What does S. Joshua Swamidass mean by ‘secular scientist’?

Apparently, he means ‘non-confessional,’ since he actively pits ‘secular scientist’ over against ‘confessional scientist’ at ‘Peaceful Science.’  

Swamidass’ chosen dichotomy may seem stark to some people, almost as a kind of ‘you’re with us or you’re against us’. Notably, it has achieved some success so far, mainly among natural scientists. In other words, you’re either with ‘mainstream science’ or you’re against it. Swamidass upholds ‘mainstream science,’ while at the same time promoting non-mainstream evangelical protestantism as a ‘confessionalist’ approach to the topic. 

“The science we are putting forward here is solid. It does not require a religious point of view to accept. Even secular scientists endorse it.” – S. Joshua Swamidass

The devil is in the details when natural scientists write: “does not require.” This is the legacy Swamidass’ confused embrace of ‘methodological naturalism’ as if it were free from ideology.

So, for Swamidass, Michael Behe (who while both challenging and praising him, called his ‘hero,’ before removing it for supposedly ‘confusing people’, with a mere explanation of: “what can I say?”) must be labelled as a ‘confessional scientist,’ even though he’s not an evangelical like Swamidass. In other words, Swamidass is dividing people into 2 camps, those who ‘confess’ their religion on the internet in public and those who are ‘secular’ in doing science. This is why Swamidass is intent on asking people to ‘tell us about yourself’ and is actively now flirting with forcing people to reveal their IRL identity on PS in order to participate there. 

Yet this is where it gets confusing because Swamidass has repeatedly noted that he works at a ‘secular university’ (WUSTL). So he’s apparently also a ‘secular scientist’ in so far as he’s a natural scientist who works at a university that is not a private religious one. Yet apparently it is only because he ‘confesses’ his ‘faith’ (evengelical Protestantism) online that he considers himself ‘non-secular’ as a ‘practising natural scientist’.

This raises the question: what about all of the many natural scientists, philosophers and social scientists who don’t evangelize online and yet are active in conversations about science, philosophy and theology/worldview? Are they all necessarily counted as ‘confessional scientists’ too, or not? In my view, they are not and I would defend non-evangelical but religious scientists (of whom I have come to know many) from Swamidass’ confrontational polemics, which seem to adopt black & white thinking like “you’re either with us or you’re against us.” This seems to be what Swamidass’ version of ‘confident faith’ boils down to.

Nevertheless, this in no way takes away from the fact that Swamidass has indeed made a noteworthy splash after his noisy exit from BioLogos. What makes things most interesting about the conversation is the people who have been attracted to PS so far, with its focus on natural science, yet openness and friendliness to theological topics and discussion.

Indeed, a curious mixture of people have answered Swamidass’ call for peace in science, joining in with the mainly evangelical company he has brought along with him. Two of the most active posters at PS, who have been there from the beginning, are a Unitarian Universalist gbrooks9, who joined Swamidass via BioLogos, and a self-described ‘militant atheist,’ who supports the Freedom from Religion Foundation in the USA. The latter has created >740 topics, even more than Swamidass himself on his own site so far! Swamidass has gone to significant effort to allow space for atheism to be promoted at PS.

gbrooks9 speaks regularly as if on behalf of PS, saying: “We arent trying to prove Adam and Eve existed… we are proving that they could have been miraculously created… and science is not in a position to contradict some miracles!” He follows this by using the pronoun ‘we’ to refer to PS, saying “we have obtained funding.” This was cleared up by Djordje a Serbian Orthodox who clarified that gbrooks9 hadn’t himself obtained anything, only Dr. Swamidass. Likewise, Patrick the ‘Freethinking Atheist’ confirmed Swamidass “gets major secular funding to real science at WUSTL.” Again, what’s with this primitive ‘secular’ vs. ‘anything else’ dichotomy, when Templeton has also funded non-evangelicals who at least acknowledge the spiritual realm?

Swamidass’ most outspoken booster said the following: “You are an atheist who opposes all religion… so I really don’t care what you think. This site is really not designed for you. It is designed for Christians who want to retain recognition for the evidence of Evolution.” – gbrooks9 George (Frantic Unitarian) (https://discourse.peacefulscience.org/t/the-theological-hypothesis-of-adam-in-science/4437/78) For George, following Swamidass, the online ‘confessional’ booth aspect of PS often seems to get in the way more than to edify the conversation. Yet on the coattails of Swamidass’ ‘strictly natural science’ approach, even alone Swamidass can continue to be a thorn in the side of the 4 organisations he has positioned himself to oppose as a supposed ‘fifth voice’: Answers in Genesis, BioLogos, Discovery Institute and Reasons to Believe.

“The science we are putting forward here is solid. It does not require a religious point of view to accept. Even secular scientists endorse it.” – S. Joshua Swamidass

While Swamidass continues to push ideological scientism with his “the Science of Adam” and “genealogical science,” it doesn’t really matter much if he uses the labels ‘confessional’ or ‘secular’, since he’s made ‘THE (natural) science’ into his priority topic and source of dictation. Philosophy is an afterthought, something Swamidass seems to spend little time on and theology/worldview, other than his own non-mainstream evangelical protestantism, is barely addressed except for by others. Yet rather ironically, it is non-mainstream evangelical protestants themselves who Swamidass must know by now are most confused, contorted and convoluted in this conversation. So it’s a pleasant surprise that Swamidass is not actively trying to turn the outdated, scientifically under-educated worldview of those evangelicals on its head just yet! 

As chief Swamidass cheerleader George recently responded with exasperation to an atheist MD: “Go bang your head against a godless tree.” Apparently that’s his way to find ‘common ground’ with Swamidass as the ringleader and master of ceremonies. https://discourse.peacefulscience.org/t/the-theological-hypothesis-of-adam-in-science/4437/130

Yet that kind of talk still seems to be far more ‘tolerable’ for his current fan base than Swamidass being told that ‘methodological naturalism’ is an untenable ideology, not a sign of someone ‘doing good science,’ but rather of an ideologue.

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194 thoughts on “What does S. Joshua Swamidass mean by ‘secular scientist’?

  1. dazz,

    “There has never been a natural object that doesn’t interact with light, so it’s a pretty safe conclusion that if black holes don’t then they’re most likely non-natural”

    He is simply making an assessment based on the available data. All arguments have some level of uncertainty. Unlike creationists in the past his statement did not set himself up to have to prove a negative.

    If you strongly think that the human capability of assessing the outcome of an algorithm is natural then make a counter argument.

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  2. colewd: If you strongly think that the human capability of assessing the outcome of an algorithm is natural then make a counter argument.

    I’m really not understanding this at all.

    It seems trivially obvious that humans are part of nature. And thus human abilities are natural. Why should that need an argument.

    This seems to have started with

    EricMH: There has never been a natural process that has exhibited super-Turing power, so it’s a pretty safe conclusion that if the human mind does then it’s most likely non-natural.

    But EricMH’s argument seems to be of the same form as:

    If apples were bananas then God exists.

    It’s a stupid argument, if you can even call it an argument. But apples are not bananas so we dismiss the conclusion without even bothering about whether there is an actual argument.

    Likewise, human minds do not have super-Turing powers, so we can dismiss EricMH’s conclusion without bothering about whether he has actually given an argument.

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  3. colewd: He is simply making an assessment based on the available data. All arguments have some level of uncertainty.

    No, he’s making shit up based on lack of data. Try reading for comprehension.

    He does that when makes claims in the form of “There has never been a natural process that blah, blah, blah”

    Creationists always do that. The “natural” qualifier is completely superfluous because you can be 100% sure that whatever they’re claiming has never been observed from natural processes, has also never been observed in non natural woo woo. It clearly begs the question.

    Your problem is that you’re incapable of telling apart good arguments from terribly bad ones.

    I could easily make the same question begging argument from ignorance to “argue” for just about anything. Look:

    There has never been a theist that has jumped 9 meters, so it’s a pretty safe conclusion that the next long jump record-man will be an atheist..

    …and finally there’s the ubiquitous burden shift:

    colewd: If you strongly think that the human capability of assessing the outcome of an algorithm is natural then make a counter argument.

    Well, let me know when you can jump 9 meters.

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  4. Neil Rickert: It seems trivially obvious that humans are part of nature. And thus human abilities are natural. Why should that need an argument.

    I think it’s true that humans are a part of nature, but it’s not trivially true or obvious. There are a few thousand years of Western philosophy devoted to denying it.

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  5. Neil Rickert,

    It seems trivially obvious that humans are part of nature. And thus human abilities are natural. Why should that need an argument.

    Why don’t you be a little charitable with his claim and argue that we can explain consciousness with the laws of physics and chemistry unless you think we can not.

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  6. colewd: Why don’t you be a little charitable with his claim and argue that we can explain consciousness with the laws of physics and chemistry unless you think we can not.

    I’m not sure what the laws of physics and chemistry have to do with it.

    It is far from clear what people mean by “explain consciousness”. Yes, some people might mean a reductive explanation in terms of the laws of physics. I wish them luck, but I’m not a reductionist.

    I don’t think of human behavior as reducting to physics. If anything, I think of physics as reducing to human behavior.

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  7. colewd:
    He is simply making an assessment based on the available data.

    Nope. he’s making an argument based on poor philosophy founded in his religious beliefs.

    colewd:
    All arguments have some level of uncertainty. Unlike creationists in the past his statement did not set himself up to have to prove a negative.

    Really? let’s check that:

    EricMH:
    There has never been a natural process that has exhibited super-Turing power, so it’s a pretty safe conclusion that if the human mind does then it’s most likely non-natural.

    That seems pretty much like a universal negative (and a hidden assumption, since Eric has already excluded the human mind from the natural phenomena considered). He goes all the way to “safe conclusion.” That means he’s convinced that no natural process can exhibit “super-Turing power.” Whatever that shit might mean. Therefore, he set himself to prove a negative. Well, worse, he assumed such negative.

    Let’s see how he ends that shit:

    EricMH:
    But, of course no evidence will ever convince a true believer

    Since when an assumed negative is evidence?

    colewd:
    If you strongly think that the human capability of assessing the outcome of an algorithm is natural then make a counter argument.

    Sorry, that we’re natural, intelligence and all, is pretty obvious. It’s straightforward. We’re part of nature. Eric tried to prove the contrary, but failed. So it’s up to Eric to prove that what seems straightforward is false.

    While us and our intelligences being natural is philosophically straightforward, there’s also positive evidence, which compound Eric’s problem: variation in intelligences between animals, variation just within humans, damages to the brain, changes in levels of brain energy dissipation when involved in hard thinking activities, effects of chemicals in our brain activity, etc. All kinds of physical and chemical assessments ever used to look at the brain make it evident that intelligence is an activity of the brain.

    But no amount of evidence will ever convince a true believer. Right?

    Now, even if Eric was able to prove that nothing but human intelligence exhibits “super-Turing power,” whatever that shit might mean, he would have proven that our brain’s activity is the only configuration of natural phenomena that exhibits “super-Turing power.” That’s it. There’s no pathway from that to the mind being “non-natural.”

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  8. Entropy,

    That seems pretty much like a universal negative

    most likely non-natural

    This moves him away from a universal negative. All that being said thanks for putting an argument forward.

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  9. @faded_glory:

    Briefly, Dembski’s innovation is that you can identify a pattern after the fact that allows you to reject the chance hypothesis in favor of the design hypothesis. Before, statistics used the Fisherian approach where you always have to pick the pattern before you observe the data.

    The mathematics behind Dembski’s idea are not controversial. The same concept shows up in many different forms in information theory and statistics. A few off the top of my head:
    – Kolmogorov’s randomness deficiency
    – Martin Lof’s test for randomness
    – Leonid Levin’s law of independence conservation

    And I keep finding more examples as I examine the literature. This was quite surprising to me after reading all the rebuttals by experts in the field such as Shallit and English. Their writing makes it seem like Dembski is completely making up stuff that no one has ever seriously considered. On the contrary, Dembski’s work appears to have been preempted numerous times over the past half century, and the above list should be pretty familiar to experts.

    So, anyways, it is not the same as a Bayesian approach. Dembski does not need to setups subjective priors over the design hypothesis vs the naturalism hypothesis. That is the benefit of his approach in that it is completely objective. Incidentally, it is completely objective even with the inclusion of subjectively constructed specifications.

    This way we can infer design by just looking at an artifact without any knowledge of the artifact’s history. Now, we might not be able to infer proximate design, the artifact could have been generated mechanically by a factory. But, the argument allows us to infer that design occurred somewhere in the genesis of the artifact.

    Anyways, this is all quite clear if you read the primary sources: Dembski’s papers and books. Don’t spend your time reading the rebuttals first. Most of them are quite confusingly worded and they’ll provide more fog than clarity. The only somewhat decent “rebuttals” are by Devine, and they are not so much rebuttals as they are identifying what I mentioned above, that Dembski’s mathematical work is already preempted in much of standard information theory and statistical literature.

    @entropy

    The simple point is that if our minds are “super Turing” and no natural process is, then our minds cannot have been generated by natural processes. Therefore, our minds must be immaterial and transcend the physical world.

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  10. colewd:
    This moves him away from a universal negative.All that being said thanks for putting an argument forward.

    You’re not paying enough attention Bill. The universal negative is not there, it’s where I put the bold. Come on. Reading comprehension 101.

    Eric’s words:

    There has never been a natural process that has exhibited super-Turing power

    See?

    And there’s a lot more to deal with that neither of you cared to pay attention to. Not too surprising. No amount of evidence will convince the true believer, as Eric confessed.

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  11. EricMH:
    The simple point is that if our minds are “super Turing” and no natural process is, then our minds cannot have been generated by natural processes. Therefore, our minds must be immaterial and transcend the physical world.

    I know what your “point” was supposed to be Eric. Since you just made your mistakes worse, I have to assume that you cannot read for comprehension, you didn’t care reading what I wrote, and/or you’re too dishonest to acknowledge any of it.

    You did well by confessing that no amount of evidence will convince you. I was expecting nothing from you, and there you go.

    ———————
    ETA:

    EricMH:
    Briefly, Dembski’s innovation is that you can identify a pattern after the fact that allows you to reject the chance hypothesis in favor of the design hypothesis.

    A false dichotomy to start it all? When will creationists understand that fallacious thinking doesn’t help their case?

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  12. EricMH,

    Your comment is just another dismissal-with-a-wave-of-the-hand of the arguments that have thoroughly knocked down Dembski’s use of Complex Specified Information to make a Design Inference.

    Once again, I have put a post up at Panda’s Thumb pointing this out. It should appear there by tomorrow morning.

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  13. EricMH,

    Thank you for your response.

    It is true that Dembski’s approach is not Bayesian, and that is precisely one of its main shortcomings.

    I refer you to a post made here 5 years ago by Elizabeth Liddle who clarifies where Dembski’s method goes wrong. It is a basic but fairly common error, and as a consequence his (and your) conclusion isn’t what you claim it is.

    To quote from her post:

    “Both the concept of CSI (and friends) and the concept of Irreducible Complexity depend on the principle that phenomenon X can be demonstrated to be improbable under some null i.e. have a low Fisherian p value. But what we want to know (…) is not how probable our observations (or “Target” as Dembski calls it) are if a hypothesis is true, but how probable it is that the hypothesis is true. And Fisherian hypothesis testing simply does not give you that probability. And worse – a Fisherian p value is only as good as the definition of your null – it only tells you that your observations are unlikely under the null that you tested, which brings us back to the good old eleP(T|H)ant in the room.”

    The probability that Dembski computes is not the (low) probability of something being the product of ‘anything but ID’, it is the (low) probability of something being the product of a very specific null hypothesis: a random process. Since evolution is clearly not a random process, his calculations are irrelevant.

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  14. faded_Glory: It is true that Dembski’s approach is not Bayesian, and that is precisely one of its main shortcomings.

    Crikey, is that it?

    I was giving Eric the benefit of doubt and assumed he was just being sloppy when he announced that “hypothesis testing depends on being able to reject the random hypothesis, i.e. being able to detect when something is not random.” It appears I was mistaken, and now we are taken straight into Nonlin territory:

    2. How do we know something is not random? By rejecting the null hypothesis: “the order we see is just an artifact of randomness”.

    *cringe*

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  15. Corneel,

    To be fair, they don’t claim that they can reject just the random null hypothesis, but all hypotheses consisting of chance + necessity. But when you look at how they do the actual calculations (if they ever do any, that is) you won’t find anything more explicit than just chance.

    Unsurprisingly, because how on Earth are you going to calculate the probability of outcomes from complex systems made up of many interacting steps, some of which can be viewed as random, others are driven by physical and chemical regularities, plus a hefty dose of feedback loops? You would need to build highly intricate stochastic models of real biological systems with all their complexities.

    I have seen such models of physical systems (dynamic petroleum reservoir models), but even though these are very complex they are nowhere near what you would need to model actual ecosystems.

    Until we have that ability, most of the ID calculations are incomplete and simply premature.

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  16. Yes, what Dembski failed to rule out was a nonrandom process, natural selection. His 2002 Law of Conservation of Complex Specified Information was incorrectly formulated to rule that out. So it got quietly dropped from the argument. Then in 2006 the argument was reformulated so he does not rule out natural selection, instead he has you do that by some method you figure out, not him. So once you have ruled out NS, you get to call the highly-adapted pattern CSI. Then he can turn around and say, see, seeing CSI means NS did not do it.

    Which is true, but shows that the part about seeing CSI is now a useless add-on. You already showed (somehow) that NS didn’t do it, even before you asked about CSI.

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  17. Noob here. Isn’t that assuming your conclusion?

    Ten years ago it looked ID only worked if you ignored selection (including purifying selection). Has anything happened since then?

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  18. Corneel,

    Just to kill a bit of time, I went back to that Nonlin thread and read though a few pages (until it fizzled out to the usual noise level).

    It served to remind me of the horrors caused by the word ‘random’.

    My latest resolution is now:

    – if I mean ‘stochastic’, I will say stochastic.
    – if I mean ‘equiprobable’, I will say equiprobable.
    – if I mean ‘arbitrary’, I will say arbitrary.
    – if I mean ‘unguided’, I will say unguided.
    – if I mean ‘mindless’, I will say mindless.

    But I will never, ever say ‘random’ (unless I quote someone else, or respond to them whilst unable to get clarification – in which case I would probably be better of not responding at all).

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  19. faded_Glory: But I will never, ever say ‘random’ …

    Saying “random” is okay if you are doing mathematics and using “random” as a technical term within probability theory.

    But, yes, I agree with you that any other use tends to confuse.

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  20. petrushka,

    Ten years ago it looked ID only worked if you ignored selection (including purifying selection). Has anything happened since then?

    The empirical evidence is showing there is less function to select from as we observe more complexity and amino acid sequence preservation over long time periods.

    Natural selection only becomes relevant if there are lots of selectable steps in the sequence.

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  21. colewd: Natural selection only becomes relevant if there are lots of selectable steps in the sequence.

    Did you just set yourself up to have to prove a negative? 😀

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  22. Corneel,

    Did you just set yourself up to have to prove a negative?

    Good catch 🙂 But unless the steps are reasonably close together then your are essentially dealing mostly with just random change.

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  23. Neil Rickert: But, yes, I agree with you that any other use tends to confuse.

    The confusion is a feature of the argument, not a bug.

    ID has, since Dembski, been about using mathbabble to distract from the mathematics of cumulative change, and from the underlying chemistry and biology, where cumulative change is observed, and populations do not simply die off without leaving descendants or cousins.

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  24. colewd: The empirical evidence is showing there is less function to select from as we observe more complexity and amino acid sequence preservation over long time periods.

    No it isn’t showing that at all. You’re blathering again.

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  25. colewd: But unless the steps are reasonably close together then your are essentially dealing mostly with just random change

    Conservation through deep time falsifies that hypothesis, since mostly random change over the course of hundreds of millions of years would erase all sequence similarity, but thanks for playing, buddy! Maybe next time.

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  26. I’m curious to know if you accept accept common descent, Eric . And if you do, do you think our ancestors also have immaterial minds. Does it go all the way back to LUCA? if it doesn’t, when did we start having immaterial minds and how do you reckon the transition happened? how different were the direct ancestors of the individuals that sported immaterial minds? Were their ancestors able to communicate with their immaterial-minded progeny?

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  27. Neil Rickert: Saying “random” is okay if you are doing mathematics and using “random” as a technical term within probability theory.

    But, yes, I agree with you that any other use tends to confuse.

    This technical mathematical term, does it equate with ‘stochastic’, ‘equiprobable’, neither or both?

    In the field of reservoir modelling that I am familiar with, when people say ‘random’ they usually simply mean ‘stochastic’. The distributions of most variables there are anything but equiprobable (most are Normal, Lognormal, Triangular or Poisson distributions), and ‘random’ certainly doesn’t mean that, in this context. Possibly the only times here when ‘random’ means both stochastic and equiprobable is when we talk about the starting seed of a simulation run, and the ‘counters’ used to sample the various distributions in order to populate the cells of the models.

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  28. dazz,

    Conservation through deep time falsifies that hypothesis, since mostly random change over the course of hundreds of millions of years would erase all sequence similarity, but thanks for playing, buddy! Maybe next time.

    So random change is being blocked. How does the sequence evolve?

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  29. faded_Glory: This technical mathematical term, does it equate with ‘stochastic’, ‘equiprobable’, neither or both?

    It is not explicitly defined. Rather, it is implicitly defined by the way that it is used within the theory.

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  30. dazz, to Eric:

    …when did we start having immaterial minds and how do you reckon the transition happened? how different were the direct ancestors of the individuals that sported immaterial minds? Were their ancestors able to communicate with their immaterial-minded progeny?

    Imagine how awkward it would have been to fall in love with someone, only to find out that they didn’t have an immaterial mind. If you went ahead and married, would your kids have immaterial minds? Maybe only one hemisphere had an immaterial mind associated with it.

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  31. colewd: So random change is being blocked. How does the sequence evolve?

    For the umptieth time, the sequence must have evolved under functional constrains, or else no similarity would be found. And if it evolved while being functional, it evolved through random mutation and natural selection.

    Is that a retraction anyway? Or will you keep repeating the same debunked nonsense in 5 minutes? Don’t bother responding, I already know the answer.

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  32. keiths:
    dazz, to Eric:

    Imagine how awkward it would have been to fall in love with someone, only to find out that they didn’t have an immaterial mind.If you went ahead and married, would your kids have immaterial minds?Maybe only one hemisphere had an immaterial mind associated with it.

    Yeah, Keiths, I know. It’s a huge problem. That’s why I always have girls pass a Turing test in our first date. For some reason I never get a second date, not sure why

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  33. dazz,

    Is that a retraction anyway? Or will you keep repeating the same debunked nonsense in 5 minutes? Don’t bother responding, I already know the answer.

    Do you realize you are begging the question? You are lost in evolutionary circular reasoning ie you are assuming the evolution of the protein to make your case. What we are seeing is a protein that is very mutationally sensitive in the system it operates. How did it get into this condition? Evolution by natural selection is probably not the answer.

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  34. colewd:
    dazz,

    Do you realize you are begging the question?You are lost in evolutionary circular reasoning ie you are assuming the evolution of the protein to make your case.What we are seeing is a protein that is very mutationally sensitive in the system it operates.How did it get into this condition?Evolution by natural selection is probably not the answer.

    No, I’m not begging the question since natural selection, unlike ID, entails sequence conservation. Let’s face it, Bill, this is super basic stuff and you’ll never get it. You’re just saying that because I told you Eric’s “argument” begs the question badly, and all you always do is this “right back at you” childish comeback

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  35. dazz,

    No, I’m not begging the question since natural selection, unlike ID, entails sequence conservation.

    So what’s up with the claim that ID does not entail sequence conservation?

    For evolution you need sequence variation yet natural selection entails conservation. Your only out here has been to beg the question assuming the existence of a working protein by natural selection.

    What you are lacking here is a creative force to solve this conundrum.

    You’re just saying that because I told you Eric’s “argument” begs the question badly

    I was pointing out question begging as you assumed a working protein by natural selection. Where again did you think Eric was question begging? What is he assuming.

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  36. Rumraket,

    Branching descent with modification.

    Some of the evidence does but it also shows preservation over time indicating limited substitutability. It is also showing more complex function as we understand the cell better. The ubiquitin system and sumo systems are examples.

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  37. colewd:
    Do you realize you are begging the question? You are lost in evolutionary circular reasoning ie you are assuming the evolution of the protein to make your case.

    Thinking what would be the case for X given evolution, then checking is not begging the question, it’s formulating hypotheses and then testing them. We normally think of evolutionary explanations because there’s no contenders. At least no scientifically sustainable ones. ID has too many problems to make it into a list of potential solutions. While some IDiots try and engage in science to make their case, they jump over all the necessary scientific and philosophical foundations needed to get started, they try hard to find gaps in knowledge, when they want to make a positive case for design they actually beg the question, they cherry pick and ignore further data when it’s explained to them, etc.

    colewd:
    What we are seeing is a protein that is very mutationally sensitive in the system it operates.

    Sure. That’s what we observe. We can hypothesize negative selection, and lo and behold, we find the traces left by such. But that’s not what you’re asking.

    colewd:
    How did it get into this condition? Evolution by natural selection is probably not the answer.

    Of course not. Natural selection is only part of the answer. To get a complete picture we’d need more information to try and reconstruct the history of the molecule and it’s molecular and functional context. Mere high conservation won’t do. Finding that it’s under purifying selection won’t do either because, as you pointed out, quite appropriately, that’s after “getting into that condition.”

    But surely you’re not saying that if we haven’t reconstructed the history of every molecule and every gene we should run towards a “designer” scientifically-and-philosophically problematic non-explanation, right? Lack of information means lack of information and nothing else. Right? We’re not in apologetics god-of-the-gaps school, right?

    I could explain how things start resolving for some cases, but I think this point should suffice for now.

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  38. Entropy,

    Lack of information means lack of information and nothing else. Right? We’re not in apologetics god-of-the-gaps school, right?

    We have information which is that minds are a valid mechanisms for creating sequences as mass is a valid mechanism for curving space-time. I think we have common ground that the other 4 forces are unlikely mechanisms for the sequences we are observing.

    Aside from the ideological implications why not explore this idea?

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  39. swamidass,

    I followed you link and actually signed up to PS, but this particular topic doesn’t show a Reply button for me. Other topics do. Am I doing something wrong?

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  40. faded_Glory:
    swamidass,

    I followed you link and actually signed up to PS, but this particular topic doesn’t show a Reply button for me. Other topics do. Am I doing something wrong?

    Try again now.

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  41. colewd: Aside from the ideological implications why not explore this idea?

    When asked the most basic question regarding how the intelligent designer acts you say it’s “above your pay grade”.

    So, given that, why don’t you explore this idea? After all, it’s your idea!?

    But given you yourself fall at the first hurdle how can you possibly expect others to do better?

    To people like you the reasons your “ideas” don’t get the praise they deserve is entirely the fault of the other person. The reason your “ideas” get ignored is because the other people don’t like the “ideological implications”.

    You are simply wrong. Your ideas are garbage. Explore what idea? The idea that minds can create sequences? Well, guess what, we know that already! I’m doing it now!

    So, what sort of mind is it you suggest we investigate next? Now that we’ve succeeded so well with the first? Oh, but wait. That is “above your pay grade”.

    I guess it’s ID that’s the real science stopper then! Unless that is you can come up with a way to progress your idea!

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