Torley Eviscerates Krauss

Over at UD Vincent Torley has absolutely shredded Lawrence Krauss’ performance at the debate the other night.

Ironically (given recent events here at TSZ), we find out that Krauss is a dishonest quote-miner.

The debate would have been a better one without Krauss, who generally behaved like a boor, and who engaged in deliberate dishonesty (see below).

From this statement, Krauss draws the totally unwarranted inference that the Center for Science and Culture thinks that “science is bad,” despite the fact that the previous sentence (which he omitted to quote) refutes that notion. This is a clear-cut case of quote-mining on Krauss’s part.

Torley’s comments are worth reading.

Thoughts on Krauss’ performance?

194 thoughts on “Torley Eviscerates Krauss

  1. petrushka: Evolution does not need to unlock any particular lock. Only an IDiot would go on about bike locks. It’s as stupid as going on about fishing reelsor isolated islands.

    Unguided evolution needs to be able to produce structures like ribosomes and ATP synthase, each of which are by far more complicated than the lock example.

    You seem to be OK with the fact your position makes untestable claims

  2. petrushka: I don’t see your point. Moran, I think, would argue there is a low probability of evolving a protein of a specific kind suited to a particular pressing need.

    That isn’t the way evolution works.

    You don’t know how evolution works. Yours makes untestable claims

  3. Frankie: Unguided evolution needs to be able to produce structures like ribosomes and ATP synthase, each of which are by far more complicated than the lock example.

    And yet there is no single solution, unlike the lock example. So the analogy fails. Who has a bike lock that has more then one possible combination? Or where the combination depends on the last one used?

    Frankie: You seem to be OK with the fact your position makes untestable claims

    And yet ID is not anti-positions that make untestable claims. So what’s your point?

    Frankie: You don’t know how evolution works. Yours makes untestable claims

    How does evolution work then? Do proteins that are needed appear somehow, by magic, just because they are needed?

    Do tell.

    Frankie: GAs exemplify evolution by intelligent design. So what was your point?

    And yet I’ve never seen or heard how the purported Intelligent Designer interacts with actual biology at any level.

  4. LoL! OM doesn’t know how many solutions there are to ATP synthase and ribosomes.

    ID is anti-evolutionism- as I said you obviously cannot follow along

  5. Frankie: ID is anti-evolutionism- as I said you obviously cannot follow along

    Is it? In what way? Name one thing that ID explains better than the equivalent evolutionism explanation?

    If you can’t then ID is not anti-anything, it’s just impotent.

  6. Evolutionism can only explain disease and deformities. ID explains ATP synthase as it is the only [possible explanation for it

  7. Frankie: ID explains ATP synthase as it is the only [possible explanation for it

    Well, go on then, explain it! Just saying it does is not an actual explanation you know!

    For example, do you have something of a similar level of detail as this paper: http://journals.plos.org/ploscompbiol/article?id=10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003821

    but from an ID perspective?

    I know you’ll just move to the next phase, those researchers don’t know if the random mutations involved were really random, but that’s not an explanation either.

    If you can’t do it that’s fine. ID is after all a young enterprise, hardly into it’s second millennium so it’s fine that the science is lacking somewhat in these early centuries.

  8. Frankie: Evolutionism can only explain disease and deformities.

    So your designer could not build a system that was capable of preventing disease and deformities from arising? How poor.

    Yet we mere humans can transmit data now with error rates that are hardly worth measuring, but your purported designer given the resources of a God could not do the same? I guess that must mean we have already surpassed your deity’s capabilities.

  9. OMagain, to Frankie:

    I guess that must mean we have already surpassed your deity’s capabilities.

    Worship us, Frankie.

  10. Lamoureux “said that he believed in ‘classical intelligent design’. Unfortunately, there is no such thing.” – Erik

    Well, this is half-true, as far as semantics go. Every [real = religious] Jew, Christian, Muslim, Baha’i, Hindu, etc. accepts ‘intelligent design’ theologically, ‘through the eyes of faith’. This simply means that they/we believe that the world was/is ‘created’ by a ‘Creator,’ regardless of the different names used. There need be no division on this. If you mean something else for ‘classical intelligent design,’ Erik, then please share it. As a native English speaker, this doesn’t seem controversial, worth an argument or relativising it to me.

    What you call “the classical design argument,” sure, I agree. Nevertheless, there’s no need to distinguish from labelling it ‘intelligent design’ since the ‘design’ in what you call “the classical design argument” involves ‘Intelligence.’ In that case, the term ‘intelligence’ is simply redundant, since by definition there is no ‘unintelligent design’, as you say. (But see Adrian Bejan’s “Design in Nature” by a non-native English speaker for free-willing atheist semantic distortion.) That the DI makes no sincere attempt to define the ‘intelligence/Intelligence’ (e.g. that they sometimes say could be natural and/or non-/super-natural) is a telling ‘gap’ in their apologetic logic. This is why I call them duplicitous, as Mung might now willingly concede.

    “what would ‘non-intelligent design’ be?” – Erik

    That would be atheism or agnosticism.

    “Accommodation of the term “intelligent design” is accommodation of nonsense.” – Erik

    The belief in a world created by an ‘intelligent’ Creator is, of course, not nonsense. I think we agree, in so far as the term ‘intelligent design’ is a tragic, ugly abuse by the Discovery Institute. This is what Mung seems unwilling yet to commit.

    So, the distinction between uppercase ‘Intelligent Design Theory,’ which is a supposed to be a ‘strictly scientific’ theory, and lowercase ‘intelligent design’, which is 100% a faith-based position was made (Gingerich, Ahmanson, W.L. Craig, Lamoureux, et al.). At least this aims at balance, both while accepting the large majority global human belief in Creation, as well as the clear rejection that ‘everything’ needs to be or even should be explained/described ‘strictly scientifically.’ Iow, it exposes the shallowness of those who espouse ‘scientism,’ including the ‘evangelical’ DI & its atheist dance partners, and leaves open more mature (Orthodox, Catholic) exploration of and relationship with Creation.

    KN’s ‘no worldview’ position is simply bullshit posturing as clever. The issue isn’t that he doesn’t put time into thinking – he probably puts too much time into empty thinking; it’s simply that he has experientially & practically sold his soul into philosophistry, into giving up his ancestors’ religious Judaism for secular naturalism, when he need not fall into that hole of unbelief. But sadly he has fallen in intellect first & it spiritually stinks. : (

    “If you are asking whether I could live my life as a Christian without Intelligent Design Theory the answer is yes, it is possible.” – Mung

    That’s not quite what I was asking, but close. Thanks for acknowledging that. It is significant on its own.

    So, then you may be ready (one day) to eventually take a stand against the DI’s scientism, i.e. it’s insistence that IDT is ‘strictly scientific’? I looked these people in their eyes and spoke with them, Mung, and they know they are playing a charade (with the help of largely Protestant evangelical channels, as Dembski himself admitted and Johnson often explained). This simply *is* their neo-creationist PR ideology, Mung, but it need not be yours.

    And as I said already, once you acknowledge this duplicity you will wish to actively distance yourself from the DI & it’s ‘strictly scientific’ claims. No, the conversation *should* instead be focussed on science, philosophy and theology/worldview in harmony, as many people around the world, even if not as arrogantly loud as the DI, are already engaged, even across world religions. Lots & many of talented, qualified scholars believe in Creation, without shaming themselves with scientism, as the DI does. You haven’t shown up at BioLogos yet, have you Mung? The Pontifical Academy of Sciences isn’t on your radar, is it?

    Hope you have a nice holiday weekend in the USA.

  11. petrushka: Evolution does not need to unlock any particular lock. Only an IDiot would go on about bike locks. It’s as stupid as going on about fishing reels or isolated islands.

    So you don’t understand the analogy either. Probably couldn’t even be bothered to read the link provided.

  12. petrushka: The simple fact is — a fact that mung would discover if he actually wrote a GA — that mutation doesn’t explore the universe of possible sequences. It explores the universe of sequences one step at a time from existing sequences that work.

    You are confused, again.

  13. Gregory: Every [real = religious] Jew, Christian, Muslim, Baha’i, Hindu, etc. accepts ‘intelligent design’ theologically, ‘through the eyes of faith’. This simply means that they/we believe that the world was ‘created’ by a ‘Creator,’ regardless of the different names used. If you mean something else for ‘classical intelligent design,’ Erik, then please share it. As a native English speaker, this doesn’t seem controversial, worth an argument or relativising it to me.

    This is not an English-as-a-native-language type of semantic problem. It’s a logic problem relevant to classical theism.

    “Intelligent design” as an English phrase only exists because IDists popularized it. Classically (in scholasticism and in antiquity), design was understood as inseparably correlated to intelligence and intelligibility, so that it was/is redundant to say “intelligent design”. These days, it’s not merely redundant to say “intelligent design”, but saying the phrase signifies that your concept system is akin to Behe/Dembskiism, or at least Paleyism. Paleyism is at odds with classical theism and Behe/Dembskiism is additionally at odds with many other things.

    Admittedly, the phrase is stupid enough on its face so as to be untranslatable to my native language, so yes, it’s a straightforward language problem too. But this is not a problem in itself. Rather, it points to problems underlying the phrase.

    As to your suggestion to fix the problem by capitalization, maybe it works for English somewhat. But it won’t fix the logical incoherence of the phrase when a translation or contextualization is attempted.

  14. OMagain: And yet there is no single solution, unlike the lock example.

    The point of the analogy is that there is a search for a functional sequence, any functional sequence. Trying to open the lock is the search for a functional sequence. A functional sequence must be found before it can be acted upon by natural selection, by definition.

    And Meyer explains this.

  15. Erik: Admittedly, the phrase is stupid enough on its face so as to be untranslatable to my native language…

    🙂

  16. Erik: KN finds stuff to disagree with here and there when things don’t make sense to him, but if he at the same time holds that there’s no need for things to make sense (i.e. things to be logically connected so as to form a coherent continuum or a structured system known as worldview) then he is disagreeing without any reason and for no purpose, just emitting noise.

    This assumes a false dichotomy: either a single unifying system that encompasses all of one’s beliefs or no rational intelligibility at all. I have a new post that addresses this.

  17. Mung: The point of the analogy is that there is a search for a functional sequence, any functional sequence. Trying to open the lock is the search for a functional sequence.

    If Biology needed to open a bike lock, it would probably evolve an acid that could disolve the lock.

  18. colewd: Why do you think people struggle with this argument?

    I don’t think Meyer did a good enough job of anticipating the objections and working them in to his presentation. But I am just going by his performance in the debate and he was suffering from a migraine so it’s difficult to know what he would have otherwise have presented.

    The bike lock analogy does, on it’s face, make it look like there is a single working combination and by implication a single protein that can fold or function and thus be selectable, but that .wasn’t the issue that Krauss raised. Krauss made it appear as if natural selection could somehow direct the search towards that combination, and to paraphrase Krauss, that’s not how evolution works!

    But you’ll notice that Meyer did not have just the one bike lock. I’ve been putting together a post that I hope will better explain why people are going wrong that I hope will help.

  19. Mung,

    But you’ll notice that Meyer did not have just the one bike lock. I’ve been putting together a post that I hope will better explain why people are going wrong that I hope will help.

    Great. Look forward to it.

  20. John Harshman,

    Now as to the mechanism of speciation, nobody is sure, but I would suggest that the most probable is geographic isolation of two populations for a considerable length of time, during which differences evolved that made hybrids less fit, which in turn caused reinforcement of species differences to be selected for. What those differences were or what caused the geographic separation is unclear.

    Thanks for the explanation. I agree that no one knows for sure the mechanism and I am highly skeptical of all the current explanations including geography isolation because it cannot account for the difficulty of finding unique function through natural variation based on the sequential space of the genome.

  21. petrushka,

    Feel free to take an independent look. I note, however, that IDists who are technically qualified not morons — Behe, for example — do not doubt the age of the earth, common descent, or the ability of evolution to create new proteins.

    I agree with these points based on a clear definition of common descent and a description of the complexity of proteins that evolution(modern theory) is capable of.

  22. colewd:Thanks for the explanation.I agree that no one knows for sure the mechanism and I am highly skeptical of all the current explanations including geography isolation because it cannot account for the difficulty of finding unique function through natural variation based on the sequential space of the genome.

    I’m not sure what this is intended to mean. The canonical view is that a population splits because of inhibited gene flow between sub-populations. Clearly, if there is geographical separation (physically isolated sub-populations), gene flow slams to a stop. But I was reading recently about a species of birds which summers (and breeds) in Europe, and winters in Africa. Some of them winter in East Africa, some in West Africa. They all breed together as one huge flock.

    Now, the interesting thing is, after a lot of banding birds and tracking breeding, it turns out that those birds that winter in East Africa have a strong breeding preference for one another, as do the West Africa birds. Last I read, only about 20% of breeding pairs winter in different places, and this percentage is shrinking. We are perhaps seeing sympatric speciation in action. It’s possible that the different wintering ground have different food supplies, which in turn cause differences in pheromones.

    Maybe we can doubt this is the correct explanation, but the facts are not disputed – the East and West Africa winterers don’t often breed with one another, and the gene flow is diminishing for whatever reason.

  23. colewd:
    John Harshman,

    Thanks for the explanation.I agree that no one knows for sure the mechanism and I am highly skeptical of all the current explanations including geography isolation because it cannot account for the difficulty of finding unique function through natural variation based on the sequential space of the genome.

    I am unsure that you know what “speciation” means. Briefly, it’s the evolution of reproductive isolation between two populations. It has nothing directly to do with unique function or evolutionary innovation. I think that, instead of speciation or descent, you are concerned with the evolution of new features in populations, e.g. what makes humans different from chimps, such as our upright stance and fancy brains. Is that correct? If so, that’s a completely different question from what you have actually mentioned, whether you know that or not.

    It’s fairly easy to test common descent and find population disjunction in genomes. It’s easy to find genetic differences. It’s much harder to find which of those differences actually do something and what exactly they do. It’s pretty easy to figure out how those differences arise; they’re the same sorts of mutations we see happening all the time in populations. It’s much harder to figure out why and how those differences became fixed. Still, even the hard stuff can be done, at least for some specific questions. Maybe not all.

  24. Mung: Krauss made it appear as if natural selection could somehow direct the search towards that combination, and to paraphrase Krauss, that’s not how evolution works!

    But you’ll notice that Meyer did not have just the one bike lock. I’ve been putting together a post that I hope will better explain why people are going wrong that I hope will help.

    We could pore over who said what and if they were right or not in a specific debate or not forever, but it won’t actually get us anywhere.

    So in your OP I’d ask that you don’t focus on demonstrating simply that Krauss was wrong (who cares?), but that what is being talked about has an analogue in actual biology and is somehow germane to ID.

    As lots of people say lots of wrong things about evolution all the time, and even depending on what camp you are in some other camps are therefore wrong by definition and that’s fine. And dull.

    What I want to know is how this all illustrates in detail some ID claim we can discuss. I look forward to your post.

    Edited for sanity.

  25. : 1 sequence. 1 in 8.

    000
    001
    010
    011
    100
    101
    110
    111 (target)

    ====================
    : 2 sequences. 1 in 8 (2/16)

    0000
    0001
    0010
    0011
    0100
    0101
    0110
    0111 (target)

    1000
    1001
    1010
    1011
    1100
    1101
    1110
    1111 (target)

    ====================
    : 4 sequences. 1 in 8. (4/32)

    00000
    00001
    00010
    00011
    00100
    00101
    00110
    00111 (target)

    01000
    01001
    01010
    01011
    01100
    01101
    01110
    01111 (target)

    10000
    10001
    10010
    10011
    10100
    10101
    10110
    10111 (target)

    11000
    11001
    11010
    11011
    11100
    11101
    11110
    11111 (target)

    ====================

    The point is the probability, not the number of targets or functional sequences. The point of the bike lock analogy is the probability. Sure, you could add more bike locks. You could add more combinations. Add all you like, as long as you don’t monkey with the probability.

  26. What’s the string length and alphabet size of the smallest ‘selectable’ sequence?

  27. The evolutionary question is what is the string length of the smallest selectable change.

  28. The probability of the smallest selectable unit I gave in my example is 1 in 8 (0.125).

    Change the alphabet or change the length.or both. Feel free to use a smaller probability.

    2/16 = 1/8 = 0.125

    AA (target)
    AB
    AC
    AD
    BA
    BB
    BC
    BD
    CA
    CB
    CC
    CD
    DA
    DB
    DC
    DD (target)

  29. I mean in evolution. It’s obvious that the bigger the space v^n is, the smaller the probability t/v^n of hitting one of t target sequences in it is. When there is a single target t=1.

    What is less clear is why that should be a problem, if it so happened that the actual values of t, v and n in history gave a result comparable in size to the total number of trials available.

    And of course the distribution of targets in space cannot be assumed uniform, which is relevant for subsequent evolution.

  30. John Harshman,

    I am unsure that you know what “speciation” means.

    I am sure you are right here.

    My skepticism is based on large genomic changes of common ancestors and mathematical understanding of sequences. John, Mung is going to do an op on this and I will try to gather my thoughts and communicate them there.

  31. Flint,

    I’m not sure what this is intended to mean. The canonical view is that a population splits because of inhibited gene flow between sub-populations. Clearly, if there is geographical separation (physically isolated sub-populations), gene flow slams to a stop. But I was reading recently about a species of birds which summers (and breeds) in Europe, and winters in Africa. Some of them winter in East Africa, some in West Africa. They all breed together as one huge flock.

    This makes sense. My skepticism is different and I will wait until a more appropriate OP to discuss it.

  32. colewd:
    Flint,

    This makes sense.My skepticism is different and I will wait until a more appropriate OP to discuss it.

    I look forward to learning the nature of your skepticism.

  33. colewd:
    John Harshman,
    My skepticism is based on large genomic changes of common ancestors and mathematical understanding of sequences.John, Mung is going to do an op on this and I will try to gather my thoughts and communicate them there.

    I will await your explanation. Be warned, though, that I don’t think what you’re talking about has anything at all to do with speciation.

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