I was wondering what had happened to Uncommon Descent’s owner, lawyer Barry Arrington. Having bought the blog from “Intelligent Design” theorist* William Dembski, he established a reputation as a bit of a martinet, quick to delete comments and ban commenters he didn’t like. But recently, things have been much quieter and moderation has been light to non-existent, with no contributions from Arrington.
But he must have been saving himself up for a relaunch, as now a long (in comparison to Arrington’s other opening posts) post by him, What Must We Do When The Foundations Are Being Destroyed?, has appeared. I wonder initially who Barry means by “we” but the article soon makes it clear the call to arms is for the religious authoritarian right. It’s an annoying read as there is an inaccurate, misleading, selective point in almost every sentence so that, for me, it almost achieves the status of being so polarized in its essence as to be not worth responding to. But then that fulfils Barry’s prophesy and puts me on his level, on the other side of the barricade he is keen to erect.
I’ve been commenting at Uncommon Descent recently, initially because Upright Biped had reappeared there promoting his semiotic theory and I felt he wasn’t getting the response he needed. Upright Biped then withdrew but I haven’t been able to resist the urge to continue to chip in.
The discussions there often are dominated by right-wing religious commenters and I think it is only right, and good for them, to rattle their cages to challenge their assumptions, misconceptions, and misrepresentations. So when someone posted that life had to be more than chemicals as chemicals were random, I felt obliged to point out that chemical reactions are decidedly not random. I gave the example that hydrogen and oxygen, when mixed and a spark supplied, will react in exactly the proportion of two hydrogen atoms linking to one oxygen atom to form one molecule of water.
Imagine my surprise when a regular, BA77, misunderstood my point, thinking I was saying water is simple, and went off on a long diatribe to claim water’s admittedly strange and fascinating emergent properties are evidence for “Intelligent Design” (i. e. God). I find the claim unconvincing.
Here is one of the more essays I wrote based on discussions I’ve had hereon and on other sites like Pandas Thumb. I think this is one of the more appropriate essays for discussions here and it also happens to be one I feel is fully finished at this point. Well…I’m happy with it, but clearly I may edit it a bit given constructive criticism… 🙂
I haven’t seen much press on this lately, but back in the late 1980s, Creationists – a slice of Christians who hold that the creation of the universe, Earth, and all living things on Earth were created by God exactly as described in the Christian Bible and that the Earth is roughly 10,000 years old…tops – tried an end around to the 1987 Supreme Court decision (Edwards v. Aguillard) barring the teaching of Creation Science in public schools. The attempted end-around was called Intelligent Design (ID). Continue reading →
Joe G has been looking into the posts here at TSZ. Apparently this inspired him to get into a series of outbursts of rage. Well, maybe not. Looking at his blog rage seems to be his normal state. Back in his blog he’s stated fuming about what he thinks are facts that prove intelligent design, I mean Intelligent Design, with capitals because, let’s not forget, ID is about “God.” So I’ve been trying to explain to him why that’s profoundly and irremediably wrong. Here I’ll expand a bit on that, and thus willl try and avoid contaminating other threads with Joe G’s angry prose.
To get this started, I’m going to check Joe G’s latest attempt, Joe G starts thusly:
The genetic code is evidence for Intelligent Design based on the following facts:
Facts!? Wow, this is starting so well, I’m sure I’m going to be convinced! Good-bye sinful atheistic life!
Astronaut Charles Duke became a Christian after he returned to Earth after being the youngest man to ever walk on the moon and after finding himself in a troubled marriage and problems with alcoholism. The Christian faith restored his marriage and brought sobriety into his life, and sometime thereafter he led a prayer meeting where a blind girl recovered her sight. Somewhere in all his life’s saga, he also became a Creationist.
One of the people who posted at TheSkepticalZone, Richard B. Hoppe (RBH), knew of Duke, perhaps even personally since RBH worked on the Apollo program intimately. When I confronted RBH about Duke’s Christianity and Creationism, RBH (normally quick to criticize Christian Creationists) became strangely silent. No one to my knowledge has questioned Charles Duke’s credibility or integrity as far a making up stories to draw attention to himself or make Christian converts. After all, he was a national hero, an air force general, an astronaut, and a successful businessman. Unlike a televangelist, there is little reason for him to make up stories of miracles.
I had the privilege of meeting Charle Duke when he spoke at a College Christian event…
Eric Holloway has returned to The Skeptical Zone, following a long absence. He expects to get responses to his potshot at phylogenetic inference, though he has never answered three questions of mine about his own work on algorithmic specified complexity. Here I abbreviate and clarify the recap I previously posted, and introduce remarks on the questions.
If there is a fundamental flaw in the second half, as you claim, then I’ll retract it if it is unfixable. — Eric Holloway, January 2, 2020
This offers the simplest “neutral” colloquial mixture of “design” and “evolution” that I’ve seen in a long time. The site is no longer maintained, but the language persists.
“As a designer it is important to understand where design came from, how it developed, and who shaped its evolution. The more exposure you have to past, current and future design trends, styles and designers, the larger your problem-solving toolkit. The larger your toolkit, the more effective of a designer you can be.” http://www.designishistory.com/this-site/
Here, the term “evolution” as used just meant “history”. The author was not indicating “design theory evolution”, but rather instead the “history of designs” themselves, which have been already instantiated. Continue reading →
Lehigh University biochemist and IDT spokesperson Dr. Michael Behe was recently asked by the Discovery Institute (DI) to write about covid-19. The following is to be found among what he wrote:
“do I think viruses were designed? Yes, I most certainly do! The viruses of which we are aware — including the coronaviruses, Ebola, and HIV — are exquisitely, purposively arranged, which is the clear signature of intelligent design [sic, properly “Intelligent Design”, since this “signature” is not being attributed to “strictly natural causes”]. Well, then does that mean the designer [sic, Divine Name = properly capitalized, “the Designer”] is evil and wants people to suffer? No, not necessarily. I’m a biochemist, not a philosopher. Nonetheless, I see no reason why a designer [sic, Divine Name = properly capitalized, “the Designer”] even of such things as viruses should be classified as bad on that basis alone.” – Michael Behe (10-03-2020, https://evolutionnews.org/2020/03/evolution-design-and-covid-19/
Behe concluded the article stating that he has “no reason to think either that viruses weren’t designed [meaning, by a Divine Designer] or that the designer [sic, Divine Name = properly capitalized, “the Designer”] of viruses isn’t good”.
I thought some of you might be interested to know that a paper of mine was recently published in BIO-Complexity – “Measuring Active Information in Biological Systems.” The goal of the paper is to provide a way of verifying whether (and how much) a mutational process is directed or undirected. I posted an overview of the paper at UD if you don’t have time to read it, but I thought this crowd might enjoy the details more.
As the COVID 19 hysteria is unfolding almost all over the world, many are asking the question:
Where did the viruses come from?
ID proponents, like Michael Behe, have gone on record saying that viruses were designed, in most cases they cause no harm, but their role in nature is not yet fully understood here.
On the other hand, the proponents of Darwinian theory of evolution claim that viruses evolved, because why would an omnipotent God/ID designed something harmful, like viruses? So, viruses must’ve evolved…
A thread for ID proponents to explain their alternative theory for biological phenomena.
Allan Miller has written an article on sex, proposing an evolutionary explanation for why almost all Eukaryota indulge in sex. In response to comments from evolution skeptics questioning his explanation, he challenges them:
OK, you ID types, what’s the Design explanation for sex? You need to explain why all eukaryotes have genes that are involved in meiosis, though some never actually perform meiosis, and in some, the genes are ‘broken’. And you need to explain the taxonomic distribution of asexuality – absent in mammals and birds, but increasingly found as one descends your imagined scala naturae – though intermittent sex remains the norm, even in single celled organisms.
Why? What purpose does it serve that is common to single celled protists and our favourite organism, the chimp? Why wasn’t everything designed to just reproduce asexually?
The biggest news of this week for the “conversation” this blog is in some small way a part of will likely be the discussion between Drs. Michael Behe and S. Joshua Swamidass in Texas. The answer for both men to the polemical question above is not “God w/out evolution”, but rather “God with evolution,” iow both God and evolution. So what else important is there left for them to disagree about? http://www.veritas.org/location/texas-a-m-university/
For Behe, “evolution” has a narrower meaning than it does for Swamidass. One key question, that likely won’t be asked, is: how wide is Swamidass’ meaning of “evolution” and where does it stop (i.e. what doesn’t ‘evolve’)? Is Swamidass, who somewhat incredulously claims to be neither a creationist nor an evolutionist, actually both? One of the biggest challenges unaddressed still by Swamidass regarding his evolutionism will be met when he starts describing or explaining the “limits of evolutionary theories”, rather than only “the great possibilities of evolutionary theories”, now as we live in a post-Darwinian, extended synthesis scenario.
We may nevertheless hope for some reconciliation, or even a moment or two of peace amidst an artificial storm in the USA involving “Intelligent Design”, evolution, and creationism. Those moments will likely constitute a rare pause in their otherwise contrary apologetics approaches, both taking a “public understanding of science” attitude of pedagogical communication to the stage. We may thus, purely on the communications front, simply get either a parody of abstract intellectualism driven by “religious” or “quasi-religious” agendas, or more positively, a few simple concessions of common ground that shouldn’t be too difficult for either of them to find, or to make towards each other.
In his recent video Michael Behe explains the reasons for his acceptance of common descent.
Do you find it confusing?
Most members of the Discovery Institute find the idea of common descent lacking. Behe, ‘for the sake of the argument’ , is willing to accept it and, instead, focus on the mechanism of Darwinian evolution, natural selection and random mutations, as insufficient to explain evolution.
Not long ago in a comment here, I posted a short version of definitions involving the Discovery Institute’s “Intelligent Design” (ID) paradigm, hypothesis, movement, theory, inference, policy, heuristic, or whatever one wants to call it, depending on which person they’re speaking with. This was done because the person in the conversation I was responding to appeared to be, to me at least, quite obviously conflating two meanings into one term (thing & theory). And he didn’t seem to realize that he was doing it. (Aside: there appear to be multiple reasons why people tempted by ideological Intelligent Designism [IDism] or repelled by it, may feel they need to intentionally conflate definitions of ID.) I wondered what might be the issue with what was merely an attempt to lay out simple definitions, for mutual benefit towards clearer communications, or ‘operations’ as some people here like to call it.
Within days, to my surprise, I discovered the exact same thing in a long exchange with a Discovery Institute () Fellow on a social media platform. This person too conflated two meanings into one. Why also is that? And this person wanted to equivocate over whether or not there even is a “movement” at play, before finally conceding that yes, indeed, there is = the IDM based at the Discovery Institute in Seattle, USA. The conversation reminded me of previous ones at Uncommon Descent & BioLogos with Eddie, now of Peaceful Science and Potiphar, who only begrudgingly, after listing off a number of ways that this “Movement” could only properly or ‘officially’ be spoken about, according to his somewhat “philosophistic” definition of “Intelligent Design theory” (IDT), conceded the point of there being a “Movement”, with all of DI-CSC’s Fellows admitted as members.
I recommend that you read “Recap Redux” instead of this post.
In Section 4 of their article, Nemati and Holloway claim to have identified an error in a post of mine. They do not cite the post, but instead name me, and link to the homepage of The Skeptical Zone. Thus there can be no question as to whether the authors regard technical material that I post here as worthy of a response in Bio-Complexity. (A year earlier, George Montañez modified a Bio-Complexity article, adding information that I supplied in precisely the post that Nemati and Holloway address.) Interacting with me at TSZ, a month ago, Eric Holloway acknowledged error in an equation that I had told him was wrong, expressed interest in seeing the next part of my review, and said, “If there is a fundamental flaw in the second half, as you claim, then I’ll retract it if it is unfixable.” I subsequently put a great deal of work into “The Old Switcheroo,” trying to anticipate all of the ways in which Holloway might wiggle out of acknowledging his errors. Evidently I left him no avenue of escape, given that he now refuses to engage at all, and insists that I submit my criticisms to Bio-Complexity. Continue reading →
David Nemati and Eric Holloway, “Expected Algorithmic Specified Complexity.” Bio-Complexity 2019 (2):1-10. doi:10.5048/BIO-C.2019.2. Editor: William Basener. Editor-in-Chief: Robert J. Marks II.
Eric Holloway has littered cyberspace with claims, arrived at by faulty reasoning, that the “laws of information conservation (nongrowth)” in data processing hold for algorithmic specified complexity as for algorithmic mutual information. It is essential to understand that there are infinitely many measures of algorithmic specified complexity. Nemati and Holloway would have us believe that each of them is a quantification of the meaningful information in binary strings, i.e., finite sequences of 0s and 1s. If Holloway’s claims were correct, then there would be a limit on the increase in algorithmic specified complexity resulting from execution of a computer program (itself a string). Whichever one of the measures were applied, the difference in algorithmic specified complexity of the string output by the process and the string input to the process would be at most the program length plus a constant. It would follow, more generally, that an approximate upper bound on the difference in algorithmic specified complexity of strings and is the length of the shortest program that outputs on input of Of course, the measure must be the same for both strings. Otherwise it would be absurd to speak of (non-)conservation of a quantity of algorithmic specified complexity. Continue reading →