Why does the DI avoid ‘design’ by non-IDists (read: most normal people)? Yes, design is obvious, just not IDism.

TSZ Moderator Mung wrote over at PS about why he is a design proponent (https://discourse.peacefulscience.org/t/why-i-am-an-id-proponent/2955):

“[I] believe that design is obvious.”

Let’s be clearer and more accurate with our words than are most IDists at the Discovery Institute (DI) based in Seattle. I as well as most, if not all ‘skeptics’ here believe ‘human design’ is obvious. More importantly, however, so do most actual ‘design theorists’ around the world. Do you agree with us about the obvious reality of ‘human design’, Mung, or not?

IDists based at the epicentre of IDism at the DI in Seattle, as well as those who associate themselves with ‘Intelligent Design’ pretty much everywhere else globally, generally refuse to identify & discuss those ‘design theories’ as legitimate scholarship. Why? Is it an unspoken rule their followers are required to obey? Is it just a more than significant oversight on their part which they are innocent for making? Why otherwise would the DI studiously avoid, except for little nibbles of exposure here or there, a rather significant & well-attended field of study already in existence, using the same exact term as theirs: ‘design’?

Is it fathomable that this is because the DI knows that if they were to expose legitimate ‘design theorists’ who reject IDism as voices in their media echo chambers, those scholars & scientists, philosophers & even sometimes theologians, might outshine their own reactionary politically-oriented ‘intelligent design theories’ (acknowledging it the way they always officially write it now, in lowercase form, according to DI hidden policy) and thus upset the Founders & Donors of the IDM?

Non-IDists, however, who are far & away the vast majority of normal people, know that the DI is hiding inconvenient facts like that there are large numbers of non-persecuted ‘design theorists’ out there doing just fine. Hurrah, would anyone at the DI say for those ‘design theorists’? The DI is intent on pushing a culture-warring political narrative to oppose what it calls ‘cultural materialism’ (& other such names in their rhetorical playbooks, still drawn largely along the lines of the lawyerly Phillip Johnson days). Are you aware of any of this, Mung? And if you are, then why don’t you take some intellectual, political or at least financial stand against what they are doing?

“The only contender for explaining the appearance of design is Darwinism.” – Mung

This is incorrect. The actuality of ‘design’ (meaning philosophically speaking; being, existing, essence, substantiated, manifest, etc., yet somehow the ‘intelligence’ again here got dropped, in order to focus on the DI’s supersized ‘D’-word), not just the mere ‘appearance’ (cf. inferentialism) of ‘design’ (with a little ‘d’), has little to nothing to do with ‘Darwinism.’ There are thus good reasons the DI runs away from public conversations about proper & improper uses of their grammar, since they have invested such a massive stake in their credibility upon that one devastatingly ‘obvious’ term.

NB: Mung, I would rather prefer that you, & other IDists or fideists here *not* mention ‘Darwinism’ because it is clearly, already & long enough ago the wrong term for this discussion at the front lines. The actuality of ‘human design’ & community of its ‘designers’ has already been validated by more than enough scholars & scientists to have achieved ‘consensus’ & just by its existence negates the DI’s cries of injustice & unfairness against ‘design theorists’ & ‘design thinking’ in the Academy & higher education. There is simply a consensus about ‘design’ that the DI blatantly ignores.

In this author’s humble opinion, the DI does this so that they can play themselves off to their funding channels as vicitimised underdogs who made a genius discovery about ‘information’ & ‘intelligence’ (they apparently negate materialism, full stop) that all people everywhere should ‘scientific’ evangelicalistically learn about it (but they admit not yet ready for schools). And as you know, with ‘ID’ (so cute & easy to think of as a cross between Identity – ID & Intelligence Quota – IQ) the DI deep down believes their theory holds implications for, as Behe not-humbly stated, “all humane studies.” What is this other than mousetrap-style nonsense & exaggeration parading as Science?

“There is no design in nature. More specifically, there is no design in biology. Contra Darwin. Contra Dawkins. etc. That’s one way to approach it. Who are the proponents of that position?” – Mung (edited to remove the superfluous inferentialist ‘appearance of’)

So yeah, I’m a proponent of that position. The concept of ‘design’ is largely considered now just (read: has become) a category error in biology, pure & simple. End of story. Stop blaming anyone for this except the DI & the IDM themselves. The shame of endless lobbying & propagandising remains. Theists especially don’t need to use ‘design’ to create an Engineer’s God made in their own image & don’t think the DI following Thaxton, Bradley & Olsen, Johnson, Behe, Meyer, Chapman, West, Gordon, Nelson & others has reinvented sliced bread. It’s an embarrassment to scholarship and intellectual integrity!

Perceiving things this way of course runs contra Dembski, contra Behe, contra Meyer, contra West, contra Wells, contra Axe, contra Gonzales, contra Gauger, contra Denton (with his engaging numbness to Design, likewise contra Berlinski), contra Marks, contra Ewert & other ideological IDists who do not know the appropriate and proper limits to ‘designist’ thinking and engage in ‘intelligence faking.’ These are not appropriately trained, honestly aspiring (double-talking, polemical rhetoric, etc.) or philosophically well-balanced scholars (Meyer’s dissertation at Cambridge is funny – he started it by redefining ‘history’ to suit his ideology). The DI invested in a religious-political platform for themselves (built also around Gilder’s radical economic futuristics) through institutional channels & has milked their funding bodies for ‘fear capital’ to stay afloat as they propagandise & polemicise the US cultural landscape. This is the basic sociological reality of the IDM & it’s proponents at the DI.

So, are you part of that ‘evangelical milking’ via allegiance to a linguistic frame of communicating that smacks of ‘designist’ ideology? Such is the blatant strategy & the provocative motif of the DI in their outward communications, Mung. Think ‘design/Design’ as much as you can & you may lose some of the richness that remains in the larger Narrative. If you wish to seek greater balance, how then do you distinguish yourself from the DI’s on-going propaganda & oftentimes petty (Klinghoffer & O’Leary at the moment) divisive culture warring, such that you would fit ‘design’ in among several other categories of ideas, rather than priviledging & lofting it up on high as Seattle’s DI & their little satellites do?

Rejecting ‘design in nature’ is also, those early readers here might remember as there was a disturbance with him at UD, a position that runs contra Adrian Bejan, an atheist-egoist Romanian thermodynamicist whose work the DI likewise all but silences by conveniently ignoring it. Not unlike deplatforming, these omissions by the DI are from adequately engaging with ‘design theory,’ design theorists, designers themselves, and now the work of an author who uses the same language as they do: ‘design in nature.’ His only crime, it seems? Being an atheist. Otherwise, why wouldn’t the DI be all over this person who is more credentialled & sought after for speaking invitations than most of their entire ‘faculty of thinkers’ at their Think Tank with his ‘design in nature’ theory & ‘constructal law’? Is that simply ‘too scientific’ for the DI, whose Biologic Institute just isn’t about physics; a biology-only research logic & strategy for funding purposes to feed their self-proclaimed ‘revolution’?

S. Joshua Swamidass (WUSTL) is of course partly correct when he notes in the same thread to Mung that, “The appearance of design, outside of [natural] scientific study, is not actually ID.” Yes, but the DI is slippery about it. Joshua & I & many others reject Mung’s (& Behe’s & the ‘philosophers’ of the IDM) ‘obvious design’ view of IDism. The category error isn’t something most IDists will own up to with their rhetoric.

The continued & well-thought out rejection of IDism/IDT by Abrahamic theists must unfortunately offend the purists at the DI. That seems to matter little at this point, however, for all they’ve willingly put themselves through in order to reinvent the ‘D-word’ & risk offending others who see a better more constructive way forward. Most people are rather well aware that applied sciences (from engineering to creative arts & business) use ‘design thinking’ regularly, while IDists stick their heads in the sand in denial about it.

Swamidass, on the other hand, is clearly self-selective with his recent memory, for example, when he argues: “I would not associate with any organization that makes bad arguments for evolution.”

This is false, as on the individual level Joshua would rather defend atheist cultural evolutionists, than actually taking effort to listen to an alternative to his oftentimes superficial ideological positioning re: MN & creationism. As a result, we get what appears as almost ‘universal evolutionism’ sometimes from Swamidass; he just doesn’t know where to stop the notion of ‘evolving’ in the natural world!

Joshua continues: “Why do you think I left BioLogos?”

As a note of private research, I’ve been watching Swamidass’ heroic genetical Adamics & genealogicalistics closely since he began going public not long ago with his works at BioLogos, after being invited there to join them in Francis Collins’ project. Let’s set the record straight; Joshua left BioLogos not long after accusing them of being racist towards him. The record shows, however, that he was himself the initiator of ‘racism talk’ there & so it went quickly downhill.

The suggestion that Swamidass, newly blessed with tenure in Missouri, didn’t actively escalate his challenge to likewise philosophically almost illiterate geneticist Dennis Venema in B.C. (TWU) & puff up his chest towards his fellow evangelicals & their specific ‘mission’ at BioLogos is highly misleading. Joshua is still swimming in the same waters with BioLogos-style evangelicals & now wishes to pose a kind of ‘fifth voice’ challenge to them (that’s why he got bombarded from fellow USAmericans with concern for his ‘faith & politics’ when he posted about BioLogos as possibly being called ‘post-evangelicals,’ when it appears he is more one himself!) in generating a swarm of potentially highly divisive genealogical Adamistics around his own research & “Science of Adam” book plans. He just doesn’t seem to realise the consequences his provocations so far & people at PS so far aren’t pressing him for answers about it.

“If someone has a better alternative than ‘Intelligent Design’ I don’t know what it is.” – Mung

Noted with thanks, you capitalised ‘Intelligent Design’ because that is the proper & most accurate way to signify what the DI means by it, even though they lack the courage & dignity to write & clarify that openly in public. The DI’s ‘strictly scientific’ IDism (they call it IDT) requirement bars them from speaking with the honesty that you have just displayed. Why do you think they can’t allow themselves to properly capitalise ‘Intelligent Design’ since everyone knows via ‘father of the IDM’ Phillip Johnson what they really mean? It is left as one of those mysteries of the Pacific mindset that the DI still holds itself back from wider credibility through such manoeuvers.

If you mean you believe that biology is ‘Designed by God’ then by all means, yes say that is what you intended, Mung. This is much preferred to instead parading around duplicitously as the DI still does further degrading themselves as interlocutors (e.g. Klinghoffer). Even Vincent Torley, who has now unofficially left the IDM, properly capitalises that term! As religious monotheists, we already accept a ‘Designed’ world in the capitalised sense without trying to ‘scientise’ our theological orientation in order to overcome local schoolboard restrictions based on the US Constitution. The rest of us acknowledge divine Creation, instead of harping on ‘Design’ & trying to ‘scientise’ it.

As for alternatives, I use an inherently teleological term ‘extension,’ that doesn’t double-talk like the DI does between human design & Divine Design. That’s a much better approach than IDism don’t you think, Mung? Human extension has also been considerably more impactful not only just ‘within’ social sciences & humanities, but also as applied in societies globally, than either ‘mere design’ or ‘actual evolution.’ Cultural evolutionists of course disagree with both my position and claims of any alternatives to their ‘theory’, while still pushing ahead their Darwin-disenchanted views of human society without meaningful hope of finding ‘strictly scientific’ evidence for their anti-IDT grand ideological, usually religion-substitute plans for ‘evolution’ to conceptually rule the realm of culture & ideas.

At the end of the day, human agency & free will aren’t easily persuaded that they don’t exist. ; ) They simply don’t package deterministically into a repeatable, verifiable ‘mechanism’ of change-over-time for evolutionists to justify cocking & crowing about themselves as ‘sustainable development gurus!’ (https://evolution-institute.org/) At the same time, through the DI’s apologetic faith-channels mainly only flat-minded fools are still falling for their IDism anymore. Better options are now available that are not myopically focussed on a single word or bent towards skepticism &/or atheism. Maybe Mung just needs another inspiration that is doing something actually ‘scientific’ approach to join in with rather than maintaining allegiance to & support of the DI? It sounds like he’s ready for some non-evolutionary change.

140 thoughts on “Why does the DI avoid ‘design’ by non-IDists (read: most normal people)? Yes, design is obvious, just not IDism.

  1. Gregory,

    You lost me about here:

    “IDists based at the epicentre of IDism at the DI in Seattle, as well as those who associate themselves with ‘Intelligent Design’ pretty much everywhere else globally, generally refuse to identify & discuss those ‘design theories’ as legitimate scholarship. Why?

  2. In short, IDists “generally refuse to identify & discuss those ‘design theories’ as legitimate scholarship.”

    To IDists, ‘design theorists’ are a persecuted minority, rather than a credible, professional group of scholars actually working on ‘designing’ & ‘design’.

  3. Gregory:
    In short, IDists “generally refuse to identify & discuss those ‘design theories’ as legitimate scholarship.”

    To IDists, ‘design theorists’ are a persecuted minority, rather than a credible, professional group of scholars actually working on ‘designing’ & ‘design’.

    I’m not sure if you are responding to me but please put it in simple words what your issue is, so that everyone can get it…Otherwise Byers are going to chip in and you are going to think they comment on a different OP.

    Side one. Not meant to be offensive: You and Torley have a thing for writing essays that can, and should be, summed up in few sentences…

  4. This is messy OP. Anyway, if we’re “confessing,” I reject the bullshit of ID-creationism because it’s a philosophical travesty.

    Oh, before anybody starts crying “no, ID is not religious,” sorry, but it is. Even if some IDiots were sincerely trying to make it scientific, just by following the philosophical problems, they’d had to admit that religion is their only possible “foundation.”

    I think they realize this, and that this is the reason they’re so adamant about not trying to identify “The Designer” (See? singular and capitals because they mean “God,” they cannot help it!). What serious scientific endeavour wouldn’t want to identify the most important player(s) behind their objects of study? How can they even pretend to be sincerely seeking for answers after such travesty of travesties?

  5. In my library:

    What Designers Know
    How Designers Think
    Design Discourse
    Universal Principles of Design

    Not to mention all the titles on software design.

    So yes, I’m aware of design thinking outside of IDT. Are you suggesting that I offer to fund a program to merge the two?

  6. Mung:
    So yes, I’m aware of design thinking outside of IDT. Are you suggesting that I offer to fund a program to merge the two?

    If I understand Gregory, and that is very difficult to do from the way the OP is worded, ID distances itself from real scientists and engineers that actually examine known design. And that is a valid point. How many archaeologists and engineers support ID? Not many.

    But I think the main reason they distance themselves from the people doing real science in the design field is because they know that extrapolating from humans design to biological structures is flawed reasoning. Best not to involve the people who actually understand the limitations of design detection.

  7. Mung:

    Not to mention all the titles on software design.

    These titles might lead you to believe that software design is elegant and precise engineering. But the reality of most development is more like the evolution:

    Characteristics of evolutionary “design”
    – constrained to changes which don’t make the offspring unviable
    – building on what exists, rather than starting fresh, leading to legacy biological layers
    – accepting small changes that work, even though these may not be ideal, rather than seeking an optimum solution

    In real-life software, we have
    – constraints through backwards compatibility (ask Microsoft for details)
    – building on what exists due to legacy code (every internet interface built in COBOL mainframe code, eg your banking mobile app)
    – less than optimum design to get quickest solution leading to technical debt, a deficiency due to today’s agile (ie evolutionary) software development approaches.

    I wonder if there are books already on this analogy. Do you have any in your library? Maybe titles like “Darwin’s Legacy Code”, or the “Darwin’s Design Patterns”, or “The Elements of Darwin’s Programming Style”.

    (Of course, every popular book about evolution, whether pro or con, must include ‘Darwin’ in its title. Say what you want about his ideas, but that name sells books!)

  8. Entropy,

    “if we’re ‘confessing,’ I reject the bullshit of ID-creationism because it’s a philosophical travesty.”

    Well, it is Joshua who wants you to ‘confess’ over at PS, which seems to be one of his primary motives there; taking, nay almost forcing ‘confessions’ from people who visit, presumably so they can become ‘evangelicals’ like him.

    As for me, I’m just pointing out that the ‘obvious design’ that Mung speaks about is actually AGREED by everyone here … when it comes to ‘human design.’

    Do you agree that ‘design’ is a legitimate term for human-made things?

  9. Mung,

    So yes, I’m aware of design thinking outside of IDT. Are you suggesting that I offer to fund a program to merge the two?

    Good for you, Mung! You’re thus a non-IDM proponent of ‘lowercase design’. As well, it seems you are also an IDM-like proponent of uppercase (divine) Design, which they almost always now decapitalise for political reasons & propaganda.

    Do you wish to set up a fund in order to attempt a ‘merger’? That would be a lot better than spending money on DI books, that’s for sure! However, I’m afraid if you don’t fund an IDist in the project, that goal would eventually lead to the collapse of the IDM because their position is unsustainable.

    As for me, I would (am going to) be totally fine with the collapse of the IDM & the end of the Center for Science and Culture. If you have funds to earmark for a better solution than theirs, then I’m all ears, publicly or by private message.

    In my view, it’s an absurd shame that the DI has gotten to where it has & also how it treats devout religious scientists who calmly, clearly & effectively reject its IDist ideology. Yet they behave as if they are innocent of any & all charges just because they are evangelising it through a ‘think tank.’

  10. Acartia,

    “ID distances itself from real scientists and engineers that actually examine known design. And that is a valid point.”

    Thank you, yes, I agree that is what the DI does.

    “they know that extrapolating from humans design to biological structures is flawed reasoning. Best not to involve the people who actually understand the limitations of design detection.”

    Yes, the DI has shown itself uninterested & uncommitted to identifying any limits to ‘design detection.’ Much like Bejan, they have become fanatical about ‘design in nature,’ unbecoming of taking a balanced approach.

  11. BruceS,
    You wrote: “the reality of most development is more like the evolution”

    I doubt this & wonder if you’ve got your terms clearly defined. When you speak of “evolutionary ‘design’,” you are clearly both 1) in the minority, & 2) dehumanising the conversation with unnecessary linguistic equivocation.

    To be clearer, the term ‘development’ (software, culture, etc.) cannot easily (without much mangling) be REDUCED to being merely an ‘evolutionary’ process. Indeed, the term ‘development’ is much more widely used than the term ‘evolution’ and most often people who speak of it use it loosely, colloquially, without rigour.

    Google Ngram – “development/evolution”

    “today’s agile (ie evolutionary) software development approaches.”

    No, that’s just development. Agile doesn’t change that. No need to invoke ‘evolution’ here at all as it adds nothing of value that is not already known & included in ‘development’ literature.

    Why the desire to call software development ‘evolution’ when, just as much as with ‘Design’ in biology, it is a category error?

    Intentional, goal-oriented, agent-involved, teleological change-over-time (software development) has better descriptive term than ‘evolution’. That should be clear to anyone who is not an ‘externalist’ (read: evolutionist) philosopher of human activity. As soon as ‘choice’ & ‘direction’ are involved (like with software), i.e. choice of development for project requirements, scope, tools, needs, etc., then ‘evolution’ is a weak and poor metaphor. This needs to be more widely known & practised via proper grammar.

  12. I love how Mung is asked over at PS to give an argument for why he believes in ID, and after claiming that he rejects bad arguments, proceeds to advance an obviously fallacious one:

    Mung: the arguments which point out the insufficiencies of Darwinism

    LOL

  13. Acartia: If I understand Gregory, and that is very difficult to do from the way the OP is worded, ID distances itself from real scientists and engineers that actually examine known design. And that is a valid point.

    If it’s true it’s a valid point. Not being privy to the conversations Gregory has had with the DI I don’t know if it’s true.

    And even if the DI is not actively seeking to distance itself from ‘design’ I utterly agree with Gregory about an apparent lack of engagement with something that one would think would be an obvious area for exploration.

  14. Gregory: To be clearer, the term ‘development’ (software, culture, etc.) cannot easily (without much mangling) be REDUCED to being merely an ‘evolutionary’ process.

    As far as I know, BruceS is not a reductionist. There was no intended “REDUCED to” in what he posted.

    And there’s nothing “merely” about evolutionary processes.

    Why the desire to call software development ‘evolution’ when, just as much as with ‘Design’ in biology, it is a category error?

    As far as I know, BruceS has actually worked in software development. Perhaps he actually knows what he is talking about.

    Intentional, goal-oriented, agent-involved, teleological change-over-time (software development) has better descriptive term than ‘evolution’.

    “Intentional, goal-oriented, agent-involved, teleological change-over-time” sound like a pretty good description of evolution. Okay, it doesn’t apply to stellar evolution in astro-physics. But it fits biological evolution pretty well.

    Yes, I know that biologists prefer to avoid the term “teleological” and philosophers probably don’t like to ascribe agency to a bacterium. But I’m okay with both of those.

  15. Neil Rickert,

    You don’t speak easily about culture & society, that’s understood, Neil. Software development is meant as a subset of human development, which exceeds the lower biological ‘evolutionary’ layer of discourse.

    Re: ideological reductionism, people can engage in ‘reducing’ explanations without being ideological reductionists.

    There’s a lot about ‘merely’ biological when the main topic is actually sociological, cultural, political, religious or linguistic. Priviledging biology here is ill-advised.

    “it fits biological evolution pretty well.”

    No, it really doesn’t and it’s not what biologists themselves write in their works. The category error is profound & obvious, yet you seem intent to perpetuate it. Don’t feel ashamed, so did Dobzhansky, who was indeed a great geneticist. Nevertheless, his mangling of English (& Russian) with his use of ‘cultural evolution’ has had a terrible influence of disempowerment & dehumanisation, & even still by others more than him. Yes, this is still happening today.

    Agent-oriented thinking, doing ‘science’ about human-made things, with interpersonal relations, institutions, ideas, creativity, etc. is simply not suitable to be ‘reduced’ to evolutionary biology, the particular jargon of that field included. Do we really not agree on this? This deficit of ‘evolutionism’ means we need different concepts to describe what is going on in terms of ‘change-over-time’ in those different fields of study (& please don’t get started on evopsych or evoanthro). The DI makes a similar mistake to its biologist opponents by not including human designers & the study of ‘designing’. This reveals opposing ‘sides’ in the current landscape of discussants about IDT/IDism, ID, the IDM, BioLogos, etc. within the wider science, philosophy and theology/worldview discourse.

    There are few social scientists here & not a credible skeptic philosopher, only philosophists. It has been a pattern that exaggerations of the term evolution beyond biology abound here at TSZ. Surely you are not denying that, Neil?

  16. Mung,

    Kind of a silly comparison, a noun & a proper name, stuck in a rut of DI-politicised apologetics. Repetitive pleading for IDism to gain a foothold. But that’s only ‘them,’ of course, right Mung, not you? ; )

  17. Gregory:

    I doubt this & wonder if you’ve got your terms clearly defined. When you speak of “evolutionary ‘design’,” you are clearly both 1) in the minority, & 2) dehumanising the conversation with unnecessary linguistic equivocation.

    Along with J-Mac, you too mystify me,. Gregory. My limitation, of course.

    I was trying to make the semi-serious point that some of the characteristics we (or at least I) associate with the appearance of design in biological evolution are also visible in software design and development. The latter is the one thing I claim expertise in (at least up to 2010 or so). I admit to retirement-driven dilettantism in the philosophy and in the science I pontificate about.

    As best I can tell, you have read a subtext into my post that I did not intend. I’m not saying that your deconstruction of my post is wrong, only that what you read in it was not consciously intended. At least, to the extent my own psychology does not mystify me.

    I will apologize if I was not clear that I was referring to the consensus view of biological evolution and to common software development practices. And I certainly agree that design by intelligent agents is altogether different from appearance of design in evolution.

    Does the phrase “appearance of design” cause you concern?. If so, good. It’s one that deserves some deconstruction, I think.

  18. Gregory: There’s a lot about ‘merely’ biological when the main topic is actually sociological, culture, political, religious or linguistic.

    You have obviously missed the point — both BruceS’s point and my point.

    Biological evolution is predominantly trial and error (by organisms) with pragmatic selection of what works.

    Software development is largely trial and error (by developers) with pragmatic selection of what works.

    Yes, there is also an initial design phase with software. But initial designs never work, and much of the development work takes place during the testing phase.

  19. I think that the key metaphysical distinction is nicely captured by the difference between “design” and “Creation”. As Kant puts it in his critique of the argument from design, this argument can teach us that there is a very powerful designer or demiurge but not that there is a supremely powerful (also supremely good and wise) Creator.

    There are two related epistemological distinctions to note: empirical/a priori and observed/posited. The official position of the Design Institute seems to be that design is posited to explain what is observed. It amounts to an inference to the best explanation (IBE): based on what we observe (“functional specified complexity”), we infer design as the most likely explanation.

    And since this is pretty much the same pattern of thought that characterizes the sciences, it’s perfectly apt to complain about “scientism” or even a “scientistic” perversion of “faith” (given other background assumptions about the science/religion distinction).

  20. Kantian Naturalist:
    based on what we observe (“functional specified complexity”), we infer design as the most likely explanation.

    Whose the “we”, Kemosabe? Was that pronoun meant to refer to IDists? Others of course would want some scientifically justified CSI measurement technique first.

    I agree IBE pervades science, but the meaning of “best” and “explanation” differs. Maybe inference too (eg in the norms for objective/ intersubjective process for determining to what constitutes a sound inference).

  21. BruceS: Whose the “we”, Kemosabe? Was that pronoun meant to refer to IDists? Others of course would want some scientifically justified CSI measurement technique first.

    Sorry, i was being unclear about the “we”. I didn’t mean to imply that “complex specified information” is widely accepted and used. I’m of the view that design theory fails to get out of the gate because it hasn’t come up with any non-question-begging way of measuring “complex specified information”. So I don’t see any need for “design” as an inference to the best explanation for CSI.

  22. “design theory fails to get out of the gate”

    That’s an ignorant thing to say with all the ‘design theory’ that *does* ‘get out of the gate.’ Simply pick another channel & dial ‘design theory’ again so that you’re not stuck equivocating that ‘design theory’ is captive to the ‘Intelligent Design’ ideology coming from Seattle. A simple search engine with ‘design theory’ will help you wake up from the above claim; we have TONS of ‘design theory’ working quite well already, thanks! ; )

  23. BruceS: Along with J-Mac, you too mystify me

    I’m mystifying you? How come?
    I’m as clear cut as it can get…
    Have you ever caught me contradicting myself or my views?

  24. Gregory: Well, it is Joshua who wants you to ‘confess’ over at PS, which seems to be one of his primary motives there; taking, nay almost forcing ‘confessions’ from people who visit, presumably so they can become ‘evangelicals’ like him.

    What is Swamidass confessing exactly and what does he want others to confess?

    All he had asked me was whether I was trying to get banned…

  25. Gregory:
    Do you agree that ‘design’ is a legitimate term for human-made things?

    Why wouldn’t I? After all, we gave it that name.

  26. Entropy: Why wouldn’t I? After all, we gave it that name.

    Who does ‘we’ denote? Design is used in a religiously plural way & does not privilege the religious, non-religious or irreligious in the conversation.

  27. Gregory: Who does ‘we’ denote? Design is used in a religiously plural way & does not privilege the religious, non-religious or irreligious in the conversation.

    I’m puzzled.

    In context, Entropy’s statement made perfect sense. I don’t know why you are questioning it.

  28. I guess that’s what happens sometimes when people answer a question, not directly, but rather instead with a question (“Why wouldn’t I?”). ; )

    Naming is not usually something to take lightly. So, who does the ‘we’ signify because one cannot simply assume they speak for ‘all of humanity’ in their statements nowadays! That would likely just sound like woo. = P

  29. J-Mac: I’m mystifying you? How come?

    I’m mystified by people who think that they, their kids, and a motley collection of YT posters are smarter than thousands and thousands of scientists and philosophers, whose communities include many very intelligent people, and who are motivated by proving each other wrong (among other motivations).

    But, as I said to Gregory, that is my limitation.

    I’ll leave you the final word on that.

  30. BruceS: I’m mystified by people who think that they, their kids, and a motley collection of YT posters are smarter than thousands and thousands of scientists and philosophers, whose communities include many very intelligent people, and who are motivated by proving each other wrong (among other motivations).

    But, as I said to Gregory, that is my limitation.

    I’ll leave you the final word on that.

    I don’t think I think I’m smarter than established scientists…
    The belief that one can do better than them got me to where I am today…Einstein believed he could do better than Newton… I’m teaching my kids the same…

    I have been wrong a lot… but from time to time there is a hint that I might be right… One thing I know for sure…We have been lied to…a lot…If you look at most of my OPs, they are attempts to expose lies…
    Just look at the cosmic microwave background evidence… It contradicts everything that has been established (officially) in cosmology…So, what do you do as the main body of cosmology that worries about the funding for hundreds of thousand of cosmologists? You ignore the facts about CMBs supported by data and you publish the “statement” that by lying about CMBs you are saving the whole science of cosmology…

    Some people might say: What’s wrong with bending the truth a little bit? But not me…

  31. J-Mac: Just look at the cosmic microwave background evidence… It contradicts everything that has been established (officially) in cosmology

    I’m curious about that claim. What does CMB contradict and how?

    ETA are you talking about the “Axis of Evil”?

  32. Neil Rickert: Software development is largely trial and error (by developers) with pragmatic selection of what works.

    Yes, there is also an initial design phase with software. But initial designs never work, and much of the development work takes place during the testing phase.

    That’s the way I coded, but I was never a highly paid wizard. I ran into a guy who could code as fast as I write this sentence.

    It is possible to be fluent in computer languages in the same way on is fluent in human language. I suspect fluency is something that is possible in all endeavors, including engineering and inventing.

    What makes fluency possible is grammar and syntax. You can make new statements in computer language or in engineering to the extent that it is possible to make grammatically correct statements or designs.

    But grammar and syntax are precisely what is missing in genetic code. It is not possible to know if a new sequence will have an effect, or whether the effect will be detrimental or useful. Unless it is not really new. We do build libraries of sequences that have known properties.

    Is it possible for a demiurge or less than omniscient being to be fluent in genetic coding? Possibly, but then one would have to ask how such a being came to be.

  33. Mung,

    The link in this post completely Mungs this thread on my tablet. All replies are shrunk in order to accommodate it on a single line.

  34. “I think that the key metaphysical distinction is nicely captured by the difference between “design” and “Creation”.” – Kantian Naturalist

    Yes, that is a distinction I accept. Add: ‘designer’ & ‘Creator’ & we also agree.

    Of course the main difference between KN & I is that he accepts/believes in only one & I accept both. Is that a ‘difference that makes a difference’?

    As for the epistemological distinctions, parsing & dancing, I’d recommend the reader look elsewhere than KN’s mixed ideological sophistries.

    “it’s perfectly apt to complain about “scientism” or even a “scientistic” perversion of “faith”.”

    Yes, sometimes it almost seems like KN would like some. George Michael after all said we gotta have it. ; ) Why not try?

  35. BruceS: “you too mystify me, Gregory. My limitation, of course.” Later, “But, as I said to Gregory, that is my limitation.” … “…my own psychology does not mystify me.”

    I will apologize if I was not clear that I was referring to theconsensus view of biological evolution and to common software development practices.

    I certainly agree that design by intelligent agents is altogether different from appearance of design in evolution.

    Does the phrase “appearance of design” cause you concern?.If so, good. It’s one that deserves some deconstruction, I think.

    Sure, agreed that we are both limited. And it’s a blog. Your apology is accepted. I kept away for some time & don’t remember you well. Are you active on PS also?

    So, then, glad to ‘mystify’ you if you are the ‘mystical’ type. Hasn’t Jordan Peterson made that popular again anyway? A lot of ‘rationalists’ in contra-distinction to ‘mystics’ here at TSZ, wouldn’t you say? How does one construct a non-physical building?

    “theconsensus view of biological evolution and to common software development practices.”

    That works as a fair distinction.

    “design by intelligent agents is altogether different from appearance of design in evolution.”

    Hmm, ok. I was contrasting ‘design by intelligent agents’ not with ‘design in nature’ a la Adrian Bejan (why aren’t people at least grappling with him in this conversation?), but rather with something like “evolutionary natural history”. Are you rather suggesting as if ‘evolution’ (contrasted with ‘nature’) is an autonomous ‘agent’ (with intentionality, purpose, aim, plan, goal-orientation; telos) of some kind that does ‘designing’ yet explicitly without a divine Mind involved? Is that what you’re speaking about, BruceS?

    “Does the phrase “appearance of design” cause you concern?”

    No, not where I work in the overlaps between sociology, economics, communications & now business. All ‘human-made things’ are ‘designed,’ at least to a small degree (pre-execution, manufacture, build, production, etc.) & some indeed much more rigorously. Thus, I see little need to speak of ‘appearance of design’ as if sociologists were ‘design detectives’ as a primary mode of ‘doing science’ in SSH fields. Almost everything is ‘designed’ in SSH fields, so ‘intelligent design’ (the way the DI doesn’t capitalise it) is a basically a weak, largely irrelevant & mainly pathetic (pathos-driven) postulate. That’s why the DI shut their program down after discussing it with me 10 years ago.

    The amount of ‘design’ time that nowadays goes into making high traffic advertisements, for example, is often astonishing! E.g. ‘designed’ Super Bowl adds. I view the vast majority of IDists as promoting poseur philosophy, not the real thing & little needed for honest & wholesome practical encounters when based on ‘sleight of hand’ coaching from the DI. Eddie at The Hump & PS is an exception, though still an posturing IDist to the core.

    The alternative I prefer is to look at human extension as an example of transevolutionary change. We can commonly agree that there are various ‘extensions of mankind’ in the Anthropocene era. This is what Garvey, his Eddie & their Swamidass have yet to allow themselves to openly confront.

    And what’s your ‘non-skeptical’ mission again here at TSZ, BruceS? Just noticing, are you self-labelled as a “Non-Religious IT Professional” at PS?

  36. Gregory:

    So, then, glad to ‘mystify’ you if you are the ‘mystical’ type.

    […]
    And what’s your ‘non-skeptical’ mission again here at TSZ, BruceS? Just noticing, are you self-labelled as a “Non-Religious IT Professional” at PS?

    Just to be clear: the reason you mystify me, Gregory, is that as best I understand them your comments draw on an academic discipline I know nothing about.

    I participate here because it is intellectually stimulating hobby in my retirement. “Non-religious” at PS means I haven’t thought deeply enough to be more specific. I know that shallowness is a defect.

    On design in biology: as I said, I am not competent to reply to most of your post. What I have looked at is the type of inquiry described at the SEP article Teleological Notions in Biology, which is somewhat dated by still helpful in giving the lay of the land. Some suggestive quotes:

    [Start of quotes]
    Teleological terms such as “function” and “design” appear frequently in the biological sciences. Examples of teleological claims include:

    A (biological) function of stotting by antelopes is to communicate to predators that they have been detected.
    Eagles’ wings are (naturally) designed for soaring.
    […]
    Opinions divide over whether Darwin’s theory of evolution provides a means of eliminating teleology from biology, or whether it provides a naturalistic account of the role of teleological notions in the science. Many contemporary biologists and philosophers of biology believe that teleological notions are a distinctive and ineliminable feature of biological explanations but that it is possible to provide a naturalistic account of their role that avoids the concerns above [which are vitalism, backwards causation, incompatibility with mechanistic explanation, mentalism, unsuitable for empirical test]..

  37. BruceS:
    Opinions divide over whether Darwin’s theory of evolution provides a means of eliminating teleology from biology, or whether it provides a naturalistic account of the role of teleological notions in the science. Many contemporary biologists and philosophers of biology believe that teleological notions are a distinctive and ineliminable feature of biological explanations but that it is possible to provide a naturalistic account of their role that avoids the concerns above [which are vitalism, backwards causation, incompatibility with mechanistic explanation, mentalism, unsuitable for empirical test]..

    Interesting. It seems, though, that teleological explanations abound for two main reasons:

    (1) Given that we’re humans, that our everyday experiences involve teleological shit (intention by other humans), we’d tend to talk in teleological terms, look for “reasons” and “intentions,” whether there’s any such things or not.

    (2) Teleologically-worded explanations work as shortcuts. It takes much longer to talk in non-teleological terms, perhaps precisely because our language developed, obviously, with ourselves in mind, and because it leads to a lot of passive voice, and journal editors discourage the use of passive voice.

    ETA: There’s a third one: the quality scientific training has eroded. It now focuses on publishing as many articles as possible, without any care for proper understanding of the phenomena supposedly under study.

  38. Entropy: (1) Given that we’re humans, that our everyday experiences involve teleological shit (intention by other humans), we’d tend to talk in teleological terms, look for “reasons” and “intentions,” whether there’s any such things or not.

    We already know there is such a thing, so why ignore what we know?

  39. Entropy: (2) Teleologically-worded explanations work as shortcuts. It takes much longer to talk in non-teleological terms, perhaps precisely because our language developed, obviously, with ourselves in mind, and because it leads to a lot of passive voice, and journal editors discourage the use of passive voice.

    Teleological language works because it makes sense. People who do not believe in teleology should stop speaking as if they do.

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