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Darwin's Doubt
Townhall ^ | July 09, 2013 | Frank Turek

Posted on 07/16/2013 11:44:20 AM PDT by Heartlander

Darwin’s Doubt

Darwin’s Doubt, the brand new New York Times bestseller by Cambridge-trained Ph.D., Stephen Meyer, is creating a major scientific controversy. Darwinists don’t like it.

Meyer writes about the complex history of new life forms in an easy to understand narrative style. He takes the reader on a journey from Darwin to today while trying to discover the best explanation for how the first groups of animals arose. He shows, quite persuasively, that Darwinian mechanisms don’t have the power to do the job.

Using the same investigative forensic approach Darwin used over 150 years ago, Meyer investigates the central doubt Darwin had about his own theory. Namely, that the fossil record did not contain the rainbow of intermediate forms that his theory of gradual evolutionary change required. However, Darwin predicted that future discoveries would confirm his theory.

Meyer points out that they haven’t. We’ve thoroughly searched the fossil record since Darwin and confirmed what Darwin originally saw himself: the discontinuous, abrupt appearance of the first forms of complex animal life. In fact, paleontologists now think that roughly 20 of the 28 animal phyla (representing distinct animal “body plans”) found in the fossil record appear abruptly without ancestors in a dramatic geological event called the Cambrian Explosion.

And additional discoveries since Darwin have made it even worse for his theory. Darwin didn’t know about DNA or the digital information it contains that makes life possible. He couldn’t have appreciated, therefore, that building new forms of animal life would require millions of new characters of precisely sequenced code—that the Cambrian explosion was a massive explosion of new information.

For modern neo-Darwinism to survive, there must be an unguided natural mechanism that can create the genetic information and then add to it massively, accurately and within the time allowed by the fossil record. Is there such a mechanism?

The answer to that question is the key to Meyer’s theory and entire book. Meyer shows that the standard “neo-Darwinian” mechanism of mutation and natural selection mechanism lacks the creative power to produce the information necessary to produce new forms of animal life. He also reviews the various post-Darwinian speculations that evolutionary biologists themselves are now proposing to replace the crumbling Darwinian edifice. None survive scrutiny. Not only is there no known natural mechanism that can create the new information required for new life forms, there is no known natural mechanism that can create the genetic code for the first life either (which was the subject of Meyer’s previous book Signature in the Cell).

When Meyer suggests that an intelligent designer is the best explanation for the evidence at hand, critics accuse him of being anti-scientific and endangering sexual freedom everywhere (OK, they don’t explicitly state that last part). They also claim that Meyer commits the God of the gaps fallacy.

But he does not. As Meyer points out, he’s not interpreting the evidence based on what we don’t know, but what we do know. The geologically sudden appearance of fully formed animals and millions of lines of genetic information point to intelligence. That is, we don’t just lack a materialistic explanation for the origin of information. We have positive evidence from our uniform and repeated experience that another kind of cause—namely, intelligence or mind—is capable of producing digital information. Thus, he argues that the explosion of information in the Cambrian period provides evidence of this kind of cause acting in the history of animal life. (Much like any sentence written by one of Meyer’s critics is positive evidence for an intelligent being).

This inference from the data is no different than the inference archaeologists made when they discovered the Rosetta Stone. It wasn’t a “gap” in their knowledge about natural forces that led them to that conclusion, but the positive knowledge that inscriptions require intelligent inscribers.

Of course, any critic could refute Meyer’s entire thesis by demonstrating how natural forces or mechanisms can generate the genetic information necessary to build the first life and then massive new amounts of genetic information necessary for new forms of animal life. But they can’t and hardly try without assuming what they are trying to prove (see Chapter 11). Instead, critics attempt to smear Meyer by claiming he’s doing “pseudo science” or not doing science at all.

Well, if Meyer isn’t, doing science, then neither was Darwin (or any Darwinist today). Meyer is using the same forensic or historical scientific method that Darwin himself used. That’s all that can be used. Since these are historical questions, a scientist can’t go into the lab to repeat and observe the origin and history of life. Scientists must evaluate the clues left behind and then make an inference to the best explanation. Does our repeated experience tell us that natural mechanisms have the power to create the effects in question or is intelligence required?

Meyer writes, “Neo-Darwinism and the theory of intelligent design are not two different kinds of inquiry, as some critics have asserted. They are two different answers—formulated using a similar logic and method of reasoning—to the same question: ‘What caused biological forms and the appearance of design in the history of life?’”

The reason Darwinists and Meyer arrive at different answers is not because there’s a difference in their scientific methods, but because Meyer and other Intelligent Design proponents don’t limit themselves to materialistic causes. They are open to intelligent causes as well (just like archaeologists and crime scene investigators are).

So this is not a debate about evidence. Everyone is looking at the same evidence. This is a debate about how to interpret the evidence, and that involves philosophical commitments about what causes will be considered possible before looking at the evidence. If you philosophically rule out intelligent causes beforehand—as the Darwinists do—you will never arrive at the truth if an intelligent being actually is responsible.

Since all evidence needs to be interpreted, science doesn’t actually say anything—scientists do. So if certain self-appointed priests of science say that a particular theory is outside the bounds of their own scientific dogma, that doesn’t mean that the theory is false. The issue is truth—not whether something fits a materialistic definition of science.

I’m sure Darwinists will continue to throw primordial slime at Meyer and his colleagues. But that won’t make a dent in his observation that whenever we see information like that required to produce the Cambrian Explosion, intelligence is always the cause. In fact, I predict that when open-minded people read Darwin’s Doubt, they’ll see that Dr. Meyer makes a very intelligently designed case that intelligent design is actually true. It’s just too bad that many Darwinists aren’t open to that truth—they aren’t even open minded enough to doubt Darwin as much as Darwin himself was.


TOPICS: Books/Literature; Education; History; Science
KEYWORDS: darwin; darwinsdoubt; intelligentdesign; pages; stephenmeyer
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1 posted on 07/16/2013 11:44:20 AM PDT by Heartlander
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To: Heartlander

If Quantum Mechanics was around in Darwin’s time and if he had studied it, he would know evolution not to be gradual and that every once in a while a rare combination of mutations would lead to the quantum leap.

In quantum mechanics, an electron in your body has the possiblility (extremely unlikely possibility) of making the quantum leap and suddenly appearing on the moon.

And for the creationist, quantum mechanics is as near a proven fact as you can get, it is close to 2+2 =4. (Actually in a quantum universe 2+2 only comes vanishingly close to equalling 4 due to quantum fluctations.)

In fact, all semiconductor technology depends on quantum mechanics being true.


2 posted on 07/16/2013 11:52:43 AM PDT by staytrue
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To: staytrue

Even the well-respected scientific journal Nature had an article earlier this year that states that in the face of recent discoveries in molecular and cell biology, we do NOT understand the basic mechanisms of evolution!!!!

http://thelocutionaryact.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/dna-celebrate-the-unknowns/


3 posted on 07/16/2013 12:02:06 PM PDT by Honorary Serb (Kosovo is Serbia! Free Srpska! Abolish ICTY!)
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To: Heartlander; betty boop; marron; Alamo-Girl; CottShop; metmom; xzins; GodGunsGuts; Fichori; ...

Oh, Boy . . . here we go.


4 posted on 07/16/2013 12:12:29 PM PDT by YHAOS
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To: Heartlander
"I’m sure Darwinists will continue to throw primordial slime at Meyer and his colleagues. "

Personal attack is a confession of intellectual poverty.

5 posted on 07/16/2013 12:18:33 PM PDT by YHAOS
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To: YHAOS
Dr Schroeder has shown an interesting comparison, positing that if we take the presumed age of the universe (~15 billion years) and count it a day for the the Universe to double in size (each time the Universe has doubled in size is a day) then from God's perspective located at the Beginning of His Creation, only six plus days have passed.

If there are six days so far, the instance of an organism arising from a random mutation then going through a full life cycle in order to generate offspring --in our reference frame of billions of years-- would be how long on the six day chart from God's perspective? Wow, now THAT is intelligent design, to make those momentary adjustments via random mutations!

6 posted on 07/16/2013 12:33:39 PM PDT by MHGinTN (Being deceived can be cured.)
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To: Heartlander

Need to read later.


7 posted on 07/16/2013 5:20:57 PM PDT by Albertafriend
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To: staytrue
If Quantum Mechanics was around in Darwin’s time and if he had studied it, he would know evolution not to be gradual and that every once in a while a rare combination of mutations would lead to the quantum leap.

You're using the popular trope 'quantum leap' to mean a sudden and dramatic change; that's not the meaning of the term in QM. A quantum leap is usually the smallest possible change in the state of a particle.

8 posted on 07/16/2013 6:15:47 PM PDT by eclecticEel (Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: 7/4/1776 - 3/21/2010)
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To: staytrue

Isn’t a quantum difference very tiny?


9 posted on 07/16/2013 7:35:21 PM PDT by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)
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To: eclecticEel

Darwin’s original theory is about slow continuous change. Quantum theory is about discontinuity.


10 posted on 07/16/2013 8:19:59 PM PDT by staytrue
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To: 1010RD

quantum fluctuations are tiny from our point of view.

of course from the point of view from an electron quantum fluctuations are giagantic.

from an organism viewpoint, a genetic mutation is tiny

from the viewpoint of a chromosome, a genetic mutation is huge.


11 posted on 07/16/2013 8:23:19 PM PDT by staytrue
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To: YHAOS

Thanks for the ping!


12 posted on 07/16/2013 8:51:11 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: MHGinTN
Dr Schroeder has shown an interesting comparison . . .

I like Schroeder. He’s interesting, and has as good a theory as any. So far as I know. Admittedly, I don’t know much.

The Darwinian Mullahs don’t like him, which is an additional recommendation, as far as I’m concerned.

With respect to the issue of Intelligent Design, I also very much appreciate the writings of our Founding Fathers. Case in point:
In a letter to John Adams, dated April 11, 1823, Thomas Jefferson endorses the idea of a beginning and of design.

“The argument which they [the philosopher disciples of Ocellus, Timaeus, Spinosa, Diderot and D'Holbach] rest on as triumphant and unanswerable is, that in every hypothesis of cosmogony, you must admit an eternal pre-existence of something; and according to the rule of sound philosophy, you are never to employ two principles to solve a difficulty when one will suffice. They say then, that it is more simple to believe at once in the eternal pre-existence of the world, as it is now going on, and may forever go on by the principle of reproduction which we see and witness, than to believe in the eternal pre-existence of an ulterior cause, or Creator of the world, a Being whom we see not and know not, of whose form, substance and mode, or place of existence, or of action, no sense informs us, no power of the mind enables us to delineate or comprehend.”
(Jefferson succinctly sums up an argument that was ongoing into my twenties)

”On the contrary, I hold, (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a view of the universe, in its parts, general or particular, it is impossible for the human mind not to perceive and feel a conviction of design, consummate skill, and indefinite power in every atom of its composition. . The movements of the heavenly bodies, so exactly held in their course by the balance of centrifugal and centripetal forces; the structure of our earth itself, with its distribution of lands, waters and atmosphere; animal and vegetable bodies, examined in all their minutest particles; insects, mere atoms of life, yet as perfectly organized as man or mammoth; the mineral substances, their generation and uses; it is impossible, I say, for the human mind not to believe, that there is in all this, design, cause and effect, up to an ultimate cause, a Fabricator of all things from matter and motion, their Preserver and Regulator while permitted to exist in their present forms, and their regeneration into new and other forms.”
(Amazingly, by some 140 years Jefferson anticipates the detection of the radiation background proving “In the beginning.”)

”We see, too, evident proofs of the necessity of a superintending power, to maintain the universe in its course and order. Stars, well known, have disappeared, new ones have come into view; comets, in their incalculable courses, may run foul of suns and planets, and require renovation under other laws; certain races of animals are become extinct; and were there no restoring power, all existences might extinguish successively, one by one, until all should be reduced to a shapeless chaos.”

”So irresistible are these evidences of an intelligent and powerful Agent, that, of the infinite numbers of men who have existed through all time, they have believed, in the proportion of a million at least to unit, in the hypothesis of an eternal pre-existence of a Creator, rather than in that of a self-existent universe. Surely this unanimous sentiment renders this more probable, than that of the few in the other hypothesis.”

Thanks for writing.

13 posted on 07/16/2013 9:30:02 PM PDT by YHAOS
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To: YHAOS
Following a visit to Monticello, decades ago, I purchased and read everything I could find by and about Thomas Jefferson. There at Monticello, the bookstore gave two dollar bills in your change, brand new, just printed, two dollar bills.

Someday, when my son and grandkids go through my library deciding who wants what, they will find all the Jefferson materials have a nice crisp two dollar bill as a place marker just inside the front flap. ... I have loved books since my childhood. Both of my grandkids have somehow acquired the same love of books and have always read far beyond their school grade level. Thank you for the ping to the thoughts from Tom.

14 posted on 07/16/2013 10:42:07 PM PDT by MHGinTN (Being deceived can be cured.)
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-From: How "Sudden" Was the Cambrian Explosion?

15 posted on 07/17/2013 9:12:16 AM PDT by Heartlander (It's time we stopped profiling crazy ass crackers)
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To: Heartlander; Alamo-Girl; YHAOS; marron; MHGinTN; TXnMA; CottShop; metmom; xzins; GodGunsGuts; ...
The reason Darwinists and Meyer arrive at different answers is not because there’s a difference in their scientific methods, but because Meyer and other Intelligent Design proponents don’t limit themselves to materialistic causes. They are open to intelligent causes as well (just like archaeologists and crime scene investigators are).... So this is not a debate about evidence. Everyone is looking at the same evidence. This is a debate about how to interpret the evidence, and that involves philosophical commitments.... Since all evidence needs to be interpreted, science doesn’t actually say anything — scientists do. So if certain self-appointed priests of science say that a particular theory is outside the bounds of their own scientific dogma, that doesn’t mean that the theory is false. The issue is truth — not whether something fits a materialistic definition of science....

It seems to me that Neo-Darwinist theory has increasingly come under attack these days, from both inside and outside the scientific communities — largely because it does not explain what it purports to explain: the emergence of life (not to mention consciousness, mind) from lifeless, inorganic matter. It also cannot explain the emergence of the vast amount of new information it takes to account for the kind of emergent biological speciation that we observe in the historical record: A low information-source cannot spontaneously transition to a high-information source, all by itself. (IIRC, this is called Kahre's Law.) It should be clear to all objective observers that matter and/or protomatter have drastically less "algorithmic content" (i.e., information) than highly complex biological organisms. So from whence did this astronomically large increase of information that characterizes life and consciousness (mind) "come from?"

People who refuse to address such questions, preferring to swaddle themselves in their precious materialist dogma, are simply following in the footsteps of Karl Marx. After all, all inconvenient questions regarding Marx's "system" are absolutely forbidden as a matter or principle.

And then there's the famous saying of Mao Zedong: Tell a lie a hundred times, and people will think it true.

Thank God, there are still honest scientists out there....

Thanks. Heartlander, for this thought-provoking article!

16 posted on 07/17/2013 12:33:11 PM PDT by betty boop
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To: YHAOS; Alamo-Girl; MHGinTN; TXnMA; marron; metmom; hosepipe; spirited irish
Oh, Boy . . . here we go.

Doubtful, dear friend and brother in Christ. Ever since the Great Exodus of 2006, there are very few articulate Neo-Darwinists still hanging around FR to "dialogue" with.

More's the pity: We lost some great collaborators with serious scientific credentials back then. But they all left, en masse, in a great huff because "creationists are superstitious morons" and thus not worth their time of day to talk to.

Since then, I've been wondering who the "superstitious morons" actually are. The one thing these dear departed all seemed to agree on is what looks to me like a superstitious, mythical belief in the power of matter to single-handedly bootstrap itself into life and mind, through the alleged power of random variation and natural selection.

It's said that science as we know it today began in alchemy, in magical practices. So, what's so different today, if matter itself transmutes just like "base metals into gold," assuming the proper "magical action" has been invoked?

That is, the supposition here is that the inorganic "evolves" into the organic quite "naturally" — by means of the "magical operations" of random mutation and natural selection, against the background of purely materialist presuppositions hooking up with "natural laws." (From whence were they introduced? That is, where did "natural laws," or the (more reductive) laws of physics come from, that a magician can manipulate to get his desired result?)

Oh well.... Let the dreamers dream, I suppose. It seems one cannot wake them up. They simply prefer to stay asleep.

Thanks for the ping, dear brother!

17 posted on 07/17/2013 3:10:08 PM PDT by betty boop
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To: betty boop; YHAOS; Alamo-Girl; MHGinTN; TXnMA; marron; metmom; hosepipe

betty: they all left, en masse, in a great huff because “creationists are superstitious morons” and thus not worth their time of day to talk to.

Spirited: Truth is a very bitter pill for proud Darwinists and fellow travelers who in rejecting our Lord, the Divine Source of life and mind and relentlessly ridiculing us as superstitious morons only to belatedly discover that their own position can neither account for conscious life nor soul/spirit.

For over one-hundred years alchemists (materialists) have been combining lifeless chemicals in the vain hope that life would finally emerge. But it hasn’t and many materialists are quietly looking to “aliens” from deep-space as the bearers of life who seeded our planet long ago and have been overseeing our evolution ever since. Others are quietly crossing over from physical materialism to mystical materialism (pantheism).


18 posted on 07/17/2013 4:22:22 PM PDT by spirited irish
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To: staytrue

Would you explain what you are saying a little more clearly? Are you saying that material ‘pops’ into existence every once-in a while? Are you saying that the quantum event comes from nothing or does a quantum event arise from a quantum vacuum with a rich sea of fluctuting electrical activity? And when this quantum event which you reference “pops” into existence, into what space did it pop into at the moment of creation? All of science says just prior to creation space did not exist, nor matter, nor energy. Would you explain the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theory which has disposed of the cosmological argument of a quantum event accounting for the creation of the universe? Thank you.


19 posted on 07/17/2013 4:47:16 PM PDT by Texas Songwriter (')
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To: staytrue
Quantum mechanics works for predicting. Newton's Physics worked for predicting, but when Einstein finished his work, a more accurate means to predict was available.

My point is, we are not likely to be at the definitive level of comprehending the Universe in which quantum mechanical calculations work well as a predictor. Our current conceptualization of time is not so complete that we can claim to have reached the last rung of a long ladder of knowledge.

Question for you: if humankind discover a profound aspect of the Universe regarding the nature of living things as opposed to non-living things that they did not heretofore know about or even predict, will the aspect be any less a Creation of God Who is Author of the Universe?

20 posted on 07/17/2013 6:11:16 PM PDT by MHGinTN (Being deceived can be cured.)
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To: betty boop; YHAOS; Alamo-Girl; MHGinTN; TXnMA; marron; metmom; spirited irish

Oh well.... Let the dreamers dream, I suppose. It seems one cannot wake them up. They simply prefer to stay asleep.


Takes faith to believe in a God you’ve never seen, actually nobody you know has ever seen..

Takes faith to believe in Darwin’s tale of mystical beliefs too..

They don’t call their believe religion but it is anyway..
They bought Darwins Tale as thoroughly as any christian bought their tale..

Having faith is a virtue I think....
Darwinism is as religious as Buddism, Hinduism, the Tao, or any version of Christianity.. or even the psuedo religion of Islam.. which is basically a scam..

Talking to a Darwinist is as fruitful as talking to a Jehovas Witness.. they both have bought their versions of things completely.. and adjusted everything to it..

I dont think they ARE asleep... thy are awake.. but have bought the narrative of a tale as completely as anyone in any religion..

You gotta believe something.. Darwin is an option..
They believe that is true as completely as any christian believes in Jesus..

Could be “being human” is all about proving what you are willing to accept as reality..
Accusing Darwinist’s of having faith makes for some interesting conversation..


21 posted on 07/17/2013 6:13:40 PM PDT by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole..)
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To: hosepipe
An interesting comparison, hosepipe. For just the concept of applying faith, it seems accurate.

I would only add that faith in Christ is a relationship, beyond just faith, it is faithing, an action word of relationship to a very real being. I personally believe Darwin enumerated an interesting concept of how God does some things. That was no small feat by him. But the human desire to reach some definitive knowledge tempts men to go too far in their speculations, to make assertions before all the data is in. It is to be human, I suppose. I have to catch myself all the time in that regard.

22 posted on 07/17/2013 6:29:54 PM PDT by MHGinTN (Being deceived can be cured.)
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To: betty boop; spirited irish
Ever since the Great Exodus of 2006, there are very few articulate Neo-Darwinists still hanging around FR

Granted, the number and quality of our opposition has slipped a bit ever since many of our Science friends discovered that not all of us could be drawn off into futile arguments over scientific minutiae, but instead stood our ground, insisting that great philosophic and religious principles are not cast on such minutiae.

. . . they all left, en masse, in a great huff because “creationists are superstitious morons” and thus not worth their time of day . . .

Any port in a storm . . . any excuse in a pinch. A great huff beats admitting that command of facts do not lead to achieving great insights irrelevant to those facts.

23 posted on 07/17/2013 7:00:53 PM PDT by YHAOS
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To: spirited irish; betty boop
Truth is a very bitter pill for proud Darwinists and fellow travelers

So they retreat to insults and denigration (like Liberals).

24 posted on 07/17/2013 7:04:24 PM PDT by YHAOS
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To: hosepipe
"Accusing Darwinist’s of having faith makes for some interesting conversation.."

Same as hitting a hornet's nest with a rock.

25 posted on 07/17/2013 7:07:55 PM PDT by YHAOS
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To: betty boop
It seems to me that Neo-Darwinist theory has increasingly come under attack these days, from both inside and outside the scientific communities — largely because it does not explain what it purports to explain: the emergence of life (not to mention consciousness, mind) from lifeless, inorganic matter. It also cannot explain the emergence of the vast amount of new information it takes to account for the kind of emergent biological speciation that we observe in the historical record: A low information-source cannot spontaneously transition to a high-information source, all by itself. (IIRC, this is called Kahre's Law.) It should be clear to all objective observers that matter and/or protomatter have drastically less "algorithmic content" (i.e., information) than highly complex biological organisms. So from whence did this astronomically large increase of information that characterizes life and consciousness (mind) "come from?"

Precisely so, dearest sister in Christ!

26 posted on 07/17/2013 8:26:39 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: betty boop
We lost some great collaborators with serious scientific credentials back then.

I truly miss many of them though I don't miss the noisy cheering squad that followed them around.

Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. - Prov 27:17


27 posted on 07/17/2013 8:32:30 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: spirited irish; betty boop; YHAOS
Truth is a very bitter pill for proud Darwinists and fellow travelers who in rejecting our Lord, the Divine Source of life and mind and relentlessly ridiculing us as superstitious morons only to belatedly discover that their own position can neither account for conscious life nor soul/spirit.

Indeed.

“For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance, he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.” ― Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers


28 posted on 07/17/2013 8:36:23 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: MHGinTN

It is to be human, I suppose. I have to catch myself all the time in that regard.


True.. we all want to know something...
But when you “know” something “faith” is not required..
WHY? because you know “IT” faith is not required..

Jesus seems to be on vacation and left the “Holy SPirit” in charge of this planet..
Otherwise how and why could he planning on “coming back”.?.
Cause if he’s already here he need not come back..

Unless the new testament is a flawed account and a human look at reality..
Nothing wrong with that, the apostles were by all means human... who could blame them?..

My fav verse of NT lore is... I Cor 2;9
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”

Now thats is quite a mouthful there..
Smacks to me of reality.. things a human could not even “imagine”..
Yes; even the science fiction folks.. Darwinist’s or anybody “into” physics..
-OR- EVEN a “Christian”...


29 posted on 07/18/2013 12:26:56 PM PDT by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole..)
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To: betty boop
But they all left, en masse, in a great huff because "creationists are superstitious morons" and thus not worth their time of day to talk to.

Maybe some did. Maybe some left because they got tired of being called atheists or told their faith was insufficient because they accepted the theory of evolution. Others because they didn't like being called followers of Marx and Mao. Still others because no matter how many times they explained that the theory of evolution does not depend on an explanation of the origin of life, people still demanded they come up with one. And then there are the overt statements that people who accept evolutionary theory don't belong on Free Republic.

It's not exactly a conducive environment for scientific discussion.

30 posted on 07/18/2013 6:49:17 PM PDT by Ha Ha Thats Very Logical
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To: Ha Ha Thats Very Logical; Alamo-Girl; metmom; marron; YHAOS; MHGinTN; TXnMA; hosepipe
... no matter how many times they explained that the theory of evolution does not depend on an explanation of the origin of life, people still demanded they come up with one

Yes, I remember some of those who left saying that, over and over again. Maybe this is the real source of the disagreement between the so-called "Crevos" and the "orthodox" Darwinists.

For my part, any theory of evolution that cannot explain the origin of life (not to mention mind, consciousness) cannot explain what happens once it has "emerged," from presumably lifeless matter. Darwin never heard of DNA; but more recent scientists have. And they realize that DNA is information-intensive. So where does matter get its information from, so that it knows how to "evolve" DNA?

To put it crudely, how does "dumb matter" become "smart matter," such to give rise to the emergence in time of increasingly complex biological organisms? "Random mutation plus natural selection plus sufficient time" hardly seems to cut it. In any case, it is a supposition that cannot be demonstrated by scientific means. It is a groundless assertion which also happens to be anhistorical: The fossil record we have — the history — does not support the assertion. Which is what worried Darwin himself.

As a result, Darwin's theory has "evolved" into Neo-Darwinism, whose practitioners seem grudgingly aware that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to explain the quandary of life and mind on the basis of "matter in its motions" according to natural law. (Where did the natural law come from?)

Actually, the fly in the ointment is a physical cosmology premised in monist materialism. This is the worldview of the regnant scientific method.

Trying to shed some light on these issues, let me point out the argument of Thomas Nagel, University Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the School of Law at New York University, in his recent book Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinisan Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly Wrong:

[The] failure to account for something so integral to nature as mind ... is a major problem, threatening to unravel the entire naturalistic world picture, extending to biology, evolutionary theory, and cosmology.

Since minds are features of biological systems that have developed through evolution, the standard materialist version of evolutionary biology is fundamentally incomplete. And the cosmological history that led to the origin of life and the coming into existence of the conditions for evolution cannot be a merely materialist history, either. An adequate conception of nature would have to explain the appearance in the universe of materially irreducible conscious minds, as such.... In spite of the great achievements of the physical sciences, reductive materialism is a world view ripe for displacement.

As the book jacket points out, "Nagel's skepticism is not based on religious belief [Nagel is a self-professed atheist] or on a belief in any definite alternative.... [H]e does suggest that if the materialist account is wrong, then principles of a different kind may also be at work in the history of nature, principles of the growth of order that are in their logical form teleological rather than mechanistic."

In sum,

The existence of consciousness is both one of the most familiar and one of the most astounding things about the world. No conception of the natural order that does not reveal it as something to be expected can aspire even to the outline of completeness. And if physical science, whatever it may have to say about the origin of life [e.g., the "natural process" of Abiogenesis, a/k/a biopoiesis], leaves us necessarily in the dark about consciousness, that shows that it cannot provide the basic form of intelligibility for this world. There must be a very different way in which things as they are make sense, and that includes the physical world, since the problem cannot be quarantined in the mind.

In dialoguing with Darwinists, these were the issues that I always tried to raise, not whether my correspondent was an atheist or a Marxist or a Maoist, or fit to be a member of FR.

As an atheist, Nagel is seeking purely naturalistic answers to such questions. One proposal he offers is to say that matter itself "reduces" to an entity that bears within itself the "seeds" of a later emergence of life and mind, as teased out over the time of the world under the influence of natural law. (I'm putting this crudely to make the point clear.) This view comes pretty close to a philosophical theory called panpsychism. But then, he grudgingly admits that "proving the theory" would be just as difficult (if not impossible) as proving the theory of reductionist materialism as THE explanation of the natural world and of the living organisms bearing consciousness that constitute it.

Nagel's final paragraph makes me feel very sad for him:

It is perfectly possible that the truth is beyond our reach, in virtue of our intrinsic cognitive limitations, and not merely beyond our grasp in humanity's present stage of intellectual development. [I have often wondered about this myself.] But I believe we cannot know this, and that it makes sense to go on seeking a systematic understanding of how we and other living things fit into the world. In this process, the ability to generate and reject false hypotheses plays an essential role. I have argued patiently against the prevailing form of naturalism, a reductive materialism that purports to capture life and mind through its Neo-Darwinian extension. But ... I find this view antecedently unbelievable — a heroic triumph of ideological theory over common sense. The empirical evidence can be interpreted to accommodate different comprehensive theories, but in this case the cost in conceptual and probabilistic contortions is prohibitive. I would be willing to bet that the present right-thinking consensus will come to seem laughable in a generation or two — though of course it may be replaced by a new consensus that is just as invalid. The human will to believe is inexhaustible. [itals added.]

In conclusion, it seems to me Nagel is an honest man — or at least as honest as a man who rejects God out-of-hand can be.

Just some thoughts, FWTW.

Thanks for writing, Ha Ha Thats Very Logical! (Haven't seen you in a while....)

31 posted on 07/19/2013 10:00:41 AM PDT by betty boop
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To: betty boop

I’m itching to chime in, but I’ll wait until HHTVL responds since he/she was the pingee.


32 posted on 07/19/2013 10:07:40 AM PDT by MHGinTN (Being deceived can be cured.)
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To: Heartlander

33 posted on 07/19/2013 10:19:45 AM PDT by Yosemitest (It's Simple ! Fight, ... or Die !)
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To: betty boop; Ha Ha Thats Very Logical; Alamo-Girl; metmom; marron; MHGinTN; TXnMA; hosepipe
... no matter how many times they explained that the theory of evolution does not depend on an explanation of the origin of life, people still demanded they come up with one

And no matter how often “they” were told that “they” could not use Science as a shield protecting them from a critical response to their religious, educational and philosophical declarations, “they” still claim immunity. Isn’t going to happen, Pilgrim.

Everyone knows the drill. No one is allowed to make societal assertions under the color of “discussing” Science, and get away with it. Go to DC (either the city or the website) if you want to argue cultural trends and not have to tolerate dispute.

Thanks, boop for your remarks. Spot on.

34 posted on 07/19/2013 10:30:40 AM PDT by YHAOS
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To: YHAOS; Alamo-Girl; marron; metmom; Ha Ha Thats Very Logical; MHGinTN; TXnMA; spirited irish; ...
Go to DC (either the city or the website) if you want to argue cultural trends and not have to tolerate dispute.

I've been to DC — the website. That is, before it was closed to non-members. I actually went there several times, even daily, over the course of many weeks. And not once did I ever notice any discussion of science going on there. Not once! Rather, it seemed the site was exclusively dedicated to heaping scorn on people who did not subscribe to the "whole cloth" of orthodox Darwinian dogma.

In short, the main method in evidence there was the ad hominum attack. Certain things said about myself and my dearest sister in Christ Alamo-Girl were scandalous, and I will not repeat them here. (Evidently they didn't like our book.)

I concluded that Darwin Central is nothing more than a "social club" for like-minded co-religionists (to crib from a saying of Eric Voegelin). I'll only add that the use of ad hominum attack is a diversionary tactic designed to conceal the paucity of actual understanding of the issues in dispute, or of any good-faith willingness to engage them at all.

Thanks for your "spot-on" insights, dear YHAOS, and your kind words of support!

35 posted on 07/19/2013 11:46:35 AM PDT by betty boop
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To: betty boop
Thanks for taking the time to make such a thoughtful reply.

For my part, any theory of evolution that cannot explain the origin of life (not to mention mind, consciousness) cannot explain what happens once it has "emerged," from presumably lifeless matter.

I don't see why. To me, that's like saying any theory of disease that cannot explain viruses, cannot explain why vaccination works. Or that any theory of planetary motion that can't explain star formation, can't explain why the planets move the way they do. The question of how something comes into being is separable from the question of how it behaves afterwards. To me.

Trying to shed some light on these issues, let me point out the argument of Thomas Nagel...

I recognize that the theory of evolution is troubling to many philosophers. But looking at the excerpt of Nagel's book available on Amazon, I see that it contains statements like "it is prima facie highly implausible" and "an assumption that things are so remarkable that they have to be explained as non-accidental." In other words, he has trouble believing it. But that difficulty is not an argument against the theory of evolution. Even the idea that the growth of order is teleological is not an argument against evolution. Evolution is a mechanism; the theory of evolution is a way of explaining what we observe. What supplants it--from a scientific standpoint--is a better explanation, with evidence. If researchers who share Nagel's incredulity come up with a better explanation, with evidence--well, great. More power to them.

Unlike (perhaps) some of the other people you've spoken with, I have no problem with the idea that there are things we have yet to discover, forces we don't know how to perceive or measure, that may have been involved in the development of mind and consciousness. But an insistence that we abandon a theory that explains so much--the ToE--because there might be more to it than that seems to me ridiculously shortsighted.

In dialoguing with Darwinists, these were the issues that I always tried to raise, not whether my correspondent was an atheist or a Marxist or a Maoist, or fit to be a member of FR.

And yet above, you wrote "People who refuse to address such questions, preferring to swaddle themselves in their precious materialist dogma, are simply following in the footsteps of Karl Marx." You may argue that that's not the same as calling them a Marxist, but I hope you can see that it's at least a sign of sloppiness with terminology.

(Haven't seen you in a while....)

Nor I you. I don't know if that's because we haven't landed in the same thread or just haven't been around much. I know I was traveling for a little while and working a lot before and after to pay for the trip.

36 posted on 07/19/2013 12:37:29 PM PDT by Ha Ha Thats Very Logical
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To: Ha Ha Thats Very Logical; Alamo-Girl; marron; MHGinTN; YHAOS; TXnMA; metmom; hosepipe
Evolution is a mechanism; the theory of evolution is a way of explaining what we observe.

But what if the universe is not itself a "mechanism?" Thus not explicable in such terms? If that is the case, any explanation consistent with the premise of a mechanistic universe will "almost certainly" be false.

Metaphysical naturalism in its present form requires the universe to be "a mechanism."

But even "mechanisms" must have designers; and the ones we know of operate according to a rule (e.g., an algorithm, or a program maybe) which the mechanism did not itself create. The other interesting thing about mechanisms is that they are intended to accomplish a purpose — it is here that teleology intrudes — of which they need not be aware; indeed, of which they are not capable of becoming aware. They just execute their program. If they're any good (i.e., if the designer is skillful), they do so reliably. But in NO sense can we claim that a mechanism is conscious, while all living organisms are, at least in some degree.

As for my earlier statement about Marx's "forbidding of questions," this was a statement about Marx, not a statement that I think a given correspondent is a Marxist. (That would be an ad hominum attack.)

Marx did indeed forbid any question that might cast doubt on any aspect of his "system." To challenge his dogma was "streng verboten." You have to buy the dogma "whole cloth." Those who dare to ask questions about "the system" deserve to be "punished" as enemies....

Forgive me if I see associations between this historical fact and the behavior of some — not all — enthusiasts of Darwinian evolutionary theory.

As for me, I do believe that the universe is an evolutionary development. But I don't just assume that it's a giant machine. Thus, I do not agree with materialists of dogmatic Darwinian persuasion, for — to the extent that Darwin accepts a materialist worldview (which I believe he did) — I doubt that Darwin got the problem right.

You wrote in reply (to a statement of mine appearing in italics at the top of your post), "I don't see why. To me, that's like saying any theory of disease that cannot explain viruses, cannot explain why vaccination works."

I disagree. You can't make a vaccine without understanding what a virus is and how it works. A virus is not a machine; it is "alive" (or quasi-alive) in some sense. If you don't understand what a virus is, then associating it with disease is unlikely; and thus the development of a vaccine to kill it so to cure the disease is also unlikely.

I think that many naturalists (i.e., those who tend to metaphysical naturalist persuasion) think that the best way to deal with "wholes" in nature is to isolate and study the "parts" of which they are constituted. The expectation is that if you sum up all the parts, you will have the complete "picture" of the whole. But this certainly doesn't work in biology: If you reduce a living system to its parts, you kill it: As the poet said, "We murder to dissect."

The biggest "whole" of them all in human experience is the universe itself. Planetary motion and star formation are "parts" of that whole. We do not even know how many other "parts" there are. But even if we did, the Universe seems not to be a simple sum of its constituent parts. For the parts only become functional and meaningful when they are brought into dynamic relation with one another; that is, are clearly ordered by something else which is (as Nagel suggests) teleological (purposive, goal-directed), not mechanistic, in its basic operation.

IMHO, this is spectacularly evident in biological systems to the dispassionate analyst/observer.

It's good to see you again, HHTVL. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

37 posted on 07/19/2013 2:19:33 PM PDT by betty boop
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To: betty boop
Certain things said about myself and my dearest sister in Christ Alamo-Girl were scandalous, and I will not repeat them here. (Evidently they didn't like our book.)

I too used to pursue DC on occasion and scandalous is not a strong enough word to describe some of the things they said about you two and other creationists.

And I too noticed very little discussion on scientific topics. Mostly it was a FR creationist bashing site.

38 posted on 07/19/2013 2:25:55 PM PDT by metmom (rFor freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore & do not submit again to a yoke of slavery)
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To: betty boop; Alamo-Girl; marron; metmom; Ha Ha Thats Very Logical; MHGinTN; TXnMA; spirited irish
. . . not once did I ever notice any discussion of science going on there. (Darwin Central) Not once!

Which simply confirms what we all know to be true. Politics is the endgame of DC, not Science.

. . . the main method in evidence there was the ad hominum attack. Certain things said about myself and my dearest sister in Christ Alamo-Girl were scandalous, and I will not repeat them here.

All in lowest tradition of political calumny. Entirely in keeping the low form of huckstering we’ve come to expect from DC (again, both the website and the city)

. . . the use of ad hominum attack is a diversionary tactic designed to conceal the paucity of actual understanding of the issues in dispute, or of any good-faith willingness to engage them at all.

I don’t know that it’s paucity, or if it’s the knowledge the issues you mention cannot be adequately addressed with the limited resources DC brings to the table. I don’t know that it matters. Either way, it is a confession of intellectual poverty.

Thanks for writing. Always enlightening.

39 posted on 07/19/2013 2:39:23 PM PDT by YHAOS
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To: betty boop
But what if the universe is not itself a "mechanism?" Thus not explicable in such terms? If that is the case, any explanation consistent with the premise of a mechanistic universe will "almost certainly" be false.

I think you must mean "is not itself only a 'mechanism'." Because the universe is certainly a mechanism in many of its aspects. If there were no "if we do this, it'll do that" machinelike predictability, we wouldn't be able to land a spaceship on Mars or use the computers we're typing on right now.

But even "mechanisms" must have designers; and the ones we know of operate according to a rule (e.g., an algorithm, or a program maybe) which the mechanism did not itself create.

I would regard that as an unproven assertion. The mechanism that puts Mars right where we predicted it would be--did its algorithm necessarily have an outside designer?

Forgive me if I see associations between this historical fact and the behavior of some — not all — enthusiasts of Darwinian evolutionary theory.

Fair enough. The same is true, of course, of many of those who are anti-evolution for religious reasons.

As for me, I do believe that the universe is an evolutionary development. But I don't just assume that it's a giant machine. Thus, I do not agree with materialists of dogmatic Darwinian persuasion,...

I think we've been here before. It's confusing, because it often sounds (to me, anyway) like you're framing your statements as a critique of evolution. And certainly many of the other posters who applaud your statements reject evolution. But if you're okay with evolution but think there must be something more than purely mechanistic, materialist evolution, I'm not sure we have much of a disagreement.

You can't make a vaccine without understanding what a virus is and how it works.

Ah, but you can. People were getting vaccinated against smallpox hundreds of years before anyone had any idea viruses existed, much less how they worked. It was the result of another "if we do this, it does that" observation: if we give people a mild dose of smallpox (or cow pox), they don't get sick when exposed to a larger dose later. No understanding required.

Nice to see you, too. And now I must head to the post office before it closes.

40 posted on 07/19/2013 3:04:20 PM PDT by Ha Ha Thats Very Logical
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To: Ha Ha Thats Very Logical; Alamo-Girl; marron; YHAOS; MHGinTN; TXnMA; metmom; spirited irish; ...
The mechanism that puts Mars right where we predicted it would be — did its algorithm necessarily have an outside designer?

I would say "YES." Because an algorithm is a mathematical entity. And mathematics is a universal language. Universals are never the products of mechanistic behavior — mechanics is a result of, not the cause of, universals.

Universals include not only mathematics and by extension logic; but also the natural (e.g., physico/chemical) laws, and I daresay the moral law as well. All mechanics pertains to finite, physical entities. It has no operational scope beyond them.

The beauty here is that the mind of man has the capacity to engage universal ideas. Which tells me right there that man is not a machine.

Actually getting to Mars, however, did require man to conceive of algorithms that would operate towards the achievement of that purpose. If the algorithms achieved their purpose, it must be because the mathematical "truth" they purport to represent actually corresponds with the way the world really is, independent of human wishes and desires.

Which is NOT to denigrate that human beings wished and desired to get to Mars. If they didn't, "we" wouldn't have gone there. This is only to say that human wishes and desires were not the principal or sufficient cause of their success in so doing.

In sum, the algorithmic specification of the world at large is not a human design. Rather, the truth of Reality as discernible by humans depends on the correspondence of natural phenomena to universal specifications which pre-exist and post-exist the human mind. The truth of the world is not a human design — but the truthfulness of human investigations of Reality absolutely depends on recognition by humans of what David Bohm called the "implicate order" of all that exists — which is not a human creation.

I just think the term "mechanism" as a description of a universe that gives all indication of somehow being "alive" in toto is unfortunate and grossly misleading. I would rate it as a prime example of Whitehead's famous Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness.

IOW, just because something "looks like" a machine doesn't actually make it one.

You wrote: "... if you're okay with evolution but think there must be something more than purely mechanistic, materialist evolution, I'm not sure we have much of a disagreement."

Oh my, I'm very, very glad for that!

You also wrote: "...if we give people a mild dose of smallpox (or cow pox), they don't get sick when exposed to a larger dose later. No understanding required."

Aristotle's famous claim is that "all men desire to know." Lately I've begun to suspect that this maxim is not universally true. But for those men who do want to know the "why" of things, understanding is required. And that's how we learned about viruses.

Science's role in such matters is indispensable — but not completely sufficient. There is more to the world than what can be directly observed, weighed, and measured. Certainly, no universal falls into the category of things that are amenable to such methods of investigation.

Thank you truly, dear HHTVL, for your outstandingly thought-provocative essay/post!

41 posted on 07/19/2013 4:20:35 PM PDT by betty boop
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To: metmom
I too noticed very little discussion on scientific topics. Mostly it was a FR creationist bashing site.

Well it certainly looked like that to me!

Meanwhile, I really, really do want to have substantive discussions regarding scientific issues. I gather that DC is not the place to go for that.

Thank you for your observations, dear sister in Christ!

42 posted on 07/19/2013 5:10:31 PM PDT by betty boop
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To: YHAOS
Politics is the endgame of DC, not Science.

Sometimes it seems to me that the politicalization of science is the curse of our age. But then, everything is "political" these days.

How on earth did this happen?

Thanks, dear, for your moral support!

43 posted on 07/19/2013 5:12:34 PM PDT by betty boop
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To: betty boop
Can't claim credit for those remarks, but I certainly don't reject them. ( ^8 }
44 posted on 07/19/2013 5:32:09 PM PDT by YHAOS
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To: betty boop; Ha Ha Thats Very Logical; Alamo-Girl; marron; YHAOS; MHGinTN; TXnMA; metmom; ...

This is actually a pretty good conversation... on several issues..

A) Is man a mechanism in carnal form?.. to function in the 3rd dimension..
-OR-
B) Is man a spirit in a carnal space suit.?. to function in a 3D reality..

It seems you can buy Tale(A) or Tale(B) or even some sort of mix of them both.. This is the disconnect between the two forces.. with stragglers in between.. Somebody is a dreamer..

The dreamer could believe man is basically flesh and thats all he is..
Or the dreamer could believe man is basically spirit and thats all he is..

That man is both flesh and spirit conflates both.. but ignores man does not know what “life(death) really is” OR spirit either.. Good convo I would say.. There is room to speculate on both.. because it is all speculation..

The spectre of physical or spiritual “dimensions” on this subject takes the convo to another level.. Not that any resolution is due or even possible..

If man is a mechanical life-form then we are “drones”.. or “breeders”..
If man is a spiritual life-form then we are “entity’s”.. or “forces”..

or a conflated confused mix... Damned good entertainment I would say..


45 posted on 07/19/2013 6:10:45 PM PDT by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole..)
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additional:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/chat/3045052/posts


46 posted on 07/19/2013 9:00:29 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (McCain or Romney would have been worse, if you're a dumb ass.)
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To: betty boop
I would say "YES."

I guess I would agree that evolution required a designer every bit as much as the orbit of Mars did. But to me, that means "not much."

I just think the term "mechanism" as a description of a universe that gives all indication of somehow being "alive" in toto is unfortunate and grossly misleading.

Well, I only used the term to refer to one manifestation of the universe. We've somehow found ourselves talking about whether it's applicable to the whole thing. I meant it the same way one might say the heart and circulatory system is a mechanism: it's observable and studiable pretty much on its own, regardless of whether the larger system of which it's a part can properly be called a mechanism or not.

There is more to the world than what can be directly observed, weighed, and measured.

It occurred to me earlier that for you, evolution is an insufficient explanation, so you think there must be something more. While for me, evolution is a sufficient explanation (for what it tries to explain), but there might be something more. I suppose you've run into some who say evolution is a sufficient explanation, so there must not be anything more, but that kind of hubris doesn't appeal to me.

47 posted on 07/19/2013 9:52:25 PM PDT by Ha Ha Thats Very Logical
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To: Ha Ha Thats Very Logical; Alamo-Girl; marron; YHAOS; MHGinTN; TXnMA; metmom; hosepipe; ...
I guess I would agree that evolution required a designer every bit as much as the orbit of Mars did. But to me, that means "not much."

Regarding a hypothetical designer, would it be all right with you if we confine ourselves to biological evolution here — since the title of this thread is "Darwin's Doubt?" I'd just like to take a look at this hypothesis, which Thomas Nagel explores so well in his book. For Nagel, an atheist, the "designer" cannot be an intelligent agent. He prefers to acknowledge that there is "bias" in nature — for the world we see all around us, especially including biological organisms, is extremely unlikely to be the outcome of pure chance — which may be of two kinds: intentional bias (theism) or non-intentional bias (the "biasing" introduced into nature by the sheer existence of physical laws).

Given the extraordinary "fine tuning" of the universe which makes biological life possible, or extremely likely to occur, the idea of "bias" becomes useful, especially in light of the fact that there is no principle in pure chance that could lead to the fine tuning.

This is the main hypothesis seemingly endorsed by a majority of evolutionary biologists today, though a minority still cling to the "pure chance" argument. Iris Fry calls the latter the “Almost a Miracle Camp,” which includes such distinguished scientists as Francis Crick, Ernst Mayr, and Jaques Monod (Crick and Monod are both Nobel Laureates). These men appear to be content with the idea that life arose by pure chance even if the probability of this having happened is extremely remote. (So I prefer to call them "The Bitter Enders.")

Leaving those folks aside, in Mind and Cosmos, Nagel writes:

The evolution of mind is part of a single long process of evolutionary descent. It is the latest stage in the evolution of physical organisms, some of whom are now governed largely by thought. If we are skeptical about an intentional (theistic) explanation of the existence of reason, and can't make sense of a causal reductionist one, it is natural to speculate that some tendencies in this direction have been at work all along. If physics alone or even a non-materialist monism can't account for the later stages of our evolutional history, we shouldn't assume it can account for the earlier stages. Indeed, when we go back far enough, to the origin of life — of self-replicating systems capable of supporting evolution by natural selection — those actually engaged in research in the subject recognize that they are very far from even formulating a viable explanatory hypothesis of the traditional materialist kind. Yet they assume there must be such an explanation, since life cannot have arisen purely by chance....

...But the hypothesis of intentional design [SI — see below] is ruled out as unscientific. So it seems natural to conclude that the only way left for life not to be a matter of chance is for it somehow to be made likely by physical law.

At this point in the book, Nagel cites Roger White, a colleague and professor of philosophy at M.I.T. I found the quotes of White so interesting, I went looking for the relevant paper — and found it: Does Origins of Life Research Rest on a Mistake?

Some useful notation at this point:

C = pure chance
S = physical outcome as the effect of bias
BI = intentional bias (i.e., intelligent designer, i.e., God)
BN = nonpurposive bias introduced by the principles of physics and chemistry.

Here's White:

[T]he line of reasoning ... is something like the following. That molecular replicating systems appear to be designed by an agent is sufficient to convince us that they didn’t arise by chance. But in scientific reasoning, non-intentional explanations are to be preferred, if possible (some would say at all costs), to intentional ones — hence the motivation to find a non-intentional explanation of life.

It should be clear however, that even granting the appropriateness of a preference for non-intentional explanations, this line of reasoning is confused. In general, if BI raises the likelihood of S, then S confirms BI to at least some degree, and may thereby disconfirm C. But it does not follow that S confirms BN one iota. S confirms BN only if BN raises the likelihood of S. If the reason we doubt the Chance Hypothesis is that we suspect that life is due in part to intelligent agency, this by itself gives us no reason to expect there to be a non-intentional explanation for life. If on reflection we do not find the hypothesis of intentional biasing acceptable, then we are left with no reason at all to doubt that life arose by chance.

Thus we have three possibilities: chance, creationism, and directionless physical law. Earlier in the paper, White had observed:

What makes certain molecular configurations stand out from the multitude of possibilities seems to be that they are capable of developing into something which strikes us as rather marvelous, namely a world of living creatures. But there is no conceivable reason that blind forces of nature or physical attributes should be biased toward the marvelous.

It appears that White is not averse to the BI (intelligent design) hypothesis. But Nagel has reservations, which basically boil down to: Intent implies purpose. Whose purpose? is his question.

Nagel is aware that of the three hypotheses, only one — BI — is teleological in character. That is, it implies goal direction.

Now teleology has been banished from science since the 17th century. Nagel wants to restore it — but as a naturalistic teleology in which teleological laws would assign higher probability to steps on paths in state space that have a higher "velocity" toward certain outcomes. "They would be the laws of self-organization of matter, essentially — or of whatever is more basic than matter....some laws of nature [yet to be discovered] would apply directly to the relation between the present and the future, rather than specifying instantaneous functions that hold at all time [Newton's laws]. A naturalistic teleology would mean that organizational and developmental principles of this kind are an irreducible part of the natural order, and not the result of intentional or purposive influence by anyone. I am not confident that this Aristotelian idea of teleology without intention makes sense, but I do not at the moment see why it doesn't."

Well, I find this all tremendously interesting, even though I believe Aristotle may be rolling in his grave right now....

You'll recall Aristotle's four causes: Formal, material, efficient, and final. Final is the teleological one, in that it fulfills whatever is intended by the formal, by means of the material and efficient causes. The final cause expresses the purpose or goal of an intelligent agent. Nagel wants to dispense with the agent.

Why? I'll let Nagel explain himself:

A creationist explanation of the existence of life is the biological analogue of dualism in the philosophy of mind. It pushes teleology outside the natural order, into the intentions of the creator — working with completely directionless materials whose properties nevertheless underlie both the mental and the physical....

My preference for an immanent, natural explanation is congruent with my atheism. But even a theist who believes God is ultimately responsible for the appearance of conscious life could maintain that this happens as part of the natural order that is created by God, but that it doesn't require further divine intervention. A theist not committed to dualism in the philosophy of mind could suppose that the natural possibility of conscious organisms resides already in the character of the elements out of which those organisms are composed, perhaps supplemented by laws of psychophysical emergence. To make the possibility of conscious life a consequence of the natural order created by God while ascribing its actuality to subsequent divine intervention would then seem an arbitrary complication. Some form of teleological naturalism should for these reasons seem no less credible than an interventionist explanation, even to those who believe that God is ultimately responsible for everything.

I find Nagel's hypothesis fascinating; but I do not agree with it, because (of course) I am a "theist," a fan of both dualism in the philosophy of mind and the classical Aristotelian causal categories. But other than that, I think Nagel's book Mind and Cosmos is ingenious and valuable.

The only questions that he seems not to want to answer are: (1) Where do the laws of nature, of physics, of chemistry come from? (2) Why is there anything at all, why not nothing?

In closing, just let me mention that the great Sir Isaac Newton believed that, not only did God create the universe, but that God "intervened" in it from time to time. While he evidently rejected what we call "special creation" (as do I), he believed that, as a mechanical system, the universe would be subject to an accumulation of distorting "errors," and that God would have to step in from time to time to set things aright again.

Newton called God "the Lord of Life with His creatures."

That's how I think about Him, too.

God's Name is I AM.

* * * * * * *

Thank you so much for writing, HHTVL! Sorry to run on so long.... I refer you to the sources presented here, thinking you might find them enjoyable and useful.

48 posted on 07/20/2013 2:16:05 PM PDT by betty boop
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To: hosepipe
Damned good entertainment I would say

LOL, dear brother 'pipe!!! We have more fun than cats!!!

49 posted on 07/20/2013 2:18:27 PM PDT by betty boop
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To: YHAOS

Oooooopps! Sorry if I “over-inferred,” dear brother! Guess I was just projecting a concern that is deeply, deeply troubling to me....


50 posted on 07/20/2013 2:20:21 PM PDT by betty boop
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