The apparently absent,…

…non-interactive, invisible, silent, hidden, indifferent, concealed Designer

I cringed when I heard an IDist say something to the effect, “we use forensic science all the time to infer design, and this same science demonstrates an Intelligence made life”. The problem is forensic science identifies designs made by humans (or something human like). People generally believe some designer made Stonehenge because they see humans making comparable designs all the time. Many IDists don’t seem to appreciate invoking a never-seen designer poses a challenge for accepting design in biology.

Even if God created life, because we don’t experience His presence in the same way we experience a human designers’ presence, many find it hard to accept the idea a Creator exists. If God exists, as far as every day human affairs, He appears absent, non-interactive, invisible, silent, hidden, indifferent, concealed etc. In human terms, then, like the tooth fairy, the concept of God in the modern day among the educated, seems irrelevant at best, false and harmful at worst.

For someone to accept God as creator, he must come to terms with the problem of God’s lack of obvious interaction in every day life. Why the silence, and concealment? Were it not for the Design argument, I’d almost be right there with the GNUs saying how stupid theism is.

However, because of the design argument first, and the creationist argument second, I came to reaffirm my belief in the Christian faith after being an agnostic for a season. For others, the design argument isn’t persuasive enough to raise any interest in things of Jesus. I respect that, but that is not the path I’ve chosen.

The almost forgotten ID classic, The Hidden Face of God and other books by Gerald Schoeder influenced world-famous atheist Antony Flew. If God is the creator, He has surely gone to great lengths to conceal His existence. For me, and I suppose for Antony Flew, the Design hypothesis made it feasible for some to believe there is a concealed and hidden face of God.

God gets glory from concealing things; kings get glory from investigating things.

Proverbs 25:2
Complete Jewish Bible

[title truncated by Lizzie]

96 thoughts on “The apparently absent,…

  1. Religion_of_pieces,

    You’ve proven yourself incapable of reading, RoP, now still stuck at the 1st of 3 questions. Please stop misreading & propagandising for IDism against orthodoxy. Feser (in line with A-T) is a holist, not a reductionist.

    It doesn’t seem like you understand Feser’s anti-IDism at all.

    “the metaphysical and theological errors A-T sees as implicit in the methodological assumptions underlying Paley’s “design argument” and contemporary ID theory.”

  2. Gregory: Feser (in line with A-T) is a holist, not a reductionist

    Learn to read, he seems to think reductionism with respect to man-made machines is just “common sense”, as he wrote:

    “Take a few bits of metal, work them into various shapes, and attach them to a piece of wood. Voila! A mousetrap. Or so we call it. But objectively, apart from human interests, the object is “nothing but” a collection of wood and metal parts. Its “mousetrappish” character is observer-relative; it is in the minds of the designer and users of the object, and not strictly in the object itself. “Reductionism” with respect to such human artifacts is just common sense.” ~ Edward Feser

    He is hopeless confused on this point.

  3. Religion_of_pieces: Learn to read, he seems to think reductionism with respect to man-made machines is just “common sense”, as he wrote:

    “Take a few bits of metal, work them into various shapes, and attach them to a piece of wood. Voila! A mousetrap. Or so we call it. But objectively, apart from human interests, the object is “nothing but” a collection of wood and metal parts. Its “mousetrappish” character is observer-relative; it is in the minds of the designer and users of the object, and not strictly in the object itself. “Reductionism” with respect to such human artifacts is just common sense.” ~ Edward Feser

    He is hopeless confused on this point.

    No, he is not confused at all. He is just being Aristotelian. For Aristotelians, it is indeed common sense to view artifacts precisely this way. Feser goes on, “But now consider claims like “Consciousness is ‘nothing but’ a complex set of electrochemical processes in the brain,”“Living things are ‘nothing but’ aggregates of physico-chemical processes,” “Water is ‘nothing but’ H2O,” and so forth. Claims like these – indeed, reductionism about natural kinds in general – are, I think it will generally be acknowledged, not in line with common sense.”

    So, there’s a distinction between artificial things and natural kinds. I personally don’t make too much of the distinction either, because I am not an Aristotelian, but seriously, Feser is not confused on this point. He knows very well what he is saying and why it needs to be said.

  4. Erik,

    According to Feser there is no observer-independent difference between a random pile of plastic and rubber, and your car. We just impose function on the one and not the other. This is, I’m sorry to say, absurd.

  5. Well, RoP, you’ve proven that access to the internet makes some people think they are cleverer than PhDs. Poor Feser and I simply can’t handle your ‘brilliant’ arguments. 😛

    “I just read Feser for the 1st time and already I’ve outsmarted that ‘Christian reductionist’ philosopher who happens to reject IDism!”

    2 more questions remain. But I’m not sticking around to ‘discuss’ them with RoP. What a shame IDism has blinded him to reasonable thought. 🙁

    “Give to a[n Dist], ignorant in astronomy, a map of the heavenly bodies; and the next day he will bring it back corrected.” – Dostoyevsky

  6. Neil Rickert: But there is a lot of internal guidance within biology, so there is a lot of self-design. A developing organism is designing itself during that development period. The DNA is not an exact specification of how the organism should develop.

    Hm, and you all just can’t seem to find evidence for this designer huh?

    I know its just so hard to see….

    Maybe you can tell Sal to look a little harder for his non-interactive, invisible, silent, hidden, indifferent, concealed Designer…hint, hint

  7. Gregory:
    “Well, RoP, you’ve proven that access to the internet makes some people think they are cleverer than PhDs.”

    So which is it … the title, the piece of paper, or ‘x’ years of education and research that makes one immune to error? Unless you are merely making an observation that open access to discussion and information can help someone identify illogical, fallacious, and even absurd arguments, then sure some independently educated people may be cleverer than PhDs. I see no factual or logical error in that assessment, depending on how you are defining ‘clever.’ …. And I think that’s ‘more clever,’ correct me if I’m wrong.

    Gregory:
    “Poor Feser and I simply can’t handle your ‘brilliant’ arguments.”

    It’s not so much that RoP’s argument is so clever … he didn’t really present an argument per se. It’s that Feser appears to provide an argument from ignorance that is easily and swiftly defeated with one single observation of an objectively measurable property of a car vs a pile of rubber and metal. Shall I continue with an actual argument or do you see the problem now?

    One more option is that we are not interpreting Feser correctly. Does that seem to be the issue?

  8. Religion_of_pieces: According to Feser there is no observer-independent difference between a random pile of plastic and rubber, and your car. We just impose function on the one and not the other. This is, I’m sorry to say, absurd.

    And the observer-independent difference between them is… Come on, let’s hear.

  9. Erik: And the observer-independent difference between them is… Come on, let’s hear.

    The objective difference is, one pile of metal and plastic has the capacity to take you from point A to point B, the other does not. Feser seems to think this is like seeing faces in the clouds or something. It is the particular arrangement of metal and plastic that allows one pile of metal and plastic to do something very useful, just like a particular arrangement of proteins in the cell allows a molecular machine to do something very useful. The arrangement is where the action is, and it is this which is irreducible to the physical, reductionism fails when it comes to made made machines, because the (non-physical) function of the machine is not reducible to its parts or constituents.

  10. Erik, you have got to be kidding. Objective measurements include efficiency of energy conversion, rpm, etc. … and tolerance of components in relation to any of those measurements.

  11. Religion_of_pieces: The objective difference is, one pile of metal and plastic has the capacity to take you from point A to point B, the other does not.

    And this is observer-independent how?

    Remember, you were supposed to tell me an observer-independent difference. Tell me the difference between them that is there even when nobody is observing it.

    The same note to CJYman.

  12. Hello Erik, there must be a lapse in communication somewhere between us. I am operating with the understanding that an observer-dependent ‘pattern’ is one which purely subjective and thus not amenable to an objective measurement. IOW, if you remove the observer there is no objective measurement to determine if there is a face in a cloud.

    Conversely, I guarantee that if you blindfold yourself, sit behind the wheel of an operational vehicle, switch on the ignition and punch the gas pedal, energy conversion will take place, RPMs will occur, and you will get from one point to another rather swiftly and your injuries will be quite objective. If you still wish to complain that an ‘observer’ (a system capable of subjectively imposing patterns) is still involved — although the function is not subjective in any rational sense of the term — then replace human/car pair with a robot car. Now are you able to see the observer-independent function?

    … or am I not understanding the term “observer-independent?”

    [edit] Furthermore, reduce the car to a pile of scrap and there will be a very objective change in energy conversion, RPM, etc.

  13. CJYman:
    Do objective measurements describe an objective, observer-independent pattern or not?

    Does measurement entail a measurer or not?

    Anyway, of course we call measurements of efficiency, rpm, etc. “objective”. The question is: What is the name of the characteristic that spells out, e.g. “mousetrap”, objectively and observer-independently.

    Size and shape and speed, I can give you all that, but these are characteristics of all objects, living and non-living, purposeful and purposeless. What is the specific characteristic that makes the difference between a tool and non-tool, a man-made artifact and non-artifact?

    RoP says that such an objective observer-independent characteristic obviously exists, so let’s hear it.

  14. Erik:
    “Does measurement entail a measurer or not?”

    Yes it does, but RoP and I are referring to the objective pattern that exists independently of any measurement of said pattern. The point is that if the pattern is observer independent we will be able to take on objective measurement. However, if the pattern is not observer independent, we will not be able to take an objective measurement. Without this distinction there is no meaning to the phrase ‘observer-independent’ unless you are referring to it in some other way.

    Then, for a few sentences in your comment it appears that you understand this distinction.

    Which brings me to the point of even greater confusion over what you think is the problem. I gave you measurements that describe just a few of the objective differences between a car and a pile of car parts since it appeared that your position was that there is no observer-independent difference between the two. You made a quick reference to them in your last comment without providing any counter-argument except for ‘scare quotes’ around ‘objective,’ but now you are asking for the objective observer-independent characteristics all over again. Why? Can you not think of some more examples? Were those ‘not good enough’ for you? What gives?

  15. CJYman: I gave you measurements that describe just a few of the objective differences between a car and a pile of car parts since it appeared that your position was that there is no observer-independent difference between the two.

    Clearly there is a vast difference between the two, just as there is a difference between a snowflake and a water droplet; between an orange and orange juice; between a hedgehog and roadkill; between a tornado and still air; between an amethyist geode and sand; between a watch and a pebble.

    What is more is that the first of each of these pairs exhibits a special kind of organisation that is largely absent in the second.

    Where ID proponents go wrong is in thinking that this special organisation is the hallmark of an intentional designer. It’s the hallmark of something, for sure. But not of intention.

  16. CJYman:
    Erik:
    “Does measurement entail a measurer or not?”

    Yes it does, but RoP and I are referring to the objective pattern that exists independently of any measurement of said pattern.The point is that if the pattern is observer independent we will be able to take on objective measurement.However, if the pattern is not observer independent, we will not be able to take an objective measurement.Without this distinction there is no meaning to the phrase ‘observer-independent’ unless you are referring to it in some other way.

    Then, for a few sentences in your comment it appears that you understand this distinction.

    I understand the distinction well, yes. I understand it so well that I know that there is no “measurement of a pattern” involved.

    Remember what we are talking about. We are talking about what makes a car a car as opposed to a broken car, e.g. why a four-wheel car lacking a wheel is not properly a car while a three-wheel car designed to be a three-wheel car is legitimately a car again. Or, to reiterate Feser’s example, what is the “mousetrappishness” of a mousetrap. More generally, what is the toolness of a tool or artifactuality of an artifact.

    The answer is that there’s no observer-independent “pattern” that makes the difference between a working tool and a non-working one. If you disagree, state the pattern. It should be easy, because according to RoP Feser was obviously dead wrong on this point. So, the observer-independent “pattern” is….?

  17. Elizabeth: Clearly there is a vast difference between the two, just as there is a difference between a snowflake and a water droplet; between an orange and orange juice; between a hedgehog and roadkill; between a tornado and still air; between an amethyist geode and sand; between a watch and a pebble.

    What is more is that the first of each of these pairs exhibits a special kind of organisation that is largely absent in the second.

    Where ID proponents go wrong is in thinking that this special organisation is the hallmark of an intentional designer. It’s the hallmark of something, for sure. But not of intention.

    Elizabeth, may I tell you yet again how much I am in love with your words?

    Well, obviously, I’m not actually waiting for permission to tell you …

    Sorry! 😉

  18. Elizabeth:
    “Clearly there is a vast difference between the two, just as there is a difference between a snowflake and a water droplet; between an orange and orange juice; between a hedgehog and roadkill; between a tornado and still air; between an amethyist geode and sand; between a watch and a pebble.”

    Ok, so you do agree that there is an observer-independent difference between a pile of car parts and a functioning car. Would you please help me to explain this point to Erik. Apparently, I’m not doing such a good job. Thank you.

    Elizabeth:
    “What is more is that the first of each of these pairs exhibits a special kind of organisation that is largely absent in the second.”

    It sounds like you are following along quite well. Just to be sure, do you see this organization as being observer-independent and does such observer-independence translate to the difference between a pile of car parts and a functioning car?

    Elizabeth:
    “Where ID proponents go wrong is in thinking that this special organisation is the hallmark of an intentional designer. It’s the hallmark of something, for sure. But not of intention.”

    I’m not discussing ‘where ID proponents go right or wrong’ at this moment. I’m discussing whether specifically human artifacts have any observer-independent properties that differ from let’s say a random collection of parts. I recall Erik writing something to the effect that there is no observer-independent difference between a functioning car and a scrap heap of its components. I’ve detailed a few differences and opened myself up to enlightenment from Erik, if he so chooses to enlighten me on where I have gone wrong. Is my understanding of ‘observer-independent’ incorrect? I have provided my understanding and requested correction if I’m wrong.

    Thus far, no explicit correction and explanation of where I have gone wrong, if indeed I have gone wrong. Instead of enlightening me, it appears that Erik has taken this opportunity to win a battle by attrition.

  19. CJYman: I’m not discussing ‘where ID proponents go right or wrong’ at this moment. I’m discussing whether specifically human artifacts have any observer-independent properties that differ from let’s say a random collection of parts.

    No, I don’t think they do, although there is a correlation. For instance many human artefacts are carefully designed NOT to show any apparent signs of intentional design. Think Tracy Emin’s Bed, for instance, or the efforts people go to in garden design to make gardens look “natural”.

    And in some circumstances, we can tell that something isn’t “natural” – is “artificial” in fact, literally an “artefact” because it is cruder, less complex, than the “natural” article. Artificial flowers, for instance, but also artificial diamonds, or artificial rocks.

    So while humans can design pretty clever stuff, it’s not at all clear that what marks out human-designed stuff is its complexity. Sometimes what marks it out is its lack of complexity.

    That’s one reason why I think that the quality that ID proponents (e.g. Dembski) try to pick out as the signature of intentional design carves nature at the wrong joints. In my view, what makes human designs resemble biological design isn’t the fact that they are designed by a designer, but that both are the result of iterative feedback processes.

  20. Erik:
    “I understand the distinction well, yes. I understand it so well that I know that there is no “measurement of a pattern” involved.”

    Great, then we are getting somewhere. My understanding of an observer-independence must be incorrect. Could you please provide an explanation of what is meant by ‘observer-independence.’ Thank you.

    Erik:
    “Remember what we are talking about. We are talking about what makes a car a car as opposed to a broken car, e.g. why a four-wheel car lacking a wheel is not properly a car while a three-wheel car designed to be a three-wheel car is legitimately a car again.”

    Remember that I have answered your question a few times already with no counter-argument, no clarification, and no further explanation of how I could be wrong in either my assessment or my understanding of the term ‘observer-independent.’ No, wait … maybe you have provided a counter argument … does ‘Remember what we are talking about’ and a placement of ‘objective’ in ‘scare quotes’ as per your previous comment count as a counter argument?

    More specifically to the present comment … what you decide to name something (ie: ‘car’ or ‘not-car’) makes no difference to the observer independent properties of one human artifact vs another human artifact vs a non-human artifact vs a natural occurrence vs a pile of broken pieces from a human artifact.

    Your original point appeared to be that there is no observer-independent property between a car and a scrap heap of car parts and that is what I have been addressing. Is that a correct assessment or not? I’m growing weary of chasing your tail.

    Erik:
    “The answer is that there’s no observer-independent “pattern” that makes the difference between a working tool and a non-working one.”

    Two can play that game: “The answer is that there is an observer-independent “pattern” that makes the difference between a working car and a scrap pile of car parts.” … a car being a man made tool.

    Erik:
    “If you disagree, state the pattern. It should be easy, because according to RoP Feser was obviously dead wrong on this point. ”

    So long as I’m interpreting Feser correctly, it was easy and he is obviously dead wrong. Do you have any counter argument to provide yet? I can only continue an argument free argument for so long. Sheeesh this is starting to play out like a Monty Python sketch.

    CJYman: “I came here for an argument’

    Erik: “No you didn’t”

    Erik:
    “So, the observer-independent “pattern” is….?”

    Refer to my previous few comments where you have already referred to my reference of such ‘patterns.’ If you can not remember such occurrences and/or if you are have trouble picking out where I have so daftly hidden what I believe to be the observer-independent ‘pattern’ then please ask and I will try to be more blatantly obvious in the future.

    Just for fun, the observer-independent ‘patterns’ that are different between a four wheeled car, a four wheeled car missing a wheel, and a three wheeled car can probably be objectively measured in terms of traction and turning radius, just to name two off the top of my head.

    Or will that also not be ‘good enough’ for you?

  21. Elizabeth:
    “No, I don’t think they do, although there is a correlation.”

    So when previously you stated , “Clearly there is a vast difference between the two, just as there is a difference between a snowflake and a water droplet; between an orange and orange juice; between a hedgehog and roadkill; between a tornado and still air; between an amethyist geode and sand; between a watch and a pebble.” … you meant that there is clearly a vast difference, but only in subjective terms — no objective difference?

    Are we speaking past each other here?

  22. CJYman,

    Hey, if you’re planning to stick around, learn to blockquote

    [blockquote]text you want to quote[/blockquote]
    Yields:

    text you want to quote

    EXCEPT USE “less than”and “more than” angle brackets instead of square brackets!

    (They’re just like all other HTML tags.)
    .
    .

    Yeah, I know it’s a pain in the ass to type out blockquotes each time, but you notice you can copy and paste from the reply box you get when you are doing a (quote in reply) type of comment. The “open blockquote” part is non-obvious on the top of the quoted comment with the cite=comment #, but the “close blockquote” part is plenty obvious at the bottom.

    Copy it and use it as many times as needed to break up the other person’s comment into the sections you’re responding to.

    It’s not really any more difficult than having to type someone’s name and then type in quotation marks every time you quote a new sentence from them.

    And it will make your replies a hundred percent more readable.

    Thanks!

  23. CJYman: Would you please help me to explain this point to Erik. Apparently, I’m not doing such a good job.

    I’m mostly agreeing with you here. I’m not sure what Erik is trying to say.

    A broken down car and a working one might look the same from the distance. But if observing includes the ability to test whether it works, then there’s clearly a difference.

  24. CJYman:
    My understanding of an observer-independence must be incorrect.

    No. Your understanding of observer-independence is fine. You brought the right examples. The only problem is that your examples – which are indeed observer-independent features – are not on topic. We are not talking how much energy or rpm’s or whatever is here or there. We began with a humble mousetrap. Are rpm’s relevant to a mousetrap? Clearly not.

    We are talking about tool versus non-tool, artifact versus non-artifact. There is a distinction between those, I’m sure we both agree. But there’s no observer-independent distinction. Your examples of energy and rpm’s are clearly irrelevant to what makes a tool a tool.

    A hammer is a tool, clearly designed as per ID theory as I’m sure you would agree, and it’s designed (artificial) in the Aristotelian sense as Feser would agree, but there is no observer-independent characteristic, such as weight, size, energy, or rpm, that makes it a tool. There are (human) observer-relative characteristics that make a hammer a tool.

    As you say:

    CJYman:
    Two can play that game:

    This is the very definition of observer-relativity, of subjectivity. If the “pattern” of “toolness” were objective, we would not even be having this discussion.

  25. Elizabeth: What is more is that the first of each of these pairs exhibits a special kind of organisation that is largely absent in the second.

    Where ID proponents go wrong is in thinking that this special organisation is the hallmark of an intentional designer.It’s the hallmark of something, for sure.But not of intention.

    Well, what I would say here is that of course the “special organisation” is a hallmark of intention. However, intention is observer-relative and subjective. And it’s so by definition. The “special organisation” (I would not call it this way, but this aside for now) is not objectively in the artifact, but projected by the observer. We do not see the “special organisation” by “measuring a pattern”. We do not “detect design” the way we measure weight or size – and never will, by definition.

    The “special organisation” is interpreted or read into the object the same way as beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Physicists and neuroscientists have concluded that even colours are not in the objects, right? Much more so with this thing called “design”.

  26. CJYman:
    Elizabeth:
    “No, I don’t think they do, although there is a correlation.”

    So when previously you stated , “Clearly there is a vast difference between the two, just as there is a difference between a snowflake and a water droplet; between an orange and orange juice; between a hedgehog and roadkill; between a tornado and still air; between an amethyist geode and sand; between a watch and a pebble.” … you meant that there is clearly a vast difference, but only in subjective terms — no objective difference?

    Are we speaking past each other here?

    No, I think there is an objective difference, and I think we can group:

    Snowflake
    Orange
    Hedghog
    Tornado
    Amethyist geode
    Watch

    in an objectively different category from:

    Water droplet
    Orange juice
    Roadkill
    Still air
    Sand
    Pebble

    I just don’t think that the property that unites the first group and differentiates it from the second is “intentionally designed”.

  27. Elizabeth: in an objectively different category from:

    And using “objectively” not as an antonym for “subjectively” but as an antonym to “arbitrarily”.

    Of course they’re still subjective in a sense, in the sense that they require a Subject to make the distinction between categories to begin with. Not a non-observing non-deciding non-mind Object floating somewhere in a universe somehow making decisions as to what Platonic category “sand” belongs in. But objective in the sense that we can easily expect all of our conscious subjects to make the same objective decisions about which categories these examples belong in (even if they’re not articulate about how they make their decisions). Not arbitrary. That’s the only kind of “objective” we’ve got in the real world, and it’s sufficient.

    This is a simple IQ test question.
    Orange is to orange juice as hedgehog is to [choose 1]
    a) roadkill
    b) still air
    c) tornado
    d) watch

    This is a also a simple IQ test
    Snowflake is to amethyst geode as water droplet is to [choose 1]
    a) orange juice
    b) sand
    c) watch
    d) roadkill

    I’m not saying that every single human will get the right answer, but “objectively” there is a right answer, and what Elizabeth has said makes perfect sense so far.

  28. Since I was the one who brought up Edward Feser, let me aid this discourse by clarifying that he is not a social scientist; he is a philosopher. ‘Observer’ to Feser is framed within a philosophical discussion (much like it is to Nick Bostrom wrt ‘observer selection effects’), while ‘automobile’ is an engineering and society topic. The subjective/objective dichotomy is to me, as a social scientist, outdated. Bring in ‘reflexive’ and the conversation shifts dramatically, but yet again, not to the benefit of IDists like RoP & CJYman.

    That RoP and CJYman haven’t yet acknowledged the ‘quotes’ around ‘reductionism’ by Feser (in that one paragraph highlighted by RoP, which has been blown way out of proportion here) shows how little charity there is in their reading. The ugly (reductionist) bias of IDists has made IDism distasteful to many theists who would normally be allies to the IDist Americanist ‘culture war’ crusading ‘cause’. But as theists, why should one expect them to demonstrate more charity than the (largely atheist) skeptics here at TSZ?

    In the past 24hrs I’ve travelled over 10,000 kms & I’ve got too many things to do now than to comment here. Let me help set the record straight by returning to what got this tempest started.

    Will either RoP or CJYman face the challenge I made to stcordova in this thread because stcordova (the thread’s author) has not demonstrated the courage in almost 10 years that I’ve (distantly & loosely) watched his ideologist gaming & posing to do so?
    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/?p=27622&cpage=1#comment-65057

    “Can you please explain your logic of capitalisation with regard to ‘design’, ‘Design,’ ‘designer’, ‘Designer’, ‘creator’ and ‘Creator’? Is the capitalisation intentional or unintentional?”

    Or, in Erik’s words:

    “We are talking about tool versus non-tool, artifact versus non-artifact.”

    It almost seems as if stcordova wants people to think he is a robot, not a person, that has been calculated, computed and programmed to make the ‘mistake’ of flip-flopping and alternating between ‘intelligent design’ and ‘Intelligent Design’ and all of the above noted capitalisation ‘errors’ in a way that might be viewed as ‘on purpose’, but for the fact that stcordova is not a computer/un-intentional game himself. His IDist/YECist apologetics seems to be concocted specifically for zombies & morons, not for deeper thinking and feeling human beings. And yes, he ‘teaches’ via IDEA to university students his USAmericanist IDism so far with apparently impunity.

    The uppercase Intelligent Design Theory of the Johnson-Meyer-Behe-Dembski variety is a choking ideology that demands scientificity for it to survive. If one removes the insistence that it is ‘strictly scientific’, the notion of uppercase Intelligent Design becomes rather meaningless in this discussion. The historical, classical, traditional ‘argument from/to design’ goes back much further than IDism, and is consistent with all three major monotheistic religions (four, if including Baha’is). It is a ‘design argument’ that is theological/worldview oriented ‘intentionally’, i.e. not about ‘simply science’ as is IDism’s fantasy.

    But yet again, on these macro questions & themes, IDists usually fail miserably. Even Stephen C. Meyer, the Cambridge grad in HPS has shown himself superficial in the more humanistic discussions. And Cambridge HPSS would just as soon disassociate from Meyer; he uses his US funded scholarship there to woo fundie ‘Americans’ to ‘send money to the DI – Donate!’ to support IDism.

    It sounds like RoP read Dr. Feser for the first time after being asked if he’d read Feser here. Is that incorrect? He certainly shows little understanding of Feser’s position vs. IDT given how badly he misread it. And the other 2 questions would likely sink him, as he also probably asks himself about them for the 1st time in his IDist fantasy world.

    The ‘quote’ marks around ‘reductionism’ indicate that Feser get’s the joke. What IDism certainly is not, however, is a holistic approach to knowledge & life. It is far too aimed at biology-first and trying to erase Darwin from intellectual history or simply to ridicule him, than it is to study & learn from actual designers and manufacturers that it *can* study, i.e. human beings. If it really wasn’t, then there would be sociologists, psychologists (please don’t call Dembski that!) and anthropologists among the DI’s ranks. But there aren’t. Can anyone explain that?

    IDism is a fool’s errand that has already largely been played out at the hands of Protestant evangelical apologists engaging in a culture war as self-proclaimed ‘revolutionaries.’ Is that fool’s errand what RoP & CJYman are ‘apologising’ for and defending here at TSZ?

    This will likely be my last post here for awhile.

    Gregory

    P.s. does anyone notice the term ‘comrade’ that stcordova throws around all too lightly (as if he doesn’t know much about political uses of that term – Asian ignorance of/unfamiliarity with European emotion?) – wtf is up with that?

    p.p.s. Elizabeth wrote: “between a watch and a pebble.” The 1st does of course offer “hallmark of an intentional designer”, but a lowercase designer/manufacturer, not some disembodied uppercase “Intelligent Designer” as the IDM currently envisions It/Him/Her. The other examples she gives don’t pose this categorically different challenge. Hopefully she acknowledges the difference.

  29. Elizabeth: No, I think there is an objective difference, and I think we can group:

    Snowflake
    Orange
    Hedghog
    Tornado
    Amethyist geode
    Watch

    in an objectively different category from:

    Water droplet
    Orange juice
    Roadkill
    Still air
    Sand
    Pebble

    I just don’t think that the property that unites the first group and differentiates it from the second is “intentionally designed”.

    Amazing how close you are to ID theory.

    Now, if not “intentionally designed”, then what differentiates the two categories? Above you said something about “special organisation”, but this won’t do, because “special” versus “unspecial” or “ordinary” is a subjective distinction.

    Sincerely interested in learning the name of the objective category where hedgehogs and tornadoes belong.

  30. Erik: Amazing how close you are to ID theory.

    Now, if not “intentionally designed”, then what differentiates the two categories? Above you said something about “special organisation”, but this won’t do, because “special” versus “unspecial” or “ordinary” is a subjective distinction.

    Sincerely interested in learning the name of the objective category where hedgehogs and tornadoes belong.

    Erik: Amazing how close you are to ID theory.

    Well, not really amazing. I’ve been saying this for years – since 2007 in fact.

    I think CSI is a terrible measure of the property Dembski tried to measure, but I think he was trying to measure something perfectly real. He’d have got on better, I suggest, if he hadn’t been hamstrung by trying to make it distinguish between intentionally designed things and non-intentionally designed thing.

    I think something like multi-scale entropy might be better.

  31. Thanks for the reply, Elizabeth. Always happy to not talk past people 🙂

    Elizabeth:
    I think CSI is a terrible measure of the property Dembski tried to measure, but I think he was trying to measure something perfectly real.

    I disagree, and here’s how. What Dembski tried to measure (indeed tried to, because he hasn’t really measured anything) is not a category. I can agree that it is quantitatively real, but I strongly disagree it has any qualitative relevance or that it entails an objective or ontological category.

    Just like the size difference between a mosquito and an elephant has no bearing on if they are alive or not (there’s a size difference between a grain of sand and Mount Everest too – does it have any qualitative significance?), measurements of “complexity” tell nothing about “design”. Much less about a/the d/Designer.

    It would be like, when you are an art criticist, trying to argue that the paintings that use a greater number of different colours or finer detail are objectively better art. Number of colours is an objective measure, yes, but absolutely irrelevant to art.

    Elizabeth:
    I think something like multi-scale entropy might be better.

    “Multiscale entropy (MSE) analysis [1,2] is a new method of measuring the complexity of finite length time series.”

    Yes, complexity is real, but it’s an indifferent sliding-scale property just like sizes of objects. It’s not an objective or ontological category. It makes no qualitative difference the way e.g. life, will, and self-awareness do. (Mind you, some have argued that even life is not a category, but a matter of degree only. Go figure.)

  32. Erik: What Dembski tried to measure (indeed tried to, because he hasn’t really measured anything) is not a category.

    What he tried to do with CSI, in the paper actually entitled: Specification: the pattern that signifies intelligence, was to produce a metric that would tell us whether something was designed by an intelligent agent.

    So yes, I do think he was trying to provide a means of measuring the “complexity” of the patterns in objects that would enable us to categorise them, at least into “definitely intelligently designed things” and “maybe intelligently designed things” (his claim IIRC is that it doesn’t produce false positive, though it can produce false negatives).

    And it simply doesn’t work as a metric.

    But even if he found a better one to measure what he seems to be trying to get at (patterns that are have lots of unpredictable features, but have a clear organising structure) my point is that it still wouldn’t separate things into intelligently designed things and not-intelligently designed things.

    And my underlying case is that the ID movement as a whole hasn’t thought hard enough about the nature of intelligence.

  33. “And my underlying case is that the ID movement as a whole hasn’t thought hard enough about the nature of intelligence.”

    Even more damning, they’ve thought too much (with ideological bias) about ‘the nature of’ and not enough about ‘the character of’ intelligence.

  34. hotshoe_: Hey, if you’re planning to stick around, learn to blockquote

    Will do … both the ‘sticking around’ and the ‘blockquoting.’

  35. Hello all, this conversation is getting very interesting and has the potential to be quite fruitful. I will be back to comment between work requirements but there is a lot to cover so unfortunately I may be a little behind in conversation.

    And specifically for Elizabeth …. is there a possibility that I could be given privileges to start my own thread. I do want to continue a conversation with Keiths on 2LOT sometime in the near future but it may not be productive if I merely responded to a buried comment in an older thread. I would provide a link identifying from where the conversation is being continued. Thanks in advance.

  36. CJYman: And specifically for Elizabeth …. is there a possibility that I could be given privileges to start my own thread.

    Done.

    Look for the “New” in the page header. There’s a link for starting a new post.

  37. Before I carry on I just want to ensure ambiguity is eliminate to the greatest extent possible. Let’s define a couple of the key terms we are discussing.

    It appears, according to Erik, that I have interpreted Feser correctly in seeing ‘observer-independence’ as synonymous with ‘objectivity.’ However, ‘objective’ can be defined a few different ways which are probably not perfectly synonymous:

    1. Everyone ‘sees’ (or understands) the same thing
    2. Not arbitrary
    3. That which exists beyond subjective experience
    4. (Other)?

    Now, for the purpose of this discussion it is not my present aim to argue that any version of ‘ID Theory’ is or is not scientific, nor is it presently my goal to convince anyone of the truth of specific or general ‘ID Theory’ claims although we may get there eventually. There is some ground to cover before we jump into the deep end. At the moment, all I am looking for is a consistent application of what it means for something to be ‘observer-independent’ especially in relation to how Feser has used the term. I’m merely looking for ‘rational consistency’ at the moment and I will attempt to provide such on my end of the deal.

    One last thing … What exactly, from anyone else’s POV, is Feser attempting to conclude based on his understanding of ‘observer-independence?’ It would help to see the syllogism before we carry on.

  38. Erik: We are talking about tool versus non-tool, artifact versus non-artifact. There is a distinction between those, I’m sure we both agree. But there’s no observer-independent distinction. Your examples of energy and rpm’s are clearly irrelevant to what makes a tool a tool.

    Are you speaking of the ‘class’ of patterns known as ‘human artifacts’ in general vs the ‘class’ of patterns known as ‘non-artifacts?’ That could be where I was misinterpreting your (or more properly, Feser’s) argument. Is that the case?

  39. CJYman: However, ‘objective’ can be defined a few different ways which are probably not perfectly synonymous:

    1. Everyone ‘sees’ (or understands) the same thing.

    This equates with reality and observability. Is there an objective reality that is consistently and continuously observable and measurable?

    2. Not arbitrary.

    Not sure how this differs from 1.

    3. That which exists beyond subjective experience.

    What experience is there other than subjective experience? Is it possible to have an objective experience?

    4. (Other)?

    Do some people confuse objective with both or either consensus and absolute? Observation is confirmed by shared experience. What is a good rule for social behaviour can be agreed by consensus. Someone might claim some privileged access to some absolute authority regarding morality.

  40. Alan Fox: Is there an objective reality that is consistently and continuously observable and measurable?

    For the purpose of defending Feser’s argument, I presume Erik would say ‘yes.’

    Alan Fox: Not sure how this differs from 1.

    I don’t think it does either. Just looking for some feedback. Someone might see things slightly differently.

    Alan Fox: What experience is there other than subjective experience? Is it possible to have an objective experience?

    Not at all. So a good definition of ‘objective’ for the purpose of understanding Feser’s ‘observer-independence’ would basically be: “that which exists beyond subjective experience and is consistently and continuously observable and measurable.” I presume Erik would be fine with that understanding of observer-independence, so I will continue with the argument.

    As per my earlier statement …

    CJYman: At the moment, all I am looking for is a consistent application of what it means for something to be ‘observer-independent’ especially in relation to how Feser has used the term. I’m merely looking for ‘rational consistency’ at the moment and I will attempt to provide such on my end of the deal.

    … I would like to know if Erik thinks that an archaeologist or forensic expert analyzes ‘observer-independent’ patterns that distinguish human activity and human artifacts from non-human activity and non-human artifacts? I do understand and grant that we know that humans were/are around and are available as ‘designers’ for the purposes of those specific investigations. I’m just unsure of Feser’s point as it relates to ‘observer-independence’ other than a simple statement that ‘there is no observer-independent difference between human made artifacts and non-artifacts.’ On the face of it, that appears absurd, and I’ve already shown significant objective differences between specific examples of human made artifacts and non-artifacts such as the measurable differences between a heap of raw material and a functioning car.

    Or, as I’ve already asked:

    CJYman: Are you speaking of the ‘class’ of patterns known as ‘human artifacts’ in general vs the ‘class’ of patterns known as ‘non-artifacts?’ That could be where I was misinterpreting your (or more properly, Feser’s) argument. Is that the case?

    As I’ve already stated, a syllogism would do wonders for removing any ambiguity.

    Furthermore, on a slightly separate yet related note, is intelligence itself an ‘observer-independent’ phenomenon?

  41. Jumping in here without reading everything before.

    I would say science has developed instrumentation to minimize the discrepancies between what people report seeing. Anyone vaguely familiar with trial law knows that what people report seeing often has little correlation with what other people report, or what shows up on videotape. In once, science is defined by the methods it employs to reduce such discrepancies.

    Even at the most basic level, reality is slippery.

  42. CJYman:
    …Feser’s ‘observer-independence’ would basically be: “that which exists beyond subjective experience and is consistently and continuously observable and measurable.”I presume Erik would be fine with that understanding of observer-independence, so I will continue with the argument.

    Yes.

    CJYman:
    … I would like to know if Erik thinks that an archaeologist or forensic expert analyzes ‘observer-independent’ patterns that distinguish human activity and human artifacts from non-human activity and non-human artifacts?

    No. And pay attention why. The information what the tool was used for – and indeed, importantly, whether it’s a tool in the first place – is not just in the object, but crucially in what we know about objects (and about the use of the objects) of similar shape here and now. I.e. the information does not come (only) from the object but (at least as much) from contextualising it, i.e. from interpretation, not mere observation. Hence the work of cataloguing in archeology and forensics is not observer-independent but rather observer-relative. The experts do their best to agree on these matters, and when they differ, they will give their analytical expert opinion. This is what makes them experts.

    And the need for experts in these matters is by itself proof that interpretation in archaeology and forensics is observer-relative. Average joes derive random results from observing the self-same objects.

    Similarly, take a simple mousetrap. If the attribution of “mousetrappishness” were objective or observer-independent, a horse should also think “mousetrap” when it sees one. But no. “Mousetrappishness” is up to humans only – specifically for humans who use mousetraps to catch mice or know about this way of catching mice. Some rich kid who leaves his homework and all other thinking to his servants might never guess what that thing is when he sees it.

    CJYman:
    Or, as I’ve already asked: “Are you speaking of the ‘class’ of patterns known as ‘human artifacts’ in general vs the ‘class’ of patterns known as ‘non-artifacts?’ That could be where I was misinterpreting your (or more properly, Feser’s) argument. Is that the case?”

    This is the standard Aristotelian distinction. Artifacts are distinguished from natural things. The blog post by Feser under discussion here is nothing but an elaboration and exemplification of this very distinction. It might do wonders to you to actually read it.

    But if you read it to the end and it’s all still unclear, it sort of proves my point: We are looking at the very same designed artifact, namely Feser’s text, and derive rather different results from it.

    CJYman:
    Furthermore, on a slightly separate yet related note, is intelligence itself an ‘observer-independent’ phenomenon?

    Depends. Since you have such difficulties with “observer-independent”, I am quite cautious about what you might mean by “intelligence”. Perhaps you mean something CIA does?

  43. Erik:This is the standard Aristotelian distinction. Artifacts are distinguished from natural things.

    Yet Gregory seems loathe to create a thread to discuss this alleged organism-artifact distinction.

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