The Demise of Intelligent Design

At last?

Back in 2007, I predicted that the idea of “Intelligent Design” would soon fade into obscurity. I wrote:

My initial assessment of ID in my earliest encounter with an ID proponent* was that ID would be forgotten within five years, and that now looks to me an over-generous estimate.

*August, 2005

I was wrong. Whilst the interest in “Intelligent Design” (ID) as a fruitful line of scientific enquiry has declined from the heady days of 2005 (or perhaps was never really there) there remain diehard enthusiasts who maintain the claim that ID has merit and is simply being held back by the dark forces of scientism. William Dembski; the “high priest” of ID has largely withdrawn from the fray but his ideas have been promoted and developed by Robert Marks and Winston Ewert. In 2017 (with Dembski as a co-author) they published Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics, which was heralded as a new development in the ID blogosphere. However, the claim that this represents progress has been met with scepticism.

But the issue of whether ID was ever really scientific has remained as the major complaint of those who dismiss it. Even ID proponents have admitted this to be a problem. Paul Nelson, a prominent (among ID proponents) advocate of ID famously declared in 2004:

Easily the biggest challenge facing the ID community is to develop a full-fledged theory of biological design. We don’t have such a theory right now, and that’s a problem. Without a theory, it’s very hard to know where to direct your research focus. Right now, we’ve got a bag of powerful intuitions, and a handful of notions such as ‘irreducible complexity’ and ‘specified complexity’ – but, as yet, no general theory of biological design.

Whilst some ID proponents – Ann Gauger, Douglas Axe are perhaps most prominent among them – have tried to develop ID as science, the general scientific community and the wider world have remained unimpressed.

Then a new young vigorous player appears on the field. Step forward, Eric Holloway! Dr Holloway has produced a number of articles published at Mind Matters – a blog sponsored by the Discovery Institute (the paymasters of ID) on artificial and “natural” intelligence. He has also been quite active here and elsewhere defending ID and I have had to admire his persistence in arguing his case for ID, especially as the whole concept is, in my view, indefensible.

But! Do I see cracks appearing? I happened to glance at the blog site formerly run by William Dembski, Uncommon Descent, and noticed an exchange of comments on a thread entitled Once More from the Top on “Mechanism” The post author is Barry Arrington, current owner of UD and a lawyer by trade, usually too busy to produce a thoughtful or incisive piece (and this is no different). However, the comments get interesting when Dr Holloway joins in at comment 48. He writes:

If we can never be sure we account for all chance hypotheses, then how can we be sure we do not err when making the design inference? And even if absolute certainty is not our goal, but only probability, how can we be confident in the probability we derive?

Eric continues with a few more remarks that seem to raise concern among the remaining regulars. ( ” Geeze you are one confused little pup EricMH.” “Has a troll taken over Eric’s account?) and later comments:

But since then, ID has lost its way and become enamored of creationism vs evolution, apologetics and the culture wars, and lost the actual scientific aspect it originally had. So, ID has failed to follow through, and is riding on the cultural momentum of the original claims without making progress.

Dr Holloway continues to deliver home truths:

I would most like to be wrong, and believe that I am, but the ID movement, with one or two notable exceptions, has not generated much positive science. It seems to have turned into an anti-Darwin and culture war/apologetics movement. If that’s what the Discovery Institute wants to be, that is fine, but they should not promote themselves as providing a new scientific paradigm.

I invite those still following the fortunes of ID to read on, though I recommend scrolling past comments by ET and BA77. Has Dr Holloway had a road-to-Damascus moment? Is the jig finally up for ID? I report – you decide!

ETA link

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822 thoughts on “The Demise of Intelligent Design

  1. colewd:
    Neil Rickert,

    I see honesty on both sides and dishonesty.Each side has the full range of human ethics.To say creationists hold a monopoly on deception seems naive.

    Right on cue up pops Bill “Dory” Cole to knee-jerk defend his ID-Creationist buddies and their nefarious tactics.

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  2. Joe Felsenstein: Of course it is.Probability is, mathematically, a measure.

    Yes, I knew that. It was meant as a rhetorical question to motivate subsequent points on the semantic/philosophical issue of whether the outcome of repeated sampling of that type of distribution is both a stochastic and a deterministic process, even though there is only one possible outcome (ignoring the usual sets of measure 0 issue, as I understand it).

    Another example would be a coin loaded to always come up heads. Is it appropriate to call that a stochastic process with a single outcome and also a deterministic process? And then conclude that deterministic is just a subset of stochastic for the special case P(heads) =1. Mathematically, yes it is.

    Now suppose that the even numbered tosses we used a coin loaded for tails and for the odd numbered tosses we always used a coin loaded heads. I say it still would be deterministic and stochastic, with a degenerate distribution at each toss.

    Now just take the limit to coins with uncountable number of sides for continuous time. 😉

    Mathematicians can have some strange ideas, and that is what I take to be the discomfort with that use of the two concepts that some have expressed.

    It’s possible that this exchange has gotten pointless. With probability 1, I suspect.

    ETA: Emoji.

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  3. colewd: I see honesty on both sides and dishonesty.

    But what you don’t see on both sides is an equality of output. Even if we grant that for every ID proponent, there are what, a million people? Even then, that’s no excuse for the paucity scientific output of the Intelligent Design movement as a whole given the claims that it is able to replace “Darwinism”.

    And, if we continue down that line of thinking given there are so may more not-IDists out there the honesty of the majority of them needs to be accepted, and those honest scientists of all theistic stripes and none at all have come up with “darwinism” as the best answer to the origin of biological diversity.

    And you just don’t like that. So “both sides” dun bad it is. And yet you don’t quite realize that the dishonestly on your side far outweighs anything else. I mean, we can point to and have been discussing specific examples of that ID related dishonesty. All you can do is point to nebulous “circular arguments” and “those dishonest pictures”. If it’s really as bad on both sides, make a list of all the dishonest “darwinist” activity and we can compare and contrast.

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  4. colewd: To say creationists hold a monopoly on deception seems naive.

    Who has said that? Can you link to their post?

    Nobody denies that there are dishonest scientists.

    But let’s play a game. Imagine that you are a scientist but your theistic beliefs trump your scientific knowledge. And you want to “prove” that dinosaur bones are just 6000 years old?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RATE_project
    https://answersingenesis.org/geology/radiometric-dating/questioning-reliability-of-rate-group-and-findings/

    I’m sorry, but they are just fucking out and out liars.

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  5. OMagain,

    But what you don’t see on both sides is an equality of output. Even if we grant that for every ID proponent, there are what, a million people? Even then, that’s no excuse for the paucity scientific output of the Intelligent Design movement as a whole given the claims that it is able to replace “Darwinism”.

    ID is a simple mechanistic explanation for IC and functional information. There has been work done on the subject by Durston and Guccio that empirically supports the work. Also Winston Ewert created the dependency concept. Although it needs work it is a promising idea. At this point there is no viable alternative in my opinion to what we are observing other than common descent.

    We have common ground that the YEC guys claims are very iffy.

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  6. colewd,

    ID is a simple mechanistic explanation for IC and functional information.

    “Poof” is magic, not a mechanism.

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  7. keiths,

    “Poof” is magic, not a mechanism.

    Just like matter poof’s space-time. Mind is a viable mechanistic explanation for what we are observing.

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  8. colewd:
    Just like matter poof’s space-time.

    Who has proposed such a ridiculous thing? Creationists?

    colewd:
    Mind is a viable mechanistic explanation for what we are observing.

    Again, nope. Minds are features of some organisms, and the capabilities of such minds are dependent on the whole organism that bears them. In their context, minds could do things like warning the organism that bears them about problems, potential danger, food sources, etc.

    Even for human products, minds as a mechanistic explanation would be a ridiculous proposition. Our minds cannot do anything on their own. To output “information,” our minds need to be fed literally, otherwise no energy, no work. Then “fed” metaphorically with a lot of information in order to be able to output information. So, minds need information and energy to reshape it/them into other information. Nothing is free for these minds, and then, in order to produce something with such information, the concourse of several organisms, tools, etc, is necessary.

    So, please, minds are not mechanisms that could produce/explain what we are observing. Minds are but one component of a whole lot of stuff that’s to happen before there can be any output, and the output is not free.

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  9. colewd: Mind is a viable mechanistic explanation for what we are observing.

    Explain! What is the mechanism? Where is the interface?

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  10. colewd: I see honesty on both sides and dishonesty. Each side has the full range of human ethics. To say creationists hold a monopoly on deception seems naive.

    Is that a fact? So pray tell, whose “Mind” are you talking about exactly Bill?

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  11. Alan Fox,

    Explain! What is the mechanism? Where is the interface?

    As in general relativity matter is the main component of the model. It is not the only component of the model. If we observe functional information and an irreducible system such as a cell the main mechanism must be able to produce that information and plan how to arrange its parts. Mind is a mission critical mechanism to do this job. If you remove mind from the mechanism you cannot account for the origin of what your are observing.

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  12. colewd: If we observe functional information and an irreducible system such as a cell the main mechanism must be able to produce that information and plan how to arrange its parts

    Which leads to the questions, how does mind know what information is functional and how does a mind implement its plan prior to the design and existence of the cell?

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  13. colewd,

    I find it amazing that you ignore all those deep problems with your proposal of a “mind,” yet reject actual scientific insights at the slightest excuse.

    ETA: At least you should easily understand why ID in merely apologetics. If it were science it would have to deal with those humungous problems. No excuses allowed.

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  14. colewd:
    Alan Fox,

    As in general relativity matter is the main component of the model.It is not the only component of the model.If we observe functional information and an irreducible system such as a cell the main mechanism must be able to produce that information and plan how to arrange its parts.Mind is a mission critical mechanism to do this job. If you remove mind from the mechanism you cannot account for the origin of what your are observing.

    Bill vomits up the same idiotic ID excuses and hand-waves for the umpty-thousandth time.

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  15. colewd:
    keiths,

    Just like matter poof’s space-time.Mind is a viable mechanistic explanation for what we are observing.

    Sorry Bill but your proposed “MAGIC!” will never be a mechanism.

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  16. More to the point: merely asserting that “mind is a cause” is quite different from demonstrating how it can be.

    This is particularly salient when we recognize that the ID position is that the presence of complex, self-maintaining systems is best explained by positing the existence of a intelligent system that is causally efficacious without being materially instantiated at all.

    So the ID position is not that some material systems are also intelligent, where the causal efficacy of the system depends on features of what it is made of and how it is organized, but rather than there are intelligences or minds which are causally efficacious without any material instantiation or realization at all.

    And this requires positing a kind of causation that we have no empirical evidence of, of which there is no analogy anywhere in our experience of ourselves or of anything in the universe, and which cannot empirically detect.

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  17. Alan Fox:
    Tom English,

    Hi Tom, you are a breath of fresh air and a dose of cold water at the same time.

    Haha! A mere ‘like’ seemed insufficient, that made me lol. Now, to shrink back into the crowd …

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  18. Entropy,

    ETA: At least you should easily understand why ID in merely apologetics. If it were science it would have to deal with those humungous problems. No excuses allowed.

    If it were merely apologetics like YEC you guys would not be working so hard to defeat it. After looking at it for a couple of years I came to realize it is a real scientific argument. It’s also an incredibly interesting scientific argument. It is also the right negative control for evolution.

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  19. newton,

    Which leads to the questions, how does mind know what information is functional and how does a mind implement its plan prior to the design and existence of the cell?

    All good questions for future study.

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  20. Kantian Naturalist,

    More to the point: merely asserting that “mind is a cause” is quite different from demonstrating how it can be.

    It’s more than assertion. We know a mind can create functional information and arrange parts per a plan. This is clearly what we observe is required for the innovations in life at the cellular level.

    We don’t really understand gravity except that we can model and test it. Who knows what we find as we explore the idea of intelligent design or mind as a key causal mechanism in science. Physics is also seeing the same wall biology is as we try to understand gravity in more detail.

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  21. Allan Miller,

    Hi Tom, you are a breath of fresh air and a dose of cold water at the same time.

    Maybe. Or is it possibly the same stale air that came from the evolutionists trying to defeat the design argument with a straw-man?

    You are defending an empirically unfalsifiable theory.

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  22. colewd: If it were merely apologetics like YEC you guys would not be working so hard to defeat it.

    Well, a coupla dozen nerds on an internet blog doesn’t really seem that big of an effort to me. I think these guys are working harder than we are…
    Of course, given that there are some anti-vax, HIV-denialists wondering around inside your Big Tent, you may not view the “telescopes and high zoom cameras are able to bring boats back into view” crowd with the disdain that I do…

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  23. DNA_Jock,

    Of course, given that there are some anti-vax, HIV-denialists wondering around inside your Big Tent, you may not view the “telescopes and high zoom cameras are able to bring boats back into view” crowd with the disdain that I do…

    There are issues on both sides :-). Thats why we need open debate.

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  24. colewd: If it were merely apologetics like YEC you guys would not be working so hard to defeat it.

    I don’t see anyone “working hard” to defeat ID. People are just correcting misinformation when they see it.

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  25. colewd:
    Allan Miller,

    Maybe.Or is it possibly the same stale air that came from the evolutionists trying to defeat the design argument with a straw-man?

    You are defending an empirically unfalsifiable theory.

    Oh, lighten up man. I was applauding a good joke.

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  26. colewd:
    If it were merely apologetics like YEC you guys would not be working so hard to defeat it.

    I’m not working hard to defeat anything. There’s nothing to defeat about ID, other than the misinformation they’re able to gather together. I discuss the ID bullshit, but I discuss YEC apologetics just as much. ID, by the way, includes YEC and not-so-YEC apologetics. ID is refactoring of the usual apologetics arguments, but introducing nowadays science-sounding jargon.

    colewd:
    After looking at it for a couple of years I came to realize it is a real scientific argument. It’s also an incredibly interesting scientific argument. It is also the right negative control for evolution.

    Sorry, but to actually evaluate if ID is a real scientific argument, you’d have to understand actual science. You take all of your scientific insights from those apologists, and treat with disdain the most careful explanations given by many, to you, here in this site. I doubt that you can make a fair assessment. You also need to check the meaning of “negative control.” ID cannot be such a thing.

    So far I don’t see but poor philosophy and poor science (at best), in ID. I see refactored apologetics, suffering of the usual fallacious foundations of apologetics. So, maybe it looks like actual science to you, but it is not such a thing. When ID touches science, I see very poor understanding of the scientific fields, deformed concepts, and deformed scientific insights taken into a tent of fallacious, loaded, premises. Take Paul Nelson quoting Koonin as if they were talking about the same thing, yet, note how carefully Paul crafted loaded premises to make ti appear as if Koonin agreed with him, and as if genetic exchange represented a real challenge to evolutionary theory, and, by some kind of “implicit” default (loaded premises, remember?), really favored ID apologetics.

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  27. Entropy,

    Sorry, but to actually evaluate if ID is a real scientific argument, you’d have to understand actual science.

    The you don’t understand science canard :-). It’s a scientific argument by all accounts. It’s a mechanistic explanation for the observation. Your objections are arbitrary.

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  28. colewd:
    It’s a scientific argument by all accounts.

    Since my account is among all accounts, I can safely say that it isn’t a scientific argument by all accounts.

    colewd:
    It’s a mechanistic explanation for the observation. Your objections are arbitrary.

    Arbitrary?

    Entropy:
    Again, nope. Minds are features of some organisms, and the capabilities of such minds are dependent on the whole organism that bears them. In their context, minds could do things like warning the organism that bears them about problems, potential danger, food sources, etc.

    Even for human products, minds as a mechanistic explanation would be a ridiculous proposition. Our minds cannot do anything on their own. To output “information,” our minds need to be fed literally, otherwise no energy, no work. Then “fed” metaphorically with a lot of information in order to be able to output information. So, minds need information and energy to reshape it/them into other information. Nothing is free for these minds, and then, in order to produce something with such information, the concourse of several organisms, tools, etc, is necessary.

    So, please, minds are not mechanisms that could produce/explain what we are observing. Minds are but one component of a whole lot of stuff that’s to happen before there can be any output, and the output is not free.

    You call that arbitrary? I’d call it scientific and philosophical understanding.

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  29. Since my account is among all accounts, I can safely say that it isn’t a scientific argument by all accounts.

    I call it eliminating ID by asserting your own definitions. Remove the boarders you have arbitrary put up and now argue your position.

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  30. colewd: It’s a mechanistic explanation for the observation.

    But it’s not. The interface between evolution and reality is demonstrable. Differential rates of reproductive success. Nothing needs to be added to reality for that, everything that is needed is already there. You may disagree if that is sufficient, but that’s not the point. Even you admit micro evolution.

    For yours to be a mechanistic explanation you have to actually explain the observation. Not just relabel it as a product of “mind”.

    Where do you go now? What further avenues can you explore now you have determined your mechanism? It seems there are papers published every day regarding “Darwinism” but precious little for “minds outside (or inside) reality infusing information at points unknown for reasons unknown by unknown means”.

    That’s a mechanism in the same way the gods anger is a mechanism to redistribute charge between the clouds and the earth. It just admits defeat, an acknowledgement that you can take it no further.

    That’s why ID is a science stopper. That’s why you’ll have to work even harder when it comes to the determination of the best ID science of 2019….

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  31. colewd:
    I call it eliminating ID by asserting your own definitions.

    Nah. I’m not that creative. I reject ID because it’s plagued with all-too-obvious philosophical and scientific problems. It fails at the very foundations.

    colewd:
    Remove the boarders you have arbitrary put up

    Identify such things (boarders?).

    colewd:
    and now argue your position.

    What? What do you think is written just below what you quoted?

    You didn’t even try.

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  32. colewd: Thats why we need open debate.

    No, rather you need to start publishing. Debate can be endless. For example, you will never accept the role selection plays in the debate. So science has a mechanism for determining the relevance of your opinion. Several mechanisms in fact.

    You praise gpuccio’s “work” but should the bill at UD not be paid all that hard “work” is gone for ever. Lost to science forever.

    Except it was never relevant in the first place. His voice is not being heard in the real debate. Publish or perish.

    The difference is that unlike with you and selection, if the process of peer review makes criticisms that go unanswered that destroy the work itself that does not get ignored like it can be in a debate or blog situation. That’s that. Fix the problem time! Not try to find a new audience that has not yet bought the book.

    If you are so convinced and you actually want to convince scientists then why are you wasting your time here and at UD and at PS? Publish already! Spend 10% of the time you do on doing some actual work and you’ll be the number one publisher in the ID world!

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  33. Entropy: Identify such things (boarders?).

    I hereby allow the supernatural into science. I think that’s what he wants.

    So, go colewd and phoodoo, go. I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

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  34. OMagain,

    For yours to be a mechanistic explanation you have to actually explain the observation. Not just relabel it as a product of “mind”

    Explain to me why gravity is curving space-time?

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  35. BruceS: Second, how can one build scientific models incorporating any of the following suggestions you have made for non-stochastic/deterministic processes: undefined, unconstrained intelligence; libertarian free will; halting -problem oracles; intrinsic teleology.

    These ideas have been rejected as part of science since Bacon because they add no value to building models and explanations which meet the goals of science.

    This is the big point. I am repeatedly claiming the list of suggests have scientifically testable components, i.e. non convergence, halting oracle, etc. I know people have issues with how I characterize the components, and I think there is still misunderstanding, but I’d like to table that for now.

    Currently, MN focuses purely on characterizing physical phenomena as stochastic processes. Dr. English is quite correct in saying this is not an intrinsic limitation of MN.

    More generally, as you point out, MN is about what works scientifically. I’m all for broadening the definition of MN to incorporate the other causal factors I’ve listed. You can leave off the terms with connotations you don’t like (e.g. ‘free will’, ‘vitalism’, etc.). Just call them non-stochastic and non-Turing processes, and leave it ambiguous what they actually are.

    I say that as long as we can mathematically characterize and test an idea, then it should be allowed in MN. If we all agree to this point then I think the debate is resolved!

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  36. Neil Rickert: He suggests a halting oracle. But he has no evidence that such a thing can actually exist.

    I prove halting oracles are logically possible here:
    https://journals.blythinstitute.org/ojs/index.php/cbi/article/view/37

    I provide a way to empirically determine if a halting oracle is a better explanation than a Turing machine for some phenomena here:
    https://journals.blythinstitute.org/ojs/index.php/cbi/article/view/28

    The second article is paywalled. You can either drop $3, or email me at eric dot holloway at google’s email service to get a free PDF for personal use.

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  37. colewd:
    Explain to me why gravity is curving space-time?

    It’s mass that’s proposed to produce the curvature of spacetime as an explanation for gravity.

    Gravity is observable, spacetime is a four-dimensional model of things we experience. Curvature is an understandable concept. Nothing is backwards in the model. Thus it is a sound, effective, helpful, proposal. “Minds” as “mechanisms”? Not so much. For starters, it’s backwards.

    We understand minds much better than the ID-bullshitters like to acknowledge. As far as we understand minds, they have requirements before they can even exist. Minds are adaptations that some organisms bear, and these minds don’t do anything by themselves.

    The minds of different organisms work differently, but the human mind, which is supposedly the “model” for ID (yeah, right), cannot do anything by itself either. It requires lots of inputs, energetic and informational, before it can produce a design, and even then it cannot produce the very concept of a design without learning how things work, given the little glimpse of reality that we’re exposed to.

    Only then these minds can think of those rearrangements etc, that we call designs. Now, designing is one thing, making those designs into a product comes with many more requirements.

    Given the way minds work, given their requirements, and given that they operate according to the way we’ve learn that everything in nature works, with energy transformations, and the rest of chemical/physical phenomena, it’s only natural to expect that the organisms that bear them, therefore the minds themselves, have their origins on such phenomena, not the other way around.

    Compounding the issue, minds are a feature of some life forms. Thus, pretending to “explain” the origin of life’s features with a “mind,” is also circular in a way that the ID community would never accept from the natural sciences.

    For example, when I say that information is produced and reproduced all the time, with no ID intervention, by multitudes of life forms, I get insulted and told that life is the issue under discussion. That I cannot use life features to explain life’s origin. Really!? I cannot talk about life and how it works in order to try and figure out how it originated, but IDiots can and, not only that, they are allowed to suggest “minds” as an answer? I’d say that’s called hypocrisy.

    ETA: some cleaning up and edition for clarity, I hope.

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  38. colewd: The you don’t understand science canard

    No Bill, in your case it’s true. You really are a major league ignoramus when it comes to evolutionary biology. You demonstrate your brutal scientific ignorance virtually every time you post.

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  39. Entropy,

    Gravity is observable, spacetime is a four-dimensional model of things we experience. Curvature is an understandable concept. Nothing is backwards in the model. Thus it is a sound, effective, helpful, proposal. “Minds” as “mechanisms”? Not so much. For starters, it’s backwards.

    We understand minds much better than the ID-bullshitters like to acknowledge. As far as we understand minds, they have requirements before they can even exist. Minds are adaptations that some organisms bear, and these minds don’t do anything by themselves.

    Mind is a mechanism for arrangement and functional information and we can test it. Mass as a component of Einstein’s model is a tested mechanism. We don’t know the detail of how this works and we have not tested every application yet it is a valid mechanistic expiation.

    Your answer is grounded in materialistic philosophy. I think we can agree to disagree at this point to avoid re hashing old arguments.

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  40. colewd: I think we can agree to disagree at this point

    Bill’s favorite excuse to run from scientific evidence his IDiot claims can’t explain. 🙂

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  41. Adapa: Bill’s favorite excuse to run from scientific evidence his IDiot claims can’t explain.

    I suspect a semantic problem here. I see no difference (to Bill) between what you call scientific evidence and what he calls materialistic philosophy. Language hath great powers.

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  42. EricMH: then it should be allowed in MN. If we all agree to this point then I think the debate is resolved!

    Well, not us as internet forums participants, of course.

    What matters for resolving debates about acceptable scientific explanations for biological evolution is convincing biologists, which includes participating in the processes biologists use to challenge and justify explanations and claims.

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  43. EricMH: I prove halting oracles are logically possible here:

    I’m not sure what you mean by logically possible. I take this as involving no contradiction. Since Turing defined and used them without being criticized for logical contradiction, I am not clear on what you were trying to add.

    The possbility of halting oracles is studied as part of hypercomputation. Here even the physical possibility of halting oracles is discussed. In turns out, they may be possible under certain models of GR.
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/computation-physicalsystems/#Hyp

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/turing/#Unc

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypercomputation

    I provide a way to empirically determine if a halting oracle is a better explanation than a Turing machine for some phenomena here:

    Maybe you’d consider doing an OP about this at some point.

    Scott A mentioned this possibility in the Bernay’s lectures I linked upthread. Such a device could in theory prove or disprove any math theorem (something like generate all possible text of any length and test until proof or disproof discovered). So it would be able to answer any outstanding open math question yes or no and even provide the text of a proof.

    But would human mathematicians accept it? Just saying read the text is not enough as this example shows:
    https://anthonybonato.com/2016/08/10/the-proof-no-one-understands/

    So it will be interesting to see how you address the issues, if you have time and interest to do an OP.

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  44. EricMH: More generally, as you point out, MN is about what works scientifically. I’m all for broadening the definition of MN to incorporate the other causal factors I’ve listed. You can leave off the terms with connotations you don’t like (e.g. ‘free will’, ‘vitalism’, etc.). Just call them non-stochastic and non-Turing processes, and leave it ambiguous what they actually are.

    After Tom’s and Neil’s remarks about dishonesty and deception, you still ask us to leave the terms ambiguous? No, that’s the wrong way around.
    If you feel methodological naturalism is a straightjacket, then we don’t need to “broaden the definition”, but you should just stop trying to work within it. And don´t ask others to call the items in your personal wishlist by any concealing terms. You should just stop insisting that we call the stuff you are doing science.

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  45. BruceS: Such a device [halting oracle] could in theory prove or disprove any math theorem (something like generate all possible text of any length and test until proof or disproof discovered). So it would be able to answer any outstanding open math question yes or no and even provide the text of a proof.

    On second thought, I suspect this is wrong.

    The most a halting oracle would tell you would whether such a program would halt. So the oracle itself would just say whether or not a proof existed, based on whether or not the above-described program would halt. (It could handle both cases of proving and disproving, I think).

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  46. colewd:

    We don’t know the detail of how this works

    Of course we know the details*. They are in the math of GR. “Gravity” is just the name for what the math tells us about how the curvature of spacetime determines the trajectories of mass/energy, and also about how mass/energy determines the curvature of spacetime.

    What else do you want? Before answering, please view this video where Feynmann is asked a similar question about magnetism (which is explained by QFT, as it happens).
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R95fQQqSgbQ

    Maybe what you are asking is what GR and the concepts in its theories tell us about the “nature” of spacetime. That is a question for metaphysics, not science.
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/spacetime-holearg/

    The issue for gravity and spacetime then becomes: should metaphysics start with understanding what our best science tells us about spacetime? Or should we let our everyday prejudices or armchair logic tell us about our metaphysics and then tell us how to do science?

    I think the history of what successful societies consider knowledge shows us again and again that letting metaphysics or any dogma take precedence results in societies that are unsuccessful in providing the best possible lives for their citizens (this is of course not to say that best science alone is sufficient).

    ———————
    *ETA: To be fully accurate, we know the details except under certain extreme conditions, where both QM and GR must be considered together.

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  47. BruceS: Of course we know the details*.They are inthe math of GR.“Gravity” is just the name for what the math tells us about how the curvature of spacetime determines the trajectories of mass/energy, and also about how mass/energy determines the curvature of spacetime.

    So, now, colewd, I’d like to see from you something like that. You know, more actual words then “mind is a mechanism”.

    So, when I ask for details you can then spring back with something like what BruceS has written? Is that possible? Or is “mind is a mechanism” literally it?

    colewd: I think we can agree to disagree at this point to avoid re hashing old arguments.

    As I keep saying, it’s only one side of the “argument” that actually produces anything worth looking at. You can repeat “mind is a mechanism” for infinity and it won’t be fruitful in the search for the designer.

    Where can you go with “mind is a mechanism” to explore it further? You can’t can you? It’s a science stopper.

    Unless you can demonstrate otherwise. If you had a trillion dollars, what research program would you start to demonstrate the “infusion of information into DNA in the distant past by some mind via the mechanism of mind”?

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  48. Entropy: We understand minds much better than the ID-bullshitters like to acknowledge. As far as we understand minds, they have requirements before they can even exist. Minds are adaptations that some organisms bear, and these minds don’t do anything by themselves.

    The minds of different organisms work differently, but the human mind, which is supposedly the “model” for ID (yeah, right), cannot do anything by itself either. It requires lots of inputs, energetic and informational, before it can produce a design, and even then it cannot produce the very concept of a design without learning how things work, given the little glimpse of reality that we’re exposed to.

    Only then these minds can think of those rearrangements etc, that we call designs. Now, designing is one thing, making those designs into a product comes with many more requirements.

    Given the way minds work, given their requirements, and given that they operate according to the way we’ve learn that everything in nature works, with energy transformations, and the rest of chemical/physical phenomena, it’s only natural to expect that the organisms that bear them, therefore the minds themselves, have their origins on such phenomena, not the other way around.

    Compounding the issue, minds are a feature of some life forms. Thus, pretending to “explain” the origin of life’s features with a “mind,” is also circular in a way that the ID community would never accept from the natural sciences.

    Yes to all this — everything we know about minds tells us that we are talking about minded organisms or embodied minds, including the kinds of constraints that enable the emergence of mindedness in nature, how minded behavior works, and — especially important for ID — what we know about how minded animals such as ourselves go about changing their environment to facilitate achieving their goals and intentions.

    In other words, the empirical study of design.

    We know, from the empirical study of how minded animals like us go about designing things and what features designed things have, that life could not have been designed. Or, if it was designed, it was designed by a kind of intelligence completely unlike anything we have the ability to understand and which we therefore cannot investigate.

    But a cause that cannot be understood has effects that we do not know how to measure, which is to say that we cannot be justified in claiming that life was designed precisely because we cannot comprehend anything about what kind of being designed it.

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