A modest proposal for detecting design

I’d like to thank everyone who participated in the recent Max’s demon thread, it might be helpful to revisit that OP for context before continuing on to what follows here. http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/maxs-demon-a-design-detection-riddle/

As promised and for what it’s worth I’d now like to submit my proposal for a method for detecting design in situations like Max’s demon where instead of looking at a single isolated artifact or event we are evaluating a happening that is extended spatiotemporally in some way.

I believe that looking at these sorts of phenomena allows us to sidestep the usual sorts of contentious probability discussions that have plagued questions of design inference in the recent past. Usually these discussions involve a single highly unlikely object or event that is only categorized as design or coincidence in retrospect. My hope is that we can in some cases move to determinations based on the correspondence of ongoing observations to predictions and expectations.

Before we begin I’d like to once again clarify a few terms. For our purposes design will be defined as the observable effects of “personal choice” and “personal choice” is simply the the inverse of natural selection as is understood in Darwinian evolution. Such that we can say that something is the result of personal choice (ie designed) when it is ultimately prescribed by something other than it’s immediate local environment.

With that caveat in mind I will detail how my method would work with Max’s demon.

                                            My method

The first step is build the best model(M)that we can given the information we have right now. It could be a physical copy of Max’s original container(O) or it could be a computer simulation or perhaps a just simplified mental description that includes all the known relevant details. The goal would be that the model(M)represents what we know about (O) as it pertains to the specific phenomena(P)we are looking at, namely here a persistent temperature difference between the two chambers of (O). It’s very important to specify ahead of time what P is so as to narrow our focus.

Next I would look to remove P in some way. This could be done by subjecting both my model (M) and the container(O) to temperatures cold enough to completely remove the observable differences between the two chambers in each. Absolute zero for an extended time should do the trick.

At this time I would allow(M)and(O)to thaw for a specified period of time and record any temperature difference that arises between the various chambers in (M)and(O). The difference between these two numbers{(P of O)-(P of M)} gives us a rough approximation of any relevant information present in(O)that is missing in(M)at this particular moment in time.

Now we can repeat the process again and again to look for any variation in P. If we record the results of these trials next to each other we get a number sequence showing information difference in P for each consecutive trial. Below are some examples of what such a sequence might look like.

0,0,0,0,0,0,0…
7,7,7,7,7,7,7…
7,8,9,10,11,12…
1,4,1,4,2,1,3…

In the first sequence we see no measurable difference at all between (P of O)and(P of M). Therefore there appears to be no compelling reason to infer design for P in a process that yields this sequence. Since as far as we know (M) has no ongoing personal choice involved there is no compelling reason to infer that(O)does either at least in context of the singular P we are evaluating. Of course that does not imply that there is not an observable design influence in another aspect that we are not at present evaluating or that design is not involved in the system as a whole.

Moving on to the second sequence it’s interesting to realize that we don’t have to know specifically what is causing the 7 degree difference between (P of M) and (P of O)in order to make a determination. All we have to do is add 7 to each instantiation of (M) and we see the same repeating zeros we saw in number one. And just as with number one we can discount the design inference as superfluous in regards to P.

The same goes for the third sequence we simply add one each time we repeat the trial and we are again left with the first sequence. We can make similar simple modifications to (M) to cause most sequences to morph to zero repeating and demonstrating that a design inference is not warranted.

However when we come to sequences like we see in number four this is not as easy and therefore personal choice becomes a live option for explaining the P in the particular spatio temporal dimension reflected in this sequence.

There is no reason to expect that this sequence will terminate on its own and there is no obvious way that we can modify (M) to make the sequence terminate. It is of course possible that the difference we see is nothing but random voice so we need to look for some sort of recognizable pattern in the sequence before we can say are justified in inferring design.

*A recognizable pattern is just one that allows us to predict the next digit in the sequence before running the trial.

In the case of the third sequence it turns out that the elements are precisely the decimal expansion of the square root of two, an irrational number.

There is no clear way to modify (M) to produce this sequence in full, that does not involve input from something outside the local environment or the container. At a minimum we must assume (O) was frontloaded to react in a certain prescribed but unexpected way to a trial that was only conceived after it was constructed. That sort of input must have come from something that transcends the immediate local environment of the container. Therefore as long as the pattern persists whatever is causing P tentatively meets our criteria for being the result of design.

In short— if a sequence produced by our comparison of (O) with (M) yields a persistent recognizable pattern that can’t be duplicated convincingly by making an adjustment to(M) then it’s my contention that we can infer design for P in more than a purely subjective way. That is it in a nutshell

Few sequences are as cut and dried as the square root of two. In our everyday experience the more sure we are that there can be no satisfactory modification to our model to eliminate the recognizable pattern we see  the more confident we are that the phenomena we are evaluating is the result of design.

For example a sequence like the one below

001002003….. seems to imply design in that every third trial yields an increasing difference  . But it is still open to debate since we don’t know for sure if the sequence is irrational or will eventually repeat or terminate. The longer a recognizable pattern continues with out repeating the more confident we can be in our design inference but only when we know a particular sequence is irrational can we be certain .

Well there you have it

I don’t think that my method is anything new or revolutionary it’s simply an attempt to make more explicit and structured the informal common sense approach that we use all the time when inferring design in these types of situations. Also l want to point out that I don’t need to call my method scientific it’s just important to me that it be reasonable useful and repeatable.

Most of all I want to emphasize my method is not meant to be some sort of argument for the existence of God. His existence is self evident and unavoidably obvious and not to be proved by some puny little human argument. By their very nature such arguments inevitably lead only to foolish human hubris and arrogance instead of any kind of genuine knowledge or wisdom.

We can discuss places other than Max’s demon where this method might prove to be useful and can get into some possible implications in places like evolution, cosmology and artificial intelligence if you like in the comments section.

As usual I apologize ahead of time for spelling and grammar mistakes and welcome any constructive criticism as to clarity or content.

Peace

267 thoughts on “A modest proposal for detecting design

  1. J-Mac: I’m not sure what you are referring to exactly.. perhaps to cloning?
    In any case in quantum mechanics “the no-cloning theorem states that it is impossible to create an identical copy of an arbitrary unknown quantum state”…

    No this is not about cloning and it’s not about quantum mechanics. Nothing so woo as all that.

    It’s about math and computer science and the impossibility of modeling certain sorts of phenomena.

    peace

  2. petrushka: What difference does it make if something “looks” designed.

    The question is how can you tell. There appears to be a supposition that an object carries its history in its current conformation. This can only be true if strict determinism is true and we have a “billiard table” universe. But radioactive decay refutes this idea. Whilst radioactivity is statistically and reliably predictable, there’s no way to know when an individual atom will decay or in which direction the products of decay will be ejected.

    What about a pebble? If we select a pebble from a stream bed, we might surmise that it came from a scree fall further up, beginning as a sharp-edged fragment gradually being worn rounder over time. We might be able to match it to exposed strata at the head of the valley but the information of its origin has been worn away with its sharp edges.

    “Intelligent Design” proponents, beginning with Dembski and his explanatory (optimistic choice of name) filter, through CSI and so on have claimed to be able to do this but have yet to apply their methods successfully or, rather, at all. Let me suggest, due to the nature of our universe, it is a vain effort.

  3. petrushka: The question science asks is how things happen, and whether the process of their origin can be explained by regular phenomena.

    What exactly is “regular phenomena”?

    I would say that there is nothing irregular about things that are designed.

    Perhaps by regular you mean natural phenomena, if so we are in agreement. It’s seems obvious that there is a real difference between nature and artifice. However your compatriots seem unwilling to grant even that small area of common ground.

    peace

  4. How can anything as well balanced as the solar system not be designed? It seems someone once provided a pithy rejoinder.

    My point is, it has been the business of science for several centuries to reveal regularities in nature that lurk behind fancy patterns and self perpetuating dynamic systems.

    One could ascribe this to faith, or one could note that centuries of accumulated success are evidence that the project is worth continuing.

    Paley’s project is still spinning its wheels at the starting line.

  5. fifthmonarchyman: newton: It seems to me what you are detecting is the skill of the modeler.

    Not at all, If my model is bad I can simply modify it so that it’s output matches the measured results of the completed trial. It’s not hard often just simple arithmetic is required.

    Then we run the trial again with the modification to see if the new and improved model duplicates the phenomena I’m evaluating the next time. If not I tweak it again. The model should get better each time regardless of my skill.

    And the skill necessary is building the model that is close enough that only tweaks can get you to your target. The more complex the system the skill it takes.

    We can repeat this process indefinitely gaining more confidence each time the ever improving model falls short of duplicating.

    And confidence comes experience in building the model. You learn from your experience, and get more skillful at constructing and improving it.

    The design inference only becomes certain when it’s demonstrated that no model can ever reproduce the predictable pattern we see.

    No model that occurred to you. By your method the anomalous precession of Mercury would be showned to be designed from Newton’s time till the Theory of Relativity was accepted.

    Just saying, if you set the bar as no model ever, that claim requires you can know what you do not know.

  6. petrushka: How can anything as well balanced as the solar system not be designed?

    I don’t think well balanced in any way equals designed. The forces of nature seem pretty good at balancing things. If it’s not well balanced it does not last too long in our universe

    A very precariously balanced thing might be more likely to be designed but we are again back to probabilities. In a near infinite universe somethings are bound to be precariously balanced.

    How about if we topple something that is precariously balanced and the next day we find it in the same precarious position. That might be a clue that something beyond nature is at work.

    How about we topple the precariously balanced thing repeatedly and again and again it returns to it’s unsteady position. I think if that happens we could be confident that we are looking at design

    petrushka: Paley’s project is still spinning its wheels at the starting line.

    I like Paley but any project meant to prove God’s existence is foolish. Human’s don’t need to prove God’s existence he has already done that.

    peace

  7. newton: And the skill necessary is building the model that is close enough that only tweaks can get you to your target.

    Any model at all can be improved by tweaks.

    If there is no way whatsoever to improve a model to make it more closely duplicate the pattern we are evaluating. It tells you more about the pattern than the model.

    newton: No model that occurred to you.

    Again there is no model at all that can reproduce an irrational number in it’s entirety.

    It’s not about my ability to construct it’s about the limitations of all models

    newton: By your method the anomalous precession of Mercury would be showed to be designed from Newton’s time till the Theory of Relativity was accepted.

    not at all, We could model that with a simple arithmetic tweak to Newtons model. That is what epicycles are all about.

    What Einstein did was eliminate the need for that particular tweak

    newton: if you set the bar as no model ever, that claim requires you can know what you do not know.

    Not at all. I’ve linked to a real world case in a peer-reviewed paper. If Maguire’s thinking is correct we know no model can ever duplicate human consciousness.

    peace

  8. Just dipping in here, but I am a bit confused. The situation is that the little demon manipulates the apparatus so that the temperature differences follow the decimal expansion of the square root of 2, right? And you claim that it won’t be possible to model this system so that it predicts what it will do at successive steps in time?

    As far as I can tell you see a problem in that no model can reproduce an irrational number ‘in its entirety’, correct? But neither can the demon! The square root of 2 doesn’t have ‘an entirety’ – it is a number with an infinite decimal expansion. So the demon will at each step have to calculate what the next digit is going to be, and then manipulate the apparatus accordingly.

    It would be quite simple to produce a model that does the same, once it has become clear that the variations follow the expansion of the square root of 2. I imagine it wouldn’t take more than a dozen or so of measurements before the experimenter cottons on to what is going on, gives his model the abiity to calculate the square root of 2, and so accurately predicts the future temperature differences.

    What makes you think that this is impossible?

    By the way, you equate design with choice (which is not a bad notion actually), but it seems to me that your little demon fellow isn’t exercising much choice at all, isn’t he? He slavishly follows the expansion of the square root of 2. His ony choice is at the beginning, the moment he decides to do this. Everything after that is determined. Unknown ‘in its entirety’ perhaps, but still determined.

  9. faded_Glory: As far as I can tell you see a problem in that no model can reproduce an irrational number ‘in its entirety’, correct? But neither can the demon!

    The Demon can reproduce the square root of two just as long as he needs to to pass the test. His manipulation of the air in the container is a form of communication. He is in a sense communicating with the person conducting the test. The communication is successful when the testor recognizes that in fact the sequence is the square root of two. It will not need to continue beyond that

    That implicit interaction is exactly why this method is better than looking at a single object.

    faded_Glory: So the demon will at each step have to calculate what the next digit is going to be, and then manipulate the apparatus accordingly.

    Either that or he will need to frontload the apparatus to produce enough digits to convince the testor that he is in fact producing the square root of two. Either way there is no question that design (as I have defined it) is happening.

    faded_Glory: It would be quite simple to produce a model that does the same

    No, because the model will need to frontload in advance what particular test is being conducted. When the measurements will be taken etc.

    let me quote myself from the OP

    quote:
    There is no clear way to modify (M) to produce this sequence in full, that does not involve input from something outside the local environment of the container. At a minimum we must assume (O) was frontloaded to react in a certain prescribed but unexpected way to a trial that was only conceived after it was constructed. That sort of input must have come from something that transcends the immediate local environment of the container.
    end quote:

    faded_Glory: His ony choice is at the beginning, the moment he decides to do this.

    Personal choice is personal choice whether it’s one choice or a thousand. Design as I’m defining it is not a continuum so that more choices equals more design.

    There are lots of patterns that probably involve more choices than the square root of two that I happened to chose as an illustration of what I’m talking about. That does not mean they are more designed.

    peace

    PS thank you for the interaction your comment shows that you are at least paying attention

  10. It is not clear to me if you allow the tester to tweak his model during the experiment. Here you say that you don’t, but in other posts I got the impression that you do. If not, then there will be many situations where the model will fail to predict the differences even if there is no demon in the apparatus. Feedback is essential for success (as with evolution).

  11. faded_Glory: It is not clear to me if you allow the tester to tweak his model during the experiment.

    The tester is allowed to tweak his model at any time but in order to be successful his tweak must account for the pattern both retroactively and in the future.

    faded_Glory: If not, then there will be many situations where the model will fail to predict the differences even if there is no demon in the apparatus.

    We are not trying to account for mere differences but for the predictable pattern we see. Most likely there will be differences that are the result of just random noise.

    However when the difference consists of a recognizable ie predictable pattern then additional feed back is not necessary. Once you see the pattern you know what the next digit in the sequence will be before you run the trial.

    faded_Glory: Feedback is essential for success (as with evolution).

    Evolution is backward and sideways looking, design on the other hand is forward looking.

    You don’t need feed back from every trial when you know the pattern in advance.

    This method is all about the connection between the mind of the Demon and the mind of the tester.

    Evolutionary models are incapable of making that connection. By necessity they are dependent on feedback from each individual trial.

    Remember my definition of design
    quote:
    we can say that something is the result of personal choice (ie designed) when it is ultimately prescribed by something other than it’s immediate local environment.
    end quote:

    That “transcendent” prescription makes immediate feedback from the local environment less important.

    peace

    PS again thanks for the interaction. You are asking good questions

  12. If you are interested here is an example of the inadequacy of models that depend on evolutionary changes from feed back when the pattern is prescribed “transcendentally”

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1412.1897

    Here the Deep Neural Network keeps “improving” but It misses the transcendent pattern entirely it’s ontologically incapable of making that connection.

    It’s fooled by local feed back and missed the big picture

    peace

  13. fifthmonarchyman: The Demon can reproduce the square root of two just as long as he needs to to pass the test. His manipulation of the air in the container is a form of communication.

    It is? How did we discover this fact about the demon, designer?

    He is in a sense communicating with the person conducting the test. The communication is successful when the testor recognizes that in fact the sequence is the square root of two. It will not need to continue beyond that

    We seem to know a lot about the nature of the demon and he about tester, is this part of your theory that this is a universal about design?

  14. fifthmonarchyman: Not at all. I’ve linked to a real world case in a peer-reviewed paper. If Maguire’s thinking is correct we know no model can ever duplicate human consciousness.

    Understand, based on the knowledge we now possess and the technology we now possess.

    Neither is fixed. It seems to me you can say is based on the models we possess we cannot discount design , then again given an unknown designer with unknown abilities that is always true, he may choose to design a system that can be modeled.

  15. fifthmonarchyman,

    I’m still at a loss.

    The modeler is alowed to tweak the model at any time – so as soon as she recognises that the pattern is the square root of 2, she will add a routine to the model to calculate the square root of 2 and use that info to history match the past measurements and to predict the future ones.

    Your demon doesn’t choose to deviate from the deterministic order of decimals and so the future becomes entirely predictable. Hence the modeler will conclude that there is no design (although she may well wonder what causes this odd, but predictable, series of temperature differences).

    I think you are going wrong when you constrain the demon in its choice of future temperature differences. You try to detect design, ‘choices’ in your terminology, but actually you rule out choices during the test. You need to reconsider your approach.

  16. fifthmonarchyman: not at all, We could model that with a simple arithmetic tweak to Newtons model. That is what epicycles are all about.

    If it was simple and satisfying it would not have remained in real life an anomalous effect. The model lost is predictive value is some cases , predictive abilty is an attribute of a effective model.

    If the model works everyday but Tuesday when another model works,it is possible to tweak it . It then seems to me you need to model of why the tweak was necessary. Somewhere is an unmodeled unknown.

    To me that is what you are saying with your test, personal choice cannot be predictably modeled.

    What Einstein did was eliminate the need for that particular tweak

    True,the exception to model was not needed, and it explained other observations which Newton’s did not.

  17. newton: We seem to know a lot about the nature of the demon and he about tester, is this part of your theory that this is a universal about design?

    In the beginning all the tester knows is that designed things are not prescribed by the local environment.

    He learns more and more things about the Demon as he goes along. Which is how life and relationships work. I would say that dynamic is universal

    peace

  18. newton: Understand, based on the knowledge we now possess and the technology we now possess.

    That is simply incorrect. We will never be able to square a circle and we will never be able to compute the non-computable. It’s not at all about current technology or knowledge it’s about the law of non-contradiction.

    newton: It is? How did we discover this fact about the demon, designer?

    Design/Personal choice as we are defining it necessarily entails the ability to transcend the local environment in relation to the actions taken. Unlike a model the Demon knows at least implicitly that there is no end when it comes to an infinite sequence. It’s just another way to describe at the halting problem.

  19. newton: If it was simple and satisfying it would not have remained in real life an anomalous effect. The model lost is predictive value is some cases , predictive abilty is an attribute of a effective model.

    No you just need to add an arbitrary epicycle to compensate for the anomalous effect. We see the same thing right now with modified newtonian dynamics. Proponents are just tweaking the model a little bit to accommodate the anomaly.

    newton: To me that is what you are saying with your test, personal choice cannot be predictably modeled.

    It can be predicted just not effectively modeled. We accurately predict what other people will choose all the time.

    What we can’t do is say a person will all ways choose the same way when presented with the same environmental input.

    peace

  20. faded_Glory: so as soon as she recognises that the pattern is the square root of 2, she will add a routine to the model to calculate the square root of 2 and use that info to history match the past measurements and to predict the future ones.

    If the model includes the rank of the digit that the next trial will yield then it it has information beyond what can possibly come from the local environment of the container.

    That is exactly how we are delineating design here……remember

    faded_Glory: Your demon doesn’t choose to deviate from the deterministic order of decimals and so the future becomes entirely predictable.

    It’s predictable but not model-able. That is what we are looking for.

    faded_Glory: I think you are going wrong when you constrain the demon in its choice of future temperature differences.

    There is no constraint. The demon is completely free to choose any pattern or no pattern at all. The reason we infer design is because we see a clear pattern when there does not have to be one.

    peace

  21. fifthmonarchyman,

    You need to specify what you mean with ‘the local environment of the container’. This sounds like a fuzzy fudge factor that you can far too easily tweak to make your thought experiment do what you want it to do. In what sense is the experimenter not part of the local environment?

  22. faded_Glory: You need to specify what you mean with ‘the local environment of the container’.

    I mean the local environment.
    Think again about natural selection.

    To say that a phenomena is the result of natural selection is to say that ultimately it is prescribed by the local environment. It’s not prescribed by future needs or by personal preferences or anything else whatsoever.

    faded_Glory: This sounds like a fuzzy fudge factor that you can far too easily tweak to make your thought experiment do what you want it to do.

    If it’s a fuzzy fudge factor for this method it’s a fuzzy fuzz factor in Darwinian evolution. By “local environment” I mean exactly what is meant by the “Natural” in natural selection.

    faded_Glory: In what sense is the experimenter not part of the local envoronment?

    The experimenter’s body is a part of the local environment his personal plans and choices and future self are not.

    If those things are part of “natural” selection then natural is a superfluous modifier in the phrase natural selection and it should just be called selection.

    I think this is an important line of thinking. It’s probably the key to understanding what I’m getting at.

    Design as we are defining it is precisely what natural selection is not.

    By the way this is not just a thought experiment. I chose the example of Max’s Demon and the square root of two as an illustration but the method works with practical real world phenomena as well.

    peace

  23. fifthmonarchyman: That is simply incorrect. We will never be able to square a circle and we will never be able to compute the non-computable. It’s not at all about current technology or knowledge it’s about the law of non-contradiction.

    We agree, you know those things because they are logically impossible, not knowing why the rain falls on the plain in Spain needs to be shown to be logically impossible not as a result our finite knowledge. Unless the default is design.

    We cannot model what happens in a black hole and compare it to reality, not seeing that as persuasive the internal workings of a black hole are not prescribed by nature.

  24. fifthmonarchyman: It can be predicted just not effectively modeled. We accurately predict what other people will choose all the time.

    Interesting, we are better at it we people we know than people we don’t. People we have seen choose before in a similar situation.

    What we can’t do is say a person will all ways choose the same way when presented with the same environmental input.

    I can’t say my car will always start when I turn the key, either.

  25. newton: not knowing why the rain falls on the plain in Spain needs to be shown to be logically impossible not as a result our finite knowledge.

    right!!!

    Since consciousness is not computable it’s logically impossible to model the effects of consciousness (ie design).

    It has nothing at all to do with our finite knowledge. If Maguire and company are correct. It’s about logical impossibility.

    The leap I’m making with my method is the contention that if the rain in Spain can’t be modeled but can be predicted then it’s design.

    This contention is also not contingent on our present finite knowledge it’s about a definition of personal choice as that which stands in semantic contrast to natural selection.

    newton: We cannot model what happens in a black hole and compare it to reality, not seeing that as persuasive the internal workings of a black hole are not prescribed by nature.

    The eternal workings of a black hole are not model-able that is part of what it means to be a singularity. As long as the internal workings of a black hole are a singularity they will remain not model-able.

    If the internal workings of a black hole can be at the same time be shown to be predictable over time. Then we have a good candidate for design according to my method.

    Again it’s not about finite knowledge, unless you want to say that finite knowledge is what allows us to have personal choice in the first place.

    That is a philosophical contention I might agree with but it’s beyond the scope of this discussion.

    peace

  26. newton: Interesting, we are better at it we people we know than people we don’t. People we have seen choose before in a similar situation.

    That is why the method is about a trial that you repeat. Instead of a singular unlikely object.

    newton: I can’t say my car will always start when I turn the key, either.

    If the same car had the same inputs it would produce the same outputs every time.

    Your car does not always have the same inputs and it’s makeup changes over time. So at unpredictable times it fails to start.

    If you could predict but not model when your car would not start that would be a different and very interesting story.

    Peace

  27. fifthmonarchyman,

    I don’t see the relation between your physics experiment and natural selection. Both systems operate completely different.

    I am only commenting on the scenario you describe in your OP and on your notion that the model cannot be tweaked to predict the behaviour you assigned to the demon. On that you are clearly wrong. This setup will not serve to distinguish design from the ordinary workings of physics.

    The rest of your argument is a complete muddle. The only interesting point you have made is to relate design to choice. Since nature doesn’t choose (in the ordinary sense of the word) you haven’t made any argument yet in favour of ID versus biological evolution.

  28. faded_Glory: I don’t see the relation between your physics experiment and natural selection. Both systems operate completely different.

    The connection is in the definition of design. Nothing else. Design is defined by it’s contrast to natural selection.

    faded_Glory: I am only commenting on the scenario you describe in your OP and on your notion that the model cannot be tweaked to predict the behaviour you assigned to the demon. On that you are clearly wrong.

    You are not doing a good job of explaining why I am wrong. In my opinion.

    There is simply no way to tweak a model to produce the same difference as we are seeing without the input of something beyond the local environment of the original container.

    Your recent attempts to expand the meaning of local environment to include the tester’s future choices demonstrates that I’m right.

    faded_Glory: you haven’t made any argument yet in favour of ID versus biological evolution.

    I’m not attempting to make an argument in favor of ID verses biological evolution.

    I’m proposing a method to detect design in a more than subjective way in certain circumstances .

    peace

  29. faded_Glory: The only interesting point you have made is to relate design to choice. Since nature doesn’t choose (in the ordinary sense of the word)

    I do think this is an important thing to realize.

    When we infer design what we are really saying is that we sense a real choice has been made.

    In the end design is not about complexity or efficiency or anything else just personal choice as apposed to being determined by the environment .

    peace

  30. faded_Glory: Since nature doesn’t choose (in the ordinary sense of the word)

    One reason I specify that we are talking about the local environment when we say nature is to counteract physical determinists who hold that there is no choice period (in the ordinary sense of the word).

    My method is compatible with physical determinism as long as we agree that we are not zombies and there is such a thing as personal choice.

    If you were to hold that personal choice is an illusion then we would need to modify the definition from design equals the affects of personal choice to design equals the affects of apparent personal choice

    peace

  31. faded_Glory: I don’t see the relation between your physics experiment and natural selection.

    Nor me. And is it fair to use the words “physics experiment”? I mean, has FMM provided enough detail to even amount to a thought experiment?

  32. Alan Fox: And is it fair to use the words “physics experiment”?

    I don’t think so, it’s not a physics experiment any more that it is a evolutionary biology experiment. It was never intended to be either of those things.

    Alan Fox: has FMM provided enough detail to even amount to a thought experiment?

    It’s not a thought experiment either.

    As I said from the very beginning It’s a proposed method for detecting design in certain situations. Together with an illustration of how it might work in a given particular hypothetical.

    peace

  33. Alan Fox: Nor me.

    Do you understand the inherent relationship between natural selection and the concept that Darwin used to explain it when he originally coined the phrase?

    peace

  34. fifthmonarchyman: right!!!

    Common ground, my point has been that I don’t think humans inability to build a model is equal to logically impossibility. And not all models need math.

    Since consciousness is not computable it’s logically impossible to model the effects of consciousness (ie design).

    If it is uncomputable means it is impossible to compute, mathematics is not a very good description. That does not mean we cannot describe consciousness from our own experience and extrapolate it.

    It has nothing at all to do with our finite knowledge. If Maguire and company are correct. It’s about logical impossibility.

    It is a logical impossibility to digitize.We experience it in a non-mathematical way, we know how to manipulate it. We experience its loss. And when we extrapolation our experience to others we are building a model.

    The leap I’m making with my method is the contention that if the rain in Spain can’t be modeled but can be predicted then it’s design.

    If my knee hurts before it rains, I am associating the pain and the rain. I don’t need to know about cold fronts or low pressure. My model is simple, knee pain = rain

    I would say it doesn’t indicate the rain is designed.

    This contention is also not contingent on our present finite knowledge it’s about a definition of personal choice as that which stands in semantic contrast to natural selection.

    Finally we got there, work calls for now. Thanks for the thought provoking post

  35. fifthmonarchyman: Do you understand the inherent relationship between natural selection and the concept that Darwin used to explain it when he originally coined the phrase?

    peace

    Do you? Would I believe you? Demonstrations are more convincing than assertions, I find.

  36. fifthmonarchyman: Do you understand the inherent relationship between natural selection and the concept that Darwin used to explain it when he originally coined the phrase?

    Trying to answer your question at face value, of course not and the question is both irrelevant and impossible to answer. Charles Darwin is dead. His contribution to biology is immense but now we have current evolutionary theory. The history of science is an interesting topic but it is still history.

  37. Alan Fox: Trying to answer your question at face value, of course not and the question is both irrelevant and impossible to answer.

    I’m not asking about Darwin’s deepest secret. I’m asking about the central tenet and core of his theory. Natural selection is still a valid concept is it not?

    Surely you have an opinion on the relationship between natural and artificial selection.

    If you don’t see any relationship at all then any kind of discussion that involves the concept of natural selection is what is impossible.

    Alan Fox: The history of science is an interesting topic but it is still history.

    I’m not interested in history here I’m interested in natural selection and it’s relationship artificial selection. Is there a relationship or not? and what is it

    peace

  38. fifthmonarchyman: I don’t think so, it’s not a physics experiment any more that it is a evolutionary biology experiment. It was never intended to be either of those things.

    It’s not a thought experiment either.

    As I said from the very beginning It’s a proposed method for detecting design in certain situations. Together with an illustration of how it might work in a given particular hypothetical.

    The original OP of which this is an extension certainly described a thought experiment with a physical apparatus. To quote you:

    “Suppose Max comes to you with a sealed but clear container consisting of two separate chambers with two visible certified thermometers mounted on the sides of the two chambers. Thermometer one reads 100 degrees and Thermometer 2 reads 10 degrees. Max tells you that the temperature differential you see is the result of tiny invisible demon that controls a microscopic door between the two chambers. As individual gas molecules approach the door, the demon quickly opens and shuts the door so that only fast molecules are passed into chamber one, while only slow molecules are passed into chamber two.

    Your mission if you choose to accept it is to devise a way to objectively verify the demon’s design influence on the contents of the container?”

    You current OP takes this example and discusses several scenarios of how the temperature differentials between the two chambers might develop.

    So yes, I would call this a physics thought experiment with the intention to detect design.

    You then give us a series of possible scenarios and tell us that one of them should lead us to conclude design, because somehow we can detect ‘personal choice’ in the series of temperature differences.

    I have pointed out that the expansion of the square root of 2 is a fixed, determined sequence that contains no personal choice at all. I have also pointed out that the experimenter will quickly realise that this sequence is what the apparatus produces, and that therefore she can simply add a routine to her model to mimic and indeed predict the temperature differences. In other words, your model 1) doesn’t indicate ‘choice’ at all, and 2) the results will be entirely predictable. There is therefore absolutely no reason whatsoever to conclude that there is a little invisible demon inside the apparatus manipulating the temperatures.

    Your example, or thought experiment, or proposed method, or whatever you want to call it, fails to achieve its objective.

    If you now say that the proposed physical apparatus (even as just a thought experiment) doesn’t matter, I am at a complete loss what we are actually talking about. Why introduce all this stuff in the first place if we are not supposed to analyse and critique it? Surely you were not trying to bamboozle us with ‘sciency’ sounding ideas and concepts?

    Surely not.

  39. newton: my point has been that I don’t think humans inability to build a model is equal to logically impossibility.

    I agree, just because we can’t think of a way to make a model does not mean that there is no possible way.

    On the other hand there is a way mathematically to show that some models are impossible to make. It’s only in those cases that we can say that our design inference is certain.

    newton: mathematics is not a very good description. That does not mean we cannot describe consciousness from our own experience and extrapolate it.

    Right, We can describe it and we can recognize it but we can’t model it. That is the entire point.

    It’s that precise dynamic that we are defining as design.

    Again keep in mind this is not meant to be an argument for God’s existence. An atheist could argue that human consciousness is designed by humans themselves if he wanted too as long as he did not think that human consciousness was prescribed by nature (ie the local environment).

    newton: And when we extrapolation our experience to others we are building a model.

    No that is not what we are doing, A model maps inputs to outputs.

    What we are doing is viewing our own subjective conscious experience and assuming that others share it.

    newton: My model is simple, knee pain = rain

    I would say it doesn’t indicate the rain is designed.

    Because you have a model simple or not that explains the phenomena then you would not according to my model be justified in infering design in the case of the rain or the pain.

    On the other hand if you had no model to explain the phenomena.

    Say you lived in Argentina but your knee hurt only when it rained in Spain. If this coincidence happened long enough you might begin to think something was afoot.

    If you could some how prove that there was no possible way to link weather in Spain to pain in your knee but repeatedly every time it rained there you had knee pain and never at any other time your design hunch would be validated.

    peace

  40. faded_Glory: I have pointed out that the expansion of the square root of 2 is a fixed, determined sequence that contains no personal choice at all.

    Here is where you are wrong. The choice is to exhibit that pattern rather than another or none at all.

    faded_Glory: I have also pointed out that the experimenter will quickly realise that this sequence is what the apparatus produces, and that therefore she can simply add a routine to her model to mimic and indeed predict the temperature differences.

    Again you can’t do that with out importing something beyond the local environment into the model. Namely the rank of the next trial in the sequence.

    It’s precisely this importation of information beyond the local environment that we are looking for when we infer design.

    faded_Glory: Your example, or thought experiment, or proposed method, or whatever you want to call it, fails to achieve its objective.

    Actually your own comment proves exactly why the method works.

    faded_Glory: Why introduce all this stuff in the first place if we are not supposed to analyse and critique it?

    I am looking for a critique. Thank you for the interaction.

    For the most part your comments have been helpful in showing me where I need to be more clear for example I now know that I need to make the concept of local environment more explicit at the outset as you seem to be having difficulty with that one.

    I hope you can see where your critique falls short now.

    peace

  41. faded_Glory: So yes, I would call this a physics thought experiment with the intention to detect design.

    I would disagree. The intention of the OP was to introduce the method and explain how it works with a particular hypothetical.

    Generally a thought experiment is meant to explore the potential consequences of the principle in question. I’m really not trying to do that. Instead I’m hoping to show how and why the method works to detect design (as we have defined it).

    peace

  42. newton: Finally we got there

    All this time I thought that was where we started 😉

    peace and thank you

  43. fifthmonarchyman,

    fifthmonarchyman: I’m interested in natural selection and it’s relationship artificial selection. Is there a relationship or not? and what is it

    I’ve already told you, there’s no difference. They’re the same process.

  44. Alan Fox: I’ve already told you, there’s no difference. They’re the same process.

    Then why the need for a modifier? Why not just call it selection?

    The YEC’s I know would have no problem with Darwinian evolution if it was understood as random mutation filtered by artificial selection. After all that is what farmers have been doing for thousands of years. Thinking of God as a farmer who actively selects the traits he desires in organisms from a range of possibilities would definitely be seen as Biblical.

    It would certainly be easier to believe in the evolutionary power of natural selection if it was understood to be exactly the same process that turned grey wolf into a Chihuahua in the geological blink of an eye.

    If you honestly believe that there is no difference between God actively selecting the traits he desires for no reason other than he desires them and evolutionary success being determined by fitness to the environment then we have nothing to talk about.

    I’m more interested in talking with people who think that natural selection has meaning as a distinctive concept.

    I do some how doubt that you actually believe what you apparently just said you believe. Even Neil who sees artificial selection as a particular type of natural selection did not see the terms as synonymous.

    peace

  45. fifthmonarchyman: The YEC’s I know would have no problem with Darwinian evolution if it was understood as random mutation filtered by artificial selection. After all that is what farmers have been doing for thousands of years. Thinking of God as a farmer who actively selects the traits he desires in organisms from a range of possibilities would definitely be seen as Biblical.

    Not really, it’s just a fact.

  46. fifthmonarchyman: If you honestly believe that there is no difference between God actively selecting the traits he desires for no reason other than he desires them and evolutionary success being determined by fitness to the environment then we have nothing to talk about.

    As I said, it’s a fact. Apologies if this is inconvenient for your proposal.

  47. fifthmonarchyman: I do some how doubt that you actually believe what you apparently just said you believe.

    Well, I do believe it, because it is a fact. Also remember accusations of lying are against the rules.

  48. fifthmonarchyman: If you honestly believe that there is no difference between God actively selecting the traits he desires for no reason other than he desires them and evolutionary success being determined by fitness to the environment then we have nothing to talk about.

    PS I take no position on the role of God in all this. God is invisible and mysteriously untestable.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.