Barry finally gets it?

Barry Arrington was astonished to find that Larry Moran agreed with him that it would be possible for some future biologist to detect design in a Venter-designed genome.

He was further astonished to find that REC, a commenter at UD, agreed with Larry Moran.

Barry expresses his epiphany in a UD post REC Becomes a Design Proponent.

Has Barry finally realised that those of us who oppose the ideas of Intelligent Design proponents do not dispute that it is possible, in principle, to make a reasonable inference of design?  That rather our opposition is based on the evidence and argument advanced, not on some principled (or unprincipled!) objection to the entire project?

Sadly, it seems not.  Because Barry then gives some examples of his continued lack of appreciation of this point.  Here they are:

For example, consider this typical objection:  “All scientific claims must employ methodological naturalism, and you violate the principle of methodological naturalism when you make a design inference in biology.”

If that objection is valid (it is not, but set that aside for now), it is just as valid against REC’s and Dr. Moran’s design inferences as it is against any other design inference.

Yes, indeed, Barry.  It is not a valid objection, and if it were, it would be as valid against REC’s and Dr. Moran’s as against ID.  There is nothing wrong with making a design inference in principle. We do it all the time, as IDists like to point out.  And there’s nothing wrong with making it in biology, at least in principle.  There is certainly nothing that violates the “principle of methodological naturalism when you make a design inference in biology”.  I wonder where Barry found that quotation?

The point sailed right over REC’s head.  He responded that the objections were not valid as to his design inference, because his design inference (opposed to ID’s design inferences) was “valid and well evidenced.”

I doubt it sailed over REC’s head.  I expect it was the very point he was making – that there  is no reason in principle why one cannot make a valid design inference in biology, but whether the inference is valid or not would depend on the specifics of the evidence and argument.

But that is exactly what ID proponents have been saying for decades REC!  We have been saying all along that the various “typical objections” are invalid if the evidence leads to a design inference.

REC, the only difference between you and us is that you are persuaded by the evidence in a particular case and not in our case.  But you are missing the point.  If what is important is the EVIDENCE, then th “typical objections” lose all force all the time.

Barry, consider the possibility that you have been misreading the “typical objections” the entire time.  That the yards of text that are spilled daily at UD railing against Lewontin and us benighted “materialists” are entirely irrelevant.   The objection to ID by people like me (and Moran, and REC, and any other ID opponent I’ve come across, including Richard Dawkins in fact) is not that it is impossible that terrestrial life was designed by an intelligent agent, nor that it would be necessarily impossible to discover that it was, nor even, I suggest, impossible to infer a designer even if we had no clue as to who the designer might be (although that might make it trickier).  The objection is that the arguments advanced by ID proponents are fallacious.  They don’t work.  Some are circular, some are based on bad math, and some are based on a misunderstanding of biochemistry and biology.  They are not bad because they are design inferences, they are bad because they are bad design inferences.

In other words, the objection “all scientific claims must employ methodological naturalism” is invalid in principle, not in application, if it is even possible to make a valid design inference based on the EVIDENCE.

And here is where Barry steps on the rake again. Of course all scientific claims must employ methodological naturalism. It’s the only methodology we have in science – it is another way of saying that scientific claims must be falsifiable.  That doesn’t mean we can’t infer design. Design is a perfectly natural phenomenon.  If Barry means that we can only infer natural, not supernatural, design, he is absolutely correct, but that is simply because a supernatural design hypothesis is unfalsifiable. The reason Lewontin was correct is not that science is terrified of letting the supernatural in the door of science lest we have to face our worst nightmares, but that if you accept the supernatural as a valid hypothesis, you throw falsifiability out of the window.

You agree with us that it is the EVIDENCE that is important, and objections thrown up for the purpose of ruling that evidence out of court before it is even considered are invalid.

Yes, it is the EVIDENCE that is important,  But on the other side of the EVIDENCE coin are the predictions we derive from the theory that we are testing against that EVIDENCE. If there are no predictions – and a theory that can predict anything predicts nothing – then we have no way of evaluating whether our EVIDENCE supports our theory.  In fact, the word EVIDENCE only makes sense in relation to a theory. I’m no lawyer (heh) but doesn’t there have to be a charge before there is a trial?

Of course, by the same token, nobody can claim that ID is false – it may well be true that life was designed by a supernatural designer, whether at the origin-of-life stage as some claim, or at key stages, such as the Cambrian “Explosion” (scare quotes deliberate), as others claim; or for certain features too hard to leave to evolution such as the E.coli flagellae that enhance their ability to maim and kill our children. Or even to design a universe so fine-tuned that it contains the laws and materials necessary for life to emerge without further interference.   Science cannot falsify any of that – nor, for that matter the theory that it was all created ex nihilo Last Thursday.

That’s why nothing in evolutionary biology is a threat to belief in God or gods, and why the paranoia surrounding “methodological naturalism” is so completely misplaced.

What is a threat to us all, though, I suggest, is bad science masquerading as science, and that is my objection to ID.  Not the “broader” project itself as stated in the UD FAQ:

In a broader sense, Intelligent Design is simply the science of design detection — how to recognize patterns arranged by an intelligent cause for a purpose. Design detection is used in a number of scientific fields, including anthropology, forensic sciences that seek to explain the cause of events such as a death or fire, cryptanalysis and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). An inference that certain biological information may be the product of an intelligent cause can be tested or evaluated in the same manner as scientists daily test for design in other sciences.

but its fallacious (in my view) conclusion that:

…that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection.

Fallacious not because I assume that the “intelligent cause” is supernatural, but because the math and biochemistry simply do not support that inference.  Even if it’s true.

1,072 Replies to “Barry finally gets it?”

  1. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan,

    I’m not advocating your misrepresentation of my point.

    Don’t be a dick, Alan. You said it, so take responsibility for it:

    keiths:

    You don’t know ahead of time that it’s an unnecessary link, Alan.To do good science, it helps to isolate your prejudices from your scientific thinking.

    Alan:

    It doesn’t matter since bias is dealt with on repeating others’ work.

    It does matter, and my statement is correct:

    To do good science, it helps to isolate your prejudices from your scientific thinking.

    If you indulge your prejudices, you’ll tend to get bogus results. That’s bad science. The fact that someone else comes along and cleans up your mess doesn’t magically transform your bad science into good science. They might be doing good science, but you certainly aren’t.

  2. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    fifth:

    in the things that have been made so they(we) are without excuse.

    So you use your fallible human intellect to look at cheese doodles and the other “things that have been made” and you conclude that God exists.

    Since your intellect is fallible (to say the least), you might be mistaken. It isn’t revelation, it’s just your fallible intellect fallibly interpreting the evidence.

  3. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths: So you use your fallible human intellect to look at cheese doodles and the other “things that have been made” and you conclude that God exists.

    No God revels his existence in the things that are made I don’t conclude anything.

    God since he is omnipotent can reveal in such a way that I have no excuse (like fallible intellect) for denying his existence.

    That is just what he has done

    peace

  4. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox: I have a very good excuse. I am not persuaded (because I’m not forced to be, thank God) by the concept of a Christian version of God. It’s too, well, humanly-created in my view to be a candidate for the supreme being.

    How exactly do you know this? Please be specific

    peace

  5. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    OMagain: Would this be the same god that uses cancer as a learning opportunity for children?

    I don’t think that it’s the same God it does not sound familiar.

    God works everything for the good of those that love him I’m not privy to how all that works out but I don’t know anything about “learning opportunities”

    Peace

    PS I notice again it always comes back to the problem of evil and Atheist bible study. I can almost set my watch by it. It’s definitely like an obsession for you all.

  6. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox: That’s everything, then? Could you be any more specific?

    No just the things that have been made.

    The entire universe is like a mirror reflecting God’s glory.
    Imagine a small part of an image in an obscure corner of a mirror denying the existence of the very reality it reflects. It’s the height of absurdity.

    That is a picture of how silly you look denying God’s existence.

    I don’t mean to sound harsh or arrogant especially since absent God’s grace I would do the same things you do, but those are the facts

    peace

  7. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    fifth,

    God since he is omnipotent can reveal in such a way that I have no excuse (like fallible intellect) for denying his existence.

    …says fifth, employing his fallible intellect.

    Does God exist? Fifth’s fallible intellect says yes — but it might be wrong.

    Is God omnipotent? Fifth’s fallible intellect says yes, but that could be a mistake.

    Can a fallible intellect ever be absolutely certain that something has been revealed to it by God? Reason says no, but fifth’s fallible intellect fallibly says yes — and of course, being fallible, it might be mistaken about that.

    Will the light ever dawn on fifth’s fallible intellect? Given its extremely fallible performance to date, the safe bet is that fifth’s fallible intellect will remain mired in its fallibility, all while declaring that it infallibly knows that it has fallibly determined that its beliefs on this particular topic are infallible.

  8. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths: God since he is omnipotent can reveal in such a way that I have no excuse (like fallible intellect) for denying his existence.

    …says fifth, employing his fallible intellect.

    No that is part of the definition of omnipotence. Since God is omnipotent he can do this.
    No intellect required on my part to make the determination. It’s what omnipotent means

    That is unless you want to deny the law of non-contradiction. Do you really want to go down that road? There is no turning back on that one.

    If you deny that words have meanings you are left nothing but absurdity.
    That is quite a price to pay to avoid the obvious. Don’t you agree?

    peace

  9. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    fifth:

    No that is part of the definition of omnipotence. Since God is omnipotent he can do this.

    Omnipotence does not include the power to do the logically impossible.

    Even God can’t be certain that he is God. Do you really think you can?

  10. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths: Omnipotence does not include the power to do the logically impossible.

    Are you saying that certainty is logically impossible?
    Are you certain of that?

    If so I rest my case. ——certainty is possible with God

    If not I rest my case—— It’s possible that certainty is possible with God

    Heads I win tails I win

    Come on keiths use you head

    peace

  11. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths: Even God can’t be certain that he is God.

    The Christian God is a Trinity. Each person in the Godhead is omniscient. Each can infallibly vouch for the others eternaility and omniscience. Therefore God can know he is God.

    This is not hard

    peace

  12. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    fifth:

    Are you saying that certainty is logically impossible?

    See this: The Myth of Absolute Certainty

    Are you certain of that?

    Yes, but not absolutely certain, of course.

    If so I rest my case. ——certainty is possible with God

    If not I rest my case—— It’s possible that certainty is possible with God

    So not only are you not certain that certainty is possible for God — you have no counterargument to mine, and thus have no reason to think that absolute certainty is possible for him.

    Think, fifth.

    Watching you deploy logic is like watching this woman trying to fill her gas tank.

  13. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths: you have no counterargument to mine, and thus have no reason to think that absolute certainty is possible for him.

    What? Either answer you give acknowledges that certainty is possible with God.

    Either
    1) logical certainty is possible or
    2 it’s possible logical certainty is possible

    I win either way.

    Since you are going with option 2 and God can do what ever is possible I win

    Am I missing something or are you just having trouble following your own argument?

    The only way for you to win this argument is to prove with certainty that certainty is impossible thus rendering it possible.

    Thus forfeiting and loosing the argument by default. 😉

    peace

  14. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    fifth,

    Am I missing something or are you just having trouble following your own argument?

    You’re missing something, of course.

    You’re confusing epistemic possibility with metaphysical possibility. But if we get into that, I’m afraid I’ll be here all night trying to explain it to you.

    Is there any chance you could recruit a smarter Christian to take over your apologetics role here at TSZ? If God had meant for you to do this work, he would have given you the necessary mental equipment.

    Everything is epistemically possible given our fallible intellects, but that certainly gives us no reason to believe in, say, square circles.

  15. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    fifth,

    The Christian God is a Trinity. Each person in the Godhead is omniscient. Each can infallibly vouch for the others eternaility and omniscience. Therefore God can know he is God.

    No, because they have the same problem together that they do separately.

    Each person thinks that he and the others are omniscient, but he can’t be absolutely certain of it. After all, he might be a brain in a vat being fooled into thinking he is a member of a Trinity.

  16. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths: Everything is epistemically possible

    Therefore epistemological certainty is possible with God and I win. 😉

    keiths: but that certainly gives us no reason to believe in, say, square circles.

    Right and it gives us no reason to believe in say certain uncertainty.

    An omniscient God is not a square circle.
    Quite the contrary omniscience is a part of the very definition of God. Unless you are denying that words have meanings?

    Peace

  17. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths: Each person thinks that he and the others are omniscient, but he can’t be absolutely certain of it.

    If he is not absolutely certain he won’t worship the other person as God. He can’t by definition.

    Since the Son worships the Father we can be certain that the Father is omniscient. And vice versa.

    That is unless you can be absolutely certain that certainty can’t exist. 😉

    Peace

    PS I find it funny that you are always tripped up by the Trinity. Remember the problem of the one and the many at UD.

    An Ex-christian should know better

  18. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    fifth,

    If he is not absolutely certain he won’t worship the other person as God. He can’t by definition.

    That’s a mere assumption, not a definition. But if it happens to be true, then we can conclude that the members of the Trinity, if they exist, do not worship each other.

    Out of curiosity, do you think that the Father worships the Son? Does he worship the Holy Spirit? What about all the other permutations?

    Since the Son worships the father we can be certain that the Father is omniscient. And vice versa.

    You don’t know that the Son worships the Father. That’s just a story you happen to believe.

    Please, please, find someone competent to take your place here. Preferably someone without your variety of Scriptural Tourette’s.

  19. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths: Each person thinks that he and the others are omniscient, but he can’t be absolutely certain of it.

    Remind us again why God needs to think at all?

    You’re amazing, really. Your argument was shown to be flawed and yet here you are yet again, making the same claims again.

  20. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    And no, Mung is not a suitable replacement.

  21. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths, both walto and I poked major holes in your argument. You may wish to pretend otherwise, but the facts are not on your side. Let me suggest that you answer criticisms of your argument rather than ignoring them.

  22. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung,

    I’m not aware of any such holes, but feel free to make your case.

  23. Reality
    Ignored
    says:

    newton,

    ‘In my experience Christians don’t kill their children or hear voices , crazy people do. I expect crazy is equally represented between religious and not religious.”

    You must live a very sheltered life.

    “Fmm is not a divine command believer”

    ALL Christians are divine command believers, otherwise they are not Christians.

  24. Reality
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung,

    Present your evidence that there is such a thing as a “God”

  25. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    Reality,

    The strong nuclear force.

  26. Reality
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo,

    LOL

    Next?

  27. William J. Murray
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan said:

    One thing that seems to be conflated in WJM and fmm’s minds is the distinction between a general approach – the adoption of empirical approaches because they work, which is itself empirical …

    The adoption of empirical approaches because they work is not empirical at all, and in and of itself contains a vague value-judgement. First, it “works” at doing what? For whom? In what context? And after that is specified, why should one adopt empirical approaches because they work in that way?

    You guys are not recognizing your ideological commitments and philosophical blinders, but are (once again) assuming your commitments and internal narrative as reality. You say these things as if those words can only refer to one true meaning, and that we all should know what that is.

    The theists round about seem stuck, yet again, in the idea that there is AN answer, out there beyond human brains, and our own judgement is cursed by relativism.

    If there is no “an” answer, why the hell are you even debating any of this? If it is true that everything about human intellect is fallible, and we have no portal by which relativism can be escaped, and our monkey brains are just issuing forth the output we are committed to by haphazard physico-chemical causes, why are any of you arguing as if there is a truth that can be distilled here?

    If there is no truth to get at, nor any free will by which to find it or assert it over haphazardly generated ideas and misconceptions, nor any objective means by which to evaluate such thoughts, I fail to see the reasoning in running your mouths about all of this at all. You, I, 5mm and everyone else will think and believe whatever haphazard physico-chemical processes commit our brains to.

    You certainly don’t have a schematic by which you can know what words to utter in what sequence to get us to think differently, do you? And if you did, why would you even care to get us to think differently? You cannot judge the outcome of what such mental tampering will produce, yet you act as if you should commit such haphazard mental tampering and as if it is vitally important.

    It’s bizarre that you guys don’t recognize the absurdity of arguing under the ideological premises you are committed to.

  28. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    Science is pragmatic, William. Any detectable phenomenon, or phenomenon with detectable entailments, is open to scientific scrutiny. If you can suggest a theory of “Intelligent Design” that has testable entailments, that could be the beginning to getting ID taken seriously as science.

  29. OMagain
    Ignored
    says:

    William J. Murray: It’s bizarre that you guys don’t recognize the absurdity of arguing under the ideological premises you are committed to.

    Show us a better way.

    William J. Murray: If there is no truth to get at

    There is truth. There is just no particular reason to think that truth == god.

  30. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman,

    OK, accepting God for the moment as the creator of the Universe and everything in it, how do you get from there to the dogma? Seems pretty universal among theists that their particular god is the creator. It’s a harmless unfalsifiable belief. But the getting from there to a particular dogma seems to involve an unjustified leap of faith.

  31. William J. Murray
    Ignored
    says:

    “Human intellect” is a vague notion. What is it? What is it comprised of?

    There are some things we can be absolutely certain of, such as “there are no square circles”. Because other ideas or conclusions we hold are subject to fallibility doesn’t mean that all ideas or conclusions are fallible. It doesn’t even mean that we are processing or acquiring all ideas/thoughts through intellect at all.

    Some things we recognize as self-evidently true; other things we recognize as necessarily true. That kind of knowledge acquisition may not be an individualized “intellect” process, but rather something deeper and more profound that that which is available under non-theistic naturalism, where the only means by which to contradict such knowledge is active denial.

    That one can deny certainty/knowledge is not the same as the ability to know that thing being a fallible commodity.

  32. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths: But if it happens to be true, then we can conclude that the members of the Trinity, if they exist, do not worship each other.

    Its not if they exist. God has revealed his existence to you so that you are with out excuse.

    Worship is simply the proper response to being in the presence of God Since the members of the Trinity are always in each others presence they worship each other perpetually.

    keiths: Out of curiosity, do you think that the Father worships the Son? Does he worship the Holy Spirit?

    He is omniscient and therefore knows the Son and the Holy Spirit are God so yes by definition.

    This is not difficult

    peace

  33. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    OMagain: There is truth. There is just no particular reason to think that truth == god.

    Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.
    (Joh 14:6a)

    peace

  34. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox: OK, accepting God for the moment as the creator of the Universe and everything in it, how do you get from there to the dogma?

    Revelation The same way you know anything and everything you know.
    God has reveled it because he can

    peace

  35. OMagain
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.

    No, in a language you don’t understand a book was written and translated and re-translated for many many years. Many people had a hand in deciding what stayed and what did not.

    Your claim has no more weight than if I were to reference Thor. There is as much evidence for Thor’s existence as your deity’s. I.E. none at all. And quoting from a book demonstrably written and rewritten is like quoting from Harry Potter to show that wizards are real.

    You just don’t get it do you? If I put you and some of a different religion in a room neither of you would be able to prove to the other that they were wrong. There is just no proof to be had.

    That you don’t see this is understandable. The sky can be seen from a well, but you have to look upwards first.

  36. OMagain
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: God has reveled it because he can

    And he keeps giving cancer to children also because he can.

  37. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox: But the getting from there to a particular dogma seems to involve an unjustified leap of faith.

    There is no leap of faith required in Christianity.
    Christian faith is simply trusting someone who has proved himself faithful

    peace

  38. OMagain
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: This is not difficult

    Nothing is difficult when you don’t have to provide backing for answers you are making up on the spot. All you have to do is sound confident in your delivery, as the first ‘priests’ discovered long ago.

    fifthmonarchymanyes by definition.

    I say no by definition.

    Demonstrate that I am wrong such that an independent third party would be convinced.

  39. OMagain
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: There is no leap of faith required in Christianity.
    Christian faith is simply trusting someone who has proved himself faithful

    The cancer causing god, yes.

  40. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    OMagain: Your claim has no more weight than if I were to reference Thor.

    Do you believe that Thor is God? If so defend that belief. Lets see if he qualified for the office

    OMagain: If I put you and some of a different religion in a room neither of you would be able to prove to the other that they were wrong. There is just no proof to be had.

    Sure there is, If you disagree present your evidence. Assertion is not argument

    Peace

  41. OMagain
    Ignored
    says:

    William J. Murray: That kind of knowledge acquisition may not be an individualized “intellect” process, but rather something deeper and more profound that that which is available under non-theistic naturalism, where the only means by which to contradict such knowledge is active denial.

    Or it “may” not. Hey, why don’t you design an experiment that would remove the uncertainty and then you don’t have to use the word “may”.

  42. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    OMagain: Demonstrate that I am wrong such that an independent third party would be convinced.

    There is no independent third party. There are only two sides

    peace

  43. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    OMagain: why don’t you design an experiment that would remove the uncertainty and then you don’t have to use the word “may”.

    Is there any experiment that can ever remove uncertainty? If so you need to inform keiths ASAP 😉

    peace

  44. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    OMagain: The cancer causing god, yes.

    Ah the problem of evil………again…….. Like clockwork

    peace

  45. OMagain
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: There is no independent third party. There are only two sides

    In your world perhaps, but in the real world arbitration happens every day between two people who are both utterly convinced they are right.

    fifthmonarchyman: Is there any experiment that can ever remove uncertainty? If so you need to inform keiths ASAP

    You are not even wrong in your conversations with keiths. You’ve been utterly destroyed but the message does not seem to have reached your brain.

    fifthmonarchyman: Ah the problem of evil………again…….. Like clockwork

    It’s not a problem for me, it’s a problem for you. You want a god that is responsible for everything and at the same time responsible for nothing. Well, you have the latter already.

  46. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    OMagain: It’s not a problem for me, it’s a problem for you.

    No it’s not, I’d be happy to explain why if you’d just explain to me how you are justified in claiming that cancer is evil?

    How exactly do you know this? Please be specific?

    peace

  47. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    OMagain: but in the real world arbitration happens every day between two people who are both utterly convinced they are right.

    Who exactly would qualify as an arbitrator in this case? Be specific

    peace

  48. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox,

    What do you mean by testable Alan? Does that mean falsifiable?

  49. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: There is no leap of faith required in Christianity. Christian faith is simply trusting someone who has proved himself faithful.

    As recorded in the Bible, presumably?

  50. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo:
    Alan Fox,

    What do you mean by testable Alan?Does that mean falsifiable?

    I’d suggest for any posited phenomenon or hypothesis having some entailment that can be observed.

    BTW Bill Demski reports moving on from ID in a post on his new website.

Leave a Reply

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