Meyer’s Money Shot

DD18.7There is plenty wrong with Meyer’s book, Darwin’s Doubt.  I have outlined some of the logical inconsistencies and false assumptions myself, and professional palaeontologists have pointed to more far-reaching inadequacies.

But even granting his flawed logic and false premise, there is a major problem with his conclusion.

He puts it succinctly in Chapter 18 thus:

 

 

The animal forms that arose in the Cambrian not only did so without any clear material antecedent; they came on the scene complete with digital code, dynamically expressed integrated circuitry, and multi-layered, hierarchically organised information storage and processing systems.

In light of these marvels and the persistent pattern of the fossil record, should we now continue, as Darwin did (who know nothing of them), to regard the Cambrian explosion as just an anomaly?  Or may we now consider the features of the Cambrian event as evidence supporting another view of the origin of animal life?  If so, is there now a compelling logic for considering a different kind of causal history?

 

In fact, there is.  The features of the Cambrian event point decisively in another direction – not to some as-yet-undiscovered materialistic process that merely mimics the powers of a designing mind, but instead to an actual intelligent cause.  When we encounter objects that manifest any of the key features present in the Cambrian animals, or events that exhibit the patterns present in the Cambrian fossil record, and we know how these features and patterns arose, invariably we find that intelligent design played a causal role in their origin.  Thus, when we encounter these same features in the Cambrian event, we may infer – based upon established cause-and-effect relationships and uniformitarian principles – that the same kind of cause operated in the history of life.  In other words, intelligent design constitutes the best, most causally adequate explanation for the origin of information and circuitry necessary to build the Cambrian animals.  It also provides the best explanation for the top-down, explosive and discontinuous pattern of the appearance of the Cambrian animals in the fossil record.

So let’s try to unpack this.

First of all let us, for the sake of argument only, grant him this:

The animal forms that arose in the Cambrian not only did so without any clear material antecedent; they came on the scene complete with digital code, dynamically expressed integrated circuitry, and multi-layered, hierarchically organised information storage and processing systems.

 

And thus the legitimacy of this question:

In light of these marvels and the persistent pattern of the fossil record, should we now continue, as Darwin did (who know nothing of them), to regard the Cambrian explosion as just an anomaly?  Or may we now consider the features of the Cambrian event as evidence supporting another view of the origin of animal life?  If so, is there now a compelling logic for considering a different kind of causal history?

 

And turn to his answer to it:

In fact, there is.  The features of the Cambrian event point decisively in another direction – not to some as-yet-undiscovered materialistic process that merely mimics the powers of a designing mind, but instead to an actual intelligent cause.

Problem number one: Meyer makes the implicit assumption that there is a difference between a “materialistic” cause and an “intelligent one”, in other words, that an “intelligent cause” is not “materialistic” even though a “materialistic” cause my “mimic” the “powers of a designing mind”.

But let us grant, for the purposes of argument even that: that “intelligence” has a non-materialistic basis, and yet can cause things to happen in the world.  A good example of such a model would be the “libertarian” free will model – that some non-material entity, which we will call a “mind” causes physical matter to move, in the brain, in such a manner that action A is executed rather than action B.  This would constitute what Meyer, later in the chapter, calls (quoting Agassiz) “Acts of Mind”.  Now, in all known examples of “Acts of Mind” the putative Mind-owner has a body that includes a brain.  Presumably most adherents of Libertarian Free Will assume that the way the Mind Acts is by causing matter to move in the brain, and this tipping a cascade of neural events one way rather than another, and muscle set A to be activated rather than muscle set B, whether muscle set B.

However, no brain, or muscle set has been hypothesis by an ID proponent that I know of, not surprisingly as we have no evidence whatsoever of any physical brain-and-muscle possessing entity who could conceivably have been around to dick with the Cambrian DNA and make it build new animals – far less evidence than we have, in fact, of perfectly plausible Cambrian ancestors, but let’s leave that aside for now.

Meyer’s hypothesis, therefore must be of some Mind that, rather than moving ions around in a brain to adjust the timing of their firing and thus cascade of events that culminates in muscle action that in turns moves things around in the world (adjusts a soldering iron, types a program, punches a card, makes the air vibrate and move the eardrums of others, etc), moves them directly.  For which we have no precedent, of course. So when he next says:

When we encounter objects that manifest any of the key features present in the Cambrian animals, or events that exhibit the patterns present in the Cambrian fossil record, and we know how these features and patterns arose, invariably we find that intelligent design played a causal role in their origin.

he should, in all honesty, say rather that invariably we find that intelligent agents created those objects using their brains and muscles.  And so when he says:

Thus, when we encounter these same features in the Cambrian event, we may infer – based upon established cause-and-effect relationships and uniformitarian principles – that the same kind of cause operated in the history of life.

we must also infer that either there was a physical being with brain and muscles (or non-organic equivalents) that created or mutated those animals (as we do when we use genetic engineering techniques to design new crops), or that there was some non-physical being with neither brain nor muscles who was somehow able to do what we cannot – move matter by the power of mind alone.  And as he does not seem to be inferring the former (if he were, surely the DI would be out there digging for traces of highly advanced brain-bearing critters, or, at a minimum, their tools and habitation), then he is not basing his inference on “established cause-and-effect relationships and uniformitarian principles” as he claims.

And so:

In other words, intelligent design constitutes the best, most causally adequate explanation for the origin of information and circuitry necessary to build the Cambrian animals.  It also provides the best explanation for the top-down, explosive and discontinuous pattern of the appearance of the Cambrian animals in the fossil record.

No, it does not.  It would only be “causally adequate” if we had evidence for the process by which matter was moved into its desired position – how DNA sequence A was the result of cell division X and not DNA sequence B, for instance. and we have no evidence at all that such alterations to DNA sequences is the result of anything other than straightforward physics and chemistry – certainly no traces of gene-guns, for instance, and Meyer himself dismisses any such  “as-yet-undiscovered materialistic process” – which would be necessary not merely to “mimic” a “designing mind” but to allow such a mind to operate within the physical world.

In other words he invokes a miracle.  The intervention by an intelligent agent in the world to move matter (i.e. material things) and thus exert a force that is somehow not “materialistic”.

His “best explanation” in other words is “a force that has no explanation”.

How can such an “explanation” possibly be “the best”?

 

 

 

33 thoughts on “Meyer’s Money Shot

  1. Elisabeth, the word ‘HUMAN’ is nowhere in your post. Please note this. Surely you can admit ‘NO HUMAN’ in what you wrote, right?

    Why is it relevant? Because you illustrate human-made things (computers, trains, automobiles, etc.) and non-human-made things (animals, cells, etc.). In fact, we seem to be on the same page about this, while I, as a human-social ‘scholar/scientist’ are much more sensitive to the humanitarian dimension than you are, as a cognitive objectivist.

    Are you as disanthropic as Meyer is? It seems you unfaithfully are, Elisabeth. Does that deserve ‘skeptical’ congratulations (Gollum, Gollum)?

  2. Clearly, the Designer is able to re-arrange nucleotides by telekinesis! I mean, it’s the best explanation!

  3. Gregory:
    Elisabeth, the word ‘HUMAN’ is nowhere in your post. Please note this. Surely you can admit ‘NO HUMAN’ in what you wrote, right?

    Why is it relevant? Because you illustrate human-made things (computers, trains, automobiles, etc.) and non-human-made things (animals, cells, etc.). In fact, we seem to be on the same page about this, while I, as a human-social ‘scholar/scientist’ are much more sensitive to the humanitarian dimension than you are, as a cognitive objectivist.

    Are you as disanthropic as Meyer is? It seems you unfaithfully are, Elisabeth. Does that deserve ‘skeptical’ congratulations (Gollum, Gollum)?

    Not sure what your objection is, Gregory. I entirely agree Meyer’s analogy is with human-made artefacts, but not all intelligently-created artefacts are human artefacts (bird’s nests, honeycombs, beaver dams, tools made by some animals for doing things with), and I don’t suppose Meyer suggesting that Cambrian animals were designed and fabricated by a human being – rather by someone or something at least as intelligent as a human being.

    I’m more concerned that the putative someone is not postulated to have any brain or limbs.

  4. Kantian Naturalist:
    Clearly, the Designer is able to re-arrange nucleotides by telekinesis!I mean, it’s the best explanation!

    In which case either telekinesis is “non-materialistic”, in which case I don’t understand the defintion of “materialistic” or it is “materialistic”, in which case it should be amenable to normal scientific investigation.

  5. Meyer’s argument is bog-standard ID verbiage, the latest round in Creationism’s decades-long game of Hide The God. Of course Meyer doesn’t feel any need to explicitly identify the mechanisms by which the Designer manufactured Its Designs; Meyer’s Designer is the God of the Bible, but he can’t afford to openly acknowledge that fact on account of that pesky First Amendment getting in the way of sectarian preaching in US public schools.

    All ID-pushers are deceitful weasels. The most charitable thing you can say about most of them is that they’ve taken great pains to deceive themselves before they deceived anybody else. But self-deceit is still deceit, and as long as ID remains a wholly-owned subsidiary of Creationism, ID-pushers will have to be deceitful weasels, because the instant they come clean about the fact that their Designer is the God of the Bible, they lose everything.

  6. I don’t think it’s as simple as that, cubist. And actually, I think it’s perfectly respectable intellectually to say: we think the evidence points to an immaterial intelligent agent that intermittently moves stuff around in the world in a way that cannot be predicted by discernable laws.

    And to leave open the notion of whether or not you call that immaterial agent God. And I think that’s Dembski’s point – he can point to evidence for the immaterial agent, but leave it up to the individual what to make of it theologically.

    And if there really was evidence for an immaterial agent pushing stuff around in an unpredictable manner (or at least in manner unpredictable except in terms of some ulterior intention) then I’d certainly argue for it be taught in schools, and I think IDers would have a point if the US government then said they couldn’t because of the potential theological implications (although nothing would then tell us that the putative agent was worship-worthy).

    The much bigger problem for ID is that such evidence would be tend to negative – to conclude that an “unpredictable” agent is doing something, you have to fail to predict it, at which point you’d bump up against science saying that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    But it isn’t the case can’t predict the results of an intelligent agent, or infer one from its effects. It’s just that in doing so we normally hypothesis a motive – or rather a set of motives that make some kind of sense as the goal of an intelligent agent.

    But whenever someone tries to do that with an ID proponent, the response invariably is: you can’t know what the Designer intended. Well, if you can’t even postulate what the Designer might have intended, you have tied one arm behind your back when you try to pursue the hypothesis that there was a designer at all.

  7. Meyer:

    The animal forms that arose in the Cambrian not only did so without any clear material antecedent; they came on the scene complete with digital code, dynamically expressed integrated circuitry, and multi-layered, hierarchically organised information storage and processing systems.

    Does Meyer even have half a clue as to the meaning of such expressions as “integrated circuitry”, “hierarchically organised information storage and processing systems.” I might use those expressions to describe a computer system, or even an AI project. They do not seem at all applicable to biological organisms.

    And when Meyer writes:

    In other words, intelligent design constitutes the best, most causally adequate explanation for the origin of information and circuitry necessary to build the Cambrian animals.

    I find myself wondering whether he has half a clue on what “causally adequate” means.

    Meyer seems to be using hifalutin language in order to awe and confuse the gullible.

  8. Lizzie:
    . . . I think it’s perfectly respectable intellectually to say: we think the evidence points to an immaterial intelligent agent . . . .

    I disagree that such a statement would be either respectable or intelligent. “Immaterial” seems to be empirically indistinguishable from “nonexistent”. Saying that the evidence points to a nonexistent agent is accurate, but not terribly coherent.

  9. Patrick: I disagree that such a statement would be either respectable or intelligent.“Immaterial” seems to be empirically indistinguishable from “nonexistent”.Saying that the evidence points to a nonexistent agent is accurate, but not terribly coherent.

    Well, the idea that the soul or will is immaterial has a long and respectable history, and even lies at the heart of the “Hard Problem”. If it were really the case that there were no antecedents (or evidence of antecedents) for a Cambrian animal, nor any evidence for a material designer or fabricator, then I think that positing that matter can be moved into position by something we might want to call “mind” that can move things in directions not predictable under any discoverable law that does not invoke some intended future purpose, would be a perfectly respectable thesis.

    You might want to redefine “immaterial” I guess (after all, it has effects on matter, and we normally call forces that have effects on matter, “material”) to mean something like “the result of future events” as opposed to “the result of past events”, which would be interesting. Maybe “teleological” rather than “immaterial”.

    In fact, perhaps that’s a possible direction for ID theory (and not a million miles from Nagel):

    “Teleological” causes are those in which the future influences the present.

    That would cover any intentional act, and thus any event that could be shown to be influenced by future events could be inferred to be teleological and thus intelligent in origin.

    After all, we say somebody did something “intentionally” when they did it in order to bring about some future, and “accidentally” when they did not.

    I do think that ID would be a more sensible endeavour if the I stood for “intentional”.

  10. Neil Rickert: Meyer seems to be using hifalutin language in order to awe and confuse the gullible.

    My strong suspicion is that Meyer is a knowing and skilled polemicist. I think he has the same skillset as a political speech writer. You could deconstruct his book very informatively by identifying dog-whistle phrases, plausibly deniable dismissals, selective quotations, fallacious argument couched in the terms of reason, etc. I think he knows what he is doing. But it’s just possible that he does not. I do think it’s likely that he honestly thinks his conclusion is correct.

    But I suspect that he is aware that his reasons for coming to it are not via the arguments he presents in his book. I think he is smart enough to know that they are full of holes, and also smart enough to know that he is smart enough to disguise those holes, while simultaneously quieting his conscience by telling himself that he’s probably right anyway.

  11. Lizzie: In which case either telekinesis is “non-materialistic”, in which case I don’t understand the defintion of “materialistic” or it is “materialistic”, in which case it should be amenable to normal scientific investigation.

    Yes, obviously. In case my sarcasm was not completely obvious: I meant magic. Whether or not the Designer is covertly identified with the God of the Bible is irrelevant — <I<whatever</I< the Designer did when he or she designed must be magic so far as we can tell.

    The irony here should not be lost on any of us: the American intelligent design movement — i.e. the Discovery Institute and its various spin-offs — was inspired by the hope of getting around Edwards vs Aguillard. Yet what they have produced instead is a merely speculative hypothesis that cannot be regarded as scientific, because it cannot be tested.

    Put otherwise: in order to avoid any conflation with “creation science,” which is testable and has been empirically refuted, intelligent design has been intelligently designed to be untestable.

  12. Or, one could say that only highly technical societies (vs., for instance, Cro-Magnon society) produce such integrated, functional complexity. That’s our experience, hence, if we found (non-biologic) functionally complex productions, we’d consider them to be the products of highly technical societies. Which is why Meyer is looking for the remains of highly technical societies a half billion years ago, or so.

    No?

    Then too, he is both extremely reductive and carefully cherry-picking the data for his “key features” of Cambrian organisms. Is he looking for the effects of actually intelligent agents, rationality, portability of concepts? No, he’s just reducing everything down to data processing and the like, as if there were no great difference between human data processing and life’s data-processing functions. There are enormous differences. And what “key features” might we look at in Cambrian organisms? Their relatedness–not in the designed sense that cars are “related” to each other and to technologies that once had no presence whatsoever in cars, rather, in the biologic sense–might be considered a very key feature.

    But that can be ignored. Anything that goes against his god/not-god non-technological (at least in the societal sense–the only known form of advanced technology) super-intelligence can be ignored, and the rest destructively reduced in order to be compared to very different human production, in an extremely misleading “analogy.”

    Glen Davidson

  13. Lizzie,

    I think he knows what he is doing. But it’s just possible that he does not. I do think it’s likely that he honestly thinks his conclusion is correct.

    He really seems to be writing too carefully not to know how he is being misleading. In Signature in the Cell he repeats Dawkins’ claim (with which I don’t agree) that life has the appearance of design copiously, along with other quotes suggestive of the same idea, and only near the end of the book does he acknowledge that life and machines actually do differ considerably. By that time he’s made his “argument” sans that caveat. Also, he carefully rubbishes non-teleological evolution throughout that book, crescendoing at the end, then claims that SITC wasn’t about evolution. The subtext certainly was.

    I suspect that he’s learned the lesson that a good believer doesn’t doubt, and doesn’t lead others to doubt. While I doubt he’d ever admit such a thing (he pretends to come at biology with an open mind), I suspect that this is what makes his tactics good and just. Where doubt is evil, truth has little chance.

    Glen Davidson

  14. Lizzie: Well, the idea that the soul or will is immaterial has a long and respectable history . . . .

    I’ll give you “long”. ;-)

    There’s nothing intellectually respectable about a claim with absolutely no evidence. The idea that the ill-defined concept “soul” has a referent in reality is one such claim.

    You might want to redefine “immaterial” I guess (after all, it has effects on matter, and we normally call forces that have effects on matter, “material”) to mean something like “the result of future events” as opposed to “the result of past events”, which would be interesting. Maybe “teleological” rather than “immaterial”.

    With respect, I think that redefines it into completely another concept and increases the risk of inadvertent equivocation. My view is that anyone who claims that anything immaterial actually exists has the burden of proof to show that such a statement has any real meaning.

  15. There are a lot of problems with the notion of “no material antecedents” for the Cambrian animal forms. Meyer – as do apparently all ID/creationists – uses, yet again, another false analogy with technological innovation.

    Not only is the analogy incomplete in itself, technological and scientific innovations are rarely, if ever, without antecedents. Even in those cases where there appear to be no antecedents, those working directly in such fields will have working knowledge of the ideas that are floating around in the scientific/technological community that are the antecedents of scientific and technological breakthroughs.

    All of us who have worked in these scientific and applied scientific areas have experienced this phenomenon routinely. What appears to have been a blast out of nowhere turns out to be a blast out of somewhere. Somebody happened to be at the interface of two or more areas of research and/or development and saw an opportunity to use an idea from one area to good advantage in another area.

    Most of us have had very direct experience with this, either with something we have done personally or with something our colleagues or competitors have done. The results are very much like the process of evolution in nature. Atoms, molecules, and creatures build on what has come before; and they do it in what often appear to be surprising directions.

    But discrete jumps in “surprising directions” are not unprecedented; neither at the level of classical physics and chemistry or at the quantum level. If there were not discrete jumps, evolving systems could never be stable enough to persist long enough to be identified as distinct entities.

    At the earliest stages of the development of life, new “innovations” are likely to be radically different from their predicessors because “radically different” is the only direction simple systems can go and still be stable.

    It is very similar with science and technology. At their earliest stages, any new development is surprising relative to what came before; but a more careful look reveals that someone somewhere was in the right place at the right time and joined two or more working ideas into something new. People who are in constant touch with reality do this routinely. The process is fact-based and data driven.

    People sitting on the sidelines doing armchair “philosophy” would have no way of knowing any of this.

  16. Kantian Naturalist: Clearly, the Designer is able to re-arrange nucleotides by telekinesis! I mean, it’s the best explanation!

    Yes, in fact if there was an immaterial causation component to the interaction between brain and mind, as ID proponents must think there is, we should be able to measure this somehow. So consequently active brainmatter should be hotter than the intake of chemical energy would otherwise imply.

    The kinds of brain-mind interactions the dualists of the ID position imply woulc constitute a pretty clear and measurable violation of the laws of thermodynamics. Energy should be entering the brain, causing physicochemical action, which would be measurable as heat.
    The problem is, the only heat the brain generates is the one that results from the cells burning of the chemical energy we take in when we eat, and these two are in direct proportion. On the ID dualist theory, we should be measuring a surplus.

    Or:
    There is an alternative possibility. ID theoriest could theoretically postulate that the immaterial mind entity is directing this chemical energy in ways that such brainmatter would not be doing if “disconnected”. In other words, there should be a kind of physical and chemical process going on inside the tissues of brains of living organisms, which would be entirely different if that same tissue was removed from the brains of living organisms and got disconnected from the “mind signal”.

    This of course then leaves another bunch of unanswered questions, such as: How does the mind signal know whether brainmatter is disconnected or not? Is there some kind of physicochemical difference between organic molecules found inside cells that make up a living brain, and those outside it? Is carbon chemistry different when it’s inside a functioning brain inside a living organism? Do the properties of atoms and molecules change under these circumstances?

    Basically, does braintissue violate known laws of physics and chemistry?

    ID neurobiologists should be scrutinizing brain matter in painstaking detail, testing every concievable chemical and physical action and reaction, to see if and where the causal chain back to the “mind signal enters brainmatter” takes place.

    No matter how we look at it, the kind of dualism advocated by certain ID theorists should manifest as measurable violations of the laws of thermodynamics.

    Any neurobiologists around who know of mysterious uncaused events inside brainmatter that didn’t happen at the expenditure of chemical energy, or chemical reactions happening inside brains that just absolutely refuse to happen in test tubes?

  17. Rumraket: Basically, does braintissue violate known laws of physics and chemistry?
    ID neurobiologists should be scrutinizing brain matter in painstaking detail, testing every concievable chemical and physical action and reaction, to see if and where the causal chain back to the “mind signal enters brainmatter” takes place.

    Hermann von Helmholtz already demonstrated in the late 19th century that energy conservation (first law of thermodynamics) applies to living systems.

    ID/creationists, ever since Henry Morris, have been claiming that life violates the second law of thermodynamics, but then turn right around and try to inject some supernatural “power” that violates the first law of thermodynamics.

  18. Well, William J Murray has brought up a proposal I’d forgotten about by Johnjoe McFadden.

    So maybe that’s something to chew on. I have to say I don’t think much of his neuroscience, but I can’t comment on his physics. His biochemistry might be fine, but all three need to be fine for his argument to work, I think.

  19. Neil Rickert:

    Does Meyer even have half a clue as to the meaning of such expressions as “integrated circuitry”, “hierarchically organised information storage and processing systems.”I might use those expressions to describe a computer system, or even an AI project.They do not seem at all applicable to biological organisms.

    Of course he does, but he’s a paid professional liar for the Discovery Institute. He’s just using the stock Creationist argument-by-poor-analogy that they’ve employed for decades.

    “flagella are outboard motors!!, and everyone knows outboards motors are designed!”

    “Cells are little factories!! , and everyone knows factories are designed!”

    “DNA is digital code!!, and everyone knows digital code is designed!”

    “The brain is a CPU and memory storage system!! , and everyone knows CPUs and memory storage systems are designed!”

    The idea is not to be scientifically accurate or suggest new lines of research. The idea is to con the rubes into donating more money and to get Christian Fundamental beliefs weaseled back into science classrooms.

  20. He’s just using the stock Creationist argument-by-poor-analogy that they’ve employed for decades.

    Mung will be along shortly, to accuse us all of commenting on the book without first reading it. (I will ignore him).

  21. Lizzie: Well, William J Murray has brought up a proposal I’d forgotten about by Johnjoe McFadden.So maybe that’s something to chew on. I have to say I don’t think much of his neuroscience, but I can’t comment on his physics. His biochemistry might be fine, but all three need to be fine for his argument to work, I think.

    There are some issues that have to be dealt with regarding quantum coherence. The thermal deBroglie wavelength of a mass, m, is

    λ = h / sqrt(2mkT).

    Cell sizes exist in the nanometer range and are composed of millions of atoms.

    If we look at something like 10^6 protons at a temperature of 300 K, this works out to be a deBroglie wavelength about 0.002 angstroms. Decreasing the temperature to 100 k extends the deBroglie wavelength to 0.003 angstroms.

    Thus a collection of atoms will have a very short coherence length; too short for the atoms to act collectively in a coherent quantum mechanical state.

    Now we have a problem to explain about quantum effects in the nervous systems of living organisms. These systems shut down at about 288 K and go chaotic at about 313 K.

    We expect to see quantum effects at much lower temperatures, well below 100 K. The research on quantum computing takes place below liquid nitrogen temperatures.

    Thus, the problem is to explain why quantum effects matter in the temperature ranges that nervous systems can function.

  22. “First of all let us, for the sake of argument only, grant him this:

    The animal forms that arose in the Cambrian not only did so without any clear material antecedent; they came on the scene complete with digital code, dynamically expressed integrated circuitry, and multi-layered, hierarchically organised information storage and processing systems.”

    I’m sorry, Lizzie. I can’t do that. It’s simply a false statement on its face, and to accept it even for the sake of argument is to concede the field. It’s akin to arguing with Hitler using “Let’s accept for the sake of argument that Jews are subhuman”.

    You are playing his game, on his turf, under his rules when you do that. Let’s not accept direct falsehoods for the sake of argument.

  23. llanitedave,

    I’m sorry, Lizzie. I can’t do that. It’s simply a false statement on its face, and to accept it even for the sake of argument is to concede the field.

    Nah, Lizzie isn’t conceding anything. She’s not affirming Meyer’s dubious statement. She’s pointing out that his argument would fail even if his statement were correct.

    Note her carefully chosen phrase: “for the sake of argument only”.

  24. llanitedave:

    keiths is correct. I am conceding nothing. I am pointing out that even if we accept his false premise, his reasoning fails, because he claims as a “causally adequate” explanation an explanation that boils down to “there is no explanation”.

    In other words even if we play with one arm tied behind our backs, in size 13 wellington boots, blindfolded, he still loses.

    But I’ve been thinking about this. William, on the other Meyer thread, cited arguments by Mario Beauregard, and also Johnjoe McFadden, about a possible quantum account of the effect of mind on matter.

    Meyer doesn’t even advance such a suggestion, he just takes it for granted that “acts of mind” are self-evidently possible, even, implicitly, in the absence of a brain or muscles. But it might be worth unpacking it nonetheless.

  25. Kantian Naturalist:
    thorton,

    Yes, the old “exactly the same! except for all the ways in they aren’t!” trick.

    This point can’t be emphasized enough. In all these arguments by analogy the IDiots love they always omit the critical differences.

    Designed items which are mass produced are all manufactured from a template and all come out identical. Living creatures in populations are all individuals with distinct genetic and morphological variations.

    Designed items don’t retain obsolete technology, i.e vacuum tubes in computers, hand cranks in automobiles. Living creatures retain ancient no longer used genetic patterns which sometimes manifest themselves in the form of atavisms.

    Designed items also don’t self reproduce but require an external manufacturing process.

    Even the examples Meyer used in his cartoon drawing aren’t accurate. To wit:

    Design only sometimes used layered functional information. USB memory sticks don’t require the workings of the entire computer.

    Design only sometimes has a top down pattern of appearance. When autos were first developed there were over a hundred different small manufacturers which over time were winnowed down to just today’s large auto companies.

    Design only sometimes has persistent anatomical isolation. Today we have hybrid car-planes, hybrid car-boats, even hybrid car-submarines.

    Design only sometimes has the discrete appearance of innovation. There are some designs i.e bow and arrow which haven’t changed the basic principles for tens of thousands of years.

    Like all IDiots, Meyer cherry picks his examples to sway his lay audience, those who won’t grasp Meyer’s huge logic errors. Meyer might as well claim “Design is known to create red objects like fire engines and stop signs, so we should infer red apples are designed!”

  26. Also those features, which we DO see in designed object “lineages” are conspicuously ABSENT from living things, exactly as you would predict if they evolved bottom up, and not top down.

    Trying to argue that a top-down pattern exists is pretty daft. It’s precisely those nested hierarchies that got Darwin on to common descent, and thence to evolution, in the first place. He wasn’t wrong.

  27. Lizzie:
    llanitedave:

    keiths is correct.I am conceding nothing.I am pointing out that even if we accept his false premise, his reasoning fails, because he claims as a “causally adequate” explanation an explanation that boils down to “there is no explanation”.

    In other words even if we play with one arm tied behind our backs, in size 13 wellington boots, blindfolded, he still loses.

    But I’ve been thinking about this.William, on the other Meyer thread, cited arguments by Mario Beauregard, and also Johnjoe McFadden, about a possible quantum account of the effect of mind on matter.

    Meyer doesn’t even advance such a suggestion, he just takes it for granted that “acts of mind” are self-evidently possible, even, implicitly, in the absence of a brain or muscles.But it might be worth unpacking it nonetheless.

    Were there an actual debate going on, I would agree with you, but Meyer is not engaging in any such give and take. It’s a propaganda mission, pure and simple. (Which is why I threw in the Hitler analogy, as over-the-top as that may have seemed). All you need to say is “I’ll concede for the sake of argument…”, and it will get announced to his followers as “The evolutionists conceded my arguments!”

    Again, the downside of “assuming good faith” rears its ugly head. I can see why you feel it’s an important policy for this blog, but for the wider world out there, you might as well be Neville Chamberlain.

  28. Elizabeth Liddle:

    I am conceding nothing. I am pointing out that even if we accept his false premise, his reasoning fails

    Why on earth would you grant the truth of a false premise?

    And granted, I’m coming in a bit late, but where did you show his premise to be false?

  29. Mung:

    Why on earth would you grant the truth of a false premise?

    She didn’t. Someone needs to learn to read for comprehension.

    Why on earth would someone claim to be a Lover of Truth and then refuse to even acknowledge all the devastating evidence that’s been presented against Meyer’s IDiotic claims?

  30. FLAWED LOGIC?? ID as opposed to evolutionism,??
    Evolution is basing its claims to being a scientific theory of biology ON non biological evidences.
    Geology, genetics, morphology, biogeography, variationism within species, and general hunchism and whatelsecoulditbe ismn.
    It will in retrospect be the grand story of the grand flaw that was pushed in evolutionary biology pretty soon.

    Remember the power of this ID best seller and much in iD is that they accept geology as the evidence for conclusions on biological processes, complexity rates, and timeline results.
    You can’t beat that as long as both sides live and die on geology.
    They shall prevail in their criticisms to most uncommitted thoughful observers.
    They are right but actually wrong because of the flawed thing of using geology for biology conclusions.
    i think I’m right.

  31. Neil Rickert:

    Mung will be along shortly, to accuse us all of commenting on the book without first reading it.

    Your evidence?

    (I will ignore him).

    Another true skeptic. Lizzie would be proud.

  32. Mung:
    Neil Rickert:

    Your evidence?

    Another true skeptic. Lizzie would be proud.

    Right on schedule, another drive-by Munging! Still no attempts anywhere to discuss or defend Meyer’s own words.

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