Sunday, March 17, 2013

Michael Behe in Toronto: "Evidence of Design from Biology"

Michael Behe gave a talk on the second day of his visit to Toronto (November 16, 2012). This event was sponsored by religious groups even though Intelligent Design has nothing to do with religion—it's strictly a scientific theory.

The video of his first talk is: "What Are the Limits of Darwinism?". Here's his second talk entitled "Evidence of Design from Biology." There were about 100 people in the audience. I'd guess that half of them were supporters and half were skeptics.

Here's the summary of his talk.
  • Design is not mystical. Deduced from physical structure of a system
  • Everyone agrees aspects of biology appear designed
  • There are structural obstacles to Darwinian evolution
  • Grand Darwinian claims rest on undisciplined imagination
  • Bottom line: Strong evidence for design, little evidence for Darwinism



97 comments:

  1. Typically, instead of putting forth any evidence for ID, he plants (unfounded) suspicion about evolution, and uses that to infer that ID is the only alternative. Has anyone ever lectured these people on the 'false dichotomy'? It seems to be their only tactic. But, when you have no evidence for your own idea...

    Dave Bailey

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  2. Hi Rat,

    Other than independent evidence for a designer, what would you consider evidence for ID?

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    1. Describe your designer in gory detail, then maybe we can talk.

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    2. @Oberski
      Who are you talking to, Bilbo or Seth Shostak?

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    3. Hi Steve,

      Luther raises a good point. If we discovered SETI's desired narrow-band radio signal, would we refuse to accept it as evidence of ET until we could describe ET in "gory detail"?

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    4. If we regularly saw a wizard walking around who sketched out a detailed blueprint for an organism, then waved his staff and instantly created the organism out of thin air, then that would be credible evidence for "design." So I guess Behe and his fellow IDiots should start looking for that wizard.

      There's an underlying presumption in even asking "What evidence would convince you of ID?" Why not ask "What evidence would convince you the earth us flat?" The earth isn't flat, so why should we waste our time looking for evidence that it is?

      And it is clear that every single species on earth has arisen thru evolution, so people should use their time more productively and try to investigate questions that haven't been decisively answered.

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    5. Hi Lutesuite,

      There's a wide spectrum of views among ID proponents. Some, such as Mike Gene, believe that only the first cells were designed, then naturally occurring evolution took over. Behe's view is that evolution has occurred, with certain mutations having been intelligently caused. So neither of them would argue with you that every single species has arisen through evolution.

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    6. "Other than independent evidence for a designer, what would you consider evidence for ID?"

      It's up to you to provide that, not me.

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    7. Bilbo,

      I've never heard of Mike Gene (that's really his name?). But Behe's claim is that evolution is not able to produce major changes of the sort usually required for speciation events to occur(eg. the divergence between humans and chimpanzees). He believes that only Jesus can do that, thru magical powers. So he does not agree what all species on earth arose thru evolution.

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    8. Behe's claim is that evolution is not able to produce major changes of the sort usually required for speciation events to occur(eg. the divergence between humans and chimpanzees).

      I don't recall Behe saying that directly. He does state that all Irreducibly Complex systems must be intelligently designed.

      The question is, do we humans have any Irreducibly Complex systems that were not present in our ape ancestors?

      Based on genetic comparisons, the answer is no. A few point mutations (mostly neutral) in proteins, some changes in regulatory regions, a few duplicated genes, and one, exactly one so far as I know, de novo gene, an RNA gene about 20 bps long.

      No new IC systems. No magical puff of smoke, even by Behe's definition.

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    9. Independent evidence - at all - would be nice. I have followed this 'debate' for more than a decade, and I have yet to see any IDist or creationist of any kind actually offer 'independent' evidence FOR their position. None. I do not consider numerology, nit picking evidence for the 'other side', repeated assertions regarding the looming downfall of evolution, analogies to human activity, etc. to actually be positive, supporting evidence for their claims. I agree that one need not necessarily provide an alternative when rebutting/refuting something, but if one is going to refute something and then declare an alternative to be the truth, then there'd best be better evidence for that alternative. ID/YECists want to get by without that part.
      So, I do not necessarily need to see valid, verifiable evidence for a specific Designing entity, but seeing as how the only designers that we know of - us (narrowing it down to humans for the sake of not going off on tangents) - leave behind evidence of our designing activity, then some of that would work. Some byproducts - the biological equivalent of a 'DNA factory', something like that. After all, evolutionists have been able to predict the sorts of things we should see if evolution happened, and thus far, evolutionists seem to have a pretty good track record of finding things. ID/YECs, not so much. All I have seen is, at best, some post hoc "predictions" premised on things that have already been discovered (e.g., 'junkDNA').

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    10. Diogenes,

      "Irreducible complexity" is not the only trick Behe has up his sleeves. In The Edge of Evolution he claims to have calculated that the odds of chloroquine resistance arising in the malaria parasite are too low for it to have occurred except by "design" and goes on to say:

      No mutation that is of the same complexity as chloroquine resistance in malaria arose by Darwinian evolution in the line leading to humans in the past ten million years.

      Really, the entire point of creationism is to support the belief that humans beings were specially created by God, so if ID left the possibility of humans diverging from other apes by natural mechanisms, that would defeat the entire purpose.

      Caveat: I have been fortunate enough not to have read Behe's book myself. The above is based on PZ Myers' summary here:

      http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/06/05/behes-edge-of-evolution-part-i/

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    11. I never understand the IDiot argument that protein binding sites cannot evolve by random mutation.

      Every molecular biologist knows that if you pick a random amino acid on the surface of your protein of study, and mutate it to some other amino acid, there's a pretty good chance that your protein molecules will stick together.

      Just by mutating one amino acid, how often does it happen that the mutant protein sticks to itself? Judging from the complaints I hear from many experimentalist friends, I would guess that that happens maybe at least one quarter of the time. Maybe a third.

      What do you all think, if any of you are experimentalists?

      The thing is, the overwhelming majority of those cases ARE NEVER PUBLISHED, because in the great majority of cases, molecular biologists don't WANT the protein molecules to stick together. So that stuff never gets published in the literature, and there is, so far as I know, no "big database of mutations that cause proteins to bind to themselves." Maybe there should be.

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  3. sez bilbo: "Other than independent evidence for a designer, what would you consider evidence for ID?"
    If Dembski's "Complex Specified Information" actually did live up to its press releases, I'd accept it as evidence for ID. Alas, Dembski's "Complex Specified Information" is a worthless, ill-defined, unusable pile of bullshit, not a rigorous methodology for determing whether or not a given whatzit actually is the product of Design.

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    1. @Cubist
      Given that there is currently no way to tell if a system was designed, what is being used to rule out the possibility?

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    2. Dembski's CSI has always been too difficult a concept for me to grasp, and I'm not sure that it can be easily applied to biology. I understand Behe's concept of Irreducible Complexity. If there are such entities in biology, and if the probability of evolving them is too improbable (I admit that both premises are challengable), then I think ID is at least a reasonable alternative hypothesis.

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    3. Don't worry if you don't know what CSI is, Bilbo. As it turns out, no one does. Not even Dembski itself. It's almost as if it was some bullshit concept he concocted to fool people into thinking he knew what he was talking about.

      http://www.softwarematters.org/mathgrrl.html

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    4. "Dembski himself". Freudian slip....

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    5. luther asked:

      "Given that there is currently no way to tell if a system was designed, what is being used to rule out the possibility?"

      Define "a system".

      Compared to your question, some much better questions would be:

      Given that there is currently no way to tell if the universe was designed by the flying spaghetti monster, what is being used to rule out the possibility?

      Given that there is no scientific evidence of 'the designer', why rule in any claims of one (or more)?

      Given that the entire agenda of the IDiots and many other godbots is to cram their imaginary sky daddy and associated fairy tales down everyone's throat whether they like or not, and to replace real science with their religious pseudoscience, why shouldn't people who live in reality and who support real science call them out on their dominionist agenda and mock them?

      Given that there is no evidence of any gods/spirits/holy ghosts/angels/demons/devils/afterlife/miracles/supernaturality/special creation, and all the other fairy tale religious crap that people have fearfully and ignorantly imagined and preached, why rule in any of it?

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    6. Rapey:

      So sorry to hear about your heroes in Steubenville getting convicted! Boo hoo. Seems the jury believed in "the Marxian theory of false consciousness" as you call it.

      Now to his "science":

      "Given that there is currently no way to tell if a system was designed, what is being used to rule out the possibility?"

      Rapey should go pester astronomers, and ask them:

      "Given that there is currently no way to tell if planets are pushed around by invisible angels, what is being used to rule out the possibility?"

      Or maybe Rapey should go pester doctors, and ask them:

      "Given that there is currently no way to tell if diseases are caused by demon possession, what is being used to rule out the possibility?"

      An infinite number of such questions could be posed.

      Anyone else have suggestions?

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  4. Is it really the case that many aspects of biology look designed? I've never understood this argument because biology tends to look nothing like the things we know were actually designed by an intelligent agent.

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    1. Richard Dawkins defined biology as "the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose."

      Behe defines design as the purposeful arrangement of parts.

      Do some aspects of organisms look as though their parts were arranged for a purpose?

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    2. DAK, here is something that JimV wrote earlier, on another thread. Another perspective:
      "I was a design engineer for 38 years. Everything I did or saw done was a result of evolutionary techniques (trial and error, horizontal gene transfer from one type of design to another, lucky accidents, survival of the fittest design in the marketplace, etc.). "

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    3. in other words, Jim rejects the idea of 'intelligent design' for almost exactly the opposite reason that you do. He feels that when one looks deep into the process of human design, it actually makes a good case for the ToE.

      I think that your comment, alongside his, seem to indicate that the decision to reject design has more to do with personal preference - related to how one chooses to define methodology - then with the evidence itself.
      In other words, 'is 'intelligent design a viable proposition?' is a question that comes under the domain of the Philosophy of Science, rather than biology.

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    4. Linus Torvalds said something similar on the Linux Kernel Mailing List back in 2002:
      You know what the most complex piece of engineering known to man in the whole solar system is?

      "Guess what - it's not Linux, it's not Solaris, and it's not your car.

      It's you. And me.

      And think about how you and me actually came about - not through any complex design.

      Right. "sheer luck".

      Well, sheer luck, AND:

      free availability and _crosspollination_ through sharing of "source code", although biologists call it DNA.
      a rather unforgiving user environment, that happily replaces bad versions of us with better working versions and thus culls the herd (biologists often call this "survival of the fittest")
      massive undirected parallel development ("trial and error")
      I'm deadly serious: we humans have _never_ been able to replicate something more complicated than what we ourselves are, yet natural selection did it without even thinking.

      Don't underestimate the power of survival of the fittest.

      And don't EVER make the mistake that you can design something better than what you get from ruthless massively parallel trial-and-error with a feedback cycle. That's giving your intelligence _much_ too much credit. - Linus"

      http://coreygoldberg.blogspot.ca/2009/10/linus-on-evolution.html

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    5. Wow, that quote by Linus Torvalds is great! Thanks chemscum!

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    6. @Chemical Scum
      So when you say "And don't EVER make the mistake that you can design something better than what you get from" it's actual cause, I take it you are completely rejecting the argument from evil/bad design against God.

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    7. But when we say "trial and error" what we mean is that someone who wanted to attain a certain outcome kept trying different things until they found it. So we're not talking about a blind search, which is what Darwinian evolution is. Nor are we necessarily talking about one single mutational step at a time. An engineer may put together an entire assembly before he getting to the trial and error stage. So I think the analogy to biological evolution fails.

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    8. Bilbo, yes; that's an excellent point. Although I really liked JimV's comment - and the experience and expertise tat undergird it - the fact remains that design engineers, software developers, etc. (as well as artists, who also use 'trial and error' but with a more or less clear vision in their minds about what they want to achieve) HAVE a goal in mind, whereas the current ToE has no place for goals, merely results.

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    9. Andy,

      "Merely results" is a "goal" too. Survival is a "goal." Not a thought one. But it's quite easy to understand how surviving can look a lot like a goal, can work a lot like a goal. When engineers do trial and error they are the force deciding what "survives." Is it really that hard to understand how the game would be played naturally? Really? I bet that you do get it.

      Best.

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    10. Bilbo,

      It is quite the misrepresentation to state that evolution is about one mutational step at a time. It is quite another misrepresentation to pretend that what Darwin proposed was the whole story of how evolution is understood today. It would work well for you if you kept up to date and also acknowledged that when we talk about natural phenomena we can't impose stupid rules like "one mutation at a time,"and that therefore such a statement does not come from the scientific community. We discover how phenomena work, we don't rule how they work. So please, avoid such misrepresentations. (I bet now you will misquote a few scientists and pretend that's an answer.)

      To further illustrate this to you, populations consists of lots of individuals, and each individual can contain many many many mutations. That's why we are so variable even within one species. Therefore there's tons of natural "trials," lots and lots of mutations. Lots of those "trials" do survive. See how easy this was? A quick look around shows unambiguously that you misrepresented evolution. Well, here's my message: believe as you wish in terms of gods and designers and such shit, but think about it before misrepresenting the scientific views of evolution. Otherwise you give support to the notion that creationists are stupid.

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    11. So when you say "And don't EVER make the mistake that you can design something better than what you get from" it's actual cause, I take it you are completely rejecting the argument from evil/bad design against God.

      Whee! More of Luther's typical quote-mining! Again, done in the very thread as the full quote so that everyone can compare the actual statement against your misrepresentation of it. Brilliant strategery as always, Luther. *eyes roll*

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    12. @Nullfildian
      I didn't misrepresent it. My point is, if we cannot conceive of any possible way to improve on what we see in nature, as CS suggests, then we cannot conceive of any way to improve upon what we see in nature whatever the cause of it is. Thus, if we cannot criticise the current state of affairs, because we lack the know how, then that holds across all possible causes of the state of affairs in question - including creation by God. And since the argument from evil/bad design turns on us being able to imagine a better world in some way, we have to drop that objection if we hold that we cannot imagine a better world in any way.

      The point, in short, is that we either can or can't find fault with the world, and whichever is the case holds however it came about. Thus my change to the end of CS's quote.

      You're not really up to this, perhaps you'd better stop.

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    13. My point is, if we cannot conceive of any possible way to improve on what we see in nature, as CS suggests, then we cannot conceive of any way to improve upon what we see in nature whatever the cause of it is.

      That is idiotic even for you.

      First off, I will note again that you apparently lack the reading comprehension to distinguish between Linus Torvalds and "chemicalscum", despite an attribution and a link.

      Second, and more important, I doubt very much that when Linus Torvalds said "you", he was directing his statement to an omnipotent and omniscient creator, or even to a vastly superior alien intelligence.

      Just because human designers (i.e. Torvalds' "you") with their limited time and capabilities might find it difficult improving on "ruthless massively parallel trial-and-error with a feedback cycle", it does not follow that we cannot recognize when there is inefficiency and kludge in the biological world that foresight would have weeded out, particularly if this foresight is attached to omnipotent or even very highly advanced beings.

      You're not really up to this, perhaps you'd better stop.

      Aw, thanks for your concern, snookums. I really will be in trouble the day I decide I need to take advice from the likes of you.

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    14. @Nullfildian
      You have completely missed the point. It's really rather simple: we can either envisage design flaws in nature or we can't. If we can then CS's argument fails, and if we can't then that means the argument from evil fails. I don't care which, my point was merely about consistency. If you believe A then you can't believe B and if you believe B then you can't believe A. This is because the argument for A has as a major premise the negation of a major premise of B (that is: we can('t) find fault with nature).

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    15. No, I did not miss your point; I addressed your point. It just so happened that your point was egregiously stupid.

      Again, I remind you that this is not "chemicalscum's" argument, it is a quote from Linus Torvalds.

      And we can envisage 'design flaws' in nature. And this does not bear in any way on Torvald's quote if one does not assume—as you are doing—that Torvald was claiming that the 'designs' of nature are universally optimized. To put it gently, it is not obvious that this was his claim. His claim sure as hell wasn't "we can't find fault with nature".

      If it were the case that "we cannot conceive of any way to improve upon what we see in nature whatever the cause of it is", then we would have to assume that everybody's design prowess is equivalent. Remember that Torvalds was talking to human beings, not to god, and not to some hypothetical space aliens. So if "you" (humans) are incapable of doing better than the evolutionary algorithm, and on that basis we conclude there's no way of evaluating whether the 'design' in nature could be improved upon whatever the source, then we must conclude that there's no variation in abilities among human designers, aliens, and an omnipotent, omniscient god. Otherwise, it might be that what a human designer might not be capable of fixing, an omnipotent god could.

      And those are the two reasons your interjection was completely ridiculous, and these were the two reasons I outlined above in somewhat less detail.

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    16. @Nullfildian
      Yes you did miss the point - and you are still missing it. The fact you are missing it is shown by your claim "remember that Torvalds was talking to human beings, not to god, and not to some hypothetical space aliens". LOL It doesn't matter who he was speaking to, the problem is the epistemic basis for what he was saying.

      Re whose point it was - unless CS was possessed by Torvelds or some such thing then CS made the point freely as something he thought was true and my response was directed at him on account of that.

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    17. " Do some aspects of organisms look as though their parts were arranged for a purpose?"

      Sure - the human anal canal seems designed to give people hemorrhoids.

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    18. "But when we say "trial and error" what we mean is that someone who wanted to attain a certain outcome kept trying different things until they found it. "

      Interesting. When ID/YECists use metaphorical language, they intend to use it as evidence (just as you are attempting to do, in essence, above). Yet when non-ID/YECists use metaphorical language the way it is supposed to be used, the ID/YECist is unable to see that the language is just being used metaphorically. Someone should write a pape on this phenomenon.

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    19. Darwin commented on that tendency in "The Origin of Species", the argument that because we speak figuratively of natural selection wanting to do something or designing something, therefore it has purpose, therefore it is a mind.

      So this argument is very old, and for 150+ years we have argued against it, yet creationists think this is new.

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    20. luther tripped himself up when he said:

      "Re whose point it was - unless CS was possessed by Torvelds or some such thing then CS made the point freely as something he thought was true and my response was directed at him on account of that."

      Unless you're possessed by others, or some such thing, I'll keep it in mind when you make a point that you freely made the point as something you think is true, even if someone else originally or also made the point.

      In other words, you can't get away with saying 'I'm not making or supporting that point. I'm just pointing out a point that someone else made.'

      For example, when you make any of the same or similar points that IDiot-creationists make and use them to argue against evolution, the ToE, science, etc., you can't get away with claiming that you're not an IDiot-creationist, unless of course you can prove that you're possessed by an IDiot-creationist. Oh wait, you are possessed by an IDiot-creationist. The thing is, it's you.

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    21. What would be an example of something that could not have been designed? Particularly if we are thinking of this "designer" as some omnipotent supernatural being.

      If that question cannot be answered, then all this talk about being able to detect "design" from the inherent qualities of an object alone is just so much hot air.

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    22. Luther,

      My point is, if we cannot conceive of any possible way to improve on what we see in nature,

      Wait right there. Linus' point was about designing something, not about improving it.

      as CS suggests,

      The quote is attributed to Linus Torvalds, not to chemscum, thus, you can't tell if chemscum agrees on each and every word, let alone with the absolutism you want to invest it of.

      then we cannot conceive of any way to improve upon what we see in nature whatever the cause of it is.

      False. Clearly Linus is talking about the products of an evolutionary process, not about "whatever the cause of it is."

      Thus, if we cannot criticise the current state of affairs, because we lack the know how,

      Nowhere does the quote suggests that we lack the know how to criticize the current state of affairs. Otherwise it would be contradictory. If we lacked the know how to criticize the current state of affairs, then how would Linux be able to offer that we can't design as well as the massive parallel trials etc.? The quote is and requires criticism of the current state of affairs.

      then that holds across all possible causes of the state of affairs in question - including creation by God.

      No, it doesn't, because clearly Linus is talking about an evolutionary process and what such kind of process can do.

      And since the argument from evil/bad design turns on us being able to imagine a better world in some way, we have to drop that objection if we hold that we cannot imagine a better world in any way.

      Which is yet more of a misrepresentation of what Linus is quoted to have said. Maybe a computer ran a massively parallel search/trial-and-error to find the answer to the most important question of life, the universe and everything. Maybe without that we would have never known that the answer is 42. That does not mean that we can't check it out and notice that the "4" is slanted to the right a bit too much, while the "2" looks like a "z." We might have never come up with the proper answer as the trials and errors did. That does not mean we can't criticize it.

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  5. Andy,

    ... seem to indicate that the decision to reject design has more to do with personal preference ...

    That's because you are not understanding either correctly. On the one hand, it's pretty easy to tell apart an organism from something designed by engineers. Even when imitating nature, what we get is quite different. Not messy. Example, some idiots say that because we can't grow back an arm, that we can't build it, therefore it was designed (!?!?!?!?!?!?!). But my answer commonly is: if it's designed then we should find new arms in the store. Now as per what the other Jim is saying, the history of how we design things is plagued with similes to the process of evolution. I don't think that he meant "therefore there was no designer for nature" I think he meant that design imitates nature, and that inferring the other way around is wrong. Thus, both ideas are quite compatible. They come to the problem from two different angles.

    Anyway, as per some other guys asking "Given that there is currently no way to tell if a system was designed, what is being used to rule out the possibility?" I think that the question is rather stupidly accusatory. I, for one, do not consider the possibility. Why? Because I see no reason to consider it. A lot of things show that nature does all right by itself a lot of shit. I see no designers involved. Further, evolution at many scales is plainly undeniable. No signs of designers being needed and no claim from designers anywhere. Thus, of asked, I can happily extrapolate and infer that evolution at even larger scales, where evidence might be fussy because time has hidden/eroded it, was exactly as designer-less. I see nothing wrong with that. Should I find evidence of some beings who could have designed something at some point, then I could consider the possibility for that particular thing to be designed (like in the SETI project, or archaeological findings). But start with that idea for just about everything is exactly like assigning divinity to volcanoes. We know how well that one went ...

    In short. I don't consider designers because there's no reason to do so. I don't need a reason to rule them out. I need a most excellent reason to include them. We have a well-understood and rich history and plenty of proof of how easily superstitions arise. Therefore we should be extra careful and skeptical about these "designer" ideas.

    See ya.

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    1. NE, all good points, both here and above. I will give them some thought and respond. My first impression is 'grrrr...I need to concede all of what NE is presenting, the bastard!" But I don't give up that easily. ;)

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    2. NE, with a bit of consideration, these are my thoughts about what you wrote;
      You say that what DAK and Jim wrote are 'compatible', in other words they offer different perspectives that nevertheless support each other. I see what you mean, but only to a point.

      DAK wrote, 'biology tends to look nothing like the things we know were actually designed by an intelligent agent.'
      So, he is talking about the appearance of a designed object, not the process that went into creating it. Now Jim's comment, on the other hand, could be interpreted to say, in a way, 'hold on there; if you were to see the actual process of HOW things get designed, you might see that biology's processes are quite similar to human design processes; i.e. a lot of trial and error.'
      You can't SEE that in the finished (human-designed) work, but I'll come back to that.

      You, also, make a similar argument, by saying that 'survival is a goal'. Which means that the goal of a human designer has a close correlation to the 'goal' that nature achieves by selecting traits and adaptations.

      So, what you and Jim BOTH write make a case counter to DAK's in that, designed things DO in fact 'look like' biological things if we consider the whole process, not just the object in its finalized form.
      You also write 'Even when imitating nature, what we get is quite different. Not messy.'
      This is because modern industry doesn't ALLOW the 'messy' to stay in. There are 'carrying costs', and thus all sorts of things that need to be done to designed objects to make them viable and marketable by culling the 'messiness'. Biology is able to incorporate an awful lot of its 'messiness', i.e. junk DNA, etc., so it doesn't have to take it out.
      Surely you would agree that if survival was dependent on eliminating as much 'messiness' as possible from the final form (the organism) then that messiness wouldn't be there, right? If the messiness IS there, then the survival wouldn't happen, thus no organism, correct?

      So, we can't really compare a designed object, which has been trimmed of its messiness, to a biological organism, where the trial and error is still on display. What CAN we compare it to?

      A painting.
      A painting, like a car or a mobile phone, begins with a plan. Like biology, it has a 'goal', using your definition. In a painting, because it remains on the canvas, the messiness still shows. Sometimes artists like it there, and so we can see where the artist adjusted an arm that was too long, etc. A lot of modern painters such as Matisse were happy to leave this 'messiness' in. WIth other paintings, the 'messiness' doesn't appear at first glance, but can be seen by X rays. Secrets about the artist's methodologies, the adjustments they made, can be revealed through this process. It is a process similar to holding an organism under a microscope.

      So, if for example DAK were to have written 'biology tends to look nothing like the things we know were actually CREATED by an intelligent ARTIST', then I think the conflict between that and what Jim wrote and you wrote is more clear. Actually, biology kinda DOES look like that.

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    3. Hi Andy,

      Little but important mistake here:

      Now Jim's comment, on the other hand, could be interpreted to say, in a way, 'hold on there; if you were to see the actual process of HOW things get designed, you might see that biology's processes are quite similar to human design processes

      I would have written that if you were to see the actual process of HOW things get designed, you might see that human design processes are quite similar to biology's processes

      I hope you can understand why this order is important, and how that changes a lot of the meaning, and how that still is compatible with the other side of the problem.

      Then your artist reinterpretation would go like: biology tends to look nothing like the things we know were actually CREATED by an intelligent ARTIST would be compatible with the processes followed by intelligent artists can be similar to the processes used by biology. That processes can be similar does not mean that the results are the same. But nature is first. I have known for years that often engineers get inspiration from biology. That would mean that biology was first, and that our attempts at putting design first, nature second, are a tad ignorant, and another tad retrograde, and quite another tad arrogant. They give us much more credit than we deserve.

      Best!

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  6. SEZ LUTHER FLINT: "Given that there is currently no way to tell if a system was designed…"
    Hold it right there. In point of fact, there is a way to tell if a system is designed, and it's put to excellent use in those fields of real science which deal with Design (archaeology and forensics being the first two which leap to my mind). This Design-detection methodology is based on the obvious fact that any Designed entity which actually exists in the RealWorld must have been Manufactured. So if you want to know whether a given whatzit was Designed, you form a testable hypothesis of how your whatzit was Manufactured, and you test that hypothesis.
    This is, of course, quite different from any Design-detection methodology yet proposed by any ID-pusher, as ID purports to be able to detect Design without any reference to Manufacture.

    "…what is being used to rule out the possibility?"
    Two things. One, the fact that evolutiojn is a testable hypothesis which passes its tests, and two, the fact that no ID-pusher yet has ever bestirred themself to get off their lazy ass and form a testable ID-based hypothesis of Design.

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    1. @Cubist
      What you said had no content. You just said "there is a way" and it involves having to "form a testable hypothesis". We know that, duh! - the problem, the one that has to be overcome, is doing just that. So what is this hypothesis that would allow us to scientifically identify designed things, and how would we apply it to biological systems (since they are the case in question)?

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    2. sez luther flint: "What you said had no content."
      If you truly believe that, I can only wonder why you would bother wasting your time and energy composing a reply to a comment that you regard as content-free. It is a mystery. [shrug]

      "You just said 'there is a way' and it involves having to form a testable hypothesis."
      A testable hypothesis of how the whatzit in question was manufactured, yes. That's how it works in archaeology and forensics, anyway.

      "…what is this hypothesis that would allow us to scientifically identify designed things, and how would we apply it to biological systems (since they are the case in question)?"
      "this" hypothesis? Hmm. Your use of the singular 'this' is rather inappropriate, as there are at least as many different hypotheses of manufacture as there are processes of manufacture. It's not like there's 1 (one) single, solitary, specific, one-size-fits-all Universal Hypothesis Of Manufacture, you know.
      Be that as it may, a testable hypothesis of manufacture is based on background knowledge of the process, or processes, which are included in said hypothesis. For instance, if the hypothesis of manufacture includes "Component X was cut in half with a handsaw", examining Component X for the tooth-marks which the hypothesized handsaw ought to have left on Component X would be one way of testing said hypothesis.
      In the specific case of biological systems, feel free to pick one such system, and explain what process, or processes, you think were involved in its manufacture. Depending on how much background knowledge we have about those particular processes, we may be able to form a testable hypothesis of manufacture for the biological system you picked.

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    3. @Cubist
      You miss the point - it is you who has to come up with a way of distinguishing design from non-design in biological systems - at least you do if you want to say biological systems were not designed. That was the original question and all you have done is ask me for the answer which I said (in my original question) did not exist.

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    4. @Luther

      Please prove to me that this video is wrong:
      http://youtu.be/cWGJ3ydBQiE

      Your assertion above, that it is we who need to invent a way of falsifying the unfalsifiable, is functionally equivalent to what I just asked of you. Prove the video false.

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    5. sez luther flint: "You miss the point - it is you who has to come up with a way of distinguishing design from non-design in biological systems - at least you do if you want to say biological systems were not designed. That was the original question and all you have done is ask me for the answer which I said (in my original question) did not exist."
      Yes, I agree that your original question presumes that real scientists have no way to distinguish Design from non-Design. This presumption is erroneous. Real scientists do have a way to distinguish Design from non-Design, and this Design-detection methodology is dependent on the fact that any physical whatzit which was Designed must have been Manufactured, because of said physical whatzit never was Manufactured, you wouldn't have said physical whatzit to look at in the first place.
      It is telling that your response to okay, let's test Design by forming a hypothesis of Manufacture is no! we gotta test Design!!!

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    6. @Lutesuite
      The meaning of the words it uses to suggest itself as a possibility proves it wrong, or meaningless. What, for example, could a "second" mean if there had never actually been any of them prior to that video? What could "universe" mean, what would a "video" be. The suggestion in the video, then, can only make sense within a framework that entails its falsity. NEXT

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    7. I think you're addressing your response to the wrong person, Luther.

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  7. sez steve oberski: "Describe your designer in gory detail, then maybe we can talk."

    repliez luther flint: "Who are you talking to, Bilbo or Seth Shostak?"
    Bilbo, of course, as Seth Shostak—the SETI Project as a whole, really—has a pretty clear Designer-concept in mind. Specifically, they're looking for signals of the kind that would be produced by a Designer who possesses human-like motives (i.e., "we want to communicate with an alien species!"), and chooses to make use of human-like technology (i.e., radio signals) in order to achieve their goal. ID-pushers, contrariwise, haven't managed to firm up their Designer-concept any better-defined than "somehow, somewhere, somewhen, somebody intelligent did something".

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  8. sez andybœrger: "Biology is able to incorporate an awful lot of its 'messiness', i.e. junk DNA, etc., so it doesn't have to take it out.
    Surely you would agree that if survival was dependent on eliminating as much 'messiness' as possible from the final form (the organism) then that messiness wouldn't be there, right? If the messiness IS there, then the survival wouldn't happen, thus no organism, correct?"
    Yes, I can agree that in the hypothetical case that an organism's survival actually was dependent on ruthless elimination of 'messiness', living organisms shouldn't have any 'messiness' in them.
    I just don't think that hypothetical case applies to actual living organisms in the RealWorld.
    Here in the RealWorld, an organism's survival depends, in part, on the removal of actively deleterious 'messiness', like, say, leaky heart valves. 'Messiness' which is merely not as efficient than it might be (example: the recurrent laryngeal nerve), as opposed to 'messiness' which actively reduces the organism's odds of survival. can and will stick around for an indefinitely large number of generations.
    Apart from that, congratulations: By arguing that the messiness of biology points towards a Designer who is an Artist, rather than a Designer who has an objectively confirmable goal in mind, you make ID even less testable than it was to begin with. Because abso-fucking-lutely any feature of an organism, no matter how bizarre, counterintuitive, and/or senseless said feature may be, is 100% compatible with "That's how the Artist wanted it to be." At least 'mainstream' ID has to go through the motions of cobbling up a rationalization for why Senseless Feature X really is what the Intelligent Designer intended; your Intelligent Artist variant of ID doesn't even require its adherents to expend that much intellectual effort, as God, I mean the Artist, wanted it that way is an all-encompassing, wall-to-wall, one-stop-shopping, pseudo-'explanation' for absofuckinglutely anything at all. So I repeat: Congratulations! You've managed to make ID even more vacuous, more untestable, than it already was in the first place!

    By the by, andybœrger, I've got some questions waiting for you in the "John Witton Will Pay You $1000" thread, if you care to look in on them.

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    1. Cubist, where do you see me arguing that 'the messiness of biology points toward a Designer who is an Aritst"?
      I am arguing with NE about his assertion that DAK's comment and Jim's comment are 'compatible'.

      'points to'? Please read again. You owe me an apology.

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    2. Cubist, I would never argue that biology 'points to' an artist because I haven't the slightest interest in convincing NE, you, or anyone that God is an artist. I, frankly, don't give a ferret's fart WHAT you think, what you believe, or how you come to justify what you think or what you believe.
      Change your mind about something? The first necessity would be that of clearing your mind of deeply held biases such that you could follow an argument without clumsily pasting your own inferences onto it.
      Sorry, I have neither the time nor inclination.

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  9. Part of the problem here seems to be the use of teleological language: "for", "purpose", "reason", function", as well as use of engineering-type language: "component parts", "structure", "assembly", "design" and so on. The shared vocabulary between real design and biology makes it all too easy to see them as being the same.

    This makes it possible to say that a ribosome and an internal combustion engine are both designed, that they both have component parts that were assembled for a specific function, and that their current forms have been arrived at through a process of continual modification. The distinction that one evolved naturally and the other was intelligently designed gets muddled and blurred by our use of language; as does the idea that one actually has a purpose and function, while the other doesn't.

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    1. You're right! All it comes to rest on the foundations of human language's inclination to be filled with metaphors. In any event, if anything, each time we try and define biological thingies as if they were modules, parts, and such, sooner or later we find trouble. Big trouble. Try and follow the definition of "gene" for starters. If we start with a coding region, then evolution breaks them, jumps over then, uses then a frameshifted piece leaving the rest to erosion, and so on (and look at my misuse of the concept of evolution as if it was doing all of this on purpose!). If that kind of thing does not convince anybody that nature and evolution could not care less about our metaphors I don't know what would.

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    2. DAK, and NE, I agree that it is partly that. But it is also partly the fact that some people, and I am not suggesting either of you, try to use evolution and biology, and science in general, as a god-killing blunt instrument, a purpose for which it is ill suited. Dawkins, Krauss, etc. etc.
      And those who pretty much parrot their ideas with little originality of their own to add, but plenty of hatred for organized religion to slather on.

      It should surprise no one that a reaction from believers to the idea that the ToE kills god would be attempts, some perhaps very lame, to 'prove' otherwise.

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    3. All Andyboerger is relaying here is the tendency of believers to re-interpret every concievable observation into just another confirmation of a god that was even greater and more ingenious than the believers first imagined.
      Nothing can falsify god to these people, everything, once again, is ad-hoc rationalized to be what the god they so intensely want to believe exists, wanted to make as-we-observe-it, all along.

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    4. Indeed, and it's not necessary, which is why I'm amused by Behe's insistence that, as Larry summarized, "everyone agrees aspects of biology appear designed". I'm certainly not in agreement with that, and for that matter the people who emphasize the "appearance of design" are most often selectionists.

      In my view, evolution can be treated as an iterative form of sampling. Sampling error results in evolution, either randomly (genetic drift) or through sampling bias (natural and sexual selection). The "appearance of design" can now be seen in its proper light, as the 17th-18th century prejudice that it really is. It is conceivable that design could be a source of sampling bias, but it loses its centrality and becomes just one hypothetical mechanism among many others and to be tested in the same way, rather than being given an undue prominence as the "appearance of design" language tends to do. And to the extent that when evolution is due to random sampling error, it cannot be due to sampling bias, the very prevalence of genetic drift tends to rule out "design" as well as functioning as one null hypothesis for "design" to overcome.

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    5. Hey Andy,

      But it is also partly the fact that some people, and I am not suggesting either of you, try to use evolution and biology, and science in general, as a god-killing blunt instrument, a purpose for which it is ill suited.

      The problem being that this is dependent on the god in question. If it's a god who created everything instantly and just six thousand years ago, evolution shows that god to be completely imaginary. Since that's what we really fight against (superstitions like 6000 year old earths, flat earths, and such, all based on ridiculous religious credulity), I am not surprised that Dawkins and Krause would be so against religions in general. Nor am I surprised that they would use evolution as one of those things that "kills gods." It certainly does. Again, depending on the gods in question. Right?

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    6. If it's a god who created everything instantly and just six thousand years ago, evolution shows that god to be completely imaginary.

      Do we really need evolution to refute any such concept? I should think physics, geology, archaeology, dating techniques etc. suffice to falsify YEC on their own. Anyone who is a youn-earth creationist must be able to ignore the findings of several disciplines independent of the theory of biological evolution. We can safely attribute such an ability to one of three possible causes (or a combination thereof): fundamental ignorance, an almost superhuman power of self-deception, or literal (lowercase) idiocy.

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    7. but, NE (and Piotr), I don't mean to say that science CAN'T be used to debunk biblical myths. I just don't think that is the proper use OF science.
      Sure, let people make their own discoveries, including through scientific study, that changes their minds about things. That's called, yes, evolution (ironic that some of evolution's most vocal champions are the ones trying to push the river). But flogging science around the way Dawkins, Krauss and others do turns science into propaganda.
      The ends don't justify the means, PLUS bunker mentality sets in among those being preached to. It's pretty much the same scenario that unfolds when young people start questioning religion and their elders scream at them. People just stop listening when they feel they are being screamed at and told how to think. Scientists become the 'evil bad guys' who want to destroy 'all that is decent'.

      Science should have no such agenda, and when certain scientists DO have such an agenda, they cease to be scientists in at least that regard. They become mere spokespersons and bloviators.

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    8. I don't mean to say that science CAN'T be used to debunk biblical myths. I just don't think that is the proper use OF science.

      Why is it an improper use? You claim that it amounts to screaming. But it seems to me that screaming is screaming and reasoned argument is something else. Is there a reason you should not disagree with people? Or that when you disagree you should not offer evidence against their views? You claim that it's counter-productive, but do you have evidence to that effect?

      To me, this seems to be the same claim always leveled at anyone criticizing religion: that they're "strident" or "fanatical". Yet I find Dawkins (haven't read Krauss) always calm and reasonable in his writings. It's as if merely engaging on the subject is somehow inherently fanatical. The proper course is apparently to keep your opinions to yourself. "Spokesperson" seems a neutral term that could cover anyone who speaks for a viewpoint; "bloviator" is another matter, and I would like to see an example of Dawkins acting as a bloviator.

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    9. It's meaningless to talk about the "proper use of science". Science tells us how the world works, what people do with this information isn't "misuse" of science, unless the information is being misrepresented.

      Evolution as a YEC god-killer isn't misuse of evolution, the facts are what the facts are. By the same token it would be "misuse" of science to write in an astronomy textbook that the earth is approximately spheroid, because it might be contrary to what the flat earth society believes.

      Come on!

      It's like saying that never mind that something is true, if some people don't want it to be the case or believe something contrary to what science has discovered, we should just shut up and let falsehoods propagate? I won't defend such a viewpoint, and I would fight it wherever possible.

      YEC is false and geology and evolution shows this beyond any shadow of doubt. This isn't "misuse" or "bad" or anything like it, it's just the cold hard facts, and the people who have a problem with it should take some time off and grow up. The world, life or society doesn't revolve around what facts we don't want to hear, maybe it's about time we just grew up and got over it?

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    10. Andy,

      I don't think that I can improve over John's and Rumraket's answers. So I just offer this question as kind of a corollary: why be a scientist unless I aimed at the knowledge I produce to help us know at least a little bit better?

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    11. John, gosh, where to start?
      That he had a series about religion called 'The Root of All Evil?"
      That he and Krauss have a movie out now called 'The Unbelievers'?

      Dawkins has completely lost the audience of believers through such behavior. His audience is people who 'love science'. So, if he REALLY wants to make the world a better place, given that he has lost the ear of people of faith and has a huge following among science lovers, I think he should use the huge spotlight that he insists upon to urge all graduates of astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology depts., etc. to refuse to accept jobs in the weapons industry or from jobs that have a horrid record on the environment. Why doesn't he do that instead?

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    12. NE asks, "why be a scientist unless I aimed at the knowledge I produce to help us know at least a little bit better?"

      I think that's a very excellent reason.
      Let me ask you a question as corollary as well: how many times in your life have you willingly given up something that was tremendously important to you (as religion is to believers) because someone smugly dismissed it, insulted and ridiculed you, and presented the thing that is important to you in such a one-sided and negative way that you didn't recognize it?

      I'm guessing the answer is none. People tend to let go of deeply held beliefs that they have outgrown through a lengthy process of self examination. Most of the harshest criticism needs to come from inside us, as new ideas sweep away the old. Try to externalize that, and retrenchment and defensiveness result. I don't see the rhetoric of Dawkins, et al facilitating that self examination. It's too pushy and one sided.

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    13. Andy: You must explain why those titles are the equivalent of screaming, because I don't get it. Why are they objectionable? Was I supposed to gasp in shock at those revelations? Now I'm pretty sure that Dawkins has never considered believers to be his audience. But anyone with doubts might be; he's trying if anything to reach those who might be receptive to his message; and I don't see what anything you have mentioned is going to do to drive those away.

      As for "why doesn't he do that instead", it's a false dichotomy. If you care so much about the world, why don't you quite your job and devote every waking moment to your favorite cause? At the very least this seem irrelevant to the subject of Dawkins as perverter of science.

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    14. John, if you don't get it then you don't get it. You're his audience.

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    15. John, here is something else for you not to get:


      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPqqp8KVuQU

      It's short, so please watch it. Then you can explain to me how he is "merely engaging on the subject".

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    16. John, here is Dawkins imploring a clearly delighted audience to 'mock' and 'ridicule' religion. This has absolutely nothing to do with science or being 'merely engaging'

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPqqp8KVuQU

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    17. You have to explain the problem. Just saying "if you don't get it then you don't get it" is a copout. Would you agree that sometimes mockery and ridicule are appropriate? So far you've said nothing to indicate that Dawkins is doing anything wrong, and certainly not that he's abusing science.

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    18. JH asks, 'Would you agree that sometimes mockery and ridicule are appropriate?'

      John, I am not sure, when considering mockery, ridicule, satire, etc., that 'appropriate' is even an issue. By its very nature, there will be some who don't find it 'appropriate'. Gulliver's Travels would hardly have seemed appropriate to the British aristocracy. '1984' would not have seemed appropriate to the western European communists who were still calling Stalin 'Uncle Joe', and Stephen Colbert's roasting of George Bush is still considered to have been wildly inappropriate for the setting by many Republicans.
      So people who choose to ridicule and mock don't even think about, nor should they, propriety (in most cases).
      Perhaps the better question would be to ask how effective mockery and ridicule are in specific instances. Richard Dawkins, in the eyes of many religious people, has pretty much made himself a poster child for 'all that is wrong' with atheism by way of his uncompromising rhetoric. He is using his stature and position as a scientist to pursue a non-scientific agenda, and is going about it so zealously that I feel that it IS, in some ways, a misuse ('abuse' is your word) of his position as a scientist, and thus science. So, I don't feel that his mockery and ridicule is being particularly effective.

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    19. how many times in your life have you willingly given up something that was tremendously important to you (as religion is to believers) because someone smugly dismissed it, insulted and ridiculed you

      Not sure I accept your idea. People may well react with revolt and entrenchment when their most cherished ideas are criticized but the worse the sting the more likely they are to wonder how and why such contrary ideas exist. It is likely to lead to a re-examination and at least slow modification of one's beliefs.

      Contrast that with the seemingly preferred "non-strident, non-militant" approach - which basically means say little or nothing at all to challenge cherished bullshit. This is the strategy that has protected religion from criticism for generations and created a situation where it is normal to believe in unbelievable things without evidence.

      I imagine the impact of so-called stridency and militantism has been significant, hence the perjority terms strident and militant by those threatened.

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    20. Sam Harris (not ours, the other one) on the use of mockery and ridicule:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcM1rEsiOs4

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    21. By definition, there will be those among us who will take offense at any imaginable disagreement, no matter how couched in courteous mannerisms and how respectful the discourse.

      The simple fact is that Richard Dawkins is effective, he has an audience, he makes "deconverts". Okay, his methods aren't for you, well too bad.

      I've seen similar arguments elsewhere to what you're making here Andy, about style and discourse. On another forum, a member tried to tell me that pointing out contradictions and the evil deeds of god in the bible don't work, they don't reach religious people. But that's simple false, they do IN FACT reach religious people, there are countless testimonies from people for whom exactly that approach worked. For whom having these things pointed out explicitly made them think about it and ultimately made them reject otherwise deeply held beliefs they never dared challenge.

      For some people, they're part of a homogenous community, they never get to really hear the tough voice of dissent. Then along comes someone like Dawkins, and however much of a disrespectful asshole you think he is, he makes sense. It works for plenty of people.

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    22. SRM and Rumraket, I think you both make excellent points. I concede that there is a place for the type of rhetoric that RD engages in.

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    23. lutesuite says,

      Sam Harris (not ours, the other one) on the use of mockery and ridicule:

      That's great. I'm going to steal it and post it.

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  10. It is, in my opinion, a stark dichotomy of views. As best I recall (although I probably thought this way earlier), it crystallized for me the day a creationist friend of mine pointed to a car parked under a tree and said, "See that car and that tree? Isn't it clear that they both were designed?" To which I replied, "No, it is clear that they both evolved. You've seen cars evolve in your lifetime!" (Both of us knowing what cars were like in the 1950's.)

    Since then I've seen more and more evidence. One of the biggest pieces was a few years later when I worked for Cooper Energy Services and saw their oil painting of their first steam-powered farm vehicle from the 1850's. It replaced a team of eight draft horses (previously used to haul the steam engine and a wagon of coal to a field to drive a thresher) by adding a bevel gear from the steam engine drive shaft to the rear axle - but it still used two draft horses in front, to steer with. A primitive ancestor of the modern tractor.

    Sure, humans have better memories and ability to simulate things in advance than natural evolution, but nature is much more "massively parallel" as L. Torvalds puts it (and has a bigger project budget and longer schedule). My point is nothing we do is magic that nature couldn't do because at bottom, we use the same techniques. Those are the techniques that work in this universe, and if they didn't we wouldn't be here and neither would cars.

    While I'm at it I'll try to clear up the problem of evil as it relates to the view of myself and Professor Torvalds. The problem of evil arises if you postulate that an omnipotent, omnibenevolent diety is responsible for all creation. If it's just messy old evolution and messy old humans competing, the fact that evolution has proved capable of evolving a better biological computer (brain) than any supercomputer yet evolved by humans doesn't mean we couldn't evolve a better knee joint.

    Seriously, thanks for considering my point. I'm sure I wasn't the first to think of it nor the best to describe it, but I see more evidence of it all the time.

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    1. Well, Jim, I really liked what you wrote, like I said on the other thread. And I thought it added something in relation to DAK's comment, so I picked up on it. I don't know if you're the first to think of it or best to describe it either, but you do an excellent job, and provide me with food for thought.
      So, thanks back. :)

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    2. Another problem of detecting design in nature: Witness the beautiful quartz crystal with its pleasing colour and perfect facets. Surely designed! A lump of limestone - eh, not so much!

      As for evil, the sorry state of the universe (for those that would hope and believe otherwise) can be summed up with two words: Shit happens. It is the best we can hope for to have our lives attended by more pleasant events than bad, and we can do certain things that make bad things less likely to happen. But otherwise luck be it bad or good plays an enormous role.

      Of course, you can't tell that to someone who is a lone survivor of a crash or who has otherwise narrowly escaped a bad event. They are most likely to attribute their fortune to jesus or another god, or a saint or angel. As for the many who will die today by accident or disease (i.e. bad luck)...no chance for them to approvingly ponder the intercessory effect of gods, saints, and angels.

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    3. SRM says,

      Witness the beautiful quartz crystal with its pleasing colour and perfect facets. Surely designed!

      Good example but surely diamonds are better. Quartz crystals have flaws but the best diamonds are perfect.

      Have you thought about the probability that trillions and trillions of carbon atoms would come together in just the right order to create a diamond? That's proof of design if there ever was one.

      But the best proof of design, by far, is Virgin Mary's face on a grilled cheese sandwich. Design is the only possible explanation for that.

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    4. Yes, the famous Marlene Dietrich, I mean Virgin Mary, grilled cheese!

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    5. No Piotr, Jesus in a dogs bum beats all of those.

      The Cheeto Jesus, aka Cheezus Crust, is good too.

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  11. No one knows what is to be cognitive. We have only groundless beliefs and opinions. The roots of the intelligence could hide in the cell.

    The universum is full of intelligent laws, the laws of physics.

    Why should the cell be devoid of them?

    Says IC-idiot (intelligent cell idiot)

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  12. As an example of seeing more evidence for my view all the time, I just finished reading this:

    http://vserver1.cscs.lsa.umich.edu/~crshalizi/weblog/601.html

    (Cosma Shalizi showing that Bayesian statistical methods are a subset of the mathematical model of natural selection.)(Written in 2009, but new to me, hence new evidence.)

    Of course, we tend to see evidence that supports our views and perhaps ignore evidence that doesn't, but the sheer rolling tidal wave of similarities one can find impresses me. Working at General Electric helped, from Edison's 1000 trials of light-bulb filaments to "the cat that invented Lexan(TM)". For another example, what's the most powerful simulation technique used to come up with more efficient jet-engine designs? Answer, Monte Carlo analysis.

    In my original comment I said IDer's need to understand both intelligence and design better before they start theorizing. For example, how do we know that a super-computer running Monte Carlo trials on jet-engine parameters is not "intelligence"? What if that is exactly what our 100 billion synapses are doing in the background as we speak?

    What if consciousness is like the CEO (take Jack Welch--please!) sitting high up in his penthouse office, thinking he makes things happen by sheer will, while in the background 250,000 employees scramble to try to find ways to implement his directives. (Such as "Be number 1 or number 2, or get out [of the business]." Which got us out of strong early positions in computers and the internet--don't get me started on Welch--"Straight From The Gut" indeed, but from the wrong end.)

    To finish on a humbler note, what do people see as evidence that the (granted, much faster) thinking of humans is qualitatively different than the slow, era-long thoughts of evolution? (Somebody mentioned different goals, but don't all our goals to be rich and famous or useful come from the evolutionary drives to survive and reproduce?)

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