Koons, Aquinas, and Intelligent Design

Robert Koons and Logan Paul Gage have a defense of ID uploaded, titled St. Thomas Aquinas on Intelligent Design. The article is intended to address specifically theist criticism against ID and to show that ID is perfectly compatible with Thomistic metaphysics.

Up front, on the first page, the critics are identified by name. On the second page, the critical theses have been laid out. This is a very promising straightforward start. Unfortunately, the rest is downhill. While much of the criticism is accurately represented, some of it is not, and the defense with its misguided appeal to science misses crucial points of the criticism. And way too much of the defense simply reiterates ID slogans without actually defending them. And, to top it all, Aquinas is falsely interpreted to mean what he could not have meant. The last point is not too concerning though. Aquinas inevitably has that role in the circles that self-identify as Thomistic, which happens to include both ID critics and advocates.

Thomistic defense of ID by Koons and Gage

My interest was in finding an actual Thomistic or Scholastic defense of ID. Therefore I will ignore most of the mere reiteration of ID talking points in the article, such as appeals to science that cannot convince anyone but those already converted to the ID cause and that don’t really address what theist critics criticize about ID. Spoiler: That’s the bulk of the article.

However, I found what I was looking for: Aquinas’ doctrine of exemplar causation. It’s represented in the article as follows.

An exemplar cause is a type of formal cause—a sort of blueprint; the idea according to which something is organized. For Thomas, these ideas exist separately from the things they cause. For instance, if a boy is going to build a soap-box derby car, the idea in his mind is separate from the form of the car; yet the car’s form expresses the idea, or exemplar cause, in the boy’s mind. Herein lies the important point: for Thomas, a creature’s form comes from a similar form in the divine intellect. In other words, the cause of each species’ form is extrinsic. In fact, writes Thomas, “God is the first exemplar cause of all things” (p. 84-85 = p. 6-7 of the pdf)

The article says that the critics fail to mention this doctrine. That’s true. As far as I have followed the debate, exemplar causation has been mentioned only once by an ID critic in the debate, namely by Edward Feser (ID critic) when he says Vincent Torley’s (ID apologist) understanding of it is “worse than tenuous”. The rest of the mentions of exemplar causes I have seen in the debate are employed by the defenders of ID.

However, the problem with this defense is that it remains metaphysical and never touches on the physics and biology of design that ID is supposed to be about. Appeal to exemplar causes, while being relevant to Thomistic understanding of design, has no direct relevance to ID as an empirical theory whose mission is to measurably detect stuff. At least no advocate ever managed to clarify the connection to me and this article is no exception.

The real thrust of criticism

The thrust of theist criticism against ID is this: Teleology is beyond the empirical world. It cannot be measured or detected as a cause of this or that. Formal causes do not create or generate things and events, but rather “inform” things (with purpose, i.e. function, both intrinsic, special and contextual; it’s not a separately examinable part or appendage, like souls are often imagined to be separable ghosts). For example, a formal cause does not cause a dog to be, but rather determines what a dog is, what qualifies as a (natural or normal) dog and what doesn’t. The thrust of theist criticism against ID is meant to point out this category error between empirical and unempirical causation. The latter (namely, unempirical causation in Aristotelian metaphysics) would likely correspond to a “category” or “taxonomy” in scientific terminology. As long as ID fails to comply with the scientific terminology, it is doomed to remain a pseudoscience. And as long as ID trivializes Scholastic metaphysics, assuming empiricism where there is none, it is rightly criticized by Thomists and Scholastics.

This crucial criticism is sadly misrepresented in the article, sometimes subtly, sometimes grossly. For example, the article complains about the critics’ obsession with secondary causation (as distinguished from direct causation by God whereas, as rightly pointed out in the article, Thomas has no problem with direct causation) and aversion to God’s intervention and miracles. In reality, critics have no such obsessions and aversions. Instead, the criticism is that God’s direct intervention and miracles remain empirically undetectable after the fact. God’s intervention is indistinguishable from natural causes, because God is the author of natural causation. Intervention or miracles would be no different from natural causes, because God’s action is a single timeless act (a.k.a. pure actuality): When God acts, the outcome is most natural, nature itself.

Take a particular miracle such as raising Lazarus from the dead. After the raising, would modern physicians be able determine after examination, “Yup, God did it.” or “This is caused by design, not by natural causes”? No. There would be no empirical signs of miraculous intervention after the fact. And, incidentally, this is not how the Catholic Church goes about determining miracles. Yet this is how ID apparently proposes to proceed.

After all this, the article turns and says “ID is a very minimal claim which does not require intervention.” (p. 85 = p. 7 in the pdf) Then why all that accusation of critics with their obsessions and aversions concerning the matter?

Where did ID go this wrong?

There are other fundamental problems with ID theory that become evident in the article, mainly conceptual. For example, it’s never clear what is meant by “design”. Is it a cause or an effect? At one point, Behe is quoted definitionally, “Design is simply the purposeful arrangement of parts” and Dembski is claimed to have pointed out that Paley “made no appeal to miracles in the production of design.” (p. 85-86) So, if design is a production and an arrangement, it seems to be more like an effect. Yet there’s the rampant “caused by design” assertion in the ID community as we know it (from UD, originally Dembski’s forum). The article does not mention it. Dembski uses (at UD: Resources/ID defined) the term “intelligent cause” which is supposed to “best explain” “certain features of the universe and of living things” (the same as “design”?) while the relation between design and intelligence is never explained. That’s a problem created by, or at least amplified by, Dembski, I’d say.

Another is the term “irreducible complexity”. The article defends the term citing Aquinas.

Contrary to the claims of Feser (2010, 154–155), the presence of complexity is relevant to Aquinas’s argument for design:… It is impossible for things contrary and discordant to fall into one harmo-
nious order
always or for the most part, except under some one guidance… (p. 86, underline in the original)

Now, does everybody agree with the implication that “one harmonious order” means something even remotely akin to “complexity”? Didn’t think so. The article is full of such misapplied quotes from Aquinas. They can be hunted for fun when reading. “Complexity” is like a square peg to a round hole when it comes to Scholastic metaphysics with its doctrine of divine simplicity. This is a problem invented by Behe.

Conclusion

The conclusion of the article says that “The Thomistic critics of ID understand neither ID nor the heart of Darwinian evolution… ID is not a competing metaphysical system for the simple reason that it is not a metaphysical system.” (p. 91-92 = p. 13-14 in the pdf) I’d say that if ID can be defended by means of Thomist metaphysics, then it must be a metaphysical system, except that it demonstrably cannot be defended by means of Thomist metaphysics, so it’s evidently something else. My conclusion is that ID is indefensible due to conceptual inconsistencies stemming from the fact that its advocates and apologists never figured out whether it’s a metaphysics or a science. Unfortunately, pace KN, metaphysics and science are two distinct worlds and need to be sorted out before engaging in either one.

184 thoughts on “Koons, Aquinas, and Intelligent Design”

  1. Erik Post author

    Kantian Naturalist: Ever since I was a child, I was really fascinated with the place of self-consciousness in nature. It seemed astounding to me that there could be an impetus or impulse at work in nature towards increasingly complex forms of consciousness and self-consciousness.

    You can talk about forms of (self-) consciousness given certain metaphysics. What if consciousness has no forms? Because only matter can have forms and consciousness is not matter (namely, you cannot take consciousness, put it on the table and say “Here it is.”)

    Consciousness has vessels. The vessels have forms, shapes.

  2. Tom EnglishTom English

    Kantian Naturalist: I think there’s something really interesting to the idea that scientific theorizing is one of the tools that points towards recognition of emptiness as ultimate reality.

    The only way to get at emptiness is to empty. I’m no longer sure what I make of pure consciousness. But I do take my experience of it as real. I am no less despised by atheists who use science as a surrogate for religion than by religionists who claim objective support for their beliefs. It is anathema to both groups that some sort of vital knowledge should be private, ineffable, and arational.

    Kantian Naturalist: It is as if (at least ‘as if’!) through us the universe discovers itself.

    The tagline of my blog, “Bounded Science,” is “The self-explaining universe is a paradox. But that explains nothing.”

  3. Tom EnglishTom English

    Erik: What if consciousness has no forms?

    Bhikkhu Amaro, “Emptiness and Pure Awareness“:

    So, because to the conceptual mind the experience of Ultimate Truth has no form, it can be described as ’emptiness’. But to the non-conceptual wisdom-mind, the realisation of Truth is like the Truth seeing itself. Pure Mind, aware of its own nature. When the mind is completely unattached, when there is no identification, no sense of self whatsoever, the mind rests pure and still, simply aware of its own nature. The Dhamma aware if its own nature. There is a realisation that everything is Dhamma, but that realisation is non-verbal, non-conceptual, so the conceptual mind calls it empty. But to itself, its real nature is apparent, it is understood, it is clear.

  4. keithskeiths

    Tom English:

    I am no less despised by atheists who use science as a surrogate for religion than by religionists who claim objective support for their beliefs. It is anathema to both groups that some sort of vital knowledge should be private, ineffable, and arational.

    My own objection is not that “private, ineffable, and arational” experiences can’t possibly convey some sort of truth, but simply that we cannot know that they do.

    You seem to allude to this when you write:

    I’m no longer sure what I make of pure consciousness. But I do take my experience of it as real.

    The experience is undoubtedly real, but your interpretation of it is uncertain. You’re not sure what to make of it.

    In meditation, I’ve had experiences in which my sense of self evaporated. While such experiences can spur us to question the intuitive concept of the self, I don’t think that the experiences themselves are dispositive.

    My own interpretation of these experiences and of the relevant neuroscientific evidence is that the sense of self is a neural construct that can vanish when its neural correlates do, with meditation being just one way of making this happen.

    My experience of the world vanishes when I’m under general anesthesia, but I don’t thereby conclude that the world itself vanishes or is illusory. Likewise for the self.

    I think the concept of the self is shaky in a lot of respects, but not on the basis of these “emptying out” experiences.

  5. MungMung

    Patrick: If you find an arrangement of parts that perform a function, do you believe that it must in all cases be purposeful?

    If I find a purposeful arrangement of parts that perform a function, do I believe that it must in all cases be purposeful? Yes, if something is functioning, it is functioning for a purpose.

    function: an activity or purpose natural to or intended for a person or thing.

    That construction makes it clear that design must be intentional.

    Design is intentional. Do you actually design software yourself or do you just code what someone else intentionally designed?

  6. Kantian NaturalistKantian Naturalist

    Erik: You can talk about forms of (self-) consciousness given certain metaphysics. What if consciousness has no forms? Because only matter can have forms and consciousness is not matter (namely, you cannot take consciousness, put it on the table and say “Here it is.”)

    This looks so odd to me that I suspect we’re having a linguistic difficulty.

    Firstly and most importantly, I was really using the word “form” to mean “kind”: I could have said, “more and more complex kinds of consciousness” as well. Would you deny that there can be different kinds of consciousness? Does a beetle have the same kind of consciousness as an elephant?

    Second, and much less importantly, there’s a philosophical tradition that for thousands of years treated form and matter as complementary. Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Kant, and Hegel all thought of substances as form/matter composites. None of them would have said that only matter can have form. Since I know you know this, I’m puzzled at your use of language here.

    Thirdly, as a minor point, philosophers like Kant, Hegel, and Husserl are all talking about the structure of consciousness. When Kant argues that consciousness of objects and self-consciousness are inter-dependent — you can’t have one without the other — he’s describing the structure of intentional consciousness for beings like us. I would thereby happily say that he’s describing our form of consciousness.

  7. MungMung

    keiths: The experience is undoubtedly real, but your interpretation of it is uncertain.

    So he can be certain of the experience, but he cannot know any truth conveyed by that experience, not even the truth of the experience itself.

    We can, apparently, assign meaning to our experiences, but we can’t know, in any way, shape or form, any truth from that.

    How odd.

    Does this mean you will stop judging me based on your experiences with of me? That would be nice.

  8. PatrickPatrick

    Erik: You can talk about forms of (self-) consciousness given certain metaphysics. What if consciousness has no forms? Because only matter can have forms and consciousness is not matter (namely, you cannot take consciousness, put it on the table and say “Here it is.”)

    All available evidence suggests that consciousness consists of the interaction of electrical, chemical, and neural configurations. You can’t put those on the table, but they are material patterns.

  9. PatrickPatrick

    Mung:

    If you find an arrangement of parts that perform a function, do you believe that it must in all cases be purposeful?

    If I find a purposeful arrangement of parts that perform a function, do I believe that it must in all cases be purposeful?

    I didn’t say purposeful, and I suspect you know that. At least you got to post another comment and get some attention, so your goals here are met.

  10. Erik Post author

    Kantian Naturalist: Firstly and most importantly, I was really using the word “form” to mean “kind”: I could have said, “more and more complex kinds of consciousness” as well. Would you deny that there can be different kinds of consciousness? Does a beetle have the same kind of consciousness as an elephant?

    Yes, there are different kinds of consciousness, but the complexity of it is in the other direction than you imply. The lower the species, the grosser and more rigid it is, more complex. Whereas in higher species there is access to simpler higher consciousness which enables to control the lower kinds. Because lower kinds of consciousness, such as instincts or senses, are merely what’s trapped in the respective material organs, whereas finer consciousness is free(r), more universal, perceptible in the fine internal organ (the mind) whose function is to control the body with all its (lower) functions.

    The hierarchy of complexity of consciousness is this way in every tradition I know of. Surely they gave it a thorough thought. In Buddhism, the relevant doctrine is called dependent origination, a sort of theory of evolution/emanation.

    Kantian Naturalist: Second, and much less importantly, there’s a philosophical tradition that for thousands of years treated form and matter as complementary.

    I didn’t mean forms in the Aristotelian sense. To clarify, I explicitly added “shapes”. But okay, you meant it that way. This Aristotelian term is something I don’t get well along with.

    By the way, the OP is somewhat flawed precisely when referring to the Aristotelian causes. Both Vincent and Gregory drew attention to it and I realize that now, but I think it’s more honest to let my flaws stay there.

  11. colewd

    Patrick,

    I was referring to this definition of yours: “If we define design as the purposeful arrangement of parts that perform a function”. That construction makes it clear that design must be intentional. If you find an arrangement of parts that perform a function, do you believe that it must in all cases be purposeful?

    I can think of a function created by chance vs intention. So their can be an arrangement of parts by chance that perform a function. So the word purposeful separates a design vs. a chance assemblage of parts that perform a function.

  12. colewd

    Patrick,

    In the case of Aquinas he would attribute both a chance assemblage of parts and a design to God because he considers movement (modern day 4 forces) a first cause argument.

  13. PatrickPatrick

    colewd:

    I was referring to this definition of yours: “If we define design as the purposeful arrangement of parts that perform a function”. That construction makes it clear that design must be intentional. If you find an arrangement of parts that perform a function, do you believe that it must in all cases be purposeful?

    I can think of a function created by chance vs intention.So their can be an arrangement of parts by chance that perform a function.So the word purposeful separates a design vs. a chance assemblage of parts that perform a function.

    In that case, an assemblage of parts that perform a function is not an indicator of design. You still need some other reason to consider it purposeful. That other reason is the real indicator of design. What is it?

  14. colewd

    Patrick,

    In that case, an assemblage of parts that perform a function is not an indicator of design. You still need some other reason to consider it purposeful. That other reason is the real indicator of design. What is it?

    It is purposeful if I think purpose is a stronger inference then chance. The flagellar motor is a case in point. Do you think this is a chance assemblage of parts. If so, why?
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-P2ao1s6akpM/UHWeg7N7RMI/AAAAAAAABVg/SHbi329OwZk/s1600/bacterial+flagella+in+detail.png

  15. GlenDavidson

    colewd:
    Patrick,

    It is purposeful if I think purpose is a stronger inference then chance.The flagellar motor is a case in point.Do you think this is a chance assemblage of parts.If so, why?
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-P2ao1s6akpM/UHWeg7N7RMI/AAAAAAAABVg/SHbi329OwZk/s1600/bacterial+flagella+in+detail.png

    Is evolutionary theory about chance alone? If not, why would you misportray it yet again?

    Perhaps you should learn what purpose is. It’s not the only alternative to “chance.”

    Glen Davidson

  16. Kantian NaturalistKantian Naturalist

    Erik: Yes, there are different kinds of consciousness, but the complexity of it is in the other direction than you imply. The lower the species, the grosser and more rigid it is, more complex. Whereas in higher species there is access to simpler higher consciousness which enables to control the lower kinds. Because lower kinds of consciousness, such as instincts or senses, are merely what’s trapped in the respective material organs, whereas finer consciousness is free(r), more universal, perceptible in the fine internal organ (the mind) whose function is to control the body with all its (lower) functions.

    The hierarchy of complexity of consciousness is this way in every tradition I know of. Surely they gave it a thorough thought. In Buddhism, the relevant doctrine is called dependent origination, a sort of theory of evolution/emanation.

    There’s a lot I could disagree with here, but I’m not too interested in doing that. I’m actually more interested in talking about dependent origination!

    I didn’t mean forms in the Aristotelian sense. To clarify, I explicitly added “shapes”. But okay, you meant it that way. This Aristotelian term is something I don’t get well along with.

    I find the Aristotelian idea helpful for doing phenomenology. I do think that there’s something deeply right about the idea that we experience the world in terms of structured stuffs. But, to shift gears and talk in terms of Madhyamaka, that’s just conventional reality!

  17. Erik Post author

    Kantian Naturalist: I find the Aristotelian idea helpful for doing phenomenology. I do think that there’s something deeply right about the idea that we experience the world in terms of structured stuffs.

    This is not a specifically Aristotelian insight. Everybody has their theory of forms. I like Plato’s much better.

    By the way, if you scratch a little below surface in Aristotelianism, you will see that their forms are not structure and this is precisely what I don’t like about it. By the way 2, the original Greek word is akin to idea rather than form. By the way 3, in Vedanta, the phenomenal world consists of names and forms (shapes) and this is all there is to know about it.

  18. PatrickPatrick

    colewd:

    In that case, an assemblage of parts that perform a function is not an indicator of design. You still need some other reason to consider it purposeful. That other reason is the real indicator of design. What is it?

    It is purposeful if I think purpose is a stronger inference then chance. The flagellar motor is a case in point.

    Why do you think that purpose and chance are the only two options. How about, oh, I don’t know, evolution?

    Further, on what do you base your inference? That is what you really consider to be the indicator of design. What is it?

    Do you think this is a chance assemblage of parts. If so, why?

    No, I think the evidence supports the theory that it evolved. Do you have any evidence for a designer being involved? Do you have any evidence even for the existence of a designer at the time any of the flagella* appeared?

    • You know there is more than one, right?
  19. Kantian NaturalistKantian Naturalist

    Erik: This is not a specifically Aristotelian insight. Everybody has their theory of forms. I like Plato’s much better.

    Increasingly I think that Plato and Aristotle are deeply motivated by quite different questions, so the “theory of forms” turns out differently. Plato is motivated by the question, “how can we decrease the likelihood of civil war (stasis?”, and a big part of his response is, “by educating people to restrain their appetites and live according to what can be articulated in speech”. He introduces “the Ideas” because he thinks that that universal agreement about how to live would be possible only if there are universally accessible intentional objects to which our words refer, though we “see” them with greater or lesser degrees of clarity.

    By contrast, Aristotle is motivated by (something like), “how do we acquire knowledge through experience?” This is a big problem if one thinks, in the grips of the Eleatic assumption invented by Parmenides, that being is thought. If being is thought, then non-being cannot be thought. But if change requires that being come into existence from non-being, then change is logically impossible. Plato, I think, was irritated enough by this problem that he was willing to assign Parmenidean being to the ideas and change to the appearances, but he never worked out the details.

  20. colewd

    Patrick,

    It is purposeful if I think purpose is a stronger inference then chance. The flagellar motor is a case in point.

    Why do you think that purpose and chance are the only two options. How about, oh, I don’t know, evolution?

    Chance is the driver of modern evolutionary theory. If after random change of a copied existing gene of a completely novel gene you serendipitously get function that creates reproductive advantage then evolution provides some direction. Neutral theory is little help with this issue.

    Further, on what do you base your inference? That is what you really consider to be the indicator of design. What is it?

    -Based on the lack on innovative power of evolutionary mechanisms and the innovation required to build this micro machine.

    -Based on this machine being the result of a clear design requirement which is mobility for a bacteria. Since a bacteria can reproduce every 20 minutes this motor must be robust enough to build itself consistently and accurately from blueprints (DNA). Howard Berg of Harvard who extensively studied this motor called it the most efficient machine in the world.

    No, I think the evidence supports the theory that it evolved. Do you have any evidence for a designer being involved? Do you have any evidence even for the existence of a designer at the time any of the flagella* appeared?

    The evidence of a designer is the pre existence of bacteria. Technology more complex then anything humans have ever built.

    If Aquinas had been able to see this motor I think it would have supported is 5th way of proof of God. I don’t think he would have made an issue of irreducible complexity or the purposeful arrange of parts. He would have marveled at its incredibly efficient design and natures ability to make it so repeatably. This would be support for his fifth way thesis.

  21. GlenDavidson

    colewd:
    Patrick,

    Chance is the driver of modern evolutionary theory.

    No it isn’t. Selection is. Were it merely due to chance, no adaptation would occur.

    If after random change of a copied existing gene of a completely novel gene you serendipitouslyget function that creates reproductive advantage then evolution provides some direction.

    Oh, and it leaves behind a trail unlike that of any known designer.

    -Based on the lack on innovative power of evolutionary mechanisms and the innovation required to build this micro machine.

    So, based on your lack of knowledge.

    Wow.

    -Based on this machine being the result of a clear design requirement which is mobility for a bacteria.Since a bacteria can reproduce every 20 minutes this motor must be robust enough to build itself consistently and accurately from blueprints (DNA).Howard Berg of Harvard who extensively studied this motor called it the most efficient machine in the world.

    Well, what of that?

    The evidence of a designer is the pre existence of bacteria.

    What does the “pre existence of bacteria” even mean? Nice to know that a crucial aspect of the virulence of many bacteria was designed by your Designer, however.

    Technology more complex then anything humans have ever built.

    With all of the evidence of having evolved, as well.

    What can we conclude from the dissimilarities between bacteria and our creations, plus the evidence of common descent?

    If Aquinas had been able to see this motor I think it would have supported is 5th way of proof of God. I don’t think he would have made an issue of irreducible complexity or the purposeful arrange of parts.He would have marveled at its incredibly efficient design and natures ability to make it so repeatably.This would be support for his fifth way thesis.

    Unless, that is, he actually thought through all of the evidence.

    Still waiting for you to show that there is a good probability of your “Designer.” You don’t get to just make up a “cause” without showing that it’s probable, unless you want to be taken about as seriously as you are now.

    Glen Davidson

  22. Adapa

    colewd:
    Patrick,

    The evidence of a designer is the pre existence of bacteria.Technology more complex then anything humans have ever built.

    Bacterial flagella aren’t technology. Technology is defined as “machinery and equipment developed from the application of scientific knowledge.” Human technology may be used as an analogy for naturally evolved functions in living creatures but that’s all it is, an analogy. Analogies aren’t evidence. Some day the IDiots will stop using the argument from analogy.

  23. Kantian NaturalistKantian Naturalist

    Adapa: Bacterial flagella aren’t technology.Technology is defined as “machinery and equipment developed from the application of scientific knowledge.”Human technology may be used as an analogy for naturally evolved functions in living creatures but that’s all it is, an analogy. Analogies aren’t evidence. Some day the IDiots will stop using the argument from analogy.

    Ha ha ha ha!!

    Wait, you weren’t being serious, were you?

    The analogy is all that ID has. There’s nothing else to the position besides that analogy.

  24. Tom EnglishTom English

    Mung: So he can be certain of the experience, but he cannot know any truth conveyed by that experience, not even the truth of the experience itself.

    We can, apparently, assign meaning to our experiences, but we can’t know, in any way, shape or form, any truth from that.

    How odd.

    Does this mean you will stop judging me based on your experiences with of me? That would be nice.

    You seem to understand what the issues are. (Sorry not to have kept up with this thread. It wasn’t what I intended when I commented.)

  25. PatrickPatrick

    colewd:

    Why do you think that purpose and chance are the only two options. How about, oh, I don’t know, evolution?

    Chance is the driver of modern evolutionary theory. If after random change of a copied existing gene of a completely novel gene you serendipitously get function that creates reproductive advantage then evolution provides some direction. Neutral theory is little help with this issue.

    Referring to evolutionary theory as solely chance ignores the importance of selection. It is a grossly inaccurate characterization that is a standard creationist trope.

    Further, on what do you base your inference? That is what you really consider to be the indicator of design. What is it?

    -Based on the lack on innovative power of evolutionary mechanisms and the innovation required to build this micro machine.

    Yet known evolutionary mechanisms have been both observed and demonstrated to produce innovations.

    -Based on this machine being the result of a clear design requirement which is mobility for a bacteria.

    Where are these clear design requirements documented? You’re simply assuming your conclusion here.

    You have no reason for your inference other than arguments from incredulity and a bias for your religious beliefs over evidence.

    No, I think the evidence supports the theory that it evolved. Do you have any evidence for a designer being involved? Do you have any evidence even for the existence of a designer at the time any of the flagella* appeared?

    The evidence of a designer is the pre existence of bacteria.

    Circular nonsense.

    Do you have any actual evidence supporting the claim that your designer existed?

  26. colewd

    Patrick,

    Referring to evolutionary theory as solely chance ignores the importance of selection. It is a grossly inaccurate characterization that is a standard creationist trope.

    This is not my argument. My argument is that the driver of evolution is chance. Selection only occurs after a reproductive advantage is found. If the adaption is a mutation or two away this can happen, and as you claim has been demonstrated, but the flagellum motor cannot be built with only a few mutations. The mechanism has limitations and this recognition is gaining momentum.

    Patrick- Where are these clear design requirements documented? You’re simply assuming your conclusion here.

    Your criticism is valid here.

    Cole-The evidence of a designer is the pre existence of bacteria.

    Patrick-Circular nonsense.

    This is not circular reasoning. I am looking at evidence which is the bacteria and making an inference which is design.

    You appear to be supporting the philosophy that we cannot make inferences about our origin from evidence in nature. I believe that Kant and Hume supported this idea. Where Aquinas supported the philosophy that we could understand our origins from empirical evidence inside the universe.

    Per Wiki

    Kant argued that our minds give structure to the raw materials of reality, and that the world is therefore divided into the phenomenal world (the world we experience and know), and the noumenal world (the world as it is “in itself,” which we can never know).[20] Since the cosmological arguments reason from what we experience, and hence the phenomenal world, to an inferred cause, and hence the noumenal world, since the noumenal world lies beyond our knowledge we can never know what’s there.[21] Kant also argued that the concept of a necessary being is incoherent, and that the cosmological argument presupposes its coherence, and hence the arguments fail.[22]

    Hume argued that since we can conceive of causes and effects as separate, there is no necessary connection between them and therefore we cannot necessarily reason from an observed effect to an inferred cause.[23] Hume also argued that explaining the causes of individual elements explains everything, and therefore there is no need for a cause of the whole of reality

    My view is that Kant makes some interesting points but the idea that we cannot do inductive reasoning is contrary to the observed success of science. Inductive reasoning about whats going on outside space-time is like trying to figure out whats going on inside a cell. We cannot really see where we are going, we can just make observations, experiments and inferences.

  27. GlenDavidson

    colewd: This is not circular reasoning. I am looking at evidence which is the bacteria and making an inference which is design.

    No you aren’t, you’re just leaping to the conclusion that you want to be the case. It all remains based on your wholly illegitimate false dilemma that if it didn’t evolve it was designed.

    What you won’t face up to is the fact that not only haven’t you provided the first piece of sound (contextual, etc.) evidence for design, we have excellent evidence against design in the conformity of life’s structures to the constraints of the evolutionary processes occurring in each line (looser for bacteria, but not missing). Of course one can always select parts to say, “well this was designed, even if the rest was not,” but that’s only so much confirmation bias unless you have something that actually marks the “designed parts” as designed (and no, your lack of understanding is not sufficient evidence).

    Don’t pretend to be making an inference when all you’re doing is indulging your particular fantasy/bias. Inferences come from considering the evidence (in at least some of the context) for something, and not your persistent and utterly wrong belief that you “have evidence for design” if evolution “can’t do it.” We did not get physics by knocking out all of the wrong ideas, but by finding actual evidence for the right ideas. If you were actually to find meaningful evidence for design you’d be the first, and it would be an impressive achievement.

    Glen Davidson

  28. PatrickPatrick

    colewd:

    Referring to evolutionary theory as solely chance ignores the importance of selection. It is a grossly inaccurate characterization that is a standard creationist trope.

    This is not my argument. My argument is that the driver of evolution is chance.

    So it is your argument.

    Selection only occurs after a reproductive advantage is found.

    Random mutation and natural selection are both essential to evolution. One alone is not the driver.

    If the adaption is a mutation or two away this can happen, and as you claim has been demonstrated, but the flagellum motor cannot be built with only a few mutations. The mechanism has limitations and this recognition is gaining momentum.

    It has limitations, which is why what we observe supports modern evolutionary theory. We don’t observe anything like an omnipotent god designer interfering to create functionality in any way that known evolutionary mechanisms cannot.

    Again, all you have is an argument from personal incredulity.

    The evidence of a designer is the pre existence of bacteria.

    Circular nonsense.

    This is not circular reasoning. I am looking at evidence which is the bacteria and making an inference which is design.

    Based on nothing more than personal incredulity. You are explaining why you think the flagellum is designed by using the flagellum as evidence for design. Circular nonsense.

  29. colewd

    Patrick,

    Random mutation and natural selection are both essential to evolution. One alone is not the driver.

    One alone is the driver. It is random change. By driver I mean what initiates the process and makes it a process based on chance. The chance driver is the limitation that you are talking about. The alternative is design or a process where planning is involved. We have previously called this planning process intention or purpose.

    It has limitations, which is why what we observe supports modern evolutionary theory. We don’t observe anything like an omnipotent god designer interfering to create functionality in any way that known evolutionary mechanisms cannot.

    The limitation of the mechanism is why we cannot explain evolution at this point. You are right that we do not observe a designer we just observe what we are inferring to be designed.

    You are trying to discount my argument by changing it, calling it circular or an argument from personal incredulity and your criticisms are incoherent. Here is a case where you changed it.

    Cole-This is not circular reasoning. I am looking at evidence which is the bacteria and making an inference which is design.

    May-Based on nothing more than personal incredulity. You are explaining why you think the flagellum is designed by using the flagellum as evidence for design. Circular nonsense.

    I argued for the bacteria as designed and you substituted the flagellum. If I explain why the bacteria is designed based on evidence that points to design, then that is inductive reasoning. We can start with the evidence that it can self replicate.

    Patrick, you’re out here is Hume’s argument.

    Hume argued that since we can conceive of causes and effects as separate, there is no necessary connection between them and therefore we cannot necessarily reason from an observed effect to an inferred cause.[23] Hume also argued that explaining the causes of individual elements explains everything, and therefore there is no need for a cause of the whole of reality

  30. Neil Rickert

    colewd: One alone is the driver. It is random change. By driver I mean what initiates the process and makes it a process based on chance. The chance driver is the limitation that you are talking about. The alternative is design or a process where planning is involved. We have previously called this planning process intention or purpose.

    The driver, of course, is the behavior of biological organisms and of populations. In particular, this includes their reproductive behavior.

    To me, it seems reasonable to ascribe intention to such behavior, though some people disagree.

  31. GlenDavidson

    colewd: The alternative is design or a process where planning is involved.

    Only if there’s evidence for planning. Not that you care about supplying evidence for your claims.

    There is evidence against planning, no significant evidence for it.

    Glen Davidson

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