What Does “Intelligence” Mean in ID Theory?

Below I argue that despite insisting that it makes no claims about the nature of the Designer, ID’s equivocation on the meaning of “intelligence” results in implicit and unsupported connotations being lumped together as conclusions of the “design inference”.

Is it Intelligent?

Working in Artificial Intelligence, one comes to realize that asking if something is “intelligent” or not is generally a matter of definition rather than discovery. Here is a joke illustrating this point:

AIGUY: Here is our newest AI system. It learned to play grandmaster-level chess by reading books. It has written award-winning novels, proven the Goldbach Conjecture, written a beautiful symphony, designed a working fusion reactor, and talked a suicidal jumper down from the Golden Gate Bridge.
CUSTOMER: That’s very nice. But is this system actually intelligent?

I find that more often than not people don’t get this joke – at least not the same way I do. Some people think it’s obvious that a computer can’t be truly intelligent, so it’s ridiculous to ask that question. Other people think that anything that could do all the things this system does obviously is intelligent, so it’s funny that anyone would even bother to ask. Still others believe that the question is perfectly reasonable, and the answer could be determined by looking more carefully at the computer’s characteristics.

To me, the joke is that the question isn’t actually about the computer system, but rather it’s about what the word “intelligent” means. And there is no right or wrong answer; it is entirely a matter of our choosing what we consider intelligence to be, and thus whether we consider some particular thing (entity, being, system, process) intelligent or not.

[Footnote: As an aside, ID proponents often change the subject when talking about computer intelligence.  If I point out that computers can design things, they respond that the computer only can do this because it was itself designed by a real intelligent agent, a human being.  In other words, rather than try to judge whether or not a computer that can design things is intelligent per se, ID proponents start talking about “Who designed the designer?” and about how this computer came to exist.  I’m not sure why ID proponents don’t realize that they believe human beings were also designed by a real intelligent agent, yet this doesn’t disqualify us from being intelligent per se!]

The concept of “intelligence” – like “life” – is notoriously difficult to pin down.  As Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously remarked about pornography, we know it when we see it, but if you ask five cognitive psychologists what the word “intelligence” means, you may get seven different definitions. Broadly speaking, definitions of intelligence can be categorized as either functional, where the definition specifies something about how intelligent systems operate, or behavioral, where the definition specifies the sorts of tasks systems must be capable of in order to be considered intelligent. I have been in countless semantic disputes (as opposed to substantive disagreements) regarding the concept of intelligence because people have different types of definitions in mind.

[Footnote:  People sometimes complain that if “life” is hard to define, why don’t I object to biologists that they are equivocating on that word?  The answer is that biologists use the word “life” not to explain anything, but rather to generally describe the sorts of things they study.  In contrast, ID Theory offers “intelligence” as an explanatory construct, and thus is obliged to say exactly what it means.]

ID Theory and Intelligent Behavior

In spite of this confusion over what the term “intelligence” means, ID theory offers it as the best explanation for the existence of complex form and function in biology, as well as universal fine-tuning (I’ll refer to these features collectively as “biological CSI” here for simplicity). In fact, the term “intelligent cause” is the sum total of ID’s explanatory framework – absolutely nothing else is said about what ID supposes to have been responsible. So it seems fair to ask what precisely is meant by this term in the context of ID.

Years ago William Dembski was asked (by me) in a forum interview what he meant by “intelligence”, and he replied that it could be defined as simply as “the ability to produce complex specified information”. I’ve heard this many times since (here’s a recent example from Sal at UD: http://www.uncommondescent.com/philosophy/arguing-for-resemblance-of-design-rd-instead-of-intelligent-design-id/#comment-460109 ).

The problem with using a behavioral definition of intelligence like this is that it renders ID theory a vacuous tautology: ID claims the best explanation for CSI in biology is that which produces CSI. Simply labelling a hypothetical cause does not add anything to our understanding; the theorist must actually characterize the explanatory construct in a way that enables us to decide if it exists or not. Otherwise, for example, we could explain the existence of crop circles by invoking the “cerealogical force”, which is characterized by the ability to produce crop circles. How do we know that the cerealogical force exists? By the appearance of crop circles of course!

Why isn’t it obvious to everyone that defining “intelligence” this way makes ID into a vacuous claim? Because people typically make a set of implicit assumptions about other sorts of things an intelligent thing should be able to do, viz. the things that human beings can typically do. For example, if ID said this intelligent cause was something that, besides creating biological CSI, was also capable of explaining its actions in grammatical language, or proving a theorem in first order logic, or predicting lunar eclipses, then ID would indeed be making meaningful claims. The challenge then would be to provide some indication that these claim were true, but of course there is no such evidence.

Again: There is no evidence whatsoever that ID’s intelligent cause could do anything aside from produce the biological CSI we observe. There is no theory of intelligence that tells us that when some entity displays one particular ability it will necessarily have some other ability. Just like the chess-playing computer – or a human with savant syndrome – it may be that ID’s “intelligent cause” could do one thing very well, but could do nothing else that human beings typically do.

Of course, to the extent that the intelligent cause was supposed to be similar to human beings in other respects (and in particular had similar brain anatomy and neurophysiology) there may be reason to speculate a similarity in other abilities. But since the thing (entity, system, process, force, etc) that ID claims as the cause biological CSI may be a radically different sort of thing than a human being, there is simply no grounds to assume it has other abilities similar to humans.

[Footnote: Occasionally at this point an ID proponent will remind me that ID makes no commitments as to the nature of the Designer, and thus It could well be some extra-terrestrial life form with some sort of brain. The suggestion seems disingenuous, though, and in any event once we posit the existence of extra-terrestrial life forms as the cause of life on Earth, it is simpler to imagine that life on Earth arose as these organisms’  descendents rather than as the product of their advanced bio-engineering skills.]

If ID chooses to define “intelligence” behaviorally, then, the result will either be that (1) ID is vacuous, or (2) ID makes claims that are not supported by any evidence. What about if ID defines “intelligence” functionally instead?

ID Theory and Intelligent Function

Dembski’s most usual definitions for “intelligence” are functional, including “the complement of fixed law and chance” and “the power and facility to choose between options”.  So intelligent entities, in Dembski’s view, are defined by their power to make choices that are not determined by antecedent events. What Dembski does not mention (although he is surely aware of it) is that what he is defining as “intelligence” is another way of describing libertarian free will, and in my experience discussing ID with its proponents on the internet, this is indeed an important part of what most people mean when they talk about intelligence.

I believe the concept of metaphysical libertarianism to be incoherent, but in any case it clearly cannot be mistaken for settled science. But ID authors (including Dembski and Stephen Meyer) fail to acknowledge that this particular metaphysical position underlies their theory.  On the contrary, Dembski and Meyer argue that the “intelligent causation” posited by ID as the cause of biological CSI is something that is known to us by our familiarity with intelligent agents. This is specious. What we know is that human beings design and build complex machinery. We do not know how we do it (because we don’t understand how we think), and we do not know if our thought processes transcend physical causality or not. Thus when Stephen Meyer claims that the causal explanation proposed by ID is known to us “in our uniform and repeated experience of intelligent agency”, he is pulling a fast one.

To his credit, Meyer does say something specific about what he means when he talks about intelligence: He often refers to intelligence as being synonymous with “conscious, rational deliberation”. We all know what consciousness is, even if nobody has any idea how (or if) it functions causally in our thought processes. So to say that the cause of life, the universe, and everything was conscious is to make a concrete claim.

But just as ID can’t support the claim that the intelligent cause was capable of explaining its intentions, ID offers no good reason to believe the intelligent cause was conscious. Moreover, there is some reason to doubt that claim a priori: Our uniform and repeated experience confirms that a well-functioning brain is necessary (even if not sufficient) for conscious awareness, and unless ID is explicitly proposing that ID’s intelligent cause had a brain, the conclusion warranted by our experience would be that the intelligent cause did not likely deliberate its designs consciously. We human beings are conscious of our intentions and consciously imagine future events, but this conscious awareness is known to critically rely on specific neural systems.   The generation of biological CSI may well have occurred in ways that are fundamentally different from human cognition, and so we have no reason to believe it involved consciousness as humans experience it.

What about SETI?

ID proponents often turn to SETI to legitimize their insistence that “intelligence” is a meaningful scientific explanation. If we could explain a SETI signal by invoking extra-terrestrial intelligence, they reason, why can’t ID invoke an unspecified intelligence as the explanation for biological systems? But of course SETI is virtually the inverse of ID: SETI looks for things that do not otherwise occur in nature in order to find extra-terrestrial life forms, while ID looks at things that do occur in nature for signs of extra-terrestrial non-life forms.

SETI is not a theory; it is a search for data.  It is the assumption that an ETI is an extra-terrestrial intelligent life form that lends meaning (and research direction) to the SETI program.  SETI astrobiologists make assumptions about the likelihood of various planets being hospitable to life as we know it, and astronomers look for signals coming from such planets.  If SETI did find some signal and a paper was published that suggested this was evidence for a intelligent agent that was not a form of life as we know it, I would complain that the term tells us nothing at all about what was responsible.  All we could say is that the cause was something we know nothing about except that it was capable of producing the signal we observed.

Conclusion

The broad connotations of the word “intelligence” in the minds of most people include consciousness, metaphysical libertarianism, and the ability to solve novel problems in varied domains.  These are specific claims that cannot be supported empirically in the context of ID.  Once all of these concepts are removed, however, there is no meaning left to the term “intelligent cause”.  And therefore, ID tells us nothing at all about the cause of life, the universe, and everything that can be supported by the evidence.

Imagine if we found the Intelligent Designer and asked It, say, why It created so many different types of beetles.  For all ID can tell us, the Designer may be unable to answer, because It may be some sort process with no conscious beliefs or desires at all, acting without any idea of what It is doing or why.

 

47 thoughts on “What Does “Intelligence” Mean in ID Theory?

  1. The bible says God is intelligent and man was made in Gods image.
    Thats the only reason we are intelligent.
    The bible further divides intelligence into Wisdom, understanding, and knowledge.
    Computers do none of this.
    All a computer is IS a memory.
    Everything comes from using its memory. it has no ideas or motives behind ideas.
    its not intelligent like what we define intelligence. People thinking!!
    If a computer can do something then you know its just a thing of memory. Chess being case in point.
    Computers don’t design but only rearrange memory orders.

    ID is all about the great complexity of the universe being only possible from intelligent motives and ideas.
    The complexity itself is a machine save for the life factor.
    Would a finale understanding of the complexity tell you God made it or its just happanchance??
    The bible says creation demands a conclusion of a thinking being having created it.

  2. You raise the issue that has long bothered me about ID.

    My first reaction to the idea of ID was “of course biological organisms are intelligently designed; evolution is itself an intelligent design system.” But, of course, the ID proponents reject that out of hand. This is why it quickly becomes clear that “Intelligent Designer” is really intended as a reference to the Abrahamic God, all of their denials to the contrary notwithstanding.

    It only further confuses the issue, that many creationists would say that a rock is designed by their creator.

  3. The question you’re raising is a philosophical one. But my impression is that your argumentation suffers from not being philosophically accurate.

    Intelligence is related to intentionality and behavior seen as resulting from intentionality. Thus a rock falling from 1m high is not presenting behavior because it was not its intention to fall. A bird flying is presenting behavior and thus signs of intelligence.

    Computer perform tasks as long as they’re connected to a power source. The power source is the one that is “pushing” the computer to perform the task. It doesn’t do anything consciously. Not intentionally, not intelligently.

    Humans and animals have intelligence and are capable of intentional behavior.

    “But just as ID can’t support the claim that the intelligent cause was capable of explaining its intentions, ID offers no good reason to believe the intelligent cause was conscious.”

    On the contrary. Any intelligent cause is conscious. There is nothing to show here. You don’t need “good reasons” to believe this, you just need to understand the direct logical relation between consciousness and intelligence.

    Intelligent does not mean only super-smart. Intelligence is the ability to choose from a set of system configurations (information) only those that perform a function (functional information). When a bird picks a branch to use it for making a nest, and when it puts it in a specific position and configuration, the bird is consciously picking a certain system configuration, with a specific probability, out of an enormous number of other possibilities. That is a sign of intelligence.

    “Moreover, there is some reason to doubt that claim a priori: Our uniform and repeated experience confirms that a well-functioning brain is necessary (even if not sufficient) for conscious awareness, and unless ID is explicitly proposing that ID’s intelligent cause had a brain, the conclusion warranted by our experience would be that the intelligent cause did not likely deliberate its designs consciously.”

    It is not a priori if it was discovered by experience. There is no metaphysical restrictions from there being intelligence and consciousness without a brain. You need to prove the necessary relation between neurons and intelligence. Something that science hasn’t done so far, and there’s good indication that it can not do that.

  4. Nice explanation, AIGuy! Thanks!

    Aside from the notable fact that ID is just a disingenuous legal/socio-political movement attempting to get around the Supreme Court’s rulings against creationism, I dislike the concept in general because its implied approach to intelligence so radically differs from my (albeit vague) understanding of the term. I personally think of intelligence in a behavioral sense as well, but I define it as the quality of exhibiting curiosity.

    This is likely not a very exacting definition, and could probably be better defined if I gave it some more thought. But in principle I find that things on Earth that show curiosity about objects in the world around them exhibit, at least on some level, an awareness of categorization (i.e., “this thing” is different from “those other things”, or “A” and “not A”) and some approach to determining, however simply, how to categorize the object (i.e., given “not A”…). Even simple categorizations of “food”, “danger”, “intruder”, “other”, and “hubba hubba” are to me symptomatic of an intelligent system, but it’s not enough to me to just categorize things. The key, at least to me, is the ability to come up with categories by encountering things that do not immediately fit into recognized categories. Thus, encountering things that are unknown and exhibiting curiosity as to what they are given what is already categorized is, to me at least, the hallmark of intelligence.

    I’ll note that curiosity has zero to do with ID’s use of the term “intelligence”. This makes sense of course because to the IDer, things that are intelligent already know everything they need to know and design accordingly. The intelligent designer cause does not make errors or have to re-engineer things; they are all “good” from the get go.

  5. “Otherwise, for example, we could explain the existence of crop circles by invoking the “cerealogical force”, which is characterized by the ability to produce crop circles. How do we know that the cerealogical force exists? By the appearance of crop circles of course!”

    Most of what we call science works in that way!

    “This is specious. What we know is that human beings design and build complex machinery. We do not know how we do it (because we don’t understand how we think), and we do not know if our thought processes transcend physical causality or not. ”

    Well we do know how we design and build. There are many engineering manuals that explain that. What we do not know is the relation between our capacity of abstraction and our brain, but that seems to me is a problem for materilists only.

  6. Hi Blas,

    AIGUY:
    “Otherwise, for example, we could explain the existence of crop circles by invoking the “cerealogical force”, which is characterized by the ability to produce crop circles. How do we know that the cerealogical force exists? By the appearance of crop circles of course!”
    BLAS: Most of what we call science works in that way!

    No, science never works this way. Can you provide any examples of a scientific result where the causal explanation is defined in no other way than its ability to produce the phenomenon in question? (hint: you can’t).

    Well we do know how we design and build.

    Nobody knows how we think. We do not know how we do arithmetic or logic, how we reason, how we generate explanations, how we design, how we generate and understand grammatical sentences, or how we recognize a chair when we see it. We do not know how brains work, nor the relationship between the brain and the mind.

    Saying that an engineering manual explains how we design is like saying the rules of baseball explains how we manage to hit a fastball.

  7. It seems likely that we will never have a manual for biological design. I see no evidence for a grammar or syntax in coding sequences. It gets worse when you look at regulation.

  8. aiguy:
    Hi Blas,

    No, science never works this way.Can you provide any examples of a scientific result where the causal explanation is defined in no other way than its ability to produce the phenomenon in question?(hint:you can’t).

    What is a force? Something that cause the acerelation of a mass. How do we know there is a force? We measure the acceleration to a mass.

    What is viscosity? The reduction of the flow of a liquid in a pipe. How do we know the viscosity of a liquid? Measuring the flow of a fluid in a pipe.

    aiguy:

    Nobody knows how we think.We do not know how we do arithmetic or logic, how we reason, how we generate explanations, how we design, how we generate and understand grammatical sentences, or how we recognize a chair when we see it.We do not know how brains work, nor the relationship between the brain and the mind.

    Saying that an engineering manual explains how we design is like saying the rules of baseball explains how we manage to hit a fastball.

    Not knowing how the brains work doesn´t mean we do not know how we think. We know that in order to think we relate concepts (ideas) making premises that allow us define new concepts. Following your example you say “I do not know how to play baseball because I do not know how my brain make me run”?

  9. In a discussion on the sentience of Culture Minds (advanced AIs) between two characters in Iain M Banks’ Player of Games

    “Your [AIs] think they’re sentient!” Hamin chuckled.
    “A common delusion shared by some of our human citizens.”

  10. Thanks for your vacuous input which says nothing at all about the opening post and is barely even on topic other than to be a spiel about how the Bible says it’s so.

    Robert Byers:  If SETI did find some signal and a paper was published that suggested this was evidence for a intelligent agent that was not a form of life as we know it, I would complain that the term tells us nothing at all about what was responsible.  All we could say is that the cause was something we know nothing about except that it was capable of producing the signal we observed.

  11. I think the “I” should really be “intentional” design, rather than intelligent design. The thing that distinguishes Intentional design from something like Evolutionary design (which can equally be classed as a form of intelligent design) is that Intentional design constructs an abstracted goal based on knowledge of the system, before manifesting it externally or, at the very least has an abstraction involved in the design process (like trial and improvement/error, but with an end goal in mind). Evolution is an iterative process, but that’s all it does – iterate. The problem with this, and the reason that IDers don’t like it, is that an intentional designer can design anything, because what if I intend to design something that does not look designed in any way. I can do that, being an intentional designer. I can also intend to design something that looks like it has been bought about by a purely iterative process like evolution. Then the IDers then need to find some object and demonstrate that it can only come about after being abstracted and then constructed.

    The thing is though that all sorts of strange things are intentionally designed. CERN, for example, but not just CERN, even if I just isolated a space within CERN’s collider ring, a sphere of vacuum and didn’t let you look outside that sphere but said it was on a planet, that sphere of vacuum is also intentionally designed because there is no way such a thing could realistically exist on a planet with an atmosphere unless it was intentionally constructed.

  12. Do chimps have intentions? Are they conscious?

    Cats?
    Rats?
    Roaches?

    How would you find out?

    Chhange the question to consciousness.

  13. I’d say “intentional” behaviour is behaviour in which we simulate the consequences before selecting the action.

    But it gets a little curly, because we can sometimes “intend” to be “unintentional”, as when we decide to toss a coin to determine some course of action, rather than “intend” one or the other.

    We can also “intend” to train ourselves to behave “unintentionally” – as when we train ourselves to have an automated response, so we can react faster.

  14. petrushka:
    Do chimps have intentions? Are they conscious?

    Cats?
    Rats?
    Roaches?

    How would you find out?

    Chimps yes, and rats, probably cats, probably not roaches, although I think it’s a continuum. Rats are smart and figure out strategies, and optimise the balance between, say, waiting a longer time for a larger reward, or a shorter time for a smaller.

    Cats are just weird. Hard to say.

    Chhange the question to consciousness.

    I’d say that chimps, rats and cats are more conscious than roaches – or rather, I’d say they are conscious of more.

  15. But the question is “how do you know”? Or how do you go about forming an opinion.

    I’m not trying to be coy. I think intelligence is what intelligence does.

  16. Gregory: But this has nothing to do with psychology or ‘movements’ in America, does it?

    I have no idea what is being asked there.

    Are you American, Neil?

    Is that relevant to anything?

  17. Neil Rickert: I have no idea what is being asked there.

    Is that relevant to anything?

    What a bizarre question. I can find no prior references to psychology or movements in this thread. Nor any way to figure out what “this” refers to.

  18. Lizzie: Chimps yes, and rats, probably cats, probably not roaches, although I think it’s a continuum.Rats are smart and figure out strategies, and optimise the balance between, say, waiting a longer time for a larger reward, or a shorter time for a smaller.

    Cats are just weird.Hard to say.

    I’d say that chimps, rats and cats are more conscious than roaches – or rather, I’d say they are conscious of more.

    How do you discard the possibility of “intention” or “conscious” in that animals is no more than conditioned responses?

  19. What do you mean by conditioned? Can you describe the difference between classical and operant conditioning and why that might be relevant?

  20. Blas:
    Pavlov dog and the sound of the bell.

    That’s what I thought you meant, but that kind of conditioning is not a significant factor in mammal behavior. Try learning something about learning theory before drawing conclusions about free will and materialism.

  21. I’m having the same problem with Gregory on the other thread. No one can figure out what he is trying to say, or what it has to do with the topic at hand.

  22. I have no problem with philosophers asking different kinds of questions from scientists, but I don’t understand the science envy.

    Science is a cumulative body of knowledge and methods. It simply can’t ask or answer questions about first causes, nor can it ask or answer questions that can’t be operationally defined.

    But it can ask and answer questions about how things work and about the history of things.

  23. Blas:
    Pavlov dog and the sound of the bell.

    This sort of conditioning occurs in humans too. When I was at university I had an old pair of shoes that picked up immense amounts of static when I walked across the Blackett laboratory foyer. This static used to discharge to the great amusement of my friends when I touched anything metal. For me it hurt like hell. Anyway I quickly developed an aversion to touching any metal in the foyer, and this persisted months after I bought new shoes and stopped picking up static. Every time I got to a door, I would unconsciously avoid touching the metal. This is the same as pavlov’s dogs. A reflex response to some stimulus.

  24. petrushka:
    Do chimps have intentions? Are they conscious?

    Cats?
    Rats?
    Roaches?

    How would you find out?

    Chhange the question to consciousness.

    We could ask the same about a lot of humans.

  25. JetBlack: We could ask the same about a lot of humans.

    We could ask it of every human. How do you know what’s going on in their heads, other than by what they do? How can you define intelligence other than by what a system does?

  26. Blas: How do you discard the possibility of “intention” or “conscious” in that animals is no more than conditioned responses?

    An awful lot of creationist responses are conditioned. Look at the videos where they train kids to ask “were you there?” when one refers to geological ages.

  27. petrushka: We could ask it of every human. How do you know what’s going on in their heads, other than by what they do? How can you define intelligence other than by what a system does?

    That’s true, but I am thinking more of the likes of YECs, many of whom would fail the Turing test.

  28. Hi Blas,

    Not knowing how the brains work doesn´t mean we do not know how we think.

    Both things are true, actually.

    We know that in order to think we relate concepts (ideas) making premises that allow us define new concepts.

    No, not really. That is how you talk about how you think, but it isn’t the way you think. We used to think we knew how we thought, and so we thought we could program computers that way and then the computers would think. But we didn’t, and they can’t. Ideas come to us; we do not know how. It really is a big mystery.

    Following your example you say “I do not know how to play baseball because I do not know how my brain make me run”?

    You understand the rules of baseball, but you do not understand how you actually plan and execute your actions. For example, in order to build a robot that could catch a fly ball, the robot would use trigonometric formulas to predict the trajectory of the ball. But outfielders, by and large, do not know these forumulae… yet they can catch the ball anyway.

    Cheers,
    aiguy

  29. Hi Lizzie,

    I’d say “intentional” behaviour is behaviour in which we simulate the consequences before selecting the action. But it gets a little curly, because we can sometimes “intend” to be “unintentional”, as when we decide to toss a coin to determine some course of action, rather than “intend” one or the other.

    Sometimes we do what we intend to do, and sometimes we don’t. That is consistent with the idea that our conscious intentions are our own best guesses about what we will do, rather than a determining factor.

    Cheers,
    aiguy

  30. Hi Blas,

    What is a force? Something that cause the acerelation of a mass. How do we know there is a force? We measure the acceleration to a mass.

    You are describing the relationship between mass, acceleration, and force. You are not talking about some particular force.

    Forces in science are characterized quite specifically – otherwise they would be as vacuous as the “cerealogical force” in my example, or “intelligent causation” in ID.

    Imagine if Newton had said the following:

    Newton: Aha! I have discoved what causes apples to fall to the ground. It is a force called gravity!
    Skeptic: Really Isaac? What is gravity?
    Newton: Gravity is defined as that which causes things to fall to Earth.
    Skeptic: How do you know that gravity exists and causes apples to fall down?
    Newton: Because the apples fall of course!

    If Newton had simply characterized gravity as “that which makes things fall to Earth”, we would not know his name, and everyone would have just laughed at him. Instead, he characterized gravity as a force that acted on every massive object instantaneously and at any distance with a force proportional to the product of the masses times an unchanging constant and inversely propotional to the square of the distance between the masses. Countless experiments confirmed that this force existed just as Newton described it – until conditions in which it failed were discovered. And how was Newton’s characterization ever disproven? For the same reason – scientists would observe discrepencies between what Newton thought gravity was and what we could observe astronomically and experimentally.

    ID is vacuous because it fails to characterize the Intelligent Designer in a way that we can determine if He exists or not.

    Cheers,
    aiguy

  31. JetBlack:

    This sort of conditioning occurs in humans too. When I was at university I had an old pair of shoes that picked up immense amounts of static when I walked across the Blackett laboratory foyer. This static used to discharge to the great amusement of my friends when I touched anything metal. For me it hurt like hell. Anyway I quickly developed an aversion to touching any metal in the foyer, and this persisted months after I bought new shoes and stopped picking up static. Every time I got to a door, I would unconsciously avoid touching the metal. This is the same as pavlov’s dogs. A reflex response to some stimulus.

    Many many years ago a young friend and I were in a library that had recently installed brand new carpeting. It was a very cold, dry day in winter.

    Everybody was getting zapped when touching anything.

    As we were about to leave, my young friend stopped at the drinking fountain and was about to reach for the handle and then stopped. He took off his scarf, wrapped it around his hand and gave me a triumphant look. I waited expectantly, saying nothing.

    He then grabbed the handle, bent over to take a drink and got a huge zap off his lip and his nose.

    Recalling the look on my face, he said to me, “You knew that was going to happen, didn’t you”? I said, “yup.”

    Interestingly, my friend admitted to me that that incident taught him more about electrostatics than he had learned from just reading about it in physics books.

    When one is in a situation like this, the best method of discharge is from a relatively sharp point, such as a key held firmly by the fingers.

  32. Blas,

    These are examples of definitions (or they would be, if they were correct), rather than explanations.

    Also, you are merely attempting a tu quoque, rather than presenting an objection. Do you really think that a virtus dormitiva is a good explanation of anything?

  33. Cristian Pascu:
    The question you’re raising is a philosophical one. But my impression is that your argumentation suffers from not being philosophically accurate.

    Intelligence is related to intentionality and behavior seen as resulting from intentionality. Thus a rock falling from 1m high is not presenting behavior because it was not its intention to fall. A bird flying is presenting behavior and thus signs of intelligence.

    Cristian, I think it is rather your position that is philosophically naive. You fault the OP for not committing to your preferred concept of intelligence, while the OP drew attention to the fact that there is no single universally accepted concept of intelligence, not even among specialists.

    Yours seems to be of the functional type, although one can’t say for sure, because “intentionality” could conceivably be defined in terms of behavior.

  34. Then, is also humans are conditioned how Lizzie knows that cats, rats and roaches do not act by highly complex conditioned responses and really are conscious?

  35. aiguy:

    “No, not really.That is how you talk about how you think, but it isn’t the way you think.”

    Yes is the way I think, and I know how to design.

    aiguy:

    “We used to think we knew how we thought, and so we thought we could program computers that way and then the computers would think.But we didn’t, and they can’t.”

    But that is the view of the reality through the “materialistic model”. If you beleive that model as true, computers should think as us if they do not we do not know how we think. You have to consider that your model is wrong.

    aiguy:

    “You understand the rules of baseball, but you do not understand how you actually plan and execute your actions.For example, in order to build a robot that could catch a fly ball, the robot would use trigonometric formulas to predict the trajectory of the ball.But outfielders, by and large, do not know these forumulae… yet they can catch the ball anyway.”

    So the players are paid to play a game they do not know how to play?

  36. If you were people interested could start to measure the crops circles and relate the number, intensity and occasions when they appear and relate them with others parameters, define realationship and specify the “cerealogical form” in a more scientific dress. As Newton did with gravity. The difference is that every object falls, then you have more statistic to made relations.
    Science do not need to know the deep understanding on how gravity is produced or what prduce it, do not need to know how this force is trasmitted to define it, measure it, find relationships, find parameters how gravity work. You only need to make experiments, if they are repeteable you can make predictions.

  37. SophistiCat:
    Blas,

    Do you really think that a virtus dormitiva is a good explanation of anything?

    As far is usefull, yes. Humans used “virtus dormitiva” explanations succesfully, and probably many of what we think are scientific trues will became “virtus dormitiva” explanations in the future. The problem is when we do not understand that science can give us “trues” limited in time and space.

  38. Blas: As far is usefull, yes.

    Wow, I don’t know what to say. Your understanding of science and common sense even is worth than that of a 17th century playwright.

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