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Intelligent Design case decided - Dover, Pennsylvania, School Board loses [Fox News Alert]
Fox News | 12/20/05

Posted on 12/20/2005 7:54:38 AM PST by snarks_when_bored

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To: donh

"And, like them, did not get labels stamped on high school physics book in their favor, until they were (or are) verified to the satisfaction of the relevant scientific community."

Give me a break. String theory is discussed in high school, and has been for a long time. And no one from your camp ever screamed bloody murder about it. Well, until recently, that is:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1574644/posts


3,351 posted on 02/11/2006 10:32:56 AM PST by unlearner (You will never come to know that which you do not know until you first know that you do not know it.)
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To: donh

"I have no such argument [that intelligence is an exclusively natural process,]..."

You did already. You claimed that my test, in which life is assembled intelligently, would be merely an instance of natural processes causing life.

I think I am starting to get the picture. Whatever I say, you contradict regardless of what it is or whether it is true. It doesn't even matter if you contradict yourself in the process.


3,352 posted on 02/11/2006 10:33:16 AM PST by unlearner (You will never come to know that which you do not know until you first know that you do not know it.)
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To: unlearner
"I have no such argument [that intelligence is an exclusively natural process,]..."

You did already. You claimed that my test, in which life is assembled intelligently, would be merely an instance of natural processes causing life.

That does not demonstrate that God's hand was not involved. It is not an either/or proposition.

I think I am starting to get the picture. Whatever I say, you contradict regardless of what it is or whether it is true. It doesn't even matter if you contradict yourself in the process.

I think I get the picture. Whatever I say, you will find some dimwitted way to spawn yet another half-baked argument going off on yet another tangent.

3,353 posted on 02/11/2006 11:17:46 AM PST by donh
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To: unlearner
Give me a break. String theory is discussed in high school, and has been for a long time. And no one from your camp ever screamed bloody murder about it. Well, until recently, that is:

String theory has it's first big falsifiable test scheduled for 2010. It is also not, by courtroom decision, involving perjurious attempts by creationists to fly a religeous tenate into the science classroom under false colors, in defiance of the 1st amendment. As the court wisely noted, nobody would be even having this discussion if it weren't for the Discovery Institute, and their published stealth strategy.

3,354 posted on 02/11/2006 3:00:56 PM PST by donh
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To: unlearner
You did already. You claimed that my test, in which life is assembled intelligently, would be merely an instance of natural processes causing life.

Are, or are not, laboratories part of the natural world? What you need, to have some traction, is a way to produce life in a lab that somehow suggests the same pathway can't exist in the wilds. How will you do that? How will you concoct a test that will be inherently unduplicatable by nature, given a virtually infinite budget and lab space? No matter how stupid and lazy the lab techs are. The constraints on your imagined lab experiment are insufficient for it to demonstate what you want to claim it demonstrates when it fails. It could fail because only God can make a tree, or it could fail because it takes a whale of a long time to make a tree. There is no metric that makes either of these explanations more or less likely.

3,355 posted on 02/11/2006 3:09:41 PM PST by donh
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To: unlearner
My body does not pitch as well as a pitching machine can. My body is capable of pitching but is not a pitching machine. No machine has yet duplicated the functionality of the human body over all.

OK, overall, got it. Like your imaginary attempt to create "life" from scratch, so long as I don't pin down what life means...we have once again reached the point where vague handwaving saves your bacon.

You would have to make many machines to duplicate this functionality and even then it might not happen. The need for many machines to duplicate the functionality of the body demonstrates that the body is more efficient than the machines.

Uh huh...I forgot to add to "vague", wordy, officious and pointless,...I absolutely agree that the human body is the very best thing there is at being a human body.

However, this point is not critical anyway.

No shinola. How about the next time, you figure this out before we spend ten paragraphs on an irrelevant argument.

3,356 posted on 02/11/2006 3:16:30 PM PST by donh
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To: unlearner
First of all, education does not need to be hostile to religion in order to be constitutional.

Yes, it does, it needs to be hostile to the tenates of specific religeous seeking a pulpit using public money, in an institution that has a legally enforced virtual monopoly on our children's minds for 8 hours a day.

Second, evolutionists have long contended that science cannot be measured by its harmony with the Bible, but now they are arguing that harmony with the Bible must somehow make something unscientific. Perhaps you would not argue these points, but this case seems to rest on such reasoning.

No, as usual, you aren't listening very carefully. I made quite a deal in this thread out the fact that ID is science, of a sort, much as crop circles are science, of a sort. ID is considered likely by a pretty fair percentage of working scientists--however, few think it is a science yet. It is science, of sorts--it just isn't very good, or very reliable science.

The judge based the decision (supposedly) on the improper motives of the ID promoters.

Partly. The judge's decision is also based on the widespread recognition that this just wouldn't be an issue up for debate were it not for fundamentalist christian creationists.

3,357 posted on 02/11/2006 3:24:00 PM PST by donh
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To: unlearner
Artificial hearts duplicate the functions of the circulatory system. Artificial skin duplicates the function of real skin.

Because the real things failed, in some manner, right?

Do you have a point?

Do you?

3,358 posted on 02/11/2006 3:25:44 PM PST by donh
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To: unlearner
You said yourself that falsification was a requirement for science. Do you think it is possible to falsify a prediction or hypothesis using data which itself is not testable or falsifiable? If so, how? If not, then how are prehistoric historical data falsifiable?

Is this a hoop to jump through? If so, I guess falsifiability means whatever you want it to mean.

No matter how obtuse you manage to remain about it, there is no significant functional difference regarding falsifiability, between data you collected 10 minutes ago with a telescope, or an oscilloscope, or unearthed 10 minutes ago with a trowel and spade. The essential thing about the data that makes for a falsifiable experiment, is that you didn't have the data 10 minutes ago, with which to rig the experiment--regardless of how long ago the data was generated. This isn't exactly rocket science--why are we still talking about it? Do you like looking this dense?

3,359 posted on 02/11/2006 3:33:51 PM PST by donh
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To: unlearner
ID neither supports nor contradicts evolutionary theory.

I said that already. In about 8 different ways.

3,360 posted on 02/12/2006 12:19:06 AM PST by donh
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To: unlearner
If a super natural intelligence exists, there is no scientific OR logical reason to exclude the possibility of it performing similar feats as natural intelligence.

I said this already, about 8 different ways.

3,361 posted on 02/12/2006 12:20:53 AM PST by donh
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To: unlearner
Amazing. I have been round and round with evolution proponents around here who insist that DNA evidence proves there was a universal common ancestor of all life we know on this planet. I'm glad you recognize this is not correct.

The devil hides in the details. Do you understand why this makes your experiment utterly irrelevant to the question of where life comes from? Since your experiment is an attempt to recreate a picture of life's instantaneous origins science does not underwrite?

3,362 posted on 02/12/2006 12:24:07 AM PST by donh
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To: unlearner
You are trying to mask a contention against a super natural intelligence.

Than you can no doubt point out where I did that--of course you cannot. My repeated contention is that science does not address questions of supernatural intelligence, because it is not competent to do so--science does not have access to God-o-meters, so it is none of science's business.

3,363 posted on 02/12/2006 12:28:22 AM PST by donh
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To: unlearner
If a super natural intelligence exists, there is no scientific OR logical reason to exclude the possibility of it performing similar feats as natural intelligence.

In fact, there's no reason to think God isn't actively creating life when he used natural abiogenesis to do so. It's just that science can detect signs of natural abiogenesis, but science hasn't detected signs of God. I am frequently astonished at what a feeble God creationists think He is.

3,364 posted on 02/12/2006 12:32:34 AM PST by donh
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To: unlearner
Yes and they are guided by intelligence rather than random natural processes. Have you ever heard of a controlled experiment? It is useful to narrow the range of possibilities in order to figure out how things work. Your argument would through out controlled experimentation and conclude that it does not matter what color is emitted from a particular substance burning, because we can only conclude that all colors are part of a natural process.

This is not a sensible or relevant argument. All experiments are, in some manner, controlled. Are you trying to argue that gathering historical data can't be falsifiable--because you can re-rig a contemporary experiment until it doesn't fail? Want to think twice before pinning your hopes on this argument? Paleontologists and oil engineers are always predicting where old, organically generated debree will be located, and then going to look to see if they were right. How is this not experiments that can fail? They sporadically do fail, so that would be a pretty hard argument to make.

3,365 posted on 02/12/2006 12:57:20 AM PST by donh
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To: donh
"How is this not experiments that can fail? They sporadically do fail, so that would be a pretty hard argument to make."

Of course. Experiments must have the potential for failure to be falsifiable.

My point is that the general conclusion that my test would merely support life originating by natural processes is too limiting. It supports a specific natural process (and does not necessarily imply that this natural process could not be duplicated by other forms of intelligence), namely that life originated by intelligent assembly. By attempting to find a way the same processes involved could occur without intelligent control, serve to falsify my assertion (that is, if an instance is found).
3,366 posted on 02/13/2006 11:16:41 AM PST by unlearner (You will never come to know that which you do not know until you first know that you do not know it.)
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To: donh
"Do you understand why this makes your experiment utterly irrelevant to the question of where life comes from? Since your experiment is an attempt to recreate a picture of life's instantaneous origins science does not underwrite?"

That is your assumption. There is a distinction between life and non life, even if life is difficult to define. There must have been at least one point in the past in which non life became living. Otherwise, either natural life has always existed and has continued to exist uninterrupted until now, OR life came to exist from nothing. Your argument for abiogenesis does not negate that at least one transitional moment must have occurred at some point in time, even if that point is difficult to pinpoint.
3,367 posted on 02/13/2006 11:16:46 AM PST by unlearner (You will never come to know that which you do not know until you first know that you do not know it.)
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To: donh
"there is no significant functional difference regarding falsifiability, between data you collected 10 minutes ago with a telescope, or an oscilloscope, or unearthed 10 minutes ago with a trowel and spade. The essential thing about the data that makes for a falsifiable experiment, is that you didn't have the data 10 minutes ago, with which to rig the experiment--regardless of how long ago the data was generated."

I think this is the point you made well, some time ago. But what is lacking is an explanation of how the data is interpreted.

The difference is, other observations (i.e. not prehistoric history) do not rely on extrapolation from data which is not falsifiable in order to interpret their meaning. The difference is in the starting point.

Internal agreement of data is significant if at least some data are falsifiable. But if none of it is falsifiable, you have fiction. Lord of the Rings may be internally consistent, but that does not make it true or real.
3,368 posted on 02/13/2006 11:16:48 AM PST by unlearner (You will never come to know that which you do not know until you first know that you do not know it.)
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To: donh
"Yes, it does, it needs to be hostile to the tenates of specific religeous seeking a pulpit using public money, in an institution that has a legally enforced virtual monopoly on our children's minds for 8 hours a day."

Public education does not have a monopoly; there are other options, regardless of what I think compulsory education.

You also must oppose federal grants and loans and scholarships to be given for students to study things of a religious nature in college, in order to be consistent. Also, public libraries must not carry Bibles or religious books.

The religious liberty expressed in the first amendment was designed exclusively to protect religious liberty. It was not written to be hostile toward religion in any sense.
3,369 posted on 02/13/2006 11:16:52 AM PST by unlearner (You will never come to know that which you do not know until you first know that you do not know it.)
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To: donh
"Are, or are not, laboratories part of the natural world? What you need, to have some traction, is a way to produce life in a lab that somehow suggests the same pathway can't exist in the wilds. How will you do that? How will you concoct a test that will be inherently unduplicatable by nature, given a virtually infinite budget and lab space?"

Then cars and computers are made by natural process. Yet the only natural process that has made any is intelligent design. Until you can show an example of them existing without being built, your argument is a non starter.
3,370 posted on 02/13/2006 11:16:56 AM PST by unlearner (You will never come to know that which you do not know until you first know that you do not know it.)
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To: donh
"String theory has it's first big falsifiable test scheduled for 2010."

If so, it is a very recent development. And if it's the search for super symmetry, that's not a falsifiable test. My point was how huge resources have been funneled into ST, it is taught as a science, no falsifiable predictions were made, yet no complaint for decades from your camp until it began to pointed out as an example of bias.

"It is also not, by courtroom decision, involving perjurious attempts by creationists to fly a religeous tenate into the science classroom under false colors, in defiance of the 1st amendment."

This was a lower court decision that does not even have jurisdiction over a single state. The Supreme Court has decreed more than once that this is a Christian nation. Most people in this nation call themselves Christian. Public schools traditionally taught the Bible and biblical doctrine with no outcry about the first amendment. The founders supported the Bible being taught in public school. A federal court recently rebuked the ACLU by stating that there is no constitutional separation of church and state. There is no need to sneak God into the classroom, because there never was legal authority for courts to restrict religious speech.

What this judge ruled was essentially if someone is religiously motivated, they do not even need to mention God, and their viewpoint can be silenced. That is a ludicrous and egregious abuse of constitutional interpretation.

The problem with people like you who jump on this bandwagon is that if some judge makes an erroneous ruling, you announce that the issue is settled. Yet you ignore other rulings and precedents. The issue is far from settled.

This is just an example of how some people prefer to have the courts determine the demarcation issue. You can't defend your standard of demarcation such that only science you like is included, so you have to politicize it.

My hypothesis meets the standard of demarcation by any reasonable manner. Neither endless debate, changing the rules, nor edicts of a judge will change this fact.

You have brought up two good points out of hundreds of posts. You identified a flaw in my argument against natural history. And you argued that abiogenesis might be such a long process that we may never be able to observe it. This second argument does not negate that my hypothesis is both supportable and falsifiable. Most else you have said contributes nothing to the debate. I am of the opinion we exhausted the limits of a fruitful debate.

Thank you for taking the time to debate. I have found it interesting and useful to my objectives.
3,371 posted on 02/13/2006 11:18:01 AM PST by unlearner (You will never come to know that which you do not know until you first know that you do not know it.)
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To: unlearner
My point is that the general conclusion that my test would merely support life originating by natural processes is too limiting.

That wasn't my claim--my claim was that there's no better reason to think your test's failure would say anything more about the need for external intervention, than it would about the need for more time than any laboratory can allot.

It supports a specific natural process (and does not necessarily imply that this natural process could not be duplicated by other forms of intelligence), namely that life originated by intelligent assembly.

There is nothing remotely specific about this claim because you refuse to specify in fine detail what you mean by "life". And, as I just now told you, the failure to produce life in the lab, if it to address intelligent assembly, must in some way weight against all natural reasons why the test might fail, and that is way too tall an order. Your test's failure does not mean whatever you want it to mean, just because you say so over and over...and over.

By attempting to find a way the same processes involved could occur without intelligent control, serve to falsify my assertion (that is, if an instance is found).

Bleep...see above. A test's failure doesn't imply whatever you want it to imply, any more than it implies anything else, just because you can filibuster longer than anyone else. The imaginary failure of this imaginary experiment with unspecified imaginary constraints might also falsify the theory that life isn't real at all--it's just the imaginings of rocks. It might falsify the theory that life is a trick played on the universe by Mr. Mxlpxl, Superman's nemesis from the 9th dimension.

The contention that life takes too long to happen, for it to happen in a lab, is, of course, the most natural and obvious, and least hair-brained, of the many contentions that might be falsified by your test--and has the advantage that there is some actual, and rather unsurprising evidence in favor of it, when stated as a positive scientific thesis.

3,372 posted on 02/14/2006 2:03:36 PM PST by donh
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To: unlearner
"Are, or are not, laboratories part of the natural world? What you need, to have some traction, is a way to produce life in a lab that somehow suggests the same pathway can't exist in the wilds. How will you do that? How will you concoct a test that will be inherently unduplicatable by nature, given a virtually infinite budget and lab space?"

Then cars and computers are made by natural process. Yet the only natural process that has made any is intelligent design. Until you can show an example of them existing without being built, your argument is a non starter.

There is no scientific quandary about whether or not cars and computers are made by natural processes. This misses the point. Like your failure to specify what life is, your failure to specify what intelligence is continues to make your proposed test so much vapor in the wind. This is just a silly way to avoid letting your deponents separate the argument for supernatural ID from the argument for non-supernatural ID, which, of course, you'd prefer remain confused. If it was natural, then biological science hardly changes an iota, because of your experiment. We just learn we want to look, if possible, further in time and space than we at first thought for life's origins.

If life can be developed a lab, than it was developed by natural means, since labs are natural, and it's success or failure, as far a science is concerned, speaks primarily to the success or failure of natural means. You must constrain the test far more rigorously than is humanly possible, for such a tests failure to RULE OUT EVERY POSSIBLE WAY LIFE MIGHT NATURALLY OCCUR, to actually, seriously be taken to have ruled in favor of non-natural means.

3,373 posted on 02/14/2006 2:18:42 PM PST by donh
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To: unlearner
The difference is, other observations (i.e. not prehistoric history) do not rely on extrapolation from data which is not falsifiable in order to interpret their meaning. The difference is in the starting point.

So your basic argument is that historical data is not the grist for falsifiable tests because, well, it's not.

This is just stubborn, intentionally vague blather. Data you didn't have before you formed your hypothesis becomes potentially falsifying data when discovered. There isn't the slightest difference, regarding the potential to falsify between data you collected a minute ago that's a minute old, and data you collected a minute ago, that's 100 million years old.

Your bold attempt to re-define how scientific induction works is duly noted. Geology, astronomy, paleo-meteorology and biology will struggle on regardless.

3,374 posted on 02/14/2006 2:27:18 PM PST by donh
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To: unlearner
That is your assumption. There is a distinction between life and non life, even if life is difficult to define.

In your mind, at least. In the minds of biological scientists, it's just an arbitrary, man-made distinction, just like distinct speciation. There is no moment in time when one species give rise to another, just as there is no moment in time when life gives birth to non-life. Again, you can't construct a scientific experiment out of vapid lay-generalities of little or no specific meaning.

There must have been at least one point in the past in which non life became living. Otherwise, either natural life has always existed and has continued to exist uninterrupted until now, OR life came to exist from nothing. Your argument for abiogenesis does not negate that at least one transitional moment must have occurred at some point in time, even if that point is difficult to pinpoint.

You don't understand the issues involved here. You are trying to invent an experiment using a childishly simplified view of what science actually thinks happened.

3,375 posted on 02/14/2006 2:32:11 PM PST by donh
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To: unlearner
I am of the opinion we exhausted the limits of a fruitful debate.

I was of that opinion a long, long time ago.

Thank you for taking the time to debate. I have found it interesting and useful to my objectives.

No doubt. The more you get to wave this silly notion that ID is somehow scientifically respectable because of an unlikely thought experiment whose details you refuse to specify, the more propaganda points you get with the scientifically illiterate.

3,376 posted on 02/14/2006 2:45:16 PM PST by donh
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To: donh
There must have been at least one point in the past in which non life became living. Otherwise, either natural life has always existed and has continued to exist uninterrupted until now, OR life came to exist from nothing. Your argument for abiogenesis does not negate that at least one transitional moment must have occurred at some point in time, even if that point is difficult to pinpoint.

This also flies in the face of your previous argument, that the experiment consists of inventing every single little minor detail of "life" from scratch. Which is it? Is the invention of life just a minor tweak of the nucleus to produce life from the previously almost identical non-life? Or is it the actual production of a living thing from "scratch"?

3,377 posted on 02/14/2006 2:50:14 PM PST by donh
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To: unlearner
The problem with people like you who jump on this bandwagon is that if some judge makes an erroneous ruling, you announce that the issue is settled. Yet you ignore other rulings and precedents. The issue is far from settled.

The problem with people like you is that you'd have trouble locating your nose in front of your face. ID is on the agenda because of the desires of a specific set of religeous fruitcakes in the US egged on by a specific christian outfit with a specific, published goal of defacing the teaching of science to make room for the teaching of their specific religeous tenates. Pretending that this is about a scientific idea of marginal concern, natural, intelligent abiogenesis, is a cover for this attempt at public fraud against the 1st Amendment, which you are assisting with this bulbous, bogus nonsense of yours.

Your point about library books is also mis-directed: there isn't a problem with public libraries containing religeous works, because they, and their ideas are not being foisted on student by force of law, and not being fraudulantly represented by educational authorities as proper fodder for a scientific education. The 1st amendment abjures Establishment. It does not abjure acknowledgement.

3,378 posted on 02/14/2006 3:02:55 PM PST by donh
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To: donh
"the failure to produce life in the lab, if it to address intelligent assembly, must in some way weight against all natural reasons why the test might fail"

Just like the law of gravity explains all the ways possible it might not work? Oh, but it doesn't do that, does it?

To the contrary, someone must falsify my assertion by showing at least one other possible way life can come into existence without intelligent guidance.

"The contention that life takes too long to happen, for it to happen in a lab, is, of course, the most natural and obvious, and least hair-brained, of the many contentions that might be falsified by your test"

Then you should welcome my test as a way to show your assertion is falsifiable. But then again, maybe you would like your assertion to be falsifiable without actually being tested. Because, realistically, it will be falsified at some point.
3,379 posted on 02/15/2006 11:01:07 AM PST by unlearner (You will never come to know that which you do not know until you first know that you do not know it.)
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To: donh
"Like your failure to specify what life is, your failure to specify what intelligence is continues to make your proposed test so much vapor in the wind."

No, it just means I do not feel like wasting time debating their definitions. They mean what consensus says they mean. That is not arbitrary.

"We just learn we want to look, if possible, further in time and space than we at first thought for life's origins."

If a super natural intervention occurred some time in history which accomplished something which no natural process could do, would your approach be the same? Keep looking, because there must be a natural explanation? You have said that the super natural might exist, but how would you recognize it if it did?

I agree that my test would prove nothing about the super natural, but it does not have a predisposed conclusion either. You seem to require that science assume that their is no super natural, all the while asserting that there could be.
3,380 posted on 02/15/2006 11:02:13 AM PST by unlearner (You will never come to know that which you do not know until you first know that you do not know it.)
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To: donh
"There isn't the slightest difference, regarding the potential to falsify between data you collected a minute ago that's a minute old, and data you collected a minute ago, that's 100 million years old."

Yes there is. We can observe things directly in the present. A great deal of natural history is extrapolated. In the here and now, we can repeat an experiment multiple times using the same controls. In the ancient past, you can only find comparable data.

You can make educated guesses about the past, but present data is more reliable in general. I think some of your argument confuses between the reliability of data with the reliability of the medium which preserves or disseminates the data.
3,381 posted on 02/15/2006 11:02:32 AM PST by unlearner (You will never come to know that which you do not know until you first know that you do not know it.)
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To: donh
"In the minds of biological scientists, it's just an arbitrary, man-made distinction [i.e. the distinction between life and non life], just like distinct speciation."

It is no more a man-made distinction than the distinction between gold and lead. Some things are living, and some are not. Sorry that this presents difficulty to your world view, but it is how things are. Most people, whether scientists or not, are able to distinguish the two.
3,382 posted on 02/15/2006 11:02:51 AM PST by unlearner (You will never come to know that which you do not know until you first know that you do not know it.)
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To: donh

"The more you get to wave this silly notion that ID is somehow scientifically respectable because of an unlikely thought experiment whose details you refuse to specify, the more propaganda points you get with the scientifically illiterate."

There you go again, jumping to conclusions without all the facts. My objective has been two fold. First I have replied to an ongoing contention against ID, namely that it makes no falsifiable predictions. I have made a falsifiable prediction. Like it or not, it is falsifiable, regardless of how you wish to interpret it.

I also am contributing to a fictional work in which the antagonist uses ID to placate conservative voters and get illicit money from religiously motivated book publishers. I'm sure you'll like it. Perhaps you may discover some of your ideas expressed by the ID opponents. (Sorry, ideas are not protected by copyright law. No royalties will follow. But thanks for your contributions.)

I have found the discussion interesting even if the writing never makes it to market.


3,383 posted on 02/15/2006 11:04:26 AM PST by unlearner (You will never come to know that which you do not know until you first know that you do not know it.)
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To: unlearner
"The more you get to wave this silly notion that ID is somehow scientifically respectable because of an unlikely thought experiment whose details you refuse to specify, the more propaganda points you get with the scientifically illiterate."

There you go again, jumping to conclusions without all the facts.

huh. Just like natural sciences operate. It's the conclusion I'd rather jump to, all else being equal, much as a mother or a zealous watchdog jumps to the conclusion that a sudden move in the direction of their youngsters by a disreputable looking stranger is probably hostile.

My objective has been two fold. First I have replied to an ongoing contention against ID, namely that it makes no falsifiable predictions. I have made a falsifiable prediction. Like it or not, it is falsifiable, regardless of how you wish to interpret it.

Yea, yea, it's potentially falsifiable, to some slight degree, just as it's potentially science, to some slight degee. Much like crystal pyramid healing is a science, to some slight degree. That and two nickles will buy you a dime.

3,384 posted on 02/17/2006 10:01:53 AM PST by donh
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To: unlearner
"In the minds of biological scientists, it's just an arbitrary, man-made distinction [i.e. the distinction between life and non life], just like distinct speciation."

It is no more a man-made distinction than the distinction between gold and lead. Some things are living, and some are not. Sorry that this presents difficulty to your world view, but it is how things are. Most people, whether scientists or not, are able to distinguish the two.

Than it should be but a matter of a moment's research for you to tell me the exactly detailed nature of that distinction, such as to provide me with the working parameters to perform your much-touted, but unperformed experiment.

You are operating out of a layman's understanding of the evidence available, and not very consistently at that, since you just previously were arguing that you so-called experiment would be to create life in the lab, "from scratch". You don't understand the issues involved well enough to be arguing this point. Spend some time looking at Woese's research, it's not obscure tucked away in some dusty academic corner--it's a big deal in recent biological science.

3,385 posted on 02/17/2006 10:08:30 AM PST by donh
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To: unlearner
There isn't the slightest difference, regarding the potential to falsify between data you collected a minute ago that's a minute old, and data you collected a minute ago, that's 100 million years old."

Yes there is. We can observe things directly in the present. A great deal of natural history is extrapolated. In the here and now, we can repeat an experiment multiple times using the same controls. In the ancient past, you can only find comparable data.

All of science is "extrapolated", and we can dig up bones, and point out telescopes where we haven't before, multiple times. The phrase "comparable data" means nothing at all, as far as I can tell.

You can make educated guesses about the past, but present data is more reliable in general. I think some of your argument confuses between the reliability of data with the reliability of the medium which preserves or disseminates the data.

This is another helping of the same balderdash. Present data is NOT "more reliable". Old data can't be fudged by researchers with an ax to grind, or drunk grad students, or diddled consistently by mis-calibrated instruments, or run over and over until the fingerprints of the results we like causes us to wake up and push the "collect" button. Old data hasn't automatically the taint of pre-conceived notions telling us how to set the instruments next, and what material to feed into the hopper next. New data collection is a very manipulable commodity. You unconscious can sculpt the data as it's laid down. Old data was laid down without conscious, or even unconscious intent. You have the shoe precisely on the wrong foot. If you are a tobacco company, you can decide what data will come into existence. If you are a dinosaur biologist, your data was written down well before anyone had an active iron in the fire about what data would be written down.

3,386 posted on 02/17/2006 10:20:18 AM PST by donh
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To: unlearner
"Like your failure to specify what life is, your failure to specify what intelligence is continues to make your proposed test so much vapor in the wind."

No, it just means I do not feel like wasting time debating their definitions.

Well, that's patently obvious nonsense.

They mean what consensus says they mean. That is not arbitrary.

Of course it is. The scientific consensus holds that species exist. That does not prevent most scientists from knowing that speciation is just an arbitrary boundary created by humans. The fact that lions and tigers are separate species doesn't prevent them from crossbreeding, and producing viable offspring. The same holds for "life". It's just an arbitrary discrete distinction made my humans for their convenience to discribe a smooth, continuous process, it's not a palpable law of nature.

"We just learn we want to look, if possible, further in time and space than we at first thought for life's origins."

If a super natural intervention occurred some time in history which accomplished something which no natural process could do, would your approach be the same? Keep looking, because there must be a natural explanation?

In the event you discover how to demonstrate how something happened that eliminated the possibility of a natural explanation (which is, of course, serious nonsense). Science would leave it up to theologists and philosophers to wrangle over it, just as it has with things it hasn't been able to explain up until now. Science doesn't have hernias over it's lack of omnipotence; it just pulls up stakes and gets to work on some other problem it can solve--unlike some schools of thought I could mention.

You have said that the super natural might exist, but how would you recognize it if it did?

Not my business. I have no idea. Supernatural phenomenon are not the competent business of science, by definition. Science is about explaining stuff you can detect, with proximate physical causes you can verify with tangible experiments.

I agree that my test would prove nothing about the super natural, but it does not have a predisposed conclusion either. You seem to require that science assume that their is no super natural, all the while asserting that there could be.

This isn't rocket science, if you concentrate, you can get it. Science just doesn't give a rat's ass whether there is a supernatural or not.

3,387 posted on 02/17/2006 10:38:01 AM PST by donh
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To: unlearner
"the failure to produce life in the lab, if it to address intelligent assembly, must in some way weight against all natural reasons why the test might fail"

Just like the law of gravity explains all the ways possible it might not work? Oh, but it doesn't do that, does it?

Your analogy is extremely unsound--so much so as to strike at the heart of your miscomprehension. The law of gravity is not being offered up as a comprensive attempt to falsify some other theory. It is a theory, derived from induction over a limited set of data, just as are all natural science theories. The reason your experiment's results are laughable, is that you have undertaken to demonstrate, however much you wiggle on the hook, that NO OTHER EXPLANATION CAN EXIST to explain your experiment's failure, for your experiment to mean what you want it to mean. The more partial view--that your test would be "just an indication" or just a slight weight on the falsification scale, makes it 1) permanently unaffordable, and 2) just plain wrong, since we have some positive evidence that said failure could be more sensibly chalked up to lack of labs with infinite time and resources, and we always first look at obvious explanations before wracking ourselves up over far-fetched explanations.

To the contrary, someone must falsify my assertion by showing at least one other possible way life can come into existence without intelligent guidance.

Done and done. See Woese.

"The contention that life takes too long to happen, for it to happen in a lab, is, of course, the most natural and obvious, and least hair-brained, of the many contentions that might be falsified by your test"

Then you should welcome my test as a way to show your assertion is falsifiable.

It will show nothing, it will mean nothing. It is test of spontaneous abiogenesis, which is creationist comic book science, not real science.

But then again, maybe you would like your assertion to be falsifiable without actually being tested.

It is tested in the same manner as assertions about the behavior or morphology of dinosaurs are tested. By digging up new evidence that will either confirm or repudiate the thesis in question.

Because, realistically, it will be falsified at some point.

Of course it will not. Any more than the evidence for dinosaurs will be suddenly ripped asunder.

3,388 posted on 02/17/2006 10:53:51 AM PST by donh
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To: donh
Not intending to re-open a can of worms since I have very limited time available right now for discussions, but I thought some info I received in a newsletter might be of interest as it relates to our earlier conversation.

We had discussed how far away or near was the possibility of creating life in the lab. There is relevant research being done for the food industry. I realize this is not the same as creating life, but if we are some day able to do so, the techniques used to form life will probably be informed by what is learned in food research and similar areas.

A brief description of the project is here:

http://www.research.nestle.com/foodcolloids2006/Presentation/
3,389 posted on 03/25/2006 2:17:51 PM PST by unlearner (You will never come to know that which you do not know until you first know that you do not know it.)
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To: unlearner
We had discussed how far away or near was the possibility of creating life in the lab. There is relevant research being done for the food industry. I realize this is not the same as creating life, but if we are some day able to do so, the techniques used to form life will probably be informed by what is learned in food research and similar areas.

I'd be more inclined to guess that what this shows, is the likelihood of bypassing a need for creating life from scratch--if we can improve the species we have, for utilitarian purposes, what's the commercial, or scientific point of recreating the base case? Who'll want to fund it?

3,390 posted on 03/25/2006 3:11:32 PM PST by donh
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To: donh
Your assumption is reasonable.

Money will be a major factor either way.

It is possible at some point the cost to try it might become negligible.
3,391 posted on 04/05/2006 7:51:50 AM PDT by unlearner (You will never come to know that which you do not know until you first know that you do not know it.)
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