ID in E-prime

I’d like to start a thread about the proposition that features of the universe indicate that a designer designed and created it for a purpose.

We have had many such discussions on this blog previously, but I propose that in this thread we abide by a new rule: we will conduct the discussion solely in the form of English called E-prime:

E-Prime (short for English-Prime, sometimes denoted É or E′), a prescriptive version of the English language, excludes all forms of the verb to be. E-Prime does not allow the conjugations of to bebe, am, is, are, was, were, been, being—the archaic forms of to be (e.g. art, wast, wert), or the contractions of to be—’m, ‘s, ‘re (e.g. I’m, he’s, she’s, they’re).

By excluding all forms of the verb to be, the rules of E-prime force speakers and writers to identify the subjects of all their verbs.  We cannot use the passive voice, for instance: we cannot say that an object “looks as though it was designed”, but that it “looks as though a designer designed it”.  It is possible to cheat – for instance we can say that an object “appears designed” – but there is an elision there; the phrase is a contraction of “appears [to have been] designed”.  So we should also try not to cheat!  The exclusion also makes it harder to make unsupported assertions.  We cannot say “evolution is false” for instance, or “ID is IDiotic”.  Or even that a proposition is “self-evidently true”.

I will not move posts that use the verb to be to guano, as this is not a site rule – but I will move them out of this thread, perhaps to the sandbox, or I might make a special holding thread for them, so that contributors can rephrase if they like.  This experiment may not succeed, but I hope contributors will find it interesting, and possibly enlightening!  I do think that many discussions about ID and evolution become bogged down because we do not make it clear that our verbs have implied subjects. The same applies to discussions about consciousness, but I think we should start with ID as I think we will find it a simpler topic to start with.

 

43 thoughts on “ID in E-prime

  1. I will start by saying that I do not think the possession by biological organisms of complex mechanisms that function to optimise their chances of successful reproduction serves as evidence that a designer designed them.

    Any entity that does not possess properties that promote its own persistence will not persist for very long. Therefore, the non-transience of objects depends on that object possessing properties that promote its continued existence. This applies to objects we conceive of as patterns, for instance, ocean waves, or lineages, whose identity lies in their configuration of their constituent parts rather than in the physical identity of those parts from moment to moment. Thus the non-transience of a lineage of organisms depends on those organisms possessing properties that both promote their own persistence, and the reproduction of their pattern in a new generation.

    Any self-replicator we observer, therefore, must possess features that promote its own self-replication. It follows, therefore, that the existence of such features in self-replicators should not surprise us. And given such features in a population of self-replicators, however rudimentary, it follows, as Darwin argued, that such features will tend to optimise over time.

    Therefore the complexity of living things does not evince a designer. The existence of living things at all, on the other hand, may.

    Therefore, if we want to find evidence that features of the universe indicate that they were designed a designer designed them, we should look not at the complexity of living things, but at the processes by which self-replicatiors might come into existence, ab initio.

  2. Elizabeth: And given such features in a population of self-replicators, however rudimentary, it follows, as Darwin argued, that such features will tend to optimise over time.

    And given that we observe variations or differences between individuals in populations, it follows that populations can diverge. We do not observe any boundary preventing indefinite divergence.

  3. Therefore, if we want to find evidence that features of the universe indicate that they were designed, we should look not at the complexity of living things, but at the processes by which self-replicatiors might come into existence, ab initio.

    The rules grind away…

    Glen Davidson

  4. Grammar was never my forte. Can I suggest that the next experiment be to have all comments posted using the sentence structure of Yoda.

    A scientific theory, ID has not.

  5. I don’t want to derail this one, but maybe we should have a separate thread discussing the merits/demerits of E-Prime. I can’t really see how it helps.

  6. Oh, we can discuss it here if you like! It might be a bit empty otherwise.

    I find it extremely helpful myself – it forces me to make sure I’ve identified any missing agents in my argument, and prevents me from making unsupported assertions. But to take the example I slipped up on just now: so many arguments about ID refer to whether a thing “looks designed”, i.e. in full “looks as though it were designed”, and the lack of necessity to acknowledge that what we mean by “designed” is that “someone designed it” means we can all too easily slide the weight on to the way the thing looks, instead of the the postulated mechanism, i.e. the proposal that some agent (or process possibly) designed it. In other words, to avoid the elephant in the room.

    E-prime enforces clarity about agency and uncertainty.

  7. Should anyone want to define design, the E-prime rule prevents them from stating what design is.

  8. Erik: Should anyone want to define design, the E-prime rule prevents them from stating what design is.

    Does it really?

  9. Hi Elizabeth,

    I find the OP to be an interesting proposal, but am not sure how to comply with the rules. So if I understand you correctly:

    That dog is a female would need to be expressed as That female dog.

    But doesn’t that change the entire meaning of the communication? Doesn’t it exchange clarity for ambiguity?

    Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see where this leads. I can’t wait to apply the same rules to evolutionary theory!

    So from UD:

    The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds 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.

    How would that need to be re-phrased in E-prime?

  10. Mung: So from UD:

    The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds 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.

    How would that need to be re-phrased in E-prime?

    Something like An intelligent cause explains certain features of the universe, and of living things, better than any undirected process such as natural selection, would be my guess.

  11. Lizzie,

    But to take the example I slipped up on just now: so many arguments about ID refer to whether a thing “looks designed”, i.e. in full “looks as though it were designed”, and the lack of necessity to acknowledge that what we mean by “designed” is that “someone designed it” means we can all too easily slide the weight on to the way the thing looks, instead of the the postulated mechanism, i.e. the proposal that some agent (or process possibly) designed it. In other words, to avoid the elephant in the room.

    I think you’re trying to solve a practically nonexistent problem. How many people believe that life is designed but don’t believe that there is/was a designer?

    In my experience, almost everyone assumes that ID requires a designer. Indeed, the first thing most people ask after “What is ID?” is “Who is the designer? Is it God?”, which is why IDers are so touchy about the subject.

    E-prime enforces clarity about agency and uncertainty.

    I think that IDers already and unhesitatingly acknowledge the existence of a designing agent or agents, and E-Prime doesn’t force them to name the designer. They can use phrasing like cubist’s, above:

    An intelligent cause explains certain features of the universe, and of living things, better than any undirected process such as natural selection.

    It also doesn’t force them to name the mechanism, as cubist’s example shows.

    On the question of certainty, it seems just as easy to dogmatically assert that

    Someone designed life.

    …as to assert that

    Life was designed.

    In your own experience, how much efficacy would you ascribe to a) E-Prime’s particular rules versus b) the fact that following a set of linguistic rules requires you to be mindful of what you are actually saying, and how you are saying it?

  12. One view of nature asserts that there exists designed artifacts.

    Another view of nature asserts that no designed artifacts exist.

  13. Mung: One view of nature asserts that there exists designed artifacts.

    Another view of nature asserts that no designed artifacts exist.

    Define “view of nature”. Define “designed”. Define “artifacts”.

    Then I’ll be able to tell if I agree with you.

    Or, wait, I’m missing your point. You put up those two sentences to re-state your understanding of IDism v. Evolutionism in Eprime, right? Yes? No?

    In which case, my agreement would be pointless, but good on you for making your understanding clear.

  14. Erik:
    Should anyone want to define design, the E-prime rule prevents them from stating what design is.

    Right. It prevents bald assertions. However, it does not prevent you from saying (indeed it forces you to say something like): “for the purposes of this discussion, I will define design as:….”

    The everyone knows what you are talking about, whether or not they themselves find it an appropriate definition.

  15. Mung:
    Hi Elizabeth,

    I find the OP to be an interesting proposal, but am not sure how to comply with the rules. So if I understand you correctly:

    That dog is a female would need to be expressed as That female dog.

    But doesn’t that change the entire meaning of the communication? Doesn’t it exchange clarity for ambiguity?

    In that case it does, so you would try to find a better way of rendering “that dog is female” in E-prime, such that it expressed your meaning. For instance you might say “On the basis of its external appearance, I would categorise that dog as female”. Using E-prime forces us to state things provisionally, and to support our assertions.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see where this leads. I can’t wait to apply the same rules to evolutionary theory!

    I look forward to your efforts!

    So from UD:

    How would that need to be re-phrased in E-prime?

    The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds 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.

    ” Proponents of the theory of intelligent design (ID) hold that we can best explain certain features of the universe and of living things by postulating that an intelligent agent or agents brought them into existence,rather than that they resulted from an undirected process such as natural selection.”

  16. keiths: In your own experience, how much efficacy would you ascribe to a) E-Prime’s particular rules versus b) the fact that following a set of linguistic rules requires you to be mindful of what you are actually saying, and how you are saying it?

    Oh, the second thing, absolutely. In my experience, casting a sentence into E-prime forces into the open any unconsidered or unattended assumptions that can slide in unnoticed when you use regular English.

    Once you have sorted them out, you can re-cast in regular English, for ease of reading. And often the E-prime version proves to have greater clarity.

    And it stops you from saying: “this truth is self-evident”.

  17. Mung: Another view of nature asserts that no designed artifacts exist.

    Nonsense. I design things every day. They exist!

  18. Mung:
    One view of nature asserts that there exists designed artifacts.

    Another view of nature asserts that no designed artifacts exist.

    “There exists” uses “exists” as a synonym for “is”, so I doubt that we can rightly call your sentences true “E-prime” examples.

    And therefore your usage does not avoid the problems E-prime normally solves.

    Try:

    • Some people assert that designers sometimes design artefacts.
    • Other people assert that no designers ever design artefacts.

    Which does rather expose the problems inherent in your two sentences.

  19. Elizabeth: “There exists” uses “exists” as a synonym for “is”, so I doubt that we can rightly call your sentences true “E-prime” examples.

    I’ve already written and deleted several posts. This stuff is difficult!

    EDIT: Argh. Is

  20. Couldn’t think of anything original, so trying my last comment:

    In ten or so years of following the fortunes of the “Intelligent Design” movement, I have never come across any ID model, theory, or hypothesis. Plenty of arguments against aspects of evolutionary theory, yes. But no alternative theory purporting to explain the observed facts.

    Does mung think that [someone has proposed] a theory of “Intelligent Design” exists? What does the statement “The theory of intelligent design [that] holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection*.” contain (other than wishful thinking)?

    *The theory of Intelligent Design claims an intelligent cause best explains certain features of the universe and of living things, not an undirected process such as natural selection.

  21. OMagain: Nonsense. I design things every day. They exist!

    Precisely so.

    So Mung must rephrase his statements, perhaps thus:

    • Some people assert that some things can only be explained as the artefacts of a designer, even where we have no evidence for that designer’s existence.
    • Other people assert that where we have no evidence for a designer’s existence, we should probably reject a designer as the likely explanation for those things.
  22. ID Defined

    The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds 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. ID is thus a scientific disagreement with the core claim of evolutionary theory that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion.

    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.

    ID is controversial because of the implications of its evidence, rather than the significant weight of its evidence. ID proponents believe science should be conducted objectively, without regard to the implications of its findings. This is particularly necessary in origins science because of its historical (and thus very subjective) nature, and because it is a science that unavoidably impacts religion.

    Positive evidence of design in living systems consists of the semantic, meaningful or functional nature of biological information, the lack of any known law that can explain the sequence of symbols that carry the “messages,” and statistical and experimental evidence that tends to rule out chance as a plausible explanation. Other evidence challenges the adequacy of natural or material causes to explain both the origin and diversity of life.

    ID Defined in E-Prime:

      Proponents of the theory of intelligent design (ID) postulate intelligent agency as a better causal explanation for certain features of the universe and of living things than that those features result from undirected process such as natural selection. ID’s postulate thus differs from that of the core claim of evolutionary theory: that while living systems resemble in some respects artefacts created by known designers, this does not indicate an unknown designer as their cause.

      In a broader sense, Intelligent Design simply proposes a science of design detection — how to recognize patterns arranged by an intelligent cause for a purpose. Researchers use this design detection technique 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). We can test or evaluate the inference that an intelligent agent must have caused biological information to come into being in the same manner as scientists daily test for design in other sciences.

      ID has attracted controversy because of the implications of its evidence, rather than on account of the significant weight of evidence that supports it. ID proponents believe that researchers should conduct science without regard to the implications of its findings. Because we would characterise origins science as historical, and thus very subjective, science, and because of its unavoidable impact on religion, we believe that scientists should take particular care to disregard the implications of their findings when conducting research in this field.

      Positive evidence of design in living systems consists of the semantic, meaningful or functional nature of biological information, the lack of any known law that can explain the sequence of symbols that carry the “messages,” and statistical and experimental evidence that tends to rule out chance as a plausible explanation. Other evidence challenges the adequacy of natural or material causes to explain both the origin and diversity of life.

    Interestingly, the final paragraph is already in good E-prime 🙂

  23. I recommend a thread author can, at their discretion, request the participants do their best to use E-prime for a particular discussion.

    Since many possess little familiarity with this mode of expression, unless the participants flagrantly violate the request, the mods can exercise leniency.

    Just my 2 cents.

  24. Well, I’m not sure I have any converts, yet, Sal!

    But I do think, as wiki puts it:

    Scholars of general semantics emphasize distinctions between different perceptions at different points in space (called indexing) over any universal God’s eye view or assumed-shared or collective identity. By encouraging clarity on the active subject that “does” or wants or believes something, and disallowing passive constructions about the state of affairs (a common use of “to be”), E-Prime makes it more difficult to hide assumptions in statements about The Other or equivalent constructions such as “they” or “most people” or “the public” or “the taxpayer”. E-Prime disallows forms of statement such as “they say X is Y” or “most people are into Z” or “the taxpayer is angry” while allowing statements such as “a clear majority of people say X always coexists with Y” or “most people approve of Z” or “the taxpayer doesn’t like measure Q” or “lots of taxpayers express anger about Q”.

    In discussion of subjects on which participants have very different assumptions, I do think it can be useful.

    I also find it extremely useful in any discussion of consciousness, or free will, as it ensures that we make the putative agent or experiencer explicit, even if only as a placeholder pronoun.

    So the phrase: “Your decisions are not yours; your decisions are instead merely the output of the physico-chemical system that you consist of” has to be turned into something like: “You do not make your decisions; instead, the physico-chemical system that you consist of makes those decisions”.

    To which my response is; yes, but what distinguishes “physico-chemical system that you consist of” from “you”? By making explicit the decision-maker in both cases, it becomes apparent that we must address the issue of the identity, or otherwise, of “you” vs”physico-chemical system that you consist of” before we can address the question of whether one or the other truly makes “your” decisions.

    But let’s stick to ID for now 🙂

  25. Elizabeth,

    I like E-prime! In the future I might request, when dealing with some comments, “can you re-state what you said in E-prime, please?” What I write below will likely not conform exactly to e-prime, but I will try.

    I provide now my best attempt to summarize ID in E-prime, or alternatively, “CSI-free explanatory filter in E-prime”.

    I frame the ID problem first in terms of human ability to recognize designs made by other humans even when the humans encounter a design they never previously encountered. Secondly, I attempt to show that the way humans detect human-made designs provides a basis for some people to believe some intelligent designer designed life. I assert however even if God designed biological organisms through an act of special creation, no one can formally argue “God created life”. They can only argue a circumstantial case. Conversely, I don’t think the anti-ID side can formally demonstrate God did not create life, but they can attempt to show ordinary “mindless” process such as those expressed by the laws of physics and chemistry can create life.

    Humans can observe and identify designed-by-human objects, even objects which those humans never encountered before and which radically vary in architecture to any object which a would-be observer never previously encountered.

    The following link illustrates to me a powerful example of humans recognizing a lump of clay as designed even before researchers unraveled the meaning of the design. Archaeologist first found a lump of clay that possessed features at variance with non-designed objects so much so they presumed a designer designed the lump of clay and by implication treated it as a designed object.

    The most recent set of researchers studying the lump of clay in question argued the designer of the clay tablet provided such an accurate description that their present-day computer models deduced a meteor possibly caused fire to rain down on humanity over Mesopotamia. They claim the fire from the sky inflicted such severe death and destruction that this cataclysm provided inspiration for the Sodom and Gomorrah account in the Bible.

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/2008/04/01/researchers-asteroid-destroyed-sodom-and-gomorrah.html

    When a human falsely calls a designed object a non-designed object, I refer to that as a “false negative.” When a human falsely calls an object created by a mindless process a designed objection, I call that a “false positive.” In the ID vs. evolution debate, most everybody agreed the claim of the “intelligent beings made moon craters because the craters are perfect cirlces” provides an illustration of a false positive.

    In the realm of human designs, IDists like myself seek to reduce statement of false positives even at the expense of increasing the statements of false negatives.

    When I taught university students about ID, the first exercise I put them through involved them taking two boxes each with same number of coins and dice. In one box I asked them to create a design which they hoped would unambiguously signal design and in another box create a configuration simply by shaking a box containing coins and dice.

    I and an assistant left the room while they went about their task, and then when I and my assistant returned, we tried to determine which boxes had designed. We succeeded 100% of the time.

    I attempted to illustrate through the exercise not so much that humans can detect designs as much as to drive home the point humans can, under some circumstances, detect designs of systems which they never encountered before. Surely this brings to mind analogous situations like discovering never-before-seen Mayan architecture and hieroglyphics.

    If we can deduce never-before-seen human artifacts as designed, can we do so for God-made designs? I think we can, but I also think we cannot formally prove we can. We can only suppose that we can. We can do however codify how we believe we detect human designs, what properties we look for, what properties help us identify never-seen-before designs and show how we think these features exist in supposed God-made designs. We can also argue how we think these features cannot evolve via naturalistic process.

    I list below the fundamental properties that I conclude exist in all the designs the students made and for which I believe exists in all successfully identified complex designs which would-be observers never previously encountered or even know the designer personally. The properties I list as:

    1. the object emerges from a system of components that posses many degrees for freedom

    2. some configurations of the system of components have extra-ordinarily low multiplicity

    A system of 500 fair coins posses many degrees of freedom.

    However 100% heads configuration occupies an extremely low multiplicity as demonstrated by the bionomial distribution (a configuration of 100% heads occupies the smallest possible multiplicity, whereas configurations 50% heads plus or minus a few standard deviations occupies high multiplicity).

    Analogous to shaking coins, thermal and chemical action randomize the chirality of amino acids. Even supposing chemical action through chiral amplification might cause an entire set of amino acids in a prebiotic pool to achieve a homochiral state, the state deteriorates and evolves naturally away from homochirality during the polymerization process. Thus, life occupies a low multiplicity state that present knowledge says violates expectation by several orders.

    Similar problems arise for the linguistic constructs of life because known knowledge argues that the algorithmic and linguistic properties of life occupy an extremely low multiplicity in configuration as a matter of principle.

    Symbolically self-correlated highly complex quine computer algorithms as a matter of principle occupy low multiplicity. In the analysis of many specialists in appropriate fields, life resembles such a low multiplicity configuration.

    ID claims these low multiplicity configurations arise only through the actions of intelligence. I argue this claim, though not formally provable, forms the basis for why IDists to believe ID. Evolutionists and mindless-OOLists have argued such low multiplicity configurations in line result from:

    1. illusion of our mind, that life only appears to exist in a low multiplicity (Michael Shermer for example argues this)

    2. evolutionary algorithms and OOL chemistry can circumvent low multiplicity

    The ID enterprise argues against the low multiplicity of life being an illusion. (I already provided one example for starters with homochirality of proteins).

    Evolutionary algorithms don’t operate in pre-biotic chemistry, so an evolutionary Darwinian scenario, as stated even by Darwinists, do not model pre-biotic chemistry. Finally, a chemical system that creates many degrees of freedom as a matter of principle (like 500 fair coins as a matter of principle have many degrees of freedom) under processes that maximize uncertainty do not in principle simultaneously remove those degrees of freedom (any more than 500 fair coins under random process do not evolve to the 100% heads configuration).

    I do not argue ID formally demonstrates ID. However, I think I have pointed out the question of whether low multiplicity exists or does not exist in life has hope of some formal demonstration.

    We can argue over low multiplicity. I sense the both sides prefer to talk about the metaphysical and formal issue of ID rather than the question of whether low multiplicity exists. Substantive debate can take place over the question low multiplicity. I don’t think anything but philosophical shouting matches will occur regarding the question of ID’s ultimate truth.

    ID thus can provide arguments that current knowledge implies no mindless solution to the origin and evolution of the low multiplicity configuration of life. It can only make ID believable to some, these arguments do not formally prove it. Pascal’s wager frames the value from the perspective of making inferences from uncertain data, and in my personal view, though IDists should not promote ID as science, ID holds advantage as a hypothesis at the personal level.

  26. The ID enterprise argues against the low multiplicity of life being an illusion.

    OOPS.

    “ID attempts to demonstrate that life occupies a low multiplicity configuration far from chemical and physical expectation. Claims of human imagination or illusion fail to refute the notion life occupies a low multiplicity configuration. Science supports the notion that life evidences low multiplicity. Therefore claims of illusion or imagination do no explain the intuition of the specialness of life if indeed ID and or scientific enterprise formally demonstrates life’s low multiplicity.

  27. An E-prime tutorial is demanded by the one demanding an E-prime tutorial! I cannot even think in E, much less in E’.

  28. So Elizabeth, if I properly understand a previous response, it is against the rules to assert that anything exists, including E-prime or the rules of E-prime. [But that itself is not valid E-prime].

    Also, to assert that there are rules of E-prime violates the rules of E-prime.

    Am I catching on?

  29. In E-prime, you will find it difficult to make unsupported assertions. However, you can still say: The developers of E-prime designed it as a form of English in which users do not use any form of the verb “to-be”. Using E-prime therefore constrains users to specify the subjects of their verbs and to qualify assertions with information as to the evidence supporting those assertions.

    E-prime does not proscribe the use of the word “exist” but to simply substitute “exist”, or similar verbs, for forms of the verb “to be” would violate its spirit. To benefit from E-prime I, and other advocates, would propose recasting the sentence in which the word “to be” appears, into a grammatical form that does not require it.

    I came across a rather nice variant of E-prime called “e-prune”, in which the writer used the principles of E-prime to “prune” her English writing, without enforcing it rigidly.

    I proposed that we use E-prime, experimentally, and rigidly, in this thread, in the hope that by forcing all of us to make explicit the subjects of our verbs, our discussion of ID might get a little further than it often does.

  30. Sal, to take your post for its content (rather than as an example of E-prime!):

    I would agree that we can fairly readily distinguish designed from non-designed objects when we have an a priori candidate designer, and/or when we can rule out natural processes (e.g. evolutionary processes) as the “designer”.

    However, I suggest that the criteria we use to distinguish “designed” from “undesigned” inanimate objects fail us when we apply to complex dynamically changing objects. I propose that when we conclude “designer made it” as the most likely explanation for an inanimate object, we have already, implicitly, ruled out other explanations that we might include if the object exhibited dynamic properties such as growth or change. In effect, when we decide that a designer must have created a complex but largely static and/or unchanging object, we correctly infer that a dynamic process must have created it, but as the object lacks any inherent dynamic process that could account for its own self-generation, we seek an external dynamic process instead – a biological designer, for instance.

    We have, in other words, already applied an “explanatory filter” before we consider the option of “designer made it”.

  31. E-prime does not proscribe the use of the word “exist” but to simply substitute “exist”, or similar verbs, for forms of the verb “to be” would violate its spirit.

    But so much mathematical literature uses the phrase “there exists”. A classic example:

    ….for every epsilon greater than zero, there exists a delta greater than zero such that…

    I don’t know how, when talking mathematical conceptions, that we can get around this difficulty. Math has already a difficult way of phrasing ideas because of the precision it seeks. I don’t know how I can frame certain ideas in exactly the spirit of E-prime, because at some point we invoke axiomatic or definitional assertions with no support because they are either axioms or definitions.

    I don’t seek to destroy the spirit of E-prime, but if math builds upon axiomatic faith axioms, I envision at some point in discussion, an unsupported axioms gets put on the table. At least in that case, the axiom or definition gets identified.

  32. We have, in other words, already applied an “explanatory filter” before we consider the option of “designer made it”.

    Your comment describes the modus operandi of most ID advocates, but as you, Mark, and what many others have pointed out, one might always appeal to an unspecified, perhaps undiscovered God-free, Designer-free mechanism.

    I don’t believe such unknown, unspecified mechanisms can ever by formally ruled out. For me, ID codifies why ID proponents have an intuition a Designer made something. ID cannot formally demonstrate a Designer existed and created a particular design. If you or others believe ID fails because it does not formally prove the Designer designed something as complex as life, I respect that.

    Though I strongly believe the Designer designed life, I can symphathize with the reasons others don’t share that view — the absence or invisibility or non-interactiveness of the Designer constitutes the principle reason many reject ID, imho.

    The OP’s question:

    that features of the universe indicate that a designer designed and created it for a purpose

    Some accept that assertion, others don’t. “Indicate” for IDists means “did not arise by any known chance and law mechanisms therefore we believe” and for non-IDists “indicate” does not have the same definition.

    I do not share my comrades view that the ID enterprise formally proves a Designer exists and created life.

  33. stcordova: But so much mathematical literature uses the phrase “there exists”. A classic example:

    I don’t do the E-prime enforcing, but I would assume an exception for required technical terminology (you could render it in latex as an upside down E).

  34. Hi Elizabeth, could you express your doubt in the existence of God in E-prime?

    How would one say that the universe did not always exist?

    The universe not eternal. Therefore the universe a beginning.

    This beginning better explained by ‘poof.’

    This belief ID.

  35. features of the universe indicate that a designer designed and created it for a purpose

    Certain objects in the universe such as algorithmically controlled, computer-like metabolisms (aka life) occupy a low multiplicity state relative to the vast number of possible configurations made possible by the degrees of freedom generated by the components that the object encompasses.

    Human designs, when sufficiently complex, evidence comparable extreme levels of low multiplicity (i.e. computer systems and internet systems).

    Because low multiplicity in human-made objects induces observers to claim “a designer designed the object”, seeing any low multiplicity objects intuitively inspires belief that a human-like intelligence made such objects (i.e. life), except the human-like intelligence that created life vastly exceeds the capability of mere mortals because of the complexity involved in the creation.

  36. Mung: Hi Elizabeth, could you express your doubt in the existence of God in E-prime?

    I doubt that an omniscient, omipotent, omnibenevolent God exists.

    How would one say that the universe did not always exist?

    You just did: the universe did not always exist. Or, better: the universe begain about 13.4 billion years ago.

    The universe not eternal. Therefore the universe a beginning.

    If the universe began 13.8 billion years ago, then it cannot always have existed.

    This beginning better explained by ‘poof.’

    “Poof” explains how the universe began.

    This belief ID.

    ID proponents believe that “poof” explains more effectively than any other hypothesis the observation that the universe appears to have had a beginning.

    You can use “exist” in E prime, Mung, but if you just use it as a direct substitution for “are”, as in “there exist dogs”, you lose the benefit.

  37. What do you mean by “low multiplicity state” Sal?

    States that if observed would induce rejection of a given chance hypothesis. 500 fair coins 100% heads provides an example of a very low multiplicity state.

    The following link gives an introduction into the idea of low multiplicity with a dice example:
    http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/therm/entrop2.html#c1

    When I say low, I mean relative to the high multiplicity states.

    I use this term because I find it superior in defending the design conjecture than (gasp) CSI.

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