Saturday, March 09, 2013

John Witton Will Pay You $1000 to Answer One of His Questions

John Witton doesn't know much about biochemistry, genetics, or evolution but he's willing to learn. He will pay you $1000 (US) if you can answer any one of the six questions he has posed. He made this offer in the comments to my post: Saturday, February 28, 1953.

Here's what he said ...
I have been known to cause some problems on other forums, for obvious reasons, but I had hoped that on this forum we will be able to get to the bottom of the problems such as" vitalism vs entropy barrier, self assembly of proteins, self-cell membrane formation, metabolism first vs RNA world, why did evolution need 600 types of mangoes and how did they evolve and why?

Why did Larry Moran and Craig Venter evolve to baldness only on the part of the scalp but they have retained their bushy hair on the side and lower back of their scalp????

For those who answer one of these question logically, I am willing to pay $1000.00
I offered to answer two questions; the one on self assembly of proteins and the one on why male pattern baldness evolved. I suggested that John Witton could send the check to a neutral third party and that we could agree on a judge who would decide whether I had answered the questions satisfactorily. I recommended Michael Behe as the judge for the first question and Michael Denton as the judge for the second question.

John Witton agreed. On Saturday, March 2, 2013, he said ...
I’m glad you took the bait Larry…for the lack of better word in English… You are not a very good bluffer though…I’m hoping you don’t play poker and bet large sums of money… Anyway, even though you are paddling back from some of the issues I have presented you know you can’t explain, I’m still going to pursue this transaction, since I can still nail you on those two issues you feel comfortable with…You have nothing to lose...or it might be a little bit of pride, which is fine with me… So, this is what I’m doing. I am sending two cheques $1000.00 US each to Michael Behe and Michael Denton with the explanation of our agreement. They may not like writing extensive explanation as to their judgment or nothing at all, except Larry or John is the winner in their view. We just have to accept that.
Then on Monday he said ...
I have contacted both Behe and Denton. I have emailed the Discovery Institute regarding our arraignment. Even The Star is interested, if Behe participates... I don't think anybody takes you seriously Larry... We'll see.. You seem to be a big mouth that writes text books nobody understands, even you ...;)
I checked with Michael Behe on Thursday but he still had not heard from John Witton. I wasn't able to find out how to contact Michael Denton ... I'm waiting for Witton to send me the contact information since he already got in touch. (If anyone has an email address please send it to me.)

As it turns out. Witton had the stomach flu so he didn't send the checks. I'm sure he'll send them as soon as he feels better. (Apparently the flu strain comes from Canada!)
Larry is right. I have not sent the cheques or the paper to Behe or Denton yet... I'm sick with a bad case of stomach flu...You don't have to believe me... I will try to contact you when I'm better...Sorry to all my supporters...
According to Witton he now "got Larry by the balls." I thought I should let all my enemies know about this so they can watch the spectacle. Some Sandwalk readers might want to help John by answering one of the other questions for $1000.

While we're waiting for John Witton to keep his word, you might enjoy this video of Robert Shapiro (not John Witton) questioning the work on the origin of life. It was posted by John Witton so presumably he likes it.



86 comments :

  1. Well, I note Witton asked for a logical answer but not a truthful one. I answer the question about pattern baldness as follows:

    P1. If the moon is made of cheese, Larry Moran and Craig Venter evolve to baldness only on the part of the scalp but retain their bushy hair on the side and lower back of their scalp.
    P2. The moon is made of cheese.
    C. Therefore, Larry Moran and Craig Venter evolve to baldness only on the part of the scalp but retain their bushy hair on the side and lower back of their scalp. (Modus ponens)

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  2. Making a bet with crazies can be a REALLY bad idea. Look at what happened to poor Alfred Russel Wallace...

    http://drvitelli.typepad.com/providentia/2010/08/the-flat-earth-fiasco.html

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  3. That's not a video of John Witton, that's Robert Shapiro.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just a bit quicker on the trigger than me, Rum!

      Is Shapiro a well known figure in the field?

      Delete
    2. Thanks. I though it sounded a little to reasonable for John Witton.

      Delete
  4. That's not Witton in the video. It's a chemistry professor at NYU named Robert Shapiro (now deceased).

    Witton's video seems to misrepresent Shapiro as a creationist. In fact, Shapiro seems to have been a proponent of a "metabolism first" model of naturalistic abiogenesis:

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=a-simpler-origin-for-life

    Creationist lies! News at 11!

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  5. I don't get it. Why does Larry think this is Witton?

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  6. Replies
    1. that's it? So if I put a Rolling Stones video on Youtube I get to be Mick Jagger?
      ;)

      Delete
    2. that's a lapse of due diligence. The likelihood of Witton being a native speaker is quite low, based on his posts. We KNOW (hee hee) that he has MUCH, much more hair than the fellow in the video.
      Not to mention that the story being related is well known. I didn't know who related it, but I assumed it was someone more famous than Witton.

      So here we have Larry, who prides himself on his critical thinking skills such that he creates a post saying that theists, like me, are incapable of it, dropping the ball again.
      I think it is just time for him to admit that he is not the critical thinking expert he presents himself as.

      Delete
    3. Belief in god is a failure of critical thinking. Fortunately for the rest of us, most Believers manage to compartmentalize this failure, keeping their crazy locked away in a box so it doesn't screw up their life most of the time, and only letting the crazy out to play on special occasions, church services in particular. When Believers' compartmentalization fails, well, that's how you get unfortunate stuff like parents who let their children die because they trusted in faith healing over real medicine, and Xtian zealots who shoot up abortion clinics, and…

      Delete
    4. So your definition of a critical thinker, is a person incapable of making mistakes? An infallible? I thought for a theist, that quality can only be attributed to the pope, and God.

      Delete
    5. explain, exactly, how belief in god is a failure of critical thinking. I'm not talking about belief in any particular myth or doctrine. Just explain how it is 'crazy' to believe in some form of deity/creative intelligence, etc. Even Alfred Russel Wallace believed in that.
      Don't just fall back on words like 'crazy' and 'irrational'. Give a cogent explanation, please.

      Delete
    6. "So your definition of a critical thinker, is a person incapable of making mistakes? "

      Nonsense. I indicated nothing of the kind. But due diligence is important. Here Larry has taken the time to create a post about a person, a person with whom he is engaged in a wager of a kind, and he won't do that basic amount of research? If a student in his critical thinking class had done the same thing, wouldn't he be right to grade the student poorly for having done so?

      Delete
    7. @andyboerger,

      Yes, Andy, I made a dumb mistake by assuming that John Witton posted a video of himself.

      However, it's the first time in my life that I have ever made a mistake as you are, no doubt, aware. I guess that's why you're turning it into a major event.

      Delete
    8. 'turning it into a major event'? Please dispense with histrionics.
      You are the one who arrogates to yourself the position of being able to decide who can and can't be considered critical thinkers. You teach a course on the subject.
      I am merely pointing out that he who throws darts should be wary of wagging his behind out the window.

      Delete
    9. @Andy

      So you want Larry to declare he is not a critical thinker, because he made one mistake? didn't I say this mistake prevention mechanism can only be generated by the the holy halo surrounding the pope and God? Why do you expect an atheist to have it?

      Delete
    10. person above, (sorry I don't know how to write in your arabic name on my computer); please stop bringing up the pope and God. Doing so has nothing to do with what I have written and merely reveals your prejudice. It does absolutely nothing else. If you want to merely sarcastically express your distaste for religion, I am quite certain you can find much more appropriate threads on which to do so.

      Delete
    11. @Andy
      Infallibility is exactly what you are implying by your unreasonable accusation, and my example hit that mark. We all make silly mistakes from time to time, and there is no reason for you to inflate this one beyond that.

      Delete
    12. I am NOT implying infallibility. I am saying that it would have behooved Larry to apply critical thinking. He himself wrote,

      " I though it sounded a little to reasonable for John Witton."

      But he didn't check it out before posting.
      Wikipedia defines critical thinking as ' It is a way of deciding whether a claim is always true, sometimes true, partly true, or false.' Larry believed it was 'true' that the person in question was Whitton, but he also admits to have had doubts about this. There is a 'way' of determining this. In fact, in today's hyper-linked world, there are multiple ways of finding out if his belief was true, partly true, or false. The working out of that is a function of critical thinking and can also be referred to as 'due diligence'. Larry believes himself to be somewhat of an expert on critical thinking, where clearly he isn't.
      If you read this site more, you would find numerous examples of me pointing this out. He makes similar errors regularly. But still he chooses to claim a superiority in regard to this as opposed to, for example, theists.
      This has absolutely nothing to do with infallibility. Like I wrote above, if you were a professor and a student gave a report that presented Shapiro's work as Whitton's, would you be WRONG to grade the student poorly because you were holding him/her to an unreasonable standard of 'infallibility'? If so, believe me, your students will think very highly of you, or at least the grades you give them.

      Delete
    13. andyboerger said:

      "explain, exactly, how belief in god is a failure of critical thinking."

      Which god(s), andy?

      Delete
    14. twt, the intelligence, as yet fully comprehended or understood by man, that brought the universe we inhabit into being.

      Delete
    15. @AB-
      " the intelligence, as yet fully comprehended or understood by man, that brought the universe we inhabit into being."

      That should be not yet fully comprehended.

      AB made a mistake. Therefore, he is no judge of critical thinking and AB cannot logically judge Larry's critical thinking skills, nor criticize them.

      Delete
    16. so, Diogenes, making a grammatical error, as Larry often does and nearly everyone here does at one time or another, is more or less the same as misidentifying someone with whom you are engaged in a disagreement/wager with (and thus would presumably wish to know as much about as possible), and then presenting that person, thus misidentified, to others in a post you place on a blog? I think we could argue about that.

      And besides, I don't really claim to be a 'judge' of critical thinking, in that I don't teach a course on it, or make blanket statements such as it is impossible to be a theist and think critically.
      I just claim to be able to recognize lapses in it, sometimes - to not make the silly mistake of conflating them with grammatical errors.

      Delete
  7. This is the email Larry:
    " Hello Professor Behe,

    Professor Moran has notified me, that he had contacted you regarding the challenge I had presented him with on his Sandwalk Blog.

    I hope that is true.

    Several days ago, I have challenged him to explain two issues:

    1. I have asked him to explain pattern baldness from an evolutionary prospective.

    2. How could proteins have been able to fold in face of tremendous entropy barrier?

    He accepted the challenge. He has also chosen you and Dr. Michael Denton to be the judges in this challenge. I had not suggested that.

    The details of the challenge are very simple. I was to contact you and Dr. Denton regarding the details of the challenge. If you both agreed to be the judges, I would send a $1000 cheque to each one of you. After you have received the cheques, and professor Moran receives the confirmation from you regarding receiving the cheques, he will make his arguments regarding the two issues. After that, I would present my arguments. You would review both arguments, and decide whose arguments are more logical. If professor Moran’s arguments were more logical, you would send him the cheques. If mine, you would simply discard the cheques. No questions asked.
    If you do not mind participating in this challenge as a judge, either in one case, or both; as I have not been able to contact Dr. Denton yet--I have not been able to locate his contact information-- it would be much appreciated on my part and I am sure professor Moran’s as well. Professor Moran simply has nothing to lose in this contest...

    If one or both judgments go against me, I will have no regrets. I will not bother you to answer "why" at all. You have my word for it and you can use this statement as the proof. You will not have to explain it to me, why you ruled one way or the other. It will be a done deal. You have my word. Just let me know, if you are interested in the participation of this contest as a judge. If your answer is yes, I will follow through with the delivery of the cheques as soon as possible. I treat this challenge as a test of my knowledge and my beliefs. I will learn something from this even if I lose, but I think it can be entertaining for all participants and observers on professor Moran’s blog.


    Yours truly,



    John Witton III

    PS. Larry, I have proof of this. Give me your email and I will send it to you....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. After that, I would present my arguments. You would review both arguments, and decide whose arguments are more logical.

      I don't recall you ever mentioning that this was a debate where you got to critique my answer to your question. Your original statement was simply, "For those who answer one of these question logically, I am willing to pay $1000.00"

      If you want to be honest, then you should present your questions first then let me explain where you are going wrong. You've now moved the goalposts. It's no longer sufficient to answer your question "logically." Now I have to anticipate what your misunderstanding is all about and address that in my answer.

      Delete
  8. I'm a "hair-stylist"...So, what do you want from me...? A blog devoted to my humble personality tells me that I must have stepped on some toes...What worries me is what is going to happen, when I begin to post the real stuff... I had to restrain myself from writing the details even though I was soooo tempted... I'm sure you will understand when this contest is over...
    PS. I love you Larry... you are so predictable... ;)

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  9. BTW: This is en email i received Friday evening from my "hair-styling' staff...

    "Dr Witton: The email you have dictated was sent on Friday afternoon to mjb1@lehigh.edu as indicated to belong to Dr. Behe. We, your assistants and secretaries, have double-checked to make sure the email was sent. If we do not receive a response from professor Behe by Monday afternoon, we will follow-up with the next step of contact, until we reach the subject. We hope you recover from your illness soon.

    All the best,

    Your team."

    At least 5 people looked after this... Let't see what happened...

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    Replies
    1. Interesting, then calling this guy a hair stylist was quite insulting to the hair stylist. The ones I know can send an e-mail by themselves. Witton needed five people!

      While it is quite easy for me to notice how much of an idiot Witton is, I was still surprised at this level of incompetence. Five people for one little e-mail, plus Witton it's six. Shit.

      Delete
  10. Larry,
    You thought that Robert Shapiro and John Witton (myself) were one and the same person? Nuh... Larry... You see, he was a great professor and teacher, but we did not agree on many issues...I'm not surprised that you got us mixed up, but there are many more issues that I bring to the table that people like you can't accept... I will tell you after the contest is over...I can't do it now...It would be unethical in a sense...I hope you understand...

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  11. Come on guys! Leave Larry alone! People make mistakes...Larry too. This is not the issue here...So, he got me mixed up with some diseased professor of chemistry I had been fond of long time ago...So what? We're discussing much, much more critical issues here...Don't spoil it now. It is going to be much more interesting than if you were discussing it with Robert Shapiro. I guarantee you...

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    Replies
    1. Don't worry about it. Andyboerger is a bit obsessive about the concept of critical thinking. He seems to think that one has to be perfect in all ways in order to teach a course that requires critical thinking.

      He seems to be an expert on critical thinking so I can only assume that he has a very high opinion of himself.

      Delete
    2. LM writes,
      "He seems to think that one has to be perfect in all ways in order to teach a course that requires critical thinking."
      Not at all. I simply would expect exemplary behavior from one who claims it as an area of expertise. For example, if someone is a tennis pro, I would expect him to have more or less mastered the sport.

      If he tells me that my backhand is pathetic, I expect him to be able to demonstrate a far superior technique. I hardly think that's too much to ask.
      As for me having a very high opinion of myself, allow me to remind you that I am not the one who goes around saying who is and isn't capable of thinking critically, nor would I presume to teach a course on it.

      Delete
  12. sez andybœrger: "explain, exactly, how belief in god is a failure of critical thinking. I'm not talking about belief in any particular myth or doctrine. Just explain how it is 'crazy' to believe in some form of deity/creative intelligence, etc. Even Alfred Russel Wallace believed in that.
    Don't just fall back on words like 'crazy' and 'irrational'. Give a cogent explanation, please."
    It's really pretty simple, Andy: All Believers' stated rationales for their Belief are based on logical fallacies. The Believer who says "God said, I believe it, that settles it" is assuming their conclusion; the Believer who says "I believe because I want to be Saved" is guilty of arguing from consequences; and so on, and so forth. They're all based on logical fallacies, whether it be wishful thinking, cherry-picked data, or whatever other conceptual glitch. I don't happen to know why Wallace was a Believer, but seeing as how intelligence is not an infallible shield against indulging in logical fallacies, you'll have to do more than just drop the man's name if you want me to accept him as a counter-example to the conclusion I've reached.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's also a difference between believing in stuff for bad/crazy reasons, and being generally crazy as a person in all areas of your life. It's a matter of how much you let your religiosity dictate your life and your interactions with other human beings.
      And even then, it's not even exclusively a religion problem, but an issue with believing in stuff on bad reasons in general, and sometimes believing them stubbornly and in the face of overwhelming evidence. Be that political ideology, religious doctrine or whatever, the problem is at bottom, believing stuff for bad reasons. Unfortulately religion just presents itself as a huge persistent target here.

      Delete
    2. Cubist, I agree with you that there are many logical fallacies one may be guilty of that justify an otherwise irrational belief in god. But it is not as 'pretty simple' as you claim it is.

      Suppose that someone believes in an intelligent creator of the universe because the universe behaves according to laws, and thus operates - at least somewhat - machinelike. And there are no other examples of things that have that machinelike attribute unless we can identify 'mind' and 'planning' behind them? Whether a beaver's dam, the beautiful shape that small fish make in order to mimic a larger fish when they synchronize their swimming, or a human machine such as a tool or a work of art, always we can attribute the functionality and purpose of the machine to the purposes of the creator who invented it. Except the universe. For that one we can't. So suppose someone says that this is his reason for believing in god? Not that one HAS to believe in god because of this, but that he himself does. What is the logical fallacy?
      What if someone claims that, if you can't make it, can't duplicate it, can't improve upon it (as we are unable to with biological organisms), learn continually more about it the more you study it, and can't say exactly how it came about, you are on just as safe ground thinking that it may have arisen from a 'mind' beyond our comprehension than that it 'just happened'. Explain why the former, but not the latter, is a matter of logical fallacy.

      And as for 'name dropping', I wasn't intending to and forego the need. You are welcome to use this thread to demonstrate how I lack critical thinking skills.

      Delete
    3. and Cubist, as a follow up, explain why the human mind, though it is unable to explain the universe fully or advanced enough to create anything approaching the complexity and functionality of living organisms, is nevertheless infallible when it comes to being able to establish what is and isn't logical such that it can verify and prove that any belief in a deity is a failure of critical thinking.

      It seems to me to beg the question. One makes the statement, in essence, 'the human mind has created logic (perhaps one would prefer to use the word 'discovered' but then that would be even MORE problematic)' and then proclaims, 'the human mind can fully and decisively establish what beliefs are and aren't logical'. I have problems with that; may I assume you don't? If so, please explain why not.

      Delete
    4. Andy your posts contain so many vague unsupported claims, blatant misunderstandings and appeals to ignorance it's hard to know where to begin disentangling your puddle of nonsensical wibble. You claim we say we are "infallible" with regards to logicl. Pure nonsense of your own making. You claim we can't "improve upon" existing organism. That depends on what improvement means, doesn't it? Last I checked, we've domesticated(as in improved for our purposes) countless animal and plant species for our own gains. Guess how we did that, Andy, by evolving them in the direction we desired.
      And the thing about having "discovered logic" is the final retreat of the theist. The MAD strategy of debate, going nuclear by suddenly insisting we have to explain logic itself. Problem is, the theist have no greater an answer to the "laws of logic", since they have no basis for assuming their god would choose to make a logical universe(he could, supposedly, make an illogical one, since to theists god is the source of logic). In other words, theism doesn't present any solutions here other than the blind faith that god chose to make a logical universe. On the other hand, the atheist simply has to note that the very concept of an illogical universe, is tautologically nonsensical. It is logically impossible for there to be contradictory objects, that includes god. So god isn't the source of logic, he's subject to it like everything else. Which means god can't be erected to explain logic.
      The thing is, even famous apologists like William Lane Craig basically agree with this. I know Craig has stated in his written works that god's omnipotence only allows god to do "everything that isn't logically contradictory", instead of just doing "everything imaginable". This, to him, is supposed to shield god's omnipotence from self-refutation through questions like "If god can do everything, can he make a stone so heavy he can't lift it?" etc.
      This makes the basic rules of logic inexorable properties of existence, which nothing has to explain, because the alternative would erode all basis for discussion on any subject. The minimum fundamental assumption everyone have to make, theists and atheists alike, are the basic rules of logic. Everything else has to build on that foundation. Otherwise, how would you even attempt to construct a logical argument that demonstrates god's existence(or nonexistence)?

      Sorry Andy, you're no better off here than the atheist.

      Delete
    5. Rumraket, I would NOT 'attempt to construct a logical argument that demonstrates god's existence'.

      Nor am I claiming to be 'better off' than the atheist. I am saying the supposition, one way or the other is just as good.
      As for saying that humans have 'improved on' biological organisms by domesticating them, I can only assume that you don't understand my implication.

      I do NOT say that someone claims to be infallible with regard to logic. I hope that most people would recognize that there are some things that it doesn't necessarily apply to, such as appreciation of music. But if someone feels that they can accuse another of being ILLOGICAL for holding out any possibility in the existence of gods, then they must be pretty sure about logic's purvey. They must be so sure that they can dismiss the experiences of millions of people who know for certain, such as Carl Jung did - and I do - that they have experienced 'god' , or rather, a mind that exists prior to and beyond our own. I can't, nor could Jung, pass on that experience to you such that you can understand it. It doesn't work that way. But I, just as certainly as Jung, can say I 'know' there is a god, even though I can't 'prove' that to you, and can't make a whole lot of assumptions about it. I also know that you can't invalidate my experience. No matter what logic you use, you will not dislodge the experiences from my consciousness that convince me that YOU are the one appealing from ignorance. You haven't experienced what I have, what Jung experienced, what many others have, and so you say it doesn't exist. Not that you don't know if it exists or not, but that by logic, you can say with near certainty that it doesn't exist. You are in error in this regard.

      Delete
    6. Rumraket, I hope you understand that I am not invalidating or denigrating the atheistic position. I see nothing wrong with it. I was an atheist for many years. I don't claim that I am 'better' now than I was before. It is an entirely acceptable position to arrive at, in my view.

      I do invalidate and denigrate the opinion held by some atheists that theirs is the superior stance and that believers who don't think the way they do are de facto inferior in that regard. Lacking in the critical thinking skills that an atheist has, etc. etc.
      I also invalidate and denigrate those who claim superiority by virtue of believing in god(s).

      Delete
    7. No, you can't say that you know there's a god, because you don't know that you're not experiencing personal delusion. All you can offer in response to me here is to appeal to how convincing these experiences were to you, but hat's all you really have. An internal experience. Not even TO YOURSELF would that experience logically entail knowledge of god.

      I don't know what you felt specifically, but it doesn't really matter. The issue is that it doesn't refer to something external, it was something that took place in your head. Whether it reallt has an outside source, like god, you can't actually know on the experience alone. What's worse is that there are plenty of people like you, who at one point stopped being believers despite having had similar experiences, and who now are convinced it was a making of their own mind.

      I don't have to logically disprove that your experience came from god, I only need to note that neither me, nor you, are justified in claiming to know it came from god. Consequently, it would be irrational to believe it did, given the cultural, psychological and historical contexts of many similar claims.

      Yes Andy, sad shit, your inner-experience based god-belief is irrational. No amount of appeals to the strength of your conviction emotion felt could ever change this.

      The only logically tenable position on the nature and source of your experience, even to yourself, is to admit you don't know.

      Delete
    8. you can believe that all you want, Rumraket. It doesn't make any difference to me. Nor does it matter that some people have later gone on to later decide that they made it out of their own mind. I could do the same thing. So could Carl Jung, Rumi, Pierre de Chardin, Victor Frankl, etc. etc. We could, but they didn't and I most certainly won't.
      We know what we know, and we know very well exactly why we are quite certain what we experienced was at once outside, and yet within, our minds. Precisely as this communication you and I are having is happening both right here as I tap away on my keyboard and yet happening over the internet as well. My thoughts, as well as yours, are needed for this conversation to happen, but without the internet, this conversation could NOT be happening. I had an experience akin to that, as have many others. You haven't, and so I am really not interested in your opinions about it. I am, somewhat, amused by your certainty that I can't tell the difference when you don't know what you're talking about. You didn't have my experiences; I did.

      Delete
    9. All you know is you had an emotional experience, that's it. That's all you can rationally claim to know. Interestingly, the the irrationality of your conviction comes through when you already now claim to be certain that you won't ever change your mind. So much for open mindedness I guess.

      Delete
    10. For example, Rumraket, Rumi wrote,
      'you are not just a drop in a vast ocean; you are the mighty ocean contained within a single drop'.
      You think you know why he wrote that. You perhaps think it was just a nice sounding platitude. Or perhaps wishful thinking. Or perhaps even a delusion, brought on by a meditative experience where he seemed to - but actually didn't - have more than just the 'notion' that he put into words, but rather had a much deeper and fully felt experience of being 'the mighty ocean'.
      I know why he wrote that, because I have had the same (or better to say, comparable( experience. I know where the certainty of his words come from. I know why Carl Jung said he wasn't interested in 'beliefs'; he KNEW there was a god (and then went on to explain that he was referring to what has always been labeled 'god', not that he attached any particular characteristics to what he was describing or attached any significance to the word 'god').
      And I also know why you are so sure that all these men, and I as well, are fooling ourselves. You have to operate within your own frame of mind, your own worldview, etc., which is limited by the types of experiences you have had, as well as the ones you haven't. My worldview is limited too, of course. There are many things that I don't know a thing about. But just as a third grader knows more than an infant, and an adult knows more than a third grader, I know more regarding 'the god experience' than you do.

      Delete
    11. whoops, what I meant to write above was that 'I almost certainly won't', not 'I most certainly won't'. So I am less closed minded than you imagine me to be.

      Delete
    12. Rumraket writes,
      'All you know is you had an emotional experience, that's it.'
      Why do you say this? Wherefrom comes your conviction that I am even referring to an 'emotional' experience, much less one that was confined solely to emotions?

      Delete
    13. Andy, I'm not claiming to know that you're fooling yourselves. I'm saying believing it comes from god, and even worse, to claim to KNOW that it comes from god, is logically and evidentially unjustifiable. That makes it irrational to believe it comes from god. Writing that you KNOW it, in caps, doesn't change the fact that you really, really don't.

      All you're telling me is that you're convinced it comes from god, but Andy, it's logically possible to be absolutely convinced of something that's absolutely wrong. Thus, to appeal to the strength of your conviction is logically fallacious.

      With regards to what your experience was like, I have no idea, it doesn't matter to me whether you had visions, or heard voices, or felt the touch of god, or felt the most happy and lovely experience of your life, or whatever it was. The fact is that it was an inner experience, thats at least what you said to being with. Are you now going to change your claim and say it was suddently something external?

      Delete
    14. what you are REALLY saying, when you write that, is;
      'all I can, within my own worldview, conceptualize you as having had is an emotional experience, that's it.'

      Delete
    15. @Andyboerger

      Just out of interest, which God have you had experience with?

      Delete
    16. No, what I'm saying is that you can't know what you claim to know. It's possible to concieve of your experiences coming from outside, but you can't demonstrate they do, not to me and not even to yourself.

      In order to justify believing you've been in contact with god, and not just yourself, you need to demonstrate that god exists. The mere inner experience of god isn't evidence for anything other than inner experience, it says nothing about what is causing this experience.

      You keep wanting to ascribe to me the position of claiming to know that god doesn't exist, or claiming to know what your experience came from. I don't, I can't, that's the point, because neither can you. At which point, the cultural, psychological and historical contexts of similar experiences becomes important.
      You're the one who believes it comes from god, and not only that, you claim to KNOW it. On what basis Andy? You keep telling me how convinced you and a lot of others are of it, But as I said that means nothing when it comes down to it, people often believe strongly in false things. Strenght of convinction isn't evidence that logically entails actual knowledge. Also there ARE people who've had those experiences you did, and they don't belive they come from god.

      So in essence, what do you actually have here other than belief, than faith? It seems to me you keep coming back to faith, because that's what it is at bottom. That's all you can logically claim about it. It's faith. Be honest about it.

      Delete
    17. 'change my claim' to say it was something external? Why would I need to? Everything that you write just makes it clearer that you don't know what you are talking about when it comes to this.

      To an extent, I can agree with you that to say you 'know' it comes from god is problematic, because one may then have to explain exactly what one means by 'god'. That is why Jung went on to explain, basically what others throughout history have typically referred to as god, is what he knew existed. What he means by that is that people go around claiming all sorts of attributes to what they experience, such as omniscience, omnipotence, etc. - and he, nor I, wanted any part of that. I can't describe what I experienced to you, and wouldn't presume to, beyond describing it as a type of 'mind' that is more than my own, and more than humans are commonly used to encountering. An 'extraordinary' mind, but not necessarily super-powerful, all knowing, etc. I don't accept the descriptions of god of any of the major religions. Describing is inherently limiting.

      Delete
    18. Here is what Jung said;
      'When we have a relationship to a particular thing or experience with it - belief/faith ceases to be a factor.

      The truth is this, I have had the experience of being gripped by something that is stronger than myself, something that people call God. So, I will never say that I believe that God exists. I must say I know God exists.'

      I know what he meant, and why he said that. I would use more or less the same words. For someone who doesn't, and wouldn't, it is quite natural and rational to assume that he was deluded. One must interpret another's words within ones own particular framework of knowing. I understand that. But because my framework of knowing is fuller, in this area, I do not choose to, and have no need to, limit myself in the same way.

      Delete
    19. I don't know what I'm talking about? Only in so far as I odn't know what it's like to have the experience you had. But that's fundamentally irrelevant with respect to trying to justify a belief that it came from god.
      Trying to just sort of dismiss me with I "don't know what I'm talking about", is a cop out and you know it.

      How do you know it came from god, Andy? You claim not only to believe it, but to know it. How do you know that?

      Delete
    20. What is it that bridges the gap from "I had an experience" to "I KNOW it came from god".

      Delete
    21. Rumraket, if you wouldn't use words like 'Are you now going to change your claim and say it was suddently something external?' then I wouldn't dismiss what you write. You make it sound like I am being dishonest with you, and would manipulate my own words and meanings merely to score some sort of absurd 'point' with you. Did you mean somethinge else when you wrote 'change your claim'?

      If we can communicate with a mutual trust in the integrity of where the other person is coming from, I am happy to proceed. But if you think I am being deliberately evasive and dishonest, then I don't need to police the words I use with you at all, do I?
      So, where do we stand?

      Delete
    22. Where do we stand? I just want to know how you intend to bridge the gap from "I had an experience" to "I KNOW it came from god"?

      Delete
    23. which means what? You don't admit that saying that I might 'change my claim' and 'suddenly' turn it into something else smacks of accusing me of intellectual dishonesty? And you think it's perfectly all right to do that and still expect people to just answer your questions? I'm not sure how you usually conduct your discourse but that doesn't really go very far with me. I will address your question once it's clear that you accept my word that I am not someone who changes my story and suddenly turns it into something else in order to score some stupid point that in fact I have no interest in.

      Delete
    24. Get over yourself, this latest rant of yours looks like nothing more than an excuse to try and duck out of this discussion, and all I did was ask you a question about whether you were going to change your initial claim. Not the first time I've seen that tactic, and it looked suspiciously like that was what you were going to attempt because you protested my use of the word "emotional" in referring to your experience. All you have to do here is say no and just stick with your initial claim. I'm glad to see you seem to intend to do just that.

      So with that distraction out of the way, are you going to start offering something substantive to bridge the aforementioned gap?

      Delete
    25. um, wrong answer, Rumraket. You will no doubt consider it a 'tactic' to 'duck' a discussion rather than chalk it up to the fact that your tone, particularly in your latest response, is that of an obnoxious, rude, insulting brat.

      'Get over yourself', 'latest rant', 'seen this tactic', 'distraction' blah blah blah....now answer my question!

      No, Junior.

      Delete
    26. Complete cop-out. Unsurprising, since logically it would not be possible to erect a defense of your earlier claim of knowledge. It's faith and every open minded, rational person reading our exchange will come to the same conclusion.

      My work here is done.

      Delete
    27. ha ha, a copout. Here is the answer you'll prefer. I am so utterly TERRIFIED of having my pathetic little notions exposed under the glaring laser of Rumraket's superior intellect and unconquerable logical prowess that I wither, and grab at any excuse to abort this discussion rather than give him the chance to tear my ideas to shreds.

      whew, managed to dodge THAT bullet!

      Delete
    28. Well, you do spend an inordinate amount of time pursuing this irrelevant digression for some reason instead of just sticking to the subject we were discussing. This new latest post of your is just another one in the line containing nothing but distractions and semi-couched insults.

      Delete
    29. Unintended Irony, Dept.;
      Rumraket writes, 'Interestingly, the the irrationality of your conviction comes through when you already now claim to be certain that you won't ever change your mind. So much for open mindedness I guess.'
      Actually, this is related to a mis-type by me (I wrote 'I most certainly' when my intended meaning was 'I almost certainly')

      He then writes, 'Unsurprising, since logically it would not be possible to erect a defense of your earlier claim of knowledge.'
      It would not be possible? Hmm...so much for open mindedness, I guess.

      Delete
    30. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    31. sez andybœrger: "Suppose that…"
      Okay, "suppose". You're raising a hypothetical here. Cool.

      "Suppose that someone believes in an intelligent creator of the universe because the universe behaves according to laws, and thus operates - at least somewhat - machinelike."
      I can see how a truly critical thinker might entertain the possibility that a seemingly-orderly Universe could be the product of some sort of Creator. Of course, there's rather a large gap between I wonder if the Universe was Created? and Yes, the Universe really was Created. If this hypothetical someone can't demonstrate how they got from I wonder if it's true? to yes, it is true, they're assuming their conclusion.

      "And there are no other examples of things that have that machinelike attribute unless we can identify 'mind' and 'planning' behind them? Whether a beaver's dam…"
      Hold it. What "mind" and "planning" behind a beaver's dam? If you're assuming that a beaver's dam is the product of "mind" and "planning", citing the-"mind"-and-"planning"-behind-beaver-dams as evidence for a Creator is exactly and precisely the logical fallacy of assuming one's conclusion. How do you get from "beaver's dam" to "'mind' and 'planning'"? As the S. Harris cartoon has it, You need to be more explicit here in step two.

      "…the beautiful shape that small fish make in order to mimic a larger fish when they synchronize their swimming…"
      Again: What "mind" and "planning" behind said "beautiful shape"? If you can't demonstrate (not just assume!) that "mind"-and-"planning"-are-behind-said-"beautiful shape", you're assuming your conclusion.

      "…or a human machine such as a tool or a work of art…"
      Oh, come on. Humans exist, therefore the Creator exists? Give me a break.

      "…always we can attribute the functionality and purpose of the machine to the purposes of the creator who invented it. Except the universe."
      Hold it. What "functionality and purpose" are you attributing to the Universe, and how do you know whether or not the Universe genuinely does have that "functionality and purpose"? Assuming your conclusion, and wishful thinking.

      "So suppose someone says that this is his reason for believing in god? Not that one HAS to believe in god because of this, but that he himself does. What is the logical fallacy?"
      In the absence of valid demonstrations of how they bridged all the you-need-to-be-more-explicit-here gaps in their 'reasoning', the fallacies are Assuming One's Conclusion, with a side ordfer of Wishful Thinking.

      "What if someone claims that, if you can't make it, can't duplicate it, can't improve upon it (as we are unable to with biological organisms), learn continually more about it the more you study it, and can't say exactly how it came about, you are on just as safe ground thinking that it may have arisen from a 'mind' beyond our comprehension than that it 'just happened'. Explain why the former, but not the latter, is a matter of logical fallacy."
      If you don't have any clue how Thing X was manufactured, a claim that Thing X really was manufactured is exactly and precisely an instance of Assuming One's Conclusion. The alternative claim, that Thing X "just happened", is merely the null hypothesis for the proposition "Thing X was manufactured".

      Delete
    32. sez andybœrger: "…explain why the human mind, though it is unable to explain the universe fully or advanced enough to create anything approaching the complexity and functionality of living organisms, is nevertheless infallible when it comes to being able to establish what is and isn't logical such that it can verify and prove that any belief in a deity is a failure of critical thinking."
      Who said anything about "infallible"? I sure didn't! Since it is not, in fact, my position that the human mind is infallible, I decline to answer this question, and I would recommend that you ask it of someone who does hold the position that the human mind is infallible.

      "It seems to me to beg the question. One makes the statement, in essence, 'the human mind has created logic (perhaps one would prefer to use the word 'discovered' but then that would be even MORE problematic)' and then proclaims, 'the human mind can fully and decisively establish what beliefs are and aren't logical'. I have problems with that; may I assume you don't? If so, please explain why not."
      Perhaps that statement was indeed made by the unspecific "one" of which you speak. If so, I would recommend that you should direct your request for an explanation at that unspecific "one". Since Cubist has never made such a statement, Cubist declines to provide an explanation for a position which Cubist does not hold.
      I am always willing to consider the possibility that I'm wrong. The catch is, I do not think that "hey, you might be wrong!!!" is a valid reason to conclude that I actually am wrong.

      Delete
    33. great, Cubist, so then we agree. Logic is NOT infallible. Therefore logic can not be used as an absolute determinant as to whether something is or is not true. There ARE things that may fall out of its purvey.
      Some of these things might be what have conventionally been referred to as metaphysical/supernatural, etc.
      Agreed?

      Delete
    34. Cubist, you DON'T think that beavers have 'minds'? In other words, they have no concept that they are accomplishing anything in particular when they build little reservoirs from themselves to secure food?
      It is so interesting that sometimes atheists use the argument that humans aren't really any different from other animals when theists try to argue for the 'specialness' of the human mind, but then when someone turns that around and suggest that animals know what they are doing (i.e., possess minds) they challenge that as well.

      Delete
    35. whoops, should have been 'for themselves' not 'from themselves'.

      Delete
    36. sez andybœger: "great, Cubist, so then we agree. Logic is NOT infallible."
      Old news. For any given system of logic, there can be true statements which said system of logic cannot prove the truth of (see also: "Gödel's incompleteness theorem"). I'm not sure what your point is, because "not absolutely, 1000% reliable at all times" is not synonymous with "total bullshit that can't ever be relied upon". If you want to assert that some particular claim is outside the purview of logic, fine—but you're gonna have to demonstrate that said claim genuinely is outside the purview of logic, because bald assertion just won't cut it.

      "Therefore logic can not be used as an absolute determinant as to whether something is or is not true."
      Again: So what? Ain't nobody but you making noise about oooh, logic isn't absolutely perfect!!1!11!! What's your point, if any?

      "There ARE things that may fall out of its purvey. Some of these things might be what have conventionally been referred to as metaphysical/supernatural, etc. Agreed?"
      Okay, that's your point—you're trying to carve out a special-pleading exemption for supernatural stuff. My reply: If you're waving the word 'supernatural' around like it's a Get Out Of Logic Free card, you're doing logic (and critical thinking in general) wrong. You say you're not doing Critical Thinking wrong? You say you aren't waving the word 'supernatural' around as if it's a Get Out Of Logic Free card? In that case, there's a few questions you shouldn't have any problems providing clear answers to:

      How can you, andybœrger, tell when a given concept is 'supernatural', and therefore, in your view, eligible for Getting Out Of Logic Free?

      How do you determine whether or not a 'supernatural' concept is true? If logic is genuinely incapable of evaluating the truth-value of 'supernatural' concepts, what alternative tools/methodologies can do the job?

      Exactly how does a "supernatural" concept exceed the boundaries of valid logic-use? For instance, does Assuming One's Conclusion stop being a fallacy when the Conclusion being Assumed is a "supernatural" conclusion? Is Moving the Goalposts okay when you do it in support of a "supernatural" conclusion?

      Is there anything more to your use of the word 'supernatural' than screw logic and rationality and critical thinking, andybœrger's damn well gonna believe X anyway?

      Since you've just shifted from yes, religious belief really is valid by the standards of logic and critical thinking to it doesn't matter if religious belief is valid by the limited, inapplicable standards of logic and critical thinking, would it be correct to infer that you, andybœrger, think that religious belief is a failure of critical thinking, but that's okay because said failure just doesn't matter?

      Delete
    37. sez andybœrger: "Cubist, you DON'T think that beavers have 'minds'? In other words, they have no concept that they are accomplishing anything in particular when they build little reservoirs from themselves to secure food?"
      Beavers may or may not have "mind". Beavers do have hardwired instincts. If you want to use the 'intelligence' inherent in beavers' dams as an argument in support of Design, you really need to establish the extent to which those dams are the product of mindless instinct.

      "It is so interesting that sometimes atheists use the argument that humans aren't really any different from other animals when theists try to argue for the 'specialness' of the human mind, but then when someone turns that around and suggest that animals know what they are doing (i.e., possess minds) they challenge that as well."
      "Mind" isn't a discontinuous, black/white, binary thing; rather, it's a continuum. On the high end of the "mind" continuum, there's human beings for sure, and various other species (gorillas, crows, parrots, etc) as well, depending on what criteria you accept as a diagnostic criteria for the presence of more-or-less-in-the-vicinity-of-human levels of intelligence. On the low end of the "mind" continuum, there's beasties which are purely instinct-driven, stimulus/response mechanisms.
      I don't happen to know where beavers fall on this continuum, but like I said: If your argument is, or includes in part, beavers' dams! therefore, it's reasonable to believe there's an Intelligent Designer, you really, really, really need to determine the degree to which beavers' dams actually are the result of beaverish cogitation, as distinct from being the resuilt of mindless, hardwired beaverish instinct.

      Delete
  13. As always, the "debate" seems pretty silly because the rules of engagement are not defined and so both sides are ecstatic to get the other side on technicalities. Quite boring, actually, but one minor point caught my attention:

    why male pattern baldness evolved

    Larry, do you really pretend to know WHY pattern baldness evolved? Wow. "Why"?

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  14. Title: The uniqueness of biological self-organization: challenging the Darwinian paradigm

    Author(s): Edelmann, J. B.; Denton, M. J.

    Source: BIOLOGY & PHILOSOPHY Volume: 22 Issue: 4 Pages: 579-601 DOI: 10.1007/s10539-006-9055-5 Published: SEP 2007

    Gives an email adres: mikedenton30@yahoo.com.au

    ReplyDelete
  15. From Web of Science, I don't know whether it works.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Denton gives the same mail address in his recent article "The Place of Life and Man in Nature: Defending the Anthropocentric Thesis" that appeared in the 2013 issues of Discovery Institute's own Bio-Complexity

    link:
    http://bio-complexity.org/ojs/index.php/main/article/view/BIO-C.2013.1/BIO-C.2013.1

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  17. I’m not sure how we have gone from Larry accepting the challenge of explaining how proteins fold in face of entropy barrier and baldness from evolutionary prospective to me—a “hair-stylist “with no knowledge doing it for the famous professor in the first place? Larry could not have gotten cold feet could he? He is world-renowned biochemistry professor that questions everything…What else can I say?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I waiting for confirmation from Behe and Denton that you have send the cheques as you promised.

      Delete
  18. "John Witton doesn't know much about biochemistry, genetics, or evolution but he's willing to learn. He will pay you $1000 (US) if you can answer any one of the six questions he has posed. He made this offer in the comments to my post: Saturday, February 28, 1953."

    Well Larry, you have agreed to answer 2 of the questions-protein folding and baldness from an evolutionary prospective. Unfortunately, for some reason you have decided that I should be the one to answer them instead of you and you are going to be the "peer reviewer". I'm not sure why all of the sadden you have decided to be the judge of a hair-stylist who, just to quote your own words: "John Witton doesn't know much about biochemistry, genetics, or evolution but he's willing to learn".
    Well Larry, I hope you have a good excuse why you got cold feet facing such a primitive like me...

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    Replies
    1. John,

      I agreed to answer the two questions and leave it up to an independent third party to decide whether my answer was satisfactory.

      You have now changed the rules by adding the provision that you can rebut my explanation and the judge then has to decide which explanation is best. What this means is that you are free to change the question in your rebuttal and then claim that I didn't answer it because I didn't understand the specifics of the question.

      That's unacceptable.

      However, if you want to write out your questions in detail and post them here first then I'll be happy to correct your errors and submit my answers to Behe and Denton. Agreed?

      Delete
    2. Larry. Please tell me that you did not expect me to plunk down 2 grand (and you nothing), and let you present your side of the story to people who may, or may not know much about the subjects, and let them decide whether ONLY YOUR side story is logical, without, at least being able to present my side of the story? Did you think that you came across some kind of a fool??? If that’s the case, well… you did not.
      However, I don’t personally believe that’s actually the case. I believe that you got cold feet and lost your confidence that you can present your side of the stories in a logical way. I think you fear to do that without knowing first what I have to offer. I think that lost faith in your own knowledge and abilities. Otherwise, why would you ask me present my cases first? Why? Unless ,you have begun to doubt whether you can actually handle it….Please, give me one reason why would you be afraid to present your arguments to a third party, without knowing first what I am going to present? You write textbooks that others can criticize, so why all of the sadden you have developed this anxiety over what a hair-stylist can present? I mean, I will not know what you are going to write to support your cases….Why should you know first what I am going to present before yours. Why should you be able to correct my arguments, if I cannot correct yours? You wrote on the blog dedicated to my name that, and I quote:
      “John Witton doesn't know much about biochemistry, genetics, or evolution but he's willing to learn.”
      So, why would want to see arguments of someone like that first, to correct his views, if you are convinced I know nothing about these subjects???
      Please Larry, convince me that I am wrong, because I have a very strong feeling you are going to try to find any excuse to get out of this deal. I hope I’m wrong…

      Delete
    3. Please Larry, convince me that I am wrong, because I have a very strong feeling you are going to try to find any excuse to get out of this deal. I hope I’m wrong…

      You owe me a new irony meter, John. That last comment of yours just caused it to explode.

      Delete
    4. @John Witton

      Your original offer was to give $1000 to anyone who would answer the questions that you posed. Now you want to turn it into a debate. Why would you want to do that? Are your questions not really questions?

      You say,

      I mean, I will not know what you are going to write to support your cases….Why should you know first what I am going to present before yours.

      Look at your comment of Saturday, March 10 (above). You said the following in your email to Michael Behe ...

      After you have received the cheques, and professor Moran receives the confirmation from you regarding receiving the cheques, he will make his arguments regarding the two issues. After that, I would present my arguments.

      What does "after that" mean to you? My response to your question will be posted here so I can only assume that "after that" means after you have read my response.

      John, you are a proven liar. I'm waiting to hear from Behe and Denton to see if you've kept your word. If they agree to act as judges then the most reasonable course of action would be for you to provide written examples of the two questions you want answered. I will then answer them and collect my $2000.

      Anything else is nothing more than an attempt by you to weasel out of your offer.

      Delete
    5. You turned it into a debate, not me... Read my comments...
      BTW: I'm not worried about the debate...You wanted it, then do it on your blog. You have already created a blog about me, what stops you from doing the rest?

      Delete
    6. @John
      I've looked through the original comments as best I can and the deal seems to me to be this:

      1. You offered $1000 to anyone who could answer any of your questions to the satisfaction of a third party (in this case, assuming they agree, the 3rd party is either Behe or Denton).

      2. Baldy Moran agreed to your challenge and is waiting for you to contact Behe and Denton to get their agreement, and if they do agree, send them the cheques which they will forward to the winner.

      3. Once Larry submits his answers, you wish to be given an opportunity to respond to them.

      4. At this point Behe and/or Denton will announce the winner and forward the cheques as necessary.

      Is there anything else?

      Delete
  19. I have received confirmation from Michael Behe that he received an email message from John Witton (but no cheque).

    Michael says the he won't become involved in the matter.

    I can hardly blame him. John Witton has welched on his offer. He now wants to turn it into a "debate" where he gets to have the last word.

    That's the end of it, as far as I'm concerned. I've made my point; namely, that John Witton has no intention of giving anyone $1000 to answer his questions.

    ReplyDelete
  20. With all due respect, it is a common human trait to get all excited about a new idea, then realize one needs to back step once that idea is examined in the light of reality.

    As for me, the way I found this blog was because I had an idea to set up a kickstarter campaign to prove the existence of god.

    Why I thought it would be worthwhile is this:

    1. I am an atheist, so if I, of all people, could prove the existence of god, then none of the other atheists would be able to claim bias.

    2. Theists put up billions of dollars every year for all kinds of projects they deem worthy, what's a few thousand for something as important as this?

    Whattya think?

    ReplyDelete