, why were things so much better in the old days?' It's not an intellegent question" --Ecclesiastes, 7:10
[ Parent ]

Initial Conditions (none / 1) (#187)
by mister slim on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 11:10:14 PM EST

I don't see how differences of opinion about the initial conditions of our universe impacts evolution as a theory.
__

"Fucking sheep, the lot of you. Yeah, and your little dogs too." -Rogerborg

Well it impacts evolution as a theory if... (none / 1) (#190)
by parrillada on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 11:21:44 PM EST

...the initial conditions of our universe happened 5000 years ago.

[ Parent ]
Just out of whimsy, (2.87 / 8) (#198)
by Kasreyn on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:08:37 AM EST

Now it is all clear. The intelligent design movement is an attempt to bring Creationism back into the schools, something that has been outlawed by the Supreme Court, due to its violation of the separation between church and state.

...is this statement falsifiable? ;)

I think we can't really *prove* anything about the motivations of those pushing Intelligent Design, but I agree that you've struck upon their most likely aim.

The sad thing is, using a scientific argument to point out the flaws in Intelligent Design is futile; these people deny the validity of the scientific process entirely (or else they misunderstand it), and so, from their viewpoint, your argument will seem ridiculous and ineffectual.

For one thing, they will be totally unimpressed by any mention of computer simulations. Because obviously you can't trust anything you read on a computer screen!!1!

Eh. If I had a kid I'd home-school it, even if Intelligent Design were buried tomorrow. I don't appreciate the lying propaganda they disseminate under the name "History".


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
Computer systems that model life (none / 0) (#224)
by sellison on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 04:08:18 AM EST

really rather prove intelligent design, don't you think?

Or do you believe computers spring from random interactions between pieces of mud?

It's not like that would be suprising as you evolution cultists believe much more complicated things than computers came from there...

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush
[ Parent ]

Depends on what you mean by Intelligent Design. (none / 0) (#239)
by Kasreyn on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 06:53:57 AM EST

If you're asking whether computers were designed by intelligence, I'd say there's some good evidence for that.

If you're asking whether the universe was designed by an intelligence whose own origin is totally unexplained, then I think you're mixing two subjects needlessly.

Unless, of course, you believe in the turtle theory.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Weren't you the one (none / 0) (#547)
by sellison on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 12:06:32 AM EST

who brought up a software program as evidence for evolution?

Obviously, if life like patterns can 'evolve' in a device built by intelligence, it is evidence that intelligence is necessary for life.

Hello.

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush
[ Parent ]

you miss the point entirly (none / 0) (#548)
by benna on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 12:50:20 AM EST

The point is that anything that can reproduce can evolve complex functions.  The initial reproducion part can definatly be explained without god.  Its really not all that surpising that over the long history of the earth with the huge amount of matter it contains, some of it became reproducing molecules, and from there, its just a matter of natural selection.  And don't try to tell me how impossible it is for some bacteria to come togeather completly randomly.  Thats not waht I mean by molecule.
-
"It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists." -Ludwig Wittgenstein
[ Parent ]
Actually it is very unlikely (none / 0) (#553)
by sellison on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 01:50:04 AM EST

Dr. Michael Behe, a great mathematician, has in fact proven that forming the species via random chance is beyond wildly improbable.

In fact his numbers show that one would need far longer than even the farthest out cosmologists claim the universe has been around for simple life forms to have "evolved".

But you don't know this because the truth has been actively suppressed by the "scientific" community--who are really part of a cult attempting to prostelitize secular humanism on the poor unsuspecting children in our (Christian taxpayer funded!) schools.

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush
[ Parent ]

Care to provide some of that proof here? (none / 0) (#576)
by vadim on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 09:40:24 AM EST

From googling around, all that I can find is evidence that he's a crackpot. Besides that, he's actually a biochemist and mainly an ID advocate. Don't see mentions of him being a mathematician anywhere.

I don't see how you claim that his ideas are suppressed - I can find plenty information about them.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

He's a biochem prof. (none / 0) (#595)
by sellison on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 02:48:06 PM EST

but his falsification of evolution is solidly based on math.

Behe's premise (in lay terms):

When Darwin made his propositions, he did not know the degree of complexity involved in life's molecular systems. Now, we know that such systems are extremely intricate. Author Michael Behe says that many of these systems show "irreducible complexity." That means that if any one of the many components is removed, then the system breaks down. This goes against a basic idea of evolutionary theory. This idea says that systems start out in a simple form, and then, driven by natural selection, gradually get better and better. In contrast, irreducible complexity says that the system is useless until it reaches, or comes close to its final form. Thus, natural selection could not drive evolution "from scratch." A reasonable alternative is that intelligent design accounts for complex biological systems.
More.

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush
[ Parent ]

He's been debunked many times (none / 0) (#598)
by vadim on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 03:40:49 PM EST

And, indeed, when Darwin made his propositions he didn't know about the complexity. But here's the thing, he didn't need to, because it's irrelevant!

You can say whatever you want about how you consider things to be complicated, but if evolution happens despite the complexity then well, it happens.

Behe's idea of complexity from what I can see is mostly based on his own idea of complexity and not something to make sense. For example, to take his idea of a mousetrap, you can get rid of the base - assemble it on the floor.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

Yes (none / 0) (#600)
by sellison on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 03:54:07 PM EST

assemble it on the floor.

A 'better' mousetrap by Intelligent Design, precisely.

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush
[ Parent ]

Reverse that (none / 0) (#601)
by vadim on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 03:59:08 PM EST

The initial version of the mousetrap was on the floor. Then it "evolved" and gained a base.

His argument is that a mousetrap can't work without one of the components - such as the base, but it can: by using a base from the environment.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

The floor is not natural (none / 0) (#606)
by sellison on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 05:33:26 PM EST

nor is moving it to a base.

All your examples involve and Intelligent Designer improving a system.

The point is not that mousetrap made a quantum leap from the floor to the integrated base, the point is that between the floor and the base, while it moved from one to the other by "random accumulation of mutations" it would not work.

Of course once the Designer unscrews it from the floor and screws it to a base, it works, because between the floor and the base it was in His hands.

It's precisely these jumps between one functioning system to another than evolution cannot explain.

ID can and does.

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush
[ Parent ]

The trap's not irreducibly complex. (none / 0) (#608)
by Another Scott on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 06:05:00 PM EST

A reducibly complex mousetrap:

It is not my purpose here to point out all of the philosophical flaws in Behe's argument; this has been done thoroughly in many of the resources collected on John Catalano's excellent web page and on the talk.origins FAQ; you should also take a look at Ken Miller's refutations of Behe's biochemical examples. Instead, I wish to point out that the mousetrap that Behe uses as an analogy CAN be reduced in complexity and still function as a mousetrap. The mousetrap illustrates one of the fundamental flaws in the intelligent design argument: the fact that one person can't imagine something doesn't mean it is impossible, it may just mean that the person has a limited imagination. Behe's evidence that biochemical pathways are intelligently designed is that Behe can't imagine how they could function without all of their parts, but given how easy it is to reduce the complexity of a mousetrap, I'm not convinced.

[...]

The last trap resembles a modern snap mousetrap. The trap could still be used if the platform was removed; the remaining parts would have to be stapled to the floor instead of the wooden platform. All of the other parts--spring, hammer, hold-down bar, catch, and staples--would seem to be "irreducible," in the sense that removing them would prevent the trap from working as a mousetrap. However, I hope I have shown here that first impressions about what are the necessary parts of a complicated mechanism can be misleading. A complicated snap mousetrap can be built up by adding or modifying one part at a time, with each addition or modification increasing the efficiency of the mousetrap. Each newly added part is optional at first, and could be removed without destroying the function. However, modifications to the new parts or to other parts make the new parts necessary to the mousetrap function.

Complexity can naturally increase over time when it improves the ability of the animal to pass its genes on to its children - in other words, via natural selection. That's the important part that you seem not to understand.

You're beating a dead horse, sellison. Behe's arguments have been refuted many times in many different ways. They don't stand up to scrutiny.

HTH.

Cheers,
Scott.

[ Parent ]

You lose (none / 0) (#609)
by vadim on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 06:11:26 PM EST

You clearly accepted that a mousetrap can exist without a base - which clearly shows that your original idea about it being irreducibly complex was wrong, and that there was never any to begin with. You simply weren't imaginative enough.

--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]
Only if the Designer is involved (none / 0) (#610)
by sellison on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 08:25:23 PM EST

maybe you can't see this becaue of the brainwashing of your cult, but your arguments are based on Intelligent Designer: He can make a mousetrap without a base, yes of course. He can do anything. You can make a mousetrap withouth a base, becase He gave you an intelligent brain.

The mousetrap cannot make itself work without a base, which is the the argument.

Do you see now? Making the mousetrap with or without a base requires a Designer to make the interim steps.

You lose

The sad thing is you're trying to win rather than understand the science. Which is a big part of the problem with the evolution cult: your egos are all wrapped up in the "rightness" of your ideas, so much so that you can't even see the wrongs in them.

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush
[ Parent ]

Yawn (none / 0) (#613)
by vadim on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 08:40:20 PM EST

On what planet were you born? Every living organism on earth doesn't exist by itself. It needs the environment.

Or do you claim to live without food and oxygen? Taking something from the environment to perform a function is nothing new.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

You miss the point (none / 0) (#653)
by sellison on Sun May 01, 2005 at 04:31:22 PM EST

evolution can't account for the interim stages, between relying on the base and the floor, when the creature can no longer rely on either.

Note that you have assumed that when giving up the base, the mousetrap has devised a means to attach itself to the floor, this is where the Designer must come in, to build the means of attaching the mousetrap to the floor before removing the mousetrap from the base.

For if the mousetrap is a living thing, it cannot live withour either the floor or it's base, and yet it would have to for a while according to evolution.

Anyway, it's this sort of speculation divorsed from fact that is common in evolution: lets imagine this and lets assume that, and if all these imaginings and all these assumptions are correct, then we have the theory of evolution. But that is all they are, imaginings and assumptions, not testable facts, which is why evolution is really a cult based on fantasy stories, like Lord of the Rings, not a science.

It is ironic and symptomatic of the problem that those poor diseased dwarfs who's sad remains were found recently were named 'hobbits'.

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush
[ Parent ]

Did you read the article? (none / 0) (#655)
by benna on Sun May 01, 2005 at 05:01:11 PM EST

You should.  It dismantles Behe's bullshit.  The mousetrap isn't even a good analogy.  Its not even worth explaining.
-
"It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists." -Ludwig Wittgenstein
[ Parent ]
You should read the article (none / 0) (#623)
by benna on Sun May 01, 2005 at 01:20:33 AM EST

First of all, Behe is a biologist.  Dembski ID mathematician.  Behe's argument isn't perticularly mathematical.  Its about whether certain biological systems could work without all of their parts.  What other people are saying about the mousetrap example, is really beside the point.  What Behe completly ignores is that the function of a biological system, or parts of a biolical system, can change over time.  What at one point might be useful for one thing, might evolve and become useful for another thing.  Really I went over all of this in the article.  I spent most of the beginning of the article refuting Behe.  He's full of shit.  Now, you also referenced an argument over abiogenesis, which was not in fact made by behe, but others.  That argument is equally false.  Please, please, please, I beg of you, read this page: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/abioprob.html.  I swear to you, that if you are really seeking the truth based on logic, it will show you that the proboblity calculations are all very very wrong.  If, on the other hand, you prefer to believe in god, thats fine.  I really have nothing against faith.  What I dispise, is faith masquerading as science.
-
"It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists." -Ludwig Wittgenstein
[ Parent ]
Logic (none / 0) (#1238)
by Western Infidels on Tue May 10, 2005 at 11:48:37 AM EST

...if life like patterns can 'evolve' in a device built by intelligence, it is evidence that intelligence is necessary for life.

If A can lead to B, then A is required to get to B? I hope you don't really think that way. There is a difference between "if" and "if and only if."

[ Parent ]

Why? (none / 1) (#241)
by vadim on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 07:20:33 AM EST

I don't see how our ability to build stuff implies that we were in turn designed by something else. You get an infinite chain that way - who designs the designer?

But since we're talking about computers, take a look at Conway's Game of Life. The computer only provides an environment. An extremely simple one in fact, which you could easily simulate yourself.

However, the interesting thing is that very complex stuff happens in Conway's Game of Life that arises simply from the interactions between the cells. It's Turing-complete, which means that given enough power you could calculate anything you wanted with it.

While you could argue that it's designed, I'd say it really isn't. Nobody coded spinners, gliders and guns into it, yet they appeared all by themselves from the very simple rules it implements.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

Life is a *great* example (none / 1) (#244)
by Kasreyn on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 08:00:09 AM EST

The only problem is, the only people who will believe you when you say you didn't code guns and spinners etc., into it, are the people who already trust what you have to say anyway, thus evolutionists.

To a creationist, it makes a lot more sense to believe that a godless computer programmer is lying about how he wrote his program, than to believe that the bible and christian tradition are wrong about the origin of life. It's not even a contest. Now, if that creationist could read the source code, maybe you could convince them. ;)


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
sadness (none / 0) (#272)
by saskwach on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:33:54 PM EST

I go to a tech school, where I'm majoring in electrical and computer engineering. Needless to say, I'm fully aware of how thoroughly designed computers are. Anyway, the scary part is that I know personally two people within my major (3rd and 4th year) who believe in creationism, or at least deny evolution as a sound theory. Now, I personally do not see any conflict between what the Torah says (yes, I'm a dirty jew) and what Darwin wrote. In fact, I believe he credited God with designing such a great system, just like Conway designed an amazing system. But I'm getting off topic. My point is that I know people who can read and understand the code behind Conway's amazing little game and still will argue ID or creationism.

[ Parent ]
Core problem (none / 0) (#661)
by Dyolf Knip on Sun May 01, 2005 at 06:53:14 PM EST

That's why faith in anything is such a terrible thing.  People refuse to give it up.  They'll do terrible, monstrous things, they'll kill, rape, and pillage, they'll bring their entire environment down around their heads before they give up their faith.  And absolutely no amount of argument, evidence, or proof will ever convince them otherwise.  When someone has faith that you are the enemy and need to be killed, there's nothing you can do but buy a gun, install a security system, and keep 911 on speed dial.

2+2=5 is nothing compared to the kind of double-think people like the ones you've described have to go through to maintain their faith.

So I must ask you, if there was a conflict between the Torah and something discovered in the Real World, something that absolutely cannot be resolved with semantic mischief, which one gives way first?

---
If you can't learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly.

Dyolf Knip
[ Parent ]

Try going to Arches National Park sometime... (3.00 / 2) (#323)
by jreilly on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 04:16:57 PM EST

and checking out the great scenery. As you might expect from the name, there are some quite lovely natural rock formations there. Now, you get a band of people together with some chisels and some big hunks of rock, you might get the same thing. However, these particular rock formations weren't made by sculptors, they were formed by natural erosion over thousands of years.

In short, the possibility of Intelligent Design is by no means a proof of it.

Oooh, shiny...
[ Parent ]
Petroleum Geology (2.75 / 4) (#206)
by pexatus on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:58:18 AM EST

I read once that some significant percentage (20%?) of petroleum geologists, the people who work for oil companies and search for oil fields underground, believe in creationism.

These folks really depend on the ancient earth geological models to do their work. Yet somehow when they go home at the end of the day, they are content to discard all these assumptions about where that oil came from, as if it's all just a convenient fiction to help them out-do their competitors.

i always wondered (2.50 / 2) (#233)
by circletimessquare on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 04:56:22 AM EST

if islamic fundamentalists believe allah rewarded their "good behavior" by putting so much oil on the arabian penninsula

either way, the reverse is certainly true: all that oil is funneling a lot of money into wahhabism


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Suspension of belief (none / 0) (#1173)
by Hillgiant on Thu May 05, 2005 at 04:27:53 PM EST

On a KLM flignt out of Bahrain, I saw a woman dressed in a head to foot A'bia complete with face mask. The moment the pilot turned off the fasten seatbelts sign, she whipped of the A'bia revealing a rather nice pantsuit underneath and orderd a scotch on the rocks. She must have caught me looking at her, because she leaned over and said, "Allah does not fly."

So I guess people who suspend their dissbelief long enough to be religious are just as capable of suspending their belief when it suits them.

-----
"It is impossible to say what I mean." -johnny
[ Parent ]

Assumptions... (none / 0) (#727)
by kerinsky on Mon May 02, 2005 at 12:16:10 AM EST

I might comment that you appear to be right when you point out that people assume that they know where oil comes from.

Thomas Gold, and many russian scientists and geologists hold that pertreol reserves are not in fact the result of a specific type of biological decay, but merely extant upwellings of deposits from the formation of the planet itself.  The only serious work I've been able to find on this in english so far has been Gold's A Deep Hot Biosphere. It's a bit undertechnical in several areas to me, but it's also a very ambitious work with a large scope intended for a general audience so this can perhaps be forgiven.  Compelling and very potentially revolutionary.

-=-
A conclusion is simply the place where you got tired of thinking.
[ Parent ]

as an atheist (2.50 / 8) (#207)
by Roman on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:10:02 AM EST

let me just say this: if I was a god designing a human male I would make a much better human (if I was god of-course.)  Just think about it: what engineer would let a waste pipe run across recreational area?  ;)

And humans wouldn't need sleep, wouldn't have appendixes, would be able to grow new teeth once an old is pulled or falls out as many times as needed, would even allow for regeneration of more complex systems: hands, legs, whatever.  There are plenty of things I would do to humans to make them more indistructable, more powerful, whatever.  I mean - if I was god and building something as bizzare as a human, why would I build it so poorely especially if the humans were to be my own reflections?

Silly god.
--
BTW., we can still do all those things: build a race of atomic superhumans that is.

LOL, "Love has pitched Its tent ... (3.00 / 2) (#238)
by tilly on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 06:44:58 AM EST

... at the place of excrement."

I read that somewhere ...

[ Parent ]

And it's not if... (3.00 / 2) (#262)
by DavidTC on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 11:14:59 AM EST

...it would be difficult to regrow limbs. Reptiles already manage it.

Or teeth. Sharks grow teeth continually and it doesn't seem to hurt them. Imagine, a new set of teeth every few years.

Or falling. Cats can survive falls that would kill a human, of the same size. Now, we all understand that humans are going to hit the ground harder than cats, but our 'falling' instincts works for about four feet and lower, and if we fall from higher than that, lack of injury is due to training or luck.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

Difficult? For a god? (none / 0) (#296)
by Roman on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 02:29:26 PM EST

Nothing is difficult for a god. If I was god and decided to create humans, I would make them live much much longer too.

[ Parent ]
Silly God? (none / 0) (#833)
by Norwegian Blue on Mon May 02, 2005 at 04:35:09 PM EST

If you were to design a God, what would it be like? You're going to leave that up to the fill-in-the-blank? Atheists usually refuse to, since usually atheists are really antitheists. They believe in not-God. Agnostics(doubters) are politically correct antitheists, that's not much different. All firmly embedded in the existing ideas. But for an atheist of the 'visiting tourist' type, "Hey, I'm just visiting!"(which seems a more suitable meaning for a-theist), it's a nice challenge. They don't get upset at a bit of anthropomorphizing here and there, and there is value in it since the surrounding concepts are in heavy use. I know. you didn't see that reply coming.

[ Parent ]
why not (none / 0) (#961)
by Roman on Tue May 03, 2005 at 12:24:42 PM EST

let's design god:

The god is all, so there is nothing beside it in the universe, so it is infinitely big.  I can't express it in physical terms, but purely mathematically speaking god's size approaches infinity.

There is nothing but god, so all the energy that god has is the actual entire amount of energy that exists.  Which also approaches infinity given our first design point.

Since there is only god, it exists in all that there is so dimensions make no sense.  Dimensions only need to be defined for simpler creatures - like humans when those are created.

The god must be fully aware of itself at any point of itself to qualify as god and not as just another emptiness that encompasses everything.  If god is not aware of itself it is not a god but a state of everything.  Without awareness there is no intent. (As an atheist I declare that there is no intent unless proven otherwise conclusively.)

The god must exist always and be aware thus it is bored and insane.  Since it is also almighty within itself (nothing else exists anyway,) and it is indistructable and cannot do one thing only: destroy self, it tries hard to occupy self with such things as masturbation.  I see creation as the ultimate masturbation.  The god creates things because there is nothing to do and it likes creating things more than just hanging there with absolutely nothing to do, so it is 'in love' with its own creations.  All of the creations of the god are part of god of-course and in case of living organisms only exist within the matrix of god but somewhat aware of their seperate selves.  Once an organism dies, it is not aware of itself any longer, but the energy/matter that the organism consists of 'returns' back into the complete matrix of god.  Creation can be looked upon as instantiation of a Virtual Machine (a sand box for running 'universes',) that are seperated from full awareness of god by 'edge' of the universe.

The creations themselves (humans for instance) are just underpowered simulations of god itself, in fact god uses universes as humans use computers to run Sims (computer game,) and have fun that way.

Obviously god found that it is more interesting to create universes that produce 'unexpected' results (cannot have truly random outcome, after all, god is fully aware of itself at any point but in case of a VM Universe choses to sort block out the internal universe signals from itself.)  It is obvious to god that given lots of energy and time a universe will produce life of some sort.  There must be truly bizzare life forms out there in some other universes (god should be able to run multiple VM Universes at the same time no problem.)

If god cared enough to actually engineer humans, it would have done this task perfectly and humans would be perfect, like god (nothing to compare itself to anyway, so anything god is or does is perfect in a sense.)  So god decided not to get too involved and lets the things run by themselves and just occasionally looks at the results without getting involved.  Whatever the new living organisms do to themselves and to other organisms does not matter, at the end it is just a simulation or a game.

---

My personal belief is that there is no awareness in the entity I described here and thus there is no god.  However if humans somehow figure out a way to prove scientifically or at least observe repeatedely that there is a god, I will have to reconsider.  I am not an agnostic though.  Agnostics will say: there is god or there is no god I cannot know.

I say: there is no god unless proven otherwise.

YMMV.

[ Parent ]

From one atheist to another.... (none / 0) (#1145)
by kadambaridevarajan on Thu May 05, 2005 at 04:46:57 AM EST

I can't but agree!

[ Parent ]
and what if ID was true, so what? (2.77 / 9) (#209)
by jcarnelian on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 01:49:29 AM EST

OK, so let's assume for the sake of argument that an intelligent entity created Earth and humans in his image.  Let's be concrete and say it was a bunch of Vogons in their huge spacecraft, and they zapped together a planet around this sun about six thousand years ago.

That's perhaps not the kind of image ID proponents have in mind, but it illustrates the point: why would such beings have any kind of moral authority? Why would we have any special relationship with such beings?  Why would we assume that they are even still around?

According to the Bible, the Christian God has committed murder, genocide, torture, infanticide, and commanded others to do those things on his behalf; he is vengeful, prone to anger, unpredictable, and can be unforgiving.  Why does such an entity deserve our respect and admiration?  You can, of course, say that you buckle under because otherwise you'll be eternally punished, but that's an amoral, pragmatic decision driven by fear of pain and punishment.

Many scientists would find the idea of man being created by extraterrestrials fascinating.  Unfortunately, the closest we have gotten to that is panspermia.

Intelligent design arguments are not about intelligent design; if science actually identified an intelligent entity responsible for the creation of man, earth, or the universe, they'd denounce that as materialistic just as much as they denounce current science as materialistic.  What this is really about is power: churches are losing power to science, and people who can't cut it in the sciences (most people) don't like it.

In other news today: (3.00 / 7) (#263)
by DavidTC on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 11:35:04 AM EST

Intelligent design arguments are not about intelligent design; if science actually identified an intelligent entity responsible for the creation of man, earth, or the universe, they'd denounce that as materialistic just as much as they denounce current science as materialistic.

Today scientists at CMU have identified the creator of the universe as one James McCoy, an apparently 43-year old resident of New Mexico who works at a local auto repair shop, although in actuality he is several billion years old. The pieces came together when they realized he did not operate according to the accepted laws of physics, and existed outside the universe.

At which point McCoy admitted that he was not a human being, but the creator of the universe, which he demostrated by creating several tons of gold out of thin air, and running time backwards for several second. He them proceeded to reveal the original number to several 'one-way' mathmatical problems, which cannot be reversed by any known means.

The scientific community has decended en-mass on New Mexico, attempting to get McCoy to answer the questions about the universe he created. So far he has refused to answer any, instead saying, 'Look, it will all work out if you just keep doing what you're doing, so let me get back to work.'.

Many religious leaders have denounce these finding as materialistic, although most refused comment. Jerry Falwell has declared him as 'the anti-Christ'.

In California, a new religion has sprung up with the premise that 'It will all work out if we just keep doing what we're doing, so we should get back to work.'

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

I like it! (nt) (none / 1) (#266)
by Have A Nice Day on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 11:54:28 AM EST



--------------
Have A Nice Day may have reentered the building.
[ Parent ]
You got it EXACTLY right! nt (none / 0) (#273)
by MrMikey on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 12:35:30 PM EST



[ Parent ]
So, that's the real McCoy! [nt] (none / 0) (#310)
by tilly on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 03:16:33 PM EST



[ Parent ]
how the existence of creationists proves evolution (2.80 / 10) (#219)
by circletimessquare on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 03:50:56 AM EST

  1. we evolved from monkeys
  2. monkeys live in social groups dominated by an alpha male
  3. fear and respect of the alpha male became a deeply embedded element of monkey psychology in monkey genes, or else if you went up to the alpha male and stuck your tongue out at him or threw your feces at him you were smacked off the tree by the alpha male and eaten by the stegodonts or trilobytes below and your genes would disappear
  4. many years later, we evolved from monkeys but we still had some vestigal monkey psychology left in our brains, like toes on a foot (seriously, how can a creationist look at a human foot and not see evolution in action? it is "intelligent" to design a foot with TOES on it?! how farking useless are toes!)
  5. proof of the vestigal monkey psychology is that some humans still need to believe in the UAM- the ultimate alpha male, aka god, or yahweh, or allah... that even if no alpha male is around, the deeply embedded fear and respect of the alpha male in their genes forces some people to conjure him out of their imagination to explain their monkey-like urges to tremble before the alpha male
  6. to such humans, the idea that life can evolve without the guidance of a UAM is a deeply troubling thought, much like the serpent in the tree in the night while the monkeys sleep
  7. therefore, evolution is proven by the existence of creationists: their deeply embedded monkey psychology derived need for belief in a UAM is direct evidence that we evolved from monkeys


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Dear Circle (1.20 / 5) (#221)
by sellison on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 04:01:02 AM EST

They say man evolved from monkeys and apes. Then tell me, how come we still have monkeys and apes?

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush
[ Parent ]
you got me (2.66 / 6) (#222)
by circletimessquare on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 04:06:40 AM EST

how is it apes like you are still around?

(shiver)


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

I see you have no argument, just (1.12 / 8) (#225)
by sellison on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 04:12:03 AM EST

ad hominen.

Which is pretty typical of evolution pushers, point out the flaws in your arguments and you start screaming "Right Wing Wacko" and run crying to your mommy govt. judges begging to make opposition to your cult illegal.

You and the scientologists, both of a kind.

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush
[ Parent ]

this is all you need to know: (2.60 / 5) (#230)
by circletimessquare on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 04:31:16 AM EST

human beings are not at the pinnacle of evolution

the internet troll is the pinnacle of human evolution

either that, or vampires

hmmm... now i'm stumped

;-P

anyway dude, i didn't attack you because i can't defend evolution, i attacked you because your question is stupid, beneath me, beneath most of the people posting here in fact

if you REALLY want me to stoop to the ninth grade science class level of instruction for you, rather than simply laugh at your stupid ass, well then ok, i'll throw you an intellectual charity case bone:

evolution is not about progress, evolution just happens- it shapes populations of creatures depending upon various climatic and dietary and other selective pressures

when two equal populations of creatures are separated- such as a monkey ancestor of ours thrust onto the savannah due to climatic change for example, while another monkey population far away was lucky enough to stay in the trees, then the tree dwelling population stayed monkeys, there was no pressure ot change, while those monkeys who were our ancestors suddenly needed to learn to walk a lot more than climb- there were a lot less trees

as the climate changed gradually, there was subtle rewards for some monkeys who were a little better adapted to run around on the ground: they got more food, they successfully raised more children, etc.

and so they were rewarded with more prevalance of their walking-friendly anatomical genes amongst their savannah-dwelling monkey group

and that went on for millions of years

can you conceive of the kinds of changes to anatomy that can happen in that time period?

for example: take a look at your toes there monkey boy

when you look at your toes, you see intelligent design?

really?

i see what used to fingers, like a monkey's "foot"

i see millions of years of gradual anatomical change

i can even wiggle them- how useless is THAT??!!!

why do i need to WIGGLE MY TOES???

is that intelligent design? what is so farking intellignet about toes and being able to wiggle them???!!!

it's just a vestige of change from when my distant ancestor used them to swing from trees, that's all

;-P

anyway dude, do you understand now why there are still monkeys around? the whole idea of separated populations with different evolutionary pressure?

any other remedial science education you need before you start spouting off ignorantly again?

but anyway, thanks for giving me the chance to help you with your basic science education, it fills my heart with pride to see that i can find in myself the charity to help the mentally handicapped

;-P


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

You have a vivid fantasy life (1.75 / 4) (#406)
by sellison on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 09:20:35 PM EST

anyway dude, do you understand now why there are still monkeys around? the whole idea of separated populations with different evolutionary pressure?

You've provided no proof of evolution (not suprising as better brains than your's also haven't), just your fantasy of how it all could fit together.

Which is all you evolutionist cultist ever do, you provide imaginative stories linking the bones of diseased monkies to the bones of diseased humans, but never any testable proof.

Which would be fine if you would just admit you are selling a religion (well a cult really) not a science.

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush
[ Parent ]

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA (none / 0) (#475)
by circletimessquare on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 09:14:21 AM EST

dude, you're fucking hilarious

do you know what science is?

it takes all the available evidence, and supplies the theory that best matches that

that's ALL it does

that's where science begins, that's where science ends

if new information came along that totally destroyed what scientists thought before, the scientists would be FORCED to realign their theories, or they could no longer call themselves scientists!

so there is no defending wacko theories, there is only defending the most plausible logical conclusions based on all of the available evidence

that's what science is

that is ALL science is

so that's the amazing cult i belong to: the search for impartial truth

;-P

but we won't even talk about who you are or what you represent, it's just too fucking perfectly hilarious!

i don't want you to ever change, i need to laugh ;-)


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

I glad you can admit that it is a cult (none / 0) (#546)
by sellison on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 12:04:28 AM EST

now please help us take it out of the schools.

Real science can prove it's facts. Evolution is all based on 'best guesses' and 'beliefs', not hard evidence.

It's just the gospel of the secular humanists, get yourself a church and apply for a tax break.

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush
[ Parent ]

we don't understand how gravity works (none / 0) (#552)
by circletimessquare on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 01:48:53 AM EST

in fact, we have many discoveries to make in physics which could fundamentally alter our understanding of things like gravity much as general relativity changed so much of physics 100 years ago

but does that stop us from teaching what we do know about gravity right now in schools?

no

because what we have in science concerning gravity is the BEST logical coherent rational explanation

SAME WITH EVOLUTION

evolution is NOTHING MORE THAN THE MOST RATIONAL EXPLANATION WE HAVE

so i agree with you 100%: it's a 'best guess'

so is our understanding of gravity

would you prefer us teach 'worst guess' or 'second best guess'?

i don't even know what your troll about secular humanists is supposed to mean: EVOLUTION HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THAT, science has no agenda except the search for truth: evidence and reason, that's all there is! you think there is a secret agenda to destroy religion?

we just discovered a race of hobbits who lived in the island of flores in indonesia and went extinct only a very short time ago

scientists are trying to fit them into our understanding of human evolution

it changes their 'best guess'

because there is no such thing as 'perfect guess' or 'hard cold fact' about something like evolution

and so as scientists they adhere to nothing but reason an available evidence, they change their ideas: this is a very honest process

what do you have to oppose the nature of this scientific process?

do you know where the hobbit people came from? what they mean?

do you have some evidence no one else has seen?

do you have a line of reasoning no one else has followed?

what do you have that purports to debunk the scientific process?

it doesn't seem very honest to me what you are saying

is it your position that god planted their bones in a cave in indonesia to test your faith?

you don't even know it but you don't want evolution removed from schools, you want REASON removed from schools

REASON

LOGIC

RATIONALITY

do you fucking know what those words mean???????????????????


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Yes (none / 0) (#554)
by sellison on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 01:52:23 AM EST

that is why we should be teaching Intelligent Design, it is at least as good a guess as evolution, far better in fact because it does not require any violations of other scientific laws like probability and thermodynamics.

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush
[ Parent ]
I'm just sick of this! (none / 1) (#558)
by benna on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 02:30:36 AM EST

I can't take the ignorance anymore.  I find that almost everyone who has serious doubts about natural selection either lacks the ablity to understand it, or choses not to in order to preserve their dogma.  Its really NOT THAT COMPLICATED.  For evolution NOT to occor would be the imporoboble thing.  Anyone with any understanding of thermodynamics knows it has very little to do with evolution.  Oh, and proboblity really isn't a scienctific "law," but thats another matter. *sigh*.
-
"It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists." -Ludwig Wittgenstein
[ Parent ]
You need to get used to it. (3.00 / 2) (#578)
by Another Scott on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 10:02:36 AM EST

Did you ever have the occasion to have a discussion with a hard-core Marxist (e.g., a member of the Spartacus Youth League)? If so, you might note a feeling of deja vu.

You see, ID is a matter of faith. Scientific arguments against it don't matter. You could carefully go through all of the many FAQs at the t.o archive with sellison (and some others like him) and it wouldn't make any difference. They accept ID and reject evolution based on faith (though they often attempt to frame their objections in scientific language).

You're not going to convince him because he's not open to persuasion through scientific reasoning. Get used to it.

HTH.

Cheers,
Scott.

[ Parent ]

the irrational are not susceptible to reason [nt] (none / 1) (#587)
by MrMikey on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 11:50:29 AM EST



[ Parent ]
You're fond of saying that (none / 1) (#973)
by esrever on Tue May 03, 2005 at 05:07:40 PM EST

And whilst I won't comment on its applicability to sellison, you have used it in the past in threads that I have participated in.  Just because someone disagrees with you does not mean they are irrational.  Such a suggestion is the height of arrogance.

Audit NTFS permissions on Windows
[ Parent ]
Maybe, but its true in your case [nt] (none / 0) (#984)
by benna on Tue May 03, 2005 at 06:45:57 PM EST


-
"It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists." -Ludwig Wittgenstein
[ Parent ]
Really? (none / 1) (#985)
by esrever on Tue May 03, 2005 at 07:07:57 PM EST

So please provide me with a replicable, testable, experimentally verifiable Theory of Evolution.

Thanks.

Audit NTFS permissions on Windows
[ Parent ]

If they want to have faith thats fine but... (none / 0) (#621)
by benna on Sun May 01, 2005 at 01:01:56 AM EST

What really gets me is when they pretend to be scientific.
-
"It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists." -Ludwig Wittgenstein
[ Parent ]
Probability (none / 1) (#976)
by esrever on Tue May 03, 2005 at 05:18:28 PM EST

Well, actually, if one wanted to, one could quite easily make a case for probability as a scientific law.  I fits all observable evidence, provides predictions, and is experimentally testable.

Audit NTFS permissions on Windows
[ Parent ]
ID is nonsense (none / 1) (#575)
by vadim on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 09:32:30 AM EST

The current theory of evolution can be disproved. ID can't be. More than that, evolution is based on things we have observed, ID is something somebody pulled out of their ass, and which is a lot less useful. Evolution can actually predict things, unlike ID.

Besides that, I don't understand why religious people like ID that much. If it was proven, religion would suddenly fall down. There would be no more need for faith, or the Church.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

Apparently not (none / 0) (#594)
by sellison on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 02:41:08 PM EST

The current theory of evolution can be disproved.

I've posted numerous references to scientists (like Dr. Michael Behe) who have falsified evolution. But the evolutionist cult keeps on denying the work of these fine people.

At this point, there is no way to falsify evolution because it is not a science any more (if it ever was one), now it is a cult, a core teaching of the religion of secular humanism, which many mainstream scientists and other intellectuals have joined and are as fanatic about as any Islamicist.

This is why need legislation to guarantee Intelligent Design an equal place in the schools, to balance the flawed teachings of the insidious cult of evolution!

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush
[ Parent ]

Behe's been debunked. (none / 1) (#596)
by Another Scott on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 03:09:53 PM EST

Many times. In great detail.

See, e.g., Behe FAQs at talk.origins.

HTH.

Cheers,
Scott.

[ Parent ]

dude (none / 0) (#657)
by circletimessquare on Sun May 01, 2005 at 05:18:56 PM EST

evolution is the best theory we have to fit the evidence

no cult

logic, reason, rationality are all that is guiding the adherence to evolution and the rejection of crackpots

i'm glad you believe in crackpots

dude: you're the one in a cult, you're the one rejecting logic and reason

no, really, science is no cult

science is simply the best theory that fits all of the avaiable evidence

that's all it is


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

this is an old battle, one you have already lost (none / 0) (#591)
by circletimessquare on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 01:57:31 PM EST

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06342b.htm

Nevertheless it was a churchman, Nicholas Copernicus, who first advanced the contrary doctrine that the sun and not the earth is the centre of our system, round which our planet revolves, rotating on its own axis. His great work, "De Revolutionibus orblure coelestium", was published at the earnest solicitation of two distinguished churchmen, Cardinal Schömberg and Tiedemann Giese, Bishop of Culm. It was dedicated by permission to Pope Paul III in order, as Copernicus explained, that it might be thus protected from the attacks which it was sure to encounter on the part of the "mathematicians" (i.e. philosophers) for its apparent contradiction of the evidence of our senses, and even of common sense. He added that he made no account of objections which might be brought by ignorant wiseacres on Scriptural grounds. Indeed, for nearly three quarters of a century no such difficulties were raised on the Catholic side, although Luther and Melanchthon condemned the work of Copernicus in unmeasured terms. Neither Paul III, nor any of the nine popes who followed him, nor the Roman Congregations raised any alarm, and, as has been seen, Galileo himself in 1597, speaking of the risks he might run by an advocacy of Copernicanism, mentioned ridicule only and said nothing of persecution. Even when he had made his famous discoveries, no change occurred in this respect. On the contrary, coming to Rome in 1611, he was received in triumph; all the world, clerical and lay, flocked to see him, and, setting up his telescope in the Quirinal Garden belonging to Cardinal Bandim, he exhibited the sunspots and other objects to an admiring throng.

It was not until four years later that trouble arose, the ecclesiastical authorities taking alarm at the persistence with which Galileo proclaimed the truth of the Copernican doctrine. That their opposition was grounded, as is constantly assumed, upon a fear lest men should be enlightened by the diffusion of scientific truth, it is obviously absurd to maintain. On the contrary, they were firmly convinced, with Bacon and others, that the new teaching was radically false and unscientific, while it is now truly admitted that Galileo himself had no sufficient proof of what he so vehemently advocated, and Professor Huxley after examining the case avowed his opinion that the opponents of Galileo "had rather the best of it". But what, more than all, raised alarm was anxiety for the credit of Holy Scripture, the letter of which was then universally believed to be the supreme authority in matters of science, as in all others. When therefore it spoke of the sun staying his course at the prayer of Joshua, or the earth as being ever immovable, it was assumed that the doctrine of Copernicus and Galileo was anti-Scriptural; and therefore heretical. It is evident that, since the days of Copernicus himself, the Reformation controversy had done much to attach suspicion to novel interpretations of the Bible, which was not lessened by the endeavours of Galileo and his ally Foscarini to find positive arguments for Copernicanism in the inspired volume. Foscarini, a Carmelite friar of noble lineage, who had twice ruled Calabria as provincial, and had considerable reputation as a preacher and theologian, threw himself with more zeal than discretion into the controversy, as when he sought to find an argument for Copernicanism in the seven-branched candlestick of the Old Law. Above all, he excited alarm by publishing works on the subject in the vernacular, and thus spreading the new doctrine, which was startling even for the learned, amongst the masses who were incapable of forming any sound judgment concerning it. There was at the time an active sceptical party in Italy, which aimed at the overthrow of all religion, and, as Sir David Brewster acknowledges (Martyrs of Science), there is no doubt that this party lent Galileo all its support.

In these circumstances, Galileo, hearing that some had denounced his doctrine as anti-Scriptural, presented himself at Rome in December, 1615, and was courteously received. He was presently interrogated before the Inquisition, which after consultation declared the system he upheld to be scientifically false, and anti-Scriptural or heretical, and that he must renounce it. This he obediently did, promising to teach it no more. Then followed a decree of the Congregation of the Index dated 5 March 1616, prohibiting various heretical works to which were added any advocating the Copernican system. In this decree no mention is made of Galileo, or of any of his works. Neither is the name of the pope introduced, though there is no doubt that he fully approved the decision, having presided at the session of the Inquisition, wherein the matter was discussed and decided. In thus acting, it is undeniable that the ecclesiastical authorities committed a grave and deplorable error, and sanctioned an altogether false principle as to the proper use of Scripture. Galileo and Foscarini rightly urged that the Bible is intended to teach men to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.

the Bible is intended to teach men to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.

the Bible is intended to teach men to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.

listen to me, since quality of argument for you seems less important than quantity of argument:

the Bible is intended to teach men to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.

the Bible is intended to teach men to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.

the Bible is intended to teach men to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Gravity is experimentally testable (none / 1) (#974)
by esrever on Tue May 03, 2005 at 05:13:18 PM EST

tell me, how may I experimentally test evolution?

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[ Parent ]
I'll draw it all out for you... (none / 0) (#998)
by parrillada on Tue May 03, 2005 at 08:57:16 PM EST

Experimentally testing gravity:

1) The Theory (simplified): If I pick something up and then let go it will fall down.

2) The experimental test: Pick something up and let it go. Watch it fall down. Do this many times. The theoretical prediction matches experimental observation. Check.

Experimentally testing evolution:

1) The Theory (simplified): Fossile records will show that species change over long periods of time. Different species' fossil records can be traced backward in time to common ancestry. The above changes will be consistent with corresponding changes in habitat over time, in a way consistent with the concept of 'survival of the fittest.'

2) The experimental test: Find said fossil records. Find said consistency. Check.

Now the common anti-evolutionist's objection is [in a moronic whining voice] that there are 'gaps' in the fossile record. In other words, no matter how many fossile 'linkages' we find, the anti-evolutionists can always point out still smaller gaps ad infinitum. Of course they ignore the realities of the fact that fossils themselves are hard to find, partly because of the realities of fossilization, and partly because of how little money in research grants are given to paleontologists to go dig up miles deep of earth in random places.

It is interesting to note that similar arguments used by anti-evolutionists can be used against the theory of gravity. One, for example, simply has to to, for example, when you swing a bucket full of water over your head and the water doesn't come out. Then, instead of listening to scientists explain something called 'centripital acceleration,' anti-gravity people would, just like the anti-evolutionists, say "oh, see, look how you have to struggle to keep pathing holes in your faith-based theory of gravity."

[ Parent ]

Idiot or willfully blind? (none / 1) (#1001)
by esrever on Tue May 03, 2005 at 09:08:18 PM EST

It's called the "Theory of Evolution", not the "Theory of Fossils".  If you are unable to grasp this distinction then you are either an idiot or willfully blind.

Once again: tell me, how may I experimentally test the Theory of Evolution?

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[ Parent ]

I just did tell you... (none / 0) (#1022)
by parrillada on Tue May 03, 2005 at 11:46:16 PM EST

...and if you didn't understand the way fossils relate to evolution in the way in which I presented it, then I'm quite sure you are ignorant of what the theory of evolution is.

So for the last time, I did tell you, and if you don't understand what I said, then, in all sincerity and good will, you need to pick up a book on evolution and become better aquanted with it.

[ Parent ]

you conflate observation with experimental testing (none / 1) (#1027)
by esrever on Tue May 03, 2005 at 11:51:50 PM EST

I think that you are the one that needs to pick up a book sometime on the scientific method.


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[ Parent ]
Once again, as someone who has dedicated his... (none / 0) (#1032)
by parrillada on Wed May 04, 2005 at 12:02:22 AM EST

...life to the study of physics through the scientific method, I am extremely well aquanted with its use. You don't know how ignorant you sound to someone in my position.

If you like, I will be kind enough to systematically go over with you how 'science' works if you show a genuine interest. If you have this interest, then outline for me, clearly, how you believe I am 'conflating observation with experimental testing.' You see, 'observation' is experimental testing, at least that is how the english language is used in scientific circles.

[ Parent ]

remarkable condescension (none / 1) (#1036)
by esrever on Wed May 04, 2005 at 12:11:24 AM EST

Do you even realise what a condescending prat you just made yourself sound like?  "Observation is experimental testing".  Oh really?  And here all this time poor ignorant me thought that what we did was observe the results of the experiments we performed to attempt to validate the theories or hypotheses that we had formed after observing some natural phenomena/event/characteristic/trait/item/whatever.

Just so we're clear here:
The 'transitioning' fossils are the natural characteristic that you observe.
The theory that you derive to explain those 'transitions' is that animals change over time.
The experimental verification of this theory is... ????  [feel free to fill in the blanks for me here]


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[ Parent ]

I see you... (none / 0) (#1048)
by parrillada on Wed May 04, 2005 at 01:08:14 AM EST

...do need some instruction on how the scientific process works, because you seem to have misunderstood it.

First of all, there is no such thing (at least in the sense that you seem to be using it) of 'experimentally verifying' a theory. Scientific theories are falsifiable (by definition), but no theory is provable/verifyiable. One can only gain more and more evidence in favor of the theory, but one can never prove it. No one can prove anything.The way the scientific process works is this:

1) observe
2) theorize
3) observe
4) do observations match theory? if not then throw out theory and go back to 2)
5) otherwise go back to 3) and repeat repeat repeat

In evolution's case, this is how it goes:
1) Darwin observed animals on Galapagos
2) Darwin formulates a theory
3) Observations are made, including:
(i) Fossils
(ii) Animals observed on islands just as Darwin did, and everywhere else
(iii) Fruit flies
(iv) The list literally just keeps going and going....
4) Observations DUE match theory. So far observations have always been consistent with theory. Random 'inconsistencies' like 'moon recession' continually turn out to be false alarms. So the process of observations is repeated pending some new contradictory evidence.

THIS, my friend, is the scientific process.

[ Parent ]

you are at odds with every other scientist, then. (none / 1) (#1054)
by esrever on Wed May 04, 2005 at 04:13:54 AM EST

And every single link on the first page of Google search "what is: the scientific method".

From all seeing, all knowing Google (and every textbook for the last 100 years or so):
I. The scientific method has four steps

  1. Observation and description of a phenomenon or group of phenomena.
  2. Formulation of an hypothesis to explain the phenomena. In physics, the hypothesis often takes the form of a causal mechanism or a mathematical relation.
  3. Use of the hypothesis to predict the existence of other phenomena, or to predict quantitatively the results of new observations.
4. Performance of experimental tests of the predictions by several independent experimenters and properly performed experiments.

You will of course take special note of step 4.

There are variations on this, but the end result is the same.  There is always a point at which you must experimentally test your hypothesis or theory.

You seem to be confusing the descriptive sciences (like zoology) with the physical sciences, like physics, chemistry, and biology.  Which seems to me to be a pretty fundamental error for a physics student to be making.

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[ Parent ]

you are hopeless... (none / 0) (#1078)
by